An October review…….

October is one of those months where I tend to have a bit of a review. My birthday is this month and I think as it approaches every year it makes me evaluate where I am, where I’ve been and what I’ve achieved over the last year.

When I thought about it quickly I thought that this year hasn’t been one full of great things and huge achievements but then I thought again. This year I have focussed more on me than I have for a long time. I have had the at times uncomfortable realisations of who I am, what I’m about and what I need to let go of. I have dare I say it become more happy. I have allowed myself to be who I am in ways that I would have feared to in the past. Worries about being mocked or treated differently I haven’t allowed to plague my thoughts like I used to and I am for the first time in a long time  in a position where I can say that the people I have around me understand and embrace me for me no matter what. Not you Mum, you’ve been doing that for almost thirty five years now!

No matter what is a big statement. No matter what is in good times or bad, when I have had successes or failures. When I’ve made good decisions or hideously awful ones. There really is a huge amount of truth in the saying ‘find your tribe’ and when you do you need to hold on to those people with all you have.

I have talked about my mental health more this year and I feel with more authority. I am on a journey that evolves on a daily basis and it’s a journey that I am at peace with as opposed to fighting against. I have made the decision to come off my antidepressants and to take more control in other ways over my mental health. I have started small practices to help me on a daily basis that are becoming habits. I write down how I feel, I meditate, I read more and I am more realistic with myself.

I have put on about two stone and I’m currently wearing a size eighteen. This is a big thing for me to tell you but after all the peanut m&m’s and those yummy Ikea biscuits I am hardly surprised but for once in my life I am being kind to myself. I have realised that limiting myself is a way I used to self harm in the past and denying myself nice things as some strange way of punishing myself did nothing other than make me miserable. I have cut down on alcohol and started running again (slowly and with a very interesting style but still) I have realised that I am meant to have big boobs and they need to be comfortable so I’ve started buying my bras at Victoria’s secrets because they don’t only make sexy, tiny underwear but they make the most comfortable bras I have ever worn. They are expensive and I only buy them in the sale because that’s what I can afford to do but it feels good to be looking after myself and taking pride in doing so.

I see the beauty in having no plans, in living simply and taking each day as it comes. I love to see friends and walk around taking pictures even if it is somewhere we have taken a million pictures of before. I have realised I like yoga and just because I am not as bendy as most people doesn’t mean I can’t do a downward facing dog as well as the next person.

We have made a small house into a big house and have taken pride in doing so. It’s been a massive lesson for us as a family and a couple but it has bought us closer together and bought pure joy. I look forward to getting the garden finished and starting my flower garden and the thought of cutting flowers I have grown myself next year to display in my home brings a huge grin to my face.

I have realised that there are so many things in this life that are so much more important that I ever thought. Sitting with my parents over a cup of tea talking about the birds, seeing my boys play with their friends, listening to the boys read, eating cake with Karl, taking my mum out and treating her like she deserves to be treated and laughing with my friends. These things are priceless, these moments to be made memories that I can cherish forever.

I want to continue to write and talk about mental health. I want to help people, to give blood (once and counting) to explore more creative pursuits, to spend more time with the people I love and to see them go from strength to strength. I hope that when  I write this post next year it will be another year of little things that have added up to massive things when I will be meeting another year older as a welcome friend full of excitement and promise.

Thanks as always for reading, for listening, for being here and being you. You have no idea how much each and every one of you that has taken the time to email, comment on my social media, hit the like button and talk to me about my blog and writing have helped me this year. You are amazing and I hope you never forget it.

Lucy 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



Drone flying, bike riding and giant crumpets….

Hi all, how are you? 

This week like all the others seems to have flown by in the blink of an eye. After what seems like a miserable few weeks I’m happy to say that this week with the start of spring and hints of sunshine to come has been much brighter.

Karl has just bought a new drone which he has wanted for ages. This white thing that looks a bit like a giant fan has been ever present in our lives since he received it at the beginning of the week. So much so the constant ‘droning’ noise it makes is starting to seem quite normal now. As is the gale force wind it blows around as it hovers over my head. 

So far this week we have taken selfies of ourselves in the garden from a great height, filmed the internal layout of the house while blowing around every loose bit of paper laying around (loads as always!) and filmed the boys riding their bikes up and down my parents driveway which is very long using the drones special ‘follow’ feature. 

I have to say I am genuinely concerned that we will end up causing no end of issues for the poor cows when they return to the field shortly and their peace is disturbed by Karl’s drone on follow mode but I’m hoping some of the overexcitement will have worn off before then! 

The boys have been particularly keen on bike rides this week and Leo is practicing to be ready to have his stabilisers off. This is for two reasons, one that he is five and really should be riding his bike on his own by now and two he is so huge that we are worried the poor stabilisers will buckle under the weight. He ate a bigger roast dinner than me today and that is quite a feat (I love a roast!)

I tried this week to be clever when it came to breakfast, I feel like daily the boys conspire to make it as difficult as possible. They change their minds repeatedly, decide they don’t like what they ate the day before, refuse to eat certain things over others (usually once I’ve already made the first) and generally drive me potty. 

So I went to the new Aldi and stocked up on every kind of breakfast option available. Cereals by the dozen, fruits, yoghurts, breakfast biscuits, bread for toast, eggs, bacon, sausages, cold meats and giant crumpets. If I’m being totally honest they were more for Karl and I. We are both partial to a nice crumpet and they looked so yummy. Typically both Nate and Leo decided they wanted said crumpets and not only ate nothing else of the huge amount of stuff I had bought but I ended up having to go and buy more giant crumpets and at my last count this morning that’s 24 this week! Nate will only eat his half butter half chocolate spread which is extremely odd! 

I am so happy that spring is here and I’m looking forward to the next part of the year. This week has been full of light and it feels like the new season has bought a new sense of purpose. 

Alf the cat is doing well, thank you for all your lovely thoughts and comments. He is eating like a king and doing lots of resting. We believe thanks to our neighbours we have identified the offending cat who apparently has been making a menace of himself with cats in the road. I’m not really sure what to do about that yet but I am very thankful our Alf is okay and on the mend. 

So this week if anyone feels they are being followed I apologise for Karl and his drone and if anyone fancies breakfast I have enough food to feed the whole of Kent (not any giant crumpets though, they are Nate and Leo’s apparently!)

Have a fab week you lovely people and never forget that you are amazing and you can achieve great things. No one can define exactly what those things are so this week if you climb a mountain or simply manage to get your little darlings to brush their teeth without a twenty minute debate about the workings of gum disease you will have achieved something!