“Affordable glamour” – Marco’s in Brentwood
So, tonight is the big launch party for Essex’s first Marco Pierre White restaurant (at Holiday Inn Brentwood) and it’s set to be a bit of a bash.
Arg from TOWIE will be making a personal appearance and will be singing live, while Gemma Collins and others from TOWIE will also be attending to celebrate Arg’s birthday.
As well as being on the guest list tonight, I was lucky enough to be invited to give the restaurant a whirl earlier this week (I’m still full now!) And I got to chat to Marco himself.
So what’s it all about?
Well, Marco’s New York Italian is a dining concept ideal for dinner, light bites or cocktails (I gave a bottle of the Bottega Fragolino Rosso a go. Made from red wine grapes, it’s a slightly sparking wine that tastes rather like a Kir Royal!) Continue reading
Peck them like Beckham: Me and my boy
Parenting, it seems, is a pursuit that everyone has an opinion on – and no one is shy about sharing those opinions.
From breast-feeding or bottle feeding, crying it out or cuddling to sleep, cots or co-sleeping, smacking or naughty stepping, nursery or nanny, every stage of parenthood, so it feels, brings with it another should or shouldn’t.
And it turns out that even one of the world’s most famous men – David Beckham – isn’t immune to the circling vultures of criticism.
What’s surprising though, is the part of his parenting that he’s been hugely trolled for online.
Lest we forget: My boy and me
Sometimes the ways in which motherhood changes you as a person are big.
You give up sleeping. You don’t get to go to the loo on you own. Your jeans never fit in quite the same way again.
And sometimes the changes are slight, subtle, barely discernible, even to yourself.
I had one of those moments on Remembrance Sunday.
I took Sonny Jim over to the service at the Paddocks, Canvey. His grandma is one of the island’s reverends, it’s where I grew up and I sometimes feel the pull of home when certain occasions come around (Christingle is one. Mothering Sunday another.)
And as I sat (thank you to the lovely lady who saw me standing with my almost-3st-slightly-scared-of-crowds-tot in my arms!) I felt a chill that had absolutely nothing to do with the bright, sunny morning.
Pumpkin picking: My Sonny-Jim
Hands up if you’ve taken your child pumpkin picking this half-term?
I feel like everyone I know with a child under about 14 (and plenty without kids at all) has gone mad for this Halloween-themed past-time.
We certainly have. Sonny Jim had a blast with his little buddy Emily at Hurleys Farm Pumpkin Forest, in Battlesbridge.
We came home with three that are currently being pulled all over the house by tiny hands. And we’re likely to take another trip back before the big day on Wednesday.
But the arrival (and popularity) of pumpkin farms here (the Pumpkin Patch, in Wash Road, Basildon, is another) marks a real transition in attitudes to All Hallow’s Eve from just a generation ago.
I didn’t have my first jack o’-lantern till I was 21 (when my then-boyfriend made me one.) Admittedly, my mum is a priest, so Halloween was never really going to be a thing in our house. But I wasn’t alone in not having a childhood of carving pumpkins. Continue reading
Flourishing: Sonny Jim has come on leaps and bounds since starting preschool
I need to have a little rant.
As you may have gathered (I am aware I have chatted a fair bit about it…) Sonny Jim has started pre-school.
It’s only a couple of mornings a week. Just to get my shy two-and-a-half year old making buddies and being brave without mummy always there holding his hand.
After a few tearful drop offs, and a now much-repeated refrain of “no school day, mama, no school” he’s settling in really well and is having so much fun.
So much so, that I already know that as soon as he turns three, I’m going to add another morning, or even another two.
Why am I going to wait until he’s three? Because that’s when his free funding will kick in.
And it’s this funding situation that has really got me in state of irritation.
Pre-school is expensive. To send Sonny Jim to his lovely nursery Monday-Friday from 9am-3pm would actually cost more than I earn. When he turns three, the Government covers 30 hours a week childcare. Continue reading
New menu launch: At Las Iguanas
Las Iguanas, on the Boardwalk, intu Lakeside, has just launched its new winter menu
There’s 12 delicious new dishes alongside classic favourites like fajitas (which I can personally vouch are a little bit of heaven on a plate), enchiladas, and its award-winning burgers. And with 14 new cocktails on the drinks menu to try, it would be a pity not to make a little stop off there for a post-shop natter.
Which is exactly what me and one of my BFFs did last night – making the most of the two-for-one cocktails (all day, every day, FYI.)
But what’s the new menu all about? Continue reading
Fighter mum: Shelley Legge
FROM the moment that my little boy was placed into my arms, I knew I would do anything for him.
There was literally nothing I would not be prepared to do to keep him safe and well.
He was, and is, the most precious thing in the world to me.
Which is why I cannot even begin to imagine the heartache endured by mums with poorly little ones. It must be the most horribly helpless feeling.
Leigh-on-Sea’s Shelley Legge, 38, is living that nightmare. Her 15-year-old lad has two rare types of blood cancer and is in desperate need of a transplant.
I chatted to her last Sunday at the #SwabforCharlie drive in Old Leigh, organised by Southend charity Gold Geese.
I was one of hundreds that turned up to be swabbed and added to the bone marrow register, in the hope of being the match that could save a life.