They say to save the best till last, so here he is. Introducing Bear number 3...Mr Grizzly Bear, my partner, Colin.

My Hero

Squirrel has been sent on her way by Spectacled Bear to build her own house for the winter. She's very determined, but the snow is closing in fast. Whilst trying to lift herself out of a panic of impending doom, Grizzly Bear spots the Squirrel-in-need and launches himself in her direction with a very serious look on his face indeed.

Colin spots when I'm in need of help, especially when I'm too afraid to ask for it. He'll throw himself into any task with his game face on.

Making this book would have been so much harder without his willingness to stay up late into the night sharing his photoshop wisdom, being chief technical support on filming and computer equipment, and giving honest feedback on my drawings. As well as making me thousands of cups of tea. I am so grateful.

Grizzly Bear with his serious face on

But as Grizzly Bear approaches, Squirrel is terrified of the unfamiliar bear.

When Colin and I first met, I fell for him very quickly. He was so wonderful to me. He treated me like a queen and openly expressed his affection. It was all amazing. Too amazing.

I couldn't believe that a flighty Squirrel like me was deserving of such an awesome Grizzly Bear. I doubted his love for me and pushed him away. I focussed on his quirks and imperfections, when really I was afraid to let him truly love me, for the flawed person that I am.

Soon, Squirrel realises that appearances are deceptive. She sees that Grizzly Bear just wants to make a friend. She also sees that he wants to help her, even though she's an imperfect Squirrel. Grizzly Bear sees past her flighty flaws and is inspired to help her overcome them.

After a while, I realised what it really meant to be human, and how to love another human: We're all imperfect. We're all the same. We just want to be one-with.

His quirks are my quirks. His weirds are my weirds. Grizzly Bear or Squirrel, it doesn't matter. Deep down we're the same. We just have to choose to love each other for exactly who we are.

So I chose to fully love Colin, for exactly who he is. And I chose to believe that he loved me back.

Grizzly Bear helps Squirrel build her house, and they become great friends. Helping Squirrel makes Grizzly Bear really happy.

Colin actually helped me decorate my whole flat before I moved in with him and rented it out, which made me super happy. And seeing me happy makes him super happy. It's a win win win.

I never used to believe Colin when he'd tell me he actually enjoyed helping me. But now I choose to believe it. And it has brought us so much closer together. Because I know that he helps me because he loves me. What more could a Squirrel hope for?

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

The three Bears show little Squirrel that help can come in many forms. I based the characters on three important helpers in my life...and I am very happy to share their stories with you.

Bear #2 Spectacled Bear = My friend (and teacher), Mikis

Squirrel is terrified to encounter Mr Spectacled Bear when she creeps into a cave to find more help for her winter preparations. But Squirrel appeals to his creative brain, huge heart, and love of helping woodland critters, and she is surprised to find that he is delighted to help her design a house to keep her sheltered from the cold.

When I first met Mikis (and also sometimes when I see him again after a long time has passed) I am also terrified. But not because Mikis is a horrible person, quite the opposite. Mikis has the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met. And he expresses his love by not doing the 'nice' thing for his friends, but by doing the thing that is best for them. Mikis encourages me to dream big, do the unthinkable, put myself out there and live an exciting life...all terrifying!

Before I met Mikis I was scared to do anything. Yet wanted to do everything. A tricky paradox indeed.

Mikis and his big heart, with his wife Liesje

Two things that Mikis has done for me (amongst many) are:

1. Giving me permission to pursue a childhood dream of making books . Without him I would not ever have thought of making The Happy Book Company, and Squirrel and the Three Bears would probabky not exist; and

2. He believes in me completely.

This second bit of help is the most valuable thing when it comes to making books (or anything else in fact). Mikis doesn't do things for me. He empowers me to do them myself. He sees the best person in me, and believes that I can choose to be that person every day. He wants me to be the person who makes me the most proud. To be the person I can love the most.

So Spectacled Bear helps Squirrel dream up the most amazing house for the winter. He encourages her to dream even bigger, to shoot for the moon, to think up the best house anyone has ever thought up.

So the odd pair get drawing, They have no time to lose, And what goes in the plan, They collectively choose.

And then he sends her on her way.

To build it herself.

Thank you Mikis for sending me on my way to build The Happy Book Company. It makes me so proud and I love myself so much for it.

And I will forever be grateful for you believing in me.

Find out more about the amazing work that Mikis does at .

Updated: Nov 4, 2019

They say you should write about what you know. So I did exactly that with my debut children's book, Squirrel and the Three Bears.

In case you haven't read the previous blog, in short it is a story about a flighty young Squirrel who's having too much fun dancing in the leaves in autumn that she completely neglects to get ready for winter. In order to survive she has to pluck up the courage to ask for help...from the Bears!

I wrote this story because in making my first children's book, I needed to learn that it's ok to ask for help. And that I should be proud of my new-found abilities to reach out and graciously accept that people might actually want to help me (a concept that previously left me baffled). In making this book I encountered things I didn't know how to do on a weekly basis, so in accepting help from a range of skilled and wise people I have learned SO MUCH MORE than if I'd struggled on my own.

The three Bears show that help comes in many forms. I based the characters on three important helpers in my life...and I am so proud to share their stories with you:

1. Black Bear = My Dad

Dad as Mr Black Bear

Black Bear finds Squirrel so charming that he can't help but offer his assistance in her winter preparations. Just like Dad, Black Bear prepares Squirrel for survival by gathering and burying food together in the nut safe. Dad always encouraged me to think ahead and prepare myself for life away from home. He spent hours helping me choose a course to do at university, and was always there to discuss what would be best to study at school, and he loved sending me job ads(!)

He always encouraged me to do my best and try my hardest. And he made me feel completely safe and looked after so I always had a strong base to come back to when I went out into the big wide world.

And he always made time for us to have fun together too...

In 2016 Dad was diagnosed with an agressive form of lymphoma (a kind of cancer) and he died in 2017. I was really sad about losing him for a long time. Really sad. But after a while I realised how lucky I am to ever have had such an amazing Dad at all. He always put us, his family, first and made sure we had everything we needed. He loved me completely and always did what he thought would make me happy...what more can a daughter ask for?

So, when Black Bear curls up to hibernate, Squirrel chooses not to feel down about leaving him behind, but instead she chooses gratitude for her wonderful new friend.

Feeling gratitude for the help and love that my Dad showed me is what keeps me happy every day, and shows that we can learn to be happy with everything we're faced with in our lives. Seeing his death in this way is a choice, and one I found difficult at first but am now very proud to have made.

Dad was also a real creative soul himself, he spent 15 years making beautiful landscape paintings (coming to art at the age of 50 having never picked up a paint brush before). He continues to be an inspiration in my persuit of a more creative life and I know he would be super proud of me making this book.

Thank you Dad for helping me be the awesome Squirrel I am today, I couldn't have done it without you.

Happy news blog