A night out in Newisham

Sunday, 20 July 2014


The hashtag Newisham has had a bit of a lukewarm reception. There's complaints that it's tacky, patronising and well, just a bit crap really. Yes, the phrase does have all the eloquence of the government's Stoptober campaign, but calm down dear it's only a hashtag.

And the wonderful thing is that Newisham is actually good. I for one am loving it. Lewisham has never been the greatest place for a night out - the Ravensbourne and the Ladywell Tavern are pretty good boozers, but other than that you really need to head to New Cross for any decent nightlife. Well at least until now...

I get inspired at the Jacqueline Wilson exhibition

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

We're big fans of Jacqueline Wilson in our household, so for the bank holiday we took a trip to the Daydreams and Diaries exhibition at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green.

Maisie loved it, Enid got bored, but the kid who liked it best of all was the little girl inside me.

'I had those books,' she exclaimed in glee seeing the recreation of Wilson's childhood bedroom complete with a shelf full of my old favourites - Little Women and What Katy Did plus lots of Enid Blyton.

Why so much cynicism about conscious uncoupling?

Monday, 31 March 2014

Gwyneth Paltrow's announcement of her separation from Chris Martin has been met with a flurry of scornful articles in the press. It seems even the Mail and the Guardian have finally found something they can agree on.

I'm as guilty as anyone of having a snigger with friends over the shamelessly right-on nature of their split. Yes all that talk of gurus and emotions sounds a bit pretentious to our British sensibilities, but when you think about it doesn't conscious uncoupling make common sense considering the alternative?

I rave my way into the day at Morning Gloryville

Saturday, 29 March 2014



It's 7am on a Wednesday and I'm dancing next to a man wearing gold lamé pants with a scuba mask and a woman dressed as a unicorn.

But even more strangely there's not a drop of alcohol or an amphetamine in sight. In fact the hardest substance on offer is an organic coffee. Welcome to Morning Gloryville, the new era of daytime partying which starts at 6.30am so you can have a dance before heading off for work.

Unlike similar offerings Secretsundaze or the infamous Egg after-party, the atmosphere is more healthy than hedonistic with even a few children along for the party. This is conscious dance for 2014 with green smoothies on sale and therapists offering free massages. But the music is just as good with an uplifting set from DJ duo the Loose Cannons.

Held at the Oval space in Cambridge Heath, it's a place for beautiful people with more men in leggings and girls in metallic leotards than you can shake a glow stick at. There's nothing like the sight of a man with a sparkly beard wearing Minnie Mouse trousers to wake you up in the morning. I feel positively overdressed in a summery dress and trainers with not a touch of glitter on me.

Admittedly as I left the house at 5am I had started to question my sanity. Surely at my age there's better things I should be spending my time doing; like organising my underwear drawer or researching my investment portfolio for example. But instead I'm putting on my dancing shoes and boarding the train to travel an hour across London.
On the stage with Sarah and Dean
It came about when I met party girl Sarah at a 5Rhythms class and she invited me along. Happily it coincided with the teachers' strike, meaning I didn't have the usual school run duties and the kids were already having a sleep-over at their nan's. It was all set for a rave.

By 9am I'm on the stage and it is no different to if it had been 2am and I'd just ingested half a bottle of vodka. In fact it's more authentic than that - this is me, no substances, no pretence and no fear of doing anything inappropriate.

As I leave I bump into a couple I was on a Buddhist retreat with last year. It's the second coincidence in a week, after turning up to a 5Rhythms class and finding I'd been on (another) retreat with the teacher. It seems that I'm moving in a certain circle of conscious people now. Although I'm still enjoying the occasional drink (or two), I feel like I'm on the path to something a bit more enlightening and a lot less hangover-inducing.

It's all good clean healthy fun and I'm planning another early morning rave next month. Maybe next time I'll even dig out my gold sparkly leotard...

Iced Almond Chai

Sunday, 23 March 2014


Serving with chocolate is not compulsory

When I found myself in the depths of freezing February wearing a woolly hat and scarf trying to clutch a frozen yoghurt cone in my mittened hand, it was clear my addiction was out of control.

I'm strangely unable to walk past a branch of Snog without treating myself to something icy. The staff in Islington anticipate my order as if I'm a local in the pub. They're practically my besties now.

Snog is great because the frozen yogurt are made with agave nectar rather than sugar so no need to feel guilty. Plus the cones and toppings are all gluten-free, even the chocolate brownies.

I get down with the kids at Chvrches

Sunday, 16 March 2014



After a very sober start to the year, my halo has slipped somewhat and the delights of green juice and 5Rhythms have been swapped for rum and coke and drunken dancing.

The last couple of weeks I've been getting down with the kids, enjoying a bit of trip hop and synthpop respectively at the London Grammar and Chvrches gigs along with my trusty concert buddy Hannah.

Brit nominees London Grammar are apparently the next big thing and have most definitely been added to Zero 7 in the category of 'background music I don't find annoying.'

I join the green juice brigade

Thursday, 13 March 2014



Being a bit of a wild child, my main addictions right now are smoothies and frozen yoghurt. Yeah, I'm crazy me.

But on Monday as I grab my morning smoothie in Crussh I notice a worrying trend. Everyone's drink other than mine seems to be green. Looking at the women in front of me virtuously clutching their bright juices, I'm almost ashamed of my pink, obviously non-vegetable drink.

I'd thought green juice was just a craze among health fanatics, but it's obviously become more mainstream of late. Just last week my best friend posted a photo on Instagram of her melon, strawberry, mango and spinach and apple juice, proudly declaring it the best smoothie ever. Spinach? Am I missing a trick here?

Easy gluten-free pancakes

Tuesday, 4 March 2014



Shrove Tuesday was so exciting as a child. It was the only day of the year we ate pancakes, so they were a real treat. My mum would use a batter mix from a packet and we'd have them with lemon and sugar or golden syrup.

These days I'm quite the pancake fan, so we tend have them for breakfast most weekends, usually served with maple syrup. After trying all sorts of different recipes, it's this really simple one I find the best for big fluffy American style pancakes. These are also really good with a handful of blueberries mixed in.

Dance like nobody's watching

Sunday, 2 March 2014


When I hear about something three times I take it as a sign to act, so after 5Rhythms dancing is mentioned by a couple of different people my curiosity is piqued.

But when the topic comes up in conversation once again on a mutual friend's birthday night out, I really start to think destiny is in play. Tara, who I'm sat next to at dinner, has like me recently split from her husband and has two daughters - it's clearly fate. After a good chat, she invites me along to an open house dance event in Queen's Park.

As the night approaches I'm feeling more than a tad of trepidation. The dance is designed to put the psyche in motion to allow healing and creative expression. But is the world ready to see the ongoings of my psyche?

Being terribly British about it all, I'm not entirely sure I'll be able to let go in the required fashion. Visions of myself swaying awkwardly at the edge of the dance floor while the others prance around in uninhibited abandonment flash through my mind.

I look to the website for reassurance. It tells me the five rhythms are flowing, staccato, chaos and stillness which come together to form 'the wave' - a movement meditation practice. Each rhythm is an energy field in which you find your own expression, meeting 'different and sometimes unknown aspects of yourself'.

It goes on to say there may be sexual energy between dancers in which you can 'express a fleeting attraction without committing to marriage'.  Blimey.

West African groundnut stew

Friday, 28 February 2014


West African groundnut stew

Ever since going to an African Supper Club I've been meaning to dig out this recipe.  It's from a pamphlet by Animal Aid I picked up a few years ago, with seven vegetarian meal ideas from around the world. I've tried them all, but this was by far the most successful.

Not only is it vegan and gluten-free, it's also super duper easy to make. I love it because it's really flavoursome (think along the lines of satay sauce) and also quite dense and filling. I usually serve with rice but it's probably fine on its own.

My writers' group experience

Wednesday, 26 February 2014


My novel in old notepads

My "novel"

I've been 'working on' a novel for 10 years now but it tends to spend most of its time in my bedside drawer.

This year I resolved it was time to make some serious progress and join a writers' group for motivation. Yet somehow on the morning of the group I'm feeling strangely unenthusiastic.  All of a sudden it seems vitally important to clean the house and go to the gym. Plus I'm feeling slightly hungover and could really do with a lie-in.


The truth is I'm more than bit nervous about going along. I imagine the others as published authors typing away on whizzy laptops. Will they sneer at my collection of dog-eared notepads (one of which is Forever Friends) and light-weight chick lit story? 

Imagine Children's Festival on Southbank

Friday, 21 February 2014


Imagine childrens festival on Southbank London

One of the most enjoyable things about having children is getting to share my favourite books.

As much as I'd like to claim to be reading the Booker list, it's more likely to be C.S. Lewis, Louisa M. Alcott or A.A. Milne with my daughters these days.

So unsurprisingly the Imagine festival on Southbank is always a highlight of the half term calendar. There's something very special about an event which gets children to step into the magical world of literature and really use their imaginations.

My African Valentine supper club in West London

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


My African Valentine supper club by Pepper and Stew
There's been a bit of a buzz about supper clubs in London of late. Now having at times felt a step behind when it comes to trends (speed dating totally bypassed me), I was determined not to miss out on this one. So when my friend invited me to My African Valentine pop-up restaurant I was keen to go along.

Supper clubs are essentially dining events held in people's homes or other temporary venues. They offer the chance to try unusual and home-cooked food, meet new people and usually bring your own alcohol. What's not to like?
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