Life, Lately... November 2016

Thursday 17 November 2016

Boom, sometimes life comes at you like a freight train.

Things all seem to happen at once and you find yourself just sort of battling through, without much time to rest and reflect. Then you look up one day and all this time has just evaporated.

That’s kind of where I’m at right now. Life has been accelerating, and the past few months have slipped away before I realised. Blogging has taken quite a backseat because daily life demanded more and more time and when I did get a break I felt so drained, I had no energy left for luxuries like hobbies!

So because I haven’t written anything much in a while – or any of the personal content I really enjoy seeing on blogs I read -  I thought I’d revive the ‘Life, Lately’ posts I used to do a while back and explain what I’ve been up to the past few months…

An evening with Sat

Way back in September (which feels like five minutes ago to me), Seb and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary.

I’ve given up protesting about how things like that make me feel like an adult and how scary that is, because I think at five years married, with a one-year old and having had a mortgage for eight years, it’s no use fighting the fact you’re a grown-up!

In a world where divorce is commonplace, and a lot of people don’t believe marriage could or should be forever, I’m so very proud of us. I met Seb way back when I was 18, so we’ve done a lot of growing up together! Time has shown me the enormous value of having such a shared history together.

Traditionally, we haven’t made a huge deal of our anniversaries, although we usually do a little something to mark it. Last year was super low-key as I was about to go into labour at any moment, so this year we decided to go bigger.

We’ve always wanted to go to Restaurant Sat Bains, so back in June we made a booking and we’d been looking forward to it ever since.

If you’re not a foodie, Sat Bains is a hugely renowned chef and his restaurant has two Michelin stars and has been named one of the top three restaurants in the UK.

The night did not disappoint.

From the moment our taxi made its way down the winding, tree-lined avenue to the restaurant, we felt like we were having an adventure. Greeted at the door by staff, we sat in the lounge area with a gin and tonic looking at the amazing menu.

We had chosen a seven course tasting menu and a wine tasting menu to match and the whole experience was exquisite. We sat in the glass roofed dining room looking at the stars up above and the produce greenhouses next to us and were served this incredible food- it was such a treat.

Dishes included venison with truffle, chocolate and juniper, scallops with ponzu, grouse and a stunning savoury ice-cream in a candyfloss nest. I also got to try caviar for the first time.

The wines were incredible and it was such a treat to be talked through each one by the really friendly and knowledgeable sommelier – it made the meal so much more of an experience.

We were also delighted to be invited into the kitchen and we got to meet Sat himself who signed a menu for us.

What was really nice was getting to spend some one on one time with Sebastian. We haven’t actually been out on our own since we had Theo. That is through choice, as we’d generally rather take him out with us for a nice lunch than go off for dinner together without him.

But I suppose it made me realise there is a real value to spending time together away from our parental roles – just being Seb and Sarah.

After the meal, we really didn’t want to leave and sat in the lounge sipping coffee watching the buzz in the kitchen through a little window. Just a unique night with seamless service and incredible food.

Theo turns one

It’s a bit crazy to think that my son Theodore turned one in September also. The first year of his life has been the quickest of mine.

Everything seems to accelerate when you have children and you live this weird, fast-forward existence watching them grow up and develop at the speed of light.

We decided to throw Theo a little party at home and make the most of our newly-installed pizza oven in the garden. We had a wonderful little celebration and it really meant the world to me to see friends and family come together to help our little boy celebrate. He was very lucky to receive some lovely presents – hot favourites at the moment seem to be books, he absolutely loves his story books.

We also got him a play tee-pee and a Smart Trike, which he loves – he has a smile miles wide every time we put him in it.  There was a bit of drama at the end of the party though!

I made Theo a piƱata cake, which you cut open to reveal lots of sweeties spilling out from the inside. It was actually quite easy to make – I bought a hemispherical cake tin from Lakeland, hollowed out the inside, filled with sweets and iced the whole lot roughly with buttercream and sprinkles.

The drama came because the sweets I put inside were a mix of jellybeans, Haribo and Reece’s Pieces – and Theo’s auntie had an allergic reaction to them that was quite severe. So if you are planning to make one, perhaps give the nutty sweets a swerve!

It was still a great day though and I’m so proud of our little guy, who is becoming such a sweet, funny person. I wrote an open letter to him to mark his birthday that you can have a peek at here.

The working mama diaries 

The main reason I’ve been so quiet on the blogging front is that things have been quite complex with my job.

Going back to work after maternity leave was not at all what I’d imagined and it didn’t go well at all.  I’m planning a separate post on this, because I think it’s an important and widespread issue, so suffice to say for now my employer did a number of questionable things which meant that almost as soon as I’d landed back at work, I was job hunting.

Returning to work was such a bad experience that it really dented my confidence and made me question if I’d lost my edge, so in a way going through a very tough and competitive screening process to get my new job was redemptive.

I realised that I am good enough and that it was my employer who had handled everything wrong. And then I began to get angry, because its true that women face injustice and discrimination at times when they should be able to expect support from their employer.

I wonder how many duck out of the system all together when it becomes too hard? I could have chosen to take it all further, but I had to make a decision that I didn’t have the emotional energy for such a fight – so how much ‘silent’ discrimination is going on, where people like me decide it’s just easier to find something new?

How many employers escape with questionable conduct because new mothers dealing with returning to work don’t have the energy to fight them? It has really made me think.

The situation was massively draining and took up all my time and mental energy for a while, which is why things have been quiet here.

Anyway, the silver lining is that I’ve moved on to an even better job, and I’m proud of myself for making something good out of a bad situation. I’m working somewhere now that I’ve always wanted to work, with what seems like a great team.

I’ve also been able to shift my working day onto earlier hours. As an early bird, this makes a massive difference to me and means I get to spend some quality time with Theo in the evenings rather than getting in ten minutes before his bed-time, like I was doing.

Life suddenly seems a lot brighter.  I’ve been through quite an intense period where I was adjusting back to full-time work with a baby and also having the stress of job hunting and interviews and things, and its really been draining.

Balancing everything is something I’m not sure I’ll ever have the answer to – it seems more of a constant process than finding one solution – but I’m working towards it!

Rolling with the homies

As well as my new job, I’ve also bought a new car! My Honda Civic will be much missed but it was quite old and I didn’t want it to get to the point where lots of little things were going wrong that needed fixing.

I’ve never had a new car before, so it felt really nice to be getting something shiny and pristine, although test drives and car shopping have been taking up a lot of time at the weekends.

I went for a BMW 1 Series in the end. It isn’t a car I’ve ever really wanted before, but it just ticked all the boxes. Of course, in a dream world I’d have gotten an Audi TT but things like that just don’t work when you have to fit in a car seat and a massive amount of baby gear everywhere you go.

So far I am loving the way it drives. My Civic was very sporty and quite lightweight, where the 1 Series feels a lot more substantial. Somehow I feel more secure driving Theo around in it as its all very solid.

My old car also didn’t have any connectivity so I’m enjoying being able to hook up to my iPhone via Bluetooth and play my music and things – it’s the little things sometimes!

Mummy squad night out

I did manage to fit in a night out with my mummy friends as well. We all spent lots of time together while we were on maternity leave, but things are harder now I’ve gone back to work.

I’m actually the only one out of my mummy friends that has gone back to work, so I often feel a bit out of it these days as they’re all still going for coffee and over to soft play while I’m in the office!

So it was really nice to catch up with everyone. We went for some cocktails at Yumacha first, which was amazing. It’s a pan-oriental tapas bar that Seb and I often visit for food, and the cocktail menu always looks very enticing – it was great to get to sample some of it!

My favourites were these gin cocktails that came with a fortune cookie attached! Because I haven’t drank much for quite a while, it did hit me hard though! We then went on to Cote Brasserie for a meal but I had to leave after the dinner as I was seriously wobbling – oops!

I should have known to pace myself and not to get lured in by Happy Hour. It was a lovely evening catching up and we’ve already planned the next meet in a few weeks.

I'm Watching...

So television has gotten so good lately! And there was me thinking I’d be lost until Game of Thrones comes back.

We tend to watch things as box sets all in one go, but I’ve been watching Westworld unfold live. It absolutely gripped me from the first episode – I realised I hadn’t checked my phone once while it was on, which is unusual for me.

Ive gotten really drawn in by it as the acting is absolutely brilliant and ideas behind it about consciousness and where the boundaries between humans and AI lie have really gripped me.

I also watched the whole of a series called Spotless on Netflix. Its about a guy who runs a crime scene clean-up business who ends up getting drawn into the criminal underworld and leading this double life and its beautifully shot.

If you’re looking for a little known Netflix gem I’d highly recommend it.

I'm reading. ..

I was really missing reading proper books for a while, as all I seemed to have the energy to read were magazines! So I’ve made more of an effort to pick up a book recently.

I started off quite simply – with ‘The Making of Us’ by Lisa Jewell, a story about a group of people conceived via a donor who come together to find him, and themselves. It was a heart warming, easy read – I do like Lisa Jewell’s characterisation and I’ve read most of her books, although I’m not usually a fan of ‘chick lit’.

It was a good way just to get back into reading a book though. I studied English Literature at uni and reading is a massive passion of mine, so it was good to give it some time.

I’ve also just started reading ‘Nod’ by Adrian Barnes. This novel is built around the idea that everyone in the world bar a few thousand people suddenly stops being able to sleep at night.

After six days of absolute sleep deprivation, psychosis will set in. After four weeks, the body will die. In the interim, panic ensues and a bizarre new world begins to take shape.

It’s a fantastic idea for a book and really gripping with a pacy narrative that makes it a bit of a page-turner. I have so many books queued up on my Kindle and so little time.

I'm Listening...

Instead of an album or an artist, lately I’ve been mainly listening to a YouTube channel called Dynmk. It’s run by a Danish record label (I think) and the music is all sorts – its really hard to give it a genre (trust me, I’ve even resorted to asking Google what genre it all is, but it seems to defy categorisation).

I guess I would call it sort of sparse, electronic – the space where dubstep, hip hop and deep house met and fell in love. You’ll just have to give it a listen and see what you think!

I’m also enjoying What So Not at the moment and their album ‘Divide & Conquer’ which is more of the same!

My best friend also recently got me into The Black Queen, which is a band with members of The Dillinger Escape Plan and Nine Inch Nails. Their album ‘Fever Daydream’ is sort of stripped back industrial and really beautiful.

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