10 things I’d tell new-mummy me

I’m nine months into this crazy journey called motherhood and recently I’ve been reflecting on those first few weeks – what would I do differently with the advantage of hindsight?

With that in mind, I’ve put together my top ten things I would tell the new-mummy me. I swear I read every blog on mummy advice when I was pregnant and it helped me feel a bit more prepared for the massive life change that was about to happen – even though it’s true that nothing can really prepare you for becoming a parent!

What advice would you give yourself if you could go back to the beginning?

1. Take photos during labour

My other half doesn’t believe me when I say it, but I wish wish wish we had taken some photos of me in labour. I’m not talking close up shots of the business end, don’t get me wrong, but a few pictures to remember when your life changed forever would be nice. Of course labour is tough and painful, but I also found it incredibly emotional and amazing in its own way. Even now, my memories of it are fading and it makes me sad to think that I don’t have anything to keep those memories alive. So even if at the time you think a photo of you chomping down on the gas and air is the last thing you want, take the picture. If you really hate it afterwards, you can always bury it in the loft!

2. Don’t feel guilty for doing nothing

In those early weeks when Little A slept for most of the day, I wish I had spent more time laying on the sofa, drinking tea and watching box sets. Instead, I felt guilty just sitting around, especially when I thought of my other half out at work (missing out on time with his daughter – oh the guilt, THE GUILT!!). I also felt like I should be taking her to baby groups straight away, when to be honest she really only started enjoying them once she could sit up. If I had one of those newborn days again I would take a lot of naps, watch a lot of TV and have no regrets at all!

3. Get out of the house

This almost goes against everything I just wrote in number 2, but if laying on the sofa staring at the same four walls starts feeling a bit claustrophobic, you have to force yourself out of the house. I was so scared of taking Little A out on my own and that stopped me going out for about six weeks, which was a huge mistake and made me incredibly depressed. Even if you only go for a walk down the road, get out and get some fresh air.

4. Don’t rush the routine

If you read my post on the baby blues, you’ll know that one of the things that caused me to find the first few weeks hard was becoming obsessed with getting Little A into a routine. Whilst it paid off in the end (she slept through from 9 weeks, hallelujah!) I probably didn’t need to be so regimented about it at the beginning. Next time, although I’d still go down the routine route, I’d take it a lot slower and focus on enjoying those newborn days.

5. Trust your instincts 

When I used to hear people say “You know your own baby – you know when something isn’t right” I would think “How? How can you know, when they can’t communicate with you?” Turns out, your intuition is pretty amazing. Take this example. From a few weeks old Little A had a white coating on her tongue which everyone told me was just milk. I was sure it was thrush but decided that everyone else must know better because, what did I know as a new mum? After a few weeks I took her to the doctor for something else and while I was there just mentioned that the white coating wasn’t really shifting. He took one look at it and confirmed it was thrush. I was SO angry at myself that I didn’t trust my instincts and felt so guilty that I had left it for so long before getting it checked. You will absolutely know when something isn’t right, ignore everyone else and go with your gut.

6. Give in to all the cliches

The newborn shoot. Hand and foot moulds. The milestone cards. Seasonal fancy dress. Do all of them. We didn’t do them because we said we just weren’t those sort of people, but turns out, I think I am one of those people and I regret not doing them now. Who cares if they are cliches, you’ll never wish you hadn’t dressed your baby up as the Easter bunny and taken a thousand photos.

7. Don’t waste money on new toys

Toys are such a transient thing with babies. One minute they love them, next they’re not interested. For the first few months, everything I bought was brand new but recently I’ve discovered the wonderful world of charity shops, where you can buy almost brand new toys for a couple of quid. Babies don’t care where you bought something or if its brand new out of the box – all they care is that its super colourful. And lights up. And is musical. (Anyone else have the Jumperoo music going round their head ALL DAY?!).

8. No one is looking at your boobs

I’m not sure if there’s anyone who wouldn’t feel a bit self conscious whipping a boob out to feed their baby in public for the first time, but if I’ve learnt anything it’s that no one is looking at your boob. No one. Most people probably don’t even know you’re doing it. Nowadays, I don’t even notice if I’m sat with a boob out for everyone to see – sometimes I have to be prompted by my other half to put them away! I wish I had been more confident as I think it would have helped me get out of the house earlier (see number 3) which in turn would have helped in limiting the baby blues.

9. Persevere with the sling

A very specific one, but I think life would have been a lot easier if I had given the baby sling more of a chance early on. You never realise what a privilege it is to have two hands free until you have a baby!! I couldn’t get on with the wrap type sling – I was always worried Little A would fall out of the bottom (which she never would have done!) so gave up on it pretty quickly. Next time I’m going to persevere with it, as they allow you to get on with normal tasks like making lunch or tidying up – tasks which are impossible when you are stuck carrying a baby round in your arms all day.

10. Don’t feel bad if you do everything you said you wouldn’t

We won’t bring the baby into our bed. She won’t watch television. We’re not having plastic toys. I’ll never run out of patience… Almost every single thing I said I wouldn’t do when I was pregnant, I have done and done them a thousand times. At first I felt like a huge hypocrite and a bit embarrassed at how adamant  I had been about my parenting style. Now, I do what I have to do to survive! My advice would be to not be too strict or hard on yourself if it’s ultimately making you or the baby miserable – a little bit of CBeebeies won’t rot your baby’s brain and a couple of nights sleeping in your bed won’t mean they are still there when they’re twelve. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world and you have to cut yourself some slack sometimes.

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Entertaining your baby when your maternity pay runs out

This month has been a very significant month for us. Little A turned 9 months, we had our first summer holiday and my other half started a new, part time job to allow him to spend more time being a dad.

But who cares about those minor details – more importantly, my maternity pay has run out! Finished. Ended. Ceased. I will receive a grand total of £0 into my bank account until I go back to work in January.

Shit.

The reality of how poor we are about to become is starting to hit home so I’ve been looking for ways I can entertain Little A which don’t involve parting with a big lump of cash for someone to wave a ribbon and blow some bubbles in her face (Baby Sensory, I’m looking at you).

Here’s my top five things you can do to keep your baby enthralled for more than 30 seconds which won’t require you to strike up a relationship with your friendly neighbourhood loan-shark or remortgage your house.

Utilise your local Children’s Centre

I won’t lie I had a preconception about Children’s Centres before I went to one. Mainly involving snotty nosed kids running amok and hitting each other with Brio. Turns out I haven’t really seen that much snot and I’m not sure Brio still exists? Children’s Centres run a number of groups throughout the week which you can go to FOR FREE – sure, its generally just a room filled with lots of toys, but remember these toys are likely to be things that you don’t have at home (and wouldn’t want anyway given their size/ cost/ general hideous-ness) and will therefore be brand new and exciting to your baby. Once you’ve found your local centre, find the next nearest one – and then the next nearest one after that. They’ll probably run different groups on different days meaning you can find something to do almost every day. Similarly, check out whats going on at your library – if singing nursery rhymes (with actions) is your thing, then Rhyme Time is something you seriously need to get involved in.

Sign up for free trials

There are a huge variety of paid for classes out there – which you’ll probably do a lot of in the first few months when you’re still getting your 90% pay, meeting up with friends for coffee and generally acting like a lady who lunches. When the money starts drying up though, your baby doesn’t have to miss out. The majority of paid-for classes will offer a free trial session – yes it might seem a little cheeky to just take up the free trial and never return, but the option is there for you if you want to take it and ultimately you might find one you enjoy so much that you sign up for the paid sessions anyway!

Organise a toy swap

If your baby is anything like Little A, they will always be more interested in the toys that other babies have, rather than the ones you have spent your cash on and which are GUARANTEED to support their early development/ ensure they are a baby genius/ set them up for a Nobel Peace Prize win. Why not organise a toy swap with your friends? A bit like trading Pokemon cards, except… well, nothing like that. Gather up bundles of toys and do a trade to keep your little ones interested. Just keep tabs on who has what, the last thing you want is a stand off about who is holding Tilly Twinklewings to ransom.

Make a Treasure Basket

‘Treasure baskets’ is a phrase I’ve heard thrown around for a while, but recently I finally got round to making my own. While you might think it all sounds a bit Captain Pugwash, be reassured there’s no need for a peg leg and an eye patch. A treasure basket is literally finding things from around your house that might excite your baby, popping them all in a basket (or old shoe box, this is a thrifty post after all!) and letting your little one go to town on pulling everything out and exploring all the items. Mine included some ribbon, some silicone muffin cases, a sponge, a shower puff, a wooden spoon, a baby brush, a metal milk frother, a mini feather duster and a hair doughnut. Not one penny spent and it kept Little A enthralled for TWO HOURS the other day. Hallelujah!

Get out and about

Don’t underestimate how exciting the world is to your baby. I don’t think I’ve ever been to the supermarket as much as I have since I had Little A. Supermarket? Try super-interesting if you’re a little person. So much to see! So many people to coo over you! So many things to try and grab! Something that can seem mind-numbingly boring to you is probably really exciting for your baby – so stick them in the pram and take a walk around town, down to your local park or to the seaside. I’ve also found it’s easy to pass a good chunk of time wandering round a garden centre – who knew?! To top it off you might even find you have an uber-sleepy baby on your hands at the end of it due to sensory overload – and you definitely can’t put a price on that! (Note: Yes, you can still go outside now that summer has disappeared. As my mother would say; “Put a coat on.”).

What do you do to entertain your baby on a tight (non-existent) budget? I’d love to add some more activities to my repertoire, so let me know!

Battling the ‘baby blues’: My story

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“Having a baby is such a blessing. The love you feel for them is indescribable. From the moment they are born you won’t remember what life what like without them.”

Anyone who has been pregnant will have heard one or all of the above in the 40 weeks leading up to D-day. You try to imagine the moment your little bundle of joy is born and placed in your arms, how it will feel to take your newborn baby home, walking hand in hand with your partner out of the hospital and into your new life, gazing lovingly at each other and then at the baby on your return, before finally snuggling up in bed together in a love drunk, new-family haze.

All these things happened for me. The first week was spent in a state of euphoria, completely in awe of how we had made THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BABY ON THE PLANET!! I would sit staring at Little A and my partner, crying tears of joy because I truly had never felt so happy in my entire life. I clearly remember both of us agreeing (tentatively and in hushed tones) that actually this whole baby thing was quite… easy. Being a mother was the greatest thing I had ever experienced.

The cracks started to show when my partner went back to work. I spent the evening before crying hot tears, my heart aching at how unfair it was that he had to go back to the 9-5 and miss out on precious hours with our daughter. But I wasn’t concerned at being left on my own with her. We would be fine.

Turns out, looking after Little A on my own was harder than I thought. I experienced the usual fatigue that comes from sleepless nights and a hungry, exclusively breastfed baby but I no longer had anyone to pass her to when I needed a time out. I concentrated on getting her into a routine, which manifested itself firstly as an obsession with getting her to conform to the timings set out in the baby book and then slowly but surely led to a fear of leaving the house in case it impacted on her feeding and sleeping schedule. I was also, understandably, nervous of breastfeeding in public and the thought of being out in town with a baby screaming to be fed and nowhere to go, made me feel sick to my stomach.

By week three I had spiralled into despair. I was frightened to leave the house but the four walls were becoming claustrophobic and I was starting to feel suffocated by my new life. When Little A began to cry, I would feel my skin prickle. Her constant demands were testing my patience, when all I wanted was five minutes to have a drink or wash my face. I was sure she was deliberately sabotaging the few moments I had to myself.

Of course I was aware of the baby blues before I gave birth but I was unprepared for how it would affect me and how I would feel like I was failing as a mother as a result. The despair and sadness I felt was overwhelming and I felt it physically, in my heart and mind and in the pit of my stomach. I cried every day, sometimes desperate, choking tears that I hadn’t experienced since childhood. I was so incredibly sad that motherhood wasn’t turning out how I expected. Where was the mother/daughter bond that everyone told me about? I felt myself drifting away from Little A; we were becoming strangers, nothing more than an inconvenience to each other, both of us frustrated by our inability to communicate in the same language.

I have never felt such crushing, suffocating emotions as I did in those few weeks. My partner could only look on helplessly as I breastfed our baby whilst sobbing that I thought we had made a mistake. That I wanted our old life back. That I wished it was just the two of us again. Finally, at the peak of it all, I broke down and said aloud the one incomprehensible thought that had been consuming my mind – I wasn’t sure that I loved our child.

It is hard to see those words written down. It feels awful to admit that I could ever feel like that about my little girl, who I love so fiercely now that sometimes I think my heart will burst. But it is so important to know that it is ok to feel like this and to accept that being a new parent isn’t as romantic as we are led to believe. Saying out loud that I was struggling was the first step towards happier times. Getting out of the house was the second. Letting go of my concerns about breastfeeding in public was the third. Slowly I began to feel good again. One day, when Little A was around 6 weeks old, I realised I hadn’t cried all day. And I didn’t cry the next day either. Or the next.

Since then each day has been more wonderful than the one before and now, five months in, I absolutely love being a mummy and having the privilege of spending every day with my amazing baby. Sometimes I think back and wonder whether it was really as bad as I remember – hindsight is a funny old thing. Hopefully if we are lucky enough to do it all again one day, I’ll be a little more prepared for the crazy mix of emotions that come with having a new baby.

It would also be doing him a disservice if I didn’t mention the incredible support of my other half during everything, who held me as I cried, never once told me to pull myself together and who didn’t even flinch when I told him that I was seriously considering leaving and never coming back. He is an amazing man and an amazing daddy – no wonder I want to have a million more babies with him!

Throwback post: 6 week pregnancy update

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Before I found out I was pregnant, I always imagined that seeing that blue line appear on the pregnancy test would change your life immediately, that you would physically feel your old self disappearing, making way for your new parent persona. That life would change forever in an instant.

And of course it does, in a way. But it also almost feels disappointingly the same. In those early weeks, when that new little life is only the size of a poppyseed, it is so hard to believe that the journey will end with a baby. To believe that there is even anything growing in your belly. The whole process of how a baby forms and grows out of two cells – two cells! – is so magical that to this day I still struggle to comprehend it.

When we found out the big news, I was adamant that I wanted to blog about it, if only for my own memories. Ultimately, that didn’t happen, but it seems a shame for the one post I wrote (so much for the memories!) to forever lay in ‘drafts’.

So here it is, almost a year to the day since I wrote it – the ramblings of a woman who has just found out she’s pregnant, who has no idea she will become a mummy to the most beautiful baby girl she has ever seen on the final day of the year and who cannot imagine how much her life will change!


Today I am six weeks pregnant.

It is one week and two days since I wee’d on a stick and changed our lives.

What. the. hell.

We were always going to try for a baby this year. We agreed over Easter 2015, sat having lunch in a pub in Bath, that I would take my pill for one more year and then I would stop and we’d see what happened.

Because we both knew that, having been on the pill for nearly twelve years, it could take my body up to a year to get back in sync. So hypothetically we could have a year before I even had a chance of getting up the duff.

I took my last pill on 30 March this year and two weeks later I was pregnant.

It was a Thursday morning, I was five days late and neither of us expected that little Clear Blue stick to scream ‘Pregnant: 2-3 weeks.’

My other half was literally about to walk out the door when I ran downstairs, shoved the stick under his nose and said “Shiiiiiiiiit.”We had about 30 seconds to register that something bloody massive was happening, gave each other a kiss and then both went to work. Normal/ completely abnormal day.

We have had one week and two days to try and compute the news. For me, it is very difficult to comprehend it. I don’t feel different apart from needing a wee ALL THE TIME, getting dizzy if I stand up too quickly and a few period pain like twinges. I didn’t know what to expect, but somehow thought you would be able to feel the little seed as it grows. At very least, I thought I would definitely know when the magical moment of conception happened, that I would feel a teeny tiny explosion inside me as the two cells met for the first time. But nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not want hideous morning sickness or to feel rubbish but it would be nice to have a clear sign that something is happening in there. I’ll be cursing myself when I’ve got my head permanently down a toilet in a couple of weeks…

I have my booking appointment on 2 June, by which time I will be coming up to 9 weeks. It feels so far away! I just want to run around shouting “Guess what?! I have a tiny seed in me and it’s growing into a baby!” I have refrained from doing this so far. But I cannot wait to tell my parents, my mum especially who will be the happiest person EVER when she finds out.

According to BabyCentre (my new fave website), the little seed is now the size of a lentil (a big green one, not one of those feeble orange ones) and has a heartbeat. A heartbeat! How is that possible?! By next week it will be the size of a blueberry.

Mind. Blown.

Even though I can’t feel it yet, I am already trying to make sure the little seed gets everything it needs in terms of nutrients and good stuff. Our weekly shop now mainly consists of fruit and veg and I have upped my water intake from basically nothing a day to at least 1.5 litres. I am having broccoli with most meals because apparently it’s high in something the baby needs. I think I may start to look like broccoli soon.

I would love to document this amazing part of my life through this blog, if only to remind myself of it all in future. Of course, right now I can’t post this because no one knows about our secret. But if the 12 week scan all goes well then hopefully I can post a weekly update.

Must go, need the toilet.

I’m back… baby

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Hello stranger.

It has been over a year since I last posted on this blog and life has changed fairly significantly since then.

I had a baby.

Turns out that healthy lifestyle I embarked on resulted in more than we bargained for! Ok, maybe it wasn’t just that (those of you who are savvy and listened in biology will know that babies are not made just by swapping KFC for quinoa) but life has been turned upside down and inside out since I last poured out my musings on this page.

Becoming a mother has been the greatest, hardest experience of my life. In the past 20 weeks I have felt euphoria, joy and love like never before, but also moments of crushing loneliness and despair. It is so true that nothing can prepare you for parenthood – but of course, if you don’t have a baby, you won’t truly believe this until your life changes forever, as it did for me on 31 December 2016 – a New Year’s Eve I will never forget.

So as you can imagine, the focus has shifted on this blog to the wonders of tummy time, nursery rhymes, sleeping patterns and poo. So much poo. I have found real comfort (and laughter) in reading other mummy blogs and I’m hoping that this little corner of the internet can be my way of sharing the highs and lows with other parents out there.

So if you’re reading through this at 3am, baby on the boob and partner sleeping soundly next to you (how do they do it?!) – keep going, you are amazing!

Babington House: the hotel of dreams

Babington House

Let me tell you a little story about the most beautiful hotel I’ve ever had the pleasure of staying in.

A night at Babington House, an exclusive hotel nestled in the Somerset countryside not far from Bath, had been on my wish list for a while. So when it came to discussing what to do for our anniversary this year, I’d whipped out our joint account card and booked us in before my other half could say “It costs HOW much?!”

When we arrived on a dreary Tuesday afternoon, not even the rain could dampen our spirits as we laid eyes on the beautiful Georgian manor house. Set amongst stunning gardens and acres of landscaped grounds, this hotel is every girl’s country-house fairytale.

The reception was grand but cosy, with a roaring fire and a sweeping staircase. The front of house staff didn’t wear a uniform, which added to the welcoming atmosphere and put a stop to those “I don’t belong in this posh establishment, my whole outfit is from Primark” kind of thoughts.

We were shown to our room, a luxurious attic room that boasted an enormous super king size bed, cosy living area with plush armchairs and a Pinterest worthy, open-plan bathing area complete with roll top bath and rainforest shower.

Lounge

Bath

Once we’d investigated all the cupboards, laid on the bed to confirm that yes we can starfish in tandem, and scrolled through the complimentary movie library on the TV, we headed down to the Deli Bar for afternoon tea.

If free tea and cake doesn’t excite you then a) give this hotel a miss and b) get out. I’d be lying if I said we were restrained. But when faced with Victoria sponge, baked apple cake, carrot cake cupcakes, jammy coconut biscuits, scones and endless clotted cream, what the hell are you supposed to do except pile your plate high and get stuck in!

Bellies full, we returned to our room where I relaxed in a deep bubbly bath and tried out all the Cowshed products on offer whilst the other half watched Spectre (hello gender stereotypes). After some serious lounging, we went down to dinner in the Orangery. With its white table cloths and uniformed staff, this is a more formal area of the hotel but no less welcoming or relaxing. The food was delicious and very reasonably priced, which was a nice surprise.

After dinner, we snuggled down into bed, on a mountain of pillows and under the thick duck-down duvet. In a bed that comfortable, we were never going to be awake for long and I was soon fast asleep.

Bed

In the morning, as an anniversary treat, we ordered room service for the first time ever! Needless to say I’m never going to bother getting dressed for breakfast again. Sat in our super-soft dressing gowns, we feasted on eggs royale (for me), a full English (for him) and the full range of continental options.

Breakfast

Given that checkout was until 12pm, we decided to visit the spa before we left. With an indoor and outdoor pool, steam room and spa, we were spoilt for choice when it came to a bit of last minute relaxation. We opted for the outdoor pool, clocking up a few lengths in the sunshine looking out over the landscaped gardens and the countryside beyond.

Checking out at noon, we knew we’d have to come back as there was so much we hadn’t had time to do. From the bicycles and Hunter wellies available to explore the grounds, to the in-house cinema showing nightly films, to the full range of treatments available in the spa, it would hard to get bored staying here.

The thing I really loved about the hotel was the little details in the room- a full beauty station including straighteners, a Nespresso coffee machine and a Roberts radio, as well as complimentary travel sized Cowshed products (yes, they all went in my bag). It was these thoughtful touches that added to the pleasure of the stay.

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I can’t wait to find an excuse for another stay here (it’s my 30th in July and I know my other half will read this – hint hint). It’s a little more expensive but totally worth the cost, even if only for the bottomless afternoon tea!

 

A mini break to the Lake District

 

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If you’re heading to one of the wettest places in the country over a bank holiday weekend, I would advise you not to forget your waterproof jacket.

We were five hours up the A1 when I realised I’d left mine hung up at home. Cue much protesting to the boyf that no, I hadn’t done it on purpose and no, it wasn’t part of a sly plan to ensure we spent our holiday under the cover of Topshop (if only I were that bloody smart).

The Lakes holds a special place in my other half’s heart – he spent four years living there and it’s no secret that it’s the other love of his life (I’m assuming I’m numero uno but you never can tell). I have grown to like it, although it hasn’t quite made its way into my heart yet. I’d say it’s more around my elbow right now.

We drove up on Thursday night to give ourselves a full three days, arriving at a Travelodge just outside the Lakes at 1am.

On Friday we woke up to – SHOCK – glorious sunshine. No need for a waterproof, I win Mother Nature. We treated ourselves to breakfast in the quirky Llama Karma Kafe on the A66, where you can eat your full English next to their resident llamas (separated by a large glass window I should add). If that isn’t enough, they also have monkeys, ferrets, giant rabbits and parrots that you can hang out with.

Yep. Mental.

Now well fuelled, we headed for Seatoller where our walk to Castle Cragg began. A well loved route, it was a pretty easy walk through woodland and fields before we gained height quickly at the end, rewarded with a gorgeous view down over Keswick and Derwentwater when we reached the top.

Castle Cragg

Mountain climbing completed, we headed for our Bed and Breakfast. We stayed in the absolutely gorgeous Crosby B&B, a beautiful townhouse set in the heart of Penrith. Our room was perfect, with a plush and comfy double bed, spacious en suite and an array of lifestyle magazines. We even had some Lindt Easter chocolates on our tea tray, which was a very cute touch. After a day on the hills, it was an amazing place to relax and unwind.

Saturday, the rains came and I was feeling less smug about my lack of waterproof jacket. We spent the morning mooching around Penrith, where I treated myself to some faux flowers in an adorable little home shop. We also found a deli where I sampled about 438294 types of cheese and my other half tried to pretend he wasn’t with me.

At lunchtime, we headed to Ambleside, where I tried on a thousand jackets in a million outdoor shops and came away with NOTHING. Standard shopping experience. We lunched in Tarantella, one of our fave Italian restaurants, where I had a lasagne made with actual chunks of beef. Chunks. Of. Beef. The dream.

A quick outfit change back at the B&B and we headed to Stonebaked in Keswick for dinner. This is one of the most reasonable restaurants I think we’ve ever been to – just over £20 for an enormous pizza and a delicious meaty burger, as well as sides and drinks. It’s a no brainer that we’ll be returning in future.

Ennerdale

Sunday. More rain. Still no jacket.

In between the showers, we managed a quick trip to Ennerdale (HEY, FUN FACT! It’s the only lake in the Lake District which doesn’t have a road running alongside it). It was insanely cold and windy but the other half said it was the perfect weather to capture a moody photograph. I said he could have just taken a picture of my face.

Appaz I am not funny.

Next stop was Buttermere for lunch, a glorious pub lunch with all the scampi and all the chips. You’re never going to go hungry with a pub lunch are you? Except after gorging ourselves we headed out the door, across the road and straight into a cafe for a cream tea. Because there’s always room for a bit of cake. And what else are you going to do on a rainy afternoon?

It was a lovely little break, rain aside. There’s also a moral to this little story; that no waterproof jacket will raise suspicions with your other half but reward you with a lot of food.

Every cloud and all that.

Basking in the little glories

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This week I did something that made me proud. Really, really proud. Like ‘I have to write a blog about how proud I am’ proud.

Cue some ego stroking.

This week I organised a networking event for women in business. I’m talking a drinks-on-arrival, sit down lunch, awesome guest speaker kind of thing. And it went really well. I know this because a number of the ladies emailed me afterwards to say thank you for organising it.

Of course, when someone says thank you for something like that our immediate response is ‘Oh don’t worry it was nothing’ because HELLO WE ARE BRITISH. Except it wasn’t nothing, it was bloody hard work. It takes time and effort to find a suitable venue, persuade someone who isn’t going to send your guests to sleep to be your speaker and figure out how many reminder emails you can send out before oh now your email address is classed as spam.

Don’t even get me started on the finer details. Does this set menu cater for everyone? ‘You’re vegan, gluten free and dairy free? Of course that’s no problem.’ Do we offer Prosecco on arrival? If people are a bit tipsy they might enjoy it more. But what if someone has one too many and starts crying about their ex? Why, no matter how I set up the table plan does someone ALWAYS HAVE THEIR BACK TO THE SPEAKER?!

It’s in our nature to be self-deprecating and my usual stance would have been to focus on the negatives. Like the fact that there was absolutely no fucking parking. Like none. The village that housed the restaurant was quaint and pretty and oh look at that lovely tea room but I have no idea how anyone actually visits there without just giving up and abandoning their car in the middle of the road.

However, whilst it was a point to note if I was to plan another event there, I decided not to dwell on it. Instead I chose to focus on the positives. The fact that I single handedly got 25 ladies to come to a beautiful venue, secured an inspirational speaker to talk to them and fed them all a bloody lovely lunch with no reported instances of food poisoning.

We are forever playing down our successes, dismissing compliments. How many times has someone said they like your outfit for you to say ‘Oh this? It’s so old’ or said your make up looks good and you’ve responded ‘Oh I’m not sure about it.’ We should be shouting from the rooftops ‘Look how I still can still fit in this dress from five years ago!’ ‘Look how on fleek my eyebrows are!’

So lets start playing things up, acknowledging when we’ve done a good job, accepting other people’s compliments. It can be a tough job being a woman and we should take a moment to bask in our little glories when they happen.

And that’s what I did. On my way back to the office I stopped in at Waitrose, said ‘sod the carbs and refined white flour’ and treated myself to the most delicious crusty white bap to go with my salad. That’s right, I am an awesome events planner and I am ROCK AND ROLL!

I am also queen of puns…

 

I am a grown up

Notepad & candle

When did I become a grown up?

It’s one of those things that happens without you even realising. One minute you’re expertly carrying eight VK’s between your fingers in the club because, hey its BOGOF before 9pm, and the next you’re revelling in the pure delight of a virgin mojito before 7.30pm on a Friday.

I suddenly realised it had happened this week. I was in Aldi, feeling pretty smug that I’d won my weekly game of ‘can I get our weekly shop for under £40’, when I caught sight of myself in the window and thought “Jesus christ, I’m an actual woman.”

I don’t mean that I hadn’t realised before that I belonged to the female species. The female body I own, along with the absolute raging hormones, made it clear pretty early on which gender pool I swam in. It’s just, until now I’ve always thought I was a girl. I still refer to myself as a girl because ‘woman’ just doesn’t resonate with me. Woman sounds like I should be running round in my stilettos and pencil skirt, oozing sexuality and generally having my shit together.

I’m currently sat in my dressing gown and a scarf (because ain’t nobody got time for the cost of heating), oozing nothing more than some stale morning breath and wondering where the hell I’ve left our most recent and as yet unpaid water bill.

Woman I am not.

However, somewhere along the way, I have left girl-hood behind. My seventeen year old self would not have entertained the idea of the weekly shop game. Her biggest responsibility was just getting out of bed in the morning. I, however, own a house, have a full time job and have managed to keep our cat alive for over three years now.  That, my friend, is growth.

Long gone are the days of clubbing, sleeping in, texting boys and watching The Hills on repeat wishing my life was as exciting as Lauren Conrad’s. All of this has been replaced with early nights, early mornings (hey 7am on Saturday, who knew you existed) and finding the most pleasure in long walks and longer lunches.

I’m guilty of assuming everyone younger than me is 12, judging the length of girls’ skirts and generally being irritated by large groups of youths. On numerous occasions I have actually used the phrase ‘kids today…’ and I recently told a young man to ‘take his bloody legs off the table’ in McDonalds. Ok it may not be the classiest of joints but is it too much to ask that I can eat my Happy Meal off a clean table? Little shits.

I love a good documentary. I voluntarily watch TV programmes on country walks. Conversations with my other half often revolve around house prices, interest rates and hmm do you think we should be worried about Brexit? What even is Brexit? I’d rather use the last of my disposable income on a mortgage overpayment than purchasing another nude MAC lipstick which looks like all the other 25769374 nude MAC lipsticks I own. I am an English Heritage member (“Ooh look at all the stately homes we can visit FOR FREE!”). I use face cream, day and night, religiously, because suddenly wrinkles are a very. real. problem.

So whilst I haven’t noticed it, I guess I am technically a grown up, responsible woman, even if I still haven’t quite managed the art of tidying up or made a final decision about what my handwriting should look like.

Now where the fuck is that water bill?

 

Let them eat cake. Twice.

Afternoon tea

Hallelujah for weekends. After a hard week at work, sometimes all you want to do for two solid days is lay on the sofa, drink cups of tea and watch endless youtube videos (Primark haul, what I ate today, Primark haul, get ready with me, funny cat video, repeat x 1million).

This weekend however, I actually got off the sofa, put on some real clothes (see ya dressing gown, I am well dressed, grown up woman today) and found myself being productive. Getting stuff done! LEAVING THE HOUSE!!!!

OK, rewind, because actually I did start the weekend by spending all of Friday night on the sofa. This is only because we absolutely had to watch the final two episodes of Making a Murderer on Netflix because OH MY GOD IT’S SO GOOD. If you haven’t seen it yet, clear your diary, get the snacks out and crack on because it’s frickin awesome. If your thing is ‘hillbilly gets framed for murder by corrupt police force’ conspiracy documentaries (because that’s not an incredibly niche genre or anything) then bingo! this is perfect. We binge watched the whole ten episodes in a week and spent a lot of time revelling in our joint outrage at the seeming injustice of the whole case. Bring on series two!

On Saturday I actually did leave the house and took my mum for afternoon tea to celebrate Mothers Day and also because… well, cake. We went to a gorgeous tea room in Canterbury called Tiny Tim’s Tearoom, a quaint little place which is everything you would expect from a traditional tearoom; an abundance of cakes in the glass fronted counter, jars of loose leaf tea lining the shelves and kitsch bunting adorning the walls.

We both went for the high tea and as you can see from the picture, it was a masterpiece. Those crumpets were soaked in butter and the yolk of the poached egg was totally worthy of the #yolkporn hashtag. It’s making my mouth water just thinking about it. Alongside that we had a lovely crumbly fruit scone, with the sweetest strawberry jam and creamiest clotted cream, and if that wasn’t enough we also had three bite size cakes as well. All washed down with copious cups of tea. Perfect. If you’re ever in Canterbury, definitely try and visit. Be warned though, avoid the busy times – there’s quite often a queue out of the door.

Come Sunday I decided that I still hadn’t quite satisfied my cake craving, so figured that if I made my mother in law a bloody massive carrot cake for Mother’s Day there’d be no way she could get away with not offering me a bit.

And I was right. All hail the ulterior motive.

Carrot cake

Oh good lord this cake was heaven. In order to try and keep it in line with my pledge to make healthier choices (yeah in case you’d forgotten I’m meant to be a lean, green, healthy machine at the mo), I used a refined sugar free recipe from Livia’s Kitchen. I even managed to make a refined sugar free frosting (substitute the icing sugar with honey). Basically, call Deliciously Ella and tell her she can move over because there’s a new health queen in town.

The consistency of the cake was softer than the usual cakey-ness (yes, that’s a real word) of a sponge, due to the main ingredient being ground almonds. The only way I can describe it really is as melt in the mouth. It was just the right amount of sweetness (I only used 3/4 of the maple syrup suggested in the recipe) and the tanginess of the frosting complemented it perfectly. I’m drooling again…

Basically just make the cake because it’s delicious. And if you go on a walk beforehand, like we did, you can totally justify two pieces. Possibly three. Four at a push. I don’t judge.

So when I said I was productive and left the house, what I meant was I was either making a cake, walking towards a cake or walking away having eaten cake. But that’s a pretty good use of a weekend isn’t it? Isn’t it?!