Adventures: Coram’s Fields

It’s April, and the sun is out (occasionally, very aware I’m writing this and it’s hailing outside…)

Since the Easter holidays are stretching out ahead of us like the writing at the beginning of a Star Wars film, I thought I’d dedicate most of this month’s posts to cheap (or free) ideas for days out around London, since that’s closest to where we live.

You could almost call it ~April Adventures~ if you were feeling that way inclined.

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You could almost make it official with a title if you were feeling double fancy.

The first place I’m going to talk to you about is one of Elliot’s favourite places: Coram’s Fields.

I’ll be honest, it’s not the Alton Towers of playgrounds, so don’t go expecting the world’s best climbing frames. However, for a five year old – it’s an absolute dream. And for a parent – IT’S FREE.

Elliot adores it there and has can spend hours playing with everything. There’s a few different areas in the park, from a tall climbing frame with slides and a zip wire in one corner to a sandpit and some smaller structures in another, and Elliot at age five is the perfect size for both.

They’ve also got rabbits and a goat, which I think every park needs. All we have in the park round the corner from my house is broken glass all over the floor and a man asleep outside the garages opposite the entrance gate.

Elliot posing with an adorable bunny rabbit at Coram's Fields

Another good thing is that Coram’s Fields has the rule that adults can’t go in there without a child accompanying them – meaning you won’t get any strange characters clutching a can of Stella outside the chicken coop.

Oh, yeah – they have chickens too!

The adult-free aspect of the park is great, in my opinion, because I can give Elliot free reign, basically. (As well as no adults being allowed – there’s normally someone manning the entrance gate plus it’s very heavy so even if he made his way over to the access gate he’s not going to get out of it before I catch him.) I can plonk myself on a bench and half cheer him on as he goes down the same slide twenty times and half check Twitter for Brexit updates without feeling like a complete failure of a mother.

Elliot coming out of a tunnel slide at Coram's Fields

It’s just basically an adorable green space in Central London, in a really handy area. It’s just behind Great Ormond Street Hospital so if you ever have to go there for a hospital appointment, you can bribe your child with a trip to the playground. It’s a short walk to the British Museum, and will serve as a calming slice of quiet after the madness that is a museum during half term. It’s also not far from Kings Cross, so you can easily get home afterwards.

To complete the day, there’s also a shopping complex – the Brunswick just around the corner that has a Giraffe, Nandos and a Starbucks so is perfect for grabbing a coffee to go to the park with and also for grabbing some halloumi afterwards.

My final and possibly most important point is that the toilets at Coram’s Fields are some of the nicest public toilets I’ve been to. They’re not portaloos, they’re in an actual building and they must be regularly cleaned because they’re always in a decent state when I’ve been.

Couch to 5K: Losing My Momentum

OK.

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Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

So I gave up on Couch To 5K. Only a little bit, mind, not completely.

But I’ve not been running for a few weeks because…life got in the way, basically.

That’s a terrible excuse, I know.

Actually. I take that back. I don’t need to excuse myself. I don’t give a monkeys if you care that I haven’t been for a run in a fortnight. I doubt you even care, so I’m doubly not going to apologise for that.

You might remember my last Couch to 5K post was a while ago, and I detailed how hard I was finding the jogs, and that I’d hit my own personal wall with regards to the entire running lark.

Life then got in the way, I got a weird cold, my period slapped me in the face and I never want to run when I’m cramping no matter how many articles will repeatedly tell me exercise is a healer. Reece went on holiday so I wasn’t able to keep my routine up, Elliot got chicken pox and turned into a velcro child so I couldn’t walk to the toilet on my own let alone go for a half hour run, I also got a stinking chest infection which just threw me back a thousand steps as well.

Overall, everything just went out the window and got blown away in Storm Gareth and I decided to just give up and let myself just be taken away by the wind. Imagine my will to live being Jack floating down under the water at the end of Titanic.

Unfortunately, I have realised that I felt better when I was running regularly. I was feeling more, that’s for sure.

Not like Beyonce style feeling myself but I would come home and feel proud of myself, which is a lovely emotion that doesn’t come out often. I would sometimes come home and cry because half an hour of running around with my own thoughts was like therapy (with me coaching myself through my own thoughts so probably not the best kind of therapy) and I felt stronger, both mentally and physically.

Anyway. Back to the actual point, this is me telling you. And myself, mainly because we already know you don’t really care. I’m telling the void that I’m going to start moving again.

It might not be Couch to 5K, okay! I don’t want to pressure myself into the timings of the runs, as I find myself counting down the seconds and the minutes instead of actually thinking about  and enjoying the physical act of running, which I think is the actual point.

I’ve been contemplating dragging the yoga mat out again. A few years ago I really enjoyed Yoga With Adriene and got really into it, I even managed crow pose one and was touching my toes on the regular. But then, as per usual, life got in the way and I ended up letting the yoga mat gather dust behind the sofa.

I even found myself staring at my swimming costume the other day, daring myself to pop down to the pool for a few lengths. Bear in mind, I haven’t done any proper swimming since I was about 12, so this would be a real jump into the unknown. My main reservation with this idea is that they haven’t sorted out a way that I can listen to music whilst swimming. I’m not here to listen to Barry in the slow lane huffing and puffing.

I’m going to tentatively dip my metaphorical toe into the metaphorical pool and see what works and what happens and, as always, will keep you updated when I inevitably give up on this new venture in three months time.

See you then!

 

Favourites of the Month #3

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In this month’s edition of Books That Were Released At Least 20 Years Ago And I’ve Only Just Read Them Now: I picked up Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk in a book shop in Bristol. (EVERY BOOK WAS THREE ENGLISH POUNDS, I HAD TO!) I zoomed through it, despite the dark and slightly gruesome parts that seem to be obligatory in Palahniuk’s work.

It tells the story of Tender Branson, the last surviving member of a death cult who shoots to the highest pinnacle of fame due to this and how his entire life spirals out of control and I’d definitely recommend it.

I’ve also just finished My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite, which I found amazing! It’s set in Nigeria and tells the tale of a long-suffering older sister Korede who is called upon regularly by her younger sister Ayoola to help clean up her messes. I don’t need to spell it out..it’s literally the title of the book. Anyway. Ayoola starts dating one of Korede’s co-workers that she has a serious crush on, and she has to choose between her sister or a man.

It sounds weird but I feel like this story held a bit back. You have to work with it, and make up your own mind about the bits that Korede has held back. I’d really recommend it, it’s only a fiver on Kindle so give it a try!

I know it’s not technically a book, but I really enjoyed this article from the Observer, which was an interview with Phillipa Perry regarding parenting. I loved what she had to say so much that I’m even contemplating buying the book – and the last parenting book I was given ended up in the bin because it’s outlook on how to treat your kids pissed me off.

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We watched The Umbrella Academy on Netflix. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a comic book Gerard Way (my favourite person in the universe) wrote about a decade ago. The plot is basically a dysfunctional family of superheroes facing the end of the world and it’s just so fucking cool. The setting, the music, the characters – it’s all spot on.

It’s also introduced me to Tom Hopper, for which I am eternally grateful. (I’ve linked his Instagram – thank me later!)

The Disappearance Of Madeleine McCann dropped on Netflix, and if I’m honest I’m watching it as I’m typing. I’ve heard differing reviews of the series from some saying it’s dry, to others saying that it’s all stuff we’ve heard before. And I’d have to agree with the latter, as I’ve read many an article and listened to many a podcast regarding the tale of the McCanns so I know a fair amount about it. However, if you’re into true crime and/or conspiracies I would recommend, but obviously it’s a hard watch for anyone – let alone a parent.

24 Hours In Police Custody came back to Channel 4. My recommendations this month are pretty hard going, haha as this series do not hold back. We’re two episodes in and they’ve been about rape and indecent images of children, so they’ve gone straight in with two intense topics. However, that feeling when they catch the bad guys is joy like no other. We shouted “SCUMBAG” at the telly quite a few times during the episodes and it was almost refreshing to watch some people get reprimanded for their crimes after the McCann series..

I’ve also watched Leaving Neverland, which I wouldn’t say I enjoyed but I think it’s essential viewing for anyone who liked Michael Jackson and his music, or anyone who denied the fact that he was a wrong’un.

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I’ve loved listening to The Tip Off, which is a podcast about investigative journalists and the process of how they found their biggest stories. I’d definitely recommend the Web of Death episodes about Russia, murder and money laundering. The fact that the journalists started to see people just sat outside their own houses sent shivers down my spine.

I’ve also really been enjoying Love Stories with Dolly Alderton, especially the Matt Haig episode. It’s a series where Dolly asks various celebrities about all the love they’ve experienced in their life i.e first love, everlasting love, unrequited. Admittedly, I haven’t read any of Matt Haig’s books but they sound absolutely amazing and when he read an excerpt on the podcast, Dolly ended up in tears which coincidentally made me cry. It’s deifnitely a must-listen and lovely for if you need something to listen to whilst you’re making the beds and dusting the banisters.

And I don’t want to get started again because I got carried away last week but David Tennant’s podcast is still fantastic. His latest one with Catherine Tate was absolutely hilarious. She’s my favourite character ever from Doctor Who and now I know she’s never watched a bloody episode in her life. Also, I really enjoy everyone’s surprise as they realise David Tennant is actually doing a proper podcast and he’s actually being serious.

 

Mothers Day Gift Ideas

Sound the alarm! Mothers Day is coming up!

For some, it’s full of excitement and joy – imagining the breakfast in bed you’re going to get and the presents your babies will have picked out for you and the cute handwriting they’ll scribble in your card with.

For some, it’s full of dread as it comes to the day before and you realise you’ve got Sweet F A to show your mum how much you love her. (MEEEEEE. I’m writing this realising I’ve got my mother nothing.)

I’ve listed a few ideas below if you’re really stuck for ideas – but don’t panic too much. We lose an hour of sleep on Mothers Day night so to be honest, I think it’s all a bit of a fail and I’ll see you all in 2020.

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Underwear from the overwhelmingly amazing Lucky Sew and Sew for the Mother in your life who is currently breastfeeding and keeps getting really angry about how their breasts currently resemble two heavy sacks of grain on their front and all they can do with these milk bags is fold them into an ill-fitting griege bra from Mothercare and they just feel pretty pants about the whole thing.

Get yourself onto Lucky Sew and Sew and order the mothering figure in your life some brand new undercrackers. All these bras are handmade to order so you won’t be able to keep this present a surprise – you’ll need measurements!

Raising The Future t-shirt in black from Mere Soeur for the Mother in your life who spends her evenings on the sofa scrolling through Instagram and only ever half-watching whatever you’ve got on telly. She probably missed half of Killing Eve because she was so engrossed in someone’s Marks and Spencers haul on Instagram stories.

Me. This one’s for me. I’ve already got this t-shirt but it’s in white which is always risky when you’ve got little ones. Even more distressing when said children are having an intense love affair with tomato ketchup. (Unfortunately whilst link searching I’ve discovered that this is currently out of stock but…give her an IOU?)

The Create-Your-Own package from Don’t Buy Her Flowers for the Mother you never get round to see anymore. You’re either away at Uni, living away full stop or you just haven’t got round there recently. Weekends just get filled up so quickly and you’re trying to declutter and you really need…okay, there’s no excuse.

This one is really meaningful as you can tailor the package to fit whoever you’re buying it for. And it’s much more useful than a bunch of flowers. (Although if you haven’t been round in a really long time then I’d recommend doing both. Best to cover both bases.)

The Book Date Gift Box - The Book Matchmaker

The Book Matchmaker for the Mother who has just started popping her kid into nursery for a few mornings a week since she’s started to qualify for the free hours but she’s trying to avoid cleaning the kitchen floor and looking for something more fulfilling to do than complete 15 levels of Candy Crush during an episode of Homes Under The Hammer. (ME. THIS IS ALSO ME.)

The mum you’re buying this for probably can’t remember the last time she read a book that wasn’t about a cartoon animal eating everything in sight. A Costa gift card and a good book would mean the world, trust me.

Faces Of The Strong Girls Club t-shirt from Mutha Hood for the Mother who is raising her children to be strident and powerful feminists. She reads Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls to her children every night, and makes a point to tell her children about the Nazi history of Coco Chanel. She’s not here to sugar coat the world. But she 100% is here for displaying her feminism on her t-shirt in the form of beautiful watercolour artwork.

If you’re buying this for a mum who has a daughter then please bear in mind there’s also a mini version of this t-shirt available which would look SO CUTE.

 

My Guide To Clubbing As A 25 Year Old.

HAHAHAHA.

I’ll elaborate on the title in a second, but just know that I’ve been writing this blog post in my head since I got in the queue on Saturday night. My first queue for a club in about ….six years? Jesus.

I even went on the Facebook page that afternoon and put us on the guest-list so we qualified for a free Jagerbomb.

(The best bit: it wasn’t even a Jagerbomb and when we went to the bar, confused, and proffering these bits of paper that said Promo Drink, the barman had to explain what this weird other drink was. In the end he said “it’s free and it’s alcoholic – will that do?” …yes please thank you sir.)

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actual photo of myself

If you’re like me, feeling old as balls even though you’re probably statistically in the prime of your life, and normally treat yourself to a podcast in bed at 11pm, occasionally reminiscing the days where you went out before snuggling down with a hot chocolate – live through me and my Saturday night to know clubbing hasn’t changed since 2012.

I realised I was out of my depth when we entered the queue. This is a really niche reference, so if you get it please Tweet me and let me know but the girl in front of me in the queue really reminded me of Effy’s friend from her episode in Series 1 of Skins. You know the one that borrows tights off her mum and says “I don’t think many orgy’s happen in Luton?”

Oh, and I also couldn’t take my eyes off the guy who had dinner plates for pupils and kept trying to gnaw his friends ear off. He was pretty interesting as well.

Once we were inside, I instantly became aware I was wearing too many clothes. I was wearing a top AND a bra and I think now your options are one or the other?! I honestly need scaffolding to hold myself up so I think that’s me tapping out of that craze for now.

Also, do people not wear tights anymore?! They must have gone out of fashion when I was in baby-land because I felt incredibly overdressed with my 80 deniers on.

However, I did see someone wearing what looked like a Knickerbox for Ann Summers bodice tucked into some skinny jeans, so I guess she missed a memo as well. And the girl wearing obligatory denim shorts with patterned tights – good to know that 2009 style is still going strong. Big up.

I was standing there watching people not know the words to songs like I Believe In A Thing Called Love by The Darkness (honestly, this guy was stood there looking like Mark Corrigan in that picture above whilst all his friends were performing dramatic air-guitar solos, it was beautiful.)

Dog Days Are Over by Florence And The Machine as well. I realised it was a ~classic tune for all the people born in this millennium whereas I remember it being her only single on her Myspace page and Flo being on BBC Breakthrough Music.

One of the other highlights was, as we meandered from room to room trying to find somewhere to dance and/or people watch – a full series of Hollyoaks happened in the same corner of an emergency exit.

First I saw  a guy get cornered by a group of girls, and he was having to explain himself. Then I saw the girls in the toilets squeezing into the same cubicle to relay his message to whoever he’s offended. Then, in the final act, I saw the evident main girl confront the guy about whatever the fuck he’d done, and by the time we left they were getting off. The circle of life.

I also heard someone saying, excitedly, “we’ll stay here until about 2, half 2 and then we’ll go on to somewhere else, yeah? That sound like a plan?”

Mate. I was yawning at 1am and managed to drag my friend home at about 1:45 (that might be an exaggeration, it was probably half past.),

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ME

So my guide to clubbing as a 25 year old married mother of one is: go and be Mark Corrigan. Be Louis Theroux at the orgy.

Don’t get sucked in, because you end up drinking Blue VK (WHO THE BLOODY HELL DO I THINK I AM?!) whilst watching people born in 2001 sing Shotgun by George Ezra and hurting your neck dancing to Slipknot in the ~alternative room.

But still go, because it’s hilarious and you can always get chips on the way home.

Right. I’m off for a sleep because it’s Tuesday afternoon and I am still knackered from getting home at 2:30am.

A Little Bit Of OCD

I have OCD.

For those who somehow don’t know what that means, it’s obsessive compulsive disorder. 

What it is is intrusive thoughts that almost take over your mind and you feel like you have to compulsively complete actions to make sure the intrusive thoughts don’t become reality.

What it isn’t is organising your clothes pegs into colour order because you think it looks nicer than if they were all a-muddle. 

It’s checking your child’s nappy every three minutes because if he’s done a poo or a wee and you haven’t noticed then that makes you a terrible mother and your child will hate you and everyone else around you will know you’re absolutely disastrous.

It’s being convinced your boobs are leaking milk and constantly having to check to see if your t-shirt is damp even though you haven’t breast fed for nearly half a decade.

Bear in mind these are only my experiences and it could be different for anyone else. But I think I can speak for everyone when I say OCD takes over your mind, and sometimes even your entire life. The compulsive actions can become so time-consuming that you don’t get to do anything other than manage your thoughts.

And now we come on to what has inspired this post. I’ve seen this picture shared countless times over the past few days over a variety of social media platforms:

Chloe's tweet about shop sizes

And the POINT of that tweet is completely valid and something I’ll inevitably write about at another time.

But that’s not what I’m talking about today. Today I’m here to have a good old rant about people who, when they see this picture, ignore the glaring problem of clothes sizing in high-street stores and the effect it’s having on women around the world BUT to comment

“lol, I’m a little bit OCD about these things, I just want to put them in size order haha x”

NO, LINDA.

You’re not a little bit OCD about this, you’re just being picky because you like things neat and tidy.

I’ve had it happen everywhere I go.

People don’t think before they speak so flippantly about mental illness, because their idea of OCD is someone washing their hands 15 times an hour and organising the fridge magnets because they like everything to be clean and tidy.

And yes, someone could be washing their hands 15 times an hour but not because they really love their Love Hearts smelling hand-wash. It’s because they’re worried they could have a deadly contagious disease and need to wash and wash and wash to make sure no-one else gets it as then the world would end and it’s all your fault.

When you’re sat at work, hiding in the toilets nearly in tears because you’re absolutely convinced you’ve left all the windows of your house open and that someone’s going to just climb in and steal your entire life, even though it’s -4 degrees outside and you haven’t opened the windows since summer. And you come out, wiping your eyes on a bit of tissue, ready with an excuse of hormones, and you hear someone laughing about the new guy in the office lining his pens up in colour order and how “he’s so weird, Mr OCD! Hahaha” and you shrink back into the cubicle for the next twenty minutes.

Basically, the moral of the story is: just be mindful of others, guys.

The same can be said of most mental illnesses, really.

You’re not bipolar, you’re just having mood swings. It’s probably Mercury being in retrograde again for God’s sake.

You’re not schizophrenic, chances are you just watched too much Scrubs whilst revising for your GCSE’s, so you have Zach Braff in the back of your head constantly reciting facts about the Weimar Republic.

I don’t want to sound all righteous, and I’m not telling you off. This is not being said with my Mum Voice, don’t worry. But I can’t stress to you enough how much it stings when you make a point of telling people how you’re struggling and then you see them sharing memes on Facebook twenty minutes later with cry-laughing faces plastered all over their feed.

I don’t really have a sign off for this post.

Just be nice, I guess.

(And if anything I’ve written regarding OCD hits a nerve with you or sounds familiar, talk to your GP or contact your local Mind charity because they were so, so helpful with getting me out of a deep, dark hole.)

Favourites Of The Month #2

So, somehow January seemed to last a thousand years and then February has been and gone like one of those nights where you lay down, blink and suddenly your alarms going off and you don’t feel rested at all.

Therefore, I feel like there’s been about three days in the month and I haven’t been able to ~ingest much this month. However, there’s still a few good little titbits I’d love to tell you about.

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I’ve relived my 16 year old dream by re-reading Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. Not for the faint of hearted, it’s a collection of short stories. Stories that are so gruesome that every show of the book tour ended with someone being carted off in an ambulance where they’d pass out and crack their head at a particularly vommy bit.

Okay, maybe I didn’t sell that very well. They really explore the darker side of seemingly ordinary people and just how far people will go for their fifteen minutes of fame.

Due to a stinking chest infection, I’ve not been able to concentrate on too many books this month as I’m either constantly coughing up gunk or suffering from a raging headache. I did manage to read A Discovery Of Witches by Deborah Harkness, which I had heard about since it was a show on Sky 1 last year. I had no idea what it was about, but it turned out to be a story about a vampire and a witch who fall in love ~against the odds. It wasn’t groundbreaking literature but if you’re poorly, or going on holiday and want something to read  other than books about beach-side cafes then I’d recommend it.

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We’re late to the party but have binge-watched Killing Eve in about three days this month. I’m wimpy so had to watch some of it behind a cushion, but what I saw I loved. To have the two main characters be female, they don’t rely on any men (in fact they kill lots of them) and the only character who mentions “childcare issues” to be a sixty year old man – it was amazing.

If you haven’t watched it yet, I’d recommend getting it in in the next few weeks. I have a feeling series 2 is coming out in the next month or so, so if you watch it ASAP you’ll skip that terrible feeling when you emerge from a solid week of living in a TV show and realise that you haven’t got anything to live for until 2020.

I’ve also watched Shane Dawson’s Conspiracy Series. My God, give that man a Netflix series already. In episode 1, he looks at the California fires that happened last year and whether our phones are listening to us all the time. Episode 2 looks at his friend who suspects they were being groomed for human trafficking (!!!) and whether Chuck E Cheese recycles left over pizzas. Note: you WILL order Pizza Hut after watching this, it really sells greasy pizza to you.

We’ve also watched Russian Doll on Netflix which is amazing. It’s basically the idea of Groundhog Day but it’s absolutely piss your pants funny. I also think it’s going to be a series we watch and then go on Reddit, realise there are loads of Easter Eggs and then go back and watch it again with new eyes.

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If you know me, then you’ll know how weird I get about David Tennant. It’s a stage of weird that 15 year old’s normally have for members of All Time Low. So I’ll try and hold it back whilst I tell you about his podcast.

Right.

That guy who’s kinda cool and Scottish and was the best Doctor in the history of Doctor Who and also played Casanova in that hilariously campy TV special and was also in Broadchurch where he just said the word MURDER in a Scottish accent, God he’s a great actor isn’t he, and did you see that video on Youtube where he got the special award at the NTA’s and he was just so happy and proud and cried when his dad was on the screen and have you seen his eyes? They’re so DREAMY.

Sorry.  Sorry.

Uh…David Tennant has a podcast out called David Tennant Does A Podcast With… and the episode with Olivia Colman is fantastic – you can tell they’re the best of friends and you feel you’re there laughing along with them. And in case you couldn’t tell, I’d happily listen to DT (as his friends on the podcast call him, don’t ya know) read out his shopping list. Definitely listen.

I’ve also been enjoying Last Podcast On The Left as usual, but a particular episode of note was Episode 351 which was about Ouija Boards. If you’re like me and love ~spooky shit then I’d definitely recommend.

There’s a whole world out there past the stories your Nan tells you about when she used a ouija board with her friend Bev and then the next morning she came down and found all the spoons mysteriously on the kitchen floor and all the photo frames of Great-Aunt Lynne upside down on the walls.

What have you been reading/watching/listening to? Let me know in the comments!