Let me start off by writing that I don’t even know if I can adequately express just how EPIC (in caps) last weekend in London, was for me.

Uplifting, moving, inspiring, laugh out loud funny and most importantly, life-enhancingly fun (isn’t that the best kind of fun?), there’s NOTHING, nothing that quite compares to being around women, seriously gifted, open, kind-hearted women who simply ‘get’ one another and who actively support, collaborate and celebrate each other.

I found a pin the other day which read, ‘Team work makes the dream work’ and it couldn’t have popped up at a more poignant time for me, because while I’ve always worked in a team as a director, I am collaborating as a blogger, more than ever.

…And, as Ellie Goulding would sing-it’s all about my army: ‘When I’m with you
I’m standing with an army’.

I feel incredibly lucky to have so many true friends and colleagues in my life: we are each other’s army.

…So back to my 24 hours in London…I  arrived at KX station at 7pm on Saturday night, frustratingly in possession of a broken phone (a blogger unable to call, tweet, text or dm is an unhappy blogger indeed)…which lead to me actually using a payphone for the first time since the 90s (I know right, how retro-cool) before literally running (in heels-and ones I designed myself too #showoff) to meet one of my closest gal pals, Casting Director Extraordinaire Nicci Topping.

Nicci is the most loving, smart, creative, hilariously witty lass I know. And she really is a lass too being a fellow Yorkshire girl #2yorkiestogethermeanstrouble.

Nicci is killing it in the film industry, casting feature films all over the world and putting her stamp on must-see movies. My heart bursts with pride for my girl.

Fighting the rain (heels, umbrella, frizz concerns) we made our way to The Library Members’ Club of which Nicci is a member- past Moroccan tiles and into a basement restaurant (which is open to the public) finding ourselves fittingly transported into a literary-meets-culinary world.

Nicci Topping

Menus come nestled deep within books-I was handed Adele Parks’s ‘Spare Brides’-( I love Adele and interviewed her HERE)- and while this desk-cum-dining room vibe is definitely quirky, it works and make dinner the occasion it deserves to be… With low lighting, blue walls and super-cool music from 70’s tracks to current hits, The Library makes for a truly unique yet tranquil setting.

I now need to read ‘By the Seat of My Pants’!


How beautiful is the cover for this print of Pride & Prejudice?

The Library Restaurant

And here with Adele’s ‘Spare Brides’!

Adele Parks

Food-wise The Library hits all the right notes with its Parisian brasserie meets Michelin-star style food I’ve frankly not experienced as good, this side of the Channel.


Nicci and I literally ooohed and aarghed our way through teeny tiny poussin, so delicately crisp on the outside, tender within, enjoyed with side dishes of tangy greens and thin sweet potato fries (just as they should be). We would have liked slightly bigger portions of poussin but the mother of all desserts: sticky toffee pudding more than made up for it and was the tastiest of my life.

The meal made made for the most decadently delicious supper I’ve had this year. Truthfully.

The Library Members Club


dessert sticky toffee pudding Nicci Topping eatingFull, happy, heads spinning with house white wine and with the rain now just on slow drip mode, we hailed a cab and headed for Soho and a nightcap before bed.

Sunday saw we sleepyheads gobble up a full (fat) Full English before making our way to see our mutual friend, the wonderful Michelle Collins’ and attend her ‘Women in the Media’ event co-founded with comedy writer and performer Brenda Gilhooly.

Michelle Collins

A monthly meet-up, I’ve only been able to make the first one before now, launching in September (which you can read about HERE) but I’m determined attend as many as I can from now on- because there’s nothing quite like it out there for women in the arts. Intimate, welcoming and vital, it’s a way for creatives to connect and build relationships.

Women are statistically known to veer away from networking and this event is a vital way for ladies from all sectors of the industry to meet, connect, make friends and thrive together.


Meeting up with another great friend, the actress Harriet Thorpe is always a JOY and together we sipped coffee and scoffed croissants before Baroness Margaret McDonagh gave a keynote speech on her career followed by her PROFOUND and INSPIRING 6 tips to success.

Harriet Thorpe, Vicki Psarias, Margaret McDonagh & Charlotte Johnson

Harriet Thorpe, me, Margaret McDonagh and Charlotte Johnson.

To offer some background (thanks to Wikipedia) Margaret Josephine McDonagh/ Baroness McDonagh is a British Labour Party politician and was General Secretary of the Labour Party from 1998 to 2001. She now works as a management consultant.

McDonagh was part of the New Labour leadership inner-circle for the 1997 general election campaign and was one of the inner-core deciding the official party position on specific issues.

In 1998, McDonagh became Labour’s first female general secretary, after serving as deputy general secretary the previous year. 

After stepping down from the position of General Secretary following the 2001 general election, McDonagh took a short Harvard University business course and became General Manager of Express Newspapers. She has been a non-executive director of Standard Life, TBI plc and CareCapital Group plc. She is Chair of the Standard Life Charitable Trust.

She was created a life peer on 24 June 2004 taking the title Baroness McDonagh, of Mitcham and of Morden in the London Borough of Merton.

Here are her 6 keys to success (paraphrased by me as I scribbled down notes during the speech): 

Baroness Margaret McDonagh1. PURPOSE

In order to have a successful life and career you need purpose. In politics they call it a cause. It is a purpose which keeps you going.


No one has a perfect life or career it is how you deal with those aspects day to day. Resilience is key.


We often tell ourselves, ‘When I’m confident I’ll do x and y’ yet it’s doing the things you want to, that makes you confident. We are more risk averse with girls and it’s a real issue. Boys from a young age are encouraged to take risks and have adventures.

The brain is plastic, when you worry a lot, you get good at it.


Women aren’t good at networking and it’s crucial to push yourself to do this. To work on team building. It’s teams which achieve- never on your own. Sport stars still always thank the team which helped them be successful.


Women are less likely to have sponsors. Sponsorship is when someone in your organisation helps and supports you, someone that offers you a chance to deliver. Many men only sponsor their younger selves so can be scared to sponsor women. We need sponsors to help give opportunities.

Find the gatekeeper and forge a relationship. You cannot just get on by yourself.

We wait to be picked and are not used to articulating what we want. That must change.

Successful people know the one thing they are good at and that gives them confidence. You need to stick in people’s memories for those things.

She ended by saying she doesn’t care what people think of her and it feels so wonderful not to be concerned with that.

What a woman and what an incredibly inspiring set of rules for success. I left re-energised and excited for the future.

Thank you to Michelle, Brenda and of course Margaret.

Brenda Gilhooly, Margaret McDonagh & Michelle Collins


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28 Responses

  1. mainy - myrealfairy

    Sounds like an amazing few days and what a great way to spend some time! I agree about the networking, I often go to events and feel very outnumbered. You’ve made a great stamp forward on that front, well done. I’m pleased I’ve discovered your blog and I’ve linked up this week too!:)


    • Honest Mum

      Thanks very much, networking is so important isn’t it. So pleased you’ve found my blog, thank you and also for linking up!

  2. Jess Mrs Puddleducky

    What wonderful tips! I’ve been lucky enough to have sponsors in the past who have helped me achieve a great career, one I am always challenged to maintain now I have two kids! Confidence is something I’m always lacking. Thank you for posting these tips I will definitely be taking these on in the future! X #BrilliantBlogPosts

  3. Siobhan

    Some great tips there, confidence and resilience are two goals I’m working on myself, in both my personal and work life, they go hand in hand I think. Thank you for sharing your advice x

  4. Carol Cameleon

    So much inspiration on your blog Vicky! I’m not sure what to read first… These ‘rules’ are inspiration alone… Thanks for hosting #brillblogposts

  5. becca farrelly

    Sounds like a great weekend! Its great to see women networking as we don’t tend to feel as comfortable as maybe men do at networking! 🙂



    This is an inspiring post. I really need to get out and do more networking, now that the kids are a little older. Thanks for sharing Margaret’s tips – wise words indeed – and for your beautiful description of the Library Members’ Club dinner. I’d love to go there one day!

  7. Franglaise Mummy

    I love to hear about things like this – I have always been a big networker, and was even a board member of the European Professional Women’s Network when I lived in France. Going to events like these and connecting online with like-minded people is so empowering. I also used to mentor and be a mentor when I lived in France and in the UK, which is so beneficial to everyone. I love the “Purpose” point here – in B-School Marie Forleo says you need to know your “why”. Why are you doing what you’re doing? As that will propel you to get there. Great post lovely x

    • Honest Mum

      How amazing lovely, networking is crucial-to happiness and success, I always say knowing why you are doing something will drive you forward, Margaret is so wise. I can’t wait to read more about B School, it sounds fantastic x

  8. One Messy Mama

    Not only do you get to meet up with a special friend but you attend an amazing conference. Such great key points for anyone trying to mark out thier future! Again, thank you! #brillblogposts

  9. Bread

    Firstly – you found a working payphone?! Looks like this was a really inspiring time, amazing. Just wow #brillblogposts

    • Honest Mum

      Haha, I know right and payphones have certainly had an upgrade, at least the ones in Kings Cross station. Fab few days x

  10. Mess and Merlot

    What a week you’ve had! Sounds like you are absolutely buzzing off the positive vibes – I can imaging being around so many amazing women must be pretty inspiring. Oh, and the Library restaurant? You had me at Sticky Toffee Pudding 🙂 #Brillblogposts

    • Honest Mum

      Thanks darling, it really is wonderful being surrounded by amazing women-we shot the TV episode last year but it is being broadcast tomorrow. That sticky toffee pudding was immense xx

  11. Eb Gargano

    Sounds like a great event and what fab advice! Especially the bit about worrying – I am rather too good at that!! Eb x

  12. Rach

    Brilliant post and so insightful too. Love Michelle Collins – how amazing to have her as your friend!! The 6 keys to success resonated with me a lot – especially resilience. #brilliantblogposts

  13. Catherine @ Not Dressed As Lamb

    Vicki what a flippin brilliant post (haha see what I did there)! #brilliantblogposts

    I LOVED point number 1: Have purpose. I’m so glad I found that with my blog – it absolutely keeps you going. All the other points Baroness McDonagh were spot-on too.

    And that food!!!!! OMG how delicious…?? Sooooo envious, it sounds like it was a fantastic event!

    Catherine x

    • Honest Mum

      It was amazing, next time we are both in London we’ll have to eat at the Library! Baroness Margerate McDonagh had a huge impact on me, her wisdom is intelligence is mind blowing! x

  14. John Adams

    I think that must have been a very interesting event to attend. I’d love to have been there (….could have worn my kilt???). I could listen to anyone involved in that supremely successful era of British politics for hours and hours. A few fascinating points there raised by Baroness McDonagh. I’m surprised men don’t sponsor women. I guess it’s that old issue; concerns that a guy and a woman spending time together, even in a business environment, could lead to accusations of impropriety? As a SAHD with two daughters, the confidence issue is an interesting one. I have heard it said families like mine raise kids that are more confident. This is because dads encourage their children to take risks, regardless of gender. No idea if it’s true, but anecdotally, I think there is something in it! Very thought provoking post Vicki. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Ebabee

    Wow! Sounds like an awesome weekend. There is nothing better than being surrounded by supportive women who uplift each other. And the wise words from the Baroness are so spot on. So true about being a team and everything she said. Very inspiring.


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