Cycling Sindy and the Christmas of invisible tears

When I was a little girl the only item that I remember really yearning for was the Sindy doll which came with a little white walking dog, called Gogo.

When adverts for the Sindy and Gogo doll were shown on TV, my heart soared. It was the most brilliant and technically-advanced toy ever created.

I knew that if I brought Gogo into school, I would be, for at least one glorious day, the popular girl in the playground.

I'd been direct with my parents. I wrote them a note requesting this particular doll and nothing else. I wasn't really into dolls, but this was something special.

When Christmas Day came, I made a bee-line for the Cindy and Gogo-sized box. I unwrapped it and inside I found Cycling Sindy and 'Fun Bike'. For the first time, Sindy's perma-smile repulsed me. 

It was a terrible moment.

How could my parents get it so wrong? I had been so clear. 

I didn't dare show the torment that I felt. It was acute.

As I unwrapped the gift fully, I honestly remember thinking that I’d better make the best of it.

So I played with Sindy and her silly dangly broken-at-the-knee legs and the bicycle which was pointy and sharp. I played until I could bear it no longer. Such a martyr.

Tell me about your biggest gift disappointment and how you managed to stay strong.

Step-by-step guide to managing gift disappointment:

  • Receive the gift with both hands
  • Thank the giver. Even before you tear off the wrapping. It's nice that they thought to give you anything at all, so say that.
  • Think of one great thing to say about the gift. If I'd had a bit more wherewithal, I would have said 'Mum, Dad, thank you. This bicycle is so intricate.'
  •  Put the gift somewhere safe, or on display for the afternoon. Don't leave a gift on the floor (unless it's a table or a bed).

Baby's first gift

Alex is the first one of my friends to birth a child.

In the run-up to the delivery, I frequently experienced internal fireworks of excitement so extreme that I had to sit down.

This gift quest would be a doddle. All baby clothes look cute, all the toys are colourful or so soft that you want to rub your face on them. Plus anything in miniature is a novelty.

I was almost at the cash register of Trotters, a very nice baby store, with some tiny rabbit booties when I decided not to proceed with my purchase but to wait.

Although I loved the bunny booties, they weren't exactly Alex's taste. 

Also, after about a month, the baby wouldn't be able to wear them. Alex would probably just end up using them to polish a small mirror. One bunny bootie per finger. It would be a slow task.

Because she wanted to keep the gender of the baby a surprise, people bought her lots of grey, white and yellow gifts. She requested something colourful so I came up with a list of items:

  • mobile for the cot
  • baby crockery and cutlery
  • baby gym mat for tummy time
  • bath toys
  • wall stickers for the nursery

I decided on a Fisher Price baby gym mat with a kick piano. It's awesome.

Fisher Price piano gym | £44.99 | Argos

Fisher Price piano gym | £44.99 | Argos

Nothing like this was available when I was a baby. My mum probably just plonked me down on the floor with a Bible and some dried rice to play with and look how well I turned out!

Alex gave birth to Baby W in June and he is perfect. I have witnessed baby W on the mat. I beheld his intelligent eyes, so full of wonder and his teeny baby toes playing the notes with delicacy.

Baby W is going to be a genius with this level of stimulation.

Gift Ideas for Babies

(Visit my Pinterest board for more)

Knives (and spoons) as gifts: investigating the superstition.


Giving a knife as a gift is supposed to be symbolic of cutting the ties of friendship.

People have been known to give a coin to the giver in return so that it technically isn’t a gift.

It occurred to me that I’ve been given three knives in my life which, after typing that, sounds like three too many.

I believe enough time has passed for me to conclusively state whether knives foretell the demise of a friendship.

1. Kukri

laughing heart gifts | knives

This Nepalese knife was a gift from my friend Ben (who also features here)

Ben lived in Kathmandu for a couple of years. I asked him why he bought it, expecting to hear some profound reasoning but he just said that it was one of the finer generic gifts from Nepal. He added: ‘I used one to cleave bubble wrap from a mattress and it was one of the most pleasurably visceral experiences of my life.’

State of our friendship: Solid.

2. Robert Welch steak knives

 These were a wedding gift from a school friend.

State of our friendship: Very poor. At the wedding, the individual got so drunk that the got caught up in my dress, tore it and photobombed pictures of me with my family. There are some actions that fall into the category of unforgivable. On reflection, perhaps there are only two:  treating a wedding reception like a night at the student union is one. Ripping someone’s wedding dress is another.

3. Cake knife

A wedding gift from friends of my husband’s parents.

State of our friendship: Unchanged. Our friendship level has remained completely constant because we rarely see the couple. Also, cake knives aren't designed to have the hewing strength, of say, a meat cleaver, so if knives are a symbol of cutting off a relationship then it would be a very soft friendship for a cake knife to do damage.


My findings are mixed. I conclude that you shouldn't worry about it. If you want to give a knife, give a knife.

Hopefully your friendship is stronger than superstition but if you want to ask for a penny in return, go for it but just make sure you do it in a safe environment where your intentions cannot be misconstrued (i.e. don’t brandish a knife and demand cash).

Before purchasing a knife, consider a spoon. An elderly couple (in their nineties) who live in the village where I grew up and have known me since I was a baby, gave me a Welsh love spoon when I got married. It’s lovely.

While typing this, I realise that our friendship has been the longest lasting of them all.

The worst gifts I've given


There is never an excuse for sending a thoughtless gift. I've spent the last ten minutes  thinking of whether there can ever be an excuse. Nope. We're clear to proceed.

I consider myself a competent gift-giver now, but there was a time when I was totally incompetent.

Let's limp down memory lane together. 


It was Christmas and I gave my brother this. Just one magazine. No subscription. No free gift. And I wrapped it. Nothing says ‘I’m not Santa’ more than a magazine picked up at a train station left under the Christmas tree.


Another gift for my brother.  I thought he could attach his locker keys to it. This was a terrible gift. Reason one: he was already teased at school for his genius and a keyring saying that he was a genius would guarantee a playground beating. Reason two: I happen to think he is a talented genius but he is humble and would never, ever use the keyring. Which begs the question: who did the good people at Keyrings-R-Us think would buy this keyring? Oh..that's


The council fined my husband for putting his rubbish out on the wrong day. They found out it was him by going through his rubbish and locating a wet envelope with his name on it. I thought that if he shredded all his letters, he would evade possible future  punishment by the authorities. Another failure of a gift. Reason one: he should just learn to put his rubbish out on the right day. Reason two: it takes less effort to put rubbish out on the right day than it does to shred every letter. Reason three: by the time I presented the shredder, he'd forgotten all about the incident and I had to remind him: 'You know, that time the council fined you?...They found out your name...Bins?' Pathetic.


 When I was 13, I didn't have enough money to get everyone in my friendship group a present. So I gave one girl my own copy of Emma by Jane Austen that I hadn't read yet.  I wrapped the book, forgetting I had written my name on the inside cover. When she opened it she knew that it had been my own copy and wasn't new and she wasn't impressed and made a snide remark. I felt bad about that for a long time. Now I see that it was quite a sweet thing for me to have done. Well done, resourceful, 13-year-old me.


 I thought I'd get my husband's mum a cashmere jumper for Christmas. At that point, I hadn't known her long. I didn't know what size she was and so I guessed. Never guess. In this age of information, there will be someone, somewhere who knows the answer. It's probably in a database. I knew that I couldn't go for a bigger size or I'd run the risk of offending her. So, with logic as fuzzy as the jumper, I went for the tiniest size I could find. This was a ridiculous gift. Reason one: I made her feel like she was enormous. Reason two: because I am slight-of-frame it looked like I had bought the jumper for myself.


  • As with all mistakes, it's important to spend a few moments in quiet reflection in order to understand what went wrong. In some cases you'll realise you make a mistake because you didn't have time to think through your options fully or because you had too much time and didn't trust yourself.
  • Recognise that some actions feel like mistakes but aren't really mistakes at all. Like with the copy of Emma that I gave a friend - it wasn't really an error. I did the best I could.
  • Don't dwell on gift-giving under performance. Rumination only makes you depressed. There will be another event, just round the corner in which you can bring your a-game.