Hey guys! So this week is “Thinking of You Week”. It’s organised by the Greeting Card Association and runs from the 21st to the 27th of September. Yessss I know….a great way for them to get us to spend money, but I actually think it’s a great idea. I mean why do we have to wait for birthdays and Christmas to send cards? Remember when we actually had to pick up a pen and write a letter to find out how people were? My son’s not quite old enough yet, but other than maybe their letter to Santa, has your child ever wrote a letter? Writing to somebody is just so personal, it’s not something that is mass produced and pre-printed. It means somebody thought about you, just you yourself.
God I used to love writing letters, I wrote to my Nanny, my little brothers, my cousins including one I…
Yeah, yeah I know it’s only September BUT if you want to take your child to see Santa and you want it to be worth it, then you gotta get in quick…seriously all the December weekends at Ruxley Manor are already gone!
Anyway, last Christmas, Small Monkey was two and a half and showing an interest in Santa. Wooo…exciting!! The two years before that I just took him up to Winter Wonderland. It’s free, and he wasn’t getting the whole “Santa” thing anyway, but unless you get in early there can be a lot of queuing and it’s fairly rushed, I still have some cute pics though. So yeah, he was finally interested so I thought, now lads, now the fun begins and true effort is required. I tried booking Selfridges and Hamleys, granted it was October I think, so my efforts were futile. So in the end I was saved by another Mother (anuvva Muvva..hee hee) on a Netmums chat…mmm…could’ve been good old Facebook either though and heard about Ruxley Manor Garden Centre.
From Waterloo, it’s about 55mins by car, or 1hr 20mins by public transport, which is a pain but it really didn’t seem that long. You will need to sign up online to book an allocated slot, adults are £4 each, Small Monkey’s age is £10, and the visit lasts about 45mins. Obviously, with it being a garden centre, there are fabulous Christmas grottos and displays everywhere. The miniature railway set up is just beautiful to look at, so do go and have a nose around. Oooh and they have their own resident reindeer!
Now the fun stuff! I really wasn’t sure what I was expecting for £10, I thought “ah he’ll get a nice picture with Santa and some little knick knack at least” but both myself and hubby thought the time to get there and the £20 (for all of us) was well spent. At the entrance to the grotto we were greeted by an Elf and given the first stamp in our “grotto passports”. After a short wait our group (it wasn’t a big group, just the right amount of people) was led through the magical doors to Santa’s grotto by……MRS CLAUS!!! Yep straight into her cosy, log cabin kitchen, where, accompanied by elves, all the children were sat down to make their very own magical reindeer feed. There was also a Jingle Bell sing-a-long where instruments were handed out, annd of course, you got your passport stamped. Well I dunno about anyone else, but I was delighted and my Monkey looked like he was enjoying himself too. Now there is a little bit of time at the end, if people get their acts together, where you can get a cheeky pic with Mrs Claus. They are quite happy to take pics but you are on a tour and you don’t want to get left behind.
Through the next door, we are met by another group of extremely happy elves and we’re all asked to take a seat at the wooden tables. We were then told the story of “the Night before Christmas”. Like I said, I hadn’t a clue really what I paid for but the elves then started handing out little pouches and boxes of markers and crayons. The Monkey would be making his very own Christmas bauble. The also handed out some extra pictures for the kids to colour in too. Ah shur it was great, the elves bopped about here and there spreading Christmas cheer and stamping passports. I mean just look at his bauble…my child is an artiste! He coloured that in himself, we never touched it….yep…I am extremely proud of that bauble lads! We then gathered by the doors to meet the Big Man himself.
We were led into a room with a bench all around the edge and lots of cushions on the floor for the kiddies to sit on. Aaah, you’d want to hear the oohs and aaahs when the kids discovered who was asleep by the fireplace. Their little faces were something else lads seriously. You can’t put a price on that. Santa had a little chat with the crowd, answering questions, asking questions, you know the usual “have you been good and make sure you be good, don’t forget to put the reindeer food out and a bikkie for him” kinda thing. Of course as the kids had been so good he decided to give them all a present and OMG, the presents only came down the chimney!!! Delira!! Each child was called up individually and given their present. The kids under 3, as Monkey was, got quite a nice Christmas Elf
each but you could tell from the boxes coming down that the older kids got something more exciting, say. (On booking online, you’re asked your child’s sex and age, so the present given is suitable, which is lovely). It was so lovely seeing my little man go up to get his pressie from Santa…I think my eyes were wet. As the present giving was wrapped up…heh heh…do ya see what I did there?..the elves came back to help each child or family have their picture with Santa, stamp passports….annnd all the parents were given a BABY CHRISTMAS TREE EACH!!! We got a lovely picture in the end even though our original take got mislaid…on leaving Santa to collect our photo it gets a bit crazy. We actually got to meet Santa again as our picture had to be re-taken.
Once the tour was done, we had a wander back to the reindeer, took in the fabulous light displays and thanked God we don’t live in an actual house with free reign outside. Have ye seen “Deck the Halls”?? I was really good too and only bought a snowman to go on my fireplace. We also spent ages looking at the miniature railway and Christmas town display…I dunno what happened to my pics of that but it was beautiful.
So there ye go guys, if you’re in the southeast London area, I’d highly recommend Ruxley Manor to visit Santa. We really enjoyed it and look forward to going again this year.
There 2wks ago I donned my 50’s style Lindy Bop dress, put on my face, failed to pin curl my hair in a 50’s style do, and headed off in search ofCollectif Clothing‘s store on Commercial St. I was heading to Abby Russell‘s (AKA Curvy Living) “Self-Love and Style” evening.
*Just to be clear, when I say “self-love”, I mean, like, love yourself for who you are not “manual self-love” ye dirty feckers!
I don’t think I’ve ever been 100% body confident in myself but I don’t think I’ve ever really let it affect me to much. I like to think I wear what I want, be it in fashion or not, if I like it I’ll wear it. If I’m suffering from a “bad skin on my back” day I’ll wear something to cover it and if I’m feeling fat then I’ll wear something that makes me feel less fat or covers my lumpy bits. If I feel comfortable and I’m happy wearing it, then why shouldn’t I? The choices I make, I make to suit my height and my shape, I make them for me. Of course I love people to say, ooh you look great or I love what you’re wearing, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and you can’t win them all lads! Obviously, if you’ve read my previous post Slima-marinky-mee! or follow my FB page you’ll know I’m a Slimming Worlder, so yes my weight did bother me but even when I was heavier, I like to think it didn’t affect my clothing choices to much, or made me feel like a bad person. Yes I do feel better that I’ve lost weight, but I wore a jumpsuit at my size 16 heaviest, I loved it, I feel like I rocked it, just like I love my new size 12 jumpsuit….my weight does not define me…it annoys me but it’s not the sum of me.
I was a little bit nervous as I was going on my own and so knew nobody. Normally I’d see an event like this and think well nobody to go with so not going, but as time waits for no man, one must seize every opportunity, and so I booked it. Thankfully I was greeted by a smart looking waitress with a glass of prosecco. Phew! At least I could just stand and drink…it would make me look like I was doing something. Anyway once I was in the door, armed with my prosecco, I could take in my surroundings. I’d never been in a Collectif shop before and I was obviously missing out, looking online is just not the same. Everything is so bright and colourful in store. So many colours, so many fab items of clothing….and sweet baby Jesus, there was a sale on!! It wasn’t only the clothes that were so bright and lovely looking though, there were amazingly dressed ladies of all shapes, heights and sizes everywhere and one cool sales guy. The outfits! The hair!! OMG the hair!!
As I was coming in there was a gorgeous blonde with an amazing figure and the biggest victory rolls I think I’ve ever seen greeting the ladies who came in before me, this was Abby, the hostess. It’s hard to imagine that this gorgeous lady ever had any body confidence issues…or any confidence issues at all tbh, I’m pretty sure her atoms are made of sunshine!
On walking around some more, I spottedGeorgina Horne(AKA Fuller Figure Fuller Bust or as I like to call her, the woman who can work everything, she’s the shizz!). It was through her FB page that I learned about the event. There was another babe, with close cut hair and one of the few of us not wearing a dress, that looked so familiar, like you know when you feel like you know someone from somewhere but you can’t think where or how…turns out it was Miss Leyah Shanks, Mother of The Body Confidence Revolution #TBCR.
It was so weird, like meeting celebs, although I only know these people through social media, it was kind of surreal meeting them in really real life. I wandered about the clothes rails, making mental notes of what I obviously NEEEEEDED in my life, cos I have “NO” clothes and made conversation with a few people. Inside I might have been slightly nervous and wondering why I came alone, but I normally just suck it up and go for it, so I did, and nobody thought I was nuts. I really wanted to say hi to George as she’d helped me choose an outfit via Snapchat the week before, but I thought I’d seem like a sack so took a seat. As I watched ladies have their hair teased into retro up-dos, Abby made her way over to say hi. She was really sweet, we had a great chat about where we were from, work, the event and she suggested I go get my hair done too. So I joined the short queue and Abby introduced me to another girl, who’d come alone. Whilst loitering I went in for the kill and tapped George on the shoulder. I explained who I was and was delighted to find she remembered our snap convo annnd I just had to tell her her boobs were even more mahooosive looking in really real life….haaa #starstruck!
After having the opportunity to shop, try things on, get our hair & photos done, eat yummy canapes, drink prosecco annnnnd receive goodie bags, Abby asked us to take a seat. Herself, Georgina and Leyah all spoke about how they’ve all had issues with their bodies, their weight, their shapes, their confidence, anxiety and how the media has affected how we think we should all look. There were three totally different shaped ladies standing in front of us and I wanted to look like all of them, but at the same time why? There is only one of me, I am so rare I should be on an endangered list lads! There may have been somebody in that room wishing they looked like me! It’s so hard to remember everything that was said but one quote that stuck with me was from George, “try finding influences in YOURSELF that don’t make you feel sh*t”. We can look to others for inspiration and we can look at others in admiration but we still need to be us, not a copy. None of these women have said they are 100% happy with themselves every day, they have all said they have crap days where they don’t like what they see, as I think all of us do. What they are trying to say is what we see on the glossy pages of mags has been tweaked and airbrushed to Barbie-like proportions. For the most part it’s not what a normal woman looks like. For a start not “every” woman in that mag should be a size 6-8 and 5’7 because not every woman is a size 6-8. Most women will have blemishes, or scars, or stretchmarks or uneven skin tone…some even have tattoos, piercings and God forbid…..BODYHAIR!!! Nobody is saying don’t strive for YOUR version of perfection if it makes you happy but make sure you’re doing it because it makes you happy, not because it’s how society says you should look. Shur if we all looked the same it would be pretty boring eh?
I don’t think I’ve said everything I want to say here but as this post is getting quite long, I need to draw to a close. I know that I came out of the Self-Love and Style event feeling confident, feeling positive but the whole time I was sitting there I kept thinking of how much somebody very dear to me along with one or two others could really, reeeally benefit from being here and hearing from all these really cool, stylish shapely ladies. Just to hear from people you don’t know, that you don’t have to be tall and slim to be beautiful. If any of you ever get the chance to attend one of Abby’s events or an event like this, I’d highly recommend it.
I’ll finish by telling you about a conversation I had with a friend…. I sent her a couple of pictures of what I might be wearing to this event. She text back to say I look amazing and that she has no fashion sense. I replied saying, you probably do (have fashion sense) but you have convinced yourself you can’t wear something because of your shape. I told her about an epiphany I had whilst ironing a few nights before. If something bad happened to me where I ended up not dying but maybe paralysed but with full brain function, something where I was pretty much bed bound forever, I would hate to have all that time to think about all the things I should have done or worn but didn’t because I was afraid of what other people might think or say. Better I just do it now while I still can and not regret when I can’t.
*I hope I haven’t offended anyone with my “epiphany”…it’s not intended that way.