BABY TGE: SO YOU HAVE A 7 MONTH OLD

So one of the things I didn’t realise about having a baby (one of the many, many things that I didn’t know apparently) is how little time you actually have a ‘baby’ baby for. A tiny human potato who stays still, sleeps all day and drinks endless milk – exhausting of course but really you just have to cuddle and feed them while ideally people feed you tea and cake. From 6 months on, I’ve realised you basically have a ‘pre-toddler’ who has an inbuilt radar for the most dangerous thing in any given room and a desire to chuck themselves off anything. You suddenly have to work out how to put actual food into their faces and handle their many opinions on this.

We recently returned from Baby TGE’s first holiday (in which he was spoilt rotten by his Grandparents and had more room to crawl about than he could ever have imagined. Needless to say, he’s outraged to be home) and on the way home we stopped at Exeter service station which it turned out was some kind of club for vaguely desperate Mums of 7 month olds. One Mum, after watching Baby TGE demolish his lunch (it was a good food day, these are rare) burst out that her 7 month old won’t eat food and she was finding weaning really hard. Another was concerned that her baby’s head was still a bit flat. I’m aware it sounds like I set up some kind of stall for baby woes but actually it’s just that ‘Mum club’ thing where you can start talking to anyone if they have a baby and it’s fine. After assuring those Mums that I was sure all was OK and they were doing ever so well I headed off to the family room to get Baby TGE ready for the remainder of the journey home.

The last lady I met was changing her daughters’ nappy as I was attempting to do the same to Baby TGE – but these days getting him to lie still is like some kind of MMA fight involving elbows (mine), biting (him) and crying (probably me). Watching this sweaty, pooey (him, honest) fight unfurl I saw this Mum looking a bit unsure.

Her (concerned, watching Baby attempt to stand and hurl himself onto the floor): “My 7 month old isn’t sitting yet..”

Me (wrestling a dirty nappy off a standing Baby TGE): “Lucky you!”

Her (worried): “Do you think that’s ok?”

Me (sweating now): “Yes, I’m sure that’s fine”

Her (very worried): “I’m 5 months pregnant…I’ll have 2 under 2! That’ll be fine won’t it?”

Me (pinning Baby TGE with an elbow and hoping he doesn’t wee on me): “Oh! Congratulations, yes sure, it’ll be like having twins!”

Her (full blown horrified): “TWINS?? I can’t handle twins! Oh my God, do you really think it’ll be like having twins??”

Me (clean nappy on Baby TGE – I win!): “It will be NOTHING like having twins. It will be the opposite of having twins. It will definitely be fine”

I mean, I have no idea if it’ll be fine but I imagine it will and sometimes you just really need to hear that don’t you? Especially if you’re 5 months pregnant with a 7 month old…Gosh we had different experiences of having a 2 month old.

So here are the things I know about my particular 7 month old. I imagine this will all change by 8 months…

BABY TGE’S FAVOURITE THINGS (In no particular order)

  • Porridge. Porridge is the best food in the world and should be eaten for every meal apparently. The correct response to food which isn’t porridge is unbridled outrage and FURY! That is until you realise it’s banana or spag bol which are the only acceptable alternatives. Occasionally to raise my hopes he will lick a tomato, chew an avocado or crunch a bit of cucumber before normal service is resumed.
  • Crawling. Ideally quickly towards danger of course – a fireplace, off a bed, stairs,  into something at head banging height.
  • Standing and then suddenly letting go of what you’re leaning on. FUN!
  • Being gently beaten with a pillow… yes really. I don’t know why he enjoys this but apparently it’s hilarious.
  • Being held upside down. I blame Mr TGE for this one, he started this and now it’s the go to activity to get a giggle.
  • Sneezing into my open mouth. He has a talent for this.
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Sodding Star. All day, every day.Bean
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THE BURGER JOINT (NORTH STREET)

From triple-stacked, cheese-oozing, bacon-dripping whoppers to deep-fried chicken, gravy-soaked beasts, Bristol is the place to go for burgers. With such high levels of competition each outlet seems to have its own ‘thing’ to make their burgers distinct. Whether it’s being the dirtiest burger in town or having the highest welfare standards around, everyone has their niche. For The Burger Joint, it’s choice.

The Burger Joint on Whiteladies road was a regular lunch haunt for me when I worked nearby several years ago and I always enjoyed the ‘build your burger’ approach to the menu, enabling you to personalise every aspect of your meal. Recently the Burger Joint team have expanded their choices even more with a specialist vegan and vegetarian menu; I went along with a fellow Mum pal to check it out. The new menu features seven different vegan and vegetarian burger options alongside a host of sides and toppings.

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Babies duly chucked at partners we popped into the very busy North Street branch late on a Thursday evening and were able to grab a table by the window overlooking the outside terrace. I’ve always found the staff here to be friendly and helpful and tonight was no exception. Offering to talk us through how to order (you are given a tick sheet of options which could appear daunting to the uninitiated) we were quickly served some chilled white wine and sat back to look through the many options. Now, if I’m honest, I’m not a vegan. Like not even a little bit. I’m basically a carnivore; a 5′ 3″ Tyrannosaurus-Rex stalking the steak houses of Bristol. But, at least for one night, I was prepared to open my mind a little and go the vegan route. Not by actually ordering a vegan burger you understand, don’t be ludicrous, but by sprinkling my meaty meal with a few special features from the new menu.

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To start things off we shared a small (small! It was huge!) bowl of BBQ chicken wings. Sweet and sticky, I think I ended up wearing half the bowl but luckily my companion was too polite to point it out if I was. The chicken was juicy, tender and smothered in sauce, just as it should be. We ummed and ahhed for an embarrassing amount of time over the building of the burgers. There are just so many variations you can try (their website claims 78,912,800 variations of burgers, topping, sauces and sides are possible) that it can be difficult to know where to start. We ended up taking guidance from the suggested combinations with a few personal tweaks. I went for the TGE version of the ‘beef rodeo’ which consisted of a brioche bun, beef patty, smoked applewood cheddar cheese, grilled back bacon, BBQ sauce and onion rings. I also opted to add on two of the new options from the vegan menu, the pulled jackfruit and the vegan garlic mayonnaise. And just for the hell of it I added mac ‘n’ cheese as my side dish. You’re jealous aren’t you? You should be.

The negatives first – the brioche bun was unpleasantly dry and didn’t hold up particularly well to the mighty fillings it was trying to contain and I ended up putting the top to one side. I also found my beef patty slightly under-seasoned for my taste – but really I’m nitpicking. The combination of toppings made for a really  enjoyable burger experience, each very generous in portion. The crisp onion rings were huge and the smoked applewood cheese was warm and oozing – very pleasing! The pulled jackfruit was a revelation and I’m glad the waitress recommended it as I had never heard of it. It’s technically a tropical fruit but is the go to vegan meat replacement option and was startling close to pulled pork. I was also very pleased with the other vegan choice – the vegan garlic mayonnaise. Who knew this was even a thing? It was cool, light and pungently garlicky, I really enjoyed it.

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My side of mac ‘n’ cheese was decadently cheesy and well seasoned. The portion was far beyond me and I left about half; the waitress who cleared the plates commented that she hadn’t taken away a cleared plate yet. Amazing value for money and on reflection I wish I had thought to ask to take the other half home. Breakfast mac ‘n’ cheese!

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Fellow Mum-pal opted for a peri chicken burger in an Italian herb bun with toppings of chorizo, Monterey Jack cheese, a fried egg, chilli sauce and garlic mayo. It looked pretty showstopping when it arrived and luckily her bun was fresh and tasty. With a side of sweet potato chips (which she dutifully shared because she is a Very Good Person) it was a beast of a burger and we both happily munched (after another glass of wine because we were on a Mum date and that’s what we do) until we could munch no more.

I had considered a ‘hardshake’ (a milkshake with a shot of alcohol in – think chocolate and Baileys etc. Now you want one don’t you?) but honestly I was too full, the mac ‘n’ cheese had finished me off.

The Burger Joint is a Bristol classic and this updated menu shows it’s keen to fight its corner in Bristol’s ever expanding burger scene. With something to please everyone (especially vegans and vegetarians!) it’s a great option for a burger with a twist and perfect for any picky eaters.