What the Navy means to me.


What the Navy means to me?

The Navy is endless dreams, limitless opportunity, ‘a life without limits.’

…from whose perspective?

The navy is weekending, spending week days apart and weekends at home.

The navy is rubbish signal, unanswered text messages, ‘one tick’ WhatsApp’s, and satellite calls- calls on a timer, non private calls, no calls as he’s at sea, drunken inebriated calls after a run ashore, quick calls as he is exhausted from fire exercises and desperately needs sleep.

The Navy is missed dates, missed appointments, missed opportunities, missed anniversaries, missed birthdays, giving birth alone.

Cancelled weddings, rearranged weddings, then ‘back to the original date’ weddings, to be ‘ship’s programme has changed again but nothing is set in stone so who knows? Weddings’.

The Navy extracts the usual impending excitement towards approaching milestones and events, replacing it with anxiety and worry; missed excitement because deep down you know that until he is in front of you and it is happening at that moment, things change and it may never come to fruition.

The Navy is deployments, the emotional cycle of deployment, emotionally distancing yourselves from the relationship as a form of self preservation, attempting to live a normal life when a ‘normal’ life is blatantly incompatible with retaining the serving person’s deployability and operational capability.

The Navy is the psychotic ex girlfriend who has the power over your every move, who can and will swoop in at any given moment to rain on your parade, exert her authority and remind you that no matter what SHE comes first and she always will, ‘suck it up buttercup and pull up your big girl pants!’

The Navy is arguments about whose fault it is, about resentment, loneliness and a longing for a sense of permanency.

The Navy makes you question what is important to you in life? What defines whether a person is successful, what your purpose is in life, are you doing the right thing? Are you, as the wife / partner selfish for holding them back by expecting their devotion to you and the family? Are you, the serving person selfish for expecting your partner to stay at home, suck it up, smile and get on with it, be the one who is left behind alone at last minute, be the one to pick up the pieces and cope with whatever life throws at you, alone… or is the Navy actually asking the impossible?

The Navy is ‘you knew what you were getting into?’ REALLY? How can you know until you live it? The answer is you can’t and you don’t!

The Navy is separate lives, living and breathing the ship, down time, work time, duties,

Living your life to the Navy’s ideology.

The Navy is awkward questions and discussions,

Strange activities that are somehow only within the military’s realm of normality and acceptance,

A shared sense of understanding as, for want of a better term ‘you’re all in the same boat.’

The Navy pushes you to your limit, your family to their limit, your friends to theirs-

It causes arguments, rifts, sleepless nights, anxiety, depression and uncertainty.

The Navy forces you to sink or swim.

In a couple or alone.

Faced with choices that either make you solidify your relationship and hatch a plan,

Or force cracks at the seams and force you apart.

The Navy has many positives as an employer but it is primarily the Navy and it ‘protects our nation’s interests’ but at what cost

Who pays the price?


Closing time? The empowering secret ALL milspo need to know.

I sit here. In an empty pub. After an argument with my husband.

Listening to kings of Leon’s- wait for me.

So far so normal. Also a tad ironic thanks to the playlist. All seems well. I look like a civvy. In a civvy relationship. I look normal.

But it’s far from normal. It’s just not.

I’ve walked out of the house tonight. Valentine’s Day night.

Yeah. So kind of a big deal. I guess. I mean I’ve never put too much stock in V day. But to be honest that’s because we never ever seem to spend them together.

And as I sit here I have realised something.

Something amazing.

Something a little bit sexy.

Something empowering,

For ALL of us. Not just me.

It’s scary. I’ve warned you. It’s scary because it makes your realise the strength we have.

The POWER we have.

(Cut to the chase drunk Olive I hear you cry!)


(See I told you it was empowering and sexy).

We can cope without them. Let’s be honest. Having our partners home is an added bonus to our lives.

We can drop them if they aren’t up to scratch.

We can do the 24/7 childcare.

We can go to work.

We can run a house.

We can study.

We can socialise.

We can LIVE.

We can literally live without them.

Knowing this is bloody empowering. It’s liberating. And it should make you look at your partner and consider them-

Ask yourself this-

Do they respect me?

Do they like my friends?

Do they build me up or knock me down?

Do they celebrate my achievements?

Do they recognise my sacrifice because of their job?

Will they sacrifice because of my job?

Will they see my pursuits as equal value to their own?

Will they understand my insecurities about their job?

Will they address my insecurities in a calm and rational manner?

Do they feel that special considerations should be made because of their behaviour on deployment?

If they can’t add to your life then… well, what are they really doing there?

You know, you fucking know you can do this. You’ve done it. I’ve done it. We’ve done it. We can all keep doing it.

If we need to. If they aren’t good enough. We can call time on the relationship. In full confidence and knowledge that we can cope with it.

Can they?

Told you.

It’s scary.

It’s powerful.

It’s true.

Muchos love.


The mythical shore draft

I haven’t posted in a while, and to be honest it’s because I’ve been ashamed. And embarrassed.

You see, after about seven or eight years of back to back ship drafts and a deployment every year, Popeye finally, FINALLY got the holy grail of drafts. A shore draft. For 18 months.

Land ahoy!

I was excited. I was elated. I was apprehensive. We have NEVER spent this much time in the same area. He has NEVER been able to come home for this many consecutive evenings.

It was unsettling at first. Unnerving. Having to share my space and meal plan and consider him too. It was odd to have another adult around so consistently to parent our girls. It was weird to find housework tasks done, and to be able to split chores equally and daily.

And the reason I didn’t blog about this before now is the total overwhelming all consuming guilt I have felt, and still feel, about how awesome it is.

Despite several Well Meaning People giving me sage advice like “you’ll be sick of each other in a week”, and such nuggets of wisdom as “you’ll be wishing he was back on deployment in no time” what I have actually found is that I love having Popeye home. It’s great having the love of my life, father of my children here. Physically, emotionally here.


With that came huge waves of guilt.

How could I possibly blog to hundreds, possibly thousands of other military partners about how great this is?!?!

Surely that would be rubbing salt in the wound that is deployment.

But. After speaking to my sister, and some of my Navy Wife BFFs I was urged to blog.

The whole purpose of this blog is to give an honest account of Navy Wife Life. And this is part of that life. To ignore it because I’m awkwardly British and don’t want to tell anyone how happy I am would be doing you guys a disservice.

Also I want to shine a light and let you know there are such a thing as shore drafts! They really exist! They do! Spread the word!

Like some mythical unicorn Popeye has a shore draft. And for a chef to get a shore draft is really quite mythical indeed.

So for a few more months at least I’m going to enjoy every second.

After all these years I think we’ve earned it. Your time will come. And when it does be proud, shout it from the rooftops, and try to ignore the little voice in your head reminding you that soon, this bubble will burst and it’ll be business as usual.

Muchos love,

Olive x

Super Positive Coping Mummy

Obvious statement alert: Deployment with children is very different to deployment when it’s just you to think about.

I mean, there’s the stuff  you kind of know you’re going to have to do; like explaining where mummy/daddy is, doing countdowns with sweets and sticker charts et al but what about the other stuff?

The stuff pre-children-navy-wife-olive had no idea about whatsoever.

Before starting a family I could (and did) wear pjs for a whole weekend, eat my weight in ice cream and have mad nights out with friends to numb the pain. I could cry at leisure and put on destinys child full blast whilst painting my toenails at 11pm at night because it made me feel better.

Now I have to be Super Positive Coping Mummy. SPC Mummy puts on a brave front, answers any and all heartbreaking “where’s daddy?” Type questions with a smile and a biscuit. SPC Mummy doesn’t drink (much) lovely lovely wine the night daddy goes because no matter what SPC Mummy is available 24/7 to attended to all and any small people needs. Including needing jam on toast at 5 freaking AM. SPC Mummy doesn’t get to watch soppy films all morning huddled under the duvet with chocolate, SPC Mummy is carrying on with going to the park, walking the dog and remembering to take carrier bags with her to Lidl.

Pre children when Popeye rang I was able to (literally) drop everything, hurdle the dog and drop roll over the coffee table to get to the phone.

Post children- I have missed the phone ringing due to bathtimes, being stuck under a sleeping newborn who has finally gone to sleep with the phone just out of reach, not to mention the ringtone obliterator that is sodding tots n tunes. Ten or so toddlers “singing” wind the bloody bobbin up is unsurprisingly incompatible with hearing Popeyes personalised “captain Pugwash” ringtone.

And if by some strange fluke of chance you actually get to answer the phone you now have to share those precious few minutes with a small person covered in jam that just wants to talk about Peppa Pig/ an interesting stone they found/ how mummy won’t give her another chocolate egg (side note: my daughter is still devastated Easter is over. Several months later she still blames me).

I never even considered having to explain to my toddler that every single boat does not have daddy on it. I never thought for a second that I would have to compare our family unit to that of Danny Dog from (of course) that Pig cartoon. Because Danny’s daddy goes away then comes back and decides to never leave again. So thank you for that conversation Peppa. Because my daughters daddy isn’t coming home for a long long time and then will have to go away again. And again. Unlike Mr Dog.

During bedtimes (when no one will just go the heck to sleep) I’ve daydreamed about a cartoon where there is an actual military family portrayed, showing our strength and resilience. Demonstrating the sacrifices we make in every day situations and it’s no biggie. How we switch from being a parenting team to the practical equivalent of single parents in the blink of an eye.

SPC Mummy probably should have her own TV show. Or at least a cape.

If it were a cartoon the most important thing it could  give my daughters is an example of how our military family is a normal family.

Even if they do have jam smeared on their faces and stones in their pockets, this is their normal and now a deployment with children has become my normal too.

SPC Mummy- away!!!!

*swirls around in her cape and flies off to solve another deployment related toddler question*

Deployment dreams

Ok *oversharing alert* family and friends click away now.

Popeye has just reminded me of something that has happened every deployment and I’m wondering if it happens to you too.

Thing is, it’s a tad embarrassing.

A smidge, a pinch, a wee bit cringe inducing.


When your partner deploys, companionship and wholesome friendship issues aside, it leaves a big gap in your sex life. There’s a *ahem* how do I put it- a romantic need that he just *ahem* can’t fulfill because he is several thousand miles away.

We all have our own “coping mechanisms” and this post is not about that. It’s about something else that happens after a “dry spell” spanning several months.

Every time Popeye has been on deployment I have had (occasional) rude dreams.

(This, so far, is pretty normal right? Stay with me. It gets weird)

Every time Popeye has been on deployment I have had rude dreams that are not starring Popeye.

(Ok ok we’re all grown ups here, we can admit that dreaming about someone other than your partner does happen and although totes cringey and not something you mention down the phone- not exactly something entering into the realms of bizarre.)

Here it is- 

Every time Popeye has deployed I have had rude dreams about low status TV personalities. 

Not even proper slebs! These fantasy dreams have starred such well known hotties as 

  • Alan Titchmarsh


    • Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall 

    Each time I’ve woken up totally and utterly freaked out and emailed Popeye in a state of utter squeamishness. 

    I don’t know why my subconscious seeks out middle aged gardeners and organic chefs as prime X rated dream stars.

    But it does. And it scares me. I don’t get my brain. When I’m awake, they do nothing for me. Sorry Al and Hugh, no offence but you’re just not my type(s). 

    Tell me I’m not the only one?

    Seriously, you guys have had freaky weird sex dreams too, right guys? Right?!

    Muchos love

    Olive x 

    Well Meaning People- Part 2

    I want to set the record straight once and for all about something that gets said to military wives frequently around homecoming time. It is usually said by our old pals Well Meaning people but can also be chucked around by randoms you meet out and about, who have all the quiet tact and discretion of HMS Queen Liz coming into Portsmouth.

    Heres the basic script:


    Well meaning twat person: “Aww thats cute. Give it a few days and you’ll wish they were away again. Lolz”.

    Related image
    Excuse me? Wtf did you just say to me?

    Oh how we all laughed! These well meaning people, how spot on they are. How well they know what we go through. Its uncanny. Unsettling even.

    (Heavy sarcasm alert.)

    Why on gods green earth would we want them to bugger off again?

    Image result for 1950s woman pissed off
    “Im just going to file that comment under “B” for Bullshit.”

    This is what I want to say to these well meaning people (because you cant really say it to their faces, unless you’re a total cow/self confident superstar.)

    Statement of truth, from Olive, to all you Well Meaning People:

    “When the loves of our lives return to us from the sea, or the land, or the sky, from war torn countries, landscapes filled with unimaginable horrors, dangers and poor wifi, we are elated. 

    They are home safe. We can speak to them again, we can touch them again, we can smell them again (not in a creep way).

    After the initial dazzling, hazy period after homecoming fades, when all the friends and relatives have been visited, the family holiday completed, the special homecoming food and booze consumed; the return to real life commences.

    Its not glamorous, its not perfect, its not chocolates and flowers.

    Its remembering their annoying habits (leaving his toothbrush on the side of the sink), their idiosyncrasies (like letting rip with the hugest fart every morning when they wake), and their faults (cannot load the dishwasher correctly).

    Its them getting used to being at home with us again too. Its very much a two way street. We change when they’re away too. 

    We are stronger, we are more confident, we can top up the oil in the car, get two kids up and out by 8am and we can manage the family finances alone.

    It takes time to find the balance.

    Healthy, normal couples find the balance by communicating. Synonyms for this include bickering, nagging, sarcastically reminding, huffing and stropping and of course, the old classic, moaning.

    And here we come to the core of the issue-

    None of this means we want them to leave again!

    Yes they can do our heads in, and I’m sure I annoy the hell out of Popeye at times (infact I know I do, because he tells me).

    But understand, dearest Well Meaning Person, that this in NO way equates to us wanting them to leave, to having to go through a deployment again.

    What it does mean is that we, as a normal couple, are finding our way back to everyday life together, again.

    So please, when you think of your “hilarious” commentary on my relationship, kindly STFU.

    Yours in frankness,

    Olive Oyl,

    Muchos Love xxxx”

    Image result for 1950s woman husband deploying
    “I could SO go for another 9 monther right now” said no Military Spouse ever.



    Eating cake in the name of charidee

    This Saturday just gone I put on my first charity coffee and cake fundraiser for the fabulous charity Little Troopers

    It was a total success and we raised a fantastic £120!!! 

    #proudface all round.

    There were, of course a few hiccups on the way. Including the first (and only solo) attempt at baking I did. That resulted in a whole batch of “fugly” cupcakes that we sold at a discount, because hey, fugly cakes need homes too.

    We were given a mahoosive stack of boxes of cupcakes from Morrisons that were absolutely delish and had been baked fresh in store the day I collected them and hand decorated so beautifully- totally put my fuglies to shame tbh but I’m OK with that as it was for charidee.

    Big props to Chris from Morrisons in Portsmouth for sorting us out with that scran. You are a legend and totally squared us away.

    Other shout outs are needed for the lovely lady in charge of Cockleshell Community Centre- Kerry. Who set up the room the day before, sorted out the raffle tickets and showed up with a large amount of meat even though she had a horrendous migraine. Nails. 

    Not forgetting my civvy best mate Aime for her amazing face painting skillz including the full range of spider man characters including actual venom omg.

    My NWBFF Emma and her hubby Dai (off of Wales). They turned up the day before and sorted out my crap baking skills and helped me learn to weigh my eggs and how to pipe buttercream. They also taught me that cocoa powder is not the same as hot chocolate.

    And that it is especially not the same as hot chocolate that went off in 2014.
    And the awesome Charlotte who rocked up bang on 9am when I was running shockingly late (I managed to get lost on the way- even though I’ve been there several times before- don’t ask). 

    Now I had never ever met Charlotte, but in true Navy wife style she surveyed the thinly veiled chaos I had created and calmly asked me how she could help and got on with cutting out prices and signs and stuff. She was un-flusterable and for that, I salute you.

    Me on the other hand, I was not quite so calm. I arrived shockingly late,  met my baking gurus Emma & Dai standing outside looking a tad perplexed as we couldnt get in yet.

    Cue pacing and phoning and my hair getting more and more sweaty. We got in and got set up just in time. All thanks to the fantastic team of people who got stuck in. I’m not exaggerating when I say if had been all down to me it would have been a bit shit. It was a real team effort and it was So. Much. Fun.

    We ate a lot of cakes. 

    We drank a lot of coffee.

    We swapped navy horror stories.

    We may have swapped incompetent husband stories. But the feminist in me won’t admit to that.

    Helen went home with a big piece of meat. She was very happy with this.

    I met up with loads of the wives from Popeyes old ship. It was FANTASTIC to see them all again and has inspired another NW Night Out soon.

    My kids ran around screaming on a sugar high with face paints. Actually everyone else’s did this too, to be fair. 

    Although only my daughter decided to pull her trousers and pants down in the middle of the room in front of everyone shouting “I NEED THE TOILET NOWWWWW”-( hey you can’t win them all).
    It was great and I’m sure I’ve forgotten lots of stuff. I want to do another one before Christmas and vary the location to get as many people as possible involved. 

    So keep your eyes peeled as I will be cobbling something else together in December- 

    Hope you can make it!

    Muchos love,

    Olive x 

    You really don’t have to be a cool military wife

    You really don’t.

    There’s no rule saying you have to suck it up and smile sweetly when they tell you they are missing your anniversary.

    You can be annoyed, and rightly so,  you can be hurt, you can be miffed and vexed and whatever-the-hell-you-need-to-feel when they “forget” to tell you they are duty weekend until 4pm on a Friday. 

    Sometimes we military wives need a little reality check.

    It is fine to be pissed off when your partner cancels plans. Even if the reason for this cancelled plans is some MOD top priority mission. It’s fine.

    It’s normal to be slightly vexed at having to switch Friday night plans from romantic dinner then bars then casino to dominoes and a bottle of red for one in your pjs at 45 minutes notice.

    It’s understandable to not be cheerful and jolly ho and well wishing, when calling up the travel agent and praying with crossed fingers, that you can rebook the holiday you’ve saved a whole year for.

    It is healthy to feel the rage at these times. It would be bizarre if you didn’t. And if it didn’t you might start doing weird passive aggressive things like deliberately putting gone off milk in his tea before he leaves, or “accidentally”‘deleting all the game of thrones on the sky planner. Or you might take it out on the BBKB  (Big Black Kit Bag) in a barely contained fit of rage.

    Although it might make you feel better in the short term it won’t for long.

    So please please ladies, don’t try to hold it together. When you feel pissed off, be pissed off

    Get vocal, get sweary, hang up on them if you need to. Cry if you need to.

    Just don’t for Petes sake, bottle it all up. 

    Because at the end of the day, whether you lose the plot and let him have it both barrels, or you suppress it with your best stepford wife smile, the shits still going to hit you just the same. 

    At least this way you will deal with it in a way that it healthy for you. Because sadly the shits going to hit that military  relationship fan again and again. And yes as time goes on you will get used to it in a way- but that doesn’t mean the shit doesn’t still stink. 

    Shout it loud and shout it proud ladies- but only if you want to.

    Muchos love,

    Olive x 

    My denial dinghy.

    Popeye leaves for his 9 month deployment very very soon. Obvs can’t mention dates etc but let’s just say we aren’t talking weeks here.

    He’s said his goodbyes to the outlaws and is gearing up to say tatty bye to our daughters. And I guess me too but I can’t even go there right now.

    Each deployment is different. Usually I’m a sobbing, snotty, puffy eyed wreck (attractive). This time however I’m like totally numb. I’ve zoned out and can’t even get words out of my mouth when we talk about it.

     I have no idea why my brain has done this but all I can guess is my minds gone “no, no. Nope. Can’t handle this. Too painful. Too much. It’s too much! I’m checking out. See you later  conscious brain. Catch you laters!”

    So I am calm. I am dangerously calm. Like  the normal emotional reaction is a rip current but I’m happily bobbing about on top on my dinghy. Probably doing a sudoku.

     My little escapist, denial dinghy that I’m fairly sure has a puncture. 

    It’s going to deflate at some point and then I must face the depths of this. 

    For instance, certain questions I should be addressing such as- 

    How do we explain this to our two year old? 

    My brain: No idea. We’ve got nothing here captain (plays magic roundabout theme tune loudly on repeat whilst doing some thing Pinterest fail-esque). 

    Have we got all the grown up pre deployment shit sorted out? Like making sure his Skype account and mine are good to go. The emergency numbers and his phone card numbers are taped to the fridge, and the Christmas decorations are down from the loft.

    My brain: yes, really should do this. Got loads of time (we don’t). Will just do this first (gardening/drinking wine/ starting a quilt). 

    Spending quality time together.

    My brain: so, it looks like date nights been a bit of a fail. Hey I know why don’t I write a blog post all about it instead of putting my phone down and giving it another shot. Genius.

    Capturing each precious memory of the last week on film.

    My brain: hey let’s leave the phone at home so you can’t take any pictures. Nothing like a bit of self sabotage to really help your early deployment mental health. Don’t want to make this easy for myself after all do I?

    these photos were brought to you by random iphone gatherings over the summer.

    I didn’t really know how to end this blog post (I blame my obviously faulty brain at this time) so I read it to Popeye and he said it’s because this time it’s not just about me and him. 

    This time I have two children to care for. Two small people’s brains who are looking to me to see how to cope with this. 

    This time is longer. 9 months is such a massive chunk of time when I think about it it makes my head go fuzzy and I start laughing in a slightly unhinged way.

    This time it’s not just a couple saying goodbye, but a family saying goodbye. 

    My family. 


    Normal service will resume shortly

    One woman’s homecoming is another’s goodbye

    With the return today of HMS Defender (and if many of you wonder why I bang on about this ship in particular ok I will just say it- it’s Popeyes old ship where I met most of my NWBFFs and felt part of the Royal Navy community for the first time and not just some kind of Lone Ranger navy wife freak) and im filled with such excitement on their behalf, I’m so crazily proud of the families who have waited 9 months for them to finally come home. 

    (After doing basically a 7 month deployment about 2 mins before this one- mental).

    I can see the wives and the girlfriends, the sisters and the brothers and the mummy’s and daddy’s in my minds eye in a few short hours, finally getting that hug and kiss they’ve waited and waited and waited some more for.

    9 month in, 9 months out
    But as well as all of this excitement for them, and soppiness and nostalgia it’s reminded me that it’s my turn to say goodbye next. For 9 months.

    And I am seriously freaking out.

    After I did my first deployment and met Popeye at the homecoming I was naive. I didn’t pause to think there will be another one. And another and another. 

    The second he stepped off the ship a new countdown started to the next time he would deploy.

    What happened? We had a minimum of a 6 month deployment with less than 12 months inbetween for four years. That’s a lot of deploying.

    It was awful. It was hard. It was surreal. 

    But it was doable. I look back at “deployment Olive” with no small degree of awe. She was hardcore.

    “Did really do that?”

    How did I do all those deployments?”

    Can I really do it all again?

    (in a very small voice, like a stroppy toddler) “But I don’t want to!”

    Thinking about this upcoming deployment is filling me with dread. Not just because I know how hard it will be, but because this time I’m on my todd with our two gorgeous baby girls. No pressure then.

    And that’s going to bring a whole new level of shit and heartache and stress and strain that I haven’t encountered before. 

    And that is a type of deployment I know nothing about. 

    So watch this space my lovelies. Hopefully my blog will stay the chirpy quirky space it’s always been. Not some kind of weird online written record of my unraveling. 

    I need success stories please!

    So as the WAGs of HMS Defender wave that mighty ship home, with the sodding brass band blasting, and the little tug boat getting zilch recognition; my thoughts are bitter sweet and let’s be honest, a bit “me me me.” 

    This navy life is (as my good pal Ronan would say) a roller coaster. 

    I’d rather be on the dodgems. 

    Muchos love,

    Olive X