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A year in review……

Hey all, how are we?

So I realised this week that I have been writing ‘Tired from Whitstable’ for a whole year. I am struggling to process this fact and can’t help but think about how much has happened in the last year. Life is not unrecognisable but it certainly has changed and then some!

My boys have grown bigger and not just in size! Their characters and personalities grow every day and they are turning into real little people who have likes and dislikes, talents and loves. They also have honed their mess making skills over the last year to the point where I think they can now be awarded ‘expert’ status. 

Karl and I have grown as people and as a couple. We have had great highs and some devastating lows but we still stand together and work on us on a daily basis and isn’t that what relationships are about!

I suppose I should acknowledge some physical changes too, in the last year I have lost a womb, more than half of my hair (by choice), some of the colour of my hair (bloody greys!) and I have gained two tattoos, three new scars on my tummy, some laughter lines, some worry lines, a good stone in weight and HD brows (well not at the minute as I’ve not been in a while so they more resemble hairy caterpillars!)

How about the mental changes? Depression and anxiety have kicked me in the arse over the last year however now I am finally feeling strong enough to kick it back where it belongs. I’ve realised that I need to accept the things I cannot change and deal with the things that I can. I’ve met people who have made me realise so much about this world and its idiosyncrasies that I can see my place in it and I’ve learned some lessons the hardest way possible.

I’ve realised how important it is to embrace the things you love no matter how strange they seem to others because who you are should be celebrated. If I hadn’t have embraced my love for Instagram and gained confidence in taking pictures of all manner of things that many people don’t even notice I wouldn’t have started my blog, started writing a column for the paper or had the nerve to speak to you all about my mental health issues and how I hope to overcome them.

We change, we evolve and we build on our foundations because that’s what human beings do. Who can honestly say with their hand on their heart that they are exactly the same as they were a year ago? The changes in you might not be the way you envisaged them. You may have made mistakes, been alone and had to rebuild or you may have gone from strength to strength in your achievements. No matter how you became the person you are today you should be proud of who you are.

We can all be seen as ‘works in progress’ much of the time and anyone who claims to have it all sorted is either lying or incredibly naive. I have finally in the last year come to realise that to work on me is the most important thing, for my children, my husband, my family and my friends. I can’t be who I need to be for the people I love if I am a depressed, anxious mess and for that reason I refuse to let it define me anymore. 

This next year is going to be a big one, I can feel it and I know that you will be here with me. I can’t wait to see where we all are in a years time and how much we can achieve. 

Here’s to another year of comedy moments with the boys, ramblings about anything and everything, photography, flowers, love, family, friendship, trips out, ice cream and of course the cows at the bottom of the garden.

Thanks for taking the time to be here with me over the last year. I can’t thank you enough for being so amazing and know your thoughts, kindness and love have helped me through one of the hardest years of my life. Much love xxx

Food, fun and family…….

Hey all, how are we? How has the week been?

I was very chuffed recently to have been invited along to a newly refurbished Manor Farm Beefeater in Gillingham, Kent. I imagine this was because they had heard about my impeccable taste in décor, my wonderful taste in food, how much I love sampling wine or it may have been because if they could get through a night with my children they will be able to cater to anyone!

I instantly cast my mind back to growing up and how when my parents would take my sister and I out for a treat we would go to our local Beefeater. We would go for birthdays and other special occasions and I remember adoring it when the meal was all eaten up and my mum let us order ice cream sundaes for pudding.

Often the Beefeater was where we would go to meet family for a special meal on the lead up to Christmas and I remember always being excited about going. Fast forward to thirty three year old me and being totally honest I’ve not set foot in a Beefeater for years. Not because I’m adverse to them but I think because with so many other restaurant chains having grown in popularity and us tending to go out for lunches on our own to small trendy cafes where people would never dare take their children!

But it occurred to me that if the Beefeater was where my parents took my sister and I for family meals then we might be missing a trick. I am a huge fan of local business and small independent restaurants but most of these are on the High Street locally and not on the outskirts of town like the Beefeaters tend to be. They often have outdoor play areas and large car parks. I started to get quite excited about going along and seeing what the Beefeater experience was like as an adult.

So last Thursday Karl and I drove from Whitstable to Gillingham. We didn’t take the monsters as my parents had kindly offered to have them and being honest we wanted to see what it was like without having to deal with bogeys, wrestling matches or spilled drinks!

I was really impressed as soon as we walked in and I was hit with that nostalgia of being young as we walked into a porch area where you had to wait to be seated. I remember our local Beefeater in Whitstable having a similar set up and waiting in anticipation for my children’s menu!


We were seated quickly and drinks orders taken straight away which I really like. Karl was most impressed to see homemade milkshakes on the menu! I like to know there is wine on the way and that I can peruse a menu without having to catch a waiters eye to ask to order drinks. The table we were in was a booth and the restaurant was set up in many different sections with a small number of tables in each. It made it feel much more intimate and you didn’t feel at all like you were in  larger restaurant. In fact all of the stair cases rising here and there made me think of Hogwarts and Karl and I both had a giggle trying to work out how you got to each section.


The menu was varied and offered the traditional steak house fare along with a local specialities section, lower calorie options and alternatives for all the side orders you could have. You could even ask for more chips or salad once you had finished if you were still hungry at no extra charge. Karl had chicken wings to start along with a bbq dip and I had pate with toast. Both dishes came quickly and were really yummy. Karl didn’t even offer me a chicken wing so they must have been far too good to share!


Being meat lovers we both ordered steaks for our main course with a portion of onion rings on the side. The steaks were cooked to perfection and the peppercorn sauce that accompanied mine was also scrummy (so much so that Karl stole it!) From our table and most of the restaurant in fact you could see the chefs cooking in the kitchen so you knew what was coming out was fresh.


We couldn’t resist pudding and Karl’s eyes lit up when he saw Mississippi Mud Pie on the menu and I was very happy to see my favourite banoffee pie. The desserts were just lovely and the portions really generous so much so that we probably could have shared however with Karl and I and our attitude to pudding that was never going to happen!


Karl then had a coffee which was Costa and I had another glass of wine while we waited for our bill which for two of us, three courses, two glasses of wine, a bottle of cider, a coffee and some extra sides was just over £70. I was really impressed, we had eaten enough to keep us going all week and it was really reasonable. I took the time to look around and see how family friendly this Beefeater was and it was exactly the same as when I had been small. Children were provided with colouring, special menus, things to do and were welcomed. The restaurant was spacious and decorated in such a way that you felt you were somewhere really special.

There were really individual touches such as retro lights that consisted of huge lightbulbs, all manner of different cow themed art and crockery and really comfy, attractive seating. I would absolutely not hesitate to visit with the boys and in fact we are planning on returning again soon. It’s so lovely to go somewhere where the children are just as welcomed and treated the same as grownups. The staff were friendly, pleasant and engaged in conversation and this was every server I saw. We left with very full tummies and smiley faces.


 You can find Manor Farm Beefeater on the High Street, Rainham, Gillingham. You can find out more about them and other locations all over the country by clicking here

 

 

Romney Marsh, Rye and Hastings, a little weekender……

Hey all, hope you are well.

Anyone who follows my Instagram page knows that we have just been away for the weekend. It’s been a few months in the planning stages as a weekend childfree is one to really take advantage of!

We love our boys dearly but every so often Nana and Grandad give them a break from us and us a break from them! 

We decided to look at AirBnb for the first time. I had heard good things about it and as hotels and holiday lets are so expensive nowadays it seemed a good way of getting something special without the expensive hotel price tag. 

We had the idea to go to Romney Marsh with a view to exploring East Sussex. Romney Marsh is somewhere I’ve driven through and always thought was pretty but never really spent much time in. We came across a place called ‘The Shed’ which is in a rural part of Bonnington on the Marsh. It ticked all the boxes for relaxing, quiet and away from the day to day fast pace of life. 

The name really didn’t seem to do the place justice from the pictures and the lovely owners were fab with communicating with us and making sure we had good directions. We arrived on Friday and pulled through the farmhouse gate with the shed in front of us. Some of the Airbnb options are rooms within the owners address and some are separate dwellings, cabins, annexes etc. The Shed is a converted apartment over a large country style workshop. Separate from the beautiful old house across the way of the owners Tina and Jeremy.

Tina showed us around and we fell in love, the decor was beautiful, simple, relaxing and in great style. Hand painted murals adorned some of the walls and furniture. Vintage furniture and accessories were dotted around the house including an old wooden ladder leading up into a nook which had a little bed area with a sky light, beautiful old glass bottles and old weighing scales.

There were fresh flowers dotted around each room (if you know me you will know how much I loved this!) as well as creature comforts such as tea, coffee, fresh milk, a range of additional tea bags in all manner of varieties, fresh croissants, toiletries and a lovely card and bottle of prosecco in the fridge as I had told Tina we were celebrating our anniversary. 

The Shed has its own garden with a table and chairs (cushions provided too!) and a lovely view across open farmland. You can also wander around Tina and Jeremy’s garden which is absolutely stunning, full of flowers in bloom and their friendly golden retrievers! 


Everything was wonderfully comfortable, relaxing and we really felt at home. We would love to go back and I think the next child free weekend we have we will! If you would like to take a look at this gorgeous retreat please click here. I know that you will love it too! 


We spent our first day exploring East Sussex and started with gorgeous Rye. It was somewhere I remembered going as a child for outings to eat fish and chips and sit by the river. I don’t recall ever really exploring. We went quite early and parked easily (lots of little car parks dotted around) we had been warned by Tina that it gets very busy so it would be better to go early. I was blown away with all the gorgeous shops you find on The Deals which are all housed inside tall black buildings with wooden cladding. There were antiques, interiors, crockery, gift shops, coffee shops and all manner of other shops to look through here. They were all colourful and full of delights. 


We then walked up the famous Mermaid Street which goes up hill and into the centre of the citadel (how clever do I sound, I said citadel!) Its a cobbled street and every house was unique and gorgeous. Pastel coloured wooden front doors, wisteria growing over the windows, seagulls who seemed so at ease with people one of them guided us up the hill and all manner of pretty signs and reminders of how old the houses were. It was early and quiet so we walked up totally on our own other than our friend the seagull who appears in every picture I took on Mermaid Street! 


We then wound our way around all the little streets and side streets stopping off at various delightful shops including ‘The shop next door’ and the Rye Deli on the High Street. We then made our way to the church of St Mary which was breathtaking. The church itself is huge and the stained glass windows are absolutely beautiful. We paid seven pounds for the trip to the top of the church tower which we had been told boasts the best views of Rye. It was quite a climb along some narrow passages but totally worth it at the top. The day was sunny and bright and we could see for miles.


We then drove about a mile and a half down the road to the beautiful Rye Harbour, this is a really well looked after area with an art gallery, nature reserve, pub and cafes. We didn’t walk the whole of the reserve but the part we did was lovely. There were clean toilets, a lifeboat station and lots of boats to look at. Would be a fab spot for taking the little people with their scooters or bikes.


Then it was off to Hastings, where I had heard there is a vibrant Old Town and arts scene that we were really keen to check out. We were not disappointed! The Old Town is clearly signposted from the town. As it was so busy on the seafront we couldn’t park there but found parking reasonably not far away at the Priory Meadow shopping centre in the middle of town.

You know as soon as you enter the old town, you can smell all manner of exotic food, we could hear bells and singing from the Morris dancers and the shops had all manner of delights spilling out from inside to the street. As it’s a bank holiday weekend and Hastings was celebrating there were Morris dancers and little gatherings of people with flowers in their hair and feathers in their hats dotted along the old town and they were fab! We went into every shop from vintage furniture, homewares, lighting, retro stores, clothes and cafes. I was blown away by the creativity and originality of some of the shops and treated myself to a gorgeous metal star garland to hang above our bed suspended on a large piece of wood (looks better than it sounds I assure you!) 


We had a lovely lunch at the Two Bulls Steakhouse just at the end of the old town and I had the nicest banoffie pie I think I’ve ever had. It came with toasted peanuts and toffee sauce around the edge and over the top and although I knocked it all over the plate and onto the table (much to Karl’s embarrassment) I enjoyed every single bite. 


We stopped off at The Pilot in Dungeness on the way home for a pint of cider and a walk on the beach which was very peaceful and the cider was good! The Pilot serves what my parents call Moby Dick and Chips as he cod is so huge and I remember many a happy childhood memory there.

On our last day we checked out of the Shed after a lovely lay in and drove to nearby Mersham and to The Secret Garden for brunch. I’ve only ever been here for tea and cake so to have a meal was a real treat. The restaurant is stunning and each table was adorned with such beautiful flowers that at first I thought we were interrupting preparation for a wedding breakfast. The food was scrummy and although we were only having brunch we got beautiful toast made from bread baked on the premises with fruit and homemade jam. 

I of course lowered the tone by plastering my tea cup in my current favourite shade of bright pink lipstick! Only me hey! 


We then had the pleasure of exploring the secret garden itself. A beautiful walled garden full of blooms of all shapes and sizes, gorgeous trees full of blossom and magical areas used for weddings. The area used for newly weds to sign the register was a closed in wooden structure with fresh floral garlands adorning the entrance and roof. It was something out of a fairy tale. 

At the end of the garden is a large greenhouse which houses the florist who provides all the floral arrangements inside the restaurant. Sadly it was closed today but the outside areas reminded me of Alice in Wonderland and was somewhere I could get lost for hours. If you would like to check out the menu for the Secret Garden click here. It’s a must to eat there! 



So we are now home, back with the boys, surrounded by Lego, the new drum kit and all manner of junk modelling creations. We had an amazing weekend and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about it and it will be helpful to you if you decide to visit these gorgeous places.

I also think this is the longest blog post I’ve ever written so if you have got this far I applaud you, I thank you and I owe you a large glass of wine. I’m going to have one after writing it! 

Have a fantastic week you lovely people xx

Craft with kids, otherwise known as ‘I need a great big drink’……

Hey all, how are we? 

On a day where we are celebrating St George’s day, all the amazing runners in the London Marathon, the anniversary of the death of one of the most famous Britons ever William Shakespeare what am I doing? Clay modelling with Nate!

My mum helps each week with a homework club for some older children in Whitstable and each week she is in charge of the craft project. This always involves an element of planning and often the boys get a glimpse of what fun the children have in store. Mum being who she is can’t say no to the boys so each week at some point we recreate the craft activity of the week with them.

Last week mum had been loaned a book full of craft projects from a friend to decide some upcoming activities. On Friday afternoon when we popped over for a cuppa Nate of course looked at the book and decided that there and then he wanted to make creations with papier-mâché, modelling clay and wood. Now who actually has these things to hand? Massive overtired tantrum ensued (I so needed my wine on Friday night!)

Today Karl has a work football match and had planned to take one of the boys with him. He chose to take Nate because he is the easiest, the most compliant and the one more likely to listen, not set fire to anything or break a bone. However Leo (the fire starter) desperately wanted to go. I tried some bribes but it was no good, Leo wanted to go with Daddy. At one point I think Karl nearly had a tantrum himself but off he went nevertheless.

Nate then declared (I think this was his plan all along) that we could do some of the craft projects from the book. I thought an afternoon walking around a wildlife park or playing on the beach would be on the cards but oh no, we were going to do crafting! Any of you who read my blog or know me will be aware that I’m all for crafting, I love to draw and take on little projects. I however have the patience of a hungry baby and I really struggle with craft and the children.

Still we came round to Nana’s (where the sacred book is) equipped with the heaviest bag of modelling clay in the world and we began. At first Nate wanted Nana to help so I made the tea (something I am quite skilled at) but after making two pencil holders in the shape of funny faces it was time for me to get involved.

Nate chose to make a desert island. Simple, all you need was a large piece of card, some cling film, modelling clay, acrylic paints, some sculpting tools, some sprigs of plants and paint brushes. That’s all! So we began by painting the sea on the card, applying the large clay island, cling film all over for the full sea and wave effect and then modelled a volcano, a beach, a small rowing boat, a whales tail to stick out of the sea and some shark fins. 

Then it was time to paint the clay, Nate wasn’t happy with the traditional colour of blue, red, green or yellow so we set up a mixing station until we were able to create a shade he was totally happy with. He painted not only the island and various accoutrements but also himself, the table cloth and me. 

Mum then appeared with small bits of tree to be placed on and the island was complete! I had managed to survive the carnage and hadn’t had one impatient outburst or felt the need to take it all away. I did however repaint one of the pencil holders after he had left the table as it appeared he had painted it blindfolded. It was actually because he had one eye on the painting and the other on the Horrible Histories William Shakespeare special on the tele. That’s how I know the fact mentioned above not because I am a history expert! 

One day and probably not that long into the future the thought of sitting with his mum and Nana will bring Nate nothing but dread so I am pleased to have had some time to sit and watch the magic little man we made and enjoy his company (even if he was flicking paint at me!) I just hope magic creation number two is behaving for daddy at the football.

Have a great week you lovely people xx

Mum on the run, take two……

Last year sometime I wrote a post about my running, this was when I could actually go out and easily run ten miles if I wanted to.

I write this today after having one of the worst experiences in some months this morning having decided that due to being ill kicking my running into touch it was time to get back on the hamster wheel. 

I got up full of determination and dug out my favourite running leggings, I pulled them on promising myself I would be good today (I actually ate two desserts yesterday) and went to fetch a top when Karl made an awkward noise. I turned to see a very odd look on his face, ‘what’s up?’ I asked. ‘I’m not sure you should wear those Luce, pass me your phone’, odd I thought but did as requested. He took a picture of my back and showed it to me. To say I went redder than a tomato would be an understatement.

You could see everything. My running leggings were so stretched across my now very generous rear end that you could see my knickers, my skin and my tattoos on my lower back through the extremely stretched Lycra. I could almost hear them buckling under the strain of trying not to pop off my bum.

I was mortified, how had this happened? I was a size ten, I could fit into my clothes nicely and now when I open the wardrobe they practically hide desperate not to be the ones stretched over my ever expanding frame.

Okay so not running while I’ve been poorly will have without doubt added some pounds, but I think the extra cake, chocolate, ice cream, pizza, waffles, ferrero rocher, nuts and fudge may also have had something to do with it.

I won’t scare you all with the picture (suffice to say it was deleted quicker than you can say ‘I like big butts and I cannot lie’ but it was a wake up call.

Mental health issues as you all know play a huge part in my life at the moment and I’m keen to get the piece of mind back that I used to have when running. I will keep up my walking too as I like the slower pace but I think a couple of runs a week will help no end.

If anyone sees me in a shop please slap me if I’m in any of the bad food sections. I am of course aware that a little bit of what I fancy helps but I struggle to stop with a little! 

Wish me luck lovely people and if I run past you and you can see my pants, I’m ever so sorry xx

Thankfulness…… 

Do you ever get to that point when you get a bit sick of yourself? When for whatever reason you know you can’t keep thinking the way you do and actually it’s all getting a bit tiresome.

In life we would walk away from something draining us but what happens when that something is you? 

I’m getting to the point where I feel a bit like that about myself, being depressed is all getting a bit boring now! I’m sure this is a recognised phase in most people who are ready for the next step but not quite there yet (still no start date for cbt) but I’m seeing it as a good thing for me. 

This last week I’ve tried to focus so much more on the little things, the things I always try to get others to notice but so rarely pay any attention to myself, the things we see but overlook each and everyday and the small moments that we will never get back and should savour.

I’ve not gone as far as writing these down mostly because when I’ve been seeing and feeling them there hasn’t been the opportunity but I feel like I’ve made progress in acknowledging these small moments of gratitude and thankfulness. 

At the end of this post I will ask you what little things you are thankful for over the last week, I wonder how many you can think of? 

So in no particular order here goes……

Little thing number one: my awfully behaved children, now I know these aren’t little things, in fact they are two of the few most important things in my whole life however they behave appallingly most of the time. They don’t listen to a word I say, they wreck the house on an hourly basis, they go in the sea knowing full well I have no way of changing their clothes afterwards, they help themselves to all manner of food which was not bought for them, they climb into our neighbours gardens to retrieve their balls even though they know they aren’t meant to and they always say exactly what they are thinking even if they come across as rude or offensive. But….. they are two very unique, high spirited individual boys who know their own minds and feel so massively comfortable in our love that they will do all these things knowing full well that they will always be looked after and loved unconditionally. Even if their parents look like they have aged twenty years in the last twenty minutes. This brings me on to…….

Little thing number two: friendship. Those people who are committed to being there for you and will stand with you through thick or thin, awful decisions, sadness, happiness and when you genuinely are the hardest to love or even like much because that is when you need them the most. 

Little thing number three: nature, the thing that just gets on with it no matter what else is going on, the sun sets and rises again, the seasons change, the weather does its thing and we just Potter along around it. But when you stop to really appreciate it you see that it’s the most amazing thing in the world. Nature and all it creates is absolutely breathtaking and a few minutes spent just looking at the nature around you is extremely good for the soul.

Little thing number four: my husband, this week we have been married for twelve years. This isn’t an event which will go with much fanfare this year due to work and other bits and pieces but it’s been such a tough year for so many reasons and lots of those are due to my issues and yet Karl still stands with me, sees me at my very worst and still believes in me and the amount of love and respect I have for him and all he does for me and the boys is immeasurable. Marriage is never easy and I thank him for sticking with us.

Little thing number five: my mum, there is so much I could say here and it would take me hours to write it all down so I will simply say this, ‘you are my sunshine’. 

Little thing number six: Nutella and crumpets, I couldn’t have got through the last week without you! 

Little thing number seven: Instagram, the amazing community where I have made many friends and can lose myself in a world of beauty and flowers.

Little thing number eight: my Dad, often grumpy yet has the biggest heart I know. This man doesn’t understand a lot of the issues I have been going through and yet is there no matter what with a joke that isn’t really funny and amazing dinners. He knows how much of a pain in the arse I am and yet invests so much in my little family. I love you so very much Dad.

So…… how about you? If you fancy let me know what little things you are thankful for this week, you can email, catch me on IG, Facebook or Twitter. Or just write a couple down to look back on next week, I promise you it will be worth it.

Please remember, it’s okay to be a glow stick, sometimes we have to break before we can shine. 

Where for art thou cows……

Hi all, how are we? 

I love this time of year with the first bursts on warm sunshine, beautiful blossom bursting from all the trees and the general get up and go you find that you seem to have lost in the dreary colder months.

The thing that excites me most though at this time of year is not what you would expect, not the impending chocolate eggs or   lighter evenings though I do love these things. No for me it’s a great big herd of cows. Yes that’s rights cows.

I wake each day with the excitement that today might be the day that we roll back the curtains to see a massive herd of mummy and new born baby cows grazing at the end of the garden. The farm that backs on to our house is huge and will soon be letting the cows out for the warmer months. 

Karl and I sat out on our little bench at the end of the garden earlier and talked about how lucky we are. In a world full of all sorts of chaos we have this sanctuary, the sprawling view and peace that it brings to your mind. This was one of the things that made us fall in love with our house and garden and I could sit and look at that view all day long. 

We think that the cows will be our again once all the babies are born, we aren’t however very experienced in the world of farming so if anyone has any insights I would greatly welcome them! Last week we randomly spoke to a farmer when we drove one evening children in tow to somewhere in Sussex to pick up a set of old Ercol chairs for our next joint upcycling project. 

The lady who had the chairs owned a farm and let us drive along to see the cows and tractors (boys were in heaven) shortly after that Leo was sick down himself and the back of the car which made the whole thing far less magical. She was saying that they were just waiting for all the calves to be born and then their cows would be outside again so I know it will be soon.

I’ve never before realised just how fantastic cows are. They are absolutely massive close up and have the most amazing curly perm haircuts. They sit down in the slowest, most ungraceful fashion and really take their time to think about getting up. They don’t understand what a football is and have to form a large band to investigate when the boys kick one over the fence and even then one gets scared and they all run off and the babies are so gorgeous I could keep one.

They are quite happy to come up to the fence and be stroked, karl laughed at me many times last year as I talked to various cows and stroked their lovely curly mops. Alf the cat also likes to watch them, he looks over the fence at them like he is witnessing an alien world and his eyes widen in wonder.

The cows have influenced our lives in a way that I didn’t imagine and we now buy all things cow for the house. We have cow signs, small decorative cows, cow tea towels, a cow chalk board, cow Emma Bridgewater mugs and cow shopping bags. We even bought a painting called ‘the kitchen cow’ last year on a trip to Brighton which hangs proudly in our kitchen.

What is it about spring you are looking forward to most? Is it stranger than cows?!