A Love Letter to My Rock on Our 10th Wedding Anniversary

Dearest Husband,

Happy 10/15 years! How surreal is it to be celebrating in Thailand? We’re (almost) back to where it all began. With the addition of course, of three awesome little people and too many wrinkles.

Five years ago we were welcoming our little man into the world. We already had our gorgeous girls. The Davis family was complete. It felt like a big deal. Ten years together, five married, three kids.

Getting to this anniversary has been a much bigger feat. One that’s difficult to articulate, without having to choke back sobs. We’ve been through the ringer these last five years, but rather than breaking us, we’ve emerged from the fog stronger than ever.

This is what proper love is all about.

Those hedonistic early days kind of feel like a dream now. When all we cared about was exploring new scenery, talking until the cows came home and gathering intimate knowledge of each other. As amazing as it was, living like that couldn’t last forever. Reality eventually overtook the pursuit of fun.

At first, marriage and kids and playing house was as fulfilling as travelling was. Then all of a sudden shit got very real. Very real indeed, and I must admit to spending too much time in recent years wobbling. Unsure if our foundations were strong enough to survive.

It would appear that yes they are.

Amid the harsh realities of life, while we’ve been huddled underneath the shitstorm umbrella, tested in every way, we’ve really grown.

A few months ago I decided not to spend another moment agonising over what the future might hold. In doing so it’s made me see that no matter how hard this life gets, as long as we have each other, we have everything.

Traditionally, a ten year anniversary gift should be made from tin or aluminium. Being the modern type of woman that I am, you have a blog post. Hope you enjoyed it.

Love you always,

Your wife 💋

Review: Chakra Indian Restaurant, Kingston-Upon-Thames

**Disclaimer: I was invited for a complimentary meal at Chakra Indian Restaurant, Kingston in exchange for this honest review. All words and photos are my own. For my full disclosure policy, please click here.

chakra indian restaurant
Chakra Spice: Tequila shaken with fresh raspberry, mint, lime and chilli, topped with lemonade. Ridiculously good!

Classic Indian Dishes Alongside Unique Fusion and Epic Cocktails

On the rare occasions my husband and I get to enjoy a meal without the little darlings, we go all out. Cocktails, loads of food, maybe even dessert. When you’re a parent, there is nothing quite like leisurely eating delicious food, safe in the knowledge that you aren’t going to be interrupted every three minutes.

Chakra Indian Restaurant is situated on Riverside Walk in Kingston (KT1 1QN), and even on a rainy day it’s a stunning spot. We began with the house cocktail – aptly named the Chakra Spice. This chilli infused Tequilla based drink was mind boggling good. We had a second round, which tells you all you need to know. Chakra have a very carefully crafted cocktail and mocktail menu. Even if you weren’t in the mood to eat, you’d be hard pressed to not find a yummy drink.

Starters

chakra indian restaurant
Mixed Grill Platter and Avocado Ke Gole

The mixed grill platter was lovely, and a great way to sample lots of different flavours – containing Gilafi lamb seekh, Hariyali chicken, Sunhari king prawn and Bhati Ka chicken wings. All elements were cooked to perfection and deliciously spiced. But the shining star of the starter show was the avocado Ke Gole, something I have never had before, and doubt I will again. Until our next visit to Chakra, of course.

Avocado Ke Gole are avo dumplings served with pickled beetroot purée and mustard kewpie. Cooked avocado is very tricky to master, but between the crispy coating and flavours coming through the beetroot and mustard, these were little balls of heaven. I asked for the recipe, but alas they would not give it to me.

Main Course

chakra indian restaurant
Fish Moilee, Mangalorian Prawn, Dal Makhani, Malai Methi Mattar Paneer, Tadka Palak and Peshawari Naan

We asked for the manager’s advice on what to order for mains, and he did not disappoint. We had Fish Moilee, Mangalorian Prawn, Dal Makhani, Malai Methi Mattar Paneer, Tadka Palak and Peshawari Naan. The creamy, coconutty fish was my favourite, and brought back wonderful memories of our honeymoon in India, ten years ago.

The balance of spices and different flavours complimenting each other was incredible. Also, it has to be said that the food was not greasy in the slightest. This is usually my grumble with Indian food, both inside restaurants and take-aways. The massive puddle of grease on the plate halfway through eating can be super off-putting, but this was not a problem at Chakra.

Dessert 

Chakra Indian restaurant
Ras Malai and Gulab Jamun

Even I couldn’t resist having a dessert, and went for Ras Malai. I used to love this as a kid and hanker after it once in a blue moon. Just in case you aren’t in the know, it’s flattened cottage cheese, poached in saffron and pistachio flavoured evaporated milk. Absolutely divine, even if I could only manage three bites.

Hubby went for the warm Gulab Jamun (condensed milk dumpling, served with vanilla ice cream) and devoured the entire thing in about thirty seconds. We needed a nice walk afterwards.

Overall thoughts on Chakra Indian Restaurant, Kingston

chakra indian restaurant
Private dining room

The manager told us they do not have an extensive menu, which means they can concentrate on getting every dish absolutely perfect. It was quite a statement, but it sums up our entire meal. The waiting staff were attentive, but not OTT. The food was full of flavour and the cocktails were AMAZING. Although we weren’t with our children, other people were dining with kids of all ages. Even the toilets were decorated prettily and spotlessly clean. Chakra also have a gorgeous private dining room, which would make a great venue for a celebratory meal.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this restaurant to anyone in the Kingston area. Chakra also have a restaurant in Kensington, and a take-away kitchen in Wimbledon. Check out their menus here.

chakra indian restaurant
Stunning location

Show Chakra some social love

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Website

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, we didn’t manage to eat the whole lot. The leftovers came home with us in a doggy bag.

UK Writing Competitions: Flash Fiction, Short Stories and Novel Extracts (2019)

This weekend I submitted two pieces of flash fiction to UK writing competitions. I’ve also been beavering away on a 5000-ish word short story. It feels sooooo good to be writing again! I spent hours looking for competitions to enter, so thought I’d write up a list for others in the same boat.


Please note:

  • 
Always thoroughly read the guidelines before submitting your entry.
  • I’ve only included comps open to unpublished writers.

  • I shall update this list as and when new competitions are announced.
  • Best of luck!

UK Writing Competitions ending February 2019


The 2019 Life Writing Prize| Closes: 11:59pm 1st February | Free entry | 5000 words max of writing intended to be true, reflects someone’s own life journey or experiences *NOT fiction | 1st prize: £1500 Avron course, development meeting with an editor and agent, two highly commended: £500 | winners will receive two mentoring sessions and a development meeting with an editor and agent.


Bath Flash Fiction Award | Closes: midnight 10th February | £9 one entry, £15 two, £18 three | 1st prize: £1000, 2nd prize: £300, 3rd prize: £100 third, £30 two commended, 50 authors offered anthology print publication, with all published authors shipped a free print copy.


Writers & Artists Short Story Competition | Closes: midnight 13th February | Free to enter | Prize: a place on one of Arvon’s four or six day Clockhouse writing retreats, as well as seeing your story published on the W&A website| 2000 words max

The Tangerine | Closes: 22nd Feb | Free to enter | 6000 words max
The Tangerine particularly welcomes submissions from women, people of colour, members of the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities

Scottish Book Trust | monthly prompt for 50 word piece of flash fiction | no fee | prize: mug from The Literary Gift Company


UK Writing Competitions ending March 2019


The White Review | Closes: 5pm on 4th March | Entry fee: £15 (proceeds go to their charity)| 2000 words min, 7000 words max

The Short Story | Closes: midnight on 31st March | Entry fee: £5 | 1st prize £400, 2nd prize £100, 3rd prize £50, plus up to five highly commended prizes of £25 each | 400 words max


UK Writing Competitions ending April 2019


Bath Short Story | Closes: midnight on 15th April| Entry fee: £8| 1st prize £1200, 2nd prize £300, 3rd prize £100, plus £50 for the local prize| 2200 words max


UK Writing Competitions ending May 2019


The Bridport Prize (Novel Extract Award) | Closes 1st May | Fee: £20 | 300 page synopsis and 8000 word extract | 1st prize: £1000 and mentoring, 2nd Prize: £500 and full manuscript assessment, 3 awards of £100 and 50 page manuscript assessment


The Bridport Prize (Flash Fiction) | Closes 1st May | Fee: £9 | 250 words max| 1st prize: £1000, 2nd prize: £500, 3rd prize: £250, 3 highly commended prizes of £100


The Bridport Prize (Short Story) | Closes 1st May | Fee: £12 | 5000 words max| 1st prize: £5000, 2nd prize: £1000, 3rd prize: £500, 10 highly commended prizes of £100
The winning and highly commended stories, poems and flash fiction will be published in the Bridport Prize anthology each year.

The winning stories and shortlist will be read by leading London literary agents A.M. Heath with a view to representing writers.


UK Writing Competitions ending June 2019


Bath Novel Award | Closes: 2nd June | Entry fee: £25 | 1st prize: £2500 and literary agent introductions and manuscript feedback, 2nd prize: literary agent introductions and manuscript feedback, 3rd prize: online place on editing course worth £1800 | send one page synopsis and first 5000 words of your unpublished or self-published novel (must be over 50,000 words in total)

The GAPS Diet: Is the Controversial Gut Healing Protocol Right for You?

**Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or scientist, and this is not medical advice.**

Five years ago, shortly after my little man and third child was born, I stumbled upon the GAPS Diet. Having never heard the concept of Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) before, once it was on my radar, it seemed to be everywhere. Like when you start getting really broody and suddenly all you see are pregnant ladies.

I embarked on the GAPS Diet with my eyes wide open. First reading Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s brilliant book, then doing independent research into gut health and probiotics. If you’re seriously thinking about GAPS, and haven’t done so already, I strongly recommend you read Dr. Natasha’s book. You can buy it here via Amazon (affiliated link).  

GAPS

Why would anyone want to do the GAPS Diet?

No-one approaches GAPS because they think it’ll be a laugh. Many end up here because they have very poor health. Often debilitating autoimmune conditions they are desperate to reverse.

For me it was miserable food intolerance. I was on a merry-go-round of exclusion diets. I would finish one, only to have to start another five minutes later. At my worst I was breaking out in urticaria rashes after eating anything. I knew I needed to do something drastic, and the concept of GAPS spoke to me at a time when I was ready to listen. I’m a big believer in doing things when we are absolutely ready.

GAPS is not for the weak willed or feint hearted 

GAPS is a gut healing diet rich in probiotic food and drink, comprising of a two stage protocol. Stage one is known as the GAPS Intro Diet, and is split into six steps. Stage two is known as the Full GAPS Diet and is very similar to eating the paleo way, which I’ve been doing since 2012. Among other things, it eliminates all grains, commercial dairy and refined sugar.

The first step of GAPS Intro involves making a big pot of stock / bone broth, and drinking at least two litres of it a day. Along with the boiled meat from your broth, non starchy boiled veggies and tea made from fresh mint and/or ginger.

And that’s it. Nothing else. Zilch. Zip. Nada.

Intro is all about giving the digestive tract a break, and healing the gut. Over time this will help to put symptoms of autoimmune disease into remission. These vital things are very unlikely to happen while you are eating, even if the food you eat is considered healthy.  

GAPS

Check out this page for the full list of GAPS legal foods. 

GAPS is not a short term fix

GAPS relies heavily on being in tune with your own body and having the ability to be honest with yourself. You progress through the six steps of Intro based on how you are feeling. If you are feeling good on step one, and are certain you’re ready to move onto step two (by adding several foods) then you have a small amount of food and see if it adversely affects your body. If it doesn’t try another food a couple of days later. Rinse and repeat until you are ready to move onto Full GAPS.

I’m not going to dish out medical advice, because I’m not qualified to do so. If you are considering the diet, then please read the book.

How long you will need to follow GAPS will depend entirely on the state of your health when you start it. This is not a short term fix. Chances are it took years for your body to get into the state it has and will likely take years to reverse. There is no deviating from Intro, at all. If you cheat it’s best to go all the way back to the beginning and start again. Which is what I had to do in 2014, you can read about it by clicking here. (This is my second blog, and contains detailed posts which I wrote throughout the entire process.)

GAPS is not for everyone

A good friend of mine tried GAPS, but wasn’t able to progress because she lost too much weight. She struggled with dizziness, low energy and generally feeling rubbish. Another lady I was chatting to on Instagram claims that she did GAPS for eighteen months and it didn’t make the slightest difference at all. I’ve also read horror stories of people claiming to be stuck on Intro because they’re unable to successfully reintroduce more food.

I can’t tell you the intricacies of why GAPS didn’t work for them, because I’m not them. All I can tell you is that it did work for me (but it wouldn’t be fair to write this without mentioning it doesn’t work for everyone). 

I’m sure this goes without saying, but if you’re grossed out by the idea of drinking 2L of stock per day, or would rather die than give up booze/coffee/chocolate, GAPS almost definitely isn’t for you. 

If GAPS is for you, prepare to feel incredible

I know first hand how hard the idea of GAPS seems, but I also know first hand how amazing it made me feel from day one. Once I’d put my half-arse first attempt behind me, and was fully committed, I was flying. Quite literally! My skin was clearer than ever, I had ridiculous amounts of energy and overall felt like a million quid. Considering I was also breastfeeding a new baby and contending with a two and four year old, it was quite astounding.

You cannot argue with wellness, it’s as simple as that.  

GAPS

My biggest tips for those embarking on The GAPS Diet

Mindset is everything. If you approach GAPS thinking it’s going to make you miserable, you’re depriving your body and can’t wait for it be over already, you will fail. Most people are on the Intro diet for 3-6 months, and Full GAPS for another year or two. I’ll say it again: it’s not a quick fix. 

Preparation is the key to success. Before GAPS I used to make my own stock every now and then. The idea of making a huge pot of it every couple of days was frankly mind-blowing, but once I figured out how to incorporate it into my every day life, it became second nature. Now I make stock in the same way I make a cup of coffee. On autopilot, taking minutes. Once you’re in a good routine, it will get easier and easier.  

Good suppliers. I highly recommend finding a supplier of great quality bones to make cost effective stock, otherwise you might find it prohibitively expensive. I suggest scouring farmers markets, local farms and speaking to your local butchers about bones. During the earliest days of GAPS, it’s best to make stock from a whole chicken, but that gets very expensive very quickly. I buy organic carcasses at my farmers market for £1 each, and use two in a batch of 5L stock. Compared with £10+ for an organic whole chicken, it’s a no brainier.

There are no shortcuts. Embrace the wellness and positive changes, and don’t give too much thought to all the things you’re not eating and drinking. Good health is the most important thing any of us can have. Remember that. Cheating is basically lying to yourself, what’s the point? The short term pleasure of eating or drinking things you should be excluding will quickly be replaced by a truck load of guilt. You’ll feel beyond ridiculous for throwing away all your hard work and having to go back to the start.

Tune out to the haters. GAPS is still seen as drastic, and done half-arsed could potentially be dangerous. Prepare yourself for everyone to have an opinion, but you’ll learn to ignore them. Your newfound health will soon be the envy of your family and friends. Before you know it they’ll be coming to you for advice.

Very best of luck! 

Why You Should Read Become the Best You #ad

New year new you, blah blah blah. It can feel like everywhere we go people are trying to sell us ourselves, can’t it? The thing is, most of us could use a little help. So if you are on the lookout for some easy to digest advice, written in the style of having a chat with a friend in a cafe, then you will love Become the Best You.

The book delves into my dysfunctional childhood and troubled start to adulthood at fifteen. How I dragged myself through years of on/off depression, two mental breakdowns and eventual rock bottom.

become the best you

Why should you read this book?

There are many self-help books out there telling you how to think, what to wear and how to behave. Qualified professionals are desperate to give you their views on any subject matter you require guidance on. What’s so special about me? I’m just a regular person. I don’t have letters after my name or a rags to riches story, so why should you bother reading this book?

After having a dysfunctional childhood, and self-destructive young adulthood, I broke away from my past and created a much brighter future. Rather than just talk about my children never having to experience what I went through myself (like my parents did) I worked damn hard to ensure it was the case. Throughout this book I will share personal stories from my life and insights on how I overcame the many obstacles I have faced over the years.

I’ll tell you how I broke the cycle of dysfunction, and hopefully it will inspire you to go off and do the same. Getting passed my past wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t impossible. I promise not to talk about things that I have no personal experience of, and I won’t pretend to have all the answers. But I might just have the ones you are looking for.

become the best you

If you can identify with this list of demons I had to conquer, this book is for you!

– Raised by parents who had dysfunctional childhoods and subsequently had one myself
– Moved house lots and went to many schools
– Suffered bullying in several schools
– Suffered sexual abuse as a child
– Left home at a very young age after not finishing school
– Struggled with depression
– Got into a lot of debt
– Had very little self-respect
– Used to sleep around
– Abused drugs and alcohol
– Put myself into unnecessary, dangerous situations

What do I hope you will achieve by reading this book?

– The ability to make peace with your past
– The ability to look in the mirror and like what you see
– The ability to find your inner strength and start respecting yourself
– The courage to re-define the rules of relationships that have become toxic
– The courage to cut ties with people who make you miserable
– The courage to break the cycle, keep it broken and become the best you

What this book doesn’t do

– Use overly complicated words or examples that are difficult to understand
– Go into minute detail telling you exactly what to do
– Patronise you and assume that you aren’t capable of turning your life around


All original content on these pages is fingerprinted and certified by Digiprove