Finding Love Later in Life



I recently celebrated 7 years of marriage to the man I’ve known for nearly 9 years. I often get asked how Mr M and I met. Well towards the end of 2008 I went on what seemed like my millionth date and thankfully it was to be my last one. The rest as they say is history.  I would have never have thought that a profile uploaded online would lead me to my now husband whom I met on a very popular dating website when I was 32 years old.  Millions of people in the UK are registered for online dating and one in five relationships now start online. It’s the third most popular way to meet someone after pubs and through friends.  But dating isn’t the sole preserve of the young and the restless as many people find themselves back in the game later in life. So how late is too late to start dating in the modern World?

Going on a first date can be daunting. That doesn’t change just because you get older. Just like real world dating, the rules of online dating are rarely set in stone.  I do have friends in their 50s who are currently on dating websites but are not keen to make this known as they feel there is still a  stigma attached to e-dating.  I personally don’t think this is the case as there are more and more specialist sites around like the following for example.

Dating can be a fun, exhilarating and ultimately a life-changing experience.  Simply take each experience for what it actually is which is meeting a new person.  Maybe you’ll learn something about your date, or even yourself, that might help you in life. A few pointers which I  felt were important when I began my journey into e-dating were things like a smiling profile photo which were always more noticeable and welcoming. Honesty is key in creating profiles as there are people who may wish to embellish certain aspects of their lives to seem more attractive to others. The truth does come out so always best to be upfront!  The element of mystery is good (within reason) and not everything needs to be disclosed on the first date.  While it may sound like a cliché, you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else.  Finding a partner will not create happiness.  You first need to believe in your own happiness and confidence.

I personally think it is neither foolish nor undignified to be in love at any age. Love actually helps us live longer! It brings us out of our shell. The part of us that wants to connect with someone else is always alive within us. It doesn’t burn out or fade away. The more we develop as individuals and discover new aspects of ourselves, the better able we are to be close to someone else. Because of this, I truly believe it’s never too late to fall in love.

Thanks for reading

Bella

~X~

 *This post is a collaboration with WeLoveDates.com

Tranquility at The Medicine Garden, Surrey


We are well in the throes of the British summer (*whispers* what summer) and with an active toddler to entertain each day during the holidays I remembered this location that I once drove past and being intrigued by the name. The Medicine Garden sounds like a place that’s going to make you feel better and I can now say it works well for people of all ages tucked away in Cobham. If it’s serenity in Surrey you’re after then this is the place to travel to and best of all it’s free to enter. Before I arrived I’d imagined it being like a secret garden and it did feel a little bit like this other than there is no gate, you just walk in from the car park. The weather was just right when we arrived sunshine and a slight breeze which made the whole place come alive. This walled Victorian garden is a creative space, a place to sit with friends and have drinks and a natter. A place to bring the children for a run around. A place to find a collection of independent shops and of course consume food and drink by way of cafe and a restaurant. Nearly everyone that I saw had a smile on their face and I felt that the three hours passed by quickly. I found out that there are lots of events organised throughout the year things like outdoor cinemas and BBQs.

With the recently renovated glasshouse in the courtyard, they have a lovely and very stylish cafe called the Hothouse Cafe. These days being able to drink a coffee at my own leisurely pace is a rare treat.  I was able to drink my coffee but gave up my table to an 80 year old who kept telling me he was 80 years old. I told him I was half his age and he said ” yes but I am 80″.  Jay soon got bored of this odd conversation and then urged me to take him to the dome positioned in the corner of the garden so I said my farewells to the octogenarian.

The concept of the garden is to encourage people to think more about the power of nature and inspire them to create a bit of ‘good medicine’ in their own gardens and homes.  The design is based on an eight-pointed compass with each direction highlighting an important quality that we can creatively bring into our gardens and therefore our lives.

Courage / Vitality / Inspiration / Stillness / Wonder /Story /Nourishment /Rhythm

 

I have definitely taken more of an interest in gardening in the last year you might have seen my vlog of the herb garden I did recently, a new project at Along Came Jay HQ.  Whenever I see a garden shop I like having a mooch around and there were lots of ornaments to look at and purchase of course.  I’m glad Jay likes going to garden centres with me and he’s really also taken an interest in this herb garden and insists we plant some marjoram which I’ve yet to find. Within the Courtyard Community, there are also various independent companies. It’s a real eclectic mix of arts and crafts.

I also discovered a treatment room which offers therapies including reflexology, aromatherapy and holistic massage. Other treatments offered include osteopathy, reiki,  manual lymphatic drainage (Vodder) which sounds interesting and scary at the same time. Plus they have morning boot camps, yoga and Tai Chi classes in the main garden for those keen on body conditioning.


The Food Studio offers a range of cookery workshops demos and talks from UK’s leading Foodies, Pop-up Events, private and corporate dining, as well outside event catering.   I’d love to attend something like the Blid & Hatton Gatherings run by friends Surrey-born chef Maddie Hatton and Swedish native Helga Blid-Martinsson. They have joined forces to offer workshops which draws on the European tradition of cooking and ‘breaking bread’ as part of everyday life.

Something I’ve struggled with since moving to London and then Surrey is how busy everywhere is and the sheer volume of people travelling here and there. It’s taken a while to adjust to the frantic pace of life here in the South. Just like the Mayfield Lavender field I love being in these styles of outdoor spaces away from all the traffic and noise. I also know it’s a hard task keeping young children entertained. I was glad we made a trip here for Jay to burn of some of that energy he holds in abundance.

 

I would advise checking the weather before you visit as it started to rain as we left the car park and although there is lots of seating and awnings I think you can get more out of the visit not having to duck for cover. I forgot to take my vlogging camera so used my iPhone to snap photos instead. No doubt we will be returning before the summer draws to a close.  Some places give you that feel good factor and this garden fits the bill perfectly.

Opening hours

Monday – Saturday 9am – 5pm
Sunday and Bank Holidays 10am – 4pm

Address

The Medicine Garden
Downside Road
Cobham
Surrey
KT11 3LU

Thanks for reading

Bella

~X~

Break Out Of Auto Pilot


It’s been a while since I posted on my blog and the saying ‘life gets in the way’ definitely has been the case as of late. I have a threenager on my hands who is both fun and not so fun in equal measures.  I’ve always been surprised at how quickly he started to talk and now he even talks back at me when things don’t go quite his way. *Sigh* .

I believe establishing routines early on in his life has helped us somewhat but parenting is still the hardest job ever in my opinion. Recently I reached a point where I felt that it was time to take the foot of the pedal when it came to my usual mummy routine and mix it up a bit.

It had been a particularly horrendous week of meltdowns in the last week of March. I don’t know why I ever thought that the terrible twos would stop on his 3rd birthday. On one occasion I had failed to bring out mini bread sticks in his favourite orange bowl and had  unintentionally let the said bread sticks mingle with other biscuits which I thought he would have appreciated. This resulted in an almighty ding dong which set the mood for the rest of the day.  We have of course like any other parent and child team experienced the public meltdowns too where I have wanted the ground to swallow me up whole. Like the time I had to abandon my full trolley in Tesco and head home with a screaming toddler. That was not a good day at all.

I remember catching a glimpse or reflection in the shop window and I looked dreadful.  As I sat in the car with my screaming toddler I remembered my long journey to motherhood and I got myself together and drove us both home.  These tantrums won’t last forever I do know that and I can’t be mad at a  little boy who is learning about the world around him. It’s “that age” people say to me “that age”.

Before I get criticised for criticising my only son I will say that I knew it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park raising a child. I do believe some children are easier than others but then everyone has their good and bad days.  Many parenting books will tell you that toddlers love routines because the predictability of knowing what comes next makes them feel safe and secure.  Parents shouldn’t be judged for creating routines that are responsive to the individual temperament of their little human(s). Do what’s right for your own baby as there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to implementing a routine. I have mummy friends some very laid-back, and don’t enjoy the structure of a routine.

Three years on we have become some what relaxed lately when it comes to things like bath time for instance. I sometimes bath Jay in the morning and if necessary he will have a shower with me in the evening.  It’s working out perfectly fine and hasn’t upset his sleep pattern. We tend to wake around 7am each day and on the days when he is not at pre-school I am far more willing to let things go and  be flexible with the realisation that month to month toddlers needs and habits change.  Breaking out of daily routines requires reframing your thinking taking a different path, it doesn’t mean that you’ve fallen off the wagon.

I would personally prefer Jay not to be totally dependent on predictability that he’ll fall apart the minute something changes. I hope he will be resilient like his mother and goodness knows I am resilient.  I try to add variety to the day for instance eat a picnic lunch in the living room instead of at the kitchen table or head out for walks in the early evening around our neighbourhood.

So for now I’m waking up in the morning and free-styling my day with my buddy which in turn may raise a few eyebrows but I’m okay with that. I dedicate most of my time and energy to Jay. With all my pregnancy losses I am reminded how precious our bond is.  The time I want to spend with my child is important when he is happy so am I. There have been times when this incredibly house fussy Virgo has left her many house chores so that we can sit and play with his favourite sticker books and magazines. Just because he wants me to there and then in that moment.

I loved a recent campaign that I worked on with Marks & Spencer for Make It Matter Day 1st June encouraging people to step out of their usual routine and do something different.  As I use Instagram a lot it was an opportunity for me to show my thoughts and it has been a welcome eye opener for me.  I guess it’s made me think some more about how we can all get comfortable and stuck in a rut  with the pressures of daily life.  Small changes often aren’t small at all. something like trying a new fruit or vegetable or buying a bunch of flowers for the kitchen window sill. Being in auto pilot mode isn’t that interesting and sometimes it’s good to shake things up a bit. Try it for a few days and see how you feel. To be honest I am just winging it, life,  motherhood, eye liner…everything.

The single most important roles in my life are that of being a wife and a mother. They take a lot of work, a lot of patience and strength to deal with the spinning plates and keep them all up. I keep telling myself “don’t fret Bella” parenting is a constantly evolving role. There are no perfect parents and no perfect children but there are plenty of perfect moments along the way.

If you’re a parent and reading this I’m hoping you can relate to this…

Thanks for reading

Bella

~X~

Bentall Centre Father’s Day

On the banks of the Thames and just 12 miles from Central London, Kingston Upon Thames is a vibrant market town and one of the liveliest London boroughs.  Ever since I moved here in 2009 I’ve become familiar with a huge array of shops both independent and high street brands as well as a fantastic riverside dining scene.  Kingston has something for everyone.

The month of June heralds Father’s day which this year is Sunday 18th June. The idea originated in the USA and has been officially celebrated there on the third Sunday in June since 1966.   After a huge struggle with infertility I became a mother and my husband became a father in March 2014. I adore the bond he has with Jay and enjoy treating him to show how much he means to the both of us.

The lovely team at Carousel PA gave me an opportunity to head to one of my favourite shopping centres The Bentall Centre to choose a gift for Father’s day so I knew I was going to be spoilt for choice.  This was the first centre in the UK to adopt a no smoking policy throughout and has been the foremost shopping destination in Kingston for the past 25 years.  Getting to The Bentall Centre is hassle-free. It’s well connected to train lines, bus routes and major roads.  My eyes are always drawn to the beautiful atrium ceiling which is higher than the nave of Westminster Abbey or the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.  There are over 80 stores and  over 1000 brands with more set to join over the coming months. Click here for a list of all the stores.

It’s fair to say I choose a lot of what Mark wears, he prefers to get my approval!  Therefore after having a thorough browse of the shops I opted for a jersey polo shirt embroidered with the signature Ramskull on the chest from All Saints within the Bentalls Fenwick Store. This item retails at £55.00 and I really liked its simple but classic design. Just hope he enjoys wearing it! If you’re looking for a gift I definitely recommend this shopping centre, I’ve lost count the number of times I have visited!

 
I completely forgot to purchase a card as I got carried away walking from shop to shop but will be back I’m sure very soon.

The Bentall Centre

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Thanks for reading
Bella
~X~

*In collaboration with Carousel PA

Fisher Price Switch & Fix Bob*

Whenever I hear of Bob the Builder I can’t help but think of the English actor Neil Morrissey (I’m currently watching the gripping BBC Drama series Line of Duty).  Neil voiced the character Bob in the popular children’s programme which emphasised conflict resolution, co-operation, socialisation and various learning skills. Bob’s catchphrase “Can we fix it?” with the response “Yes we can!” is still very popular as I hear Jay often blurt it out when I usually break something .

Since a revamp by Mattel in 2014 the setting and appearance of the characters has changed from what I remember. I’m all for encouraging solving problems with a positive attitude and Jay was kindly sent the latest toy from the Fisher-Price Bob the Builder toy range ‘Switch and Fix Bob’ which came with LR44 batteries and suitable for ages 3+.
He particularly likes activating lights and phrases by pressing the helmet which comes with an adjustable welding mask. Recently Jay has really been into construction play and moves Bob to various rooms in the house carrying out his imaginative repair tasks, hopefully he will be really good at DIY one day.
I’d say the tool bits are probably his favourite that come with the rotating tool belt (Jackhammer, Saw and Auger). Although he is able to detach the tool bits he has a bit of difficulty putting them back on the belt sometimes. Must admit I do too with my long nails.  The ‘Switch and Fix Bob’  is available at Argos for £19.99 for the little builders in your home.

Thank you for reading

Bella

~X~