Reaction to Tragedy

27 Jul
Life goes by too fast and can be taken away so easily, that has been all too evident over this past week.  When major news event regarding death occur I find myself almost subconscious taking stock of all I have and re assessing what I am still to achieve. After the heartbreak of 9/11 I began thinking about life and what the world I was about to become an adult in was really like.  I realised that my university place I was applying for wasn’t for me, I wanted to see the world and try my hand at all opportunities that I had to offer. As cliché as it was, I felt at 17 that life was too short to spend three more years studying right now. I took a gap year, worked and travelled, and if you will excuse another cliché, I found myself.
With the tragic events of the past 7 days my time of reflection has begun again.  The innocent lives being taken indiscriminately in Norway shock me to the core. Being so brutally reminded how easily everything can be taken away from you in an instant lead me to question how much I would leave behind if I were not here anymore and how many things there are I still wish to do or achieve with my life. 
Then within almost 24 hours the world’s attention turned to the untimely death of Amy Winehouse. I was standing in the middle of Clapham Common dancing away to the Fun Loving Criminals when word came through of her passing.  As a friend shared with me the news he’d just received in a text, the story was spreading like wildfire through the crowds.  Before long there were chimes of ‘a legend has been lost’ and ‘what a waste of a young life’ closely followed by ‘she bought it on herself’. These comments all washed over me really because, as with any celebrity death, I feel sad that a life has been lost but ultimately don’t feel real grief as I did not know them.  Then began the talk of the ’27 club’ and my feelings changed.  It hit me. She was my age. She was my age and she was dead. At 27 I still feel like I’m finding my feet in the world, 27 is no age to die. 
I’m happy with my life. I have a loving husband, wonderful daughter, beautiful home and second child on the way. I feel as far as family life and motherhood goes I couldn’t ask for any more, but what about me as a person?  Away from my family, for my personal growth, there is still so much I’m sure I am yet to achieve.  From the small things, restaurants I’ve always said I must visit but never got around to, to the very large, changing my career and pursuing my passion for writing and journalism, I have a lot going round in my head that I want to do.
I’m a practical person, I know that nothing I can say or do can bring back the lives that have been lost this week, and I know that I cannot prevent tragedies like this ever happing again, but I can make changes to my life and make sure that, in the wake of these shocking events, I make the most of all I have and once again true to the cliché – live my life to the fullest.
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An Essex Wife Goes Bee-Keeping – Today is the day!

26 Jul
A few weeks ago, through the wonder of Twitter, I got myself involved in the launch of Magners BeeAid and secured myself a chance to try my hand at bee keeping, something I have wanted to do for ages.  Fast-forward 3 weeks and today is the day! I’m a little nervous to say the least. This afternoon I will be meeting up at The National Theatre, South Bank with other interested parties to don our bee keeping smocks and see what is in store.
I am really looking forward to finding out more about the BeeAid Campagin and how we can all do our bit to get involved in helping save the bees – and if I wasn’t pregnant I’d also be looking forward to the free cider afterwards!
I will be on Twitter – http://twitter.com/AnEssexWife – throughout the day and you can hear what I and the other guests are up to using the hashtag #MagnersBeeAid.
Wish me luck and I’ll be sure to let you all know how I got on……Oh and if anyone has any hints or tips before I go, please share as they’ll be greatly appreciated!

Ben and Jerry’s Festival 2011 – Free Ice Cream Anyone??

24 Jul
Fancy a day of music, funfairs and free-ice cream? Then the Ben and Jerrys Sundee festival is for you.  Now in its 7th year, this is an event that just keeps getting better and defiantly gives you a double scoop of fun with the addition of a second venue in Heaton Park, Manchester this year.
Fun and games were had by all on the free funfair rides; perfect for the big kids amongst us.  Nothing like eating your body weight in free Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and then getting on a carousel!



Happy Little Lady
(Complete with Essex Girl Sunglasses)



Music plays all day, and this year the line up was brilliant.  Steve Cradock, Fun Loving Criminals, Ash and Ocean Colour Scene kept us entertained all afternoon and really got the crowd going.  Being a smaller festival makes it the perfect place to take children (under 5’s go free) and my little lady loved dancing around to the live music, she’s taking after her mother already!
Seeing James Buckley, who plays Jay in award winning The Inbetweeners, make an appearance on stage with Steve Craddock and then again with Ocean Colour scene was worth the entrance fee all on its own.  Turns out he’s quite the guitar player and is performing on Steve Cradock’s new solo Album Peace City West.
Alongside the music and funfair rides there was much more on offer. City Farm were on location with their cute animals, the lovely people from Dorset Cereal handing out boxes of delicious muesli, toe wrestling competitions, coconut shy, RSPCA stand, Face paining and a Pimms arena.  And as always, the Ben and Jerrys Sundae Festival was climate neutral so we could indulge guilt free in our free Fairtrade ice cream to our heart’s content.
Tickets for Ben and Jerry’s Festival normally go on sale March time – and with all of this for just £17 a ticket this year, I will most certainly be front of the queue to get tickets again for next year!

1st Review for Essex Mums – Hickory Dickory Door Plaque

23 Jul
I was thrilled to receive my door plaque from Hickory Dickory this week.  With my daughter moving into her new room in preparation for the arrival of our new baby my husband and I had been decorating her new room for the past few weeks, but it needed that personalised finishing touch to make it complete.
The door plaque is beautiful, well finished and very sturdy. Instead of the usual MDF it is made from birch-plywood and hung with a ribbon of raffia.What’s more Hickory Dickory only use sustainable woods, non-toxic paints and environmentally friendly material so I know its kind to the environment too.  Priced at £17.95 it is slightly more than I would have paid if I was to have purchased a mass produced piece, however I feel that it is defiantly worth the extra for the bespoke service and the knowledge that the gift is a one of piece.
Being handmade also means that any name can be catered for. I find that my daughters name is not always widely available in shops, so purchasing personalised items from Hickory Dickory’s online store is the perfect solution. Their gifts are wonderful for new arrivals, christenings, and birthdays or just for a special treat.  They are made to last and treasure. I will defiantly be buying another when the new baby arrives; they have a great range of colours on offer for both boys and girls.
Hickory Dickory is the work of Lisa Ebdon BA Hons, a Brighton based artist and mother of three girls. She aims to bring quality, durability and style to every piece of work she undertakes. For more information about our services, please call Hickory Dickory on 0796 9724 996 or email info@hickorydickory.co.uk 

No – I don’t have a Vajazzle

20 Jul
I love ‘The Only Way is Essex’ and I cannot wait for it to return to our TV screens this autumn.  I know its car crash TV; I love it for that reason.  After a day of being mum and worrying about what would have become of the world by the time my children grow up, I like to unwind with something easy to watch.  However, having spent the best part of my adult life trying to prove that there is more to Essex girls than fake tans and aspirations to marry a footballer, I can’t help but feel that the show has set my quest back a few years.
I love where I live; Essex is the perfect combination of Urban and Rural, but if you don’t know the area well, a lot of press leads you to believe that Essex starts in Epping and finishes in Brentwood.  Well, I’m here to tell you there is a lot more on offer than that.
Growing up just outside Romford I too though Essex consisted of Brentwood, Loughton, Epping and not a lot else.  After meeting my husband I was dragged kicking and screaming along the A12 towards Chelmsford and settled in Great Baddow to begin family life – and I have honestly never looked back.  From this central point I have spread my wings and found so much more to Essex than the fake tans and hair extensions of my youth, I have found a wonderful villages and tiny hamlets linked by country lanes lined by more pubs with crackling open fires than I could ever drink in.
Essex has one of the largest coastlines of any county in England. With ports such as Harwich steeped in maritime history and nearby Mersea Island producing world famous oysters its more than just the ‘kiss me quick’ resorts of the 70’s and 80’s like Southend and Clacton that our shores should be known for. Moving inland Essex is a walker’s paradise. Woodland trails, country parks, farmland and coastal paths make up enough activities to keep even the out outward bound of visitors entertained.
It does also have its fair share of glamour.  Fine dining can be found all over the county and bars and clubs such as Sugarhut, Nu Bar and Faces are perfect for a spot of celeb spotting.  All of this charm also attracts the rich and famous to reside in this fine county. Rod Stuart, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jamie Oliver to name but a few have all opted to have homes here.
With so much on offer I can honestly not see myself ever wanting to live anywhere else, I’m proud to be from Essex and would shout about it from the roof tops , but for the last time people please; No – I Don’t have a Vajazzle.

Am I Ready For Baby No 2?

19 Jul
Having a 3D scan has finally made it hit me, I’m having another baby.  It sunk in from day 1 that I was pregnant again. Not being able to drink on my hen weekend, wedding day or during my honeymoon to New York made the pregnancy a reality, I had just never looked past the 9 months of expanding waistlines and shrinking social life until now.
Today I got thinking though, what happens once the pregnancy is over and I bring home baby number 2?  How will my little lady cope with not being my baby anymore? How will I cope with no time to do my hair and make up each morning? Will I ever get back in my size 10 clothes?  I can feel a panic attack coming on again!  This Christmas there will be 4 names on all the cards I send, I will have to buy another Santa stocking to hang on the stairs and there will be another person sitting round table the for the family dinner.  This New Year eve’s I will be seeing in midnight as a married mother of 2, how did this creep up on me?  I still feel 18 in my head most days, dreaming of packing up and going round the world for a year, and although I think my husband would enjoy some time off from my nagging I like to believe this little family couldn’t function without me. 
The thing is, when I sit down and think about all I have given up to be a mother, late night raves, lie-in’s, disposable income, I can honestly say that there is no comparison to all I have gained by having a family. All the nights out from my early twenties are now fading into one big memory, but they day my daughter first smiled at me, the day she took her fist steps, the first time she said mummy, are, and will always be, the most vibrant memories a person could ever have.
So today, almost 3 years to the day of finding out we were expecting our first child, I think I finally feel like a grown up, and I have to say, I quite like it!

Business Mums Unite Conference and Exhibition

18 Jul

An exciting opportunity has occurred for this Essex wife today, a trip to Nottingham to be a guest blogger for a Business Mums Unite Event.  19th October 2011, Albert Hall Conference Centre, Nottingham will see the launch of the inaugural Business Mums Unite Conference and Exhibition and I’m going to be there.   Bringing together mums in business to network and share ideas and introducing those not yet set up  to people who can support them with information and guidance to take the plunge.

I’m so excited to be invited to what I’m sure will be an amazing event.  I am especially looking forward to hearing from speakers Elaine Hanzak and Naomi Timperley and attending the social media workshop as this is a subject close to my heart.
This is an event that all business women could benefit from, and with Essex having one of the highest business start up rates in the country, I am hoping to see an army of us Essex ladies up in Nottingham in October representing this fine county.
Delegate tickets are priced at £65 (including lunch and goodie bag). For more information or to book your place visit www.businessmumsunite.co.uk
Twitter ID – @scandc
Advertising packages are available for £30 and for £150 a trade stand package includes a delegate ticket and advertising.  There are also some sponsorship opportunities still available.
Roll on October 19th!!!



Chelmsford Beer Festival 2011

18 Jul
I love local produce, I love small producers and I love the personal touch.  Regular readers of my blog will already know I often frequent local festivals of food and drink to seek out the best of what this fine region has to offer.  The CAMRA Chelmsford beer festival is one such event that I look forward to year after year.  With over 350 real ales, 120 ciders and a large selection of local wines this year, all from independent brewery’s many from the Anglian region it fitted the bill for me perfectly.  Although At 6 months pregnant I was going to be unable to test out all the wonderful beverages on offer this year so I took along an army of willing taste testers to do my dirty work for me.



My Taste Testers
Rambo, Me, Mark and Mel

 The weather left a lot to be desired but we didn’t let it dampen out spirits.  My taste testers embraced their roles whole heartedly and were soon trying out all manner of weird and wonderful concoctions.   The bartenders were great, very knowledgeable and extremely helpful to us novices, and all volunteers.

Alongside the alcohol there were food stalls selling an array of food such as hog roast, BBQ, Thai and Italian.  For the children (and the big kids amongst us) there was also face painting and a couple of rides.
Live music was performed throughout the day; I especially enjoyed the Jazz in the beer tent.  Coldplace, a Coldplay tribute act, were the main event of the evening and they did well to get the crowd going right till the end!
All in all, despite the rain, it was a great day – and there were many sore heads the next morning as a testament to that.  I would strongly recommend a visit to a CAMRA beer festival this summer; a top day out and a good way to support small producers and CAMRA’s campaign for Real Ale. For details of up coming CAMRA events in your area visit www.camra.org.uk  

Reasons to smile on this rainy Essex day

16 Jul
I have been looking forward to this weekend for ages. The Chelmsford Beers festival is a date I put in my diary as soon as it is announced, and then I start day dreaming about the hot sunny day I will be spending in a field drinking cold Belgium beers and chatting with friends.  This year’s reality is I’m 6 months pregnant so no alcohol can pass my lips and I awoke this morning to grey clouds and constant rain. Don’t you just love the English summer!
So sitting here deciding what wellies would go best with my outfit I started to compile a list in my head of things that still make me smile on this dreary Saturday morning.
We’re having a 3D baby scan
Thanks to my wonderful friend Emma from the London Woman’s Clinic on Harley St, we are lucky enough to get to try out their new 3D scanning equipment next week prior to the new scans being offered to their patients.  I’m so excited to see baby Langley again and also looking forward to showing my lovely daughter Scarlett her baby brother or sister on screen in an attempt to make it all seam a little more real for her.  Can’t wait to report back on how it went and to show you all the wonderful photos that their new scanning equipment can produce.
Ben and Jerrys Sundee Festival
Next weekend (23rd and 24th July) sees the return of free ice-cream to Clapham Common for the Ben and Jerry’s Sundee Festival.  2 days of delicious ice cream, fun activities and laid-back surroundings, along with headliners Ocean Colour Scene and Maximo Park it’s shaping up to be quite a weekend! A group of us are heading down there on Saturday with the whole family, its such a wonderful festival to take children too as they are really catered for and looked after – and under 5’s go free!!
Everything Alice has arrived
If you haven’t already heard of ‘Everything Alice’ where have you been? It’s a wonderful book of craft and cookery makes based on Alice’s adventures in Wonderland.  It arrived this morning and from the first look it’s amazing! For the photos alone it’s worth getting the book and I already have a list of things I want to make this weekend.  I can’t wait to get stuck in and show you all what I have made – it’ll give me something to do till the rain stops!

Wifes Night Off – Friendly Fires Gig, London

15 Jul
I’ve always been some what of a floozy when it comes to music, never sticking to one decade or genre to sum up my musical tastes. I have the attitude in life of try anything one (within the confines of what is legal and proper of course!) and when applied to music this mantra has always seen me right.  I’ve discovered over the years music I had beforehand written off as ‘not for me’  was actually not too bad once I’d taken a listen or seen them play live – the latest being my mum getting me into Seth Lakeman after me previously writing off folk music as something I’ll revisit when in my 40’s.
With all of this in mind I jumped at the chance of some new music experiences when the ballot for iTunes festival tickets opened earlier this year.  I applied for tickets for any nights I was free during July with crossed fingers and toes.  After numerous ‘unfortunately you have not been successful’ emails I was delighted to open my laptop up last week to see a big fat ‘congratulations’ waiting for me in my inbox.  I’d won tickets to see Friendly Fires at the Roundhouse in Camden.
At this point I must admit I had heard of Friendly Fires but wasn’t 100% sure if I knew any of their music, I had however been told they put on one hell of a show so I was all fired up for a great gig. 
I was most certainly NOT disappointed! As a venue the Roundhouse was fantastic. It was intimate yet spacious; we never had to wait longer than 5 minutes at any bar and even standing close to the back of the crowd you still felt like you were almost at the front of the stage.
The show itself was brilliant.  I knew most of the songs they played and was singing and dancing the night away.  Lead singer Ed MacFarlane is an awesome showman and turned a good show into a great one, he is worth seeing for his dancing alone, something I have since found out he is famous for. 
Me and @kittykat_j_85 enjoying the gig (sorry about the quaility – taken on phone, while dancing!!)
Thanks to Friendly Fires, iTunes and The Roundhouse Camden for such a top night, I will certainly be looking for tickets for when they return to London on their up and coming tour.
To apply for tickets for remaining date for the iTunes festival 2011 visit www.itunesfestival.com