My Birthday.

Yesterday I turned 37. Yes, I’m saying that with a smile. What a huge contrast to turning 30. I remember feeling devastated that my 20’s were over, and thinking that it was all going to be downhill. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Some of the best things in my life happened after I turned 30. We moved out of our little apartment (which I loved), into the beautiful home we live in now, and I had my two amazing children.

Life in my 30’s has definitely been different, but so much fun. The fun and laughter are even more prevalent now, since I took control of my mental and physical well-being.

So, 37, a few laughter lines, more than a few grey hairs, but nothing that some concealer and a box of hair dye cant fix.

I love birthdays, they’re so special, and I’ve been lucky enough to always be made to feel special on mine. I’m so grateful for friends and family.

The girls were at school and nursery yesterday, so it was a good opportunity for  my husband and I to have a day out together alone. We took the day off work and went into London for lunch.

I’ve been wanting to go to Cantina Laredo in Covent Garden for a while now. I follow them on Instagram and always see posts of their delicious looking food on my feed. The traffic in London was horrendous, but once we got to the restaurant, there was a conveniently located car park close by.

The restaurant itself was light and airy, with comfortable seating. Our drinks order was taken promptly, my husband only ever drinks still bottled water when we eat out, but I ordered a non-alcoholic ‘Refresco’ called Live like a local. It was delicious. It arrived in a tall glass with lots of ice and was the perfect blend of lychee, coconut and lime. They do a very good lunch menu, which has all the favourites from the main menu, so we decided to go for that. You can have 2 or 3 courses, we had two as I wanted dessert elsewhere (more on that later).

To start with, we both had the Tacos Dorados, crispy chicken tacos, with a creamy chile sauce. They were amazing, hot, crispy and stuffed with spicy shredded chicken.

We had the Guacamole Clasico, which was made fresh at our table and was full of flavour, perfect with the big bowl of tortilla chips they placed in front of us.

For the second course my husband ordered the baby back ribs with scallions and fried leeks, with a side of Papas Con Crema Y Chile Ancho, a skillet of creamy potato gratin with a spicy, crispy breadcrumb topping. My husband really enjoyed his food and said it was better than he had been expecting it to be.

I had the tacos de Hongo Portabello, tempura mushroom soft tacos, with grilled sweetcorn and a side of Frijoles Negros, black beans, with queso fresco. The food was everything I had hoped it would be, and after eating all that we were stuffed. I would definitely go back.

Once back to our car, after a short walk around Covent Garden, we headed to Westfield in Shepherd Bush, sadly not to shop today, but just to pick up a Red Velvet cake from Lolas, to cut at home later, and to get the dessert I had been waiting all day for!

Westfield has a pop-up called ‘My Cookie Dough’ and I have been dying to try their freshly baked cookie dough . It comes in a little cardboard tray, with your choice of topping and vanilla soft serve ice cream. I opted for milk chocolate cookie dough with Nutella. They have their own little seating area where you can sit and eat your dessert. It was heavenly! If you have a sweet tooth then this one is for you. They have various pop-ups across the country, so I’m sure you’re never too far from a cookie dough sensation.

My husband didn’t have any though, as he had opted for some ice cream rolls from Pan ‘n’ Ice, freshly made on an ice pan, with your choice of fruit and cream, scraped off into rolls and neatly placed into a cup-yummy.

Aster collecting the cake, we headed home- I couldn’t wait to see the girls. After we had cut the cake, my day ended the same way it always does; dinner for the girls, homework, showers and bedtime, after which I sat and folded laundry! I wouldn’t have it any other way though. Having my family is my biggest blessing from the universe. A Happy Happy Birthday to me!

 

The Natural History Museum.

Visiting the Natural History Museum in London felt like a really difficult thing for me to do for a long time. Anxiety made the journey, the huge buildings and the often deep crowds, impossible to face.

With all the progress I’ve made, I really wanted to give it a go, Leya is 5 now and has various subjects at school that my husband and I both agreed, would be well supported by a trip to the museum.

It was busy. We decided to visit on a Sunday, for some reason thinking it would be quieter. It appears that everyone else had the same mistaken belief too!

However, from the moment we walked through the main entrance and I saw Leyas face light up at the sight of the various skeletons on display, I knew that the trip was going to be worth it.

We arrived at midday, so by the time we’d had a look around the first room,  and taken a few photos, the girls were starving. The T-Rex grill in the green zone seemed like the best option. It was a good choice. They had delicious burgers and pizzas for the kids and the childrens strawberry milkshakes were actually a child appropriate size, which is unusual for most restaurants. I had a chicken Caesar salad, which was huge, and as good as any I’ve ever had.

After lunch, we continued around the museum. The girls loved the bird room, and were amazed by all the different species.

Seeing the fossils up on the walls was fascinating, and I felt a wave of nostalgia from my own visits to the museum as a child. We visited the room about the planets in our solar system, and the girls loved the interactive learning tools, which basically meant that they got to press lots of buttons.

The earthquake simulator was fun, and surprisingly it didn’t frighten the girls. They were intrigued.

I think the proudest moment of my day was Aria sitting down in front of the huge statue of Charles Darwin and staring up at him in awe. I’m so excited for the girls to learn more about the world we live in, and I feel there will be many more trips to the museum in the years to come.

Our day ended with a detour on our walk back to the car park, with a trip to The Hummingbird Bakery, so I could educate the girls in the delicious art form that is cake!

Red Velvet is my usual go to, but I fancied a change and I can highly recommend a slice of the lemon and raspberry ripple cake – yummy.

Review – The Breakspear Arms.

On Saturday evening we went out for a family dinner, at one of our favourite casual dining spots for Indian food.

The Breakspear Arms is situated on the Breakspear Road South in Uxbridge, heading towards Ruislip.

For all intents and purposes, it’s a pub, and they do have a pub food menu and carvery too, but their real culinary merit lies in their traditional North Indian cuisine.

There is a converted conservatory area to the left of the main entrance, away from the hustle and bustle of the main pub, and this has been recently extended and refurbished, to make it a light, airy and comfortable place to enjoy your meal. There are large, conveniently placed TV screens on the wall, for those who want to watch the football.

OK, so the Food!!

The huge basket of freshly cooked poppadoms and selection of chutneys is a welcome appetiser while you wait to order.

The starters, are in my opinion, the best bit, order lots to share! Let me tell you about some of our favourites.

Chilli and Garlic Mogo: Fried cassava chips, tossed in spicy masala and coriander.

Chilli Paneer: Soft cubes of paneer cheese, in a delicious spicy sauce, with peppers, onions and chilli flakes.

Chicken Tikka: Mild and flavoursome, a classic.

Fish Tikka: Soft, flaky, mildly spiced white fish.

Lamb Kebabs: Juicy and aromatic, a little on the hot side so have some of their cool raita if you don’t enjoy the heat.

For Mains we tend to stick to Butter Chicken, Daal Makhni, Lamb Rara – a delicious dry, spicy lamb curry, Rice and an assortment of Naan and Paratha.

 

If you’re looking for fuss-free, tasty, authentic Indian food, and a relaxed family atmosphere, this is definitely a place to try. You’ll go back again and again.

 

Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself.

We have a real tendency to be our harshest critics. We often judge ourselves without compassion. It is so important to learn how to be kind to yourself and treat yourself with care. A core principle of self love is the ability to be able to forgive yourself.

Everyone makes mistakes. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There isn’t a single one of us that hasn’t been wracked with guilt over decisions we’ve made or actions we’ve taken.

The other evening, after a long day at work and a long evening at home working through various things, that the Virgo in me, assured me, had to be done THAT day, I found myself unnecessarily snapping at my daughter. She immediately burst into tears and went to her room. She is 5. I’m not 5. I was 5 what can only be described as an eternity ago. The guilt made me feel sick, which led to tears. Ten to fifteen minutes later, she came to me, still crying and said ‘mummy I’m sorry’. My heart sank. This beautiful child, thought that my reaction was due to something that she had done wrong.

We spent that next half an hour talking, cuddling, laughing and then meditating before bed. She was fine. I had to allow myself to be fine too.

Had my outburst done any permanent damage to her? Doubtful.

The key here was the time we shared, after the unpleasant moment. It literally was just that. A moment.

Learning to forgive myself has been one of the hardest lessons I’ve had in my adult life. Unfortunately guilt is something most of us pick up throughout our early life, and it is so normalised, through punishment and shaming, that we accept it, and own it, making it a part of who we are. When we do something, or say something that we’re not proud of, that guilty feeling is almost what we tell ourselves we should, and deserve to feel.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

It feels so heavy on the heart to carry feelings of guilt around and in my opinion it is as damaging and unhelpful as anger in my opinion.

Accept you humanity. Understand that you will have moments where you will look back and wish you had reacted differently. All you can do is make a commitment to yourself to try for a different outcome next time. The chance is you will slip up again, learn from your mistakes and move on quickly.

Be kind to yourself, and protect your feelings. There is no need to punish yourself when something goes wrong. Love yourself enough to say ‘It’s ok, it happened, and I’ll try my best to make sure it doesn’t happen again’.

It doesn’t matter, how many times you need to say those words to yourself. We can always make a conscious effort to learn, grow, and evolve. Keep moving forward, that’s all that matters.

I Love a Good Horror Film.

Honestly. I really do love ‘scary films’. I say scary in inverted commas because I am yet to find a horror film that has actually frightened me. They may have made me jump at times, or for a split second had prickly feeling of fear rising on the back of my neck, but moments later it’s gone and I’m over it.

I’m not one of those people that then fears the dark, or finds it hard to sleep.

I love the cinematography, the characters, the music, the suspense, and the cultural folklore involved in horror movies.

If you fancy watching a good scary film, here is a list of my favourites, in no particular order.

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (The original)
  • Wes Cravens New Nightmare
  • Halloween (all of them)
  • Friday 13th
  • Fright Night (The original)
  • The Possession
  • The Devil Inside
  • The Exorcist
  • The Exorcism of Emily Rose
  • The Conjuring (all of them)
  • Annabelle
  • IT (the original)
  • The Omen (original and remake)
  • The Rite
  • Insidious (all of them)
  • Deliver us from Evil
  • Paranormal Activity
  • The Woman in Black
  • The Ring (all of them)
  • Annabelle
  • The Grudge (all of them)
  • A tale of two sisters

There are so many more, but the ones above are definitely worth a watch, and a re-watch! Enjoy.

My Favourite Books.

I LOVE to read. It has been a huge passion of mine since childhood, although these days, between work and motherhood, I hardly seem to find the time. When I do though, I like fiction novels, girlie ones and a good crime thriller, or factual books on subjects that interest me.

Some of my absolute favourites are listed below.

These aren’t in order of preference, or in the order that I’ve read them. It’s just a list (Simple).

  1. Dawn Cairns : Tulips Chips and Mayonnaise
  2. Patricia Cornwell; The Kay Scarpetta series
  • Postmortem
  • Body of Evidence
  • All that Remains
  • Cruel and Unusual
  • The Body Farm
  • From Potters Field
  • Cause of Death
  • Unnatural Exposure
  • Point of Origin

3. Sophie Kinsella; The Shopaholic Series

  • The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic
  • Shopaholic abroad
  • Shopaholic and sister
  • Shopaholic and sister
  • Shopaholic and baby
  • Mini Shopaholic

4. Lucy Diamond: Any Way you Want Me

5. Stephen King:

  • Carrie
  • Pet Semetary
  • Thinner
  • IT
  • Misery
  • Needful Things
  • Rose Madder
  • The Green Mile

6. John Grisham:

  • A Time to Kill
  • The Firm
  • The Client

7. Richard Dawkins:

  • The God Delusion
  • The Magic of Reality
  • The Greatest Show on Earth – The Evidence of Evolution
  • The Blind Watchmaker

8. Christopher Hitchens:

  • God is not Great
  • The Portable Atheist

9. Sophie Kinsella: The Un-domestic Goddess

10. Madeline Wickham (Sophie Kinsella):

  • The Wedding Girl
  • Sleeping Arrangements

11. Carole Matthews:

  • Lets Meet on Platform 8
  • A Cottage by the Sea
  • A compromising Position

12. J.K Rowling: The Harry Potter Series

13. Stephenie Meyer: The Twilight Saga

I recommend all of the above if they fall into genres you enjoy. If not- get creating your own list. Reading is a wonderful form of therapy.

 

The Social Media Generation.

I think social media is great. The opportunities it opens up for individuals, to showcase their skills and talents are amazing. The way it allows businesses to market themselves and reach wider ranges of potential customers. Services are easy to book, and easy to choose from the numerous reviews left on social media sites. We all have instant access to ‘how to’ tutorials, recipes, fashion ideas and so much more.

Social media has made it easier than ever to stay in touch with family and friends, even if you can’t meet as often as you’d like, you can still say hi, exchange a quick message, send birthday greetings, and keep up-to-date with what everyone is doing.

However, like all good things, too much can be a bad thing. From my personal observation, the younger generation are teetering dangerously close to the edge of far too heavy a reliance on all things social media related.

Obviously being online has always brought with it a certain degree of risk for youngsters with the anonymity aspect; not really knowing who you’re talking to, which has led to grooming, bullying and exposure of too much information. Putting aside the general identity related dangers, the hidden emotional cost of too much dependence of social media, is far more sinister.

There are those few unfortunate souls, who will bare every detail of their life and all the drama that surrounds them, over their social media accounts, and will seek empathy and support from their contacts. However the more common theme, is for people to only post all the good things that they want the world to see.

Sometimes, it’s akin to living a double life almost, and keeping up a charade like that is emotionally and physically taxing.

As adults, most of us are realistic and understand that no one has a perfect life 100% of the time, but trying to get children, teenagers and young adults to see and accept that is difficult. They tend to go by what they see, so a page on which someone seems to live an enchanted life, can lead to feelings of inferiority, insecurity, envy, bitterness and isolation.

All of us (not just the kids), need reminding, that what we see on social media is not a full and accurate representation of the truth. We see beautiful homes, flash cars and luxury holidays, but we don’t see the hard work, the late nights, the hours spent, the missed school plays and sports days and the sleepless nights that it took to get there. We see the loving relationship, but we don’t see the heartaches that came before it or the tears cried alone behind closed doors. We see the perfect bodies and faces, but the surgery scars, the fat childhood, the unhealthy relationship with food, all hidden behind that pretty filter.

Educate your children to use social media for it’s intended purpose, to make the world accessible to everyone, not as a means to measure their success against the success of others.