31 Dec 2023

Recent Happy Things | Autumn & Festive Edition

Recent happy things

 I’m writing this in the run up to Christmas and the irony that we are about to celebrate a time of love and peace is not lost on me. It is very hard not to look at the news right now and come to the, not particularly unreasonable conclusion, that the world is fucked. The utterly horrifying situation in Gaza and the government looking the other way, the government investing in fossil fuels whilst scientists could not make it more obvious that climate change is going to have truly devastating effects if we don’t act… just the government in general really. Although I suppose I can’t blame them for Matthew Perry dying, which I was far more emotional about than I care to admit. RIP Chnandler Bong. 

I know this is an extremely lucky and privileged position to be in, but sometimes I find it very hard to make sense in my head that so many awful things can be happening in the world, but I also still need to go to work, think about what needs adding to the weekly shop and wrestle my toddler into his highchair to the dulcet soundtrack of Hey Duggee. That there can be so much suffering and yet we’re wrapping presents and planning cheeseboards. My life, writing a list of the good things in it, all just feels very silly in comparison. I want to hold onto all the joy available to me but please know, I know the below is privileged and a result of the sheer luck of being where I am in the world. 

Conker hunting – I’m not sure I’ll ever get over seeing my baby experience something for the first time. Our favourite playground has a conker tree (let’s brush over questionable health & safety of a conker tree hanging over a child’s slide) and when I introduced Alfie to the concept of hunting conkers, despite my low expectations, he was immediately engaged and we spent well over an hour collecting conkers and putting them in his pockets, taking them out his pockets… and repeat. 

Lunch @ Sky Garden – a day trip to London that involved having fancy lunch with views across the city. What’s not to like? More here

Meeting my best friend’s baby – I don’t think I will ever get over seeing my oldest friends become parents. It is so joyous and so wait we’re the parents now?! all wrapped up in one squishy newborn cuddle. 

My first night away – I left Alfie overnight for the first time (with his Dad, not alone with the local takeaway number) and I tell you what, getting to have a proper catch up with all my girls without needing to keep one eye on what chaos my toddler is creating was just delightful.

Holiday at home – a good combination of life admin, a day trip, a couple of meals out. Obviously, the toddler got a temperature one of the days because it is the apparent rule that if you make plans without your child, they will immediately time their illness for that exact day. How do they know? 


Recent happy things

Recent happy things

Recent happy things

Recent happy things


Pumpkin patch – we had a very lovely trip to the pumpkin patch (more here), and it was a lot of fun to see how much more Alfie could engage with this year. I also very much enjoyed the pumpkin bread I made with the leftover pumpkin – autumn in a cake. 

Bonfire night – It’s been eighty-four years since I last went to a firework display thanks to Covid/newborn baby etc so I was really very excited to do Bonfire night again this year. So keen that I went to buy tickets for our local display the moment they were announced and the guy in the shop didn’t even know they were selling them. Awkward. Alfie was not entirely convinced by the loud noises, but he was mesmerised by the bonfire and seemed to love being out late, the atmosphere and all the kids with various light-up toys, so we’ll take that as a win. 

Getting ahead for Christmas - last year was a learning curve about what it means to have a child born at Christmas time. My main conclusions: get ahead and properly plan if you actually want to enjoy the festivities during December. And we all know how much I love those festivities. I’m still feeling the pressure, I’m not going to lie, but we did have all the presents bought by the end of November and that has definitely made a difference. 

The start of the festivities – ooo I do love this time of year. The tree is up, the house smells of vanilla and cinnamon, it is highly likely you will trip over a pile of baubles (Alfie likes to pull three of the tree at a time and then leave them in little piles around the house, usually in dangerous places like the middle of the stairs) and I have the overwhelming feeling that I just want to curl up on the sofa and eat mince pies. It’s a hinderance when you work from home, let me tell you. 


Our first night away – it happened! Gary and I left Alfie with his grandparents and had our first night together without him. I love that kid, but it was absolute bliss. More here.  


Candles and cosy vibes - I have no shame in admitting that one of my favourite things to do at this time of year is draw the blinds, light a candle and watch some good telly from under a blanket. TV is so good this time of year. Equally, so is reading a book from under a blanket with a candle burning and some kind of baked good by my side. Basically, everything is better with a blanket and a candle. On one of the first evenings of October, there was biblical levels of rain, and I grabbed my book, blanket and candle and got onto the sofa with a contented sigh. It was a real vibe until a spider the size of my head loomed out from under the sofa. I mean technically, that is in keeping with the spooky season, but I was categorically NOT HERE FOR IT. The logical conclusion was to burn the house down, but my long-suffering official spider-remover (otherwise known as my husband) evicted the beast from the premises and I could get back to my cosy vibes. 


Hope you’re doing okay dear reader. I hope you had a merry Christmas and a happy new year x


30 Dec 2023

Our First Night Away Sans Baby: 24 Hours In Norwich

 

Norwich


It feels like a bit of a milestone to go away overnight without your baby for the first time after becoming parents. Whilst we have both individually left Alfie overnight, we hadn’t both left him at the same time and for practical reasons it has taken us nearly two years to get the opportunity. But finally, the other week, we left out boy with his Granny & Grandad (he started playing tractors with his Grandad and barely gave us a backwards glance) and drove off to Norwich. 

We first went to Norwich last year as our first trip together as a family of three and immediately loved it. Ever since, Gary has pushed to go back just the two of us, partly because he was haunted by a particularly good looking pub we couldn’t go to due to the presence of a three month old. I was initially hesitant about going back somewhere we had already been (there was quite the temptation to do something lavish and far away), but I was persuaded on the point that the purpose of the trip was to spend quality time together. It being just an hour away meant we didn’t have to waste much of our twenty-four hours travelling and we could get back quickly should a night at Granny & Grandad’s go dramatically south (spoiler: it didn’t). 

Norwich is such a lovely city and by the end of our second visit, we were convinced that it is going to be a regular haunt for us. It is particularly lovely at Christmas time with an abundance of lights and independent shops. It was one of those trips where everything was just right, and it felt like Norwich was determined to show us its adult self (not that its child-friendly self wasn’t great). We headed to the lanes as soon as we arrived and ended up in Biddy’s Tearoom which we went to last time but sat outside due to the presence of the buggy. Turns out the inside is super cosy with clothed-ceilings, squashy sofas and soft lighting. Their sandwiches were great, the cakes absurdly extravagant and the vibes very much come and sit awhile. So we did. 

We’ve had time away from Alfie before, obviously. But there was something about knowing we had the whole night. It was the lack of deadline, I think. It wasn’t a snatched handful of hours; we didn’t have to be anywhere until the following day. And this is where not going too far, going somewhere we’d already explored, really came into its own. The combination of the two meant there was absolutely no pressure. We did a little shop browsing (and picked up an adorable Christmas jumper for Alfs) but then the weather turned, and so we simply drifted back to our gorgeous hotel room for a couple of hours. 

We stayed at 33 St Giles and treated ourselves to one of their suites. It had a huge bed with the softest mattress and luxurious White Company bedding, alongside a bathroom that was so big it had a huge sheepskin rug adorning the floor, squashy armchair, separate shower and toilet area and a deep standalone bath. What a treat. We lazed, I had a hot bath, we got ready for an actual evening out in a very slow fashion. 

Norwich

Norwich

Norwich

Norwich

Norwich

Norwich

Norwich


To say we were excited for an evening out was an understatement. It had been so long. We went to St Andrew’s brewhouse which was all cosy and festive, and managed not to talk about Alfie most of the time (although did watch the videos my parents sent of him eating corn on the cob more than once… partly because he was eating an actual vegetable which was somewhat of a Christmas miracle). We then headed to The Farmyard, a restaurant we’d booked because we wanted somewhere a bit special, and it had rave reviews. It absolutely did not disappoint. I’d go back for their goat’s cheese and olive bon bons alone. They were so good that I immediately ordered another bowl as soon as we’d finished the first. We then both had the Binham blue souffle to start, lamb with butternut and baba ganoush for mains and shared the dessert that everyone in the restaurant seemed to be having – The Farmyard ‘chocolate bar’ with peanuts, miso caramel and milk sorbet. I cannot tell you how delicious it all was. The kind of meal where you don’t mind the pricey tab because it absolutely felt worth the money.
 
Norwich was aglow with old streetlamps and Christmas lights as we wandered across the cobbles back to our cloud bed where we were guaranteed a good night’s sleep and a lie in free from little toddler elbows digging into our kidneys. 

Before we set off the next morning, we stopped at CafĂ© 33 for breakfast. It usually has long queues but as we are now used to being up early, we were there five minutes after opening time and got a table no problem. I would recommend for a hearty brunch. We were full but we couldn’t leave Norwich without stopping at Bread Source, the bakery we fell in love with on our last visit. Their raspberry and pistachio pastries are not to missed. 

And then it was time to go home to our boy, who showed no indication whatsoever that he’d even noticed we’d been gone!

Norwich

Norwich