Friday, 25 March 2016

For the love of food!


What a lovely way to spend Good Friday, being ridiculously spoilt by my sister who bought Glen and I vouchers for a Gastro tour of Borough Market for our birthdays.
The tour is run by Celia Brooks ( ) an American author and tv chef who has lived here in London for over 20 yrs.
Borough Market is an amazing place for anyone that loves food. I've been here a few times now.
It is nestled under the shadow of London Bridge and Southwark Catherderal and is a buzzing and vibrant place to be, you are assaulted from every angle by the noise of hustle and bustle and deliciously delightful smells in the air.
The market itself has been there in one form or another since the 11th century and in the 13th century it relocated to its current position where it has remained ever since. 
In 1755 it was closed by Parliment but the Southwark residents joined together and raised £6,000 to buy a plot of land called the triangle, once the courtyard of St Margarets Church where they opened the market in 1756.
Today it is a haven for the very best British and international produce, very niche and providing exceptional quality and provenance. It hosts 100 individual stalls and is now run by a charitable trust. The pitches are like gold dust and to get one they have to prove that their produce is of the very highest standard but the trust only charges them £50 a day.

So, our tour started with a meet and greet at Rabot 1745 ( Hotel Chocolat ) where Celia introduced herself over coffee and pastries. There were 12 of us on the tour including a family from America.
Our first stop on the tour was at The Exotic Meat Co which I was already familiar with as I buy Ostrich steak from them, one of my sons favourites.  We sampled the crocodile burger which was a first for me and unexpectedly tasty.
We moved on to New Forest Cider, a bit early for me and cider not really my thing but Glen enjoyed it.
We sampled a carrot dipping salad, olives and assorted Turkish delight ( not something I'm very fond of especially the Rose flavoured ones but I ended up with mint which was unusual) at the Turkish deli before moving on to Northfield farm where we had the most amazing beef skirt, lamb and pork, cooked to perfection. It always amazes me to eat something of such superior quality than you are used to on a daily basis. You really can taste the difference and appreciate the extra cost involved.
We moved on to Shellseekers where we sampled hand dived scallops fresh from the south coast and then on to Brindisa, Italian deli and Jo's happy place. She and Glen went to ham school there and learnt how to carve the Iberico. The lads serving us have to taste each new ham and out of the hundreds they have sampled they said today's was possibly the best they had ever tasted so we really had a treat!
Then back outside to the street food stalls. Egyptian Koshari, a street dish of rice, lentils, vermicelli, spicy tomato sauce caramelised onions and chickpeas. Delicious followed by Khanom Krok at a Thai stall which are little coconut puddings. A mouthful of heaven.
These are just the highlights, we also sampled, olives, Balsamic pearls, liquorice, mushroom pate and lots of lovely cheeses amongst other things before finishing up in Bedales for a little wine tasting, a white Colombard and a very nice Rioja and some more bread, cheese and chacuterie.
Celia was delightful, bubbly and passionate, she knew the stall holders and families and had a great knowledge of the market and the foods and their provenance.
From there we said our goodbyes and waddled off to the tube station and back to Bond Street where we fell into a pub and had another bottle of Colombard!
It occurred to me that this would possibly be the most perfect date ever if you need some inspiration! Seriously though, if you have never been to Borough and would like to, let me know and I will take you, everyone should go at least once.
Don't worry, it doesn't have to be a date and I can give you a free tour!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

1 in 3

1 in 3 - That's quite a scary statistic isn't it?
I was driving today and Susan Vega's "My name is Luka" came on the radio. I haven't heard it for years but as I listened to the words a tear rolled down my cheek. It put me in a very reflective mood.

I should have known at the style of my husbands proposal to run a mile! Not, will you marry me but " how do you feel about a joint bank account?" It was the first sign of the control he would continue to exert over the next 25 years. I was 18yrs old.
A joint bank account ensured that while I was at home raising our family ( he didn't want me to work ) he could control me financially. I would have to ask him for money or to sign a cheque to pay for something. He also chose where we went on holiday, what we bought, how we decorated the house etc I didn't even know how to switch the heating on. My sister and my Dad set up a secret bank account in which they deposited money every month so I had a little grace from going cap in hand to him.
When I went back to college (paid for by my Dad) and started working part time he was not happy at all and it was the beginnings of me breaking free. In the last 5 years we were living pretty much separate lives as I carved one out for myself and the anger and emotional abuse became worse as he felt all control slipping away as I became stronger in myself. It was utterly miserable.

I assume family and friends had an inkling of how unhappy things were but it was not something we really talked about much.
I remember once walking down the high street from the station to Mum and Dads for some gathering and we were arguing and he pushed me to the floor in the middle of the street in broad daylight. No one stopped, everyone looks away when these things happen. I arrived at Mum and Dads with a big smile on my face and bruises elsewhere and no one would have had a clue. 
Shame is the keeper of secrets.

Domestic Abuse affects the whole family though. My children were victims ( I hate that word ) too.
Countless times he had Luke by the throat up against the wall screaming and spitting in his face. 
Then there was the time in a rage he smashed Beth's ceiling light in plunging us into darkness, glass all over her bed and the floor before he went and got his air pistol out and threatened us with it. That was the 2nd time I fled to my parents house. I should have stayed.
Then in 2010 I got cancer and it was my saviour. Over the next few years I re evaluated my life completely. I discovered I couldn't do it any more. I couldn't put up with the neglect and intimidation, the cruel things he would say to us. I couldn't bear the thought of any more years of humiliation and sadness and the thought of what it was doing to my kids. 
By the end he had no respect at all and would disappear for days without any contact, he was having an affair, there were drugs involved for years too.
I found my strength and my sister gave me the financial support I needed to be able to leave, divorce him and move on. 
I don't always feel very strong, years of being told and shown you are worthless take their toll and eat away at your self confidence but I am getting there. 
I love my life and I have an army of the most loyal, trustworthy and generous friends and family around me who give me unwavering guidance, support, love and patience.
My children are as much my anchor as I am theirs and I am immensely proud of the adults they have become.

I am not airing my dirty laundry in public to gain sympathy - I do not want your pity. I don't need it and it serves no purpose but the truth is 1 in 3
1 in 3 of your friends, of your circle. 1 in 3 who will hide it just as well as I did and who die a little bit more every day inside, 1 in 3 who won't talk about it. 
So I will talk about it.

My blog was only ever really for me, to indulge in my love of writing and to make sense of my thoughts and feelings and my world from the inside out.
Free therapy!!!
But if I can make you think for a moment - well that's good too if it has a positive impact. 
Is there someone you could reach out to?

Definition of Domestic Abuse.
Physical/ Sexual/ Emotional/ financial/ psychological

Control : To make a person subordinate and dependent by isolating them from sources of support, depriving them of independence and regulating their every day behaviour.

Coercive Behaviour : To control by threats, assault, humiliation, intimidation or any abuse used to punish or frighten their victim. 

Reasons people stay : Fear, financial reliance, children, guilt, shame.


Mothering Sunday was originally observed by the Catholic and Protestant Christians in the 16th century and it falls on the 4th Sunday of Lent when people returned to their Mothering Church which was either the church they were baptised in or the local parish church or cathederal. Anyone who did this was said to have gone "a Mothering"
In later years it became a day when domestic staff were given the day off to visit their mother church usually with their own mothers and family. Children who were in service were also given the day off  and would pick wild flowers along the way to present at the church or give to their mothers which in turn became the secular tradition of giving a gift to honour Mothers on Mother's Day.

I am a Mother, a daughter and a God Mother and honorary Auntie.
It's the best job and the toughest gig in the world rolled in to one.
My love for my children is un ending, irreversible and un conditional.
I don't always get it right, kids don't come with a rule book and I've pretty much winged it a lot of the time. There have been tears and tantrums (theirs and mine) but mostly lots of love and laughter. 
Everything I've done and do is from the heart and has been since their heartbeat was contained within my own body.
To carry a child within your womb is a magical thing but by no means the be all of Mothering.

I have friends who have adopted and fostered children and the love they share is no different. 
Being a Mother is about care and love and nurture. It's not about being your child's friend ( although if you get it right it can happen) it's about showing up, making the tough decisions, putting them foremost at all times. It's about guiding this precious little bundle so full of promise to achieve their full potential and releasing them into the world to repeat the pattern.
I come from a strong line of matriarchs. My Grandmothers and my Mother have taught me how to love and be loved. They have shared their knowledge, strength and love and I am blessed.

So Mothers I salute you all.

My girlfriends who are all doing an amazing job, (Kerry, Satinder, Diane, Loretta, Mandy, Lisa, Claire, Caroline, Claire) raising beautiful children, sometimes on their own with little support (Bev, Linds, Em) some with children who have challenging needs  (Rabiyah, Sally, Claire, Angie, Gillian) those that are bringing up other people's children (Marion, Katie) those Mums struggling with illness and difficult times at the moment, (Jo, Claire)  those that have babies in heaven or still to become great Mums ( Rachael, Megan, Natalie) those who are pregnant and just beginning their journey, (Jenni)  my cousin Carrie who has just brought a new baby into our family, the Aunties (Jo ) and teachers (Minal, Anna) out there, you are all applauded.

It takes a whole village to raise a child
Nigerian Proverb