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.
Cheers! In the Aurum Bar
Sonny Jim is almost two and a half. And I’ve never spent the whole night away from him. (Obviously nights out with 2am finishes don’t count… I’m always there when he wakes up!)
But my birthday is just a few days away, so we figured it might be nice to actually have a night away.
And with the Seven hotel and it’s Aurum restaurant and bar practically on our doorstep, we couldn’t have dreamt up a better spot for our first baby-free mini break.
The exquisitely designed boutique hotel is set high upon Southend’s cliffs, within the beautiful Clifton Conservation Area. With 37 stunning bedrooms, including 5 luxury suites, a 70-seater modern British restaurant, a gin-centric cocktail bar and outdoor sun terrace, it’s London lavishness right here on Southend’s coast.
Giggles: At the last family wedding
LATER this summer, Sonny Jim will be flying to the south of France to attend a family wedding.
My second cousin once removed (or is it third cousin?!) is getting married and while I HATE flying and am dreading the 4am taxi with toddler in tow, I really wanted us to go.
This cousin was one of my best playmates when I was little. There’s just six weeks between us, and a mere couple of years between us and her older sister, and almost all of my favourite childhood memories feature them in some way or another.
We didn’t live especially close (me on Canvey, them in Goodmayes) but every school holiday we could be found at each other’s houses.
Not long before Sonny Jim was born I went to lunch with one of my best friends.
Strangely she had turned down the offer of a lift, meaning she wouldn’t be drinking either.
The reason was soon revealed. She was pregnant too. It was very early days, but that didn’t stop the two of us giggling together about our little ones being friends and working out just how much of our maternity leave would overlap.
Soon after I had my baby boy. And she had her dating scan at 12 weeks. I got to grips with life as a new mummy. And her pregnancy progressed.
Until 21 weeks. When her little boy, Alfie, was stillborn.
As I laughed watching my son start to work out how to roll and giggle, she was looking at her son lying silently in a cold cot in Southend Hospital’s butterfly bereavement suite. Continue reading
Not just a mama: At my first pole dancing class
Often when you have a child, a big chunk of your identity gets lost.
Overnight you become the most important person in the world to someone else.
You’re their food source, their comfort, their safety…. You’re their mum. And everything else in the world is secondary to that.
As they get a bit bigger they obviously don’t need you quite as much – their neck can hold the weight of their own head for a start.
But still, being a mummy can be the thing that defines you.
After waiting for nine years for my boy, and undergoing fertility treatments galore, I can hand on heart say that being Sonny Jim’s mummy is the best title I’ve ever had. I’m a work-from-home mama for the sole reason that I want to grab every minute that I possibly can with my little lad while he’s growing up. I never actually realised I’d love “mummying” as much as I do. Continue reading
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
Going down well: One of my porn star martinis
When your local bar has an extensive revamp, reopens with a new name, new look and promises “epic food, creative cocktails and great times” then it was only a matter of time before I’d be checking it out.
The Oakleigh, in London Road, Leigh-on-Sea, launched a couple of week ago and is offering a new restaurant, cocktail bar and evening bar.
It’s on the site of the former popular Bellini Bar and Brasserie, which closed a few months back – and is run by the same folk, namely the McManus Pub Company.
I’ve had a fair few girly nights at Bellini (pre-baby, its oh-so-moreish jam donut cocktail gave me possibly one of the worst hangovers I’ve ever had!) so when I was invited along for dinner and drinks at the Oakleigh, there was no way I would be saying no.
The husband and I headed up there last night, after our tot was tucked up in bed and the babysitter safely installed in front of Love Island. Continue reading