Chaopraya Edinburgh

Recently we were lucky enough to be asked to sample the lunch menu at Chaopraya in Edinburgh and we sure picked the right day. The sun was out and we got a table with the most amazing view of Edinburgh Castle.

Recently Chaopraya has introduced a free kids meals with every paying adult Sunday-Thursday 12-5pm so we took our troops along to sample.

My kids aren’t fussy at all luckily and they were happy to sample their first taste of Thai cuisine. The kids menu has a great selection to suit even the fussiest of taste buds. Joy had chicken fried rice and Lewis chose chicken satay, they both loved their meals and had a bit of each others. The staff were smart enough to serve the kids meals with our starters meaning the kids didn’t have to wait while we ate… and we didn’t have to share.

It was out first visit to Chaopraya and it certainly won’t be the last. We had a delectable starter of Thai tapas to share which I’d highly recommend to try a little bit of lots of dishes and I had Singapore noodles for my main, while Steve had black pepper chicken. My main was the best Singapore noodles I’ve had although after trying Steve’s main I was slightly gutted I hadn’t chosen that. So tasty and just the right amount of kick for me.

The menu boasts an impressive range of cocktails and equally exciting mocktails. I had a gorgeous watermelon mocktail which the kids drank most of so of course I ordered a cocktail so I didn’t need to share that one.

Although we were utterly stuffed we decided to go with dessert on the basis it was for review purposes (obviously) and I’m so glad we did. I had the chocolate box which tasted as delicious as it looked and Steve went for the classic sticky toffee pudding which is his favourite dessert ever. Both desserts were fantastic and the kids inhaled their ice cream, leaving us in peace to eat while the lovely staff showed them the massive fish tank inside the restaurant.

All in all it was a lovely meal and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back. The food was awesome and more importantly the staff were super friendly with kids and we were made to feel extremely welcome.

*in the interest of transparency we were kindly given a £60 voucher towards the cost of our meal.

Yvonne x

Lucas Ice Cream Family Race Day 2019

It’s the last week of term in Scotland so I’m sure we’re all busily trying to plan our days out with the kids. We make a list tick off things each week making sure we’ve got a nice mix of days out and days in (thank you Scottish weather). This also helps spread the cost a little.

Top of our list for the last 4 years has been the Lucas Ice Cream Family Race Day at Musselburgh Race Course and we’re so lucky to have such a lovely, family friendly venue nearby.

The family race day is a day where you can take all the family along, have a flutter and let the kids play. There is lots for kids to do and it’s a laid back, friendly environment. All kids rides are free and they can go on as many times as they like plus there’s craft and lots of places to feed younger children too if required.

As the name suggests there is a famous Lucas Ice Cream with every ticket and all under 18s are free to get in – which is fantastic! This years family day is July 23rd and adult tickets are £17 if you buy before and £22 on the day. Doors open at 12pm and the last race is 5pm so it is a whole day affair.

We can’t wait to go along as last year’s was amazing. We had a picnic table and my horse won me £14 so I even got us all a cheeky candy floss.

I’ll share our pictures and experience from the day after we’ve been. Fingers crossed the sun comes out for us!

Hope to see some of you there.

Get your tickets here:

https://www.musselburgh-racecourse.co.uk/view-fixture/lucas-ice-cream-family-day-23-7-2019

Yvonne x

*in the interest of transparency we were kindly given our tickets in return for an honest review.

 

My truth continued

When I posted about my domestic abuse story I was sent so many messages of support and sadly messages from many who had been in a similar situation. It was a bit mind blowing just how many woman were also survivors just like me. I posted and to be honest I didn’t revisit that post until I started speaking to the amazing Danni from Godiva.

On reading my post back I realised in my haze of writing it I didn’t really finish the story. I didn’t really explain to people how I moved on. The more practical aspects and how hard it was but despite being hard it was possible and so worth it.

Being a victim of abuse makes you lose a part of yourself and at the time it feels like you’ve lost all sense of identity bit I promise you it comes back. Probably fiercer than ever. I used to think I could never break free from my abuser. I thought he’d kill me first and to be honest it got to the point I only stood up to him as I felt so low him killing me seemed like the better option.

That changed. I don’t know where it came from but I rose up. I decided enough was enough and I was no longer protecting him. My late Nan was happily married and still always advised me to have a ‘running away fund’. It turned out to be the best advice I’d ever received. Money can be used to control us and he was always the main earner. Looking back he tried to buy me and buy his way out of a shitty situation. Nothing says I’m sorry I smashed your face in like some flowers right?

I took my Nan’s advice thankfully and when I did leave I had exactly £200 stashed away. it fed me and my unborn baby and bought me some very cheap essentials as I’d left with nothing. I adore my husband and we’re a team but even now I have my own money. It’s so important for me to have that. We share money but I have my own account and I know if I needed to leave I could. I know some people may think that’s extremely cynical but I promise if you’d been through what I had you’d feel exactly the same. Please know too that if you’re reading this and you feel trapped that you aren’t. Even if you walk away with the clothes on your back and nothing else I promise there is always a way. ALWAYS. shelter, gingerbread, woman’s aid, Godiva, family, friends and so many more. They all have your back on this. I’m not special or a one off. Anyone can leave. It’s not easy but you deserve freedom.

As soon as I left I knew I wasn’t going back. Admittedly I had the odd wobble but my heart knew it was Lewis and I from now on. What surprised me more than anything was the amount of people who told me I should have given it another chance for the sake of Lewis. I’ll never really understand that but I knew the right thing for my son was me. Just me. Call it mothers instinct, call it selfishness. I didn’t care. Lewis saw his biological dad in the beginning sporadically but for safety reasons now has no contact at all.

The fear you have when you leave turns to anger. There is no timeline but it does. When it did I realised the strength I had. People tell me I’m strong for my past. We all have that strength but for some it’s just in temporary hiding. Once the chipping away from an abuser goes your inner strength comes back and it’s almost frightening. Womans aid helped reminded me how strong I was. I cannot sing the praises of women’s aid enough. I wasn’t even sure I fitted their ‘criteria’ for support but I soon learned there is no such thing. It’s not black and white at all but the more I got told about abuser traits the more clearly I could see. The woman who work for women’s aid don’t judge. They’ve seen it all and they will hold your hand and point you in all the right directions. Woman’s aid saved my life.

I worked so I didn’t realise I could get any financial support. My dream nursery sat untouched at my old house while I slept on my aunt’s floor. I didn’t care. I felt free. Babies don’t thank you for overpriced nurseries but they will thank you in the long run for giving them a safe environment to grow in.

I made an appointment with the council right away on the off chance they could help. Within about 3 weeks I had a flat. A very modest flat with blood up the curtains. I could tell people were horrified when they seen it. I loved it! For me it symbolised freedom, a fresh start and a decent chance for my son. My family and friends painted it for me and within a week it was a modest flat I was extremely proud of. I loved that bloody flat. I have so many fond memories. It’s where I took my baby home. I sometimes drive past it just to remember.

One massive mistake I made in hindsight was putting my ex’s name on Lewis’ birth certificate. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do but sadly it meant a messy legal battle. It was never about seeing his son and my heart hurts as I type that. It was control. As soon as he realised he’d lost me forever it was game over for seeing my precious boy. I think that’s what hurts the most. It’s his loss, it really is. I would go through all the shit again for that beautiful boy. He was most definitely worth it. One massive piece of advice I’m so glad I took was getting a lawyer. I was surprised I qualified for legal aid and from the word go everything was documented by a lawyer. At the time it seemed slightly dramatic but it’s still saving me now. I sleep better knowing everything has been properly recorded.

The anger leaves eventually too. Again it follows it’s own timeline but when it does it’s the nicest feeling. I’ve had counselling which helped with that massively but I’ve made peace with the situation. I don’t hate him. I feel almost indifferent. I realise my past is part of me but it doesn’t define me. I’ve moved on and I’m extremely grateful I have a very stable life now. I have the sort of marriage where we bicker about who takes the bins out and that’s all I’ve ever really wanted. I’m happy. In an abusive relationship there may be happy times but you’re never really happy. You’re living on eggshells. It’s not worth it. Everyone deserves happiness.

You deserve a life built on your own choices. The chances are if you’ve been in an abusive relationship you’ll have lost a lot of friends. That can be the hardest part as often you’ve cut people off or they’ve got frustrated and backed off. Remember they haven’t given up on you it’s just really hard to watch someone you love slowly fade away. I isolated myself in many ways but all of my friend were so understanding once I left. Never once did I hear ‘I told you so’. That meant so much.

The running theme in this post is support and I hope that conveys. The support is there and I’d recommend you take as much as you can get. There is real strength in being able to ask for help. Even if you’re a fellow survivor and you just need to talk about what happened then please do. It’s important to use your voice. You just never know how your story could help someone else. I’ve posted some links below of support I found helpful. Don’t ever doubt yourself. You just need to find your inner strength but you’ve totally got this!

Yvonne @champagneandsnottynoses x

P.S please check Danni out @godiva. She’s set up all up on her own to help other woman out and she’s bloody amazing! I’ve linked the donate link at the bottom too. You’ve no idea how much you could impact someone’s life.

https://www.womensaid.org.uk/about-us/contact/

https://www.gingerbread.org.uk

http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk

https://www.refuge.org.uk

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/family/gender-violence/domestic-violence-and-abuse

https://www.shelter.org.uk

to donate to Danni’s fantastic cause:

https://www.paypal.me/godivawomen

Lucas ice cream family race day

Living on the doorstep of Musselburgh racecourse we do a lot of race days but this year we were lucky enough to be invited along to family day. This is a day for everyone. There’s still the races for a flutter and the all important bars but there’s also bags of entertainment for kids of all ages.

The whole day is sponsored by Lucas ice cream which is a famous Edinburgh based family business who make the best ice cream you’ll ever taste. Kids go free on the day and even get a free ice cream. All rides are included too so it really is a great value day. How many times do we get stung by the usual £3 a ride? once your in its all free apart from any food and drink you many wish to buy.

There is everything from chips and cheese to fine dining so there’s bound to be something for even the fussiest of cherubs. You can also take a picnic along too if you’d rather and there are picnic benches are available.

My kids are 2 and 8 and both were thrilled with the entertainment options. Both rode the tea cups at least 5 times and my youngest got so excited to see mini ‘horses’ for her to ride on. We were there from 12 and had to drag the kids away after the last race at 5.30. Thankfully the sun shone all day so it was a really lovely day for us all.

There’s even a selfie wall and if you tag your selfie there’s a chance to win a years supply of ice cream. We all had fun getting involved with that. Much hilarity! I think the adults had more fun than the kids.

We live in East Lothian so may be slightly biased but it’s such a lovely place to visit and really easy to get to by bus or train plus there is free parking available. It’s seriously worth a trip for the ice cream alone.

I’d highly recommend the family day for next year. we’ll definitely be back. Keep an eye out as it’s always slightly cheaper to get your tickets on an early bird deal. Thank you for having us!

Yvonne x

My teenage self

Getting older suits me. I’ve grown into myself and I’m much more content with what I have and where I’ve been. I’m not perfect at all and I’m constantly growing as a person.

My teenage self was reckless and unsure of herself. It almost makes me sad looking back but it was all part of my journey. That’s right guys. I used the word journey and I’m not even sorry.

Here are the things I wish I could tell my younger self. Not that I’d have listened:

1) It doesn’t matter how many people you’ve slept with. once you hit 30 you won’t even remember what you had for breakfast let alone how many willies you’ve seen. After a while they merge into one.

2) You are a Queen and you deserve respect. Have sex if you want to but not to feel wanted. Sadly that’s not how it works.

3) You’re not fat but even if you are it doesn’t matter. There are far worse things you can be than fat. Love yourself hard. Which leads us nicely on to our next point.

4) Don’t be a dick. Being mean about someone else doesn’t make you thinner/more popular/smarter. Be nice. You’ll feel better in yourself for it.

5) Don’t focus on what you want to be when you grow up. There’s plenty of time. You might be 40 and still not know and that’s really ok.

6) Travel more. Skegness doesn’t count.

7) Sleep more. Stock up for when you have kids. Seriously, you have no idea how much you’ll need it.

8) Buy your own drinks. If you want to be an independent woman you gotta pay your own way.

9) Keep your circle small. Embrace your quirks and spend time with people who love you for them. Quality not quantity.

10) Money isn’t everything but happiness most definitely is.

11) Be careful what you put in your body. You only get one.

12) Treat others with the respect they deserve. Respect is a two way street. Don’t take anyone for granted.

13) You can’t change people. Keep your side of the street clean and let others deal with theirs.

14) Study more but don’t kill yourself with it. It might seem incredibly stressful at the time but you get one shot. Try harder. It will be worth it. There will be plenty more parties to go to.

15) Take the picture regardless. You’ll look back and give yourself a big laugh one day.

16) Sometimes bad things happen to good people. It’s about how you deal with these obstacles that’s really important.

16) You’ll be fine.

Can you think of anymore to add? I’m sure we could go on for days.

Yvonne x

@champagneandsnottynoses

My truth

I’ve started this at least 30 times over the last two years and it might be another 2 before I finish it but here goes….

If you’ve ever wondered about my Son’s biological Father then I hope this answers any questions. I feel exceptionally vulnerable writing this but I feel like it’s time to explain.

I worked in a bar in my early 20s. I was as sassy as they came and thought I knew it all. A new chef came in one day and I took a shine to him. On further investigation he was just out of rehab for an alcohol problem. Naively at that point I had no idea the seriousness of this. Who was I to judge? It didn’t put me off and I want to punch myself in the face for saying this but I think it might have spurred me on.I was a fixer you see. Most of the problems in my life were caused by me being a fixer but I learned this the hard way.

T was quiet and placid so the polar opposite of me. He was never charismatic or charming but there was a vulnerability I saw and wanted to help. I was warned off by many and this made me more determined to make it work. I’ve always been a stubborn shite.This isn’t a character assisanation but T was someone you’d describe as non-descript. He didn’t have much about him really but he was kind to me at a time when I needed it more than I knew.

I finished uni and moved in with him almost right away. I was flat sharing at the time but spent less and less time at my own place. I remember telling my Nan I was giving up my flat and her saying she’d pay my rent just to have it empty. Just in case. I should have known then but, as always paid no attention.

I must mention an incident that happened early on as it sticks with me. I was a size 16, maybe 18. I never cared really. T had gathered information on a gastric band for me and showed me it one day. I was angry and hurt. He later apologised but that’s when it started I think. The chipping away of my confidence. Control. I should have packed my bags then but I didn’t.

We had a fairly good relationship. The lack of alcohol was never an issue. I was as supportive as a 22 year old knew how to be. T had a good job and I worked my arse off in 2 jobs so we were financially secure. We did nice things, but looking back there was no real love. We both had rocky upbringings and it was the safety I liked, I think. We didn’t argue and stupidly decided to try for a baby after about a year. After the shaky start we had as kids, it seemed somehow we could but it right by giving a baby a good chance. I now realise how ridiculous this sounds.

We wanted to do it right. We went to the doctor to discuss me coming off the pill. As I’d be on for so long they said it could take up to a year. 2 weeks later I was pregnant. I was over the moon but sadly that’s when the wheels started to come off. The day of my positive tests (all 19) T called to say he was in hospital. Apparently he was so excited he’d cut into his hand at work. I was angry he’d almost stolen my thunder and been so careless. Looking back I’m convinced this was deliberate. I now look back and question everything. You’re about to find out why.

In the early days when we stayed up all night talking, he confided in me that his first love was killed in a car accident. He cried and the story was so horrific I did too. I know now that this was a complete lie.

Anyway the cutting of the hand was the very start. Things escalated very quickly. He started working late and starting early then eventually just disappearing. For days. I didn’t tell anyone except one friend for fear of the “I told you so” chat and also I didn’t really want to admit to myself the reality.

I thought he was nervous and scared. I was too. I was also suffering with hyperemesis gravidium so was in and out of hospital – alone mostly. I just plodded along like the determined little shite I am. Throwing up at the side of the road on the way to work every day with zero support or sympathy.

One day T had been out all night. I was 6 months pregnant. He came in and seemed odd. I asked if he’d been drinking and he said no. He didn’t smell of alcohol but something wasn’t right. I went through his pockets and found diazepam (or valium) and confronted him. T wasn’t a shouter but he was angry. I knew so little about addiction or drugs but I knew the tablets weren’t his. I asked where he’d got them and he told me a local dealer. I was horrified. I shouted, and to this day I still partly blame myself for what happened next. That’s how abusers make you feel though. I now know that.

Heavily pregnant and ready to leave for work he came in the bathroom when I was wiping my tears. My tears of knowing I was 23, pregnant and very much alone. My tears of knowing my naivity had really done it now and I was about to bring a baby into a complete shambles of a relationship. T was like a mad man. He punched me in the face so hard I fell right to the ground. I remember shouting ‘my baby’ and Ill never forget the evil in his voice as he shouted ‘fuck your baby” as he repeatedly kicked me in the stomach.

After what seemed like forever he just took himself to bed. I left quickly. Terrified he’d come after me. I was covered in blood but in a complete state of shock I left for work. My neighbour saw me. I didn’t know her but she grabbed me in her house without even thinking. I told her what had happened and she cleaned me up and hugged me. She told me I had to call the police. I knew I did too but I had to get to work. Or I thought it did. I was a store manager and didn’t want the shop to not open. Again I think the shock just didn’t allow me to realise what had just happened. I went to work, opened the store and calmly called the police. I was in a complete trance. I didn’t want to be that person. People like me weren’t battered woman. I was strong. Not anymore.

Did you know most domestic abuse starts during pregnancy? When a woman is at her most vulnerable. Neither did I.

I left work. I made my excuses and headed straight to hospital to get checked. All I could think about was my baby. I really want to tell you how supportive the hospital were but sadly that just wasn’t the case. I was made to feel small and I was judged. I was treated like a victim. It must be so frustrating for them to see woman in that situation time after time but I really do feel there are better ways to speak to people. I’m hoping I was an isolated incident and other people have had better experiences than I did. They also didn’t scan me as they assured me the baby was ok. I was terrified so booked an emergency private scan. I’m so grateful I was in a position to do that as I couldn’t imagine going through my pregnancy not knowing for sure.

The police came next. I’ve got a knot in my stomach writing this as never in a million years do I want to put anyone off reporting abuse. It really needs reporting. The reason so many people get away with this shit is because it’s not reported enough but the police…weren’t that helpful. I was made to feel like just another stupid battered woman. I was made to feel like I’d go back for more and give them more work. Again I was judged. Also I wasn’t aware that all domestic were reported to the social work where kids are involved. It makes perfect sense but it just hadn’t crossed my mind. The way I was told this made me feel under fire as a parent. like I was about to be investigated. I’ve never been so terrified in all my life.

I didn’t charge T. The police made it clear it was my word against his and it seemed like more hassle at a time I didn’t need it. A decision I’ll always regret now but it felt right at the time. I wasn’t protecting him – or at least I thought I wasn’t. I was leaving him and I did. 6 months pregnant and sleeping on my aunt’s floor. It wasn’t how I’d envisaged my third trimester but here I was.

I left him with everything and just didn’t go back. I’d gone from financially secure to virtually penniless in the space of a few weeks. I’ll never forget my best friend when I told her. She was the only person who didn’t judge me. She didn’t give me the look of pity I was so used to but instead she helped me sort the practicalities. She bought me a bed the day I told her. In all the shit going on that’s the one act of kindness that sticks out. Always look for the helpers.

Her Mum gave me advice on getting a place to stay and I’m so fortunate that within about 5 weeks I had a flat from the council. It was hardly the dream and had blood splattered up the walls when I moved in but with help from my family it quickly became home.

I’ll never forget having to tell my grandparents. At that point my Grandad was ill and I didn’t want to make things worse so I kept them in the dark until I was settled. Deep down I think I was ashamed and stupidly protecting T too but I couldn’t bring myself to cause them distress at such a hard time. My Nan never judged me. Not once. Calmly I told her I left him and why. She told me it was going to be ok and she was right. She was always bloody right!

I didn’t hear much from T after that but I do know he quickly went downhill. He had been drinking and I found out he was heavily addicted to diazepam and a pretty impressive collection of prescription drugs too. How could I not have noticed that you’re probably wondering but I was throwing up 30 times a day, working a really stressful job and coming to terms with the fact I had a baby on the way. That’s how!

He wasn’t apologetic. He didn’t actually seem to think he’d done anything that wrong. He played a great victim.

Something else I have to mention was something I’d never even heard of until I’d met T. I was sick to the stomach when I found out and it still makes me shudder now. T was a smoker and often left cans of gas lying around. I didn’t smoke but knew they were forfilling lighters. Or so I thought. From the beginning I found them all over the house. It didn’t sit right with me but I wasn’t sure why. One day I found a bin bag with at least 50 empty butane cans in. I knew then, I think but chose to take his word that nothing way wrong. After he beat me he then mocked me with the fact I was so stupid for believing him. He was addicted to inhaling gas. I still can’t believe people do that. It seems like such alien, grim behaviour but then that’s addiction.

Addiction is selfish and it doesn’t care. Once you’ve witnessed true addiction your eyes are opened. As much as I hate T for everything I genuinely wouldn’t wish addiction on anyone. It rips through life and reality like a hurricane. It doesn’t give a fuck.

After I moved we spoke more and more. About the relationship he’d have with the baby. I refused to be the person who kept a child from his father. I so wanted to do the right thing but I genuinely didn’t know what that was. T confided in me one day. He said he’d got his act together and he had panicked as we’d got pregnant so quickly. He reminded me we had a good thing and asked if I’d consider putting the baby up for adoption so we could continue with the way things were. I said no obviously but still couldn’t help feel slightly sorry for him. I know that probably sounds insane but the pressure was just too much. I blamed myself for agreeing to a baby and felt robbed. This wasn’t what I’d signed up for. I was now alone but very much ready to do this. I wasn’t going to let that baby down.

T swore he’d sorted himself out. Everyone believed him. I almost did too but once you’ve been hurt like that you’ll never really trust someone. I could never have made it work with him. Wondering. I agreed to let him be part of the babies life.

I had a visit from the social workers to discuss the situation. Unlike the police and the hospital they were great. Their priority is always the children and that’s 100% how it should be. They come under fire a lot but they had my back. They were obviously glad I’d broken away and happy to support me in any way they could. My parenting abilities never came under scrutiny. They put me on to the woman’s aid who were also amazing! I can’t stress that enough. The police and the hospital are on the front line but woman’s aid and social workers have all of the real experience and tools to help. I really wish that was publicised more.

Anyway I digress. In the last 2 months of my pregnancy, social workers called me about 5 times to make me aware of failed suicide attempts by T. They had a duty to keep me in the loop and once again my life was taken over by fear. It’s round about then thatthe threats started. T lived 5 minutes from me and in 2 months my tyres were slashed and windscreen smashed time after time. He followed me and watched me coming home. He made it clear if I didn’t take him back my life would be hell. The police rolled their eyes at every call I made. Just another domestic you see! Even if you’re spilt up it’s still a domestic and then there were no stalking laws in Scotland.

I remember my aunt telling me once the baby was born my sense of loss at my relationship with T would diminish. She couldn’t have been more right. This little bundle was mine and I didn’t care about anyone else. That baby saved my life. I threw myself into motherhood. I did baby massage and reflexology in between constant abuse and threats from T. I just cracked on with it. To this day I don’t know how I did it.

One day I was about to have some well deserved time off and go out with my friends. I got a picture message of T slicing his arm. My friends we’re supportive as the night was cancelled while we waited to give a police statement. He loved the control. He didn’t want to die. He wanted to make my life hell.

On one of his many failed suicide attempts I got a call to say they weren’t sure if he’d make it through the night. Religious I am not but I swear that night I prayed so hard he wouldn’t. The months of hell I’d endured I felt like him dying was my only way to happiness with my son. He made it though the night. The hell continued.

Eventually I begged social work to stop telling me what was going on. They were satisfied I’d left him and did. That angered him too. He needed my attention. My Son was never his priority it was always me. I sort of wish it was because he loved me but really I know it’s because he hated himself so much be just wanted to make me miserable too.

For legal reasons and to protect an innocent party I can’t explain how, but on one day after many a death threat I found out T had spent 7 years in prison. I won’t go into it but think about the sort of thing you get 7 years for. He didn’t steal a bar of soap put it that way. That day I found out a lot about him I was never supposed to know. It was only then I realised the seriousness. I had to get this man out my life.

I changed my number and got some very quick legal advice. I had no idea what I was doing but I knew this hell needed to end. Within 2 days I had an interdict with power of arrest. This is the Scottish version of a restraining order but due to the closeness of our flats meant he didn’t have to stay away from me. He wasn’t allowed to cause me fear. I felt safe at last. Naively. He stood and watched my every move. The fact he couldn’t contact me made him angry. When I reported him I was told that being near me wasn’t a crime. I just had to accept that and stop wasting police time.

There were too many incidents after that to mention as I realise this is already far longer than I wanted it to be. T struck up a friendship with my upstairs neighbour. How convenient? He could now watch me all day long from the comfort of my building. Thank you Scottish law for that technicality!

This went on and on. As soon as he realised we were over our Son never came into it. Other than to tell me I was a bad mother for keeping him away from his Dad. I only spoke to him via lawyers and advised he could see the baby in a safe place provided he was clean and sober. This never really materialised apart from a handful of empty promises.

After a night out, baby was at my Dads and I came home about 2am. Guess who was in my stair? He followed me in the house and I told him to leave. He was drunk and calling me a bad mother for leaving our Son. I was drunk and obviously feeling brave cos I tried to push him out my front door. I didn’t have the strength and he pinned me against the wall by the neck. He said he would kill me and at that point I knew he was serious. I genuinely thought that was it for me. All I could think about was my child. He left eventually.Leaving me in a heap with strangle marks all over my neck. I knew I had to get out the house.

I ran to a taxi office and called my brother. I didn’t know what else to do. I put a scarf on a told my brother we’d had a falling out. He still wasn’t aware of the situation as I was stupidly protecting T. I knew my brother would go nuts and I didn’t want a backlash so I thought it better to just sit quiet. Years later my brother told me at that point he’d already guessed what was going on.

Domestic abuse is the single most confusing thing I’ve ever encountered. I went from wanting him dead to feeling terrible as he was the father of my son. I hated what he had done but also mourned the person I thought I knew and loved. That was the hardest part.

I didn’t go back to my house after that. I was sure he’d kill me. I went to live with my Dad and took steps to find somewhere else to live. I was so low at that point I didn’t even realise. I had no quality of life. I was frightened to go out and embarrassed of the mess I was in. Through it all I still blamed myself for allowing this to happen. I didn’t event realise how much this man had broken me until now when I just wrote this paragraph.

One day I got a call from my Nan to say that T had text her to say he was going to kill her. He said he was going to set fire to her house. My Nan knew half a story at that point so didn’t take it too seriously but after much persuasion called the police. My Grandad as so ill at that point and I was ashamed by the drama I brought at the worst time. The police explained how difficult it would be to charge T and advised my Nan it could end up being a stressful process for her. I sobbed and begged for her to charge him but understood her decision not to. That was that. Once again there were zero consequences for him and yet again I was living in fear.

I continued to live at my Dads trying to maintain a normal life for my Son. One day I went to check my house as it was empty. Baby and I were in the house for a matter of minutes and I was so scared he’d come and hurt us. I went to leave and my carpet was on fire. He’d put lit paper thought my letterbox in a attempt to set fire to my house. I quickly got it out, left and called the police. They got him on his way back from mine. He denied it of course.

It took weeks to investigate but I was sure that justice would prevail. It didn’t. They couldnt even charge him. Not enough evidence. It would be funny if it wasn’t so fucking tragic. In the few weeks it took for the investigation I moved house. Far enough away that he couldn’t find us. I lived in hiding for a while and had nightmares for about 5 years. I went on medication for anxiety as I suffered panic attacks. It took me years of counselling to rebuild my life but I did. My boy is 8 now and is aware he has ‘another’ Dad but that’s all he knows. My husband raised him from 3 and is not just his Dad but a wonderful father.

I’ve never told my husband everything but he knows bits and has pieced things together. I don’t like to talk about it, so feel that by writing this, it’s out there. Violence scares me and I can’t deal with men shouting. My husband understands and luckily is the kindest, gentlest man I could have asked for.

So there it is. That isn’t even it all, but I’m aware this is now longer than my dissertation was so thank you for reading this.

One final note. I have noticed how many people who have been victims of domestic abuse and don’t like to talk about it. I, more than anyone, can understand why, but sadly this means there is a massive lack of awareness. The stigma is very much still there and until more of us speak up it will remain. We need to work at removing the shame and victim blaming surrounding the issue.

I was extremely fortunate with the amount of support I had and not everyone does but there is ALWAYS a way out. Even if it seems impossible at the time. Abusers don’t change and it’s never your fault. You are worth so much more.

Yvonne (@champagneandsnottynoses)

https://www.womensaid.org.uk

http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk

https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Addiction/Pages/addictionhome.aspx

Veggie haggis hotpot

I’ve had a few requests for this so here you go. It can be adapted with ordinary haggis too or veggie black pudding and is an adaptation of a hairy dieters go veggie recipe.

serves: 6

smartpoints per portion: 7

ingredients:

450g veggie haggis sliced

500g potatoes thinly sliced

2 parsnips thinly sliced

2 carrots thinly sliced

1 tsp dried sage

salt

pepper

750ml vegetable stock (cubes are fine)

1 tbsp plain flour

2 garlic cloves

250g turnip thinly sliced

1 large onion chopped

1 large apple grated

spray oil

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180. Spray some oil and fry garlic and onion for 3 mins until softened. Add about 50ml water, sage and flour and cook for a further 3 mins until the mixture thickens slightly.

2. Add stock to the pan and allow to reduce for about 5 mins.

3. In your casserole dish make a layer of half the potatoes, then a layer using half the carrots, apple, turnip and parsnip.

4. Continue layering this time with all the haggis and then pour over half the stock/onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Layer the remaining carrots, apple, turnip and parsnip. Finally add a layer using the remaining potatoes.

6. Pour over the last of the stock mixture and season again. Spray with spray oil.

7. cook covered for an hour. Uncover and cook for a further 30-40 mins.

Let me know if you try it!

Yvonne xx

Introducing my Husband

I haven’t told my husband I’m writing this and he’ll most likely keel over when he sees it. I’m not usually the soppy type- unless my kids are involved but I think it’s time he got a mention.

You may know Steve as the one who doesn’t do very well at keeping on top of the recycling and as true as this is he is so much more.

I met Steve 5 years ago when I was 27. He was 37 and we met a few times before we actually spoke. I assumed he was married and I’m still not sure why. He was always a gentleman and made sure I had a seat and a drink. I’ve always been partial to a man who makes sure I have a drink.

Lewis was 2 and I had had a few causal relationships after his Dad but none of which I’d write home about. They were all pretty rocky, slightly dramatic and just as I’d decided enough was enough there was Steve.

We joke about who pursued who but none of that matters (he pursued me FYI). He asked me out for drinks and I was slightly reluctant. I’d swore off men on the Wednesday and here I was on the Sunday contemplating a date. Madness surely? My friends talked me round. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that and I went. It was lovely and we agreed to meet again. We met again the following week and then he cooked me dinner at mine the week after. I knew then he was different.

He was romantic and there we’re no games. I’d never been treated so well before and as much as it took some getting used to I really liked it. Steve saw my worth and helped me realise it.

When we got together people praised him to high heavens for ‘taking on’ my child. Steve never seen it like this. He was just grateful I’d allowed him to be part of our life and 5 years on Lewis is very much our child.

A lot has happened in the time I’ve know Steve. We’ve crammed in an engagement, moved house twice, 4 lots of major surgery, numerous new jobs, a marriage, the loss of my dear Nan and the birth of our beautiful Joy. One thing has remained consistent throughout and that’s the love we have for each other. It’s different from any other love I’ve had. It’s simple, uncomplicated and being married to Steve is easy.

It’s never boring, we argue like all couples about recycling and who’s more tired (me) but it’s not high maintenance. There’s no unnecessary drama at all and we put work into having fun.

Once you have two kids fun changes completely so instead of cocktails at the Balmoral we now listen to TTF at home and play battleships with a glass of Malbec. It’s still fun though, even when we’re exhausted and can barely get a conversation going we still have that love for each other.

Steve buys me flowers weekly. The cheap ones he knows I like best as they last longer. He runs me nice baths and makes sure I’m feeling ok. I’m rubbish at sharing feelings so it’s not easy for him at times but he always knows when I’m down and just needing a cuddle.

He’s came to accept that doing insta stories in Lidl is the norm for me and will happily take 300 pictures of me in front of a wall just so I can find 1 I like. He may roll his eyes but he does it and for that I’m very thankful.

The most important thing about Steve is he supports me. He backs me up always and supports every ridiculous idea I’ve ever had (and there’s been plenty!) He never says I told you so even though he really should at times and he always picks me up when things go wrong.

He’s the positive to my negative and it works. We bring out the best in each other and he cares for our kids better than I could have ever dreamed. Watching him grow as a Daddy has been the most beautiful transition ever. Our kids have cemented our love for each other.

When he comes in from work I still get butterflies and he still takes any opportunity for a quick grab of my arse. We still flirt and even if we’re drinking at home we make an effort to dress up. He takes longer than any man I’ve ever known to get ready but he takes pride in his appearance and always looks so handsome.

We’re a team and we make mistakes but we can admit them and learn from them. In my eyes that makes us the perfect team.

Love you DB

Yvonne x

These are a few of my favourite things

So it’s that sodding time of year again. Admittedly I love it but it can get a bit chaotic as a parent and it’s easy for us to get swept under the carpet. You probably all know I’m a massive fan of STUFF and my poor husband is constantly sent links of ‘ideas’ for me so I’ve compiled a list of my top Christmas gift ideas for us. Not the kids. US! We deserve it and these are my fav ideas for a busy lady at Christmas. There was originally supposed to be 5 but I just couldnt whittle it down. 

1) a bathboard. Easily the best £20 I’ve spent on myself this year. At the end of a stressful day half an hour in a hot bath with a glass of wine, some candles and a good book is enough to make me feel human again. Utter bliss! You can now add on a space mask or bathbomb too to complete the perfect gift and these are great for Men too. My husband uses mine for wine and snacks but he’ll kill me for telling people. Everyone deserves a pamper now and again.

 http://bathboards.bigcartel.com/

2) Gin! I couldn’t do a list without mentioning my favourite thing could I? Pickerings to be exact. I recently did a tour at the Pickerings distillery in Edinburgh with Steve and it was such a nice afternoon out. Highly recommended and great value for money. £10 each and included a G&T on arrival. Lets face it you wouldnt get much change off a tenner in Edinburgh for a decent G&T on its own and Summerhall is such an interesting location. 

Obviously we got to sample some of their wares and now I’m hooked. How cute are the little gin baubles? These sold out in in seconds last year so get them on your list sharpish! £30 for 6 and each is a double measure. You can also refill them year after year. Bargain! 

Pickering's Gin Baubles (pack of 6)

3) Blessed in London initial necklace 😍. The minute I saw this I knew I wanted one with the kids initials and I hope I’ve dropped enough hints to Steve. I have the star tassle earring and they go with everything. I always get complimented on them. 

https://www.blessedlondon.co.uk/

4) Its no secret that Im wax melt and candle obsessed. My lovely wax melt lady is closed for a knee op and having a well deserved Christmas break so I’ve treated myself to a candle from a local company called can to candle. They make candles in the cutest little kitsch cans and they smell amazing. I’ll definately be back! Once you try the amazing soy was candles you’ll realise how waxy and synthetic the likes of yankee smell. I’m a convert!

 

http://cantocandle.com/

5) I can cards. These are just so lovely and the ideal price point for a secret Santa gift. It’s basically a little pack of cards full of positive affirmations to remind you how bloody amazing you are. I have the self care pack and it’s fantastic how one positive sentence can just give you that much needed boost. Such a nice gift for someone who just needs to know that they’re fabulous. 

https://icancards.co.uk/

6) When a saw a lovely friend wearring her la pom pom earrings I knew I needed them I’m my life. They definitely get me noticed and they’re just SO cute! There’s something about pom poms that just take me back to my childhood and make me feel carefree (if only!) They also have the sweetest garlands that you can get made in any colour so perfect for any occasion. 

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/LaPomPomShop?ref=seller-platform-mcnav&section_id=22444550

7) Now although this post is one for the adults I had to mention Rosie Girl London dolls. Purely because when I saw that did customer made dolls I knew I wanted an Amy Winehouse made and I was absolutely blow away with the detail. I’m not even going to pretend she was for Joy as I’m a huge Amy fan and love the idea of a doll that’s a bit different to the usual cutesy ones. Rosie does anything from Frieda Kahlo dolls to unicorns  and takes customer orders (at a very reasonable price) so there really is something for everyone. 

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/rosiegirllondon

8) Last but certainly not least Christine Alison is the Queen of eyebrows in Edinburgh. She’s the only person I’ve let near mine in around 6 years and we’ve went from HD brows to semi permanent brows- which I’ve managed to convince Steve saves me (him) money in the long run as I don’t need any products or monthly brow appointment. More importantly as a Mum it saves time and we all know how precious that is. 

Recently dermaplaning has been added to the list of treatments offered here and I got to be one of the first to try it out. Basically using a scalpel all the dead skin is removed from your face, taking any peach fuzz with it. Now as horrendous as a scalpel sounds it’s so gentle and there is zero pain involved. I almost fell asleep and the you get a mask at the end of the treatment to fill your new glowy skin with hyluronic acid to make you look even fresher. I saw an instant glow and my make up sits so nicely on my face. It’s really interesting to see all the junk that’s came off your face at the end. Dermaplaning is usually £65 but will be £50 for the duration of December so get booked in ASAP for all your Christmas parties.

https://christinealison.co.uk/

So what should have been 5 is now 8 but these are my firm favourites so if you’re stuck for a gift I hope I’ve helped a little with ideas. Feel free to forward to your Hubby to give him a nudge. 
It’s important for me to use small businesses where I can and some of those included are local to me so that’s even more special. 

I briefly mentioned my wax melt dealer Gail and although she’s closed for Christmas I’ve included her link so if you want to try out her melts you can do after the year. 

https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SimplyScentedDevon

I hope you get everything you want… and more 😘.

Yvonne 

*This is not a sponsored post*

#effyourinstagramstandards 

 

Isn’t Christmas just amazing? All that giving and luscious food. As well as the pretty trees and family time, right?

It’s pretty much rammed in our faces the second Halloween is over. Quickly our Instagram feed switches from the Autumnal pumpkin patches to picture perfect trees that wouldn’t look out of place in Harrods.

The Elf on the shelf. Don’t even get me started on that fucking elf. Who invented that smug little wank? Like we don’t have enough to do as parents in December. Let’s strategically place an Elf every day and take nice pictures. Fuck that I say! I’d rather have a snowball!

We all get so excited about making our families happy and understandably so but I really can’t stand pictures of piles of gifts. I’m sure it’s posted with the best intention but I can’t help how shitty that could make some people feel if they’re feeling the pinch. Also is it really wise to spoil our kids to such an extreme? it’s so easily done but we really need to be mindful that although they are sweet now there’s something particularly unapealling about a spoilt adult with a sense of entitlement.

I saw a post about a Christmas tree and how it was £15 and the lovely lady that posted it thought is was ‘not Instagram worthy’. Is that really What’s important now? Sadly I think it is for a lot of people. The tree was beautiful by the way!

Sometimes I think we get a little bit caught up in making a nice picture and forget to actually enjoy the moment. We all have such high expectations and it’s no surprise really when we’re surrounded by such perfect images.

Let’s not forget for a lot of people Christmas is time for reflection and that often means missing those who are no longer with us. A lot of the time we’re so busy putting on a face for the kids that we forget to allow ourselves to consider our own feelings.

The run up to Christmas is such a big deal it puts so much pressure on that one day. It can end up being a real anticlimax. Letting kids eat what they like and receiving lots of gifts can be confusing and overwhelming so we can hardly blame them for behaving like prized dickheads for most of it.

Last year Joy was tiny, clusterfeeding and colicy so Steve and I took (sober) turns at trying to settle her and ended up eating our stone cold Christmas dinner in front if the TV. Was it terrible? Hell no!  I mean it could have been better but we were together and let face it eating is a something most of us take for granted. Plus we can harp on about it in true parent style when Joy is old enough to care.

Even advent calendars seem to have lost their way. Gin advent calendars costing over £100? Really? I’m all about the cheap chocolate. I love a gin but come on! We seem to be losing our grip on reality here a bit. Or did child benefit go up massively and I missed the memo?

I’m a huge fan of Christmas and like a lot of Mums I let the boys do the tree then rearrange it the second their backs are turned. Although as much a I want it to look nice I really don’t want it to look perfect. We all need to stop striving for perfection or realising that perfect is different for everyone. I’ll certainly be checking out that £15 tree and there the only gin in here this year will be from Aldi. It going to be amazing!

I think we all just need to rewind a bit and enjoy this time of year. Bring back tacky (kitsch) 80s decorations, ignore the pressure and get stocked up on Lidls faux Baileys (£3.75 and amazing by the way!)

Take some lovely pictures but don’t let them get in the way of family time and don’t be disappointed when the kids have a tantrum or Grandad moans about the Queens speech for 3 hours. It’s just one day. Merry Christmas!

#effyourinstagramstandards

Yvonne