A London lifestyle blog brimming with London places and events, with a big dollop of laughter crammed in for good measure! The author writes about food, travel, London life, mental health and general lifestyle things.
Let me start this review, ladies and gentlemen, that I am an expert theatre goer, normally. I never sit on the end of a row 20 minutes before the curtain because I know that others will inevitably have to squeeze past me; I always slouch in my seat if there’s a little person behind so as not to impede their view; most importantly, I always seem to know where to stand at the bar in order to get served first. What can I tell you? It’s a gift.
Ashleigh Pearce (green), Simon McClure (yellow) , Lisa Goldsworthy (lilac), Andre Augustus (white), Chris Carlos (brown) and Annali se Moore (flyer). Photo (c) The Other Richard
Imagine my embarrassment, then, when I reveal to you just how many times I found myself yelling aloud in alarm and astonishment while the incredible performers of A Simple Space went about their work. Maybe it’s just human nature, but I can’t watch people hurl each other round a very small space with seeming abandon without impulsively trying to warn them of their imminent injury, and possible death.
Benton Adam s – Walker (left) with Simon McClure, Lisa Goldsworthy, Chris Carlos and Andre Augustus ( base ) and Ashleigh Pearce (top). Photo (c) The Other Richard
Benton Adams – Walker, Simon McClure, Annalise Moore, Chris Carlos, Andre Augustus, Lisa Goldsworthy and Ashleigh Pearce. P hoto (c) The Other Richard
I sat, awestruck, as seven smiling Antipodeans performed ever more hair raising and gravity defying acts with such obvious skill and joy that I eventually came to the conclusion that they were either mentally unstable or some of most skilful and entertaining performers I had ever had the pleasure to watch. I know that many performances in the theatre are described as brave for one reason or another, but his show engages its audience in a totally primal way because the bravery these acts require is something not often encountered. Add to that the pitch-perfect music provided by….., and the seemingly cheeky insouciance of the gymnasts and you have what I now consider might well be the perfect night at the theatre. Catch them while you can has never been a more appropriate recommendation!
Clockwise L – R Andre Augustus, Benton Adams – Walker, Ashleigh Pearce (hanging), Lisa Goldsworthy and Simon McClure with Chris Carlos (background) . Photo (c) The Other Richard
Yeah, I know, long time no see right? Turns out, my brain has NO SPACE for blogging on the reg now I am training to be a teacher. BUT I am happy to be back to share one of THE BEST EVER NIGHTS with you.
The lovely team at Debenhams got in touch and asked if I fancied joining them on a night out. I said, sure why not, where we going hun? Debenhams then said, Oh we are going to see Florence & The Machine at the O2. Oh, and we’re sat in a private box. Oh and please choose something to wear from our partywear collection.
OH OKAY COOL YUH-HUH SEE YA THERE
Awesome, right?! Now, the hardest thing about the entire evening was deciding what to wear. Debenhams have SO MANY awesome sparkly clothes at the moment and I am basically a magpie when it comes to sequins. I ummed and ahhed for ages but ended up going for this awesome gold number from the Monsoon concession. I felt like an Oscar statue but in a really good way.
The dress itself is slightly stretchy and hangs beautifully. I paired mine with trusty high tops and a leather jacket and tbh, I was FEELING MYSELF. Would highly recommend this dress- in fact a couple of other people have seen me post it on insta and then got in touch to ask me where I obtained this glorious gown. It’s called The Saturn and yes, I felt like a big powerful planet.
Oh it was SUCH FUN! The box was gorgeous, the food was delish and the seats that we then snuggled down into were brilliant. It was so nice as well to catch up with some other blogging babes like Ghenet and Vicky.
And the gig. THE GIG! OMG Florence is like a mad, ethereal, barefooted, ginger goddess. She was incredible. She skipped and ran around the stage all night, all flowing hair and 70s hippy style. Her voice is absolutely out of this world, like actually making me gasp on several occasions. The Machine were pretty damn good also but she was captivating.
Thank you SO much Debenhams for providing me with THE PERFECT party dress!
This city is so bloomin’ big isn’t it? Every time I think I get to grips with a corner of it, there’s suddenly new nooks and crannies that I’m yet to discover. Last week, we went to visit London Bridge, an area I pass through so often but never really spend much time there. And really, that’s a crime! The place is bustling with touristy stuff, arts, lovely hotels to stay in, foodie delights and cultural crevices to really get into. Here’s what we got up to!
I’ve always wanted someone to take me up The Shard (wheyyyy) but it’s just one of those London things I’ve never done. The viewing platform is on floors 68-72 which I’ll admit is SUPER high. But it’s also SUPER expensive. Better option: go to one of the restaurants for a drink and take in the view from floor 31.
The drinks are pricey (even by London standards) BUT definitely cheaper than the viewing gallery. And you know, you get to have a drink so bonus. And to be fair, I was more than happy with this view!
YAS London you FIT GIRL! Well supped and fighting off minor vertigo, we scaled back down the building ready for our next stop!
Just a short walk from The Shard is London’s Glassblowing Centre. My fiancé has a weird obsession with giving up his job and just becoming a glassblower so he was very excited about this one. Having watched these artists at work though, I am PRETTY SURE it takes more than a romantic dream to make glassblowing a career!
The centre has an open studio so you can just pop in and watch these craftspeople at work. The space also acts as a mini gallery, showcasing work from these artists and guests as well. And it BLEW MY MIND (pun absolutely intended). Look at these beautiful pieces!!
Because I am selfless and kind I decided not to subject Ryan to an hour of me gawping at skirts and dresses and instead, took him for a pint.
There’s HEAPS of places to get a beer round here, though my favourite has to be The George Inn.
I mean can you get somewhere with more history?! I love the way the layout inside isn’t logical, the floors are wonky and the ceilings are low. If you can get a seat in the courtyard to look up at the beautiful gallery then so the better!
By now our tummies were definitely rumbling. Luckily though, London Bridge holds the jewel of the city’s foodie landscape in it’s paws- Borough Market.
Because the weather was so buff (sunny but with a lovely breeze, no more of this 34 degree nonsense thanks) we decided to pick up a picnic for dinner. And I mean, we were spoilt for choice.
Shoppings bags heaving, we marched onwards to our picnic spot. On our way, we passed the Old Operating Theatre Museum which we decided was a bit too grisly as pre-dinner viewing, but definitely somewhere I’d like to check out soon.
Just outside City Hall, The Scoop is an amphitheatre which puts on free theatre throughout the summer. We were there to catch ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ but DISASTER! They’d had a problem with power due to a leak and so the performance was cancelled. My heart nearly broke when I saw a little 4-year-old girl in her Dorothy Dress and mini ruby slippers (was tempted to put on a one woman version just for her but thought that might scare her a bit actually). But definitely do check it out, the power probs are now sorted and there’s a gorgeous bar there and a cracking view of Tower Bridge!
Still, we had a basket full of goodies to munch through (and my new shoes had given me a blister) so we hopped home and had our picnic in our garden instead which was just as lovely. After all…there’s no place like home!
31 years old, obsessed with pasta and yet I’d never been to Italy. I know, criminal right? Well all that CHANGED a couple of months ago with, what was probably, one of the best trips of my life. Remember when we met an amazing Sicilian chef, Matteo, who came to cook for us courtesy of La Belle Assiette? Well, he invited us out to his digs in Catania and promised to show us a WHOLE NEW WORLD of culinary delights.
And man, he did not disappoint.
Catania is on the Ionian coast of Sicily, standing in the wake of Mount Etna (which we flew right past on the inbound flight!).
A hop, skip and a jump from the airport and we were right in the thick of it. And guys, it is cool. The buildings are so epic and beautiful, with graffiti scrawled all over them with tonnes of attitude. It’s a University city, so there’s tonnes of students around, as well as hardened old fishermen flogging their wares at the world famous fish market, and opera lovers flocking to pay their dues to the town’s most famous resident, Bellini.
The main point of our trip was THE FOOD let’s be honest, but I’ll dedicate a WHOLE OTHER post about the restaurants and cafes we went to as it actually blew my mind.
As I’ve mentioned the fish market, lets start there. This is literally street theatre at its best. Every morning hundreds of traders gather to sell seafood straight off the boat from that night. From massive stalls with a gang of young men in tight t-shirts yelling about their wares, to solo old men with a solitary bucket of clams, there is all manner of life in between.
It is LOUD and theatrical. All along the perimeter are bars and cafes so you can grab a beer and a cone of some freshly fried squid and watch as things unfold. One morning we were there, a band starting playing and a bunch of fish vendors came out from behind their stalls and starting dancing with some Sicilian nonnas-honestly, you couldn’t write this stuff! (Vegan chums- look away now there’s some fishy pics coming up <3)
If fish are friends and not food- there’s still plenty on offer. Away from the pesce palace the surrounding streets erupt into a labyrinth of other stalls- fruits and veg as colourful as a laminated rainbow, freshly roasted nuts and seeds, cheese piled precariously high, piping hot roasted onions, soft loaves fresh from the oven- you name it, it’s here.
A few weeks ago, I was struggling. Struggling with a capital STR. I was utterly exhausted because I wasn’t sleeping. I was having the most intense, horrific, and upsetting nightmares. Like, this wasn’t my usual anxiety dreams about being onstage and not knowing what show I’m in (fun as THEY are). These were like, properly terrifying, dark, violent shit. It meant I was waking up in the night with a panic attack, and then not wanting to fall back asleep in case the ‘Mare came back and being super tired the next day (which spurs on my anxiety massively). The next day, in fact, I’d feel really emotional, almost ashamed that my brain had the ability to conjure up such fucked up stuff. I actually felt weirdly hungover? And that’s not fair unless you’ve had a belting drunken night where you snogged a boy in a taxi rank, took a traffic cone home with you and woke up with chips in your bed.
So I was VERY KEEN to make them go away. I asked my wonderful network of chums on Facebook and was AMAZED at how many people eagerly came forward to share similar stories and methods that have helped them in the quest for more restful sleep. THE REST QUEST if you will. I found it SOOOOOOOOOOOOO helpful that I thought I’d compile their advice into a handy blog post that I can access again when I need it, and hopefully it might help some other people too! Get ready to get yo sleep onnnn.
“Yoga before bed. These ones are great! The 30 minute one really works for me as once you get into bed the blood settles and it sends me straight into a deep sleep.”
Yoga For Bedtime - 20 Minute Practice - YouTube
Bedtime Yoga For A Good Night's Rest - 30 min Gentle Hatha Evening Yoga - YouTube
” I used to get them when I used to smoke. Now it’s cheese or beer before bed and they can get a bit weird. Lots of water and a bit of exercise helps!”
“I use guided sleep meditation stuff on YouTube, Julie Langton Smith and Micheal Sealey are both fantastic. Michael has guided sleep meditations for all sorts of stuff, anxiety, depression, spirit cleansing etc.”
“I found meditation helps. Joan Borysenko on YouTube does some good guided short ones really help quieten the mind.”
“Emotional Freedom Technique, and tapping is great for pain relief and energy zapping thoughts. It uses affirmations and mantras to focus your energy. There is LOADS of tapping stuff on YouTube. I started using it a few months ago and it seriously blew my mind. EFT sessions are great for root cause stuff and has really changed how I feel about myself and how my own story has helped me rather than hindered me. It is a bit ‘woo’ and spiritual for some people but as the converted sceptic I cannot recommend it enough!”
“Try to limit the amount of news you include in your daily life- obviously still be clued up on the world, but perhaps limit the amount of newspapers and TV news you consume on a daily basis- especially near bed time!”
“I get this really badly – and I also get sleep paralysis when I’m stressed or my mind is on other things. I Second what everyone has said about bed time routine / yoga / no phone. Also try wearing an eye mask to sleep, any light in your room can stop you from falling in to a deep sleep.”
“A decent quality CBD Oil. Huge overall health benefits including sleep, anxiety and inflammation which is huge for overall health.”- Note: I had a few suggestions for CBD oil, most commented that it was great but that it tastes like PURE ASS so if you’re going to try it go for capsules rather than the oil.
“Melatonin– it works a treat for me. As Mother Julian of Norwich said centuries ago “All will be well and all will be well and every kind of thing shall be well.”
“Magnesium an hour before bed!”- Note: Again, I had a few suggestions for magnesium!
“I used to get this with medication, and found particularly that the emotions I felt in the dream would stay with me for a long time. Bring it up with your GP but also feel reassured that it’s quite common, and maybe tell your lovely man or someone everything when you wake up, try and have a giggle about it and then reassure yourself that it was just your brain wandering. Brains are pretty clever, especially yours. We should at least let them party when we’re asleep! Be nice to yourself as much as you can, it’s a definite side-effect, medically. Your brain’s on a creative writing course while you’re asleep, but it’s determined to make it feel as real as possible.”
“This happens to me every time I increase my medication! It fully sucks but it is absolutely normal and something to do with your brain getting the chemical balance settled again apparently. Sacking off any technology at least an hour before bed and doing a bit of meditation can help but it will subside on it’s own within a week or two once the new dose settles. However, I can only speak from my own experience so definitely speak to your GP and keep them in the loop.”
“For me, dreams are always indirectly related to the stresses going on in my life. When things are hard, my dreams are worse. Taking care of myself in the day, changing my attitude to the problems I have, remembering how goddam awesome and capable I am, how valuable it is that I’m going through these difficulties and how I will definitely overcome them even if I don’t know how – all helps a little. And therapy and meditation. And chamomile tea.”
“Remember to take a good Zinc supplement every other day coupled with a vitamin C tablet which will displace some of the shitty symptoms that having high copper brings. Check out Copper Toxicity. It’s all about finding what works for you.”
I take passionflower extract before bed followed by spraying my body in magnesium spray (Just be aware, it hurts a bit at first). The passionflower is great for anxiety and slowing down your mind and the magnesium relaxes your muscles. Works well for me!”
“I actually get night terrors as well, which are quite rare for an adult. I’ve learnt that the reason for them (personally) is stress, excitement, or generally your subconscious going OH HI HELLO IM AWAKE AND IM BUSY BUSY BUSY. Best thing I’ve found is try and relax as much as humanly possible before bed; turn off anything with blue light at least an hour before getting your head down, and try and deal with whatever it is that’s making your brain go a bit haywire. My GP actually put me on mild antidepressants which I took at night as it calmed my brain down whilst I was sleeping.”
“When I was younger I used to have really bad nightmares. The main way I got through it was by really focusing on positive thoughts and essentially thinking of the things I wanted to dream of as I was falling asleep. I guess it was a form of meditation really!”
I have experienced short periods of very vivid unbelievably graphic and terrifying nightmares – usually triggered by stressful life events. I cut out alcohol and caffeine, increased water intake and exercise and tried dream incubation techniques. I haven’t used it but Imagery Rehearsal Therapy is a similar self help visualisation technique which gets good press and is an alternative to further medication. I personally feel that knowing your enemy puts the waking mind in control, for example reading up on what you are experiencing. You might be interested to read How to Stop Having Nightmares by Victor Schoenfield and/or Banishing Night Terrors and Nightmares by Carranza and Rogers.”- Note: The Victor Schoenfield book is currently on Kindle Unlimited if you have an Amazon Prime account!
“I’ve had night terrors since I was young. The only thing that stops them is guided meditation or listening to music or an episode of Friends to drift off to. For me it’s the silence that allows my overactive imagination to run wild.”
“I used to have horribly violent nightmares until I stopped eating sugar at night. We used to have tea and chocolate biscuits so I changed to plain toast and it has worked for me. I still need to be careful though, wouldn’t risk it now, used to wake up exhausted!”
“Have you tried Reflexology or massage? I’m biased, as a practitioner, but both are very helpful for relaxation of the nervous system (with massage simulating the brain wave lengths during sleep – they say an hours massage equals 8 hours sleep, I don’t quite buy it that much, but still think it’s good!) I’ve had a lot of success with patients for Reflexology – stimulating the endocrine system especially, plus both treatments are rather dreamy! Whatever you do chose a practitioner who is well qualified (there are so many levels) insured, and knows their stuff!”
“Not sure how severe this has got but if it’s is just really bad nightmares I’d say TACKLE THE FEAR. Figure out what the dream means – how much is nonsense, what is just association (a film you watched/book you read etc) and what bit is giving you a clue to an unresolved issue or fear. (It’s not always obvious/direct correlation) But it’s so helpful if you can unravel it!”
PHWOAR. How’s that for a bank of banging tips to try to up your sleep sitch?! So what worked for me? Well, I changed the time of my medication, I now wear a sexy eye mask to bed and I spray my pillows with Lush’s Twilight Body Spray for some lavender scented slumber. I try and keep my bedroom as cool as possible because I am a HOT sleeper and can confirm that the highest thread Egyptian Cotton bed linen is really really worth the investment (maybe ask for a John Lewis Voucher or summin’ for your birthday. Wow I’m old.) I shove an audiobook in my ears (usually Harry Potter tbh, I know it so well, it’s like a comfort blanket for my brain), or one of the sleep stories on the Calm App- they’re specially developed to get more ‘boring’ as they go along, so you’re not hooked into the sexy details of a sinister thriller or anything whilst you’re trying to drift off.
But probably the most effective thing I’ve done is got pretty darn strict about no screens after 9pm. I read, shower, prep my lunch for the next day, and if me and my chap are feeling particularly raunchy, we play a board game or listen to a radio programme, podcast or audiobook together. Granted, this rule means I can never watch ‘Love Island’ live, but it does genuinely mean that come 10pm my eyes and brain aren’t all fizzy and stimulated. I still pop a Nytol every now and then but I’m pretty happy with how things are at the moment!
I hope this post helps you get your lovely 8 hours in the land of Nod! Also, if you are on any medications I would just double check with your GP before you introduce any new vitamins or supplements, just to be on the safe side!
K BYE ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago (omg, thaaaanks I know I look v. good for my age) and to celebrate, I knew I wanted my faves around me, throwing back some booze and eating some delicious food.
However, I don’t know about you, but as I get older I am less and less bothered about going out and making a big fuss of my birthday. I like to chat to my loved ones, eat and drink lovely things, and at the end of it all, either roll into bed or into an Uber home. Luckily, La Belle Assiette were right on hand to ensure that this was exactly how I celebrated the big 3-1.
La Belle Assiette have an awesome concept. They have a whole range of private chefs on their books that specialise in all sorts of cuisine, and prices to suit most budgets. You choose your chef, discuss your menu with them and then on the night, they arrive at your house, prep and serve up a delicious 3 course dinner, and then tidy the kitchen and whisk themselves away into the night. The joy of restaurant quality food in the comfort of your own home. SOUNDS DREAMY RIGHT!?
I’ve actually worked with La Belle before and loved the experience, so was super excited to try out a different menu. Starting the evening as we meant to go on, I got my family round for some Pimms and beers in the garden. Look how lovely we are.
Then, our chef, the wonderful Matteo Casamichela arrived, and he and his assistant shimmied themselves into my kitchen to prepare our Sicilian Feast. We had discussed the menu earlier in the week and I was practically dancing with anticipation once I heard what he had it store. AND OH BOY did it deliver!
A silky risotto soon appeared in front of us, with vibrant red prawns sitting proudly on top. The prawns were PERFECT- a slight bite to them but not the rubbery pellets that you can often end up with. The lemon confit running through the dish pulled it all together and kept it super light, even though I usually think of risotto as being quite a rich dish.
Next up was a real showstopper- Smoked Wild Sicilian Octopus. Matteo had promised me that this particular tentacled treat was unlike any octopus I would have tried before. I smiled and nodded thinking, ‘I dunno mate, I’ve had me some pretty bitching fried calamari in my time,’ but after one taste, I was ready to eat my words (as well as the entire plateful of food)- he was totally right. The octopus was soft, buttery and delicate, with just that lovely suggestion of smoke. 12/10 would eat again. The roast garlic potatoes that the OctoYUM was sat astride were pretty special too.
Now, call us crazy, but we’re not massively ‘pudding’ people, so Matteo took this into consideration and very thoughtfully did us a cheese course instead, serving up three utterly spectacular Sicilian cheeses, all drizzled with basil infused honey (SUCH a game-changer by the way, so moreish!)
I loved how passionate Matteo was about the food from his home of Sicily. He was able to tell us about each ingredient and in particular, sang an absolute sonnet about the seafood. He painted an incredible picture of the food scene in Sicily- so much so that Ryan and I are spontaneously heading out there to check it out next week!
And then, just like that- it was done! Everyone was delightfully fed and watered, the kitchen was GLEAMING and once our Chefs had zoomed off into the night, we spent the rest of the evening declaring how fit the food had been and what a treat we’d had from La Belle Assiette. It may seem quite indulgent to book a private chef at home, but honestly? I don’t think it’s much more than what you’d spend going out for an (often average) dinner at a chain restaurant. And it’s certainly far more special.
REJOICE FOR IT IS MAY! THE MONTH OF MERRY BANK HOLIDAYS! Two in one bloody month, aren’t we lucky!?
For the first one, me and Him jaunted up to Liverpool to stay with my cousin and her husband- she’s making my WEDDING DRESS so I got measured and looked at fabrics and talked shapes and generally got REALLY JOLLY EXCITED GUYS. I’m going to look like a WOODLAND-FAIRY-DRAG-QUEEN-DOROTHY-FLOWER-EXTRAVAGANNNNNNNZA.
And amidst all the wedding chat we managed to explore the ‘Pool and guys- I was wooed. What a fucking city!! We’re gently looking at places in the North-West to eventually relocate to and honestly, I stepped into the city centre and immediately felt at home, and felt it was somewhere I could live. Near family? Check. Near water? Check. Amazing culture? Check. ALL THE MASSIVE BANTZ? CHECK CHECK CHECK.
First up was a stop at the Albert Dock for a few pints in the sunshine. Busy, bustling and full of folk enjoying the bank holiday lolz. We supped and laughed and properly caught up and I felt the freckles on my face start dancing under the sun rays (beneath the factor 50 obv).
Whilst there, we stopped off and did the proper tourist thing (well, I say ‘we’ did. My cousin & her husband as hardened natives to Liverpool said they would rather drink a cup of cold sick, so they went to the pub instead hahahaha). WE HAD TO.
And it was GREAT. We learned all about where our fave Mop haired musos grew up and how they went from four scallies to international megastars. All massive lads. I got strangely emotional learning all about the Fab Four, especially about the death of John Lennon. I wept!
After a day inhaling the best bits of the docks, we headed back to Penny Lane, played a bit of pool accompanied by a few pints, before settling into pizza and craft beer at New York style pizza joint, TriBeCa.
Sunday morning rolled round, and after a full English and cheeky bottle of prosecco in the garden (welllll we were on our holidays!!), off we went to Crosby Beach to check out Antony Gormley’s installation ‘Another Place’. 100 cast iron, life size statues dotted around the beach, all looking out to sea. As time goes on, the figures become more worn, marked and blighted by the sea. Looking at them evokes a feeling of eerieness and felt to me like a real comment on the current loneliness epidemic which affects so many (especially the elderly), and an expression of what it feels like to struggle with mental health issues. A feeling of helplessness, looking out to sea in hope of an answer, or perhaps more bleakly, an end.
Ryan interpreted the art somewhat differently….
Having had our hair whipped round our faces by the sea air (well, me, not so much Ryan), we jumped back into the car and sped off to one of the cities newest HOTSPOTS, the Cains Brewery.
This amazing space has been regenerated, and now hosts bars, restaurants, workspaces, artists studios, a vintage market, a street food hall, a rehearsal space and live music venues all in one. It’s AMAZING. We immediately dove into the food hall, and came out loaded with cans of cold craft beer, halloumi fries and a nacho loaded potatorpedo.
All around us there was live music, like literally around every corner. Everything from a covers band, to live DJs, to folk singers and opera singers. SO COOL. I wanted to spend the whole day there, hopping from bar to bar, but sadly, because I am a Gran I needed a nap. The Thug Lyfe chose me guys.
After a couple of pints at beaut old boozer Dovedale Towers, we feasted on Pan-Asian Tapas at Tiger Rock and rolled into bed, our tummies and hearts both full to bursting.
The whole weekend was a total blast from start to finish. Liverpool, you have stolen my heart, you big scally. I cannot WAIT to come back soon. LOVE YA LIKE YA, MISS YA KISS YA.
Do you ever feel like you can’t move without being bashed in the face by a trend? Like, a few years ago, everything was emblazoned with owls. Then pineapples. Then Cactuses. Now Flamingos are popping up all over the place. Who makes these decisions? (p.s definitely bought into all these trends. Our house is littered with copper and rose gold pineapple accoutrements.)
I notice it with phrases and lifestyle trends as well. We had ‘Clean Eating’ and lol look how well that turned out. We had ‘Hygge’ which saw us all raiding Ikea like it was doomsday, manically buying fleecy blankets and candles and making vast pots of casserole like it was going out of fashion. And now, we have Self-Care.
I feel like I cannot open any article, magazine, or even Twitter at the moment without some kind of self care shopping list being THRUSTED upon me. “21 Self-Care Products you Deserve!”, “18 Candles for Self-Care!”, “12 Things Anxious People NEED!” (hun, unless that list involves a night of avoiding social situations I doubt it’ll make much difference, and tbh I don’t think you can buy those at Urban Outfitters).
At first I thought it was quite nice, a more humble version of the catchphrase ‘Treat Yo’self’ (which, as catchphrases go, has been an aaaaabsolute disaster for my bank balance). And, as the dialogue from these articles and listicles seems to read, unless you buy all this stuff, you are not treating yourself with care. No care, no kindness and in doing so, you’re being irresponsible and not looking after yourself.
Now listen, I love me a Lush bath bomb as much as the next basic boo, but a bath bomb alone does not make for good mental health (omg I’m such a philosopher).
Trusty ol’ Wikipedia (p.s thanks Wikipedia for helping me get my undergrad degree love you boo) defines Self Care as: “any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated.”
So basically, a necessary thing you do for yourself. Much as I’d love to argue that Lush products are a basic human right, on days when I need to care for myself the most, an indulgent bubble bath is the last thing on my mind.
For me, on those days when my brain is fully tangled, my panic goes into overdrive or my depression strikes, making me lethargic and apathetic, self-care turns into something much more low key. As I get older and I become an old hand at tussling with my own brain, I recognise that there is a wee voice that helps me to take care of myself, even amongst the stronger, louder voice that tells me I suck and everyone hates me.
That little wee voice helps me to look after myself by helping me get out of bed. She helps me to shower and wash my face and put on clean, comfortable clothes that make me feel safe. She reminds me to put on my Harry Potter audiobooks on my battered old iPod because she knows that they calm me down. She says, “Eat something that you know is good for you, your body deserves to have fruit and vegetables inside it.” She knows that sometimes I need to just be at home, being quiet and feeling safe inside that silent space. She helps me to say ‘No’ to things I don’t want to do. She tells me to get an early night, and I listen and am in bed by 9pm and feel worlds better for it the next day. She hears when I’m beating myself up and gently asks me to stop, and say kinder things to myself. She sees when the day will just be too much and gives me the courage to ask my boss if I can work at home rather than face a commute and interacting with the world all day. She is my Queen of Self-Care.
And she lives inside my head. She helps me to exist alongside my brain when it misbehaves and my body when I don’t think it’s good enough. What a hero! She didn’t always exist, she’s a fairly new tenant. sprung up as a result of the work I’ve been doing to improve my self esteem and manage my anxiety/depression.
So for me, this is what self-care looks like. Sure, I still like a hot bubble bath after a long day at work (and huns, I just invested in one of those bath caddy things which has a drinks holder and a tea light holder and a place for my kindle and lemme tell ya it has revolutionised my bathtime), and I sometimes feel like the strongest version of myself when I’ve got a full face on and freshly painted nails. But I still think Self-Care at its truest form, is making sure you, your mind, and your body have what they need at their very base level in order for you to go forth and slaaaay the universe. Everything else is just the bath-bomb shaped cherry on the cake.