Cheers to the fall

livingroom

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What have you learnt from your biggest mistake?

livingroom, Wednesday writing prompt

I may not have had a lot of time (or mind space) to write in recent months but I’ve definitely had to do a lot of soul searching and reflecting, so when I saw this …

…. a blog post wrote itself (and then I had to rewrite it a million times 😉

Sometimes we choose the wrong path because we allow our deepest fears to guide us. When it all goes wrong we call it a mistake.

Some personal events this year have been horrendous…but sadly not unexpected. The cast may have switched roles, but the plot and lead remains the same.

The foreseeability of it all made me question myself. When an outcome is so predictable is it a mistake or a choice?

Sometimes we choose the wrong path because our ego whispers in our ear. When it all goes wrong we call it a mistake…but really we made a choice.

And the lesson?

That I can choose my own path and that decisions based on fear or ego will never lead to happiness

What is the best lesson your mistakes have taught you?

BH xx

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.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Live in Beyoncé’s Shadow..

bedroom

Hello Guys,

My stats tell me that I haven’t posted for the whole of September… As a teacher, this is no surprise.  But it’s not just the new academic year To Do lists that have kept me at bay from my blog.  I have also been busy building a brand new website with one of my closest friends and inspirations.

We wanted to build a platform for women to come together and inspire each other to improve our lives and community.. Otherwise known as

www.thesisterhoodsupperclub.com

I have just posted my first official post (hence the title of this post and it’s linked HERE) Please read and give me some honest feedback! Thank you 🙂

BHxxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Cray Cray in Stockholm 

Travel

Ahhhhh what a difference a break makes! The bubba and I escaped to Sweden for a week.

Housed in a beautiful summer house just outside Stockholm, our hosts brought the warmth and quirky humour of the Swedes to life.  


Although not brave enough to take a full dip in the beautiful but very very cold lake, I took every moment to appreciate the beauty, tranquility and fresh air of our surroundings….

…the bubba literally discovered that food grew on trees and tried to appreciate (pronounced eat) every blue berry he could find! 

But of all the sights of Stockholm and peace of nature, my most cherished moment occurred after an arduous night time toddler tantrum.  My host sat me down and reassured  “We’ve all been there…” Then fed me Cray Fish and Cider. 

Life is good.  

Anyone in London in September should attend The London Crayfish party if you too need a little relief from daily life.  Be prepared for crayfish, vodka, and silly hats and Swedish drinking songs.  
And to get you in the mood…

I just wanted to write a fun post….

Life Beyond The Kitchen Sink, Wednesday writing prompt

…But the world at the moment is playing out like a bad 90s disaster movie…  I mean Boris for Foreign Secretary? As in Mr Brexit Break It Don’t know How to fix it?  

And then we have the Labour Party trying to destroy the first true Labour leader (pronounced decent human) that it’s had in decades.  Apparently, democracy is only allowed if it supports the people on power..

FTS

Time to switch off..

If you need me, I’ll be here…


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qRC4Vk6kisY

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

 

photograph @Brixtonhousewife

The unapologetic mummy

motherhood, parenting, pregnancy, zerotohero

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.

1:34pm  The crying started. 

1:34pm and 3 seconds 

 “Why is your baby crying like that?”  

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 tantrum because 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.

*rant over

*Supportive nod to all the parents of toddlers having tantrums in public places

BH xx

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYQ48Kpd3AM 

Nude parsnip and pear soup

kitchen

It seems competition is the only way to get me to take pictures of my food and post them on the net.  This time it was the allure of my soup being made in bulk and delivered to my work place (a primary school) on the soup scooter.. oh the mayhem 🙂 !

A simple competition, create a soup using a Kallo stock cube then upload a picture on Instagram with the tag SoupScooter.

So here’s my entry!  Wish me luck and why not enter too!  BHxx

4 shallots

3 large organic shallots 

1 large garlic clove

400g borlotti beans

1 Kallo vegetable stock cube

1 pear for decoration

Slice the shallots into thin discs and then fry on a low heat until golden. Dice and add the garlic. Crumble in stock cube and stir.  

Rinse and drain beans then add to the pan.  Mix together and place lid on pan for a couple of minutes.  Meanwhile wash and dice your parsnips.  Add the parsnips to the pan making sure they are covered in the stock and onions. Cook for a further two minutes then add 600ml of boiling water and allow to simmer until parsnips begin to soften. Remove from heat and garnish with a slice of pear, salt and pepper.

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 honours 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

ishare. weshare. YOUSHARE.

Life Beyond The Kitchen Sink

I was delighted to receive an email today to say that my post The N word had been featured on the YouShare Project.

youshare-website-logo-sept-16-20151

 

The stories that shape us…

The N word is definitely a story that has shaped me.

What stories have shaped you?

Find many more inspirational and thought provoking stories from across the globe..and maybe even the odd one from a small corner in Brixton.

http://www.youshareproject.com/the-n-word/

xx