In March this year, I fell off my bike and completely shattered my forearm and shoulder. Three hours of surgery, one metal plate, 9 pins and a stay in hospital later, I was discharged home. Being “fairly young” (surgeons exact words), I was expected to make a full recovery.
Physically, the prognosis seemed likely. I’m fairly healthy (my exact words) and not shy to exercise. But I just wasn’t prepared mentally for the initial helplessness I felt after the injury and the impact that had on me psychologically. I had been confronted with the fragility of the human body. My body. My fragility. My mortality.
I had gone from being a mother and care giver, to needing someone to help me wash, bath, eat, do my hair and help me to look after my son.
In some ways as time progressed things got harder. I walked in constant fear and hyper vigilance, permanently petrified that someone would bump into my arm. With the sling gone, there was no visual clue to say “Please don’t barge me I’m injured” (Which should be a general rule for all pedestrians – but like anyone who has walked the Brixton High Street gauntlet from the Tube station, past Iceland until H&M knows, it’s each person for themselves, buggy or shopping trolley during rush hour.)
Fear and vulnerability become your daily way of life and after a while it’s becomes a tough mindset to get out of.
Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by love and support. Not just from my amazing friends and family, but with small acts of kindness from complete strangers. People would stop and offer to tie my shoe laces for me, even when insisted I was fine, or hold a doors, bags or the bubba. Once a Good Samaritan even carried my bags all the way to my door step. Those acts of kindness made me remember the beauty of humanity and the resilience of the human spirit, inspiring me to find the strength to push past my fears.
So I’m proud to announce that this week was first time since my accident that I got back on a bike. Physically, I could probably have done it a couple of months ago, but we are all on our own journeys and this time mine took a little bit longer.
So thank you 2017 for showing me the beauty of true friendship, humanity, my inner strength and teaching me that it doesn’t matter how
many times you fall off that bike- GET BACK ON! Xx
The title is so accurate in many different contexts #LookingAtYouTrump- but I am of course referring to this years Caribbean Food Week
The CFW festival will return to Windrush Square in Brixton on 26th – 28th of August 2017.
In warm up to the festival, I whipped up a couple of meals using Caribbean favourites with a vegan, high protein low fat twist. Ackee and Mixed Bean Mash up for breakfast, Red Pea & Greens Coconut Soup for lunch and Jerk Breadfruit and vegetables for dinner!
So if you’re also feeling inspired, adventurous or simply hungry you should definitely pay a visit to the festival this weekend….
…. then what better way to digest your meal then dancing the night away at Notting Hill Carnival x
What would you do if you had two homeless people living in your gas cupboard?
Stepping outside of my front door this morning, I was greeted by a shiny Maserati sparkling in the early morning light. As I drifted off, wondering which “new Brixton” resident was trying to muscle in on parking this time, the stench of rotting food and sweat dragged me back to reality.
It was the two men in their early twenties who are living in the external gas cupboard infront of our house.It sounds like fiction, but this isn’t Harry Potter.
It’s the daily co-habiting extremes of New Brixton…New Peckham – Wilesdon -Walthamstow. New London.
Many articles talk of the social cleansing of London: but neglect to mention those left behind or over looked. This is what the growing disparities between rich and poor looks and smells like when you live in it.
Ignoring the mice, rotting food, urine filled plastic bottles and beer cans – the stench will tell you that the two men live in squalor. A lifestyle a million miles away from the owner’s of the car worth in the region of £60,000 which is parked less than 1 metre away from the makeshift bed of the homeless men.
Although I’ve never been inside the cupboard, I know that it mirrors that of the one inside our home.Maximum, 150cm wide possibly 300cm long.Not big enough for the discarded mattress that they managed to fit in there, let alone two grown men. One person’s closet is another person’s home. Literally. Again the disparities of London.
But if only it was just a financial disparity. When researching how to help the two men, I stumbled across a homeless forum. Battling opinions greeted me. A homeless person was either seen as a victim or villian.
“I’d just call the police and your building management company. The doorway is almost certainly private property.”
“I wouldn’t even feel bad. If he is sleeping in a doorway (of all places) he is knowingly antagonising the building’s occupants. My guess is that he is hoping for someone to give him a big bag of charity beddings and food (like has been suggested in this thread many times now), in exchange for leaving. DO NOT GIVE HIM ANYTHING. He will just move to another building. Contact a charity for him if you feel bad – but don’t enable what he is doing either.”
But where did the “hipsters” involved actually live? Would they have made such a stand on their own door step?
Have you ever walked into a “hipster” bar as a non-hipster? The inconvenience your presence causes stabs at your dignity almost as deeply as the bill for buzz word bar food hits your wallet. But why does the presence of some make others feel so uncomfortable? Because it is a reminder of the other side of London.
The side of London that is replaced every time a new luxury apartment development is built on hardcore made of the social housing which once stood on the same spot. If you have purchased a new “luxury apartment” in inner London recently, it is very likely that your new pad displaced a low income family. It is an uncomfortable truth. A truth which taints the aspirational image sold with the luxury apartment purchase. A truth preferably ignored and forgotten by wealthy residents and developers alike.
How would you feel if a homeless person slept in your door way?
*After researching the piece further I discovered the “hipsters” were actually a group of artists, who have also been priced out of housing in London. So not actual “hipsters”but people who face and understand the financial pressures of housing in London.
How many times have you had to politely smile, nod your head or feign interest when the village (well meaning friends and family members) comment on your baby’s weight?
How many times have you had to politely smile, nod your head or feign interest when the village (well meaning friends and family members) comment on your baby’s weight? As I take him to get weighed regularly I know that he is perfectly within his “percentile”, tracking along nicely, but this of course is irrelevant, amateur expert opinions dominate conversation.
Annoying as it is at times, I have to admit hearing the creative multitude of euphemisms and round about ways villagers use to broach the tubby bubby topic makes me chuckle. (Very discreetly of course, as I nod my head and look concerned). So being it’s a long weekend and I clearly have a lot of spare time on my hands today, I decided to order them on a scale of intensity from Mild Adoration to Severe Concern and share them and hopefully a giggle with you.
A tantrum in public is a WMD in a toddler’s arsenal in the battle of wills against mummy.
The other day My Little Toddler (MLT) and I were meeting friends at the South Bank.What is normally a jovial 15 minute bus ride became an arduous expedition: a groundhog of a journey spent explaining and apologising.
MLT was exhausted but refusing to nap.He had decided he wanted to walk to our destination. Except he couldn’t decide between being adamant that he wanted to walk or inconsolable if he wasn’t being carried. Oh and he didn’t want to walk-he wanted to run, especially across roads.
So MLT had to go in his pushchair and as it was getting late, we took the bus. The two outcomes the tired toddler didn’t want.You could almost hear him scanning through his weapons inventory and deciding to pull out the big guns.
1:34pm MLT put in the push chair and we get on to the bus.
It was a mother who we knew from playgroup. A mother of two toddlers. As I rolled off my explanation-“He hasn’t taken his nap and so he is exhausted but he has decided that he wants to walk to the river…”– I couldn’t help but wonder why a mother would ask such a stupid question.What answer was she expecting?
But it wasn’t the most ridiculous thing I heard.I was informed by a concerned pensioner that my child was really upset.As I rolled off my explanation-“He hasn’t taken his nap and so he is exhausted and he has decided that he wants to walk to the river…”– I couldn’t help but wonder if the kindly old gent really thought that I hadn’t realised that the child in my arms was in fits of (tantrum) tears.
I appreciated the understanding nods of support, passing smiles and brief distractions that passengers offered MLT and they fuelled my continued need to apologise and explain.But when a women came and sat next to me and practically tried to take my child out of my arms- I became the unapologetic mummy. I wonder, if I looked different (or even more similar to the her) would this complete stranger still have found it completely acceptable to infringe on my personal space uninvited?
A couple of minutes more passed and MLT settled. I had distracted him with a passing aeroplane and a remixed rendition of twinkle twinkle little star. Interestingly the women’s (who previously was so desperately eager to help) expression had changed. Rather than looking happy that MLT was now content she actually looked annoyed. I had not needed her help.
Toddlers throw tantrums over the most ridiculous things.But it doesn’t sound like they are crying about not being allowed to wash their hands in the unflushed toilet or not being allowed to touch the naked flame on the hob or run in the road. It sounds as if they are being maltreated by the evil overlord who is trying to soothe their cries… and I understand that. But they are just having a tantrumbecause that’s how toddlers express themselves. So if there is a clearly concerned parent/carer trying calm the child you need not worry that the child is in serious danger.
So please do not be offended if you see me and my toddler is throwing a tantrum and I don’t offer you an explanation as to why he is crying. He is a toddler, he is throwing a tantrum that’s just what they do.
*Supportive nod to all the parents of toddlers having tantrums in public places
Exit the tube station, politely avoid free newspapers and exhausted rat racers, navigate the Shibuyaesque traffic lights, then walk along the side of Morleys department store.
The mood changes. It’s a quieter. Quiet enough to hear Rebel playing. Dark enough for the candles to illuminate the graffiti messages adorning the Iman cosmetics posters on the department store windows. People are still…and smiling.
Locals and travellers from afar have congregated on the Bowie mural in Brixton to pay their respects. YouTube is full of footage from the impromptu Bowie Party held shortly after Bowie’s death was announced on Monday. The duality of the peaceful and party remembrance seems the perfect fit for both Brixton and Bowie.
As Brixton bids goodbye to the Duke, the universe reclaims back it’s star.
The Great British Bake Off is a big deal in our abode. For me it’s actually one of the few ‘reality’ competition shows where I don’t want them to all lose.
And this year it seemed like the whole nation was gripped with Bake Off fever. Sitting rooms across the land were full of soggy bottoms and feverish muttering of “I can, I will, I must!”.
Maybe that’s how me and the OH ended up having our own mini bake off throw down on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Brixton last weekend.
So here is the recipe for the winning* cake. I should probably say my mother was the (female) judge, so she may have been slightly biased in her decision.
Feel free to try the recipe and let me know what you think or share you favourite cake recipes.
*My cake won!
Brixton Blackout Cake
300g icing sugar
100g unsalted butter
40g cocoa powder
40ml whole milk
1 measure of spiced rum
Chocolate Custard Filling
5 tbsp light muscovado sugar
5 tbsp custard powder
75g cacao power
600ml whole milk
1 measure of spiced rum
Brixton Blackout Cake
100g unsalted butter
250g castor sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 baking powder
3/4 bicarbonate soda
110g plain flour
90g coconut flour
160ml of whole milk
2 measures of spiced rum
50g dark cooking chocolate
Start by putting your butter to one side to warm to room temperature and preheating your oven to 170 degrees (gas mark 3).
Mix the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Once blended add one egg at a time.
Slowly beat in the cocoa, baking power and bicarbonate soda.
Next add the plain flour and the milk. Once mixed add the coconut flour until the mixture in completely combined then add the rum.
Fill two cake tins with the mixture and place in the oven for approximately 45mins.
Once the cakes are in the oven start to make your custard. Mix the custard powder, sugar and cocoa powder together in a saucepan. Next, stir in the rum until you get a smooth paste. Then add the milk a tablespoon at a time. The challenge is to add all of the milk without making any lumps. Place on a medium heat to allow to thicken. Remove from heat and place custard into a shallow cake tin lined with cling film and place in fridge to chill for one hour.
Melt 50g of chocolate and drizzle over a rolling pin which has been covered with baking parchment and place in the fridge to cool.
Remove the cakes from the oven and leave to cool and begin to mix your icing. Beat the icing sugar, butter and cocoa powder together. Once combined add the milk to the butter mixture a couple of tablespoons at a time. Finally add the rum and continue to mix for five minutes.
Remove tthe custard from fridge and layer onto the bottom half of your cake then top with the remaining cake. Ice the cake with your chocolate icing and decoration.
It’s been almost a year since my last post and it’s not really a coincidence that my little, no longer a baby, baby has just turned one. But I cannot put the blame for my lethargic state solely on the babe.
Wading through the daily sludge of fad humanism (I think we are still on only welcoming a la mode refugees?) and the brutal everyday reminders of the social cleansing of London, I’ve been a devoted follower of the Church of Escapism. Spending sacred down time scouring the property pages, I became an extremist addicted to all More 4 house porn programming. Escape to the country. Another country. Escape.
But something enticed me to change the channel.
The results of the labour leader election was a very welcome surprise. A break from the political monotony which has plagued our country since Blair proclaimed This Is New Labour.
Certainly to early to say it has restored my faith in our political system, it has at least offered me a glimmer of a hope for the future. A society who recognises and nurtures the human side of our nature.
My father was an amazing gardener, from Callaloo to Corn he grew all types of local and tropical treats in our garden in the deepest darkest depths of Peckham, London. So you could say that gardening is in my blood.. I wouldn’t, just like his cooking skills, it seems this talent may have skipped my generation.
But I do have the passion.
This is the continuing journey of how our back garden will become a secret escape..
The vision is growing… I have seen the promised land, its just buried under all of this clay and brick. As I begin to dig, I ponder starting a Gardenise exercise class, surely everyone is over Zumba, and who doesn’t want toned arms? I make a personal note to email Gymbox the next day.
Ok…so gardening is not sexy. The previous thoughts of toned arms are long lost in the cold realities of British Winter time and dirty finger nails, but the progress is steady… Until it all turns a bit Stephen Kingish and everything comes to a sudden halt. As my mother is a history and archaeology fanatic, I have grown up with the delusion the Earth beneath our feet is just waiting to reveal its treasure. So what was history’s gift to me, well it seemed to have fur, a disregarded Victorian teddy bear perhaps? Alas no, on closer inspection I see a cat paw, as memories of Pet Cemetary flash before me I throw down my spade and seek sanctuary and sympathy in the arms of the Mr. This month’s personal note is to call the council’s special disposal unit. Gardening is definitely not sexy.
Encouraged by Sunshine, (imaginary) butterflies and the support of my fellow bloggers (Roses delight, Pam and Maria Mahreeaaah amongst others. 😉 I pushed the murky Stephen Kingesque past behind me and battled on.
And it is an ongoing battle. When I think of my ideal garden space, I dream of a flat, sunny, spacious affair… Alas just like me, my little patch is far less than perfect. Yet albeit, shady, sloped and wide, MLP seems to embrace it’s “challenging” label, and so, inspired by it’s non-conformist beauty I labour on. With memories of my time in Portugal, a terraced wonderland springs to mind, and the words “shovel”, “mallet” and “bad back” (amongst other less flowery words) spring to my lips.
It was however worth it, as this was my chance to put all of my “research” (pronounced “cyberspace procrastination”) into good use and start buying and planting :-). As you can see from the pictures, I didn’t go “craaayzey” (pronounced “like Solange in the lift“) with the purchases. With a baby and new mortgage on the way, I had to get “creative” with the budget. Fortunately, with my friends and family and freecycle.org, that wasn’t so difficult and actually quite fun!
My raking handy work had paid off…I had created perfectly flat platforms ready to go forth and prosper. Then my brain received a phone call..
“Hello….It’s the Brixton Housewife here and I think spontaneity is fun!”
In comes a change of plan and a quick google search for garden ponds…
After my last minute pond purchase, I felt that I also needed a Buddha… Yes random, but it looks down directly into the back bedroom sending peaceful energy and sweet dreams to all who reside there…OK that isn’t actually guaranteed, but as I bought the Buddha from a charity shop I know that my money has gone to a good cause! Bring on the Karma… and peaceful energy and sweet dreams.
I really enjoyed buying all the different plants; I searched local nurseries, markets and friends gardens for any and every cheap shade loving plant. Covering the soil with wood chip will hopefully save on weeding and also makes the garden look almost “finished” [Please imagine this last sentence being said in an expert gardener voice]
July, August and September
I’m beginning to think that all those last minute ‘random’ purchases may have been fuelled by all those ‘crazy’ pregnancy hormones .. Oh the joys of bump life! Fast forward to October and gone are the topiary dilemmas and enter the diaper demands. That said, I still kept a special place in my heart for my little patch of green and the gardening journey continued. So here are the latest pictures, and hopefully a picture will speak a thousand words (as the whole “new mum” thing meant I didn’t have time to write them).
Sorry no pictures for July, that’s when I started focusing on the nursery inside the house.. (The room that it just so happens is over looked by the Buddha)
The decking was really simple to lay. I purchased four decking sheets from a high street shop and told my husband to “make it work”.. and he certainly did. All in all, it took less than a day to lay and in total cost less than £100. Not bad, not bad at all.
This entry should really be called “The Woodchip Chronicles”. I can’t explain the joy of slashing open a bag of wood chip and sprinkling the little pieces of bark over the garden like fairy dust… And as if by magic, the purple flowers behind the pond bloomed as a complete surprise to me, this is why I love gardening. The black tail photo bombing in the foreground belongs to our pet Ceefor, and that’s why I love cats ;-).