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.

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Now we’re adults and we understand the world just that little bit more. Experiences have allowed us to feel and love with belief tantamount to happiness. Our little girl gets the most refined versions of us because we know what it meant when we were less. The days you’ve  spent nurturing your individuality, so she knows and has an example of the good person you are is telling.
You wanted children more than I did, I always knew you’d be a good dad but you’re more than that. You’re the best dad and it shows how much you care. Getting up in the middle of the night to check she’s alive so I can sleep is something my dear. Taking a job that let’s you work from home so you’re around for all the firsts was so endearing. The logistics of how our madhouse works aren’t important because of our efforts we manage it.
As you always remind me when I’m having a “let’s plan the next 10 years so we’re sure life will be alright” moment, we have the rest of our lives ahead of us and we’ve come so far already.
The days after we got home from the hospital shell shocked and unsure of what to do. You said to me it’s fine we’ll figure it out together and boy we did. With the support from our really helpful family and friends we cultivated a family. May the idea that this is forever always remind us of the value in our jobs as parents. The responsibility we have interpreting the world for her young mind to absorb is one you take seriously with pride. In truth you’re not doing anything out of the ordinary.
You’re doing what you signed up for.
You’re being a man I respect and following through on your promise.
You’re doing the only task for which no preparation is enough.
You’re being her one and only.
You’re being her dad.

A bond which is incomparable, yet so necessary.
A lifeline which can alter a whole being. A dad and his daughter. December 2014 I began on a journey to fix what not having a present dad had done to me, that among other things. The influence of the lack of fatherly presence on my life is something I chose to “overcome”. It’s something I felt had never really affected me.
I’d never known any different, I’d always had pretty stable male figures in my life and family so what’s a missing dad, right?!?
If only it was that simple pregnancy taught me my “overcoming” wasn’t really over; My fears weren’t gone they were suppressed!
It didn’t matter to me the semantics of a two decade odd breakdown that I became a product of. What mattered  was the outcome.
What mattered was that I was 22 pregnant and couldn’t imagine a future where we celebrated fathers day, all woke up under one roof, had family dinners and communicated as parents without the assistance of third parties. Reason being I had never experienced any of those things not even once. I was faced with a realisation, that I was the product of a broken home and as a result my belief in the family unit was also broken.
This wasn’t a question of good or bad people nor was it a question of good or bad decisions,  it was a question of consequence.
Was the naivety that happy ever after existed a contributing factor to why happy ever after never came? Would it be my fear or his certainty that prevailed. Although it was only a few roads between our childhood homes they didn’t just separate us physically. They taught him family is everything and any sacrifice for the wellbeing of the collective is imperative. They taught him dads come home after work and tell you to listen to your mum. They taught me I have the most phenomenal godfathers in the world and my grandad is a bad ass even though he gave me my first drink of Caribbean rum at 14.

I know every single Londoner at some point does a day trip to the seaside which is usually Brighton. Believe it or not, I’ve never done one so naturally when I was deciding all the places to add to my BBB Travel list Brighton was at the top. With our 4×4 (bugaboo cameleon 2nd gen) Sanaa and I were ready for our next destination.
It was a small family trip this time, my mums birthday was the day after I had planned to go to Brighton and she had already said she wanted to come. I went over the day prior to book train tickets and be that extra bit organised. This isn’t necessary though you can easily turn up and buy a ticket at the station.
On Thursday morning, we met at Brixton station which has street to platform step free access and caught the tube to London Bridge which also has step free access platform to street. London Bridge station is currently undergoing a huge renovation so there’s a tunnel which is also about a 5 minute walk linking the National Rail platforms to the tube. The train we were catching was direct but you can also get direct trains from East Croydon and London Victoria, from anywhere in this amazing city it shouldn’t take more than 1hr 30 mins. Southern trains do have multipurpose space for pushchairs wheelchairs and bicycles but they’re a lot narrower and there’s only space for 1 in each carriage.
When we got into Brighton I was pleasantly surprised to see that the platform was level to the street and there was no need to call a taxi as the rank was outside. The best bit is that they had EVERY size car from saloon to minivans with ramps and all the accessibility bells and whistles, so I didn’t even need to break down the 4×4.
Our first stop was the Royal Pavilion (20-30 mins walk or 8 minute ride from the station). I bought the tickets and also cream tea online but they can be bought at the reception desk. Hand on heart I can say I’ve never seen such an aesthetically beautiful building from the 19th century, set out across 2 floors. The Pavilion was amazing well preserved you’d be shocked at how small the beds were and how big the kitchens were too. I would recommend the audio tour which isn’t usually something I would go for but I will say it did enhance the tour of the property especially as there aren’t guides for individual groups. Most artefacts were originals and of course all the decorations were grandiose and super colourful, there was a strong eastern influence (oriental interior/Indian exterior) consistent throughout. My description by no means does it justice and no pictures are allowed to be taken anywhere inside, they’re pretty strict about it too. Good news is that the restaurant where we had cream tea (scrumptious) has a terrace which overlooks the entrance and grounds where you can sit out but also take pictures, hooray!

As many good features as the Pavilion had, here’s a few bits and bobs I could have done without. Firstly, there is only one baby changing facility in the entire building, in addition to this in terms of accessibility and pushchairs it’s pretty pants there are no lift or escalators. There is a good reason though the building is grade 1 listed so no changes are permitted internally or externally unless they’re absolutely necessary. The Royal Pavilion does have a buggy park and a heap of really helpful staff who are always nearby. Overall, I would visit again when Sanaa is older, I think it’s a fantastic place for a toddler or older child to learn from and explore.
After we left the Pavilion we walked down to the beach which took around 10 minutes but we were strolling. It was such a nice sunny day and slightly busy too, compared to London I’d say nothing is ever too busy though. Right off the road was the famous Brighton Pier who knew it was so massive ; which has every single arcade game you could ever think of. It gives you a great sense of nostalgia and hours alone could be spent there. At the very end, there are some rides and rollercoasters overlooking the sea depending on how adventurous you are. We had fish and chips for lunch at the beach from a place called Seasiders it was way more food than I could eat, reasonably priced and tasty and fresh. Meanwhile, after much tugging and pushing (no not my labour) with the 4×4 Sanaa sat in her bassinet and had a whiff of the sea air then fell asleep while her gran and I had lunch. After a fun day out it was back home to London.
NEXT STOP: Cambridge
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I went to see a doctor this week specifically to talk about my lady garden. Things have changed since Sanaa’s come along. If I’m honest I like my body a whole lot less, I notice the creases and rolls a whole lot more. I like the jiggle a whole lot less, a lot less than I did before. Upon my reflection my adjectives are harsher than they should be, colder than they need to be. Admitting I love what my body did and not what it has become is hard and my gosh I hope that one day I will love it even more than I do today. I understand that everything was necessary but it has caused me to become more introverted my internal monologue has become more of a voice of reason than anything. It talks me out of feelings that I’d rather wallow in and ones I’d rather avoid. It reminds me that while I see lot I should only be seeing the authentic reality of what we created and that I have to help myself to be kind to myself so my daughter can be kind to herself too. When I cried at the thought of walking back into a hospital because of how traumatic my labour was and avoided it for 3 months, it taught me to take pride in a sentence; I went to see a doctor this week specifically to talk about my lady garden.