Living the life: Sonny Jim at the Zach Willsher
I made a bit of a discovery last Saturday night.
My brother was celebrating his 30th birthday at the Zach Willsher in Benfleet.
And, as most of my family were going to be there, including rather a lot of my cousins we don’t get too see that often, I decided we’d head along too.
Nevermind that it’d be a late night for Sonny Jim and he’d probably be rather grouchy on the back of it come Sunday.
His daddy was out at the football, so we’d give an evening at a pub a whirl.
What I hadn’t accounted for though, was the brilliant little play area at the Zach.
Picking strawberries in his pyjamas: Sonny Jim in the garden
Helloooo strawberry season!
It’s a sure sign that summertime is here when strawberries hang heavily from their runners.
Last year more than 137,000 tonnes of strawberries were sold in the UK, with shoppers spending upwards of £1.3 million on the classically British berry.
And the cold start to the year (remember that snow?!) mixed with the recent warm days and cooler nights, has led to a slightly later start to the strawberry season. The resulting slower strawberry ripening means this year’s British strawberries look set to be packed with more flavour than usual. (Sonny Jim certainly seems to be enjoying the dozens he picks daily from our garden’s strawberry patch!)
And Essex has more than a couple of spots where you can pick handfuls of strawberries yourself. Here are some of the best… Continue reading
As a seven-week fetus – our first look at Sonny Jim
TWO years ago today I was sat clutching my husband’s hand at Bart’s Hospital in London.
After nine years of trying for a baby, five years of fertility treatments and a round of IVF, it seemed I’d finally fallen pregnant.
And two days before my 31st birthday we were waiting for a scan to confirm that it was definitely true, for a first look at our baby, to see its teeny little heart beating.
When Sonny Jim’s flickering heart flashed up on the grainy screen, I cried. He looked a bit like a prawn. Or maybe a crocodile. And it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. Continue reading
From printmaking and classic cars to afternoon tea and outdoor cinema, here’s my pick of the best events in Essex this July.
Castaway… Northey Island
1 THE FLING FESTIVAL
Saturday, July 1. 12pm-11pm. £27.50
Hylands House, Hylands Park, London Road, Chelmsford
The annual Fling Festival is one of Essex’s top events exclusively for adults. The festival includes music, cabaret, theatre, comedy, immersive crafts, a silent disco, a fire garden, a punk poet, bars and plenty of food! This year the afternoon-into-night event, in the fabulous Hylands House and Estate surrounds, promises to be bigger and bolder than ever before.
For more information: www.flingfestival.com Continue reading
“Learning baby CPR is like having car insurance – you hope you never need it, but if you do need it you’re ever so grateful you have it.”
Baby first aid: Putting this worried mama-to-be’s mind slightly more at ease (PHOTO BY SARAH BRIGGS)
These are the opening words said in my three-hour baby first aid class with St John’s Ambulance.
The sessions, which are held all over Essex, cover everything from the correct recovery position for babies (cradled in your arms with their head tilted downwards – not on the floor on their side like adults), CPR and choking to dealing with fevers, croup and burns.
At eight-months pregnant with my first child, and by nature something of a worrier, I was prompted to take the class after the UK’s leading first aid charity aired its new Nursery Rhymes Inc advert – in which a short video featuring the stars of Nursery Rhymes Inc shows how to do baby CPR.
The campaign was launched after parents told the charity that their baby not breathing was the first aid emergency they feared the most, yet only one in four knew what to do.
I was soon to be one of them. And the thought of being clueless – or doing the wrong thing – should I ever find myself in that nightmare situation, quite frankly terrified me. Continue reading
There are few things that signal spring as sweetly as the seemingly overnight arrival daffodils in our gardens, by the roadside and in woods across the county.
Never give just one daffodil…it’s considered bad luck!
Known as Lent Lilies, daffodils (narcissi if we are to use their formal name) are the most popular flower for Easter decorations, flowering anytime from January through to April. So bedded in tradition are they that Prince Charles is paid the sum of one annual daffodil as a rent payment for the unattended lands of the Isles of Scilly.
But like most blooms there are plenty of myths attached to them. Did you know it’s is bad luck to bring in a single daffodil into your home? Doing so, it is said, will bring misfortune upon the house.
So always bring a bouquet, if you intend to give daffodils as a gift, as this will bring good fortune to the house.
And even before they’ve been picked, daffodils are rife with superstitions. It is said if you step, stomp, or trample on a bed of daffodils, bad luck will find you. However, if you make a great effort to avoid stepping on a daffodil, you will be rewarded good fortune (so keep that in mind when admiring them in their hundreds at Warley Place Nature Reserve, just south of Brentwood.) Continue reading