Thursday, 23 November 2017

Mummy Diaries | Afternoon Tea at Merrymeade House

Tuesday 14 November 2017

I was back in Essex as Alfie had his eight-week check-up and immunisations and wasn’t yet registered with a doctor here (truly traumatic btw mummas, but he also had a slight chest infection, which was horrible to see). It was a good opportunity to see mum as Tuesdays are notoriously a busy day for Ashley and I didn’t fancy spending the day alone. I mentioned about doing something or going somewhere for lunch and mum suggested Merrymeade House, which used to be a college and where she lived. These days the rooms can be hired for events, conferences and the like – but there’s also a tearoom!

It’s a shame there wasn’t much else to do, as it would have been lovely to go for a walk. The scenery was lovely, especially at this time of year. We did walk along the dirt track to where mum used to live, which is now a nursery, but that was it.

The tearoom was inside the house and although small and cosy, has been decorated so nicely – think neutral colours with a slight vintage feel. They’d also been decorated for the festive season and there were items to buy, including house decs and tealight holders. We sat in the window, meaning there was room for Alfie in his car seat – I propped it up on a chair. There would have been no room for his buggy, so mummas, leave those in the car – there isn’t that much space between the tables or to manoeuvre.

You have to go up to order and pay before you leave but your food and drink is brought to the table. There are light bites like sandwiches and homemade soup, as well as more substantial fare including jacket potatoes. But we were there for afternoon tea (standard) – mum’s treat!
First up, look at that china – I loved it! When our tea was brought over, the waitress said she had tried to match the cups and saucers but I quite liked the mismatched sets, which added charm to the tearoom. There was a choice of tea on offer and we went for breakfast tea – traditional. We had a selection of sandwiches (not too sure if we were meant to choose our fillings), which consisted of ham salad, brie & cranberry and smoked salmon & cream cheese. There were nine finger sandwiches in total, so one-and-a-half of each filling and all were tasty.
The scones weren’t homemade, so Merrymeade lose points for that, but they were still enjoyable – made better with the lashings of clotted cream and strawberry jam we had. And to the cakes... well we could choose two varieties of cake, from a choice of about seven. Mum chose fruit cake over coffee & walnut, because let’s be honest, it goes with tea better. The slices were packed full of currants and cherries so it was a good choice. I picked the peanut butter & banana loaf cake with peanut butter frosting, following a recommendation from our waitress – she mentioned it was homemade, too. Banana and peanut butter is a winning combination in my eyes and as it was the crunchy variety that was used, it added a bit of texture to the soft sponge.

I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon – it made a change to go somewhere different and somewhere I’d not even heard of before. It was also good to spend some time with mum, although I still see her regularly, and for her to see Alfie. I’d definitely return for a mid-morning coffee and cake catch up, or even a bite to eat.

Love, Lucy xx

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Mummy Diaries | Autumn Afternoon at Cressing Barns

Cressing Barns, Essex, Day Out, Mummy Dairies, PBloggers, LBloggers
Cressing Barns, Essex, Day Out, Mummy Dairies, PBloggers, LBloggers
Cressing Barns, Essex, Day Out, Mummy Dairies, PBloggers, LBloggers
Wednesday 1 November 2017

I don’t know about you, but I really take where I live for granted. Not so much at the moment, but when I was back living at home mum’s. The village was is beautiful, surrounded by country parks, plenty of places to visit by car and not too far from the seaside. I knew when I moved, I would miss it and wish I’d spent more time outdoors. Which is why I really enjoyed an afternoon at Cressing Barns so much.

Cressing is just north of Witham, northwest of Tiptree and is a historical site, home to three old barns (previously used for barley, wheat and malt), as well as a lovely walled garden and tearoom. The barns can be hired for events, including weddings and craft fairs, but it’s a lovely place to stop by and have a look around – especially if you’re heading to the tearooms (worth the visit alone!).

There’s plenty to see – although not all completely buggy friendly – with smaller buildings to go inside, as well as the barns themselves. Mum did have to wait outside with Alfie a couple of times as I explored. Walking around the gardens were fine though, there’s plenty of space and while the terrain isn’t completely level as you walk around, it was never a problem.
Cressing Barns, Essex, Day Out, Mummy Dairies, PBloggers, LBloggers
Cressing Barns, Essex, Day Out, Mummy Dairies, PBloggers, LBloggers
The gardens were really beautiful and although they’d be better in full bloom, the pumpkin patch gave me all the autumn/Halloween feels! Isn’t it cute? The smells were lovely as we walked, with flowers, fruits and herbs grown everywhere – and even better, everything was labelled! You could also buy small potted plants or packets of seeds for a minimal fee. We didn’t buy any, though.
Cressing Barns, Essex, Day Out, Mummy Dairies, PBloggers, LBloggers
Cressing Barns, Essex, Day Out, Mummy Dairies, PBloggers, LBloggers
And to the tearoom, which even contained products by Wilkin & Sons of Tiptree to purchase. My mum and auntie shared the afternoon tea for two: a selection of sandwiches (they chose brie and coronation turkey, both on granary bread) with a pot of hot gooseberry chutney, scones with clotted cream and Tiptree strawberry preserve and a selection of four cakes/pastries. It looked lovely. The brie was thick cut and there was even a small salad amongst the sandwiches. I helped them out with the cakes, having a piece of red velvet, as well as half a scone. Of course, I had a ploughman’s: slices of ham, turkey, cheddar and brie, with a large salad, apple slices, homemade creamy coleslaw and a fresh cottage loaf roll. In my Tiptree jar was a gorgeous onion chutney – perfect for accompanying the cheese. This was probably one of the best ploughman’s I’d ever had and I even managed to eat it all.

I would definitely return for afternoon tea and another look around, probably in the spring. While the weather was perfect for the time of year – sunny, but crisp – it would be good to see the garden in full bloom. I imagine weddings in the warmer months are particularly beautiful, especially with all the wonderful backdrops... if any of my friends are getting married soon?

Love, Lucy xx

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Girly Lunch at Wagamama, Intu Lakeside

Dining, Essex, Review, Wagamama,Intu Lakeside
Dining, Essex, Review, Wagamama,Intu Lakeside
A few weeks ago (well the week before we moved), mum, my auntie, Alfie and I went to Lakeside. There were a few shops my auntie wanted to go to while she was over here and I was obviously in need of baby and house bits – it certainly was a successful day! Whenever we go to Lakeside, we always go to Wagamama for lunch – the last time, I was pregnant so was restricted on what I could eat. It’s fair to say I was looking forward to it... even with a hungry and grumpy munchkin in tow.

Upon arrival, we had to wait for a table, not usually something you have to do at Wagamama, but because the waitress was clearing a table big enough for us and the buggy. Most pushchairs and prams were parked up at the entrance, but there was no way I was leaving mine there, especially with our shopping so far! It was fine though – we waited no longer than five minutes and we had plenty of space, with a bench to ourselves. I’m used to sharing tables with strangers at Wagas, so it’s always a bonus when you get a bit of lunchtime privacy!

As seafood was out of the question last time (read: Back for buns and my Wagamama fix at Intu Lakeside), I was excited to be having my all-time favourite Wagas dish: a side of Chilli Squid. It was definitely worth waiting nine months for! The coating was crisp, the squid itself wasn’t rubbery and the chilli was just enough – the seasoning wasn’t as spicy as I had remembered. Of course, we also shared a side of Bang Bang Cauliflower – a regular occurrence since it joined the menu last November (read: New Dishes Galore at Wagamama, Intu Lakeside). My auntie enjoyed it too. In fact we all said we weren’t fans of cauliflower and would only eat it when covered in cheese sauce. But when it’s cooked and flavoured this well, wow!
Dining, Essex, Review, Wagamama,Intu Lakeside
I always used to order the Seafood Coconut Broth, which has now discontinued *sad face*. So when I saw a Seafood Ramen, I just had to go for that instead. Sea bream, shell-on prawns and breaded tilapia on a bed of ramen noodles in a vegetable broth, garnished with pea shoots, wakame and samphire – what’s not to like? Well truth be told, I was quite disappointed. The portion size was huge, with far too much for me – especially after demolishing those sides. The sea bream and prawns were really good; I just wasn’t a fan of the coated tilapia, as of course it was soggy from sitting in the broth. The coconut broth was so flavoursome, but this was rather bland and needed some chilli or something to give it a bit of oomph! I had high hopes following the previous seafood broth, so was underwhelmed... don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it, but not to the extent I’d have it again.
Dining, Essex, Review, Wagamama,Intu Lakeside
Dining, Essex, Review, Wagamama,Intu Lakeside
My mum and auntie ordered from the Omakase section of the menu: Sticky Pork Belly (with grilled miso aubergine and white rice) for my auntie and Tonkatsu (a pork katsu curry with white rice and mixed salad leaves) for mum. I got such food envy when I saw my auntie’s dish arrive. It was something I was tempted by and when it arrived, it was presented well and looked and smelt so tasty. The two dishes took a little longer to arrive, but as a seasoned Waga-goer, I’m used to either starting first, or snacking on sides while waiting for my main dish to arrive. It was the former this time and my meal came while I was feeding and changing Alfie. It was still piping hot once I’d finished and returned to the bench!

As always, the service was very good and the food, hot and fresh. I can’t believe that once again I didn’t have room for dessert – someone find me a better dessert than Mix It Up Mochi!

Love, Lucy xx

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

New House, New Town

Okay, so I find myself apologising again, even though there is nothing to be sorry about. Yep, I’ve been MIA again! My last blogging absence was because I was pregnant and then our little boy arrived in the world. This time, it’s also good news – I am a homeowner! Ashley and I (and Alfie, of course) moved in on November 3rd and are finally getting settled. There’s a lot that needs doing to make this house our home but we are getting there – we even fitted curtains in our bedroom this week! A new house means a new location... I am no longer in Essex!

It’s strange. When I left for Uni (albeit, nearby in Hertfordshire), I couldn’t wait to ‘move out’ and leave Essex. I wasn’t leaving many friends or anything behind and I really didn’t enjoy home life. Since graduating and returning home in 2011, I’ve been looking forward to this day. But when the day finally arrived and I was packing up my bedroom and other belongings (still not fully complete, btw... I have way too much stuff!), I was hit by sadness and a wealth of memories. Not only was I saying goodbye to my home of 22 years, but more importantly, I was leaving my incredible mumma, who’s now on her own. I always knew I would leave Essex when it came to Ashley and I moving in together, but we obviously didn’t anticipate it being so soon.

So now I’m living in Milton Keynes, in a lovely soon-to-be-perfect house. I’m very much enjoying the mum life and being with my two boys. The estate is ideal for taking Alfie out for walks in his buggy, with a lake and park nearby. I’m still looking for things to do and see in the area, as well as classes/meets to attend. I really am on my own, so need to spend time with other mums and make friends. We have met a couple of our neighbours already, though.

I’ve learned a lot already: how to defrost a freezer, how the washing machine works and what an electric oven is all about. And do you know what I love? Cooking every evening! I have always loved cooking, but during my pregnancy and while I was at home, I relied on mum far too much and became lazy. I love having dinner ready every evening when Ash gets home from work. I don’t even mind the constant cleaning that’s been needed. I love being a stay at home mum.

I guess that makes me a Beds/Bucks blogger now... do any of you read this or follow me on Twitter and can you recommend anything to do with a two-month-old? Mummy bloggers, make yourselves known. You can follow/tweet me: @Luuuce_x.

Love, Lucy xx

Thursday, 26 October 2017

10 things I don’t miss about being pregnant

Baby, Life, Parenting, Personal, Pregnancy,
Baby, Life, Parenting, Personal, Pregnancy,
If you saw Tuesday’s post, you’ll know that I revealed the 10 things I miss about being pregnant. So what about those things I don’t miss? Well you’re in luck, as tonight I share the 10 things I don’t miss about being pregnant.

(1) Lack of sleep
Not being able to sleep now because Alfie is crying, needs feeding or changing, is absolutely fine. It’s part and parcel of being a parent. However, not being able to sleep during pregnancy because you can’t get comfortable, have aches and pains, a weak bladder or are dehydrated are not fine! I think I was having a maximum of four hours sleep a night by the end of my pregnancy – not ideal!

(2) Feeling uncomfortable
More about this: having to sleep on your side, well your left hand side, as opposed to your back; having the awful pelvis and leg pain while you sleep, causing you to wake up; having your bump in the way, not only when you sleep; not being able to sit down for long periods and likewise, not being able to stand or walk for long periods. I don’t miss any of it at all!

(3) ALL the questions
Was it planned? When are you due? Do you know what you’re having? Have you thought about names? How come you didn’t know for so long? How are you feeling? How’s Ash feeling? What did your mum say? Are you eating enough? Are you sure you should be eating/drinking that? What are you going to do about work? Don’t you still live at home? Oh my god, when you are pregnant, everyone wants to know all of your business. Even those you don’t speak to often, or aren’t close. Enough with the questions!

(4) The restrictions
Like I said, sleeping on my side was enough of a restriction – especially as I often sleep on my back and I’m such a wriggler when I sleep. But don’t get me started on how I felt towards the end of my pregnancy; I was almost like an invalid. If I wasn’t wearing pumps or sandals, I could barely lean over to put shoes on or tie laces; it would take me forever to shave my legs and I would always miss a bit; I had to pray someone was with me in case I dropped something and couldn’t pick it up, or worse, fell over and couldn’t get up again! And what about food and drink..?

(5) Say goodbye to your favourite food and drink
I’m not going to lie, I didn’t really miss too much food or drink during my pregnancy and I didn’t have any cravings until about week 30! I had to cut down on green tea at work and my tiredness couldn’t be cured with a large mug of coffee, but I didn’t miss it. Likewise, I didn’t miss alcohol – I’m not one for going out or drinking to excess at the weekends. There were some foods I missed though. I have since adjusted from having my steaks blue/rare, to medium-rare – and my body thanks me for it. I missed my takeaways with mum from Sushi City (we are having it tomorrow for the first time in aaages). I’m not even a cheese fan but I bloody love brie! And strangely, something as simple as dippy eggs and pate on toast needs to come back into my life! They say some things can be consumed in moderation, but I cut everything out.
(6) Baby brain
I hated baby brain, it genuinely made me feel like I’d lost the plot. I seemed to forget everything and quite often repeated myself. I could never remember the date, my age or if I had said something. Some say I lack commonsense, but this was on another level!

(7) Breathlessness
At work, the lunch room was on the third floor, so by the time I got to sit down, I was out of breath. Six flights of stairs from and to the office was just hell. Similarly, I could walk briskly for 10 minutes before sounding like I was about to pass out. I must have looked like the most unfit girl in the world – at least I had an excuse, though!

(8) Feeling hormonal
During my pregnancy, I didn’t think I looked good – especially when I was showing! My body confidence hit an all time low and there were days I thought I was repulsive and was worried Ash thought the same. I worried a lot – about money, my health and Alfie’s health. I constantly wished my dad was around. I cried a lot. It should have been a happy time because after all, being pregnant is such a wonderful thing. So yeah, I don’t miss being a hormonal wreck!

(9) Relying on people
Whilst I loved being treated like a princess and having so much help on-hand, I really don’t like relying on other people. I hated knowing I relied so much on mum at home; on Ash to drive when I was tired, or to cook dinner or make me a cuppa when I stayed there; and on my work colleagues to make the drinks round when the tray was too heavy or because getting cold water meant going upstairs. I just like doing things myself.

(10)           ALL the side effects
Okay, so I’ve said before I had it fairly easy. But that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t stress-free. Everything else you can get, I had: dry/itchy skin, stretch marks, heartburn, tiredness, constant weeing... I had it all! None of those are particularly attractive and I could not wait to return to normality!

Mummas; what did you hate about pregnancy and what don’t you miss?

Love, Lucy xx