My grand tour… Walthamstow 

bedroom

When my doctor told me that I needed to reduce my stress levels, a day trip to Walthamstow probably wasn’t exactly the remedy she had in mind.  But after being lured to the urban suburb with the promise of a mani and invite to the Spa Experience bloggers event- that’s exactly where I headed..

And it turned out to be the perfect tonic!

Hopping off at the “other end” of the Victoria line, the Waltham Forest Centre was a five minute bus ride from Walthamstow Central.  Initially deceived by the centre’s outward facade, once I walked through the Spa centre’s double doors I was transported  into what I think could possibly be the largest (and most peaceful) spa relaxation area in London 🙂
After mingling with other bloggers (this is of course is code for swapping IG deets and discretely swiping the last pain au chocolate from the hospitality table) I robed up and headed straight for the sauna and steam rooms.

With squeaky clean pores, I then opted for a Vinylux manicure (as I loath the removal process with gels) and an Elemis Superfood facial.  Sam, my beautician, was friendly, bubbly and a perfectionist! My nails haven’t looked this ladylike since the bubba started walking and I definitely had that post facial glow..

And what a difference it made to my whole day!

Feeling refreshed and ready to face the world again, I decided to delay my journey home and explore E17 with an impromptu visit to the William Morris Gallery. Which turned out to be the perfect place to show off my new lady nails (it was only fair I pointed to each display and slowly nodded my head in a thoughtful manner) and it was also a perfect opportunity for a spot of quirky Christmas shopping.
And since I was in the area and feeling footloose and fancy free…

I popped into Gods Own Junk Yard– Yup from from 19th century arts and crafts movement to a Neon necropolis in about 10 mins.
So the moral of this post?
1. If you want energy to do more learn how to take some time out to do less…

https://www.spaexperience.org.uk/locations/waltham-forest?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIj-qSzeaQ2AIVjpPtCh37-g2mEAAYASAAEgIaZ_D_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
2. Never judge a postcode by a 90s boyband.

Jerk Season!!

kitchen, london

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

Bank Holiday weekend sorted :- D

BH xx

For more information visit:

www.gracefoods.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/caribbeanfoodweek

@carribbeanfoodweek Instagram

And to get you in the mood 🙂

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=sKNrCUHIPnM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the United State of mental health in the UK

society, Urban Living

Last month the UK government announced an increase in mental health funding by 1.3 billion.  This should be welcomed news, but I have my doubts.  The total disregard and intentional underfunding of the NHS means I can’t help but wonder whether this is just another tactic to stop us thinking about Grenfell or DUP rather then a true calling of the Conservative government…but on the positive, London  (Feel free to insert your town name here.) needs every extra penny it can get to tackle mental health issues.

You see London (Feel free to insert your town name here.) is a hotbed of insanity.  The fast pace, isolation, exhilaration, inequality, anonymity, poverty and riches make it a head fuck prime location.  Behind closed doors and touch screens people are falling apart.

If in any doubt, take an early morning stroll along Brixton High Street.  You’ll see that full blown, in your face, well recognised “madness”.    At the lights you’ll see Rough Looking Guy shouting at the top of his voice in the middle of the road, daring drivers to go on and kill him then.  Look to your left and see White Laydee (sic) a women in her fifties, with a white emulsion painted face perfectly colour matched to her white lace ballgown.  Hanging out on the corner you’ll see a lady I call “Elsa”, who, regardless of the weather, wears a bikini and so for most of the year must be frozen.

But when I think of the people above, I wonder whether there actions are a result of a clinical mental illness?  I don’t know their stories, or diagnosis’ but would there behaviour be classified in the DSM?  Or is it just that the pressures of life have been so traumatic that they just snapped and no longer wanted to play the game by the conventional rules?   The stresses and strains of living in London; (Feel free to insert your town name here.) with its austerity cuts, institutionalised racism, housing crisis, £7:00 coffees and food banks are immense.  With many Londoners struggling to “keep their heads above water”, are we always just one job restructure away from losing it?

So perhaps if the government is really dedicated to improving the mental health of the London and the nation as a whole,  it should look to healing a broken society crippled by uncertainty, fear, rising financial difficulties and debt.

 

 

 

 

 

Land of the free

politics, society, Uncategorized

Our world feels unstable at the moment. Brexit. Trump. Backstabbing. Resignations. Scapegoats. Uturns. New Laws. Innocents murdered. Victims villianised. Cognitive dissonance.

I can’t keep watching the news and hearing people talk of not being racist then proceeding to find excuses for condoning the murder of a black person by an officer sworn to uphold the law.

IMG_2440

But I’m not racist…

… the KKK hood wearing, Confederate flag waving, violent thug who loves nothing more than to hang out with his/her mates burning crosses, and killing black people- type of racist.

The extremely overt type of racist that frees society from the guilt of ignoring and benefitting from the inequalities and discrimination in our society, whilst proudly proclaiming..

I’m not a racist!

But unless you are actively making a stand against racism – you are supporting the institutionally racist society in which we all live.

I know I’m not saying anything new (and many have said it far more eloquantly than I ever could) but I will not stand at the side quietly: We must not stand at the side quietly.  We must bring about the change, we are change.

IMG_2444

BH xx

Links to articles who have said this far better than I:

 

http://occupywallstreet.net/story/explaining-white-privilege-broke-white-person

http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/11-things-white-people-can-do-be-real-anti-racist-allies

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/07/oscar-pistorius-sentence-an-homage-to-celebrity-and-white-privilege

http://mappingpoliceviolence.org/

https://aeon.co/essays/unconscious-racism-is-pervasive-starts-early-and-can-be-deadly

https://www.buzzfeed.com/michaelblackmon/17-harrowing-examples-of-white-privilege-9hu9?utm_term=.trlEZvWzX#.hkM27NkwZ

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/06/alton-sterling-address-police-violence

 

http://jezebel.com/a-black-woman-police-officer-calls-out-racist-cops-in-h-1783271684

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15796700-americanah

https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2013/08/27/the-racial-empathy-gap/

Was there ever a time before Scapegoat Britain? Part 1

education, Life Beyond The Kitchen Sink, society, zerotohero

At first it seemed ridiculous to believe that people would believe that all of England’s problems were the result of the EU and of course those “terrible immigrants”.  

We laughed about it in the staff room.  The same staff room where for the past year, disgruntled colleagues have  viciously blamed and attacked the Head Teacher for staff cuts that are solely the result of Government cuts to education. 

I remember a boy at our school who was an amazing football player.  Even at the tender age of five he had incredible ball control.  
The problem was he was arrogant, rude and violent to children and adults alike.  But when reprimanded for his actions, it was never his fault.  Spurred on (particularly) by his mother, it was always another child’s fault or the teacher had a personal vendetta towards him. Rather than changing his behaviour, he changed schools.  

Unsurprisingly his misbehaviour continued.. So he moved back to our school, blaming the teachers and children at the previous school for the move back.  Of course, as soon as he got into trouble again he resumed into his usual routine of pin the blame.  


And that’s how it continued. 

One day he was scouted by one of the big UK premier league teams.  Such a life changing opportunity.  

But he was dropped.  

He wasn’t a team player, couldn’t handle feedback and didn’t respect authority or his team mates.   But, of course, it was the coaches/team mates fault, “they didn’t respect him” enough.  

Such a huge opportunity lost because he had failed to take responsibility or learn from his mistakes.  


I saw him the other day working in a local shop.

Just imagine what could have been.

#scapegoatBritain

What would you do if you had two homeless people living inside your gas cupboard?

bedroom

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.”

 The lack of empathy was astounding.   It seemed to contradict the public outcry condemning poor doors, homeless spikes and other designs aiming to segregate poor and wealthy residents in new housing developments across London.  I remember reading articles heralding “hipsters”* turning anti homeless spikes into libraries with comfy seating.

Hoorah for Hipsters!

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?

BH xx

 

 

 *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.

Polite ways your friends tell you they think your baby is fat.

motherhood, parenting, pregnancy, zerotohero

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.

Do you have any to add to the list?

image

BHxx

 

academy

That time I almost burst into tears on the treadmill..

education, politics

Music pumping in my ears, feet pounding away on the cross trainer, I gaze up from the flashing dashboard to the row of televisions hanging from the gym ceiling.  Ivory poachers in Gabon, a posh gardener in a tight squeeze, the usual random something or nothing on London Live all bid to grab my attention with alluring titbits of subtitled conversations. Gazing towards the last screen, fifteen little words grab my attention so violently that I catch my breath. Wrapping the enormity of their meaning around my throat, those little fifteen words stab me in my chest and make me gasp out loud “No!”

Government announced plans today to rush ahead with proposals to change all schools into academies..

If we were living in a time of reason and logic I would have laughed – How on Earth would the privatisation of the British education system make it through Parliament?  But we are living in bizarre times. A moment in history where junior doctors are being branded as greedy, while bankers and banks are bailed out.  Forests, parks, libraries and social housing  are being sold at a public loss for a private profit.  Workers rights are being dismantled, employment tribunal fees have risen whilst legal aid cut.  Zero hour contracts for our most vulnerable and tax breaks for the wealthy.

I have been a primary school teacher for nearly ten years. I have worked in both Local Authority schools and an academy chain.

If these proposals go ahead we are literally and figuratively selling our children’s futures for a private profit.  I entered teaching because I knew that a good education can change lives. It changed mine.  Every evening or weekend, when I’m marking, or planning or creating resources for my class, I’m motivated because I know I am helping to shape a child’s future.  It is a beautiful honour and I get to do it for a living.  Politics, business and money can not play part in that process.

The most obvious difference between the two types of school is that Local Authority schools are bound by the National Curriculum and the Teachers Work and Pay Conditions frameworks,  whereas academies are free to develop their own curriculum, HR practices and standards.  After working in an academy however, I felt the most dramatic difference was school culture, the academy felt like a business.

“There is no educational proposition behind them [academies], no philosophy of how or what children should learn, no model of what a school should be like. The point of academies is political, not educational.”

My time teaching in an academy was soul destroying.   A culture of blame, pressure and divide and conquer fuelled by financially driven leaders and impressionable inexperienced staff naturally led to high staff turnover and challenges in behaviour.  In my first year, only two classes out of the whole school lasted the academic year  without changing teachers at least once.  Children in desperate need of stability, received erratic teaching practice, at times by trainee teachers with no class based experience.

Perhaps this is why academy advisers swarmed the academy during the Ofsted inspection.  Failing teachers disappeared as experienced advisers appeared in their classrooms teaching lessons and being observed by inspectors. There was a lot riding on the inspection outcomes, principals bonus payments for starters.

This is what happens when children are not children but results.  The success of the “chain” relies heavily on  incredible test results.  Incredulous results.  During my time at the academy I saw staff meetings dedicated to the editing of children’s independent writing folders, teachers forced to raise grades and accusations of the principal changing test results. I heard the pressure for “results” being compared to that of the pressures on the trading floor.

By no means am I saying that all academies are terrible or that the teachers are all inexperienced or don’t care about the children.  Far from it, many of my friends are amazing and dedicated teachers working in academies.  There just isn’t enough consistency or evidence that the academy model is successful  for it to be rolled out to every state school in the UK.

“Current evidence does not prove that academies raise standards overall or for disadvantaged children,”

If you agree please support the campaign to stop the proposed plans to convert all state schools into academies by signing the petition below.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/124702

If you don’t have time to follow all the links in the article, this link below nicely sums up the financial impact and profits of academies.

http://www.thecanary.co/2016/03/16/government-announces-decision-privatise-state-schools-england/

 

BH xx

Brixton Bids farewell to Bowie

Life Beyond The Kitchen Sink

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.

 

 

 

Amen for JC (Jeremy Corbyn)

Life Beyond The Kitchen Sink

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.

#TeamCorbyn all the way
 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DgMl9qBTBq0

 

 

Feeling the love

bedroom

Just wanted to say a huge thank you to the talented ladies at Nude Jewellery for my early Mother’s Day present. I absolutely love my stunning necklace! For more of their gorgeous bespoke and collection pieces visit  www.nudejewellery.co.uk or their Mayfair Store if you’re in town.

Oh and of course…. Happy Mother’s Day everyone 😄

Naked Necklines

Naked Necklines