UNI + LIFE UPDATE.

The summer is nearly over and I can definitely say it’s been one of the best yet. I’m preparing to start back at uni in 5 weeks. So I thought I’d let you know what’s happening in my world.

Firstly my uni are being a tad uncooperative as some of you know I opted to resit the last academic year. A few weeks ago I got an email, saying that I needed to explain why I should be allowed to resit the academic year uncapped (meaning all my assessments and exams aren’t capped at 40% and it’s not considered a 2nd attempt). Bearing in mind my uni have a student maternity and pregnancy policy it’s like 20 pages I’ve read it cover to cover: nowhere does it mention being capped and it does say that you can opt to defer or resit the year at any time. So I guess this is just part of the bureaucracy of being a student mama and I’m gonna whack out a great explanation.

My relationship has been wild we’re new parents and I can’t say it’s been easy! We went through a VERY rough time I’d love to say patch but it was longer than that. I don’t enjoy talking about those sorts of things but my first ever post was called HONESTY and I will always do my best to be true to it. Ed and I love each other we’ve been together 4 and a half years but it was only a year ago we learned each other from the inside out.
As parents I think we’re bloody good and there’s always room for improvement but as a result of us focusing on Sans we neglected each other a bit. We’ve recently been taking active steps to ensure that things get better and so far so good. I will say a lady said to me a couple of weeks ago, “I questioned why I was with my partner a few times during the 1st year it’s normal”. Now their little girl is 5 so one can live in hope.

On Wednesday Sanaa and I are going to Berlin with my neighbour/friend/confidant/pushchair cover maker extraordinaire. Please send me places to go and things to do I’ve never been before but I’m very excited it’s going to be another BBB Travels adventure. After that I’ll have 4 weeks on the university countdown so I’m not sure how many more places we’ll go but this wouldn’t be a bad final stop.

Sanaa’s going into childcare I don’t know if it’s going to be a childminder, nanny or nursery yet I have my preferences but if I’m honest I’d just like to keep her with me all the time but mama’s gotta learn. It’s already making me feel nervous but also excited for all the things she’ll learn and friends she’s going to make.

I’ve met some incredible people since I made the leap outside of my house after 4 months. We as a family have also had immeasurable amounts of support and love from friends and family. The way the past few months have gone I couldn’t have imagined and Sanaa won’t remember it at all. However, through one of the largest growth periods I’ve experienced I’d like to say thank you to everyone who’s been apart of it thus far. Without knowing so there’s been days where you guys kept me sane.

I’ll be taking time off of social media and blog as and when I can for a few weeks once I’ve started uni so we can navigate our new routine. At this stage in life I feel as though I’m just settling into the new normal and things are about to change again. This is also part of being a mum, a student and a person, so on to the next chapter.

FEARLESS.

It has never been my aim to be fearless nor was it to be brave. I just wanted to live in the most unrestricted way possible. I just wanted to live.

How do you do it they ask, weren’t you scared? ABSOLUTELY!Most of the time when doing something new I get all the jitters and bubble guts. But I’ve learnt how to direct that nervous energy. I find it focuses me because due to my state of mind I don’t have room in my brain for all the usual traffic. I knew that life would change tremendously after Sanaa was born and with university out for the summer I thought I have to make the most of it.
All the places I’ve wanted to see and all the things I’ve wanted to do. Instead of waiting until “next year” I chose to do them now. The idea of being as free as I have been over the summer, especially with a baby was alien to me before and I still wouldn’t call myself adventurous.
What I would call myself is gobby.

That’s been  the trick to my summer with Sans; to tell people my plans. Procrastinating is my favourite past time and chickening out of plans is a close second. However, if I tell people what I’m going to do I feel like it’d be embarrassing to say well actually I flaked out:  so I could have a duvet day. There’s an air of accountability I adhere to once I’ve solidified plans in conversation. My aim was to experience things now so I don’t regret it then. My aim was to lead by example and if you think it’s easier now seeing as I’m always doing something new guess again.
I perspire like a chargrilled hog at the thought of some outings. It’s a good thing though it means I’m getting outside my comfort zone and doing what I set out to.

But, it has never been my aim to be fearless I just wanted to live.

LIVERPOOL.

This is the first time that I’d EVER been so far north and oh boy was I excited. As always, Sanaa and I were off on our jollies with our sturdy 4×4 (Bugaboo Cameleon). The destination was Liverpool; I don’t know if it was just the idea of new accents or going somewhere well known for their regional identity, but despite the gloomy morning, I was very optimistic for the day.

Brixton is my home underground station and we needed to get the Victoria line straight to Euston to get a Virgin Train to Liverpool Lime Street station, which is the closest to their town centre. All the stations had step free access, thank god, and it made the journey so much easier. Virgin trains are plush compared to all the other railway networks we’ve been on this summer. My advice is that you try and reserve a seat beforehand, as most people do, and you can also reserve the wheelchair space (there’s 4 in each carriage). The staff were so attentive, polite and friendly and there’s a shop in the middle of the train which has teas, coffee and light refreshments. Also, they have nice loos which, trust me, is unusual for a train. Anyway, this piece is about the city of Liverpool, not the fancy train we took.

Lime Street Station was super easy to navigate and built on a hill so as soon as you walk out you can see the bus station and one of the shopping centres. As soon as we started to walk around one of the first things I noticed was the architecture. It was all very grand, stone buildings and my guess is that they were mostly built in the Georgian and Victorian era.

I decided to just go for a walk which is not typical of my usual day trips and here’s what I found: the people of Liverpool are so welcoming. Everyone calls you ‘love’ and asks what you think of the town and if you like it.

Everything is cheaper than its London equivalent, that includes big stores and supermarkets. However, although it may seem unfair, I suspect it has something to do with the living standards in Liverpool being lower than the capital in general.They are incredibly baby friendly as a city and everything is very accessible but that’s also because everyone has a baby and if, like me, you watch the new season of One Born Every Minute then you can see why.

Finally, I have one word, glamour! My gosh were they dressed to the nines, there were no special events or anything. But, the Liverpudlian lot looked so glamorous and every street corner had an ad for brows or other cosmetics.

In the middle of Liverpool there’s a huge shopping street also they have a Liverpool 1 shopping complex with a cinema and lots of places to eat. This is where Sans and I stopped for lunch in Pizza hut with the kindest waitress who loved to see babies and spoilt her rotten while I ate. Liverpool1 also have around 8 fully working and tuned pianos with money buckets attached, I thought it was such a nice touch as it encourages people to busk and listen to some live music. It’s also a good and subtle nod to the city’s musical heritage. Behind the shopping area was my personal highlight of the day, Albert Dock.

Albert Dock

Albert Dock photo courtesy of visitliverpool.com

mattel play

Mattel Play! photo courtesy of liverpoolecho.co.uk

liverpool 1 piano

Liverpool1 Piano photo courtesy of liverpool-one.com

Made up of a few independent shops, a Mattel play and many of the national Liverpool museums. I went into the Merseyside Maritime museum which is home to many exhibitions and on the 3rd floor it has the International Museum of Slavery. I found the museum fantastic, the transatlantic slave trade is always a subject that can cause discomfort for descendants of both sides of the tale but I feel that the story was told truthfully, accurately and most of all, sensitively. It also explored what Africa had been like prior to colonisation as well as the long-lasting effects of what slavery had caused, and the diaspora it created. Entry to the museum was free, it had lifts and a cafe, too. I would recommend going to have a look but if you’d rather something else all national Liverpool museums are free and there are some paid ones too, such as Tate Liverpool.

My last stop was Mattel Play! there are only 2 in the world and I didn’t have much time before we had to catch our train home. Bless them. I was asking so many questions they just gave us (me) a tour. It’s a play zone for kids with no upper age limit they only have themes which include male and female characters to make it feel inclusive. They do supervised autism sessions so carers can have an hour or two to relax and have a cuppa if need be. Mattel Play! also do kids parties and have buggy parks, a lift and lockers. In short, they’ve got it all covered.

Then we had a mad dash to the station to catch the train home. I absolutely loved Liverpool, I was way better than I had imagined and I’m going back again soon because I barely scratched the surface. The city has over 25000 acres of parks alone and I didn’t make it to one. So of course, Sefton Park will be my first stop next time. Thanks for having us Liverpool, the pleasure was all mine.

NEXT STOP: Wilderness Festival 

BBB Travels are independent reviews by booksbabyandback.com

CATHARSIS.

I wish I could explain my methods, I wish I could immerse you in my systems.

Yet, I have no definition.
What I do know is between 2 and 5am is my creative window. When my art flows like wind on a clear day. All chaotic, free and untraceable. This is when I’m compelled to document all that comes to me, in the notion that something will stick. This is also when my flat is silent: not a she’s gone quiet is she okay type or a has he fallen asleep while we watch a movie type. It’s a I’m alone with my thoughts type.

At the onset of this blogging journey I only had one goal in mind. To positively inspire or affect someones life. I felt if a single person found comfort in my discomfort, I would have changed the world for better. I felt that like me your corner of the earth is significant and in times where one may forget, here reminder could be found.

The last time I wrote so much I was in school, I was about 15 or 16 I thought it was writers block but I didn’t write for at least 6 years. So imagine my joy at being able to write again.

 I hope it’ll last my lifetime but I realise that at this stage in my life it’s my purpose. Its my opportunity to bathe in my abilities, to absorb my talent, to refine my craft and cleanse my ego. The ease that these past few months have been creatively, can only be recognised as one thing.

My season.

Everyone has a period of time where things just fall into place, where nothing is perfect but everything makes sense. Currently I’m flourishing in my season.

I enjoy what I do however I’m always dubious to feel pride. That would mean I care in a fashion I’m yet to admit. It would also mean the belief in myself that was so fragile has become unyielding. My intentions were to name this piece inspiration but in this sentence I realise the narrative is therapy.

CAMBRIDGE.

On Wednesday we went to Cambridge, the famous university town. As always Sanaa’s trusty 4×4 (bugaboo cameleon 2nd gen) came with us. Cambridge’s reputation precedes it so I had high hopes.

The journey was so fast and straight forward it’s a wonder it’s taken me so long to go. From Brixton underground, we caught the tube to Kings Cross and from there we could get a fast train to Cambridge. It was a Great Northern train that got us there, I’ve never been on one before but they’re quite nice. The pushchair space also doubles up as wheelchair space too (only downside it’s next to the loos, they’ve got a baby change in them which sort of makes up for it) and can accommodate 3 pushchairs so a fun day out with friends and babies is easily obtainable. All together in less than an hour and 30 minutes we were at Cambridge station. All 3 stations had street to platform step free access, wahey that’s a first!

I had a browse around online for points of interest and things I might like to see but I didn’t really do much planning, so instead of heading somewhere straight away I decided to go for a walk. There were street signs pointing towards the university buildings and town centre so I just headed in that direction. About a 5 minute walk down the road and we came to the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. It £5.50 for adults £4.95 for concessions and under 16’s go free. As you can imagine there was a plethora of greenery. The fountain is a good place to remember because no matter how lost you get if you head back to it, you know the exits aren’t far. My top pick would have to be the Glasshouse Range, which are essentially deluxe open greenhouses. Each one comprised of micro plant ecosystems from around the world, it’s a sight to see! I’d say in hindsight, the botanic garden could have been my favourite part of the day but we got attacked by swarms of thunder flies, obviously it’s unavoidable; certainly it didn’t help that the 4×4 is so colourful I think the whole colony showed up.

Straight up the road with some local directions and the odd road closed due to works is the Fitzwilliam museum. My description of the Fitzwilliam museum is: if the British Museum had a younger sister which solely focused on the Old World it would be this place. There were loads of artefacts and collections, they allow photography if there’s no flash. The free entry is a bonus also they have different play packs to keep little ones occupied. For babies, they had a sensory mat with blocks and different textures. The guy at the front desk said we could use it anywhere, including near the open exhibitions it was nice to be in such a relaxed environment and Sans loved playing too. Alongside their constant installations they also have a few temporary exhibitions currently there are two to mark the 70th anniversary of Indian independence. For more information, you can find their website here.

After we left the museum Sans was fast asleep so I went for a stroll and ended up outside Kings College. It’s open to visitors for around £6 but if you don’t fancy paying most of the other colleges are free just check if they’re open for visiting the day you want to go. I can see why Kings charges for entry though, the architecture is so detailed and grandiose it almost has a magical feel to it. Coincidentally it was graduation day so all the students were walking out in their distinctive Cambridge university robes.

As Cambridge is quite small and everything is within walking distance there were only two things left to do on my list. A good friend of mine told me to go to Fitzbillies, a world-renowned bakery that’s been a staple in Cambridge since its doors opened nearly 100 years ago in 1921. They’re mostly well recognised for their Chelsea buns which have a distinctive syrup glaze. Of course, I had to try one and yep they’re as good as they sound! The decor of the whole shop feels like you’ve gone back in time its been preserved well. Fitzbillies also sell other cakes, sweet treats and have a full menu and an adjoining sandwich shop.

No more than 3 minutes walk west of the shop is the River Cam, where we were had a clear view of the Mathematical Bridge in Queens College and people punting along the river. I’m still not sure what you call the people who row the boats, in my opinion it makes sense to call them punters but apparently that’s not the correct term. So anyway, I’d have loved to take Sans on the river but the 4×4 simply wouldn’t make it on the boat.

Cambridge is a nice place and I did enjoy our time there however I found it slightly boring in comparison to my expectations. Possibly because Sanaa isn’t walking yet so most of the “attractions” had an understated effect. In addition, the pavements were mostly cobbled and narrow so getting around proved testing at times. Unless your aim is to go and relax not explore, I’d recommend Cambridge as a visit from London but a whole day was far too much time. The quiet was welcome nonetheless, just past our buzzing city it’s pleasing to know peace is near.

There aren’t any photos this trip because I forgot my camera and only had my phone which took DREADFUL pics.

NEXT STOP: Liverpool 

BBB Travels are independent reviews by booksbabyandback.com

ADELE.

So I know in retrospective I shared with you how I found out I was pregnant and how it felt.

What I didn’t tell you about was the day after.
It was the most anticipated day of my year so far. I along with my boyfriends sister was off to see Adele, for my first ever concert.

In 2011 she released an album: 21. I was 17 I had just left home and had a pretty crappy break up (another story for another day).
On that album like 19 and like the rest of the world I was in awe, the songs resonated with me in such a personal way. It was her coming of age that struck me as so honest. Nevertheless, I was already a bit of a superfan not a creepy one though honest. When the day before the concert came, my life as I knew it changed.

 I was 6 weeks past a mess and didn’t even want to go to the corner shop, much less to see Adele. I ended up going after all, my boyfriends sister is visually impaired and wouldn’t have been able to go without me. The news was so fresh I definitely wasn’t trying to tell her but she knew something was up.
I would have managed to keep it together for those few hours. However, Adele opened the show letting the audience know it was the 1st show on the tour her son had seen her perform. Along with talking about why she took a break from music. Her words were I had a baby.

She then went on to talk about how her start was wobbly, she had baby blues and had to figure some stuff out. I literally burst into tears. Can you imagine that, you’re finally getting to watch someone you idolise and their life experiences make you feel even more despair ?!?!?!? The water works continued on and off the whole show which was still as amazing as I knew it would be but my news had me preoccupied. That was only March 2016 and now a year later, with bundles of life experiences myself.

I get what she was trying to say. Life happened on a very primal level but because of that encounter I know myself better and I’m okay now.

I get it because famous or not some things are a rights of passage that you come out the other side and reflect on how much you’ve grown. Somehow, again with my boyfriends sister tonight the universe has given us a do over. We’re off to see Adele woohoo, I’ll probably cry again because of how moving her music is and because of how incredible the past 15 months have been.

Particularly because that night, I thought my life was about to be over when truly being a mum has been the making of me.
I can proudly say I’m okay now.

GRATITUDE.

How much thought do you give to being thankful? I mean seriously carving time out and basking in the ambience of gratitude. Personally speaking, I can say I’m acutely aware and appreciative of all the good in my life. I can also say that I’ve never sat down and taken a few hours out of my day to focus solely on them.
Well that all changed last month! I went to an event and the best description I could give is, if meditation, happiness and gift swapping had a baby it would be Gratitude Circle!
The premise of the space is that you come and share all you are thankful for, along with all you want to be thankful for. Directing all of your energy into those thoughts through meditation under the soothing guidance of Aziza Francis.
Sharing such a pure and sincere experience. With people who had all come into the space, with the same positive intentions was a powerful thing. Particularly when living in London right now has so much caution attached it’s calming to pinpoint the rhythm of your own thoughts. Finally as a further thank you for being there you do the (surprise)gift swapping, I got some art work from Pearl Ivy and I gifted a leather bound journal. In the hope that preserving the words of someones life, will aid in the reflection upon their journey. I left feeling all radiant and full of optimism, it was the best 2 hours I’ve had in a while.

 

This was an independent review by booksbabyandback.com