Can Men And Women Be ‘Just Friends’?

The question of whether men and women can be just friends is something I’ve asked myself time and time again over the years. I’ve always got on with men, but I like to think just as well as I get on with women. I don’t think I’m one of those women who only gets on with men but I’ve always thought that technically, there’s no reason why men and women can’t be good friends.

 

Except … I’ve never really managed it. In fact, the only male friends I have, where we are truly just friends, and no hint of anything else, are my gay male friends. So why is that?

 

I think unfortunately, and predictably, in my experience anyway, it always comes down to sex and attraction. My friendships with men have either been borne from a sexual relationship, ie. an ex-partner, or a drunken fumble that never quite manifested itself into anything else, or one person in the relationship has always yearned for more. (More often than not it’s me doing the yearning!) I feel there is always the question of ‘Should I?’, ‘Would they?’ ‘Would I?’ ‘Could I?’ on the table … it’s just natural curiosity I guess.

 

I have lots of examples I could share with you but the most recent example that sparked this post is what happened on the train to me last week. I talked about it on Facebook, but to cut a long story short, I had a panic attack on the train and a guy started talking to me (when I trod on his foot – classic Kate), and then went on to ask me out. I wasn’t interested in him, made up an imaginary boyfriend, still went on to give him my phone number because I felt cornered, and even after I said no to a date once in person, he went on to ask me out again three times via text. I had made it clear a friendship was only on the table, but that clearly wasn’t possible.

 

Then there’s my ex from earlier this year. His life is quite complicated but amazingly, we’ve managed to remain friends, but only because he’s in another country! He asked to see me before he left but I knew that if I saw him, I’d want him again ‘like that’. So I can only (I feel) have any semblance of friendship with him if I never see him again. Not ideal, but when you have chemistry with someone of the opposite sex, I’m not sure you can ever be just friends. I guess that’ll be a ‘watch this space’ situation whilst I figure out my feelings about him but that’s where it stands for now, a purely virtual friendship.

 

And finally, there’s my latest date. (Here’s what happened when we first met.) We had three dates, and in a nutshell, we just weren’t a good fit, not long term. I just didn’t feel it. ‘It’ .. hard to define, but the feeling wasn’t there for me. Very different people, and I really tried to make it work but went with my gut instinct and called it off. I’ve always been honest and open with him about how I feel, treated him with respect, and at the end of my very well worded (in my opinion) text to him (I couldn’t face a phone call for various reasons) I asked if we could stay friends because he’s a nice bloke and it would be nice to stay in touch. I know it’s clichéd to say, “Let’s stay friends,” but I think it’s possible after three dates because let’s face, we’re nothing more than friends at this stage. Alas, his reply would dictate that he’s cross with me and doesn’t want to be friends, which is sad. But I get it.

 

Maybe it all comes down to attraction. You can be attracted to someone of the opposite sex but you don’t have to act on it, as long as you respect how the other person feels. If they’re attracted to you too, and you’re both single, it would beg the question why are you just friends I guess? You can have a history with someone, and still be friends, just as long as you never see them in person again (maybe that’s just me!). But there are jealous partners to contend with, colleagues that may worry a friendship will be misconstrued and a whole host of other worries and concerns, which is sad isn’t it? Throw alcohol into the mix and well … we all know how that sometimes ends.

 

I guess like with all relationships, if you communicate your intentions from the outset, the chances are higher of maintaining a friendship. If you want more, say you do, at least you’ll know where you stand. Conversely, if you only want friendship, say nothing else is on offer, and then the other person can decide if it’s enough.

 

I asked a few friends whether they thought men and women could just be friends and not one person could give me a definite ‘yes’ or ‘no’. They all said … “Well it depends …” or, “It’s complicated …” They all had stories like mine where sex, or attraction, for one reason or another affected a friendship so the jury is still out. But I do remain hopeful that male/female friendship is possible, with no strings, because if nothing else, it allows me to have just the smallest insight into the male psyche in the hope that one day, in the very distant future, I may be able to understand what makes a man tick. But let’s face it, that’s highly unlikely!

 

I would love to hear what you think.

kate sutton

Cheese & Onion Potato Crispbakes – with Co-op King Edward Potatoes

If I were to choose a favourite vegetable, it would definitely have to be the potato. I know I should probably choose something green but you just can’t deny a potato’s versatility, it’s tastiness and just good all-round wonderful(ness). Yeah, let’s just say I’m a fan. So when the Co-op got in touch and asked if I’d like to cook with their Co-op King Edward potatoes, I was like yes, yes please, I most definitely would.

 

So here we are. Except choosing a potato recipe was actually really rather difficult because they’re all so good! I spent hours watching Gordon Ramsay videos on YouTube – which are great by the way – and I’ve written about Slimming World Roast Potatoes before, and that’s always a winner, but these days, the one potato dish we eat a lot of is something I buy, and that’s a cheese and onion potato crispbake. It’s just so easy to pop it out of its packaging and into the frying pan but it’s seriously costing me a ridiculous amount of money and I need to stop buying them, so this was the perfect opportunity to see if I could make my own.

 

Yes, it’s easy to make, but they’re the best types of recipes aren’t they? A few quality ingredients, a little time and effort and voila, delicious food. (Well, that was the plan – read on to see if I managed it!)

 

INGREDIENTS:

 

  • 1.5kg Co-op King Edward potatoes
  • 200g Cheddar cheese
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 60g butter
  • Splash of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • Tub of breadcrumbs
  • Oil for frying

 

king edward potatoes

king edward potatoes

 

METHOD:

 

  • Peel potatoes, chop, and boil until tender
  • Make mash – add butter, milk, egg and seasoning to taste
  • Chop up cheese and onions
  • Mix all together and leave to cool
  • Form into crispbake shapes (a metal ring would be perfect) and put to one side
  • Beat egg into a bowl and pour breadcrumbs out onto a plate
  • Dip potato cakes into egg and then into breadcrumbs
  • Heat oil in frying pan and fry on both sides until golden

 

cheese onion crispbakes

cheese onion crispbakes

 

I also thought I’d make a video so you can see how I made them.

 

 

RESULT:

 

A couple of things to mention. This was the first time I’ve made them, and so I would try a couple of different things next time.

  • Add more cheese. If in doubt, ALWAYS ADD MORE CHEESE. When you think you’ve added enough, throw a bit more in! I only used four slices of cheese (I’ve doubled that amount in the ingredients list above because it just wasn’t enough), but it’s trial and error, see how it tastes. Oooh, and you know what else would be nice? I tried a chipotle and chilli cheese last week, that would be amazing in these crispbakes.
  • Experiment with seasoning. I only used salt, pepper and garlic powder, but you could get seriously inventive with such a blank canvas. Cajun seasoning maybe? Or fresh herbs? Either way, enjoy having a play around each time you make it. You could even add seasoning to your coating of choice.
  • I enjoyed the spring onions, but next time I might try cooking them, or maybe adding some grated or chopped white onion for a stronger flavour.
  • I’ve seen flour added to the mixture before when making basic potato pancakes, so I might see how that effects the mixture next time.

 

I served our crispbakes with egg and bacon for brunch, but they would go with any meal … which is why they’re so great! I’m not the greatest cook in the world, and I have the smallest kitchen, which doesn’t inspire me to cook often, so I feel like I just need to build my confidence up again, and this was a good place to start. Hopefully, I’ll cooking and sharing recipes more now I’m in the swing of things.

 

kate sutton

A Weekend Catch-Up – Dating, A&E & My Christmas Tree

Here I am on a Sunday afternoon, sat by the fire watching the snow fall. It’s beautiful isn’t it? (From the comfort of one’s sofa that is.) I’ve put my Christmas tree up, I’m staring at a glittered reindeer (no idea why I bought it either) and I’ve eaten today’s mince pie, so I thought I’d just catch you all up on what’s been going on chez Sutton.

 

(WHAT A RANDOM CHRISTMAS SCENE!)

 

So you’ll have seen, if you follow me on Facebook, that I went for a third date with someone this week. A third date is a rare thing for me, so I was excited to see where it would lead. Nowhere as it turned out, as I decided there wouldn’t be a fourth. In a nutshell, I just didn’t get the feels. You know … when you look at someone and you get a little breathless and twingey down there. I felt nothing other than, “Oh he’s such a nice bloke, come on Kate, MAKE IT WORK GODDAMIT!” But nope, I couldn’t force it, as much as I tried and figured a) it was definitely worth making sure, hence three dates and b) it was better to end it as soon as I was sure about how I felt. I felt that was the most respectful thing to do and after composing, what I thought was a kind and true text, I hoped that he would understand and respect how I felt. Especially after I opened up about my past relationship.

 

Not so much. He wrote back and told me how I was being too hasty and proceeded to say how disappointed he was that this kept happening to him. And I get it, it’s tough when things don’t work out, but I didn’t really like being told how I should be feeling or acting, and then he went all capital letters on me, so knew I’d made the right decision. I would have liked to have stayed friends but I don’t think that’ll be possible now. (Seeing as I blocked his number as he kept saying he was going to call me and I really couldn’t face it.)

 

Moving on. So that was Friday morning, and come Friday night I was in hospital.

 

I was prescribed some new medication after seeing my doctor, and after a lovely lunch with Dad, took my first pill about 6.30pm. Cut a long story short, I had an adverse reaction to it, threw up everywhere, started shivering and feeling very weird … a cold feeling travelling up and down my left arm, and so I decided to call NHS Direct. But as I was talking to them, my speech started going a little strange. I knew what I wanted to say, but the words wouldn’t come out easily. I couldn’t quite string a sentence together, and as I was trying to, I threw up again. I had to pass the phone to Dexter who, as per, was an absolute star, and he spoke to the lady who said she was sending an ambulance.

 

It’s the first time I’ve ever had an ambulance sent for me, and hopefully the last, but I felt so guilty. Which is so stupid! Because I really was poorly, and that’s what the service is there for, but I’m always conscious that I never want to be too much bother, you know? If my arm fell off I’d still be, “Oh no I’m fine, honestly, don’t call an ambulance, it’ll be alright by the morning.” They arrived within five minutes, Dexter let them in, they did some tests on me and my speech was now getting worse so they told me I should go to A&E with them.

 

It took a couple of hours to be seen, which is to be expected, but Christ on a bike, it’s like the Night of the Living Dead in the A&E waiting room. Understandable wailing, IV drips, splattered blood, cold cups of coffee, subtitled Eastenders and people passing out … I just wanted to be home and even considered just walking out, but still felt really woozy so I stayed. I finally got to see a doctor and he said he thought I might have had a mini stroke, but that he wanted to seek some further advice. My Nan had a stroke in her mid 50’s so it’s in our family history, and NOW I was worried. But a few more tests later, and he said that no, actually, he didn’t think it was that, but he couldn’t explain what had happened with my speech, other than to say I’d probably had a panic attack when the pill reacted badly with me and that it was all in my mind. Helpful. And had things ended worse, I could have called a specialist solicitor I guess. I’m unsure, but it’s possible, and he’s the professional, and to be honest, I just wanted to go home and so I nodded along.

 

 

I was due to visit my eldest the next day, Saturday, driving down to Wiltshire to stay at my friend’s house, and having lunch with Ben the next day, but the whole weekend was cancelled because I felt unsafe to drive and then it snowed on the Sunday.

 

Which brings you up to date. Single again and feeling a little sorry for myself, but alive and well(ish) and here to fight another day.

 

kate sutton

My Private Dining Experience With La Belle Assiette

I don’t get out much. Oh, apart from my Christmas party in London last Sunday … and dancing in the middle of my local pub last week, but generally, I’m a bit of a homebody. I like the comforts of my home. I like not having to pay £8 for an Aperol Spritz when I can make one at home twice as strong, for 1/16 of the price, but mainly, I like bowling about in my leggings with no make-up on. But my dilemma is, I also like good food, preferably cooked by someone that knows what they’re doing. 

 

But I have a solution and oh … my … god, it is brilliant (if I say so myself). A private dining company called La Belle Assiette got in touch a few months ago and asked if I’d like to try out their services. It would entail a private chef coming round to my house and cooking for myself and five other people and eating glorious food whilst wearing my leggings …. YESSSSS!!

 

Needless to say, I jumped at the chance, and fixed a date of 2nd December. My thinking was that I would invite my family round (apart from Dad as he’s busy on Saturdays), and it would be my way of ‘cooking’ Christmas dinner for them as I never have. They’ve only ever come round for BBQs before and to be honest, I felt guilty. One of the main problems is the size of my kitchen and dining room table, but I’ll get onto that later.

 

la belle assiette

(All my mis-matched glasses and cheese for later .. that we didn’t eat because we were too full up!) 

 

I was asked what I’d like my chef to cook, and some sample menus were sent. They all sounded lovely so I just chose what I would like to eat (selfish much?) – salmon, beef and Pavlova. I didn’t know what type of meals they’d be, so it was going to be a nice surprise. I had to pay for one extra guest, which cost £59, and although it does sound quite a bit of money, I’m going to explain why it was worth it. The communication with the company was great, everything ran smoothly and we were all set to go.

 

la belle assiette

(My dining table is so small some of the family had to eat sat on the sofa … they look thrilled haha!) 

 

Zara, a private chef from Kent, turned up a little early and was the loveliest lady you could ever meet. She lugged in several big, plastic boxes full of ingredients and some equipment (she used some of mine too – saucepans etc), and set to work. I’d pre-warned her that my rented kitchen was tiny, but she wasn’t phased at all and got straight to work. In fact, I left her to it and popped to the shops to stock up on booze and pre-dinner snacks.

 

la belle assiette

(Strong snack game.)

 

When I came back an hour or so later, the smells emanating from the kitchen were delicious. My mouth was watering and I couldn’t wait for dinner. But here’s the thing. When you’re used to being the one who cooks all the time, whether you’re single like me, or you are just in charge of cooking at home, it is really weird to have someone else cook for you. I’m only cooked for when Ben comes home from Wiltshire and he wants to show me his new cheffy skills or when I go to my brother’s for Christmas day, so it took a little time for me to relax if I’m honest. But a couple of gins helped! Plus, I’d done that thing I used to do when I had a cleaner … cleaned like a mad woman so a ‘stranger’ wouldn’t think bad of me. So much so, I actually hired a professional oven cleaner that cleaned the oven last month! So I was pretty tired. It was nice to not have to worry about looking after the food, knowing that Zara was completely in control.

 

la belle assiette

(Cheeky Sloe Gin before dinner.)

 

Let me show you what we ate.

 

STARTER

 

We had an Amuse Bouche to start with – a pumpkin soup (I think) with truffle oil drizzled on top. We then had smoked, roasted salmon, with new potatoes, creme fraiche, horseradish, avocado and cucumber and a balsamic drizzle.

 

la belle assiette

la belle assiette

 

MAIN

 

The main course of ‘melt in the mouth’ beef had been cooking for hours and really did … melt in your mouth! Served with carrots slowly cooked in Star Anise (that I haven’t stopped wanging on about ever since), green beans and the crunchiest, crispiest roast potatoes I’ve ever eaten. God it’s making my mouth water just looking at these photos!

 

la belle assiette

la belle assiette

 

DESSERT

 

The piece de resistance! A magnificent Pavlova full of cream and berries, decorated with edible flowers and drizzled with a fruity sauce. I think you’ll agree it was a showstopper! In fact, it was so big, it fed all seven of us and there’s still a big slice left in the fridge which I may, or may not (I will) have later.

 

la belle assiette

 

We did encounter a couple of problems. Firstly, my oven broke. The temperature kept dropping to 160 degrees and it was something I noticed had begun happening a week ago but I guess I hoped it would miraculously fix itself. It didn’t, but Zara was a trouper and just worked round it. Secondly, I forgot my niece was a vegetarian. Ooops. Not only that, she doesn’t like eggs and rarely eats vegetables. And I only sprung this on Zara when she dished up the main course and my poor niece reminded me why she couldn’t eat it. I felt so awful. As did Zara, although it wasn’t her fault, of course, it was mine. So I asked my niece if pasta would be OK, found some ingredients in the cupboard and Zara quickly set to work to make her a lovely pasta in tomato sauce. Crisis averted, and everyone was happy.

 

COST

 

As I said, it was £59 a head but what I will say is this. That covers all ingredients, for all meals, for all of you. Zara’s professional service and my kitchen has honestly never been as clean as Zara left it, so I’d pay big money for that alone. But in all seriousness, I can’t recommend the concept of private dining enough. How romantic would it be if you wanted to impress someone on a special occasion? (Take note man I’m dating!) Or you have small children and it’s difficult to get a babysitter? Or, like me, you just like the comfort of your own home. It truly was worth every penny.

 

la belle assiette

(See? Spotless!)

 

So another big thank you to Zara, our chef, and to La Belle Assiette for an amazing evening. My family and I went on to finish our drinks in the lounge and watch The Chase, whilst I divvied up some beauty products I’d been sent between my nieces and sister-in-law. A random end to a great night and I just wish I could have the whole evening over again.

 

If you want to hire a private chef in Kent, then please do contact La Belle Assiette on:

  • 020 3318 5003
  • www.labelleassiette.co.uk
  • Twiter – @LaBelleA_UK

 

kate sutton

My Top 3 Wellness Destinations To Visit In Europe

As most of us are probably still suffering from post-Christmas exhaustion, and everyone is rushing to join a gym this month, and, following on from my recent blog post about weight gain and personal goals for the year, I am writing about wellness today. Or, more specifically, about the top wellness destinations to visit in Europe.

 

‘Wellness – the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.’

 

I like the sound of that, actively pursuing the state of being well, and it’s going to be one of my main focuses for 2018. Wholeheartedly becoming aware of, and making choices towards, a healthy and fulfilling life… at least that’s the aim. We all know how life has a habit of testing us, but I’m a big believer in having a positive mindset as much as I can, and everything else will fall into place.

 

Sometimes, however, a little assistance is required, and that’s where specific wellness-orientated retreats really come into their own. Where you can hop on private plane and escape the humdrum of everyday life to relax and feel restored. Some may see it as an indulgence, but it’s often a necessary safety valve considering the world we now live in. Just imagine, handing yourself over to a range of experts to be guided through a range of treatments and therapies all with the aim to soothe your mind, body and soul. Bliss.

 

Here are three European wellness destinations that are at the top of my list:

 

AdventureYogi – Santorini, Greece

santorini

 

This caught my eye for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’ve never been to Santorini and every time I see photos of the whitewashed buildings against the blue sea, I feel the need to drop everything, charter a private jet with Air Charter Service (ACS), and immerse myself in the beauty of the Mediterranean. Not to mention AdventureYogi proclaim not to take themselves too seriously and I want a wellness retreat to be fun, as well as relaxing. You also get to spend a day on a yacht, eating and drinking, so there is that.

 

Eff It Retreats – Italy

STROMBOLI

I have to declare an interest here, BUT Eff It retreats in Italy are amazing – I should know, I went on one a couple of years ago! They usually offer 8 or so different types of retreats throughout the year, ranging from the deeper, more therapeutic, soul-searching retreats with native Italian, Gaia, to the lighter, sometimes business-focused, anti-stress type retreats with her husband John. Most teaching happens up until lunchtime and you have the afternoons and evenings to explore all the amazing food, drink and sunshine that Italy has to offer.

 

38 Degrees North – Marbella

marbella

Fitness and nutrition are a big part of wellness and something I continue to work on. Some days are better than others, so I wanted to include a retreat where fitness is the main focus. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try a retreat like this as an overweight, middle-aged woman, but it looks great. I particularly like the fact they work-out outside a lot, it’s not all in a gym, it’s making use of the beautiful surroundings. Their ethos is sustainability, i.e. giving you the tools to be able to carry on with your fitness journey at home.

 

I hope that gives you some (healthy) food for thought. If you are interested in attending a wellness retreat, do your research, think about what your main aim is (to lose weight/relax/de-stress/learn something new/get fit), and definitely read the testimonials from previous guests. Then you can fly private with Air Charter Service if your budget allows you to, and re-centre yourself. Trust me, you wont regret it.

 

kate sutton

 

*   This is a collaborative post

Here’s What Happened on Saturday

Apologies I’ve been a little quiet of late. I’m going through ‘some health issues’ that I may blog about soon but I feel wiped out. I think the situation will improve over time, but I need to listen to my body … even though my body is telling me to watch The Good Wife in bed whilst eating Kit Kats. But I wanted to tell you what happened on Saturday.

 

The plan was that I would go up to London to meet my first Guardian Soulmates date. Now I never normally travel on a first date but I just quite fancied the trip if I’m honest. Plus he seemed normal enough (don’t they all at first), and it just made sense. I got to the train station and the train was delayed. I hate being late for anything, it makes me very anxious, so the trip didn’t start out well. But the sun was shining, so I just text my date to explain I’d be late.

 

By the time the train arrived, it was quite busy, but I got a seat no problem and started to watch a film on my phone I’d downloaded. (Manchester By The Sea – very good.) And then the train got busier and busier at each station, and I started to feel a little panicky. You see I have ‘a bit of an issue’, without going into major detail, about closed-in spaces … it’s all connected to my past relationship, and if I can’t see a way out of a situation, whether that’s a lift or a tube, I start to panic.

 

My heart began to race. I put my phone down and couldn’t see the train door for all of the football fans as it was now standing-room only. I tried to listen to a download on my phone for this very purpose. It didn’t work. I stood up. Wondered what the hell I was going to do. I only had two more stops to go before I got to London but knew if I didn’t do something, I wouldn’t make it.

 

So I did something really rather embarrassing, but it saved me. I spoke to someone on public transport.

 

I know, I know, it’s just not the done thing, but I knew that if I could talk to someone it would take my mind off how I was feeling and distract me long enough to get me through the next ten minutes.

 

I eyed up my victims. Which football fan looked the friendliest? Was there a woman I could talk to? (There wasn’t.) So I chose a man stood near me, in his 50’s, travelling with his teenage daughter, and leant over to him and whispered in his ear. I mean how embarrassing right? Poor sod.

 

“Excuse me? I know this might seem a little weird, but I get very anxious on trains when it gets very busy, and I wondered if you wouldn’t mind just talking to me until we get to St Pancras.”

 

He styled it out, didn’t look too phased and began a very benign, normal conversation.

 

  • Why was I going to London?
  • What football team did he support?
  • His other daughter normally joined him but was at a Little Mix concert.
  • Who was I meeting and what was he like?
  • How he normally drives to watch Spurs.
  • Train vs. car debate.

 

And so on. And then another fan joined in, and before I knew it, we were coming into St Pancras and I could have cried with relief. My heart rate had slowed. My sweaty palms had dried up. And although I wondered how on earth I’d be able to travel home later if it was this busy, I was just so grateful to this man for (albeit inadvertently) looking after me I just focused on thanking him and making my way through the crowds.

 

It’s a strange thing, anxiety. Something that has come into my life as a 40-something, and through no fault of my own. It only manifests itself in certain situations, but the medication I’m currently on seems to be exacerbating it. Which is nice.

 

Anyway, I survived, needed a wee, didn’t have time for one, so dashed up to Granary Square, behind St Pancras station, where we were due to meet. But as I found a place to wait, as far away from the singing Christmas tree as I could, my date came running up behind me as he’d followed me up the road and realised it was me.

 

Just at the same time as a poor old lady tripped and fell right at my feet.

 

I went into First Aider mode and bent down to the lady to see if she was OK. I did note that although I’d taken charge of the situation, my date didn’t really offer to help out, which was disappointing, but I guess we all handle these situations differently. After she caught her breath, I managed to help get her to her feet and made sure she was OK before my date and I left her and ‘met’ each other properly.

 

And that’s probably as much as I’m going to say about the date at this stage, other than to say we drank wine in a Greek restaurant, got to know each other, and he walked me back to the station as I had to get home to go out for my best friend’s birthday that night. I don’t know how I feel or what I think about him yet as I want to take things slowly, but right now, I’ll be honest, I’m unsure. So I’ll leave it here for now.

 

But that’s what happened on Saturday.

kate sutton

 

Photo credit: Fabrizio Verrecchia

The Best Sports Bra Ever? A Full Review of the Panache Sports Bra

The hunt for the perfect sports bra has been long, arduous and expensive. Being ‘blessed’ (some say cursed) with a big chest has always been problematic when it comes to most things (ahem, although not all), but particularly exercising. You don’t know pain until you’ve run on a treadmill without the girls being strapped down sufficiently.

 

I’ve tried a few different brands. High Street brands, supermarkets, and found a bra that worked OK. But I would go through them at a rate of knots. The strain that poor clasp was under was incredible and it’s no wonder they would start to bend quite quickly, and ultimately start digging into my back. The bra would then be precariously keeping my boobs from bursting out with two tiny bra hooks … talk about living on the edge.

 

Panache Sport clearly felt my pain (thankfully for them, not my literal pain) because they got in touch and very kindly sent me a selection of sports bras to try. So I’ve put them through the proverbial sweaty ringer, tried them out for a couple of weeks, and am now ready to report back to you because if there’s one thing important in life, then it’s looking after your boobs.

 

best sports bra

best sports bra

best sports bra

 

(Quick note to any men reading this: please no pervy DMs, this is an informative post that does contain pictures of (shock horror) me wearing a bra, so y’know … it’s not necessary. Just move along.)

 

SIZING

 

I think finding the right bra size is so difficult, whether it’s an everyday bra or a sports bra. Every brand is different, our breasts change size at different times of the month and it really is a case of trial and error. I tend to usually keep the back size smaller, and potentially go up a cup size, when shopping for a sports bra, and that seems to work, but because I’ve put weight on recently I thought I’d go up a size. Therefore, I’m normally a 36F/G, but chose a 38G for this Panache Sports bra, and it fit very well.

 

best sports bra

best sports bra

best sports bra

 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

 

The bra looked really robust and rather big. Because it is, there’s no getting around that really. My boobs are full and very round, so I need a lot of material to encase them, especially at the sides. The straps are padded and looked comfortable, and the hooks and eyes at the clasp were thankfully plentiful. It is, of course, underwired, and overall, it looked like it was up the job. Sexy, it isn’t, but that isn’t the point of this bra. I’ve also noticed that there’s a ‘clip’ at the back of the bra that allows you to turn it into a racerback bra, but I haven’t tried this out yet.

 

best sports bra

 

SUPPORT

 

Support is so important, and I wasn’t disappointed. As I said, I’ve worn this bra during a couple of PT sessions, and just generally working out at the gym, and although I don’t ‘do’ running, I can tell you now, the bra was fantastic. It didn’t move AT ALL. The bottom part stayed stuck to my ribs at all times and didn’t ride up my back, my boobs didn’t spill out anywhere and not only that, they felt really lifted and gave me a nice shape in my clothes.

 

Two minor issues: Firstly, I think it’s just because I’m so big chested, but because my boobs aren’t separated in this sports bra, like in a traditional bra, I did feel that my cleavage wasn’t particularly supported, so there was a slight … wobble at the top. Hard to explain, and it didn’t detract from what is a fantastically supportive bra, but you can perhaps see in this photo what I mean.

 

best sports bra

 

And secondly, I would have liked to have been able to, for want of a better word, hoik my boobs up a bit more, but I couldn’t adjust the bra strap any further. Had I been able to, it might have sorted that first issue out. But having said that, these two minor issues (for me, as a big-chested woman), still didn’t detract from what is a really supportive bra.

 

COMFORT

 

Sports bras are notoriously uncomfortable, but this bra didn’t irritate me at all. Yes, at the end of the day when I took it off, there was a LOT of relief, but I’m like that every day! There was a slight redness around my ribcage where the bra was close-fitting, but there’s a lot of weight to support, so it’s not surprising, and it wasn’t sore in the slightest. No red marks on my shoulders either, which is a miracle.

 

best sports bra

best sports bra

best sports bra

best sports bra

 

CONCLUSION

 

I would definitely buy this bra again, although I may experiment with the sizing, just to see if I can sort out the minor cleavage wobble issue by either going up a cup size, or down a back size (or vice versa.) And I don’t think smaller chested women would have that issue to contend with, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that. But overall, I loved the shape that this bra gave me, the uplift and support, and it’s the best sports bra I’ve ever worn.

 

kate sutton

24 Hours on Guardian Soulmates

I bit the proverbial dating bullet this week and joined Guardian Soulmates. At a cost of thirty bloody two quid. I clearly mean business. I’m so tired of the hassle and nonsense I have to put up with on free dating sites so I thought there had to be a better way. Surely, if you’re parting with hard-earned cash, you must be serious about meeting someone. Hmm … the jury is still out, but here’s how my first 24 hours on Guardian Soulmates went.

 

  • The first person to view me was anonymous and aged 99. I could have cried. OK, so I suspect he wasn’t actually 99, although you never know, but this wasn’t a good start. Took Sugar Daddy to a whole new meaning.

 

  • Earnest profiles. I’d been warned that the profiles may be a little ‘Guardian reader.’ Lots of vegetarian, yoga-loving, botanists on there, and they were right. I’d say 9/10 profiles I’ve read I’m convinced have been written by professional writers. I then wondered whether that was a legitimate service I could offer, bearing in mind I could tell a man exactly what not to write in a profile, but most profiles are so well written. Interesting, funny, smart … just my type of men. However, some are perhaps a little too intellectual for me and half of what they’ve said goes over my head. Now I’m not stupid, I’ve got 7 o-levels I’ll have you know, but I’ve clearly been on Tinder too long because I think I’ve just gotten used to stupid profiles. Anything will impress me now to be honest.

 

  • Age limits. This is the one thing that really worried me, the age issue rearing its ugly head again. I’ve never lied about my age (well, give or take a year or so), but it’s really disheartening to see men my age putting in their profile that they’re looking for women ten years younger than them. And I get it. I’ve always dated men slightly younger than myself, but I’ve always been open to at least talking to men my age and a little older (perhaps not aged 99 though.) I’ve not seen one profile of a man my age say he’s looking for someone of a similar age, and not only are they missing out on brilliant (ahem) women like myself, it’s a real pain in the arse that I seem to fall into this weird age thing where I’m happy to date men my age, but they don’t want to date a woman my age. So I’m left with 25 year-old guys who, and I quote, think I’m a “Gorgeous MILF”, or 99 year-old men that don’t even leave a message.

 

  • Let’s just say I haven’t exactly been inundated with messages. In fact, I’ve had four. Three from guys who I didn’t find attractive and were a lot older than me, and one from a guy who really isn’t my type looks-wise, but he’s funny, interesting and charming and I’m willing (how gracious of me) to at least have a phone call with him. I’ve been brave and messaged about a dozen men I like the look and sound of, and not one of them has replied. That may be because they aren’t paid members and can’t reply, which begs the question, WHAT’S THE BLOODY POINT OF YOU BEING ON THE SITE IF YOU CAN’T TALK TO PEOPLE, or they just don’t find me attractive. Both options are shit, and quite frankly, if it continues like this, there’s no point in me paying for another month.

 

  • Intellectual conversation. Granted, I don’t have much to go on, bearing in mind only one person has deigned to start a conversation with me, but instead of going straight in for the trifecta of standard dating questions – “have you been on here long, what was your last date like and what are you looking for?” – I’ve found myself having to up my pun game, or as he called it, “A playful use of half-rhyme,” talk about myself more, rather than talk about them, and above all, have a respectful first conversation instead of someone just shouting, “Nice tits” at me.

 

  • It’s such a relief not to have to wade through hundreds of topless photos, of men wrestling tigers, or holding a massive fish. Instead, your profile photo has to be a clear headshot of you, and the additional photos are normal. Men in suits, at parties, on holiday, skiing (lots of skiing photos), and not a ‘just got out of the shower’ photo in sight.

 

I don’t really have much else to add at this stage as I am clearly not proving very popular at all. It’s early days but again, I’m left wondering … what is it about me that men clearly don’t like? Too old? Too fat? Too ginger? Too awesome? Yeah, has to be the latter one right? But seriously, I know I’m probably an acquired taste, but I had hoped that a different type of man might appreciate the fact that I’m not your typical Barbie doll type of woman with boobs hanging out and lips inflated. (And ladies, if that’s your jam, you go for it!)

 

Of course, people have shared with me their stories about how a workmate found love on Guardian Soulmates, and they’ve now been married for ten years with half a dozen kids in tow, but it’s not helpful. As lovely as it is. Because I’ve heard stories like that about every other dating site. And it just reinforces the fact that it’s not me that someone wants.

 

So there we have it, my first 24 hours on Guardian Soulmates. The man I’ve been speaking to has actually arranged an appointment with me to talk to me on the phone. Which I obviously found hilarious. Too polite to just call me, he’s asked if he may speak with me at 8pm on Monday night. I can’t decide if it’s too (for want of a better word) anal (fnar) … or just quite sweet. But talking to him has made me realise one thing. That there are normal, intelligent men out there that perhaps would appreciate a woman like me, and even if he’s not my type, and I don’t renew my membership, it was worth spending £32 just for that.

 

kate sutton

Arden & Amici Italian Bakery – Perfect For Christmas

I love Christmas but I’m definitely one of those slightly miserly, ‘I’m refusing to even think about Christmas until December’ type of people. Until, that is, an Italian bakery brand called Arden & Amici got in touch and sent me all the Panettone and Amaretti biscuits and now I can’t wait until Christmas! So yesterday pretty much consisted of taking photos of cake and biscuits and taste testing them. I know, I know … insert eyeroll here.

 

Arden & Amici

 

The first product I want to tell you about is a tin of soft Amaretti biscuits. Now this may be the strangest sentence I’ve written in a while but I’m a soft Amaretti biscuit virgin, so didn’t know what to expect. Firstly, look how pretty they are. I love that they’re individually wrapped in wax paper and not only do they look pretty, but they stay super fresh (they’re wrapped in cellophane too.) Nothing worse than a stale biscuit, right?

 

Arden & Amici

Arden & Amici

 

They literally melted in my mouth, crumbled down my top and lasted all of 3 seconds. I’ll be honest, at my age, I tend to steer clear of really hard foods you know, just in case, so this little full-flavoured almondy morsel was perfect.

 

Next, was the mini Cranberry and Orange Panettone.

 

Arden & Amici

Arden & Amici

 

Surrounded in a wax paper, this was as light as air, buttery and full of fruit. I have a bit of an aversion to lemon peel and because this was full of cranberries, I think this is the flavour I would choose to buy again. I ate it just before I went to the gym and because it was so light, I didn’t feel heavy after eating it at all. I loved every mouthful and would 10/10 buy it again.

 

And finally, the big classic Panettone. I’ll be honest, I haven’t tried this yet because I really do want to save it for Christmas, but if the one above I ate is anything to go by, it’s going to be delicious and I can’t wait to eat it. On my own. With no children around of course.

 

You can see the full range of Christmas products here, and I’m sure there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes.

Arden & Amici

 

Being able to try out these delicious products means that my Christmas bakery game is going to be strong this year and although I may have already eaten the mini Cranberry & Orange Panettone (#research), I still have the bigger version to eat. Coincidentally, I saw a tribute to Antonio Carluccio at the weekend and he shared a recipe for leftover (ha!) Panettone which looked gorgeous – Zuccotto … a layered ricotta and Panettone pudding, with nuts and Marsala and cocoa and ooh, it sounds delicious. So I think I’m going to have to try that out on Boxing Day.

 

I also think that because the packaging one each product is so beautiful, they’d also make a lovely Christmas present. I’d certainly be delighted if I received any of the Arden & Amici range as a Christmas present … just FYI.

 

kate sutton

 

The One Thing I Miss About Being In a Relationship (no, not that)

I talk about dating on and off, when I have the energy, and you may think that my life kinda revolves around finding a boyfriend. It doesn’t. My life is full of a whole host of other things … namely Netflix and halloumi, but I’m a great believer in if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen blah blah. There’s no point forcing these things, and I don’t waste too much of my limited energy thinking about whether I’ll ever fall in love again. (Although I bloody hope I do of course.)

 

But the other night, as I was watching The Martian in bed (on Netflix, I wasn’t spooning ET), it dawned on me that there is probably only one thing I miss about being in a relationship. Yes, I miss the little things like having someone to make me a cup of tea, or being able to warm up my cold feet on a warm body, but the main thing I miss is having someone to share the happy moments in my life with. Granted, it’s a massive thing. (That’s what she said etc. – sorry, the 13-year-old me couldn’t help it.)

 

Happy moments aren’t exactly plentiful … I’m skint, overweight, I live in a rented house and I’m pretty sure I’m going through the menopause, BUT I can (I’ve probably had to to be honest), find joy in the smallest things in life, and I miss sharing those with someone. Here are just a few off the top of my head that I’ve experienced recently and thought, “I wish I had someone who could share in this moment.”

 

  • That time I flipped a 100kg tyre. I was so proud of myself, and shared an obligatory photo to Instagram (obviously), but I wanted to come home to someone who would get what an achievement it was and be proud of me.

 

  • That Twitter thread I shared on Facebook (you can find it here) about the times people have got their words muddled up, that made me laugh so much I couldn’t catch my breath, and every time I thought about it, even days later, it would set me off again.

 

  • When Nick Knowles sang on Lorraine and it was the most amazing piece of TV I’ve ever seen.

 

  • Whenever my kids do well. I mean I love taking all the glory but it would be nice to show-off to someone.

 

  • I did really well at work the other week and my boss was so happy with me that, among other things, he sent a fancy bottle of champagne over from Italy. Gold bottle, the works. Except I don’t want to drink it on my own, and I seem to make a habit of saving nice bottles of wine/champagne for special occasions that don’t seem to happen. It would have been nice to have shared it with a partner and for him to have made a toast about how awesome I was. (And yes, don’t worry, it’ll get drunk before Christmas!)

 

  • When I saw the most amazing moon a few weeks ago. I’ve never seen a moon like it and on top of that, it was called a Beaver moon, which was definitely worth sharing with someone.

 

I could go on. My life is full of stupid, meaningless-to-everyone else moments, but you get my point. And I’d like to be a part of someone else’s happy moments too. That would be amazing.

 

Being in a relationship can’t, and won’t, make you or me happy. I’m pretty sure of that. I’ve spent a fair amount of my life on my own and have grown to understand myself in these last five years, and I’m grateful for having that time. Should have gone travelling at 20 and learnt about myself that way, but I got married instead. Ho hum. But I’ve earnt my own money, I haven’t relied on anyone, I’ve supported and nurtured my children, and crucially, I’ve understood when it was time to look after my mental and physical health. After years of being put down, I’m finally in a really good place.

 

So I don’t miss the security that people often find from a relationship because I’ve created it for myself. I could find the act of physical affection (haha in case Dad’s reading) fairly easily if I wanted to. I’ve got friends and family I can tag in memes. And the bad times … I can cope with on my own. I’ve had my fair share of shitty things to deal with and I’m made of strong stuff although of course, I’d bloody love someone to help me through those too. But it’s the happy times I’d love to share with someone again I guess. And it’s that which makes me a little sad.

 

I’ll be following this post up with one about all the amazing reasons it’s cool to be single, but I do sometimes suffer from a case of the grass is always greener-itis. I think we all do from time to time, and it’s OK to feel a little melancholy isn’t it? Especially at this time of year. So if you’re single like I am, let’s try and share the happy moments with each other … at least until Idris Elba declares undying love for me, then I’m off.

 

kate sutton