Sunday, 7 July 2013


Something I've noticed about East Anglia since I've moved here is that, East Anglia doesn't really sing its own praises. There are tonnes of great things to see and do around here that no one really tells you about. Either they are too modest to say or it's tactical and they want to keep things to themselves but whatever the reason, we are slowly discovering more lovely places near Colchester. Despite no one really telling us about them. Today we visited Frinton on Sea, about 35 mins drive from home and it was the perfect day for a trip to the seaside (babies first time). Best weather since time began or something.

En route

Essential beach equipment

Frinton in bloom

View of beach from Esplanade

Long, clean, white sandy beach with warm water!

When we arrived at 1:15pm the tide was in but after about an hour, 
there was loads more room on the beach.

There are also loads of beach huts along the seafront and you can hire deck chairs. As soon as we got home we obviously googled the price of a beach hut, £13K if anyone is interested. I didn't think that was too unreasonable but unless I sell my body parts for scientific research we wont be getting one. 

As well as the beautiful beach, there is also a great little high street with lots of independent shops along the way. To name a few, there is a fish shop, a bakers, a couple of cafes, an ice cream shop selling local ice cream, a great independent book shop, an Art Deco antique shop, a Danish home wares shop and the best one of all (in my humble opinion of course), Piatto Fine Wine and Deli. This deli is jam packed with goodies and it's worth going to Frintonjust for this place. Every town should have one.

They don't seem to have a website which is bonkers, maybe I just can't find it or maybe I'm right and its a tactical move, a local shop for local people . . .

Driving home through Thorpe-Le-Soken

And just as we got home, we heard some lovely rousing music coming from Castle Park. Being nosey parkers we couldn't resist a quick sniff about, and lo and behold there was a brass band in the bandstand playing the theme tune to James Bond. The perfect end to another perfect day.

I only noticed this last week, a ruin of a Roman Townhouse smack back in the middle of the park.

PS: Well done Andy.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Beef Aisle

I am never ill. When I say never, I mean rarely. I'm simply to busy to get germs and was somehow blessed with an iron constitution, the only decent thing my mother ever gave me my father used to say. But I am currently writing this while feeling on deaths door. Yesterday, while skulking around Sainsbury's trying to work out what healthy and quick meal's we can eat for dinner that aren't stir frys, I suddenly had the urge to throw up. I have been feeling dizzy and headachy for a few days but this was another level of horridness. I crouched down on the floor of the beef aisle while trying to work out how I would manage the situation in charge of a toddler. Did I have an empty bag I could puke into if necessary? Could I do it in the flap of the buggy's raincover? Wouldn't it be awful if this was baby's first memory? Me throwing up on his lovely round head next to a lump of cow tied in string? He'd most definitely be traumatised forever and certainly be a vegetarian. While trying to decide on where to vomit and whether I should continue shopping or just leave immediately, the Security Guard started sniffing around me, probably checking I wasn't shoving minced meat down my leggings. 'This is odd', thought I, 'I'm never ill'. So in defiance of my gurgling stomach and to avoid the beady gaze of Mr Security I finished the weekly shop (stir frys), and legged it home. On arriving back at base, I dumped baby in the garden, ran into the house and was sick. I don't know what is up with me, perhaps a bug, unlikely food poisoning but it has wiped me out and positively ruined my first day alone without the baby! At least I wasn't sick on the wee man though.

By the time the baby was asleep last night, all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and die, I was shattered. Being ill is rubbish. However, I had a few things I needed to do in preparation for baby's first full day at Nursery. Last week I had ordered him a little bag with his name on and some embroidered name tags for his clothes. The nursery girls will probably be sniggering about me behind my back when they unpack his things and see everything has his name sewn onto it, but I am so desperate to be the mum I didn't have I'm sure this wont be the last time I do something embarassing. Although, probably my name labels weren't the only thing the girls sniggered at. For starters, our baby has quite an unusual name, not to mention his favorite toys of 'Platypus' a stuffed toy Platypus, 'Auntie Pam' a stuffed toy lobster and his most liked foods of humous, tzatziki and the new favorite of sardines, I'm sure they don't see many of his kind round these parts.

I had rather hoped when I woke up today I would be feeling better as I had a long list of a combination of treats and chores that I wanted to do after I had dropped the little one off at 'Piglet Room' of the nursery:

* Get home, have a bath
* Remove chipped nail varnish and perhaps apply some more
* Go to town, meet friend for coffee
* Go home again, hoover the floors
* Eat one/two of the shortbread biscuits our friends brought us the other week
* Wash floors with excellent new floor steamer
* Hoover sofas in preparation for selling on eBay when new sofas arrive next week
* eBay some stuff
* Sandpaper the stairs
* Possibly do some ironing but more likely watch some 'Escape to the Country' with another shortbread
* Collect baby

However, the day has not panned out like that at all:

* Got home, had bath, felt ill
* Cancelled coffee with friend, boo
* Crawled back into bed, slept
* Woke up, ate Wiggys cold leftover stir fry from last night
* Collected baby

At least one of us had a good day though, the baby LOVED nursery. He cried once the entire time he was there and that was when I collected him to take him home! Apparently, he was very chatty (this is probably my fault, I've talked to him non stop since they day we got him home), he pointed at everything, everywhere, he ate ALL his lunch, played very nicely with the other children and wouldn't have his morning nap. Bravo little man, you have done me proud (apart from the nap bit). If you can do the same again next Wednesday I promise to not be sick and do my chores list. Also, those shortbread biscuits aren't going to eat themselves you know.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

A week of Events and Non-Events

The main non event of the past week is that I failed to get a job I had an interview for. The fact I applied in the first place was rather a bold move, I knew I was not really suitable for the job and it, it transpired, was not really suitable for me, but as everyone keeps telling me, "it was an experience". It sure was. And one which I don't intend to repeat any time soon.

It was my first job interview in 17 years and my second interview full stop. In preparation I had purchased some 'lucky/unlucky' shoes  and a 'lucky/unlucky' top as well as doing all the other things one is supposed to do to prepare for such an encounter. I had researched their company, copied out bits of their website that I thought would be useful to remember, re-visited all the jobs I'd worked on so I had something to talk about, thought about the last film I'd watched (I had a weird feeling they might ask me this) but none of it mattered. I was so nervous by the time I arrived my mouth ceased to function properly. I felt like I couldn't speak and think I may even have been rocking in my chair at one point!  And they did ask me "what was the last film you watched?'. Bearing in mind I haven't been to the cinema in some time, since I have been raising a human life (didn't they read my application form ? . . . . ), I thought I would say, should the question arise, 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy'. It was the last good film I saw at the cinema and the last one I saw at the wonderful Barbican. However, as soon as I sat down in the interview room/cell, the poster for this film was on the wall behind the interviewers head! I should have just walked out then. However, I didn't and the the interview trundled along for 20 minutes, though it felt A LOT longer, and when I left I prayed I didn't get the job. I was so mortified about the whole thing I never wanted to see anyone at that company ever again. Shudder.

So last week when I got the email of rejection although my ego was in a bit of a grump about it I didn't mind at all and part of me was a bit relieved. Not only does it mean I don't have to start brushing my hair again anytime soon but it also means I get to hang out a little bit longer with my favorite person in the world. My wonderful little boy.

We are in quite a nice routine at home finally. It took almost 10 months to get here but we made it, so part of me really didn't want to disrupt it unless completely necessary. I never tried to impose a routine on him as a baby as our lives weren't particularly structured and it seems to have paid off, he's got into his own little pattern of what suits him (touching wood). However, he starts nursery tomorrow for his first full day so who knows what spanner this may throw in our lovely works. Just one day a week for now, but it feels like a pretty big event, to me anyway.

After 13 months of being with my son all day, every day apart from 4, I think we both deserve some time apart. It will good for me to lie down in a dark room for a few hours once a week while he spends the day with other people. Maybe then he'll realise what a wonderful, kind, witty person I am  . . . Unlike what I have heard about London nurseries, it was very easy to get him a place at a Nursery in Colchester. I called them up, he went for a settling in morning and starts properly tomorrow. Very straight forward. It was the only place I looked at so might be rubbish but it didn't seem rubbish. Hopefully he will enjoy it and make some little friends. He should enjoy it, he's the only boy in his class!

Before he could join officially there was a lot of paperwork I had to fill in and it made me realise just how well I know this little chap. I had to write down his likes, dislikes, favorite foods, his comforters, how he communicates, everything basically. He is the closest person to me in the world without a doubt, and not having a bond with my own mother I now get for the first time in my life,  the whole 'mother and child' bonding thing. I would do anything for this child. Thinking about it, I have done a lot already. Given up my career, given up the wedding, moved out of London, suffered the indignity of childbirth, given up my right to go to the toilet when I need to, etc etc etc....

I look at him like he is a part of me, which he is, but I look at him like he is the best part of me. Having a child has made me think a lot about my own parents and my childhood and made me realise how shaped I am by my past. I have always said to my friends that you can't let your past hold you back and you can't blame your parents for your own failures, you always have to be moving forwards and responsible for your own mistakes, but now I'm not so sure things are as black and white as that. I have virtually zero confidence, I never have,  and now I know exactly why. I spent my childhood being undermined and can not remember being praised or encouraged ever. When I had my first driving lesson my Dad came out of the house and said to the instructor 'I don't know why you are bothering, she wont be able to do it'. And when I got my GCSE results I ran to the phonebox to phone my mum to tell her I had passed them all with Grades A-C (we weren't allowed to use the phone at home) "Are you sure you got the right results?" came the reply. I would say this was a joke but my mother is incapable of humour. This might go some way to explain the awful interview. Why was I so nervous? First and foremost, I didn't need the job, I wanted it because I miss working but I wasn't desperate for it. I had a great CV, a great employment history, loads of contacts but I was a gibbering wreck in person. A lack of confidence has blighted me my whole life. When you are told you can't do things why even bother trying? Considering my less than harmonious start in life I should be very proud of my achievements but still I'm not. However, I look at my son and I want him to have none of the hang ups and insecurities that have held me back and are clearly still holding me back. I never want him to feel like I feel. I want him to believe he can achieve whatever he wants. Most of all I want him to be happy, but I also want him to fulfill his potential of being the best he can be. He will probably be in danger of having the biggest head in the universe with the amount of praise I give him, but its such a beautiful head!  So even though, it will be hard tomorrow to leave him I know it will be a good thing for him. I want him to have experiences with other people not just me and to do things that I wouldn't do with him. They play with shaving foam at nursery, there's no way we are doing that here, not with our newly painted walls. They also have play paints which we don't yet, and after his settling in period last week (I cried, he didn't even realise I had left him for 2 hours) and I was presented with this (below). I think its the most wondrous painting I've ever seen, obvs.


And finally this weekend, while music lovers of the world focused their attentions on the most awesome musical event of the year, we visited yet another food and drink event in Castle Park. It was the annual 'Food and Drink' festival funnily enough and it was a super afternoon out but with nice toilets and some water zorbing neither of which you would have found at Glastonbury.

There was a £3.50 entry fee payable to some very gruff and officious people at the gate, which was pretty good value. It was packed out with every kind of food stall a greedy guts could hope for, delicious drinks, cooking demonstrations, music and with the sun making a rare appearance it was a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

The guy running this stall had the biggest queue in the whole place. Delicious lemonade for £2. Imagine how much profit he would have made?! Maybe I'll try and get a job with him, he must have made a fortune.


I spent weeks traveling around Mexico once but who knew the 
'World Best Mexican Chilli' was here all the time. I could have saved myself a lot of money and effort if I'd known.

Delights from Turkey



Guten Tag!


Extremely rare sausage tree native to Essex

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Colchester Zoo

Since the sun made a brief appearance yesterday, I thought I would treat the baby who isn't really a baby anymore, I think he's technically a toddler, to a trip to the local Zoo. We took him there last month but I thought since is only 13 months old he wouldn't remember this repetition of outings. On reflection, I think I was wrong. When we went last month, his first encounter with animals that aren't stuffed, mostly made of wool and live in his cot, was a day of wonder, amazement and constant pointing. Yesterday, however, he was more interested in my Almond Magnum and fell asleep during feeding time at the Tiger enclosure. I, on the other hand, had a great time. Again.

Colchester Zoo is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary and to highlight this momentous birthday there are Giraffes scattered all over town. They are almost everywhere. In the street, in shops, in the galleries, at the bus stops, you name it, they've got a Giraffe looming over you. Its a bit like 'The Birds' but with less beaks and more neck.

And when you get to the zoo, there is one more to greet you on arrival.

Apart from Giraffe's the zoo does have other animals. And lots of them. The beauty of this zoo as opposed to London Zoo which is the only other Zoo I've really been to in this country, is that there is lots of space for the animals, and it's a very green environment. I love London Zoo but the last time I went I felt a bit sad for some of the animals as it felt like there was a lot of concrete but I think that can't be helped. 

Not only is the Zoo set in huge grounds they still seem to be expanding and even though we visited fairly recently there was a new section that wasn't here before. There is actually far more to see than is possible in one trip so its worth buying a Gold Card membership if you intend to come regularly. The entrance fee is £20 per adult (baby/toddler is free) but you can purchase a Gold Card for around £40 which gets you an unlimited amount of entries for a year. Be warned though, if you intend to buy a Gold Card make sure you brush your hair. They take your photo for your card. I hadn't brushed my hair when I bought my card and will be reminded for the next 12 months of what a revolting scruffbag I am. As well as a quick spruce up prior to visiting I might also suggest bringing a packed lunch. The main eating place, Cafe UmPhafa, does sell a wide range of hot food but its all quite pricey (ie £7.50 for a Chicken Pitta and Salad) so its worth bringing your own food and using one of the many eating areas dotted around the place. Also, if you visit during the week, its a lot less busy but you will have to make way for the many school children who are on their school trips and seem less interested in the animals and more interested in who can make the crudest remarks about the Chimpanzees arses.  To be fair, they had a point, the arses were horrendous. I know my own posterior is nothing to write home about but I don't trot about with it on show thank God.

Anyhow, I still haven't managed to see everything the Zoo has to offer in 2 trips but from what I have seen, I think the Big Cats are the most impressive. Not only can you watch them through the fencing but you can also see them through glass which means you are inches away from them. Pretty breathtaking and I'm not even massively into cats. Pygmy things are much more my bag.


White Tiger


Regular Tiger

Inches away!

If you plan your day well, you can watch the animals being fed but also they have various displays throughout the day and one not to be missed is the Bird of Prey one. I say this because I missed it and only caught the last few minutes this time round.

Some sort of African Eagle




Not a clue


As well as all the critters you can't touch, there is an area where you can touch them or at least get even closer. The toddler is still a bit too little to enjoy this area (and he was asleep) but I'm sure when he's a bit bigger he will love it.

You can walk through the Wallaby enclosure

Huge Tortoise

Alpacas I think

Pygmy Goats. 
You can get in their pen and feed them but I didn't trust myself not to pick one up and sling it in the shopping section of the buggy.



Basically, I think this is a really great Zoo. I know you might be thinking "She would say that", but it is! For my London friends you may think Colchester is a long way away but it really isn't and for anyone with kids this is a super outing. Also, if you are into Wildlife photography I think this has to be worth a visit as you could get some really great snaps. Not that you could tell from my pictures, but anyway, come and see for yourself. Just maybe skip the Chimps if you have a sensitive stomach.