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Clemmie Telford: author, podcaster and influencer

Clemmie Telford (Credit: Charlotte Gray)
Clemmie Telford (Credit: Charlotte Gray)

She holds down a job, posts prolifically on social media (insta following: 119K and counting), hosts her own podcast and wrote her first book on tricky questions from kids back in 2021 – based on her own experience of having three children – Bertie, Woody and Greta – all aged under 12.

If you’re feeling exhausted just reading all that, rest assured that time spent with Clemmie Telford actually feels remarkably restful – a chance to take stock.

Great British Life: From left: Woody, Greta, Clemmie and Bertie - the whole family benefits from their new life in Broadstairs, with the kids loving having more space to run around in, indoors and out (c) Clemmie TelfordFrom left: Woody, Greta, Clemmie and Bertie - the whole family benefits from their new life in Broadstairs, with the kids loving having more space to run around in, indoors and out (c) Clemmie Telford

I catch her at home in Broadstairs, in the large Victorian house she and her husband Ben spent the past year renovating (she’s chronicled that on Instagram, too @thetookforeverhome).

The family made the move from their previous base in Peckham, having reached a point when they wanted a different future for themselves: ‘I had a vision of the life I wanted for me and my family and we were confident we’d find it here,’ says Clemmie,

‘Lots of open space, the sea five minutes from the house. It’s only since lockdown there’s really been that sort of flexibility with remote working, so that’s when we started looking – and Broadstairs is probably the nearest bit of coast to Peckham.

We loved its old-fashioned charm – it reminds me of the Cornwall of my childhood, but it’s a lot closer to London – and even though the house has needed a lot doing to it, it just called out to us – we knew we could bring it back to life.’ She says she and Ben work well as a team because ‘I’m the ideas person, he’s the doer. I asked him about paint colours recently and he replied: “Let’s get real, Clemmie – you’re the one who chooses them”’

Great British Life: The beach is just a 5-minute walk away (c) Clemmie TelfordThe beach is just a 5-minute walk away (c) Clemmie Telford Great British Life: Clemmie makes the most of the sea - pottering nearby and swimming - but only in the summer!Clemmie makes the most of the sea - pottering nearby and swimming - but only in the summer!

It certainly seems to have worked, with the house now a light-filled home ‘with plenty of space for the children – just what we wanted. It’s been incredibly hard work getting it there – and I’d already done a big project on our house in Peckham, so I’m not a stranger to renovation – but it’s a real privilege to be able to call this house home.’

So, renovations aside, just how does she fit everything in – her work as Creative Director for a large London agency, along with everything else? Her response is refreshingly down to earth: ‘I’m a big fan of routines and schedules – you have to be with young children. And there are certain things I do for myself now that allow me to keep on top of things. All quite basic and boring – not rocket-science but, for me, essential. I gave up drinking a few years ago and I’ve definitely felt that my cogs turn better without it, I exercise three times a week, walk 10k steps a day, no tea or coffee after 4pm and I’m in bed by 10pm – that sort of thing.’

Great British Life: With 119K followers on instagram, Clemmie is well aware of the pressures of social media - and its benefits, tooWith 119K followers on instagram, Clemmie is well aware of the pressures of social media - and its benefits, too

Clemmie is well aware that a thriving social media presence such as hers can come at a price: ‘I certainly never set out to be an "influencer" and I’m still not comfortable being described as one. I got into social media in the first place simply as a means of dealing with a sense of isolation.’ She started blogging in her late twenties, when working and living in London and suffering from extreme anxiety, ‘I just started bullet journalling in a blog that became Mother of All Lists. Bullet journalling is just that – noting down your thoughts and feelings in bullet points, meaning you don’t have to write a great deal.’ The idea clearly resonated with a lot of people, her following grew and the list is still going strong today, with people adding their own thoughts on all sorts of topics that they might find it hard to talk about in real life, from the pressures of growing up in a religious cult to female incontinence. Clemmie curates these contributions and is well aware of the responsibility of doing so. ‘It’s a privilege to hear other people’s stories and I know from having told some of my own, it’s about sharing with honesty and authenticity - but that can be a burden in itself. I like the phrase ‘share scars, not wounds.’ I see social media not as a cure-all, but as a processing tool, and used in that way, I do think it can be really helpful. Give me a big budget to spend on a company in my role as a Creative Director and I’m fine, but I don’t like selling myself on social media at all – for me, it’s about shining a light on difficult topics and sharing resources as to how best to deal with them.’

Clemmie’s regular podcasts, Honestly and But Why? are an extension of Mother of All Lists. ‘The stickier, the trickier and 'less spoken about' the subject, the more I want to chat honestly about it,’ she says – with grief and child poverty just two of the difficult subjects she and her guests have tackled recently.

Writing her book, also called But Why? How to answer tricky questions from kids and have an honest conversation with yourself, was, she says, one of the hardest things she’s ever done, ‘Growing up in Buckinghamshire, I discovered in 6th form that I was dyslexic – but again there was nothing like the support or understanding about dyslexia that there is now.

I was sharing my own stories in the book as well as those of other people, and I really had to learn to trust my own voice in the writing process’

As far as her own mental health is concerned, Clemmie says that recently she’s notice, ‘a sort of shift in myself that sees me trusting my gut instinct more. For instance, I’m really into power lifting at the gym– but in the past it was all about equating exercise with my weight and getting smaller – “will it help me fit into those jeans?”. These days, it really is all about how I feel – and about getting stronger. And I’m not as extreme about things as I was when I was younger, either. Back then, I had a real tendency to burn hot on trends. I laugh when it comes to the trend for sea swimming in all weathers. Once upon a time – and especially living by the sea - I’d have been all over it, but these days I’m too much of a wimp! I’ll swim in summer, but I’ve realised it’s perfectly fine to just enjoy pottering on the beach – something I love. It’s really doesn’t have to be all or nothing, these days, it’s all about balance’

Great British Life: It's taken a year to get the family's Broadstairs house looking as Clemmie envisaged it. 'I'm all about the ideas, Ben handles the practicalities' she says. (c) Clemmie TelfordIt's taken a year to get the family's Broadstairs house looking as Clemmie envisaged it. 'I'm all about the ideas, Ben handles the practicalities' she says. (c) Clemmie Telford

Clemmie’s Broadstairs Life

Three of of Clemmie's favourite local places and spaces:

The walk from Broadstairs to Ramsgate is a great way to blow away any cobwebs. You do need to check the tides before you set out, though.

Morelli’s is a legend among ice-cream parlours with good reason – the sundaes are as big as your face.

Staple Stores in Reading St does the best cheese toasties and pastries going, and for fish & chips, it’s Star of the Sea on the High Street.’



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