If there are two things I absolutely adore in this world – it’s writing (I could totally be JK Rowling if I just had a better attention span) and Pizza – the food of Gods. So imagine my delight when I learned three things:
Pizza Express are supporting World Book Day by holding a ‘How to Write a Novel in 60 Minutes’ kids’ workshops for World Book Day 2018
there will be pizza there – obviously.
They are doing this in Leeds! My new hometown.
So if you have some young budding writers in your brood and are looking for something fun to do this Sunday – why not come down to Pizza Express in Leeds.
You can go to Pizza Express this Sunday (Sunday the 25th of March) Address: The White Cloth Hall, Crown Street, Leeds, Yorkshire.
It starts at 11am, and the workshop lasts for one hour.
Lunch is then at 1pm for both children and adults.
You can get tickets for free from eventbrite and the ticket includes FREE PIZZA for kids.
This is not a drill – FREE PIZZA. I said – FREE PIZZA for kids.
The workshops are aimed at 7 to 12 year olds – plus confident 6 year olds.
Parents and their children are invited to join the wordsmiths from Scribbler HQ at PizzaExpress restaurants in Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester and Leeds throughout March.
Your child / children will create their very own novel.
They tell me there will be ‘lashings’ of pizza afterwards (they had me at lashings).
There will be a special edition of the Dough Ball Times activity pack, available in restaurants until the 25th of March, featuring a £1 National Book Token and a competition where children are invited to win a year’s supply of books by designing their own World Book Day Dough Ball Bookmark.
For more information and to see when they’ll be in your town just click here!
Hopefully I will see you there – I will be the one with my face in a Hawaiian.
There are many injustices in this world – that Idris Elba isn’t in love with me, that I wasn’t cast as Buffy the Vampire slayer and that I never came up with the idea of Just Eat. The latest one is that The Body Shop in Leeds has a private room that I am I didn’t know about and that I think not enough people know about. It’s a travesty!
The Body Shop is probably the first brand I was aware of when I was a young teenager for smelling better (hormones) and looking great. Oh the nostalgia when I think of the candy floss lip balms and the fruit shaped soaps, the apricot bubble baths and the cocoa butter body butter. We all pranced around town with the beige canvas bag thinking we were it!
Well I’m now 35 and dare I say it – I kind of moved on from The Body Shop. Then last week I was invited to the Leeds branch for a free facial and I jumped at the chance. This face needs all the help it can get.
The private room is at the back of the store and is really relaxing and cosy. I met the beautiful Jess – a skincare expert – had a herbal tea and a good old chin wag. I wasn’t drinking at the time – but they do offer a free glass of Prosecco with their treatments – I missed a trick!
They do all sorts of facials from basic to advanced (I had the advanced). They also do Mother’s Day packages, small parties and make up classes. Apparently a party of young teenagers had been in a week or so before for a make up party which I just thought was so sweet – I would have loved that.
The most interesting part was the skin test Jess did on me first – I have never known what skin type I have – but I am informed I have quite a dry face – especially on my cheeks. There was a tiny bit of oil on my forehead but generally – dry.
“So what’s your skin care routine?”
“Umm… soap and water.” I replied.
Jess wasn’t judgemental – looked like she had heard that many, many times.
I was slathered in a load of fancy products and I felt so pampered.
My husband doesn’t compliment me – really ever. But that evening he couldn’t stop complimenting my skin.
Therefore – the next day I went back and I bought all the products. I’m going to really give The Body Shop another go because I think I forgot about it for too long.
I now have a cleanser, a toner, a facial peel and a plumping moisturiser and I will definitely be going back for more. The Body shop has reclaimed its spot on my birthday and Christmas lists – it’s no longer about bubble bath sets for your Nan. It’s about serious skin care goals for knackered tired mums who fall asleep most evenings with their make up on and have no routine to speak of.
January brings with it hundreds if not thousands of folk exclaiming “Happy New Year” like it’s a command; like it’s a militant instruction. “It’s a new year – Be happy or else!” And they sure look happy don’t they? All the well dressed, well drunk, groups of comrades linking arms, counting down the clock and screeching “Happy New Year!” whilst I’m staring at my M&S meal deal in my dressing gown wondering what exactly I’m doing wrong to not feel happiness at this landmark at all.
These, of course are the perils of so called “Happy” occasions.
Weddings – I’ve had a couple. We hire a photographer to capture this happiest day of our lives – so you better sure as Hell smile till you can’t feel your face anymore. Everyone – and I mean everyone is watching. This is literally the end of every single Jane Austen novel. You’ve reached peak happiness. Then why do I feel so utterly anxious, paranoid and on edge? Why do I imagine everyone whispering “I give this one a year” under their breath. Why have I never been so aware of my weight? What if he is late? What if everyone is late? And worse still – what if I don’t feel the euphoria I am supposed to? I am happy to be married but as for my wedding day – I felt more happiness at a Carvery.
The birth of a baby. Well – not just any baby: your baby! Sure there can’t be any happier moment could there? After the birth of my first born I distinctly remember putting a status on Facebook “I have literally never been this happy in my entire life!” Wrong – what I was, was higher than I had ever been in my entire life on diamorphine, two epidurals and four days of starvation. The come down was brutal. I have never been so terrified in my life. I was convinced if I took my eyes off my baby for one second he would stop breathing. I pissed in a vase in the bedroom because I didn’t want to walk across the hall to the actual toilet. I was convinced the Health Visitor was going to take him away because I couldn’t get him to latch. And don’t get me started on pregnancy.
Christmas day. There was a moment on Christmas morning when my son was ripping through his gifts and I felt nowt. I shook myself – why don’t you feel happy? This is what Christmas is all about – and this is what you’ve been waiting for for months. So I got a black bin bag for the wrapping paper because that’s what mums do. I felt real joy on Christmas eve – don’t get me wrong – I’m not Scrooge. Maybe the build up is better than the main event.
Birthdays – never quite as happy as they should be. What’s happy about being Thirty Five on a specific date – you’re half way to seventy! Smile!
So we don’t feel happy, even though society tells us we have to be. So we feel like we’re in the wrong or not normal. And of course we feel like we’ve failed.
Don’t worry if you don’t feel happy on the occasions you’re supposed to. Maybe you’re just not like everyone else; and maybe that’s just fine.
I don’t want you to leave me thinking I’m downright miserable so I shall leave you with three moments of pure happiness* and wish you a so-so New Year. Be averagely satisfied one and all.
* my youngest son dipping his feet in the sea in Scarborough and squealing with delight and happiness. I wept happy tears.
* Sitting alone in a restaurant in Rome eating Gnocchi with a carafe of wine.
* Walking around Whitby with my first born in a sling getting coos from elderly ladies and feeling utter pride.
I was lucky enough to be invited to a new maternity store opening in the Victoria Quarter, Leeds. But to be entirely honest with you I had never heard of the name ‘Seraphine‘.
None the less, I accepted the invite, stroked my huge 33 week pregnant stomach and decided we should go – if only to get out of the house for the first time in weeks. I had a look at their website and it became glaringly obvious that there was a reason I had not heard of this brand – it was a brand worn by goddesses such as Kate Winslet, Gwen Stefani, Benedict Cumberbatch’s lucky wife and The Duchess of Cambridge herself. They had clearly made a mistake inviting me.
My main concern was that this was not a brand for the ‘normal woman‘ (yes, I’m talking about me there). If these amazingly perfect pregnant celebrities and royalty wore these clothes –
1. Would they be able to dress me? A curvy woman.
2. Will they have even seen a bump this big before? I am quite unlike these celebrities who look like they’ve had a bit of bread when they’re pregnant; my bump is in a different league.
3. Will it be affordable? I’m not rich or famous – I’m just a normal mum.
4. Will this place be pretentious? The store is located in the Victoria Quarter, near Harvey Nichols – a shop I need to spend a week dressing up to visit. We all know that horrible feeling of wondering into a small boutique and being stared at with one look and one look only “You can’t afford anything in here, and you’re the wrong size, you don’t belong here…” The Pretty Woman effect, if you will (though I rarely wear my thigh high boots anymore).
A few days later I waddled off to the Victoria Quarter in my high street maternity dress, slightly nervous to see Seraphine for myself.
The shop is not at all as I expected. It is larger than most in that arcade and spacious – you are not nose to nose with any retail assistants. Upon walking in I felt immediately at ease – there was not the pretentious air or snootiness I was concerned about. The retails assistants were polite and friendly – more personable than most and chatty – without being invasive.
I was lucky enough to meet and chat to the founder of Seraphine: Cecile Reinaud – which you would think would be quite daunting, considering her success – but she was exceedingly warm and engaging and a joy to talk to.
I quickly asked about their sizes and prices (on behalf of the ‘normal woman‘). Their sizes range from a 6 to an 18 which I was impressed with and their prices are from as low as in their twenties to a higher end – ‘The Luxe range’that boasts wedding dresses and occasion dresses in their collection.
Something I was really impressed with was that the vast majority of their clothes are designed for ease during nursing they had discreet poppers at the side, or straps with stretch. They had beautiful summer tops, a vast collection of jeans, support tights and an essential maternity set – The Bump Kit – that would keep you satisfied throughout your nine months if you adapted it with different accessories.
All of their staff are trained in bra fittings and they stock a range of underwear. They also have beautiful changing bags by StorkSak , specially designed shoes for pregnancy by shoe therapy and skincare by mama mio and Bloom and Blossom. The changing rooms are very spacious too and not as daunting as changing rooms can be.
Something I have found with many maternity clothes is that they seem to just over inflate their normal clothes (just today I am sending back several size 14 items from a shop that are absolutely enormous – marquee like pieces).
When I chose a top at Seraphine I had been eyeing up on their website they had my size (14) and I was thrilled that it fitted me just right. It wasn’t too big and I can honestly say I would wear it (and a lot of their clothes) after my pregnancy. It makes me feel very feminine and very pretty – and this is coming from a pregnant woman who has wallowed in her house for a few months weeping over how whale like she appears.
I was incredibly impressed with the store – and with the clothes – and it was a relief to see that Seraphine is not just for the likes of Kate Middleton – it is for the everyday pregnant woman too.
My only complaint is that I didn’t know about this brand sooner and my pregnancy is nearing its end (I will be going this weekend again as it just so happens to be my birthday!).
Seraphine is now open in Leeds Victoria Quarter* – go and have a look for yourself.
And afterwards I recommend going just around the corner to the Harvey Nichols cafe and having one of their non-alcoholic fruit cocktails. Or indulging in their afternoon tea – make a day of it. You deserve it; It’s what The Duchess would do!