A Little Life Update

Hello. Remember me? It’s been a little while since I’ve written but I thought I’d update you on what’s been happening chez Sutton. The main time sucker, has been my new job. Yup, at 47, and after 4 years of working for myself, I’ve gone back to office work and boy, has it been a baptism of fire.

 

I’ve been at my new job for a week and as I write this, I’m full of cold, exhausted, and wondering if I’ve done the right thing taking on more work. But it would be unprofessional of me to talk about the job I think, so I’ll just say that it’s early days and I need to see if they’re a good fit for me, and vice versa. So that’s probably all I should say about that really.

 

Having a new office-based 9-5 means that I now have to fit everything that still needs to be done around it, and that includes my freelance client and blogging work. So I’m up mega early to work … before I actually leave to go to work. I only get 30 minutes for lunch, so that’s spent working too, and then when I get home, the first thing I do is, you’ve guessed it, do more work. In and around that, I have to somehow fit in grocery shopping, housework, cooking an evening dinner and the gym. Oh and spend some time with Dexter.

 

First day at work outfit:

 

 

The gym. Ah yes. I only managed to go once last week and I literally had to force myself to go. When I’m feeling better, the plan is to take my gym bag to work and go to the gym on my way home so I’ll get to the gym for 6pm, work out for an hour, and get home for 7-ish. But then that means Dexter has to cook his own dinner, and I have to work late into the night.

 

Proof I at least made it to the gym car park:

 

 

I’ll be honest, I have always been a glass is half full kinda person, and I’ve always felt I can do anything I put my mind to. My benchmark was doing a degree in my late 30s, whilst raising a family single handedly whilst working in the holidays, so my thinking has always been that if I could do that, I can do anything. But I am beginning to wonder how I’m going to manage it all. I haven’t been ill (cold-wise) for a year or so, I’m just *touch wood* not a very sickly person, so the fact I’m ill already, after only a week of this new routine, has me worried.

 

Briefly onto dating. I haven’t dated in weeks – a long time in the online dating world – the penultimate one being that fella that drove from Brighton to meet me (did I ever tell you about the weird woman that came up to me not once, but twice during our date in the pub, to stroke my hair and tell me about the new religion she’d created)? Yeah, not surprised I didn’t hear from him again tbh. And then the guy that I had a Chinese meal with, who then got a ticket on his car, and we kissed in his car, and made plans to see each other again the following week, only for him to completely ghost me. So that was my last dabble, so to speak. I’m speaking to one guy at the moment who seems relatively normal, but then they all do at this stage! And also, he’s training for the London Marathon, so I hope to God he doesn’t expect me to share his love of running – my left hip is still in agony after a 6-minute jog I did on the treadmill in January. 

 

I think a lot of women my age feel like they have to do it all. I’ve always felt like that, even when I’ve had a partner, and for me, being a single parent, I do have to do it all otherwise it won’t get done. But what I have learnt over the years is that nothing is worth getting ill over. No job, and especially no man, so I’m going to see how I fare over the next few weeks. I’m hoping that my body is just adjusting to the increased workload and that I’ll cope, because I’m a great coper you know … just pile everything on top of me and I’ll find a way to get it done, but at what cost?

 

Health is everything. As you know I lost Mum aged 60 and I’m nearly 50 so really, I have to listen to my body. And my body is telling me to make brownies, so that’s what I’m going to do!

 

I’d love to hear from you if you also work several jobs – I think I need to hear of shortcuts that are going to make my life easier. I’ve thought about getting a cleaner again, and I’ve forked out for some nice M&S ready meals for Dexter so that whilst we both adjust, at least the poor kid won’t starve. So any tips you can give me would be most useful, thanks.

 

kate sutton

My Top 5 Tips For a Great Night’s Sleep

January was an awful month for my sleep pattern. I strangely woke at 4am every morning, without fail, and at the time I didn’t understand why. I knew I was a little more stressed than usual, but why was I waking at exactly the same time every day? And then I figured it out.

 

My tax bill was due and I hadn’t filed my accounts.

 

It wasn’t that I wasn’t going to do it (honest), I just kept putting it off (and off) until it built up into such a mammoth task that clearly my subconscious was like, “OK Kate, you’re not going to get a decent night’s sleep until you get on top of this.” And would you Adam and Eve it … as soon as I filed them, paid my tax (all on time) I slept like a baby.

 

But you can see how sensitive I am to stress and the first thing that is affected is always my sleep. The second thing is my diet, but I’ll come onto that another time. (Hello weight gain.) So when Feather & Down got in touch and asked if I’d like to try out their Pillow Spray I bit their metaphorical hand off.

 

I’ve used a pillow spray before and loved it, but it was really expensive and I just couldn’t afford to keep buying it. This spray from Feather & Down is a very reasonable £7, so, providing it works, I’ll be happy to invest in that. Also, compared to the This Works Deep Pillow Spray (£18), it’s a significant saving of 61%. Oh, and you can only buy the Feather & Down range either from their website or from Boots.

 

great night's sleep

 

I’ve been using the spray for a week now and can honestly say that I love it. It has a beautiful lavender and camomile scent but isn’t too overpowering, and it reminds me of the type of smell you get when you go for a massage at a posh spa. I always manage to fall asleep easily but I’m finding I’m not waking up as early so there’s definitely something to it. I tend to also spritz a bit around the room in the hour leading up to bedtime so as I’m chilling in bed watching TV, I’m breathing it in.

 

Anyway, it’s National Bed Month so I thought this post would be quite apt, especially if you struggle with sleep like I’ve done in the past. So here are my top five tips for a great night’s sleep.

 

1.  Leave technology downstairs

If, like me, you’re on your laptop all the time, even if it is for work, leave it downstairs when you go to bed. I’m naughty and often take it to bed with me and find that my brain is whirring away a lot more as I’m surfing the net, watching TV, chatting with friends … and now I’ve stupidly installed Whatsapp on my laptop (yup, only just realised that’s a thing), and now there’s no getting away from chatting online. So do as I say and not as I do and leave that laptop downstairs. I’d suggest leaving your phone downstairs too but let’s face it, that’s just ridiculous.

 

2.  Have a hot bath

“Have a hot bath” is my advice to most problems to be honest. Stressed? Have a hot bath! Man troubles? Hey, have a hot bath! Cramps? Hot bath. Bored? Cold? Hungry? A hot bath solves everything, am I right?

 

3.  Make your room smell nice

I’ve explained why a pillow spray works for me, but I also use a lavender plugin so I’m double lavendered. Feather & Down also sent me a body wash and sleep balm, which I rub onto my pulse points after my bath and before bed. Basically, if I am ever to get a boyfriend again, they’re going to have to like lavender as much as I do.

 

4.  Read

I don’t read nearly enough but whenever I do, it sends me to sleep every single time. And I’m not talking reading a chapter. I’m talking reading two pages. I don’t know what it is, but I can never keep my eyes open as soon as I try and read a book. Which is why I have a massive shelf of shame full of books I haven’t read.

 

5.  Listen to downloads/audiobooks

I have a couple of bespoke downloads on my phone that I listen to every night, as they’re meant to talk to my subconscious as I sleep. One of them was recorded by a therapist I used to see and it helps me with my enclosed spaces issue, and the other is my Slimpod from Thinking Slimmer. Can’t recommend the Slimpods enough.

kate sutton

 

This post is in collaboration with Feather & Down

Quick Q&A With Me

I’ve written a couple of emotional blog posts lately – 4 Years Ago Today and The Morning After – and I feel a little … spent. So, when my friend Molly from Mother’s Always Right tagged me in a Q&A, I thought it would be fun, and you’ll hopefully you’ll get to know me a little better. (Molly has a great YouTube channel too, so do check her out.) Anyway, this is just a bit of fun, so onto the questions!

 

When was the last time you cried?

Now I wouldn’t say I cry a lot per se, but I am in touch with my emotions so the slightest thing can set me off. The week running up to Mother’s Day was hard but I also cried watching The Bachelor last night, a video of the ICU Grandpa (an old man who visits poorly babies in intensive care), and when I read what Dexter had written in my Mother’s Day card. Although, of course, with him being a teenager I can only share it with you on pain of death. Soz.

 

If you were another person, would you be a friend of yourself?

Totally. (So modest.) But I try and be the type of friend that I would want. Same as when you’re a partner – treating others how you want to be treated. I think (hope) I have a lot of qualities that make me a good friend.

 

Do you use sarcasm a lot?

Noooo, never! Also, sarcasm IS the highest form of wit. Fact.

 

What’s the first thing you notice about people?

Clichéd, but a big smile and sparkly eyes. I’m always very wary of people that don’t smile with their eyes, you know the ones. And also someone’s aura … not something you can see, but you can definitely feel if someone is good to be around I think.

 

Scary movie or happy endings?

Everyone loves a happy ending … AM I RIGHT?! (God, I’m so immature.) But I hate scary films, never watch them. Although I do wonder if that’s just because I’ve been single for so long and if I were to watch a scary film with someone, I’d be OK. Yeah, I wouldn’t. Sod that.

 

Favourite smells?

I have a pillow spray that I’m trialling out for the blog from Feather & Down that is lush – all lavendary, so that’s a favourite at the moment. I wear Liz Earle Botanical Essence (No.15 I think) perfume, and you can’t beat the smell of brownies baking. (And I just so happen to have a fab recipe on the blog, for the best brownies ever.)

 

What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?

I went to Australia when I was 19 with my parents and brother. It was the last family holiday we ever took together, and we were there for a month. I had just met my husband a couple of days before I went (he had a girlfriend at the time), and I remember saying to him that he needed to choose between us whilst I was away, and the rest is history. OK, ,we’re divorced now but still. I still have family and a new best friend in Australia and would love to visit again but y’know, dollar. Or lack thereof.

 

Do you have any special talents?

Babe, where do I start?! But no, not really 🙂

I mean I think I’m ‘quite good’ at a few things, but I wouldn’t say I’m overly talented at playing the piano, singing or snowboarding. As in, I can’t do any of those things, but I think being ‘quite good’ at writing, being a good friend, a good mum, a generally nice person is quite cool don’t you?

 

What did you want to be when you grew up?

The only thing I remember is wanting to be a teacher. But even then, I didn’t want it so bad that I looked into going to Uni. But I thought it would be quite good to teach people something … to impart my wisdom on the world haha! In fact, when I graduated at 40, I did some volunteering at Dexter’s school and taught 5-year-olds how to make shit clay models (let’s just say, I’m not the crafty type), and spoke to the headmistress about whether it was worth doing a PGCE and going into teaching. Suffice to say, after talking to her, she really put me off and I didn’t bother!

 

How many countries have you been to?

No idea but I’d say about 20? Not nearly enough.

 

What was your favourite / worst subject in school?

I really enjoyed school so my favourite was English, but didn’t really have one I didn’t like. There were plenty of subjects I couldn’t do … but I’d try really hard. So I’d get U1 in Physics, which meant I was so rubbish I’d get Unclassified, but tried so hard I’d get a 1. God loves a tryer.

 

What is your favourite drink?

I love an Aperol Spritz because it reminds me of happy times in Italy (and it also gets me incredibly drunk), a pint of cold lager in a pub garden on a summer’s day, vodka and Diet Coke on a date and big vats of good black coffee to keep me going during the day. Oh, and a new favourite thing is rhubarb gin.

 

What would you have named your children?

Ben was going to be Georgia had he been a girl, but we knew Dexter was going to be a boy so he was always that.

 

Who are some of your favourite YouTubers?

Christ, this is going to be an eclectic list.

Casey Neistat, Sarah’s Day – a young Australian fitness/health YouTuber, but she’s so lovely, you can’t hate her (too much), Dr Pimple Popper because I’m a gross human being, Emma Tamsin is a plus size YouTuber that is hilarious. Zero f**ks given. I’ve watched Samantha Maria for years, no idea why, we have zero in common, but she’s down to earth and seems quite sweet. Elle of the Mills is bloody hilarious, it’s a channel like nothing I’ve seen on YouTube before – like mini programmes. Joe Santagato because he’s really funny. And hot. Grace Victory – I did a Mumsnet Facebook Live with her last year and she’s such a positive role model for (younger especially) women. And a few dance channels like Tim Milgrim and Royal Family in NZ.

 

How many boyfriends have you had?

Proper boyfriends, I’d say less than five. I got married at 20, have had two serious 10-ish year relationships, dabbled with a six-month relationship last year, although I’m not sure if we were ever officially bf/gf. So yeah, I’ve dated a lot, but you’ve got to be pretty special if you’re going to be my boyfriend!

 

Favourite memory from childhood?

So many. I had a great childhood, I was really lucky. Dad was the adventurous one, so we’d fly kites on the roof with him, walk across frozen ponds, explore the local nature reserve, play cricket on the beach with all the other local kids that he’d driven down to Camber Sands in the back of his lorry (with us all sat on breeze blocks, huddling together under blankets.) Baking with Mum, holidays in Majorca with my grandparents, God, everything and anything. My childhood was bloody great.

 

Tell us one of your bad habits…

Umm. *Whistles nonchalantly* Look, if I was really really honest with you, I doubt anyone would date me ever again, but I should probably wash my bedsheets more than I do. And that’s all I’m going to divulge.

 

I’m tagging a couple of my special blogger friends – Ami at Ami Elizabeth, Elaine at Boss Like a Mum, over to you.

 

kate sutton

The Morning After

It’s the morning after another Mother’s Day, and I feel I can now come out of hibernation and rejoin the world again. I’ve talked about it before, but it’s an odd day for me. Bittersweet. And so now, I shy away from people, from social media, from family. I don’t even leave the house. Visiting Mum’s grave just ironically feels forced on a day like Mother’s Day, the one day I should visit, and the pressure is too much.

 

I spent yesterday much like I do when I’m poorly. I invest in self-care, in doing things I like doing, that I want to do. I cooked a lovely breakfast for Dexter and I because as much as the thought was there, and he did offer, I think we both prefer it if I cook 🙂  He did write me the most beautiful message in a card though, that I will add to my box of treasure … aka, my kids’ old baby teeth, my 40th birthday cards and ancient majorette medals. A somewhat eclectic mix.

 

I baked brownies at lunchtime, guessing the quantities needed and just trusting my judgement that everything would turn out OK. A metaphor for life as well as brownies. (And sure enough, they were delicious.) I strapped my Silk’nLipo to various parts of my body as I watched Nothing to Declare on loop, watching my rolls of fat gently vibrate. Really rather therapeutic (but alas, no six-pack just yet.) I debated going to the gym, but couldn’t quite muster up the enthusiasm to speak to other people, so I dyed my hair instead.

 

  • I had a scalding hot bath using my favourite potions and lotions usually reserved for date nights.
  • I did my filing that I’d put off for two months.
  • My eldest text me and we chatted, and I had to tell him I couldn’t move to where he lives, but I promised I’d make the distance between us work somehow.
  • Dexter and I had burger and chips for tea, because you shouldn’t have to cook every meal on Mother’s Day.
  • I finally cleaned my bedroom windowsill.
  • I moved all my hair products from my bedroom to Ben’s room (now my dressing room.)
  • I cleaned my dressing table with apple-scented floor wipes.
  • Booked a hotel for Thursday for when I have my photoshoot in Chester.
  • I ate some of the chocolates Dexter bought me. But not the Turkish Delight. Or coffee cream.

 

But I didn’t cry. The saddest of all days for a mother-less person, but I didn’t cry. I kept busy, I enjoyed spending sporadic moments with Dexter when he deigned to grace me with his teenage presence, I ate tasty food and wore pyjamas all day. But I didn’t cry. Because the thing about grief, even if it is 13 years old, is that it’s not prescriptive. I mean you can’t be sad just because Card Factory is telling me I need to be sad because I don’t have anyone to buy a card for.

 

(These photo are on my bedside table. The photo on the left is my late Auntie Lynne and Mum (on the right) in matching beehives. And the photo on the right is my late Granddad, Mum, Dad chilling and me – in Majorca I think.)

 

 

I mean I am sad, but I cried on Tuesday when I saw a woman my age buy her mum a coffee. And I cried on Friday when someone walked past me wearing Opium, Mum’s old perfume. And I’ll no doubt cry another 100 times this year on any other day than Mother’s Day because I miss her when I least expect it.

 

I got through yesterday by looking after myself. If that means momentarily hibernating from the world, so be it.  I enjoyed seeing brief glimpses of friends sharing photos of their mums. Seeing written declarations of how much their mums mean to them because whenever I see someone with their mum, especially if the woman is my age, I want to run up to them and shout at the top of my voice, “TELL YOUR MUM YOU LOVE HER! RIGHT THIS MINUTE! TELL HER!” Because I don’t think I told my Mum, and then she was gone, and it still haunts me.

 

Whatever your situation, I hope you got through yesterday OK. I hope somehow, in some way, it was full of love.

 

Normal service is resumed now of course. I’m off to the hospital this morning to have a cheeky Botox check-up (and hope that somehow he agrees to keep it topped up because I love it … but hate myself for loving it!), and I even have a couple of dates planned this week. Life, somehow, just goes on doesn’t it?

 

kate sutton

Testing Out The Targeted Fat Reduction System Silk’n Lipo – Month 1

A few weeks ago, you may have seen me write about a targeted fat reduction/non surgical liposuction system called Silk’n Lipo. It was a more technical post about how the product worked, what it offered etc because at the time, I wasn’t able to try it out for myself. Well I’m thrilled that I now can! And not only that, but I’m going to be reporting back to you several times over the coming months about how I’m getting on and, more importantly, if I’ve seen any change in my measurements.

 

I want to say that for the record, for me, using a product like this isn’t in place of going to the gym, more that it will run alongside it. It’s not a fat removal system per se, but it’s billed as laser lipo and I’ll be using it in conjunction with the gym and healthy eating is the plan. I do enjoy going to the gym, but there are just times when I can’t get there, or do any exercise – like last month due to work and snow, and with my impending new job (new blog post coming!) – it’s good for me to know that I can use a product at home that’s going to help tone up my problem areas.

 

Because I’ll be honest, I’ve been so stressed with work or, on occasion lack thereof, that my diet and fitness have taken a serious backseat. It’s only natural isn’t it? When life gets in the way, and you can’t get out to exercise, but that’s the beauty of Silk’n Lipo, because you can just attach it to different parts of your body and it will do the work for you.

 

silk'nlipo

THE DOCKING STATION

silk'nlipo

 

THE METAL ELECTRODES – WET THIS BEFORE ATTACHING THEM TO THE UNIT

silk'nlipo

 

Quite what the results are going to be, I honestly have no idea, and I know I’m going to be a bit embarrassed sharing measurements with you because I’ve been so, not complacent, that’s not the right word, because it hasn’t been because I haven’t wanted to exercise per se, I just haven’t been able to. So I’m going to be completely honest with you each month about how I find the system, the pros and cons, my before and after measurements each month and fingers crossed, I’ll start to see my body tone up again.

silk'nlipo

So here are my current measurements. I’ve put around 6″ on in the last six weeks, which was the last time I measured myself:

 

  • Waist – 42″
  • Bust – 48″
  • Hips – 51.5″
  • Thigh – 27.5″
  • Calf – 16.5”
  • Upper arm – 14.5
  • Upper knee – 18.5”

 

I braved the cold to take these photos (I live in Kent where we’ve had snow for over a week now so it’s bitter), but this is how I’m looking right now. I haven’t been brave enough to step on the scales for a couple of months, not just because I know I’ve put on weight, but because my mental health is so good right now I don’t want to go through the whole guilt/fear thing of weighing myself. So I might, I might not. But I do want to continue to feel good about myself and using the Silk’n Lipo system seems a good way to get me back on track.

kate sutton

* This is a sponsored post.

Four Years Ago Today

Four years ago today I packed the last few remaining pieces of my life up into a gazillion plastic boxes and left the house I had owned for 23 years. I felt numb. Not sad, not angry, I just felt nothing. The build-up to this day was a long time coming. Trying to cling onto bricks and mortar on and off for over 20 years and here I was aged 43 … just me and my boys, wondering what the hell was I meant to do now. 

 

I moved with the help of a man with a van. Martin I think his name was. And some of my family helped out of course, but I’d say I mostly did it on my own. My ex was thankfully long gone and out of harm’s way, and because I’d lived there for so long, I/we had accumulated a so much rubbish. Two sheds, a summer house and a loft full of stuff. Just stuff. Things we didn’t need, that I hadn’t seen for years, extravagant things he’d bought for himself that I ended up having to sell to be able to hold onto the house for just one more month.

 

(This is me four years ago today – a hot sweaty mess!)

 

 

But it wasn’t enough. I had to make sure I sold the house that month, otherwise the bank would have repossessed, so my hands were tied. Thankfully, the estate agent found a buyer in the nick of time and he got himself a bargain and I got myself a four-month stint living with Dad. (Although I should say, God bless Dad for letting us stay with him because it’s so true what they say, everyone is only one step away from finding themselves homeless.)

 

I bought my house aged 19, along with my (ex) husband, and we lived there until we divorced and he moved out. I slogged my guts out, working in London and rushing home for the baby, just so that I could afford to buy him out and stay there and provide security for Ben. That period (well, all my life come to think of it) was exhausting. Running Ben down to the childminders at 6am, running home to shower, running to the train station for the 90 minute commute, a full day of work … and then running home to the childminder at 7pm. Every single day. But I did it just because you do what you have to do as a single parent and five years later, I met Dexter’s dad. He moved in three months after that. In hindsight, it was all to do with manipulation and control but I was a divorced woman in love, afraid that I’d be on my own forever, so jumped at the chance of trying to make a relationship work. This time, I thought, this time it’ll work.

 

When I think back to the time I spent at my home, the first thing I remember is throwing a surprise anniversary party in the garden with my brother for our parents. I can still picture Mum’s face as she walked through the side gate to the garden, seeing the marquee and all her friends and family shouting, ‘SURPRISE!’ She burst into tears, and so did we.

 

I remember the cherry tree at the bottom of the garden that gave us so many delicious cherries that my eldest managed to sell some to the restaurant where he was doing his work experience. God I miss that tree!

 

And I remember my attempt at creating a vegetable plot … I just never really got round to planting anything.

 

I remember bringing Dexter home from the hospital, and having to stop at Mums on the way home because my family were dying to meet him, so much so they were stood on the drive waiting for us to drive around the corner. And then when we got home, I sat on the sofa just stroking his silky, soft brown hair and placed him into Ben’s arms where they just chilled with each other. It was beautiful.

 

So many beautiful memories.

 

I also remember my ex punching a hole in the underside of the stairs, and me having to hide it with one of Dexter’s drawings I had on display. The times I drank too much vodka just to numb the pain of existing, and the endless times I was so afraid, I took myself to bed so that I didn’t risk upsetting him. So many scary, sad, upsetting memories I still can’t bring myself to share.

 

So you see, when it came to throwing away or packing up my life for the past 23 years, my emotions were so mixed that I wasn’t sure how to feel … so I felt nothing at all. And I think that was probably for the best.

 

I live in a rented house now, and my life isn’t perfect, but it is wonderful in its own way. I rarely drink, we laugh a lot, my kids are happy and yeah, I’m a fat middle-aged woman but y’know what? There are a lot more worse things I can be and right now, as I look around at a home that isn’t mine, that I can’t decorate, knowing that I can never afford my own home again, I feel at peace. And that, my lovely internet friends, is priceless.

kate sutton

A Little Reminiscing

This is a really random blog post but a comment posted on Facebook today prompted me to think about this one particular place in a shopping centre I used to visit every week with my late Mum and Nan. It used to be a Wimpy and then ‘upgraded’ (it really wasn’t an upgrade to be honest) to The Pentagon Grill, and it still stands to this day, some thirty years later.

 

We’d go most Saturdays. Have a wander around the shops first and then stop there for lunch, and all three of us always ate the same – cheeseburger with fried onions, chips and drink. Strawberry milkshake for me, and tea for Mum and Nan. Such a British thing to do. But the unusual thing about the burger was that we all had a fried egg in it (living life on the edge) and that’s how I always eat my burgers now. My kids think I’m an absolute freak.

 

I was reminiscing with my best friend about the ex-Wimpy and she said her Mum used to go there too, but she’d always ask for, “A Wimpy and chips please. With a coffee.” I don’t know why the idea of a dry burger with nothing in it, followed by a coffee makes me laugh so much, but I guess it’s just the idea that the memory of a place, or a taste, or a smell can conjur up such vivid images and take me back to that feeling I had of being with people I loved the most. The banality of it all is what I took for granted, and it’s what I now miss.

 

 

I think as I get older, I’m searching for those types of memories more and more, trying to cling onto them and perhaps impart them to my children whilst I still can. I’ve noticed Dad doing this with me when we meet up for our weekly coffee – a new highlight of the week for me. He’s opening up more and more about his childhood, and the things he got up to, and I’m learning more about him the older he gets. And I get it. That feeling of time running out maybe? Although I reckon my Dad will outlive us all.

 

Sunlife have created an interesting visual showing images of major cities in the UK, how they looked years ago and how they look now, and it’s fascinating to see how things can change but still look and feel so familiar, and that’s how I feel about The Grill. It’s the same, but different, and I haven’t been back because it won’t be the same going on my own and I don’t want to taint the wonderful memories I have.

 

But life does go on, as painful as that can be sometimes, and it’s about creating new traditions with my own children now, so that they have something to remember me by when I’m gone. And hopefully, we’ve got another forty years or so to do that, starting today … with a new tradition of Dexter making me a cup of coffee before I go to work as he’s got two weeks off school!

 

kate sutton

 

*This is a sponsored post.

The Best Chocolate Brownie Recipe Ever

It’s official. I’m in a brownie coma. (The chocolate cake to clarify.) I seem to have made the best, the most delicious, the gooiest chocolate brownie going and so I thought I’d share the recipe with you because if I can make it, trust me, anyone can. I did accidentally make a gluten-free, vegan version the other day but no-one ate it.

 

I found the recipe online and I think it’s a take on Nigella Lawson’s brownie recipe, and I should have halved the ingredients because there are only two of us, but instead … I made enough brownies to feed everyone on my street. Not that they got a look in.

 

Anyway, I’ll stop waffling. This is clearly a lovely, chocolately treat and I think it’s important to not deprive yourself – if you want the cake, eat the cake. But all in moderation ladies and gents I guess. I am well aware that I need to lose weight, and this won’t help, but you know what, making myself feel guilty about any food isn’t good for me either so that’s all I have to say about that. This are rich, gooey, delicious, and moist … MOIST. Honestly, you’ll love them.

 

INGREDIENTS:

 

  • 375g soft unsalted butter
  • 375g best quality dark chocolate
  • 6 eggs (I used medium sized)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 500g caster sugar
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt

 

METHOD:

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Line your brownie pan with baking paper. (No idea what size my tin was, but you can see in the photos.) 
  3. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large heavy based saucepan.
  4. In a bowl beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla. (I used a regular hand whisk.)
  5. Measure the flour into another bowl and add the salt. (NB: if you use salted butter like I did, be careful here.
  6. When the chocolate mixture has melted, let it cool a bit before beating in the eggs and sugar mixture, and then add the flour. (Add nuts at this stage if you like them.)
  7. Mix to combine and then empty into the lined brownie pan.
  8. Bake for about 35 minutes. (You know your oven, so adjust accordingly.)
  9. When it’s ready, the top should be dried to a paler brown speckle, but the middle should still be dark and gooey.
  10. Keep checking the brownies as they cook, as they continue to cook as they cool. Under bake if anything.

 

best chocolate brownie

best chocolate brownie

MELT CHOCOLATE AND BUTTER TOGETHER IN A PAN

best chocolate brownie

MIX EGGS, SUGAR AND VANILLA – BUT DON’T GET TOO MUCH AIR IN THE MIXTURE

best chocolate brownie

ADD CHOCOLATE AND BUTTER MIXTURE TO EGG AND SUGAR MIXTURE

best chocolate brownie

ADD FLOUR AND SALT TO CHOCOLATE MIXTURE

best chocolate brownie

PROBABLY SHOULDN’T BE AIR BUBBLES BUT POUR MIXTURE INTO LINED BAKING TIN – I USED A RECTANGULAR ONE

best chocolate brownie

LEAVE TO COOL THEN CUT INTO 12 (OR 48) PIECES

best chocolate brownie

best chocolate brownie

WHAT A BEAUTY.

best brownies

PIN FOR LATER

 

You could potentially get 48 brownies out of this recipe but let’s face it, I cut it into 12, they were pretty big pieces, but that’s just how I roll. Quite how we’ve managed to stretch them out for four days I don’t know, but they remained fresh, we just microwaved them for ten seconds to warm them through. 

 

This is a classic brownie batter that you could add all sorts of toppings to. Oreos, Creme Eggs, nuts (if you’re weird) … ooh, mini eggs! If you make them, please do share a photo with me, I’d love to see how they turned out.

 

kate sutton

To All My Single Ladies on Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! I’ve just spent the morning picking out old carrot chunks from the sink, which is a great metaphor for how I feel about this day really. A bit sick of it all. (It was the remnants of Ben’s red wine gravy he made last night in case you were wondering.)

 

This will be my fifth Valentine’s Day as a single woman, but to be honest, even before then, when I was with someone, I don’t remembering him ever bothering that much, at least not in the latter part of our relationship. I think I got a card in the first few years, but then that’s when we were in love. Anyway, enough of him, and then, and back to now.

 

I’m annoyingly romantic, not in the sense of big gestures, although hun, if you want to take me to Paris for the weekend, fill your boots … but I do believe in love, and I do believe in romantic gestures to show someone you love them. I just don’t happen to believe you should only do them once a year, when ‘someone’ (Clintons) deems you should. And the thing is, the BIG THING is, I’m really happy and comfortable being single. As much as it would be nice to have a special someone in my life … although technically I already do, me haha … it will come, or not, and I don’t really think there’s much I can do about that.

 

But I’m at peace with my singledom. Love can’t be forced. I can’t make someone like me, or send me a card, or even get past three dates. But I’m honestly at peace with it. The thing that upsets me about Valentine’s Day is the thought that other people are made to feel a bit shit for being single. Unloved, or unwanted. That’s just not really very Hallmark is it? So I just wanted to say that if you are feeling a bit rubbish today, because you’re bombarded with reminders that you’re single, and every other git isn’t, then come and talk to me. I’m always online in some capacity, so if you’re feeling a little blue about it all, just ping me a message. And we can talk about men, or anything but. I can tell you my best (worst) joke, or we can have my monthly ‘shall I have a fringe?’ debate. Or we can talk about food. Oooh … what would your death row meal be, that’s a favourite. 

 

valentine's day

 

My point is, I’m sure Valentine’s Day is wonderful for a lot of people, but there’s nothing more wonderful than friendship and not being made to feel alone. So I see you. I’m here. It’s just one day. And you are loved. I know a lot of incredible women that are single, that are messed around by f**kboys as much as I am, that won’t settle, that won’t put up with the nonsense that is constantly being churned out on Tinder. (Case in point, the story about Chef Freddo.) So I’m in good company. 

 

As for me, I’m balls deep in a work project and it’s killing me, so I’m a bit head down/arse up for the month of February until I get it finished. But work aside, today won’t be any different when it comes to how I live my life. I’m a big believer in, and I hope this has always come across, being my number one fan, so I do try and look after myself, treat myself if I want, make good food, buy the dress, eat the cake, watch an entire series of Married at First Sight on my laptop until 2am even though I have work at 7, and have that mentality that I don’t need a man, or a ‘special’ day to tell me I’m worthy. That has been a massive project, to change my way of thinking to this, but I think I’m there. A lot of my self worth has always been tied up in what a man thinks of me. If a man wants me, then I’m worthy and attractive. If he doesn’t, then I’m neither of those things. So finally, in my mid-40s, I’ve realised that I’m a good person and deserving of everything … I will never again need validation from a bloke to tell me that.

 

Like I say, I’m a work in progress – who wouldn’t want a big bunch of flowers, but life is so much bigger than that. So much more important. I have the greatest context in the world, I lost the person I loved the most, and I’ve been to the darkest place you could be, and I survived, and so a bunch of flowers from a bloke is a drop in the ocean really.

 

I’m rambling, as per, just felt the need to write something today. And to those of you who are lucky enough to be in love, and be loved, I sincerely hope you are spoilt today. But not just today, every day, because you deserve it, you are worth it.

 

kate sutton

A Dating Tale – Chef Freddo

I’ll be honest, dating in 2018 has been a rollercoaster … and it’s only February. I had one date with a guy who said, “There are three of us on today’s date,” and proceeded to take me to his car where I was convinced he was about to make lampshades out of my skin – only to find out he’d had to bring his dog with him as she was poorly. Googling ‘dog friendly hotels’ was not something I’d envisaged doing that evening. To be honest, that story is one for the dating book.

 

Or the bloke that took me for a curry, which was lovely, but he lived in a caravan. #nojudgement. And every time I said ‘caravan’, because for some reason I just found it quite funny, he got arsey and said, “It’s a chalet actually.” Mate, it’s no big deal, but it’s a caravan. His brother was in prison, he didn’t talk to his mum or daughter and his life (because that’s all we talked about) was like an Eastenders script. He blocked me on Plenty of Fish the next morning.

 

But today we’re talking about Fred. No pseudonym necessary because a) he’s a prick and b) we didn’t actually get to meet. I used to write about my dates a lot but then someone found his ‘review’ and let’s just say, he didn’t take kindly to it, and four years on, I’m still having to block him on my blog, POF, Whatsapp, Skype, and this week, Twitter. But bizarrely it’s because he still wants to see me … I think he has a love/hate relationship with me, which is mildly amusing but definitely stalky. And nobody got time for that. But in for a penny, I’m still writing this post today because it’s sitting heavy on my chest and I need to get it out of my system.

 

So I’d had a few dates this year with, let’s call him Whitstable Guy. I had had to cancel our fourth date, and to cut a long story short, he went AWOL for a few days which did not go down well, so when he got back in touch, as they all invariably do, I called it off. During that MIA period, I started to talk to Fred. He said (because I don’t know if anything he said now was true), that he was a chef and ran a few of his own restaurants. I’m now think pot washer in Wimpey, but we’ll never know.

 

He was 5’ 11”, shaved head, beard, Greek heritage, nice looking, and when we spoke on the phone, we instantly got on. He has two daughters he clearly had a lot of love for (if they exist), and after that initial phone call, we texted, albeit not a lot, but every day. He asked me out, but I was surprised he wanted to wait a whole week. In my experience, a first date tends to be a mid-week after-work beer or coffee, less pressure and it’s sort of … out of the way then. You’ll either know or you won’t, and you haven’t wasted a valuable weekend evening (watching Netflix in my case.)

 

On this occasion, I was happy to wait a week because at least I’d know one way or another about Whitstable Guy. I said I’d confirm with him nearer the time, which I did when Whitstable Guy turned into a massive melt.

 

The first alarm bell, and the biggest, was when, as soon as we’d fixed a provisional date to meet, he disappeared from Tinder. For those of you lucky enough to not know how Tinder works, when you match with someone, they appear in a list of people you’re actively talking to. If someone deletes their profile or unmatches you, they disappear completely. So when he suddenly disappeared from that list, I was surprised.

 

I called him out on it.

 

online dating

 

Righto mate, course you do. I knew he was lying, no-one deletes an app just because they’ve started to talk to someone and actually, the biggest problem with dating apps is that there is too much choice so people can, and do, have many conversations all going on at the same time. Think kid in a candy store. But no-one would delete the app, and I certainly wouldn’t expect him to, so I called bullshit straight away, he’d merely unmatched me, and I think I know why. The app shows how far away someone is from you, so I set my distance parameters to 30 miles or so, and it’ll only show me people online within that distance. But it also means that if someone is in my matched list, technically, if I could be bothered, I could go on their profile and see roughly where they were. Only insofar as ‘40km away’, not ‘sat on the loo.’ Anyway, I’ll come back to this point.

 

When he said that, I didn’t comment further but I knew then to be on my guard. Why did I carry on? Because there was a small chance I was wrong, and even though I know to trust my gut instinct, I want to be proved wrong! I always try to see the good in people and I honestly hate being so cynical but online dating does that to genuine people like me. Your expectations become lower and lower and you find yourself just praying that your date is sane, because to ask for anything more seems too big an ask.

 

The next alarm bell was a story about how he’d dropped his phone, cracked his screen, and it meant he didn’t know when we were meant to be meeting.

 

online dating

 

I don’t need a phone to help me remember the details of a date I just made … because I literally just arranged it! Nonetheless, I reminded him when and where we were meeting. Bearing in mind he wasn’t from my area, and yes, I know if you’ve got Sat Nav you can find anywhere, I found it odd he didn’t ask anything about the pub we were meeting in. Not roughly where it was, what town, was there parking, nothing. I let it go, but again, alarm bells ringing.

 

Something just seemed ‘off.’ And also, anyone that has to say they’re a good guy, usually isn’t.

 

I asked for a photo. Happened to be ‘one he took that morning’ of him just about to get in the shower (just a head and shoulder shot), but no-one takes photos of themselves like that unless they’re sending them to other people. Every morning he’d text and say, “Have a wonderful day,” one day we talked about him hiring me for website work and had a long discussion about rates, another time I called him out about not chatting much and he said, “You said you didn’t want to chat endlessly via text and I want to save it all up for our date.”

 

My point is, he was in touch every day. There are dozens of other texts I could show you, checking in to see if I was OK after I was ill, reassuring me he wanted to meet, telling me how I was just his type. He even, and I hope to God he didn’t make this up, threw in a sick Mum he had to collect from hospital as well. But there were times when he seemed distracted, I said if he wasn’t still up for meeting, or he’d changed his mind, that was fine. Every single time he said he still wanted to meet me.

 

online dating

online dating

 

On Friday I confirmed that I was free that evening and he went into intricate detail about his plans that afternoon:

 

online dating

 

I’ve been a parent for 23 years and the one thing I know is that when someone is lying, they go into much more detail than they need to. It’s like dealing with a toddler. All along, I’d said to my friends, “This guy is going to cancel, I know it. I’m being strung along but I want to see how it plays out,” and my friends, bless them, all said, “There’s no way he’s going to cancel. No-one would put that much effort in just for a laugh.” You see, It’s important to try and stay positive when dating because otherwise you just wouldn’t bother. But I said nope, you just wait and see.

 

Then he sent this and I wavered. Have I read him wrong all this time? 

 

online dating

 

But then, literally right on cue, two and a half hours later, an hour before we were due to meet, the text I’d been waiting for came in:

 

online dating

 

Damn ‘shot.’ He ‘couldn’t do anything about it,’ ‘was trying to organise an agency sous chef’ blah blah blah. To those of you who don’t date, you might look at that and think it’s genuine. Sounds it doesn’t it? You could easily be fooled. But that was the last I heard from him. I could understand him not saying anything else that night, he’d know I was pissed off, but you may think he’d text the next morning. He didn’t, he was online, but never messaged again and then when I plucked up the courage to go back onto Tinder the next day, who should I come across?

 

That’s right, Freddo. He hadn’t deleted his profile at all. Of course he hadn’t. Suffice to say, he got a swift left swipe.

 

I think the reason it’s bothered me so much is that it took up my time. And my time is valuable. I knew from the outset to be wary and that we’d probably not meet, but when I think about the time I’d invested even just replying to his messages, it makes me mad or sad, I’m not quite sure. Maybe a bit of both. I’m not upset because my heart got broken, but what type of man does that? To lead someone on like that? And if he did it to me, he’s doing it to other women.

 

I’ve blocked him on Whatsapp so he’ll never be able to message again anyway, but when you non-daters hear me, and single people like me, talk about how hard dating is, this is why. You couldn’t possibly imagine that people are that bored/insecure/deranged to go through the whole rigmarole of what I’ve described, but they do. And not only is it upsetting, it makes it that little bit harder for genuine guys to connect with me. I’m that little bit harder, that little bit more wary each time it happens, and decent blokes don’t stand a chance really. It’s going to take a special man to get me to let my guard down, that’s for sure, and I’m not sure anyone is up to the job if I’m honest.

 

Anyway, I feel better for writing it all out and I will make peace with it. It could have been a lot worse, I could have met him and he could’ve strung me along in a completely different way, so I’ve had a lucky escape, but it’s tough out there, really tough. And I know I’ve said it before, but please don’t tell me that, “It’ll happen when you least expect it,” or, “Don’t use dating apps, wait for it to happen naturally.” You mean well, but it doesn’t help. 

 

I don’t know what the answer is, just keep on keeping on I guess. One good thing to come out of this situation is that it’s further proof you should always, always listen to your gut instincts. I feel so much more in tune with myself these days that even though I was still stupid/naive/romantic enough to give him the benefit of the doubt, I knew deep down I was right. Something was off, I felt it, and it protected me.

 

So that’s the story of Freddo. One for the book I guess. Can I get a group hug?

 

kate sutton