Why have I not realised the boon of family pubs?

Zach Willsher, Benfleet, Essex, Katy Pearson, Sonny Jim

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.

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Alfie’s Ball will help so many others…

Alfie's Ball, #AlfiesBallNot 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

Let’s talk about last night… at the Oakleigh

porn star martini, Katy Pearson, the Oakleigh, #whatkatydidUK

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

Street party felt like a wonderful trip back in time

Katy Pearson, Sonny Jim, #whatkatydidUK, Essex, Street party

Running wild: My Sonny Jim making the most of the road being closed

FOR a few hours on Saturday afternoon I felt like I’d stepped back in time.

Our road was closed for a royal wedding street party. There was bunting. Chalk drawings on the floor. Kids running wild up and down the avenue. Neighbours sitting on curbs in the sunshine, sipping beers and prosecco.

It was blooming lovely.

I was never allowed to play out as a child. But even if I had been, it wouldn’t have been as charming in the Nineties as it was for my Sonny Jim on Saturday. He literally had the time of his life. He ate his tea in the street, chased his aunties (and his football) up and down the road for hours and by the time bedtime came around, he had two grazed knees, dirt all over his face and was a sweaty, sticky mess of sunshine in toddler form. Continue reading

Let’s talk about last night… at the Amazing Club’s launch party

The amazing clubSometimes with a toddler, a husband, a job, a blog, a dog, and an endless to-do and should-do list, it can be a bit difficult finding a bit of time to just be me.

To get a bit giggly, to have a glass – or three – of prosecco, to chatter about stuff that isn’t important, but just interesting.

And it appears I’m not alone with this.

Which is why the Amazing Club came about.

Set up by two make-up artists (who happen to be sisters-in-law) its aim is to be somewhere women can escape, chat and rediscover themselves. To stop feeling like a watered down version of yourself. To meet new people. A reason to make time for you. It’s not just for mummies. Or business women. It’s for all women. A supportive group. A grown-up gang. A tribe. Continue reading

Interiors: Heart-centred design

#whatkatydidUK, Amy Kirkwood, beach house designLeigh-on-Sea’s Amy Kirkwood is one half of Beech House Property Renovation (www.beechhousedesign.co.uk.) She reveals why it’s important to get to know your home, how to speedily update your living space and reveals what inspires her…

Q How did you get into interior design and property renovation?
A I am first and foremost an artist and designer, with a passion for colour and pattern. But, I have always carried a flame for beautiful interiors, and more so after travelling extensively and owning my own properties that I have renovated as well. It seemed only natural, when the time was right, to revisit my love for interior design and fuse it, now, with my studio practice and our family property renovation business. I also make bespoke lampshades and create abstract paintings for interiors.

Q What’s the biggest project you’ve ever taken on?
A I have project managed a new build home, with Dave building it, where I worked with the client to design and style the interior. We are currently planning, designing and project managing the total overhaul of a Thirties’ bungalow on the coast of Essex into a two-storey beach house. Continue reading

Interiors: Bright ideas in the home

House of Lovely Stuff, Essex LivingFrom renovated sofas to bright colours on your wall, Leigh-based House of Lovely Stuff’s Jo Bolter tells why it pays to be bold when it comes to interior design…

Q How did House of Lovely Stuff come about?

A I grew up in a house sewing, designing, drawing, cooking, making and creating. But like most families I had no idea that normal people did this as a job, so I left school and started working in a local bank. I met my husband who was a graphic designer and art director and we’ve always enjoyed a shared interest in photography, going to the cinema, gigs, galleries and decorating (the designing bit) our home.

House of Lovely Stuff, Essex LivingBut the catalyst came one day when our youngest daughter came in from school moaning about her homework. It was Eighties week and she had to design an Eighties outfit. I happily explained to her that when I was her age (in the Eighties) I spent hours and hours designing clothes and occasionally making them for fun. My husband said, “Really? You designed and made your own clothes? Why did you stop?”

The answer was sad but simple. The school system/syllabus doesn’t value creativity so when it came to choosing my options I could only choose one creative subject. I loved cooking and I loved textiles. I chose home economics and then as I concentrated on passing my exams.

A couple of weeks later my mum decided to buy a new sewing machine. She asked if I wanted her old one, it was a bit tired but could do a job. I made a cushion. It went okay. I made another one. I started to match fabrics together, playing about with angles, prints and textures. I was happiest experimenting and making. Friends started to take notice. Then I was asked if my cushions were for sale. Sure, I said. And before I knew it a few more friends and friends of friends were interested. Continue reading