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My boss, more affectionately known as my work husband was a rock. A father to three awesome little boys, we spent the majority of my job interview discussing the merits of breast feeding, how annoying it is when babies poop in the bath water and our favourite techniques for getting kids to fall asleep. In our hour-long interview I think we spoke about the actual job for all of 10 minutes. He was more interested in what I was like as a person and whether or not we’d be a good fit than my experience in previous roles, though I did have it! That made me warm to him instantly. He was and still is a good egg. My role was a temp one which was meant to last all of six months tops, yet I ended up staying for three years, as much out of loyalty to him as for the actual salary, which although good, was below the market average for our industry. Just goes to show, Jessie J is right, it’s not all about the money. My child will be very proud that I managed to sneak that pop reference into an opening paragraph..

I had a work husband and a work boyfriend. All very scandalous, perhaps greedy if you look at it from a distance, but totally warranted in order to get through a long day in an often high stress environment filled with egos, excess testosterone and general bitchiness. Having people on your side to share the burden, and take out the theoretical trash made things run smoother and keep the day enjoyable. You helped with each other’s workload, shared a beer at lunch after particularly shitty meetings and saved the best stationery for each other, no questions asked. I’m all for equality in the work partner field, I had work wives as well. They too shared the knowing looks, knew when to bitch along and when to just listen when you needed a rant. We went out to drinks now and then. One of my work wives is also the Godmother to my daughter.

My boss though. He was one in a million. I bring this up now because I’m ticking off the finishing touches to my Christmas list and I am reminded fondly of how he used to get his Christmas gifts sent to my house and I’d trek on the crowded tube train to get it into work. It’s not like where I am working now, there was no way of getting post sent to work, security threat you see. It would hold up the x-ray machines and risk the super important legal documents from getting sent up to the building tenants on time, all because we sent a few ASOS packages in. Seems small fry, but multiply it by three thousand employees, you can see how it would be a problem!

I remember being particularly sleep deprived and feeling as if I’d drunk all night and then gone ten rounds with Tyson in the morning just for the heck of it. I was floundering, suffering from sleep deprivation and no use to anyone. He sent me home, no questions asked. He also used to let one of my colleagues hide out under his desk and catch 40 winks. He was cool like that. Caring, protective, swore like a sailor and had a great sense of humour. That’s a fact. I accidentally uploaded my Gina Yashere comedy playlist to his iPod when I was adding some songs. He listened to it all then made super inappropriate jokes about black people, which made me laugh out loud at my desk because this pale skinned Scandinavian bloke was totally unaware as to why him repeating the jokes of a Nigerian English-born comedian may be taken out of context when said out of his mouth. Ahh, my work husband was never known for his diplomatic skills.

My work husband provided me with jokes, support, endless triple shot coffees and trust that I would do any job he set me well. Because he did these things, I didn’t disappoint. I happily went above and beyond for him in a way that I didn’t do with his successor, a man who didn’t acknowledge his team and was above small talk of any type, let alone sharing a much-needed brew. I don’t think you need to have a near marital existence with your direct reports in order to work well but does it help? Hell yes. But oh, do keep it non- sexual. That’s just messy.

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Do you ever hear things? See things and feel the hairs stand up on your arm? Have something touch you in a way that you didn’t expect or even consider possible?

A year or so ago, I met up with a friend and was introduced to some of her wonderful friends. We came from different walks of life and if it hadn’t been for our mutual friend, would probably never have had our lives cross paths. As it happens, this turned out to be one of those pivotal moments where we found out that not only did we have lots in common but what was shared during our five/ six hour love fest of wine, cheese and chatter would mark me.

I remember leaving our girly night in feeling inspired by these women, by what they had achieved and what they still aspired to achieve. One of the ladies there played some spoken word by one of her favourite authors, Buddy Wakefield. I loved it. Instantly. I loved him instantly too. Today, I asked Dena, the lady who first introduced me to Buddy Wakefield who he was as I’d forgotten him, I remembered how calming he’d made me feel and how at the same time he managed to fire up my synapses to new levels of ‘what ifs’ all in the same moment. She forwarded me this video and now I’m sharing it with you. I hope you like it.

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I’m 30 in a couple of months and I have one child. She is awesome humorous, polite and a truly remarkable gift from the heavens. She is though, one. An only child. When I was growing up and daydreamed about my big, gated red brick house and my pop star boyfriend (I would be a world-famous writer *cough*) I always imagined having a netball team’s worth of kids. OK, slight exaggeration. Three children, who would fit neatly in the back of my shiny sports car. All of which would have happened by the time I was 30, 35 at a push.

It seems that me living my hypothetical adult life based on the evidence of my mother and those women who came before her didn’t lead me in good stead. You see, times are changing. I’m not alone in reaching my 30’s with one child under my belt. In fact, I only know a minute handful of people my age with ANY children. A range of different factors, ranging from less economic security, not having settled down and found a life partner, ease of access to contraceptives, the need to climb the career ladder first, the inability to get on the housing ladder- really the list is endless, but all of these factors contribute to why there are less women in their 30’s with a child.

Having my child in my early 20’s was the equivalent of getting pregnant and dropping out of school aged 15, at least that’s how it felt from the judgemental raised eyebrows I’d get in the waiting room at my Hampstead hospital whenever my age was brought into question. The Office for National Statistics suggest that 50 per cent of women my age have no children. This is compared to 42 per cent of women when my mum was my age. The online interactive statistic feature also shows that those with children have on average, 0.90 children as opposed to 1.16 when my mother would have been on the eve of her 30th birthday.

In a way, knowing that of the half of the population who are entering their 30’s with kids also have one child makes me feel a bit better for having not yet realised my dream of being married to a pop star and driving my three children off to ballet lessons. The face of family has changed so much within the last generation or two and will continue to do so. I may never have another child and by the looks of it, I’ll be just another statistic.  As families shrink in size there will be more only children than before, whether out of choice, circumstance or necessity. Mine will possibly be a mixture of all three.

Coming from a large family where I was one of two but where I am fortunate to have over 24 cousins (I stopped counting at 24) it does somewhat sadden me that my daughter will never experience the same massive Christmas parties and family gatherings which were the norm when I was growing up. Then again, will these children miss what they never knew? Do they miss VHS tapes or having to stick a pen in a cassette tape to help it rewind? Perhaps grieving over a future they will never have based on memories of our past is a complete disservice to my one child. The child whom I love dearly, spoil rotten and who is a truly remarkable gift from the heavens. What do you think?

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2014 taught me a lot about myself and about my relationship with those around me. Where I fit in to the world and where I need to do more work. The year is not quite over yet but as I sit here planning my 30th birthday (January!!) and holiday’s for next year, it has transported me to a reflective place. I’m looking inwards and at the same time surveying the landscape around me. A lot happened in November, which I’m sure I’ll get round to telling you about. So now the New Year is an exciting, unplanned leap into new goals, new plans and new places.

It’s healthy to reflect. Only in taking time to actually assess what you’ve done can you pat yourself on the back for what went well, kick yourself up the bum for the dumb crap you’ve done and plan for what you want to do. Here are some of the things 2014 has taught me.

I love to travel

I can be a slave to my hormones

Blogging calms me

I really enjoy taking photos

Never be afraid to put yourself out there. Sometimes the best things come from just asking

I need to move more

Snoop is still amazing live

My friends are incredible

My daughter is wise beyond her years

London is incredibly expensive

London also has incredible places to while away a day for free

Some people are better in small doses. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just how it is

I’m rubbish at crafting, but will never stop trying

Trying to find somewhere to rent in this city sucks eggs

Ignoring your letters is not wise

30 isn’t as much as a big deal now it’s looming nearby

Listen. Stop and actually listen

Slow down and enjoy the moment more

Enjoying your job is more important than a massive salary

You really don’t need a car in London

I can be irrational and impatient

Everyone has a tipping point. Invisible, but it’s there

 

I can probably add loads more to this list but I’ll save that for another time. There’s still a month left. Maybe I’ll get all ‘inwards’ again and add some extras.

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You’ve go to love how easy it is to get away for the weekend now that there are so many budget airlines linking London and other major cities in the UK with our European neighbours. For the price of a meal out, my friend and I were able to hop on a plane first thing on a Saturday morning and spend a weekend in Lisbon, Portugal. We spent two days and two nights based in the Sofitel, Lisbon, exploring the different sections of the historic yet cosmopolitan city.
The first day was spent mostly in the older historic area of Lisbon, exploring narrow cobbled alleys lined with shops and homes, many of which seemed derelict or in the midst of being restored.

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The larger squares were home to live street entertainment, food markets and main tram stops.
We took a number 12 tram up the hilly lanes on a round trip tour, catching glimpses of the castillo, cathedral and other tourist destinations. We were knackered from our walk and my friend was quiet ill, so we didn’t actually get off of the tram to go inside these places, but since we had a 24 hour metro card, we’d have been able to hop on and off as many trams and trains as we wanted all for the reasonable cost of 6 Euros, which we paid at the airport when we first arrived. Luckily the trams run in a loop so you can’t really ever get lost! You just sit tight and eventually end up in the same place you started.

As some of the streets are so super steep, there are trams which run up and down, in the same way you would take a ski lift. When we stopped to take photos of one tram, we were approached by a guy trying to sell us three or four different hard drugs. Casually. In the same way you’d be offered tour bus tickets or a night club guest list. Scary. An older man approached us selling weed a few minutes later in a separate location. It seems the economy is making people much braver in the way they direct illegal business?tram steep libson street number 12 tram Lisbon traditional Portuguese tiles

After hiking up one of these hilly routes to find breakfast on the second day, we were a little disappointed by the offerings at the Pao de Canela brunch buffet. For something that was so highly recommended on Trip Advisor, the food turned out to be cold and bland. It was worth the trek if only for the view of the square over brunch and the wonderful places we walked past during our escapades.
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Luckily, I met up with one of my lovely work colleagues Tiago, who is a genuine ‘Lisboeta’ or in other words, a Lisbon native. He and his wife gave us some great tips on where to go for dinner and it didn’t disappoint. Our dinner at Decadence was delicious, reasonably priced and in a fashionably decorated building. Tiago was charitable enough with his time to take me around some of the harder to reach areas of Lisbon, including the Cabo de Roca, the most western place in Portugal and also introduced me to Pasteis de Belim, which made the most delicious custard tarts ever. A favourite for locals and tourists alike, the queue to buy these delicacies went right out of the building and past the shop.

Here are some of my favourite photos from my instagram feed. Nope, it’s not the usual @circusmum_ feed, this one is from my second blog, @kinkdredspirit which will focus on more lifestyle and travel posts and reviews. Feel free to check out that blog and subscribe to my insta feed too!

THE place for custard tarts. The queue was so worth it. #lisboa #lisbon #travel #travelblog

A photo posted by Tinuke (@kinkdredspirit) on


I loved my time in Lisbon and would definitely go again. In fact, Princess has already made me promise to take her. There was so much of the city to explore that it warrants at least another few days. There’s a load of museums and galleries I want to see as well as the graffiti art and the beaches. It was too cold this late in November/December to visit, though when we passed, there were loads of hard core surfers braving the cold to ride some waves, as well as local families wrapped up warm and chilling on the board walks.

Only 2 hours 50 minutes from London Standsted to Lisbon Airport, Lisbon is a wonderful city to explore on a weekend break. Let me know if you’ve been before and where you’d recommend I visit on my next trip!

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After wishing for cooler weather for the last few months, it’s finally arrived and I feel a right fool for ever pining after it. Like urgh?! How did I forget that with the cold comes the rain and with the rain comes soggy feet, freezing cold umbrella holding hands and the temptation to stay indoors for entire weekends, tucked up under a blanket watching Christmas movies, listening to the tumble dryer working on overtime in the background? Actually, I don’t really mind the curled up on the sofa with a blanket bit. Not at all, but it’s not particularly productive and my six year old isn’t known for her ability to keep still and chill for an entire day.

We stayed indoors on Saturday because I hadn’t watched the weather forecast and mistakenly thought that the light showers of Saturday would be the worst of the bad weather. Hah! Poor fool. We ventured out to Kings Cross on Sunday for cake and tea at a lovely cafe called Drink Shop Do. It’s full of vintage charm and an eclectic clientèle, just my kind of place. It was warm and cosy, tucked up in the back of the shop. We were able to chat away, make a cake crumb mess and draw to our hearts content without disturbing anyone. vintage sugar bowl Princess eating cake sour dough bread vintage teapots circusmum princess tinuke circus mum with tes

Really, that was the highlight of the weekend, unless you want to hear about how many loads of laundry I got through or how we spent an hour walking around Kings Cross St Pancras looking for a cheese sandwich only to come out with a ham one. Random. Yup, I won’t go into it…

 

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I hope your weekend was good? What did you get up to?

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When you think of amazing festive illuminations where springs to mind? Blackpool? Regents Street, London? Times Square? Probably not Liverpool right? But if you want to do Christmas right, this is where rich and famous people from all over the world flood to order their Christmas decorations. Want to know who decorated the Rooney’s home, the posh restaurant you’re currently eating in or the hotel you’re spending your work Christmas lunch in? Most likely it was Christmas Lights Etc, a Liverpool based Christmas decorations company.

When the cab picked me and a select few bloggers up from Liverpool Lime Street train station and we told us where we were going, the cab driver looked at us as if we were totally bonkers. “Why the heck do you need to come all the way to Liverpool to learn how to make Christmas decorations? Haven’t you lasses heard of YouTube?” Yup he thought we were crazy, but apart from Youtube not having mulled wine on tap, it also didn’t have the years of experience or expertise which allows Christmas Lights Etc to be the team in charge of the Christmas decorations in Bethlehem for the last three years. Bethlehem people. Forget the fact that this team decorated Sharon Osborne’s home or the X-Factor studios. This is what made our jaws drop to the floor. These amazing people fly into Israel and get special permission to enter Palestine in order to decorate the Manger Square.christmas ornament close up Shiny christmas display bronze christmas bows christmassy door decoration illuminated christmas deer berries pink bows Christmas decoration Liverpool shop

We snooped around their customer facing shop, which is open throughout the autumn months, closing the day before Christmas. It was crazy to see the huge array of choices available. There were mini room set ups so that you could visualise what the different designs could look like in your home. Many footballers wives and other customers are known to  come into the store and use the displays as inspiration for their own orders through Christmas Lights Etc. It was fun to imagine what their homes must look like. It was also a great source of inspiration for my Christmas decorations this year. I’m not going to have a line of tinsel in sight.

 

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Sarah, one of the founders of the Christmas decoration company, taught us how to properly dress a tree. Turns out I’ve been doing it wrong all my life, though that’s not that hard to believe as I’ve never been that great with decorating anything! We also made our own illuminated Christmas wreaths which I can’t wait to hang on our front door. You can order your own wreaths from their website here, along with loads of other high quality Christmas decorations. Many of their products are suitable for large shopping centres or shop displays but there are also many products for domestic use, including their Christmas in a Box range, which included everything you need to decorate your lounge for Christmas.christmas display in liverpool using an artificial tree ribbon for the tree decorating the christmas tree
Christmas decoration class christmas wreath decorating berries and bauble decor

I expected a massive warehouse filled with a conveyor belt line of mass produced products and bored looking staff. What I was met with was a small, close knit team of funny, highly talented and creative employees and owners all getting stuck in and carefully constructing customer’s orders on a one by one, personalised basis. Great to see that even when a company has picked up so much notoriety, this Liverpool based Christmas  decorating company hasn’t let their standards fall by the wayside.

Quick Christmas decorating tips from the experts:

  • Decorate your tree in a downward not horizontal pattern
  • Using an artificial tree will allow you to decorate your tree much more heavily
  • Start with your ribbon/tinsel, then move onto your baubles
  • Spray your wreath with tent protector to stop it from weathering
  • Think outside of the box. Why not add decorated hat boxes to your display this year?

Christmas Lights ETC on twitter: @christmasetc

Christmas Lights ETC website: www.christmaslightsetc.co.uk

 

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After spending a year working from home for a start-up magazine (if you can call working for free working?) going back into an office environment took some getting used to, both for myself and the little Mini Me, Princess. To be honest, I think it was more of a culture shock for Princess than me. She went from having her mum on tap, something that before last year she hadn’t had the pleasure of since she was 18 months old, to rejoining the land of child care, early mornings sitting drowsily on public transport and having school dinners. (Remembering to make packed lunches was just one step too far when I didn’t have the luxury of working from the kitchen table any more.)

A year in and I think we’ve finally found some semblance of normality, if not just acceptance of being back in an office environment. Initially I was only working half of the week in a job share. It was a lovely way to ease the family into the new routine and enabled me to safely have one foot entrenched in the world of school runs and midday pyjama wearing whilst the other foot was planted firmly in meetings and rush hour commutes. I loved it! Talk about the best of both worlds. We could have manic weekends and I had the luxury of being able to leave those pesky household tasks like laundry until Monday after the school run if I’d not had a chance to do anything over the weekend. More likely than not I’d put a load in the machine, prep dinner, change into some pyjamas and catch up on whatever my latest Netflix obsession was until it was time to pick Mini Me up from school.

Roughly six months in, I went up to full-time hours in order to help cover a team member’s maternity leave. Great extra income for a while which enabled me to pay off a few bits and bobs. It also meant I was able to give Princess a lovely birthday party as the one the year before had been a little shit. But O.M.F.G what a shock to the system having to wake up at the crack of dawn 5 days per week was!

Six months later and I think we are only now getting used to it. I knew the mornings would be hard but what I hadn’t expected was the behavioural changes in my little girl. It was as if we’d regressed to the tantrums of the terrible-twos. I had to keep reminding myself that it was her way of expressing her tiredness, her upset at being apart from her mummy all week, of having to spend her afternoons with new kids at a new child minder 5 days a week after only just getting used to the idea of 3. Sigh. It was rough but we’ve made it through.

Homework and work in general for Princess slipped. I put my hands up and accept that I dropped the ball. Juggling can be tough and this is one facet of my life/ball that I missed. It took ages to get back into a rhythm , making sure work was done, that she didn’t fall behind with her writing, with her reading, maths etc. I think we’ve gotten her back on track now we’ve made noticeable changes in our routines to make sure everything is ticked off.

We read books on the bus journey in the mornings and indulge in hugs on the return. We make the walk from the  child minder fun, sharing stories, telling jokes and singing songs. I buy most of my groceries online and make meal planning lists before I order so we can prepare quick stove to table meals without having to scrimp on variety due to our time constraints. I’ve had to learn to be that much more organised, something that I’ve always been capable of at work but I’ve tended to let slip in my home life. Life hacks are blessings. Anything that gives me an extra ten minutes to cuddle or to sleep is a Godsend.

Saturdays are treasured. Mornings are spent snuggling under the duvet, watching films and getting breakfast crumbs in the bedding. I try to have a good mixture of planned activities taking us out of the house and time spent pottering around and just enjoying ‘being’. It was hard working full-time for a while but we’ve made it work. We’ve found our rhythm.

I might be going back to part-time in a month or so once my colleague gets back from maternity leave. We don’t know yet. I’ve got mixed feelings about whether that would be a bad thing or not. I like our new rhythm and the extra salary. I enjoyed the pjs in bed on a Monday afternoon too though. I think whichever way the coin lands, there will be blessings. I’ve gotten through the last 12 months and can’t wait to see what challenges and experiences the next 12 bring both at work and at home with my Mini Me, Princess.

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About Me

A London mum juggling work, home, friendship and random thoughts. This blog is a mishmash of places we go, things I like and whatever else floats my boat!

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