5 Stages of Life questioning - The Sussex Girl

Something is bugging me. I keep finding myself gritting my teeth in what should be, very civilised situations.

Acquaintances, family members, random strangers. There doesn’t seem to be a limit on who feels it appropriate to ask this.

So what is it? What is it that is starting to grate so much?

It’s actually an age-old question. One that has hounded for generations.

Actually, I fib. It’s not just one question. It’s, potentially, a series of questions. Sometimes you might experience the whole set. An “inappropriate question bingo” if I may.  Other times, an individual will experience just one of the questions or will perhaps enter the question ladder at stage 2 or 3.

Some days you can laugh it off, a quirky shrug of the shoulders or a quick quip back. Other days it hits a nerve, it plays on anxieties and creates worries about whether you are doing what you should be.

5 stages of questioning - flowers - The Sussex Girl

It’s the ‘So When Are You…’ collection.

Stage 1: ‘So When Are You…going to a find a nice boy/girlfriend?

Stage 2: ‘So When Are You…going to think about settling down?

Stage 3: ‘So When Are You…going to get married?’ or the alternate Stage 3 question: ‘So When Do You Think…he will propose?’

Stage 4: ‘So When Are You…setting the date?’

Stage 5: ‘So When Are You…going to start a family?’

It doesn’t matter which exciting stage you are at, You. Just. Can’t. Win.

I get it. People like love stories. They like weddings. And Babies. My word, people LOVE babies.

But how about asking some questions that don’t belittle the stage that you’re at?

How about…

‘How’s your career going?’

‘Tell me about your new boy/girlfriend’

‘What’s exciting in your world at the moment?’ (allowing the answer to be love, marriage or babies…IF that’s where the recipient of this question wants the conversation to go…but it could also be work, travel or even, dare I say it, an un-baby-related hobby).

‘Where are you off to next?’ (to a keen traveller)

I get it. I do! I understand people want to find out more about you, they want to know when to book time off work and buy a hat.

It doesn’t have to be the only subject of conversation.

It comes down to being happy in the stage you are at. Not wishing away the time you get to spend dating, the time you get to spend building the foundational blocks of your relationship, the time you get to spend planning a wedding or the time you get to spend as newlyweds BEFORE those magical tiny footsteps invade.

Those 5 ‘So When Are You…’ questions can elicit such happy, excited emotions but could also be the root of such pain.  The person desperately looking for their Mr/Miss Right but not having yet found them, the couple unsure of when the next step will happen, the couple whose foundations seem to be crumbling, the newlyweds so desperate for a baby which just doesn’t seem to be happening.

You never know what battles others are facing.

So perhaps, we can be encouraging rather than questioning. We can be positive about the present rather than pushing for the future prematurely. Perhaps, we can just be there for each other – ready to support, talk and hope with each other…when we’re ready.

And maybe, just maybe, Great-Aunty Anne might begin to take note too.


West Dean Chilli Fiesta gardens

One of my favourite spots near Chichester is West Dean College. I’ve only got to know it in the last few years and visited inside the house for the first time this year as our dear friends Alice and Neil were super kind and invited us up. Neil works at West Dean and Alice has studied there a number of times so they were perfectly placed to give us a guided tour in May.

West Dean College Chilli Fiesta
West Dean Chilli Fiesta Gardens

This weekend I’ve been back up there again, with Alice and Neil but this time it wasn’t for a peaceful, quiet and creative reflection on the beautiful college and gardens but for something entirely more spicy – the annual Chilli Fiesta!

Chilli Fiesta funfair

West Dean Chilli Fiesta chilli plant

West Dean Chilli Fiesta Acoustic Stage

It’s a great festival that spans the whole weekend from Friday to Sunday. The gardens are filled with music, colour and lots of chillis. One of the nicest things is that all the vendors are from within a few miles, at most, a county away. Most are foodie stalls with chilli products but many also sell cheeses, cured meats, kitchen accessories and increasingly a few artists in the mix. There are two stages for music; a smaller acoustic stage and the big main stage. They host samba, salsa and jazz bands over the three days – something to dance to all day long. A food demonstration tent hosted some great sessions including one from my absolute favourite local cook, Rosemary Moon. I’ve seen her present at several events locally and she’s such a funny lady as well as being a really creative, innovative cook. I’ve definitely collected more than one of her books!

West Dean Chilli Fiesta gardens

West Dean Chilli Fiesta Food Demo Rosemary Moon

West Dean Chilli Fiesta Food stall

West Dean Chilli Fiesta plant stand

West Dean Chilli Fiesta Cheese stand

As all this is set in the stunning grounds of West Dean, visitors to the festival also get to potter around the gardens which at this time of year are utterly gorgeous. The flowers are in full bloom and the kitchen gardens are bursting full of produce.

This is one place that is worth visiting at any time of the year as the seasons are all so beautifully represented but this part of the year really is something special.

West Dean Chilli Fiesta sunbathing

West Dean Chilli Fiesta gardens

West Dean Chilli Fiesta gardens

West Dean Chilli Fiesta gardens

West Dean Chilli Fiesta gardens

I had such a blast at the Chilli Fiesta, catching up with my good friends, eating some delicious food (including an enormous ice cream from a local dairy) and soaking up the sunshine.

A lovely summer Saturday!

West Dean Chilli Fiesta gardens

West Dean Chilli Fiesta night time

wedding guest outfits

Oh my, it certainly is that time of year again!  A wedding (what feels like) every weekend, hen parties in between and the odd few respite days at work.

Apart from being super busy and never quite getting to the bottom of the laundry basket, wedding season throws up a few other dilemmas.  Which dress to wear? Plan for sun? Rain? Snow?! Are these shoes comfortable enough for a whole day? Of course, there is a slightly bigger question – how much is this all going to cost?  It’s no secret that a summer of weddings soon adds up so I’ve taken a little look at some reasonably priced wedding guest outfits that will wow without shocking your bank account.

(Image links clockwise from top: Floral Skater Dress – Oasis | Iris Woven Clutch – Accessorize | Lace Insert Dress – Billie & Blossom at Dorothy Perkins | Estepa Pendant – Oliver Bonas | Panels Wrapover Dress – Apricot | Pink Suedette Strap Heels – New Look | Floral V-back Pleat Dress – Closet London )

At the moment, the High Street shops are full of pretty florals with an emphasis on one particular colour…coral!  As a pale red head, I tend to shy away from light colours and try to find a bright colour that pops. I usually avoid pinks and reds so coral wouldn’t be a natural colour for me to gravitate towards however, I found a great dress from Apricot (this one is similar) which balances the colour of the moment with one of my favourites…navy!


Phil and I wedding guest Joules dress

The floaty, flirty summer dress styles are a welcome relief from bodycon which can be a bit too hot during summer celebrations.  They also tend to have a good skirt to spin around in on the dance floor! The one above was a bargain from the Joules Outlet in Gunwharf Quays unfortunately it is no longer available online but this one from Closet London has a similar shape to it.

From Apricot to Joules, Billie & Blossom to Closet – there are plenty of cute dresses to choose from for under £65 which leaves a little wriggle room to pick up a few accessories!  I’m hunting out strappy sandals (like these) that provide all day comfort and anything gold to accentuate those lovely pinky oranges!

Are you off to a wedding this summer? What’s your go-to outfit?

Fab Greetings Card The Sussex Girl etsy

Love stationary? Love cute designs? Love shopping?
Well then you need to pop over to The Sussex Girl shop on Etsy!

Oh yes, it’s true! The Sussex Girl now has a shop….and there are actual, real life versions of my little doodles for sale.


Wahey Greetings card The Sussex Girl Etsy

Congratulations Card The Sussex Girl Etsy

Sparkle Sparkle Postcard The Sussex Girl Etsy

Thank you Card The Sussex Girl Etsy

You're Fab Postcard The Sussex Girl Etsy

If you’ve been reading my blog for a little while or following me on instagram, then you’ll have seen some of my designs before. From wedding stationary to illustrated quotes and quirky cards, I’ve been dabbling for a little while and have finally got a few lines on sale.  With more being added soon!

My current favourite is the ‘Be Positive’ postcard set – five postcards, each with an encouragement or funny comment.  Perfect for sending to friends, sharing at work or pinning above your desk.

In Case Nobody Told You Postcard The Sussex Girl Etsy

You're Fab Greetings Card The Sussex Girl Etsy

The Sussex Girl Yey Greetings Card Etsy Shop

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment or pop on over to the shop!