Feminism – What does the F word mean to you?

What does the F word mean to you? With today being International Woman’s Day, I thought I’d pen a few thoughts on what it means to me and why I think it’s so important to raise my son to be a feminist.

While feminism seems to be the buzz word of the decade, in some cultures, my own included, the word conjures up quite a bit of negativity. People envisage a feminist as a girl who talks out of place, has strong opinions and can’t be moulded. Heaven forbid you’re not able to mould and control her with your misogynistic and patriarchal ways.

For me, feminism is about equality between the sexes as well as a woman’s right to be who she truly wants to be and do as she wants to do, without societal norms defining her. And while I consciously think about it more now, if I look back at my teenage years, I was always a bit of a feminist. Whether it was sitting on the floor of Trocodero (an arcade) until a male friend admitted I was as good as him at Daytona car racing, insisting I be allowed to play football with the boys or getting my hands hit with a metal ruler at boarding school for sticking up for a male friend who was being unfairly treated. You see, I didn’t think I was better, I just believed I should be an equal.

But somewhere along the way, circumstances changed me and I lost that feeling of self-worth. Suddenly I believed I wasn’t good enough and wasn’t as deserving as my male counterparts…which led me to make decisions based on what everyone around me wanted and not on what I really wanted. My gut told me one thing but the voices in my head told me something else. And I allowed that to guide me for a very long time.

I remember struggling as a teenager with the fact that all around me, people believed boys were better than me. They got away with a lot more and they were judged a lot less. Even today, within the society I live in, women have to look and act a certain way to be deemed attractive to men while men just have to have enough money in their bank accounts. Women are expected to have children but look like they don’t and speak their opinions, but not too loudly. Self-worth (and what is on the inside) often takes a backseat, only to be replaced by what is on the outside. If we don’t see our own worth, how is anyone else supposed to see it?

What we say (especially to our children) and how we act plays a huge role in their belief system as they grow up. To me, it’s of utmost importance to raise S to see girls (future women) as his equals. I want him to be a feminist, to respect women and treat them as they deserve to be treated. We live in a world where the bias is still very much for men. Everything from toys to packaging of shower gel differentiates men from women. It creates an illusion that men are stronger, have tougher jobs and are able to take control. Even the font on shower gels aimed at women is more flowy with descriptive words like smooth, creamy and soft. Growing up, my dad taught me to build flat pack furniture because he believed I was an equal and my mum taught (tried to teach) me to cook. I don’t ever remember being told I couldn’t do something because I was a girl.

The second thing that I make a priority is ensuring that S is never bound by societal norms/expectations. My biggest learning experience came from a situation where I placed far too much emphasis on what was expected of me by society, rather than what my gut told me. I have no regrets because I believe every experience gives you an opportunity to learn and I wouldn’t change who I am today. I’ll even go so far as to say I am grateful for the experience because it was so necessary and had it not been for that experience, I wouldn’t have found the strength and courage to rise up against expectations and live my true life.

The statistics around men and suicide rates is another thing that I think about. I was in a shop last week and I could hear a little boy crying. I then heard is mum/carer say “Boys don’t cry! Stop crying!” and to hear this in London in 2019 worries me. Are we saying that boys cannot have emotions, cannot feel overwhelmed and shouldn’t express it in the most natural humanistic way? By shedding tears! If you’ve ever been overwhelmed and then cried, you’ll know what a relief it is to shed those tears. So why must boys not be encouraged to release their emotions? I have seen first-hand the product of boys unable to express their feelings and how it affects the people around them when they grow up. All that pent up anger and frustration has to go somewhere! There is no need for a façade. A man isn’t weak because he lets his guard down, being vulnerable will only allow more support into his life. I want my son to know this.

I often hear the phrase “This is just how the world is, this is just how things are.” And I implore you to ask yourself “Why?” The world is whatever WE want it to be, the sooner we realise that, the sooner we can start to create a world we want to live in – a fairer and more just world. I’m far from perfect and being a true feminist is a work in progress but my goal is to play a small part in leaving this world in slightly better shape than when I arrived. The power we have innately is the power we need to tap into, to do good, to be better.

To some it may sound like heavy stuff, but it doesn’t have to be. Feminism can be practical in a myriad of little ways. Speaking up for a friend, not indulging in mindless conversation about another, making choices because we want them, surrounding ourselves with people who lift us up, letting go of those that don’t, doing the right thing (even when it’s scary) and living our best lives. If you’re not sure what Feminism means to you, I suggest the book “Feminists don’t wear pink and other lies”, curated by Scarlett Curtis. It is a collection of 52 essays written by various women on what feminism means to them. Reese Witherspoon’s “Hello Sunshine” podcast is also another inspiring one to listen to and last, but far from the least, “We should all be feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I heard someone on a podcast say recently (I think it was Ellen Pao) that as women, we are wired to deflect praise like teflon but hold on to criticism like velcro. We need to all take the time to look around us and see what we’ve created and what we’ve achieved. We are tough, we are capable (of far more than we think we are – hello child birth!) and we need to remind ourselves of that more.

Happy International Woman’s Day!

Can a woman raise a boy alone?

I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts a couple of weeks ago – Pillow talk with Papa B and Candice Brathwaite – when Candice made a very provocative statement. She said she doesn’t believe a single woman can raise a boy. You can imagine my initial shock. She didn’t defend her statement or elaborate on it in any way. She went on to say that her mum raised her brother as a single mother and so she was making the statement even with that fact a part of her life. 


It goes without saying that I disagree. I believe a woman can raise a boy and give him everything he needs – but here’s the caveat – I also believe in the idiom that it takes a village to raise a child. And I further believe one of the reasons for all the issues we have in society today comes from the fact that everyone is trying to do it on their own. As humans, we are social creatures, designed to live in a community and be a part of the bigger picture. With this new “do it all yourself” culture, we’re inhibiting our children from learning from their grandparents, other parents and their peers. 


We look like we’re expanding socially with play dates and meet ups but have you ever seen a parent discipline a friend’s child? It doesn’t happen…because we’re all too scared to say anything to someone else’s child. I grew up being corrected by my parent’s friends and I think I was all the better for it. My parents also knew that there were other adults looking out for me when I was out and about. Anyway, I digress, that is a whole other blog post about how we all need to step up and raise our children together. 


Going back to the village though…I have no doubt I could raise my son on my own…but why would I want to? By giving him a village, I am providing him with that many more people he can learn from, why limit him to just me? And in that village are male figures. Men he can look up to, men he respects and men who teach him things. There often seems to be this delusion that a son needs a father and while in an ideal divorce, a father would choose to prioritise his child, this doesn’t always happen. As a good friend once said to me, no dad is better than a bad dad…and I wholeheartedly agree.


More importantly, since the beginning of time, it has usually been a matriarchal society with women raising their children alone while men went out to work. There are societies where it didn’t matter who your biological father was, as long as children had a male figure in their village that they could look up to. I’m aware there are statistics that say boys have a higher chance of delinquent behaviour (and the likes) but statistics are broad strokes and most definitely don’t take individual cases into consideration. The statistics for delinquent behaviour are actually higher in boys who live in a 2-parent hostile home.


Back to my initial argument, I believe that women are the ones that can best teach a boy how to be a man. And this includes everything from keeping his ego in check to teaching him how to respect all women. Is it tricky raising a boy on my own? Ofcourse it is! I’ve had to learn my “Hazards” from my “Ronaldos” and understand what corners and goal kicks are. I’ve stood out in the rain watching him play football, held my nose when he’s taken off his football boots and watched his insatiable appetite when we go out to eat. I am the breadwinner, the role model, the nurturer and the disciplinarian. I make all the decisions (a huge weight on my shoulders) about education, health and my child’s welfare. It’s tough but it’s not impossible. I’m able to do this because I’m blessed with a supportive family who understand how important it is for a child to have a village and play active roles in my son’s life. And it’s not just the child who needs the village, I need it too. We can only parent to the best of our ability when our cup is overflowing. That means taking/making time for ourselves when we need it, ditching the guilt and leaning on those around us for support. Single mum or not, we were not built to live and raise our families in isolation.


The other side of the au pair story

When S started reception 2 years ago, I decided to go back to work full time. It had been a while and truth be told, I missed working/having some sort of purpose beyond him. However, with the cost and inflexibility of child care, especially in London, it makes going back to full time work quite difficult, especially as a single parent. It was then that I looked into getting an au pair. I sought the assistance of a friend’s nanny and after going through a few CVs, I came across Belen – a 25 year old Spanish girl who’d been an au pair before and wanted to come back to London.

She started in October 2016 and it wasn’t long before she was very much a member of our family. She ate dinner with us, taught S a few Spanish words, dropped him to school and picked him up. She was interested in learning how to cook Indian food and when Christmas came around, 4 year old S was very excited as I took him shopping to buy her a present. I cried when she left.

An au pair is supposed to be a cultural exchange, where a young person comes to live with you and in return for boarding and lodging, they provide childcare services, acting as a big brother/sister to your child. It’s typically 25-30 hours a week for approximately £80-£120 per week “pocket money” plus transport.

Belen left after 6 months (we’re still in touch), that was always the plan, and we then had two au pairs, Cindy and Damla. Both were here on an 11 month short term student visa from Indonesia and Turkey respectively, to better their English. We unfortunately had a negative experience with both of them. Cindy ignored me when I asked her not to give S juice from the carton she was drinking from, when I asked her not to buy him an ice cream and when I asked her not to give him crisps at 8:30am. She hung her dripping wet underwear on our bannisters and when she finally left, the room she had was in a state with period stains on the sheets. She lasted 2 weeks and I asked her to leave when she approached a friend at tennis camp, where she was picking S up, and asked her to book her an Uber home.

Damla arrived and spent 19 out of 24 hours in her room, which was a tip, with hair and bits of cotton wool mashed into the carpet. I’d have to ask her to clean the bathroom she shared with S 5 times before it was half-heartedly done and I regularly tidied up in the kitchen after her. I genuinely felt like I was paying her to stay with me and that she was only here because she wanted to live in Central London.

1 family, 3 different experiences – and this is what writing should be like – both sides of the story. I was shocked to come across a Guardian article by Rosie Cox (probably written to drum up some PR for her book “Au pairing in the 21st century”) where she described au pairing as “low paid domestic work”. The article is very one sided and from what I can tell, Rosie has gone onto various Facebook au pair groups, posting questions pretending to be a host mum to get some feedback for her article. It’s disappointing to see the Guardian publish such a biased view of what being an au pair is like.

Go onto FB au pair groups and you’ll see host families asking questions like “How can I make my au pair feel comfortable when she arrives?” and “What sort of goodies do you leave for your au pair in her room when she starts?” You also see posts from au pairs looking for a host family in London, ONLY in zone 1 or 2. Other posts have included points like “I will not do any house work”, “I will not work on weekends”, “I expect ATLEAST £150 a week”, “I’m coming over with my boyfriend and we’d like a family who wants both of us”, etc. There was a post where an au pair had gotten into university in Glasgow and so was looking for a host family there. For a student, 25 hours a week of childcare is not a lot to ask in return for free accommodation (WiFi, etc. included) and food while she studies at university. It’s a win win situation.

On another occasion, prior to Cindy starting, I had a girl approach me to be our au pair. She was working in Cambridge and intended to leave that family (working parents, 3 kids) with no notice. She wouldn’t let me get any references as she lied to the host mum saying she had to go home for a family emergency. I’ve also heard of stories where au pairs come home drunk at 4am and can’t wake up to take the child to school the next day and other instances where they’ve stolen from host families and then done a runner.

Like with anything in life, there are two sides to a story. Of course, you’ll have host families who mistreat their au pairs but an au pair has a choice – he/she can leave at any time they like, usually with 2 weeks notice. Responsible journalism would have given two sides to the story, not painted au pairs as “slaves” when I think the majority are actually quite happy and are living and working in a situation that suits their needs, as well as the needs of their host family.

From yummy to slummy…

When did we move from aspiring to be a yummy mummy to instead being proud of being a slummy mummy? Every time I scroll through Instagram, I come across posts of bloggers talking about their pile of laundry, their dirty kitchen counter or their unmade bed. And it’s said with such pride…like they’re winning at parenting because they don’t give a shit about the state of their home.

A few years ago, blogs like Hurrah for Gin and the Unmumsy mum came about and they took off because they showed the realities of parenthood. When you have a new baby in the house, the house keeping does tend to take a back seat and your priorities are then aligned with the baby. But at some point, as more and more bloggers got in on the act, all proclaiming to be even slummier than the last, I think we’ve got to a point now where what started as a healthy dose of reality has become an obsession to be the most inept. “You think you have a dirty worktop…I’ll meet your dirty work top and raise you with yesterdays peas still all over the kitchen floor!” And this is the sort of thing that is going up on the ‘gram.

At the risk of ruffling a few feathers, most of the mums parading their slummy ways are invariably middle class. Mums who can afford child care, mums with their own businesses and mums who work flexibly. If a more working class mother was drinking a G&T in a tin on the train from Hove up to London, she wouldn’t be seen as cool, she’d be brandished as cheap. And many of these bloggers are showing off their “slummy” homes in Boden skirts and H&M dresses with Farrow and Ball walls and La Redoute rugs.

The fact is, many of these Insta parents striving to outdo one another with their candour and stories of ineptness are in fact devoted and hard working individuals. So why the desire to downplay your situation? When did it become cooler to have a messy bedroom and a dirty kitchen? When did it become uncool to be house proud and tidy up after yourself?

Rayong – for a quieter Thai holiday

When visiting Thailand in December, rather than spend all our time in Bangkok, we decided to head out to nearby Rayong for a few days. Why Rayong? Well I’d heard Pattaya was overcrowded and the water wasn’t particularly clean. The other option was Hua Hin but upon doing some research, I found that Rayong was much cleaner and we could visit another island from there too.

Rayong is a 3 hour drive from Bangkok and is on the coast. It’s a very quiet town, so if you’re looking for a party, Rayong is not the place to go. However, I was travelling with my family so it was ideal as it would suit multi-generations. One of the best resorts to stay at in Rayong is the Marriott. However, we chose not to stay there as it is quite far from the city centre. Perfect if all you want to do is stay at the resort and soak up some sun but we like venturing out so found somewhere closer to the city.

We stayed at Kantaray Bay in a 2 bedroom serviced apartment. Although the apartment was slightly dated, it was clean and had everything we needed. I prefer staying in an apartment when travelling with S because it means when he goes to bed early, there’s a separate living area to sit in and of course having a kitchen is always helpful when travelling with children. Breakfast was included and the spread was quite large – Asian, Continental, American and European. The hotel/serviced apartments also had a gym and two pools.

We decided to break our journey down to Rayong by stopping at The Cartoon Network waterpark and spending the day with friends who happened to be in Thailand at the same time. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know just how much I LOVE a waterpark – Dubai, Tenerife, Center Parcs, you literally have to drag me out of there. The best thing about The Cartoon Network waterpark was how empty it was. We didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes for any ride. It’s super child friendly! They have a massive play area as soon as you enter for younger children with a pool (and waves) behind it. The waterpark is quite small and very easy to get around but they still manage to fit quite a bit in. I finally conquered my fear and went down the vertical shoot – you stand in it and the floor just comes away from under you. I got into it and out again twice before I finally did it and I can report back to say it looks far worse than it is. When you’re all tired out, they have some great pizza and the most amazing crepe which they serve with condensed milk (my weakness!!) Good thing you had to climb lots of stairs for every slide so I felt like I got my workout in to make up for the yumminess that is condensed milk! 😉

We left the waterpark around 4:30 and were at our apartment in Rayong by 6ish. 3-4 days in Rayong is probably enough. Although our resort is on the coast, it doesn’t really have much of a beach. So if you fancy lying on a beach, the closest one is Laem Mae Phim. We decided instead to kill two birds with one stone and head to the beach on Koh Sahmet Island. A 40 minute drive to the pier, a 30 minute boat ride, a 20 minute walk and we were on the beach in Koh Sahmet.  Like most beaches in Thailand, it caters to tourists so expect over-priced food, drinks and pretty much anything else you need to buy. It’s also quite a short beach with tourist boats pulling in every 100 metres. The water however is gorgeous and the sand is soft. Expect to see lots of Chinese tourists jetting in and out on speed boats as well as endless (!!!!) “selfie queens”. We were really lucky with the weather, it was a glorious 29 degrees the day we headed out to the island.

Exhausted from a day spent at the waterpark followed by a day heading to the island, we decided to take a day out and head to one of the malls, followed by foot massages. We also explored some local markets – I love taking in the culture, sights, sounds and smells of different cities we visit but word of warning, the smell of dried fish is very, very strong! The fruit however, amazing! My favourite being preserved guava.

On our final day we headed to Khao Chamao-Khao Wong National Park – approximately 90 minutes from Rayong city centre. The idea was to see the waterfalls and the caves. However, with a grandparent and grandchild in tow, the climb was all a bit much. It was probably one of my favourite days though. I loved hiking and climbing through the trees and we got to see quite a lot on the way up, even if we didn’t get to the top.

I don’t think I’d go back to Rayong again, once is enough to see it all, but if you’re looking for a short trip away from the main city and you don’t fancy dealing with hordes of tourists, then Rayong is the place for you!

Have we become too sensitive?

A few months ago, there was uproar on the internet because H&M featured a little black boy (am I allowed to call him that?!) in a sweater that said “Cheeky little monkey”. I didn’t get what the big deal was. I later learnt that people felt offended because in the past, people of colour (specifically black people) have often been referred to as “monkeys”. I am not insensitive to racism. When I moved to school in Ireland in 1997, I had my fair share of racist slurs thrown at me. But I see racism as another person’s lack of culture and ignorance, not as a reflection of me. The fact that the model was a minor and his mum signed off on it should be enough shouldn’t it?! Following the Twitter storm, there was a video of a group of kids who ran through an H&M store trashing it. This is the other bit I don’t understand. We want the world to see us in the best light even when we’re happy to be doing something that’s dark. There are ways to protest and ways to stand up for what you believe is wrong. Trashing a store because they put what many just saw as a little boy in a sweater that said “monkey”, something most of us call our kids, is not the way to go about it.

This is just one example, there are so many I notice on the internet on a daily basis. Someone just has to sneeze the wrong way and everyone’s criticising it. Just look at the amount of criticism the Duchess of Cambridge got earlier this week. I’m all for empowering women and supporting #thisgirlcan. I am a woman after all and women have been marginalised for far too long. However, I have a son and I recently saw an ad that left me quite surprised. Mainly because I don’t see anyone going on about it. It’s for Direct Line. The DL man tells a couple that a taxi is going to take them home after an accident. He then says to the wife…”Aren’t you forgetting your donkey?” The wife looks at her husband who’s shuffling over carrying ALL the luggage and holiday paraphernalia and the DL man goes “No, this one…” and hands her some sort of straw donkey she’s bought on holiday. So it’s okay to insinuate that a man is a donkey and no one has anything to say about it? Is it because men don’t take themselves so seriously? Or women think carrying of the bags is a man’s job? Or if it’s not about them then why bother protesting?

There are definitely things we need to be protesting about – sexual harassment, lack of gun laws in America, lack of flexible working options for mother’s who want a work/child balance, rape, war, LGBTQ rights, the list is endless. But I think we need to pick our battles because we could be doing so much more with our time than feeling bad about something that had no malicious intent.


This HILARIOUS video pretty much sums up how I feel about everyone being so PC – ridiculous!

What do you think? As a generation, have we become too sensitive? And is social media making us feel better or worse?

She’s a Princess…did you really expect anything less?! #royalbaby

My Instagram feed yesterday was filled with pictures of exhausted mums, wondering how Kate Middleton was able to stand on the steps on the Lindo Wing, 7 hours after giving birth and look as amazing as she did. I went on to read some papers who thought she was making normal mums feel like shit by looking so amazing (the same papers who would have crucified her if she came out in tracksuit bottoms and a mum bun). Firstly, what is normal? And secondly, no one else can really make you feel shit but yourself.

What people seem to forget is that a) she has a make up artist and hair dresser who helped her look like that b) she has a team at home to support her c) she didn’t do a 1hr meet and greet, it was 1 minute on the steps d) she is a PRINCESS and in all likelihood, her husband will be the King in the next decade or two.

I think she looked amazing, I think lots of women look as good leaving the hospital, they’re not just in the media’s eye with millions of people waiting to catch a glimpse of their baby. I believe if any one of those mums posting pictures had what Kate has, they’d be doing the exact same thing.

The Royal Princess is a role and she cannot be expected to come out, in front of the world’s media looking like a “normal” mum…and I’m surprised anyone thinks she should. Rather than judging her for “dissing” the sisterhood (not my words!), we should be respecting and supporting her as the “sisterhood” should!

Congratulations Kate, you DID look amazing and you play your role perfectly. Enjoy all the baby snuggles!

My baby snuggles a little over 6 years ago!

Bangkok with kids

Bangkok, although known for its red light district, lady boys and cosmetic surgery, also makes for a great family vacay. We spent a few weeks in Thailand over Christmas and we still didn’t get to see all of Bangkok. With the gorgeous weather in December (not too hot), we chose to do a lot more outdoorsy things but if you’re visiting with kids in April, May or June, when it’s scorching, I’ve included a few indoor things to do as well.

Here’s my top 8 things to do in Bangkok (in no particular order):

1 Take a boat ride along the Chao Phraya River – Children love to take everything in and often while we’re so busy trying to “do” so much on holiday, it’s good to just “be”. There’s five different express boat options (no flag, blue flag, yellow flag, green flag, orange flag). Jump on one depending on where you’d like to go and take in all the sights along the river.

2 Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) – There are sooo many Wats (Buddhist temples) to choose from and we saw a few but the most famous one along the river is Wat Arun (you can’t miss it, it’s beautiful). It’s worth visiting and taking in the Buddhist culture. The steps up the central prang are quite steep but worth the effort.

3 Asiatique – Famous for its Ferris Wheel, Asiatique is an outdoor Riverside project, combining eating, dining, sightseeing and activities for the whole family. It’s only open from 4pm until midnight. For some great local grub, the perfect gifts for your friends back home and a ride on the Ferris Wheel to take in the Bangkok skyline, Asiatique is well worth the visit.

4 Bounce – Some days you need the kids to burn off energy while you just SIT! Bounce is the ideal place – as the name suggests, Bounce is a trampoline park located in the The Street Shopping Mall at Ratchada BTS station. 5,600 sq. m of bouncing space means your kids will have the time of their life! Book in advance as it fills up quite quickly, especially over the holiday period.

5 Children’s Discovery Museum – We didn’t actually make it there on our last trip but it is definitely somewhere we intend to visit the next time we’re in Bangkok. Located in Chatuchak Park, it’s an interactive learning centre, encouraging children to ask questions about how the world works. Sounds just like the type of place S would love.

6 Siam Paragon – Hands down the best mall in Bangkok. And really, no trip is complete without visiting at least one mall while in Asia. What I love about the malls in Asia are just how much emphasis goes into decorating them. We were there at Christmas and the honestly, Oxford Street has nothing on some of the décor in Asia. The second thing I love about the malls there is the fact that my favourite American stores have a presence – Bath and Body Works – enough said! They also have a fantastic food court, definitely check it out if you’re visiting.

7 Last but not least, check out a show (there are so many to choose from, your hotel should be able to guide you). These are not family friendly (if you have young kids) but I’ve been to one on a previous trip to Bangkok and it’s just one of those things that you have to do – after all, Bangkok is practically known for Ladyboy shows.

8 Get a massage – another thing Thailand is known for are the massages. At only £10-£15 for a one hour oil massage, it’s very affordable and very very good! Don’t be surprised if you end up craving a massage every day!!

The traffic in this capital city is horrendous at peak times. A 15 minute drive could take an hour if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. Where possible, take the BTS. Yes, it gets crowded but it’s super quick, very efficient and even at rush hour, I managed to get on the first train that pulled into the platform, with S in tow. The river boats are also another great way to get from one point to another (along the river of course).

There are some amazing bars (Sky Bar, Maggie Choo’s) and restaurants (Gaggan, Din Tai Fung) worth checking out. I’ll leave them for another post.

Oh and before I sign off, one thing I have to say about Thailand in general which may sound bizzare to many but is very important to me is “toilets”! Having travelled through India and China, I sort of expected similar toilets in Thailand but boy was I wrong. Everywhere we went, the toilets were so clean, I was genuinely surprised. In some places they may have been wet (near the beach in Koh Samet for example) but always clean. That’s a total win for Thailand in my books!

We’re planning to go back to Bangkok later this year – are there any places you’d recommend that we missed?

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A review of Honey & Co. London 

Tucked into a tiny spot along Warren Street, blink and you’d almost miss Honey & Co. Part of a wider group of restaurants/shops (including Honey & Smoke and Honey and Spice), this little place has been on my brunch bucket list (yes, that’s actually a thing!). With my friend Shilpa visiting from Hong Kong and being a fellow foodie, it was the perfect time to check it out. Sarit Packer (co-founder) was previously the pastry chef for Ottolenghi and executive head chef at Nopi. Together with her husband, Itamar Srulovich (who has been cooking since the age of 5), they opened Honey & Co.
We arrived there at around 10am and although the restaurant is very small (tables and chairs packed closely together with very little elbow room), thankfully they had a table for us. For breakfast, you can opt to have the Mezze to share followed by your choice of eggs or just go directly with the eggs. Given we wanted to save some room for their incredible looking desserts (lined up along the front window), we opted for just the eggs. We ordered the Shakshuka and Green Shakshuka to share as well as some coffees.
The waitress (an enthusiastic ray of sunshine and smiles) brought our food over quite quickly. The Shakshuka could have done with slightly less oil but the combination of spicy tomatoes and eggs was divine. It was accompanied with a coriander zehung (condiment of sorts) which I found quite bitter (and I’m a huge coriander fan). The Green Shakshuka was accompanied with a goat’s yoghurt which complemented it perfectly. My only criticism was the consistency of the eggs. Although our waitress did say the eggs would be runny, when plated up, the Green Shakshuka was more thick soup than poached eggs. Their saving grace was the delicious blend of flavours.

Their coffee was so good, I had two, but not before we ordered some dessert. The best foodies will always do a quick Google before trying out a new restaurant so Shilpa knew exactly what she wanted: the famous “cheesecake”. I on the other hand ooh’d and aah’d at the window display before finally settling on the chocolate, hazelnut and cinnamon babka. We shared both and I can tell you, I’m so glad we decided not to go for the mezze, leaving enough room for the sweet goodness that was their dessert choices.

The cheesecake was a whipped cream cheese placed on a bed of shredded filo, topped with honey, nuts and blueberries. Babka is a sweet leavened bread made with a rich dough and while it is typically flavoured with raisins, the chocolate and hazelnut version hit my sweet spot without the cinnamon being too overbearing.

We ambled out into the sunshine at 12:30, thoroughly satisfied. I love a good brunch and in this case, the company and the food were both stellar.

A first timers review of Center Parcs 

If you live in the UK, you’d have to be living under a rock to have not heard of Center Parcs. Located within forests across the UK, CP is a one stop holiday suitable for all generations. The only catch is relying on the UK weather. After much dillydallying about where to go on holiday this summer (read: leaving things to the last minute), we booked a mid-week stay at CP Elveden Forest.

On a sunny Monday in August, we loaded our two cars with bikes, suitcases and half our kitchen before heading up the M11 to Elveden Forest. Having never been to any of the other Center Parcs in the country – Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, Whinfell Forest in Cumbria, Longleat Forest in Wiltshire and Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire – we had nothing to judge it by. Some described it as a nicer version of Butlins. My cousin Latika and I bravely (yes, bravely!) took our boys to Butlins last summer and I can tell you, comparing Butlins to CP is like comparing £100 an ounce caviar to the stuff you get at Yo Sushi! From the moment we drove into CP, I was completely bowled over by the giant trees that seemed to touch the sky.

Once all the Monday check ins were complete, cars were relegated to the car park for the duration of our 4 day stay and what we were left with was open safe green space. Our lodge (which had its own sauna at the back) had 3 bedrooms, all ensuite, and an open plan kitchen, dining and living room. With multiple restaurants, a beautiful lake, an indoor tropical pool and sports centre (incase it rains), tree climbing, ziplining, laser combat, off road biking, wall climbing, a pottery barn and lots more, CP quite literally has something for everyone and enough activities to exhaust even the most energetic 5 year old! S who had only learnt to ride a bike without stabilisers 2 weeks prior mastered his riding skills as he quite literally flew around CP at every opportunity. I loved the village feel of the place – we took two bikes and hired 3 there, riding everywhere we wanted to go and locking up the bikes in the many cycle parks dotted around CP.

We had beautiful sunny weather for 3 out of 4 days and on the one day it rained, while all the adults chose to stay indoors, S was still adamant he wanted to ride his bike in the rain. As long as there’s fun to be had, nothing stops my 5 year old, even a bit of the typically wet British weather. We spent a lot of time at the Tropical Pool – I lost count of the number of times we went on the rapids which S absolutely loved! We went tree trekking, ziplining across the lake, wall climbing and boating. And while the grown-ups played laser combat, S was entertained in an Alice the Wonderland themed drop-off camp. Win:Win!

If I had to nit-pick, I’d suggest baskets on the bikes – trying to ride to the pool while balancing a bag slung on my shoulder was no easy task. Towels in the pool area would also be a nice touch.
Top tip – You can actually order take out from one of the many local restaurants. Although the food was good, we found very limited vegetarian options (my dad is a vegetarian). At Forresters Inn (one of the nicer bars/restaurants), there was only one vegetarian main option and at Bella Italia, a vegan pizza didn’t include vegan cheese, it was just a pizza without any cheese!! One night we took the car out to a local Indian restaurant and another night we ordered take out and went to pick it up (although they do deliver as well).
Fret not, if you run out of milk there is a supermarket on site (and a Starbucks!) There’s also a gift store and a couple of clothing stores in The Sports Centre. I ventured in to have a look at some sweaters because in very uncharacteristic fashion, I relied on the BBC weather app and didn’t take a jacket or any sweaters for that matter. We live in the UK, always take a jacket and sweater!!

By the end of the 4 days, S had to be cajoled into the car to go home. With a slightly sore bottom from all the bike riding, a bruise on my leg from the wall climbing and adrenaline running through me from the ziplining, I went home thinking I’d definitely go back!