BABY TGE: SLEEP

Imagine you have a Furby. If you  don’t know what a Furby is, imagine you have an Ewok. If you don’t know what an Ewok is I can’t really help you any further with popular culture references. Imagine that you take said Furby/Ewok very seriously and want it to be the happiest little fuzzball it can be but its instruction manual is printed in Swedish. Unfortunately for you, you don’t speak Swedish. But as you love your Furbyman so much you dedicate around 3 months to learning Swedish so that you can finally – just about – understand the basic workings. Hurrah! You (roughly) know when it eats, sleeps and what will make it giggle. Excellent, you’re sorted. Except wait, hang on now it’s about 4 months and someone has maliciously re-programmed your Furby-wok so that it now speaks Japanese and all the settings have changed.

Yes hello and welcome to another edition of ‘Oh God I’ve had a baby, what the hell do I do with it?’. This time we’re focussing on the dreaded ‘4 month sleep regression’. What is that I hear you ask? Well,  imagine your Furbybaby  has been sleeping for say, about 6 – 7 hours in one go. I’m aware to non-parents that doesn’t sound particularly impressive but trust me, it’s the best. Then imagine it goes off EVERY 45 MINUTES. No really, just IMAGINE it. Every. 45. Minutes. For no discernible reason. Good, well hello, welcome to the world of parenting a 4 month old. While your baby is working how to go from newborn sleep patterns (basically all the time but waking up every couple of hours for a feed) to adult sleep patterns (lots of 45 minute cycles put together so that at some point you sleep through the whole night) everything you thought you knew goes out the window and you’re back to square one. Ace. As with everything baby related though, there’s a book for that. Who am I kidding? There are a MILLION sleep training books out there, tired parents would buy a mouldy onion for £125 if you told them it would get their baby to sleep, we’re big business.

So, let’s take a look at the most popular baby sleep training tips.

  1. Don’t feed the baby to sleep

Sound advice of course, especially if you’re breastfeeding and don’t want to be pogoing in and out of bed with a boob out all night long. The advice goes that you should leave a gap of at least 20 minutes between feed and bed which, you know, sounds lovely. Sometimes we do that and then we feel very smug. Feed, bath and bed. Textbook. Unless of course Bambino decides he’s actually hungry again/not hungry before bath/teething/too hot and his routine slides and suddenly bedtime has crashed into feed time… Have you tried not feeding a hungry baby? They go BALLISTIC. Equally if you’ve just fed a baby and they’re about to settle down for the night have you tried poking them for around 20 minutes to keep them awake? I would rather put my head in an oven than try that again.

 

  1. The baby must sleep in their own cot and self -settle for all daytime naps…

Hahahahahahaha… you try telling Baby TGE that. In fact I have tried telling him that. I tell him this basically daily. And sometimes he agrees with me and immediately naps as soon as I put him in his cot (cue quick picture to send to your Mum friends whatsapp group to prove it did actually happen followed by a supermarket sweep style run around the house chucking all the little piles of mess into one big pile of mess and then putting a throw over it. Hurrah ‘tidy’ house).  Babies bloody love sleeping on you, it’s their fave. They become like tiny Winston Churchills with naps not on you – they shall fight them in their cots, they shall fight them in their prams, they shall fight them in their moses baskets, they shall never surrender! At any given point in the country I wonder how many parents are desperately shushing babies in cots, desperately not making eye contact (NEVER MAKE EYE CONTACT!) with their offspring and patting them until eventually breaking and whispering to themselves, “tomorrow, we’ll start again tomorrow”, scooping up their victorious little monster and settling down for another baby pinned hour.  Sometimes of course, you’re not the one to break first. You might have timed it right, you might have gone in with that fraction more patience than you did yesterday, or maybe your baby is in the right mood. Either way, you shush and their eyes droop.. and droop.. and close. You wait, daring to believe that it’s happened. You don’t move, you don’t breathe, you don’t even blink just in case… you crawl ninja style out of the room, closing the door as quietly as humanly possible. Then you allow yourself a tiny victory jig and why the hell not? You’ve just cracked sleep training! It’s worked! Hurrah! From now on, this will be how every nap goes… surely…

 

  1. You must be CONSISTENT with your method and NEVER DEVIATE.

“You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be.” No, not from a sleep guide, this is Churchill again,  but could pretty much sums up the attitude recommended by most sleep books. You choose your method (crying it out, gradual retreat, shushing etc etc) and you stick to your guns no matter what. As with all the tips, it’s total common sense and I’m sure works if you can do this. And some days you can do this…  as long as nothing changes in life then you’re golden but that doesn’t tend to be how life works, does it? Life does change, it’s sort of the point. You chuck a growth spurt, a cold, a heatwave or teething into the mix and suddenly never giving up in the face of your tiny screaming Winston doesn’t seem quite so easy. Especially if more than one of these things hits at the same time WHICH THEY DO. Colds are particularly shit when you’re a baby as you’ve only just discovered you have a nose when it stops working. You’ve been betrayed by your own face! Sometimes, when faced with a snotty, grotty, cross, sleepy baby the only option is to cuddle up on the sofa until you feel their hot sweet breath on your neck slip into gentle purring snores and settle in. There are worse ways to spend an hour.

What seems to true across the board is you need to stick to whatever suits you, allows you all to sleep at least a bit and makes you happy. You find your balance. Being too smug or distraught at whatever current sleep stage you’re at is a waste of energy as it’ll all pass… good sleeping babies go onto be wide awake toddlers and terrible sleepers can suddenly develop a passion for it (ask the Mothership, I was 5 before I slept through the night. Let that horror set in, I would have put me in the bin and tried again.)

To be clear, no judgement here on whatever you’re doing to get through the naps  – if you’re heavily into sleep training regime then you go for it. If you’re not even thinking about sleep training, ace. If you’re doing a remarkably half hearted attempt at getting into better sleep training habits on days you can face it, you’re in my club. As a wise friend recently said, “you do you Boo.” To be fair he didn’t say that to me and it wasn’t about sleep training it was about getting a nose ring in your 30s but still, the sentiment stands.

Incidentally if you haven’t watched the Netflix series ‘The Letdown’, I highly recommend episode 2. DON’T LOOK THEM IN THE EYES!

 

 

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THE ASHVILLE STEAKHOUSE

You know what is excellent? Steak. You know is not excellent? The 4 month sodding sleep regression. And teething. And wisdom teeth. Basically all of team TGE are tired and 2/3rds of us are teething. But enough about that, let’s get back to the steak shall we?

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The kind folk at Socialight joined forces with The Ashville Steakhouse recently to host a blogger’s steak night which I was very happy to pop along to. I chucked Baby TGE rugby ball style at Mr TGE on my way out the door – “Later, sucker!” – and headed down the unassuming street in Ashton, just off North Street, to find the fairy light studded pub.  If you didn’t know where The Ashville was it’s likely you could miss it but it’s worth finding; it’s actually been a favourite pub of Team TGE for the past few years and the Sunday roasts are truly special. Be warned though pre-booking is advised although Sandor and his team will always try and squeeze you in if possible.

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However tonight was to be all about the steak and we kicked things off with a cocktail (well, G&T but it was my first in about a year so counted in my books) while Nigel Buxton –  as in Buxton Butchers – delivered a truly skilful butchery demonstration. Buxton supply all the steaks and it was really interesting seeing how the different cuts are prepared and especially about the dry aging in the Himalayan salt cellar. I love listening to people will a real passion for what they do and Nigel’s was clear – meat is very much the star.

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We then took our seats and it was over to Olly from Butcombe brewery to fill us in on their heritage and take us through some ale samples. We tried Butcome Original, Union and Rare Breed which as a non-ale drinker I  wasn’t really expecting to enjoy… turns out the Butcome Original is actually rather nice! I did get slightly distracted however when Olly took us through the brewing process as one of the writers near me mistakenly ate one of the hops rather than barley (“Oh God, it takes like a barn!”) which made me snort-laugh some gin through my nose. Professional. Once we had all calmed down and got a hold of ourselves it was time to bring on the steak (and a bucket of Shiraz).

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Don’t eat these…

We were able to sample 4 different cuts – ribeye, rump, fillet and sirloin  – alongside triple cooked chips and house garnish. The meat was perfectly cooked and beautifully seasoned, I was in carnivore heaven. My particular favourite was the ribeye which had a rich marbling of fat throughout to give it that unmistakable flavour. I wish I wasn’t writing this when I’m this hungry, I want to be eating it again now! Paired with the peppercorn sauce it was an utter triumph.

Steaks range from the moderate 8oz sirloin (£15.95) to the frankly ludicrous 96oz T-bone (£110).

 

A big thank you to all involved for such a wonderful event.

 

*Please note: this experience was received free of charge but this didn’t impact my opinion and I was under no obligation to write a positive review. No review was shared with the venue before publication.

BABY TGE: SO YOU HAVE A 3 MONTH OLD

12 whole weeks have passed since your new tiny shouty dictator  precious bundle has arrived and you’re heading out of those initial hazy newborn days into uncharted territory! Your baby has stopped being an eating/sleeping potato and, if he’s anything like Baby TGE, has started developing fairly strongly opinions about what his day should consist of. So you have a 3 month old.. here we go…

  1. “I’ve definitely got this/ Oh FML I haven’t got this”

    Ok, so you’ve got to know your little person a lot more now, you have a vague idea (maybe) if they’re tired, hungry or just feeling a bit shouty. You’ve probably stopped sterilising the dummy every time it hits the floor (5 second rule, amiright?) and don’t feel like the worst parent in the world if you drop a bit of your lunch on them by accident.  There will now be mornings (sometimes even full days) when you realise that you’re both up, washed, fed and dressed and This Morning hasn’t even started yet! Your baby will happily coo and smile at you, dressed in their smart new outfit.  You’ll chuck on 3 loads of laundry, flick on some mascara and feel pretty good about life right now. The baby will be approaching their first nap and you’ll manage to pop them down in their moses basket (sleepy but awake of course – terribly important according to sleep training) and you’ll have a lovely hot cup of tea while he snoozes. You’ll realise that you’re actually a bit of a natural at this Motherhood lark. The important thing you decide, is just to relax and go with the flow. You might even contemplate writing a blog post detailing some handy hints and tips for other Mums to make their days as easy and carefree as yours are now… yep, you’ve got this. You probably even whatsapp your partner to let him know just how much you’ve got this.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Except, wait, shit hang on.. the baby is suddenly going mental for no reason and after an increasingly sweaty 20 minutes you’re rapidly running out of your handy go to tips to try. Oh bugger, suddenly it’s 3pm and you haven’t managed to have lunch yet but the baby has just passed out on you and you don’t dare move for fear of waking him (even though you’ve decided that you’re definitely putting the baby down for every nap now, all part of the sleep training you see…). By the time you’re free to venture to the fridge you realise that you’ve only got one manky green pepper and some brie in there anyway. One manky green pepper and brie sandwich later it’s time to leave the house in order to get something a bit more substantial for dinner, how about chicken curry? Quick, tasty and can be made quite healthily (which is important as you’re starting your post baby health kick now). You’re halfway to the shop when it starts raining and, oh bugger now you have to try and gaffa tape the rain cover to the pram as you never really learned how to put it on properly. Of course you’re getting wet but that doesn’t matter anymore does it? Wild eyed and slick haired you arrive at your local co-op which is pretty much out of everything except peppers and brie. FML. You locate one healthy-ish curry sauce, some rice and even some poppadoms. Bosh, time to get home. Arriving home you realise that you have forgotten the bastarding chicken! No time to think about that now of course because you’ve stopped moving the pram and the baby is FURIOUS about this and vomits all over his beautiful outfit to demonstrate this rage. The washing machine will beep to let you know that your laundry is done but obviously as it’s now raining there’s nowhere to bloody dry it but you need to find somewhere as otherwise you’ll have no clothes tomorrow and FML what am I doing… This is when your partner will arrive home, not to the domestic bliss suggested in your last whatsapp message, but to a house which resembles a bin where everyone in crying. God dammit, why did you put mascara on for this? He’ll innocently ask why you haven’t managed to put the recycling out yet and you’ll karate chop him in the face until he promises to get you a big mac. But of course, as with all things, this passes. One McDonald’s and glass of wine later (the health kick can start tomorrow, yeah?) and everything suddenly seems brighter. And oh look, the baby is asleep! And in his cot too! You’ve totally got this.

  2. “Helpful” strangers

    Generally speaking people just can’t resist a baby, they attract the smiles and coos of strangers wherever you go. They also can attract opinions like nothing else I’ve experienced…

    So you’re at the till of Aldi and your groceries are being chucked through with a speed and ferocity that suggests the cashier is in training to be an Olympic shot-putter. You’re desperately trying to keep up and this is when your baby decides to have a meltdown… you’re now pushing the pram, which has been deemed too boring to possibly stay in one moment longer by your screaming offspring, with one hand. You’re juggling said screaming sprog in your other arm and brightly insisting in a voice that you don’t recognise that, “we don’t scream like that now do we darling??” Darling child is demonstrating that actually, yes he bloody does scream and he’ll show you just how loud if you like. With your secret third Mum hand that you’ve managed to grow from somewhere you’re dealing with the accumulating food shop pile which is about to fall everywhere… Cue the helpful stranger!!                                                                                                                                                               Helpful Stranger: “Oooh someone sounds hungry!

    You: “Haha, I’ve just fed him actually, he’s just being a bit grumpy”

   Helpful Stranger: “Oh really? He does sound hungry though doesn’t he?”

   You (juggling loo roll and avocados before you lose them): “Haha no… like I said,   he’s just had a big feed so -“

 Helpful stranger (now ignoring you and talking directly to your baby in a baby voice):  ” – Someone’s hungry aren’t they? Does someone want their lunch? You want your lunch don’t you? You just want some lunch? Why doesn’t Mummy just give you some lunch…”

      You: “HE HAS HAD HIS BASTARDIING LUNCH!! HE IS CRYING BECAUSE HE WANTS     ME TO PRETEND HE IS AN AEROPLANE AND SWING HIM ABOUT MY HEAD, IT’S HIS NEW FAVOURITE THING AND I’VE BEEN DOING IT ALL BASTARDING MORNING BUT I HAVE WELL AND TRULY RUN OUT OF HANDS!! I’M TRYING TO CRAM A WEEKS’ WORTH OF GROCERIES INTO THE BASKET OF THE  PRAM WHICH IS PHYSICALLY IMPOSSIBLE AND YET I WILL SOMEHOW DO IT BECAUSE I’M NOT EATING ONE MORE PEPPER AND BRIE SANDWICH, IT’S NO WAY TO LIVE!

I mean I don’t say that, I just grit my teeth and smile and thank them for their clearly superior knowledge about my child’s eating habits, thanks for being so helpful.

3. BABY DEVELOPMENT

Baby sensory, sing and sign, water babies, rhyme time…you name it, there’s a class available ready to help your baby move from potato to genius. We’re actually signed up for a few in the next few months which I’m genuinely excited to try – all sarcasm aside. We seem to be a bit late to the baby class game however so have been making do with some home grown versions such as…

  • Nursery rhymes. Without going to the proper ‘rhyme time’ class I’ve realised that I’ve forgotten about 70% of the words to any given rhyme which has resulted in some re-mixed versions of the classics for Baby TGE with a lot of mumbled “the incy wincy spider, something water spout. Down came the pino grigio and something something, sun came out..”. Unsurprisingly, Baby TGE is not particularly fussed about nursery rhymes. I did try about 3 minutes of Mr Tumbles nursery rhymes on Youtube but it made me want to start punching my face and never stop – and as Baby TGE wasn’t that into it we ended up listening to The Eagles greatest hits which we both enjoyed far more.
  • Dancing. Rather than go to any proper fitness class where there’s a risk that I might actually break into a sweat, I’ve taken to just popping on the radio and ‘dancing’ with Baby TGE round the living room. The benefits of this over to going to an official class are that you can do this one in your PJs, you’re really close to a cup of tea if needed and you can both laugh like loons because you’re not out of breath.
  • Sensory play. You know what baby TGE loves most in the world? Other than Mr TGE holding him in the air so he can be an aeroplane. Oh and also Boris bear. He loves a bit of a ‘happy birthday’ banner which I crinkle in front of him. Bosh. Baby sensory done.
  • Sleeping. It seems like at the 3 month mark sleep, very generally speaking, is starting to get easier. Some babies are sleeping through the night, some are just sleeping for longer. You’ve probably started to read some kind of sleep training book, I know we have. The great thing about baby books is if you don’t like what it says you can always buy another one which will tell you to do the exact opposite! Reeesult! Baby TGE has largely ignored any well-intentioned efforts we’ve made with any kind of sleep training and takes himself to bed at 8pm currently. So instead of staring at him lovingly while he snoozes downstairs with us in the evening, we now put him to bed and then go and stare at him lovingly on the baby monitor. That’s kind of like getting your evenings back, right?

So there you have it, 3 month old sorted. Roll on the 4 month sleep regression….

THE MALAGO FOR A SUNDAY ROAST

Now I hold my hands up on this one, I’ve actually reviewed The Malago before (which you can read here THE MALAGO) when we popped in for brunch shortly after they  opened and I loved it. We have meant to go back for dinner since then but the arrival of Baby TGE has kept us fairly busy, what with keeping him alive and all (shout out to all the new parents who long for their baby to sleep and then freak out at 3am when they actually do, so you poke them a little to check they’re OK and then they inevitably wake up and oh god why did you poke them…)

Anyway, I turned the big 3-0 and had a FABULOUS birthday lunch with friends at the Pump House, comprising of 10% steak and 90% prosecco. But why have one birthday lunch when you can have 2, especially when you’re not having to pay for it? So at the invitation of the parents we booked The Malago for Sunday lunch. Mr TGE and I have realised that we’re essentially now charging my parents an admission fee in the form of lunch to visit their Grandson but it turns out we’re sort of fine with that and as long as the (Grand)Mothership gets cuddles then so are they. Win.

As with our last visit we were warmly greeted by staff on arrival and settled down to peruse the menu. The Parents in their wisdom had already ordered some olives to nibble on (which I learned later weren’t actually on the menu at that point but the Mothership has a crafty knack of ordering things not on the menu… more on this later) which were chunky and lovely.  After the most minimal amount of arm-twisting from Mum we ordered a bottle of sauvignon blanc and decided upon our roast – we had a choice of beef, pork belly, chicken or a vegetarian/vegan roast. Displaying uncharacteristic restraint I ordered the chicken, while everyone else displayed a fabulous absence of restraint and ordered the pork belly.  Baby TGE chose this moment to utterly fall in love with our waitress and demonstrated his new ability to flirt. I’ll be honest, he’s not subtle as he wistfully stared at our waitress wherever she went pretty much for the duration of our meal (side note, if you’re that waitress do you do babysitting because this could just work out a treat)?

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The restaurant was buzzing and although on arrival the music was an odd selection of fairly loud busy music which we found difficult to hear each other over (oh GOD I’m so OLD) we were all relieved when it settled into something a more easy Sunday-esque. We were happily surprised when dainty teacups of carrot and parsnip soup were brought over to keep us going while we waited for our main courses, it’s little touches like these that make the Malago that little bit extra special. It was creamy and tasty and bearing in mind we had a non-soup eater with us (Mr TGE) even he happily finished his cup. That might have been because he had also ordered a rather delicious cocktail made from Chase marmalade vodka and consequently was in rather a merry mood!

Our roasts arrived piping hot and looking gorgeous, I had crackling envy immediately but being the birthday girl (and also, you know, just me) nicked a big bit from Mr TGE’s plate so I didn’t miss out. We all agreed it was some of the best crackling we’ve had at a restaurant and I could have ordered a whole side plate of it, it was perfectly crisp and salty. All of the roasts had a very generous amount of veg with it including potatoes, braised red cabbage, carrots, parsnips and topped with a whopping yorkshire pudding. The potatoes were particularly good being crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle, nothing worse than a hard roast potato. Mr TGE went to the (now closed) Townhouse restaurant on Whiteladies road for a roast and were given ONE roast potato to share between us… I had strong feelings about this. Portion size was certainly not an issue here however and we absolutely had our 5 a day! We were also given a large dish of cheesy leeks to share between us which were so naughty but so nice. My chicken was succulent and juicy, again a whopping portion. I wasn’t quick enough to get a taste of the pork belly itself but I was assured that it was blinkin’ delicious.

Now after a roast that size there’s no room for anything more, right? WRONG! Our plates were cleared by another lovely lady (who Baby TGE was keen on but still eyes for our original waitress I’m afraid) who my Mum managed to instantly become best friends with. During the chat she casually mentioned just how good the desserts were…never ones to shy away from a  challenge we thought it best to check out the menu. The men folk insisted that they were definitely far too full for desert, nope, no way, don’t want any, actually can you just bring an extra spoon…? The Mothership and I are made of far stronger stuff and ordered the chocolate tart and eton mess which the boys promptly announced they were sharing. Bastards. Luckily our waitress was on hand to bring some plastic baby cutlery for the boys which was hilarious until we realised that the baby spoons were actually bigger than the real ones! It was at this point that Mothership activated her ‘secret menu’ mode and ordered a French coffee, which they don’t offer. Except in her case when they happily shrugged and gave it their best shot – coffee, cream, sugar and brandy. The cream made the coffee a little colder than it should have been but the hearty hit of brandy certainly made up for that – and considering it wasn’t on the menu it was lovely. My chocolate tart was delicious – a rich bitter dark chocolate that went very nicely with my americano. The eton mess however was the winner of the battle of the puds – it was beautifully presented but more importantly was delicious. The strawberries were plump and sweet and the shards of meringue were sweet and chewy. Perfect!

We eventually waddled out, full and happy. Baby TGE was still mooning after his waitress and Mum was busily hugging the rest of the staff and inviting them to join us for a glass of wine next time (you should, seriously). A truly excellent Sunday roast and by far one of the best I’ve had in Bristol. We’ll aim to head back (perhaps sans baby so we can flex that cocktail menu) for a grown up dinner as soon as we can.

 

WOKY KO

One of my favourite things about April is the complete unpredictability of the weather – we have no bloody idea how to adapt as it can change so quickly! One second we’re digging out thermals to battle the ‘beast from the east’ and the next there’s a  large round yellow thing in the sky which makes us… warm? What is this sorcery? Yes that’s right spring sprung on a lovely Thursday last week and I took the opportunity to head down to Wapping Wharf, one of my favourite places in Bristol, for some lunch and a bit of people watching in the sunshine. A couple wandered past hand in hand, both sporting winter coats, hats and gloves just as a student wandered the other way in shorts and flip flops… we just have no idea do we?

After swinging by the office to disrupt all my colleagues with Baby TGE cuddles (seriously, taking a puppy or a baby into an office guarantees a 100% dip in productivity but 100% rise in happiness) we ventured home via the harbourside which was bustling on such a beautiful day.  The Cargo development at Wapping Wharf is home to many really exciting new places to eat and I feel like I’ve only tried a fraction of them so far. High on my list to try since it opened in 2016 was Woky Ko, a ‘casual Asian diner’ run by Masterchef finalist Larkin Cen. With a menu comprising of bao (filled Asian steamed buns), noodles, rice dishes and sharing plates there’s a lot of tasty options to choose from. I was wrangling the pram on this particular visit and have a tendency to adopt a policy of speed and confidence when trying to get it round tricky spaces when I’m nervous. This sometimes works and sometimes… doesn’t. A very friendly waiter approached me before I entered the tiny, tiny cargo unit and attempted to explain to me that I could take a seat anywhere and it’s table service. I batted this away without listening and rather firmly told him “YES LUNCH FOR ME PLEASE” before ramming the pram into the cargo unit. After a lot of (very polite) people squeezed their chairs and disrupted their lunch in order for me to make my way to the counter to order, I actually stopped long enough to listen to the staff gently explain that I didn’t need to do this… A slightly sweaty reversal later and lots of of forced laughter from me and I was seated outside with the menus and a cold coke to take the edge off.

I was tempted by the baos (and will be back to try them) but on such a lovely day I opted for one of the lunch specials, crispy duck rice noodle salad with chicory in an Asian dressing (£5.95). After a short wait a large bowl was placed in front of me with that tantalising smell of succulent duck wafting in the breeze. It was a generous portion for the price and everything on the plate was fresh and vibrant. The duck was beautifully tasty and sprinkled throughout the salad were little balls of crispy duck skin which were gorgeous. The salad was crunchy and filling, it felt more substantial than salads can be with plenty of interesting colours and textures. I enjoyed the Asian dressing which was the right amount of sharp and sweet but I felt there was far too much for my personal taste – I’m not sure if this was just a one off with my dish or if it’s how the salad is served – but the dressing pooled at the bottom which made the last of the salad soggy. I also found by the end that the taste of the dressing overwhelmed the remaining salad and duck which was a shame. 20180405_141108.jpg

As I had been so healthy with my salad lunch I decided to reward myself with desert -that’s a balanced diet, right? – and wasn’t about to walk away from the offer of a salted caramel bao with coconut ice cream (£4.25)…I’m so bloody glad I didn’t! It’s a fairly delicate portion size (perfect for one but not for sharing, Mr TGE would have got a fork in the face if he’d try to sample some) but absolute perfection. The bao was light and fluffy inside but sweet and crisp on the outside, a bit like little doughnuts. The ice cream was really creamy with a strong coconut flavour, I was at plate-licking stage quickly with it. Salted caramel sauce oozed over it all and I was in heaven, I could have happily demolished 5 of them.20180405_143602

So would I go back? Absolutely, those baos aren’t going to eat themselves you know. If you haven’t ventured to the cargo units at Wapping wharf I would really recommend a trip, especially on a lovely sunny day.

THIS GIRL HAD A BABY

So life has changed rather a lot here at TGE Towers as Baby TGE made his entrance into the world 6 weeks ago. He is clearly the best thing ever (if you don’t believe me just ask the Parentals – or new Grandparentals as I should say – who I believe have made a Powerpoint presentation on the subject) even if he is sick on me more than anyone – including myself – has ever been before. So what’s having a baby like? Well I haven’t worn as many pastel clothes and sat serenely bathed in sunshine as various baby product adverts led me to believe would be the case. Some days are really good; you manage to eat half an avocado, your hair looks actually rather nice and when you catch up with friends for tea and cake they gasp that they can’t believe that you just had a baby because you look just so good! On the bad days it’s like being in the Hunger Games whilst having sore nipples with a furby who hates you and everything you do angers it. Oh, and you’re covered in sick and your hair looks truly shit. So you know, swings and roundabouts.

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Hasn’t looked like this quite yet…

What has truly taken me by surprise though is the level of stealthy kindness from both other far more experienced Mums who know exactly what it’s like, and lovely kind-hearted non parents who don’t know what it’s like but correctly assume that it’s better with booze. So thank you not just my Mum (love you Mum), or my mother in law (love you too), but family, friends, colleagues, online support groups, the NCT girls and even strangers – like the lady in Asda who gently asked how old the baby was and then congratulated me on having left the house and wearing clothes because that’s nowhere near as easy as it sounds anymore. The texts checking how you’re doing, the listening and not judging, the food deliveries, the taking dirty laundry away and bringing it back clean, the biscuits, the tea, the laughs, the assurances that you honestly are doing really well and the offers to pop round to hold the bambino so you can shower (which turn into nice hair days!). It’s all so important.

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So although this will in no way turn into a ‘Mummy blog’ (there are already many wonderful writers who have this covered) I’m allowing myself this one indulgence before returning to more familiar subjects like brunch, tagines and maybe the odd cocktail or two.

So here are a few new Mum points for my stupid, sleep deprived brain. Enjoy!

  1. Actually point 1 is just a flat out thank you to every wise and wonderful person who has provided us with food over the past 6 weeks. Seriously, if you know any new parents or soon to be parents the best possible present you can buy/provide is dinner. Preferably something that can be easily heated up in one pot and has something vaguely nutritious about it so you can spoon it into your sleepy face in the 90 seconds you’ve actually put the baby down for and not get scurvy… Incidentally we were bought some meals from Cook from a fellow new parent which kept us going in the most sleep deprived early days and they were so delicious we have kept placing orders. They also offer a 10% new parent discount as they clearly know their market… click HERE to see.
  2. If the new Mum in your life is breastfeeding she’ll need an extra 500-700 calories a day so make sure you keep her well fed. If the new Mum in your life is formula feeding then SHE STILL DESERVES EXTRA FOOD, SHE JUST GREW A HUMAN YOU ABSOLUTE MONSTER, GIVE HER THE BLOODY CAKE! Incidentally Mr TGE managed to loose a staggering 9lbs in the first week of Baby TGE’s life which was actually more than Baby TGE weighed. Keep those Dads fed too!
  3. You will be AMAZED at what you can now eat one handed, you’ll wonder what you ever needed that other hand for. Also the temperature of food is now unimportant, hot food is beyond indulgence. By week 3 you’re basically eating tepid soup with a fork.
  4. You’ll also be amazed at the healing power of cake. Been awake since 3am? Cake. Colicky baby been screaming in your face for the past hour? Cake. The horrified reaction of the Postman reminds you that you have forgotten to put your boob away before you answered the door? Bloody big bit of cake.
  5. You’ll collect cold, undrunken cups of tea like trophies. You’ll make a hot cup and just as you sit down with it the baby will need feeding and you’ll become #babypinned. You’ll sadly watch that tea (that you left just out of reach – again)  cool until stone cold. You’ll still drink it because your standards are in the gutter now.
  6. It’s not just your tea drinking standards that are in the gutter, it’s all of them.  Older and wiser parents warned me about this but I didn’t truly believe it until it happened. Your house is basically a bin now but if you and the baby are dressed and fed then you’re still #winning so do the floors really need to be steam mopped? No they don’t.
  7. One of the best presents (aside from food) that you can buy a new parent is a Netflix subscription, if they don’t already have one. Watching Friends at 3am really takes the edge off the fact that it’s 3am and you’re awake until the baby decides you can sleep like a tiny evil dictator.
  8. Jesus Christ don’t stay for longer than an hour or so when you visit and for gods sake refuse all offers of tea/coffee. I apologise to every friend with a new baby that I visited and stayed over that time frame whilst happily sipping hot beverages that I let you make me, I knew not what I did.
  9. It’s not a funny or pithy point but if you work for the NHS then bloody THANK YOU. The care we all received was so amazing that it still makes me a little teary when I think about it, I wish you could all earn the salaries of the finest footballers and receive a standing ovation at the end of your shift.
  10. You’ll pray for the baby to sleep – please just bloody sleep – and then when they sleep you’ll end up watching them because they are so bloody lovely and suddenly it’s half an hour later and they’re awake again and you regret everything… hello Netflix and cake…

Normal service to be resumed soon and I’ll try to make it more than ‘OMG the food was hot and I used a KNIFE like I was the QUEEN or something…’

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Totally all worth it.

HAPPY BIRD

As a nation we don’t really ‘do’ chicken, do we? Not in the way we do burgers for example, there’s been a wave of specialist burger restaurants in the past few years –  gourmet burgers, pimped burgers, burgers that look like they’ve eaten other burgers. You name it, you can get it now! But if you fancy a decent hit of chicken you’re talking Nandos, KFC or a chicken shop… basically drunk food best suited for some ungodly hour and with a side of regret (we’ve all been there). But if you fancy some high quality fried (or grilled) chicken that doesn’t make you hate yourself a bit there hasn’t really been an option.. until now!

Opening in Bristol on Friday 26th January is the first ‘Happy Bird’ chicken restaurant, located handily in one of the units of Clifton Down shopping centre. Mr TGE and I were invited along for a preview evening to try a sample of the menu. The restaurant itself is  very modern and cool with plenty of neon lights and a focus on recycling and sustainability. Great care has been taken when designing the restaurant to keep things as green as possible – for example all of the tables are made from recycled materials and they’ve purposely chosen metal cutlery to reduce waste in the restaurant and recyclable bamboo cutlery for takeaway/delivery orders.

 

Of course the greatest care has been taken over sourcing the chicken itself and we were introduced to Edward, the lovely Yorkshire farmer who supplies the restaurant. Coming from a small family run farm in Yorkshire the chicken is fed high quality corn, fresh herbs and are all totally free range. There’s a clear passion for ethical farming from all involved. The result is higher welfare chickens who live twice as long as the chickens you would buy in the supermarket. Similarly the style of food is also something the team take pride in – you can absolutely get a whopping fried chicken burger here but you also have the option of grilled with a hearty salad, it’s your choice.

 

Luckily for us we didn’t have to choose as we had everything! Mr TGE, hero that he is, gallantly tried out the cocktail and beer menu while I stuck to the soft drinks. The ‘sunset spritz’ a vodka based cocktail went down particularly well I’m told, as did the Pig & Porter ‘Whispering Bob’ beer. To kick things off food wise we started with wings in a honey and chili glaze alongside a green salad with grilled chicken tenders and a super bean salad with halloumi. I bloody love wings, they’re a total weakness for me and I have absolutely no shame when eating them – life is just too short to attempt to eat wings politely. I did myself absolutely proud on these bad boys, they were succulent, juicy and full of flavour. I loved the glaze on them which was massively moreish. Served with a few of the house sauces I favoured the spicy ‘portugeezer’ while Mr TGE loved the creamy cool ‘tarragoner’.

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Next up was a platter of the main events including a whopping chicken leg, chicken tenders, house/dirty and naked fries (half covered in melted cheese, hot sauce and bacon bits, half plain), spicy rice, a fried chicken burger and a grilled chicken burger. Nom nom nom. All of the chicken served was juicy and tender but my particular favourite was the fried chicken leg – what a beast of a chicken he must have been! The coating was crisp and full of flavour and happily not oily at all, we were very impressed. The grilled chicken burger was lovely but I preferred the fried chicken for that extra flavour hit. Everything was so fresh and we liked having the option of a substantial tasty salad and the spicy flavourful rice as side dishes too, so many fast food or takeaway options are relentlessly unhealthy so Happy Bird makes a very pleasant change.

 

We chatted extensively with the staff during the meal who all clearly have a real passion for what they’re doing and know a huge amount about the food they’re serving. We were particularly interested to find out about the delivery options as they won’t be using Deliveroo. Instead they’ve employed their own specific delivery drivers who will all be trained on the origin of the food and the menu they’re delivering. They’ve also got their own special Happy Bird electric mopeds (keeping things green!) so you’ll see them whizzing around the city soon.

We ended the night with a thick milkshake (recyclable cups and straws of course!), strawberry for Mr TGE and chocolate for me. There was the intriguing option of a chicken salt milkshake but I was more than happy with chocolate.

Overall we had a great time with the Happy Bird team and were genuinely impressed by the menu and the quality of the food, we’ll absolutely be putting an order in when they open officially on Friday 26th Jan. Extra wings please!

Incidentally we popped along to the nearby Her Majesty’s Secret Service cocktail bar for a quick drink before our chicken feast, what a treat! They knocked up a fairly gorgeous mocktail that tasted just like an amaretto sour for me and Mr TGE loved his vesper. Also kudos to the lovely man who served us who managed to look only mildly horrified when we genuinely asked if it would be ok to come back with baby TGE once he’s arrived so we could enjoy a pre-dinner drink then…? #parentingpriorities. It was the politest no you can imagine.

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Please note: this experience was received free of charge but this didn’t impact my opinion and I was under no obligation to write a positive review. No review is shared with the venue before publication.