Saturday, 28 March 2015

Avalanche Do, Manchester

It seems I'm a serious blogger these days, I got invited to a real event and everything; the re-launch of the new menu at Avalanche in Manchester.  I was slightly miffed not to have been papped outside... "OMG it's Emma-Lou, you know her from her amazing blog".  No red carpet or that either... but I am new at this... so maybe next time?

Says in B&W, officially a blogger!

Avalanche though is the type of place you might spot a real celeb, the approach outside the restaurant is really flash looking, you can tell looking in; it's a smart place to eat.

Anyhow I was chuffed to bits to go along, mostly because, I've not been well, feeling down in the dumps and needed a nice trip out.  Was able to take a plus one... so obvs left husband at home and took my bessie.

My steadfast plus one

We met in Town for a little beer and then headed to restaurant, it's a good central location.  Booth St, near Town Hall (on next corner to Croma).  It used to be Lime Bar; many moons ago, I used to go quite a bit for drinks and nights out.  We've had a few Christmas parties downstairs too, which were always well turned out and a good do' (from memory just drinks and canapĂ© type of trays going round).

From my 2009 FB 'high-jacking the coffee machine in Lime Bar oh dear'
When we arrived the staff at the reception point, took our names and laughed at my silly jokes, all very convivial.  The young lads milling round taking coats and organising wine were gorgeous and real charming, not like in an insincere, smarmy way, but nice and ingratiating.
We were seen to our table; as another point, the waiting staff were great to set out a table for five, setting aside an extra place.   All very nice, starter arrived, bruschetta and camembert and all lovely other stuff.  So nicely presented, if I was a proper blogger I would have taken pictures... but I lose my photo-taking urges when faced with foodstuff, I don't want to a. risk it going cold and b. somebody nicking it!
Main platters arrived, again beautifully presented and tasty tasty.  We had one of the vegetarian types at our table, and she was given a separate veggie lasagne, I lusted after it so much, I bagged myself a taste, really nice, really well served, not just plain old veggie lasagne, no idea how they got aubergine to taste so good.
Now, as much as I like starters and mains... really I'm a pudding girl and to my DELIGHT, my favourite showed up!  TIRAMISU gosh I love it.  Without blowing ones own trumpet, aided by Gordon Ramsey's work Gordon Ramsey's Tiramisu (I use tia maria instead of masarla).  NOBODY in the world makes a tiramisu as good as mine, the effort from Avalanche... was a good second.... Obv they'd never top mine, but was so good, I got a second portion.. told ya I love the stuff.
The wine supplier did a round of the tables, in the past this has freaked me out a bit, but not so here.  He was great, and the enthusiasm he showed for sharing knowledge of wine and working with Avalanche was endearing. My pal who knows a bit about wine (well more than me.... I like Aldi Merlot.. that's my knowledge... I like what I like!). She talked of a favourite red of hers; and yay, a bottle of montepulciano rocked up (and even to my wine pallet was very nice).
As I say this was one of my first blogger events, and I was a little nervous (until glass of wine number 3), but you know what it was great, really great, I met loads of people, as ever, always the case with me, I was there till the end.  Another note of good service, a taxi was ordered and I was escorted outside to a waiting cab.
Food, wine, layout, live music all great, brilliant.  But Avalanche's real selling point is service, and this is hard to nail, but they do.  I'm not sure of numbers, but they pulled off 100 covers with little fuss and sincere service.
The re-launch of their new menu should create a real buzz, I'd defo go back (on like condition they roll out a red carpet)! 
xx Emma-Lou

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Moaning about her moaning about being stuck in and moaning....

I've not been well for a few days, I feel better this weekend but still not 'right'... If ever I am 'right' of course (some would argue).

So, I'm up and about, shopping at Morrisons, picking up kids birthday pressies from Argos, I've hoovered upstairs, I'm not like dead ill.  But I could do with sitting down and resting a bit.  Heading back from a quick family visit; the kids in the back hint strongly that they'd like to go the park for a bit... to make matters worse, that girl of mine, as we're at lights, spots her mate safety-helmeted up in fine fettle riding towards the park.

Usually, I would take them, I really would, I like going, we go swimming, library, ice cream parlour, baby visiting, shopping trips into town, coffee, national trust outings, lunches out, family visiting, miniature train riding; we do it all.  Our weekends are non-stop dropping off/picking up... sleep overs, buying and wrapping kids party presents (looking for the bloody sellotape), going to these parties, helping at these parties.  And I don't usually moan... I really like the busyness of our life; I'm lucky my two go to bed handy and me and him get down time together most evenings.

So why do I feel so guilty... it'd only take half-hour... but it's cold and my lower back aches.... I've just got him to pump her wheel.... why?   I'm not taking her... but she's moaning about being cooped up all day, I might take her out as he baths the lad after tea... just for 15 minutes round the block!

Two things, having kids... a. ruins your weekends and b. makes you feel guilty!

xx Emma-Lou

Friday, 20 March 2015

Book Review: Brass by Helen Walsh [contains spoilers]

My very first book review:    Brass by Helen Walsh

Image result for brass by helen walsh
Great artwork if a bit saucy! 
I was put onto this book by a pal at work, she recommended it "you'll get it being Scouse and won't be offended by the swearing and depravity"!

She was right on the one score, what I enjoyed most about the book was the dialect, set in a time of my youth in Liverpool. I could slip back and could hear the young lads I used to know acting all the big 'I am' talking rubbish mostly.... "kinel girl, what ya going on with yerself for"  "see ya at Sevvie at six bells" "come 'ead"... but my absolute favourite and I was 'made-up' (that's my own Scouse to add in); was when Sean called Millie a "meff"... BRILLIANT!

Millie, I just didn't get on with her, sure yes, her Ma left suddenly when she was finishing her A Levels, hard times and all that (my heart bleeds), but really, she was heading to the State at 13 making a nuisance of herself long before the big 'tragedy' (of her Ma leaving).  Jamie summed her up, and this is probably my take too. Jamie seemed bright, he read big literature, why you wonder didn't he go to University?  Because like loads of local kids born in rough areas (and this isn't just Toxteth, my opinion is Toxteth is the nicer of the rougher areas), there simply wasn't opportunity, going to school, getting your GCSEs, staying on for A Levels, for lads like Jamie, it wasn't the done thing.  Peer pressure to bunk off, mess round, not be bothered is easy to fall in with, when all your mates are doing the same.  So Jamie resented Millie's opportunity big time, she was wasting it, she didn't apply herself, because she wanted to rough it for a bit, he exasperated "at the end of the day what's she trying to prove". 

The seedy element was hard to read, when she contracted gonorrhoea, I was glad to be honest, might settle her down a bit.  Is it a myth that hookers/brass/prostitutes/tarts enjoy their sexual encounters..... erm... you'd think so.  This is the bit that got me thinking Millie was mentally unwell, she thought she was the bo**ocks, in every aspect of her life... she knew it all, had all the skills, this delusion of grandeur is common with people who lose reach of real life, perhaps it was the drug and alcohol misuse?  Or it could be she's completely well and just a bit of a kn*b!  

The part I found troubling to read; the rape of a child in the club toilet and that's what it was; rape. It was glossed over.  The girl was 14, she NEVER consented, she was in no fit state, Millie had blood on her hands (literally not metaphorically), it was not consensual. Millie herself doubted herself but brushed it off  'Nah she will have loved it... silly cow getting herself in that state it was what she deserved'. After the violation, then to take a photograph.  This is sick.  Millie should have been called to question about this.  She did not deserve a happy ending.

So, I did like the book?  The content, in parts yes, mentally mapping out old haunts in Liverpool; for me a little trip down memory lane (and hating the studes)...  the portrayal of Jamie and co could have been told in a gentler way.  Perhaps lose the child rape and I'd be okay with it!  Oh and one too many uses of the C word, I don't mind, I'm not easily offended, but overuse loses impact (iykwim).

I read 'Brass' has been likened and compared to Irvine Welsh's 'Trainspotting'.  Nope not in the same league, 'Trainspotting' stands alone, this does not level up (by far).  

3 stars.... in fact 4 stars for the amazing Scouseness of it! Come 'ead la!  

xx Emma-Lou

(I had to check the spelling of 'gonorrhoea', hope the hub doesn't get a fright if he checks the history)

Brew anybody...

This week I've learnt two things about myself!

Coffee doesn't agree with me!  I wish I'd have realised sooner as over the last ten years or so I've probably drunk 5-10 cups a day.  It gives me headaches and causes tummy problems (I'll spare ya the details!).

Green tea isn't so bad when you only dunk the bag in quick quick, anymore than a moment and it turns bitter!  I've always left the bag in (like I do with other herbal types) and I've almost bawked.

So will reverse my beverage of choice, thing is I really love my three coffees in the morning, and I've got a lovely travel coffee mug, which just doesn't suit the green tea...

This is the only decent thing I've ever won on a tombola!

I might have to start putting gin in it... or maybe I could bin the coffee mug and get a hip flask... yeah one of those would do me!

Enjoy your morning brew, my advice is, there always has to be biscuits....

Emma-Lou xx

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Advice for new mums...

1. This crucially is the most important... don't take advice from other mums... well accept of course from yours truly, because like my advice is amazing; and you won't go far wrong if you take heed!   When you do announce being up the duff everybody and his dog has something to advise on! 

2.  This linked to number one... other mums LOVE to talk about their birth stories... the more horrific the better.... "I was in slow labour for 3 days", "I had 153 stitches" "I was screaming at that point for an epidural".  SWITCH OFF, DO NOT LISTEN Being honest, my first labour with my girl wasn't great, but I wouldn't ever turn it into a horror story, it was long, it was gory, BUT it was how I met my daughter... and that's lovely. 

3.  Don't be hung up about the pain relief... have it/ don't have, whatever NOBODY CARES and if you are of the 'only gas and air' disposition... great well done, but you don't get special recognition with like a medal or that! 

4.  Pack snacks in hospital bag for partner, you could be there ages, and hungry, woozy husbands can faint (not saying mine did or out....). 

Image result for bacon frazzles
His faves, not kidding when I catch a smell of these, I reminisce back to our Willow's labour!

5.  In the early weeks after baby is born.. limit visitors, I know everybody is dying to see baby, and they have good intentions, but the time is so precious and getting your feeding and routine together is harder when you have to recount your birth story 75 times and make brews.  Plus the menfolk don't get so much time off so it's better to visit when dad has gone back to work.  Funny, your friends who you really want to see, are the compassionate ones that stay away!  

6.  On the score of visitors, if they say "Can I do anything to help" the right response is "YES".  One pal dropped in to me and offered help (I don't think she meant it) but I nearly burst into tears and said "Well I stripped all three beds this morning and I've not been able to put baby down all day; would you mind nipping up and wrestling the quilt covers back on!". 

7.  Bottle v Breastfeeding (here's where I get controversial!).  I was able to feed both babies myself, my daughter exclusively till she was 11 months, but my lad less so, I finished quite suddenly the day he turned 26 weeks (25+6 I was out buying cabbages).  The last couple of weeks feeding my son, I made myself pretty miserable, I felt so guilty thinking about stopping feeding him.  I met a new mum recently who was upset that she'd been giving her baby in-between bottles.  My advice to her was look "nobody except you cares about this, your baby is doing well, don't let this ruin your maternity time with baby".  And again you don't get a medal for breastfeeding so stop being hung up on it. 

Image result for medal
Now if I was computer savvy, I'd photoshop a breastfeeding medal... I'm not!

8.  Sleep when baby sleeps, hell no!  That's when you watch telly, eat toast, have showers, look on Asos.

9.  If you don't like mother and baby groups; it's okay, it doesn't make you a bad person or a rotten mother.  I rocked up with good intentions to the ones run at my local library... after 10 minutes or so; I was bored out my skull.  Also to note, if you don't get your baby weighed every week, that's okay too (although once I went for weigh in without my red book and it was touch and go if they'd ring the social on me!). 

Image result for red book baby

10.  Baby led weaning.... yeah... I suppose... all babies like to suck on toast. 

11.  Enjoy baby; because maternity leave goes in a flash.. and you're not a bad person if you're counting down the days to get back to work! 

Emma-Lou xx

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Speedy Speedy, it's a fair cop #SpeedAwarenessCourse

Well it was a surprise to everyone who knows me... the exclaim that me, Emma-Lou could be a girl-racer, couldn't possibly be true, perhaps I should challenge the summons... "I mean really Emma-Louise, can your Honda Jazzy get up to more than 40".... Yes it was me, I was flashed speeding... at the time I thought it was thunder and lightening... and mentioned to the kids to look out and start counting for thunder to strike!  

It was me. the camera caught me, the number plate, time and date all evidenced to convict me of my crime.... dum dum dum... 58mph in a 50 zone!  Obviously I do speed, I can't claim otherwise, I've been caught!  The fact of the matter however is; I do drive slowly cautiously, I like to maintain a nice steady 28mph... if I'm not triply convinced of 40, 50, national speed limit, then I safely bob along in my 28mph! 

Image result for national speed limit

For my kidding though, I was mortified to get a speeding ticket in the post, it's all very official looking the letter, and it comes in two parts.  I had to send off admitting it was me who has a speedy arse... following this, I got a letter giving me two choices... a. FINE £100, 3 points and increases to car insurance or b. the speed awareness course (the marginally cheaper option at £80).  I went for the speed awareness course, Mr C (who is a more likely candidate for speeding if you ask me) has done the course and weirdly said "you're the type to enjoy that sort of thing".  I didn't want to take a day's leave or do it at the weekend, so went for the 5:30-9:30 slot (after a working Wednesday... on the plus side I did swerve the Brownie run!).  

Hearsay told me that if you turn up even a minute late, you get taken to the gallows (or less dramatically fined and denied admittance), so I headed to the lovely Carrington Business Park with plenty of time to spare.  Not related but on waiting for the course to start, I looked round the cafe type of waiting area, 40 or so people sat round waiting, and they were all plumbed into their phones (mine had run out of charge... hence why I was glancing up from an actual book).  No doubt people were updating their status "can't do the time... don't the time at Carrington Business Park".   Anyhow... it made me feel like we all communicate in wires and don't see each other any more (now there's a tweet!). 

So the course started... ran by two fairly enthusiastic men, well one was really enthusiastic and the other had no choice to up his game. I imagine they put on this course 3 times a day, week in week out, how they keep so upbeat about it, you've got to wonder. 

I was expecting, I think 4 hours of being told off for being a bad driver, but it wasn't like that, it was geared up to be interactive, and looking round the room, we were a fairly mixed bag, so that was interesting in itself.  It does of course go over speed limits (it's all about lamp posts). It's more the about the psychology of driving, talking a lot about 'road rage', tailgating, driving against the clock when running late. 

The fact of the matter is, it's safer to drive within the speed limit, and I don't want the death of a stranger on my conscious or as horrific an injury or death of the loved one I was giving a lift to (thinking about it, my main passengers are my children... shudder). 

Also, speeding 5-10 miles over the speed limit doesn't actually save any time.  If I drove steadily at 80mph from Manchester to London (like that'd be likely on the M6), I'd save in actual time, about 10 minutes.  So thinking about my journey from work creeping up to 35mph is pretty pointless, BUT crucially driving that 10mph over, if I hit a pedestrian; I'd likely seriously injure or kill them.  So don't do it kids! 

Now for pop-psychology... right so somebody doesn't give you gap to pull out... you're there "for godsake where you going in such a hurry... FFS let me in", imagine my 'nasty pasty' face... well I'm going to force my nose out, somebody will HAVE to let me in, seeing my mean face, they'll go "that's not a gap Div" and then start pulling their own version of 'nasty pasty' face.  So two of us are in short tempers now, those tempers are what distract our safe driving... and well you know, cause accidents... So, from now on, I'm going to be smiley driver who lets people in, if somebody gives me a mean face, I'm not going to react, you can call me the cool cucumber type.  

The course was interesting, and not a boring drain of four hours (you get free biscuits too), I think we should all be made to attend, I know I'm now a safer driver from it.  To note I did very well on the quiz, but ashamedly I for the life of me didn't know this sign: 

Image result for no stopping sign

I really should get an updated copy of the highway code.... . 

Safe driving! 

xx Emma-Lou