Friday, 29 January 2016

Creme Egg Cafe in London !

Dear Reader

Something unbelievably exciting has come to London. But you haven’t got long to enjoy it so keep reading and get your skates on. The Creme Egg Cafe has popped up in Soho. Yes. It. Has. But its only here for 6 weekends between now and Easter. Last year, there was outrage from chocolate lovers when it had been discovered that the recipe for Cadbury’s Creme Eggs had changed. So perhaps this is a PR stunt but still not something to be missed if you are a chocolate lover like me.


The cafe spans three floors – and I confess that I didn’t make it all the way to the top. I wish I had though because on a screen as you walk in on the ground floor, you can see they had installed a BALL POOL on the top floor. Sadly filled with normal plastic balls and and not crème eggs.


I didn’t have a ticket so I turned up at 2 pm on Sunday when it opened and joined the queue. Within about 30 mins, I was munching on the warmest, squishiest and most delicious creme egg toastie ever. Not nutritious at all but I’m not going to give myself a hard time about a treat like this, which I would not otherwise have every day. I also walked all the way there from home (approx. 4 miles from Notting Hill) and all the way back home again.


Tickets for this EGG-cellent (sorry) place sold out within an hour – you had to book to guarantee a slot if you wanted to “eat in”. But all is not lost because you can also walk-in if you get there in good time. AND they do takeaways. The crème egg toasties are the only thing available to take away but if you manage to get a “walk-in” table you can also try:

Creme egg Toastie (£2 takeaway / £4 walk-in)
Creme Egg and soldiers (£4)
Creme egg traybake (£4)
Stawberries and crème (egg) (£4)

All proceeds are for charity and its pay by card only. I would have loved to try the traybake but not so sure about the Egg and Soldiers (literally toast dipped in a crème egg).


While you wait there is a padlocked cage and if you guess the code correctly, you can win what’s inside...  And there was a big red panic button at the bottom of the stairs saying “Press here” – so I did. And down the little shoot, and onto a velvet cushion rolled a free crème egg...!



The best thing about the toastie is that its something you can make at home so don't be sad if you can't get there. 

What a find. Check it out if you can.

PS Two years ago I was inspired by Scarlett Curtis's Easter Egg Croissants - so there's something else you can try. 

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Pottering

Having had a 10 day break over Christmas, I felt incredibly anxious about the start of the year and got proper "back to school" jitters about returning to work that I haven't felt since....well... going back to school when I was about 13! 

To try and curb the anxiety, I spent the first weekend of January doing what I love most - pottering. Having said that, I had rather forgotten how to potter having spent most of the end of last year feeling frantic and having too many things to do / places to be etc. 

One of my main goals for 2016 is to slow right down and not spread myself too thinly and NOT say yes to everything - I am sure I said that last year but this time I really mean it. I used to love doing "nothing" and have somehow forgotten what its like to have an empty evening / day in my diary.

So my pottering at the weekend involved spending lots of time in my Notting Hill neighbourhood - as well as venturing a little further afield. I actually spontaneously met a friend for dinner on Friday night which was such a tonic and met another old friend for Brunch at the Electric diner on Sunday. We popped in and out of some of Portobello Road's best antique and jewellery shops.

On Saturday, I ventured a little further out and visited my favourite bakery - Cocomaya - and purchased (and ate) their new version of a Cronut. I also went to Deliciously Ella's new deli in Marylebone - The Mai Deli - not cheap but great for yummy and healthy food. I have been meaning to visit Bella Freud's shop for ages so I went there as well.

My other aim for the year is to buy more things for myself (clothes, home furnishings, nice bath products, candles etc) without feeling guilty or needing to justify it. We aren't even half way through January and I am doing well - So far I have bought:

Liz Earle Energising Body Scrub
Radox Stress Relief bath soak - only cost £1 !


My new M coaster
Silver polar bear - both in the sale at Graham and Green



School of Life clutch (good word "clutch") bag from their pop up in Harrods
School of Life Calm cards 


The calm cards are particularly brilliant and this quote on their website sums them up brilliantly: This small pack of prompt cards is made up of a succession of eloquent and beautiful reminders of just how we should approach our frustrations. It powerfully summons up our best and calmest selves – at precisely the moments when we need them most.

I'm hoping to read more this year too - there is no excuse not to. I was given Malala's book for Christmas and I think everyone should read her remarkable story. 

In the words of the late and heroic David Bowie, I'm making "Ch Ch Ch Ch CHANGES..."

I feel less anxious / much better already. Here's to more pottering and quiet weekends in 2016..

Monday, 11 January 2016

Women in the Justice Maze

Here's an interesting video, which was published at the beginning of December last year. Narrated by Edwina Grosvenor, founding trustee of the Clink...

What happens to women in the criminal justice maze ?



There are 12 women's prisons in the UK. According to the Prison Reform Trust, two-thirds of women who are sent to prison are mothers, which leaves 17,000 children separated from their mums by imprisonment each year. This leaves these young people at a much greater risk of finding it harder to cope later on in life - disruption at home, school, unable to get and hold down a job and more likely to experience homelessness. The number of women and girls in prison has doubled in the last 20 years. And to make matters worse - reports suggest that women are often in worse shape when they leave prison than before they went in.


There is clearly so much wrong with the justice system - especially for women. I have huge admiration for people like Edwina who is trying to fix it !

We need to #FixTheMaze

Thursday, 7 January 2016

A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled by Ruby Wax

There is so much to look forward to in 2016.... and I can't wait to get back to blogging. This is one of my first blog posts of the year and is dedicated to one of my favourite people. 

Kicking off the new year is the publication of Ruby Wax's much anticipated new book called "A Mindfulness Guide to the Frazzled" - its out TODAY

At last - Something to help us through January and beyond ! I have been feeling very frazzled recently and the year has hardly started.


Although the book is only out today, I was lucky enough to receive my copy before Christmas so have had a chance to read it and here is a little review I wrote on the Notting Hill Post...

The word Mindfulness is everywhere at the moment - and in this book Ruby explains exactly what it means, how to do it and why its so important to live "in the moment". The book includes a six week mindfulness course, which has been put together with the help of her Oxford university tutor, Professor Mark Williams (he is literally the GOD of Mindfulness) - this includes mindful thinking, mindful movement, mindful eating. I'm guilty at not eating mindfully - unwrapping a chocolate bar and practically swallowing it hole without even looking at it let alone really tasting it.

I found Chapter 3 particularly interesting "How Our Brains Work and the Science Behind Mindfulness". We spend so much of our lives thinking about the future, worrying about the past - and forgetting to notice the here and now. 

The book is laced with humour and Ruby's own experiences - she is brilliant at making the complex subject of the brain easier to understand. The book has been well researched and there is a long list of references at the back including: Teenagers Translated by Janey Downshire and Naella Grew and Daniel Goleman's The Brain. As with her last book Sane New World, it has been brilliantly edited by Joanna Bowen. 

There is something for everyone in this book - parents / teenagers / teachers.... and even if you aren't one of those (I'm not), it is one of those books I will go back to again and again as its such a good manual for mindful and healthier living.


Don't forget you can see Ruby perform Sane New World for the LAST time at the Arts Theatre in London's West End in Jan / Feb. Click here for tickets and more info. Don't miss out !