28.9.15

Jamie's Italian, The Royal Arcade Norwich | Review

I remember when I was little we went on a caravan holiday to Kent. We walked into the town centre and decided to have dinner. My dad and brother wanted to visit a certain fried chicken place and I fancied visiting a cute little Italian restaurant. So we split up and my mum and I had a lovely authentic dinner. I remember the place so well and I guess this confirmed and started my love of Italian food.

I've always preferred pasta and those proper Italian pizzas to any other food....well...Greek food is a close second but Italian is my passion.

In 2012 Jamie's Italian was opened in The Royal Arcade in Norwich. This is a beautiful location, and although in the main city centre, in the perfect location amongst all of the shops, is down a back street so you can avoid seeing the hustle and bustle of busy shoppers and city workers.

I was recently contacted to visit Jamie's Italian Norwich, which was rather exciting as I hadn't yet managed to visit! Which is quite shameful given how long it has been open.
My mum had a week off work so we planned a girly lunch, along with a mini shopping spree because it would be rude not to!

When it comes to parking there are lots of options in Norwich, however if visiting Jamie's Italian I would recommend parking in either the Castle Mall car park or at The Forum. These are both cheaper options and the Castle Mall car park is pretty much guaranteed to have spaces.

Before visiting I assumed that the restaurant was only small and was only on the ground floor. That was until we went in and were lead up some stairs to a beautiful room perfectly laid out with a variety of tables and chairs to suit any number of guests.

We were seated near the window, which was lovely as we do like to people watch and the light was perfect for a lunch date.

I'm always quite big on customer service and I think how you are greeted when you enter a restaurant is just as important as the quality of the food.
The staff could not be faulted at all. If only I was on the ball enough to have got their names!
As we entered we were greeted by a female member of staff who walked us upstairs to our table. Not only did she make us feel welcome but she took her time to talk to us as she walked us to our table and as we sat she explained that this was the first day of their new menu. This wasn't something I, or the PR, had planned and was quite by chance. She explained that the staff had all had a taster of the new menu the previous night and that they were all really excited about it.
Our waitor then came over and told us of the specials and what I particularly liked about this was that he didn't just list them, he went into detail about how each dish was cooked and again, he was passionate about it. You could tell that it was genuine passion too, and at the end of the meal I had a really lovely conversation with this gentleman (I really wish I had got his name!) as he talked to me about the menu, how the menus are different depending on which restaurant you visit, and also about how this is the first time that the menu in the restaurant has worked alongside the release of one of Jamie's recipe books.

So, should we get down to what we ordered?

For drinks, although tempted to order a glass of wine, we instead ordered the homemade lemonade. We had a regular homemade lemonade and also a special pink lemonade. My mum preferred the pink lemonade and I went for the regular lemonade which was...hardly surprising but still....very strong. I find this perfect with an Italian meal because I feel like it cleanses the palette and also reminds me of Limoncello...which is never a bad thing hey?!

Starters:

ITALIAN NACHOS Crispy fried ravioli stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta & Bella Lodi, served with spicy Sicilian tomato sauce
SPICY MEATBALL BRUSCHETTA Free-range pork & fennel meatballs in a fiery ‘nduja tomato sauce with lemony rocket & Parmesan

Mains: 

BAKED CRESPELLE Spinach, Westcombe ricotta & basil baked in gluten-free buckwheat pancakes with smoked mozzarella, sweet buttery leeks, Sicilian tomato sauce & Parmesan    

PENNE CARBONARA Crispy chunks of smoked pancetta, sweet buttery leeks, lemon & a traditional carbonara sauce

Sides:

CHILLI FRIES

 

Desserts:

TIRAMISU The classic Italian dessert topped with chocolate shavings & orange zest 
WARM SOUR CHERRY FRANGIPANE Whipped mascarpone, crushed amaretti & fresh mint tips

I have a bit of a thing for Nachos. If they are on a menu then I have to have them...so give me the option of an Italian version and BOOM! I'm in heaven. The Italian Nachos were honestly, incredible. Crispy on the outside with a soft cheesy filling, these were a great alternative to the 'crisp style' nachos you are served elsewhere. The chilli dip was also a perfect accompaniment.

I think what we both liked most about our meals was that, alongside being fresh and full of flavour, we didn't feel uncomfortably full and bloated like you can do after a meal with carbs! Let's face it, when you are then going shopping and potentially trying on quite fitted tops and dresses the last thing you want is to be bloated!
My mum ordered the Carbonara and was impressed at being able to order a smaller portion, especially when it arrived and was an impressive size any!
The chilli fries were a nice alternative to normal fries, although a little tip, try and mix them up a bit as we found a lot of the chilli coating had dropped to the bottom of the pot it was served in.

We couldn't fault our visit at all, and plan to visit again one evening so we can also try out the cocktails.

If you are ever in Norwich I highly recommend giving Jamie's Italian a visit...you won't be disappointed.
(It's also right near Joules so, perfect hey?!)


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25.9.15

A Cuddle

It's all a bit odd at the moment. Life is.
I know I've made the right decision for me, for him, for our families and for the children.
I suppose in terms of my social life not a lot has changed yet really, other than being able to go out and not feel like I have to ask permission or to feel guilty at not being at home with my husband when instead I'm out with friends. 

I've had enough distractions I suppose to keep me away from what is going on and to keep my mind balanced I suppose.
When things have been a certain way for so long it isn't really a shock to be going through what we are and will be going through. 
It wasn't sudden or unexpected. We're basically able to live as we have been because for a while we haven't lived as a married couple should. 

I lived with it because it felt kind of like I had to. Did I really want a "failed marriage"? But, could I live my life any more with the way things were? Pretending it was OK that we didn't hug or cuddle or even hold hands anymore.
I was OK with it for a while, because I got used to it I suppose. It gradually got to that point so I didn't miss those things as such.

However in the last few months it didn't seem fair on either of us to live like this anymore. I couldn't help but to think that, whilst at the end of my 20's at the time, I was too young to almost throw my life away and to not have affection or attention until the day I die.

I've always enjoyed a harmless flirt. I don't see anything wrong with innocent flirting whatsoever, it's part of my nature I suppose. But then I came to the realisation that maybe one day a harmless flirt could turn into someone being interested in me. Someone wanting to give me those things that had been missing from my marriage. I'm not talking about commitment, more the affection and just being made to feel....nice. To feel pretty, and appreciated. 

It had me wondering what I then wanted. Was my marriage perfect in every other way that I could live without that other stuff?
And, it wasn't. We had grown apart, we had different interests, priorities, and had lost that connection and spark that had kept us together for over 10 years.
It felt unfair for both of us to keep living like that. Not only were we being unfair on each other, but on ourselves too.

I couldn't help but to think that it was unfair of me to deny any attention from someone else if I got it, because I felt I kind of deserve that. Everyone deserves attention, and although I didn't feel like I needed it or missed it, I did find myself recently whether or not it was something I could live without "forever".

I'm an affectionate girl. I like a cuddle, I like a hug, I like an arm round my shoulder or my waist. And the more I thought about that, and thought about what I would be missing out on, the more I realised that life just wasn't right for us at all.

And so the decision was made. A weight was lifted for us both I think, for me at least.
And I did almost have this feeling of freedom. Knowing that innocent flirts were ok IF they were to become anything more. 

However, since making that decision it's almost like I am craving a cuddle.
Just a cuddle.
Not a hug.
But a cuddle. One where strong arms almost kind of sweep you up and pull you in close.
You know the ones, which make you feel so small and protected. The ones that make you feel comforted, where your head rests on their chest and every now and then they pull you in a little tighter, like a small, gentle, squeeze, letting you know that they are enjoying being close to you too. 

That's all I crave and want now.
An affectionate cuddle.
And just a little bit of attention, and appreciation.

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23.9.15

Being Irrational and a Walking Advert

I found it strange when a friend in her 20's relationship ended and she worried so much that she wouldn't find anyone else.
She feared that no man would ever find her attractive and no man would go near her. She feared that she would be alone for the rest of her life.

I thought it was crazy. How could someone that young be worried about spending the rest of their life alone when they had the rest of their life ahead of them?
How could she be so worried that no one would ever find her attractive when she takes so much pride in her appearance, and is an attractive woman?
How could she believe that in this world not one person would ever want to be with her again?

I really didn't get it.
Until now.

We're all programmed and built differently and although some people will want to be out of a relationship, and away from any commitment or whatever from the opposite sex, others may crave that, and may be ready to jump into a relationship pretty soon.

For me, it's not even about a relationship. But more a feeling of the company of a man, not necessarily in that way, but even just the friendship and hanging out with a man that I want.
Maybe it's the fact that I don't have my dad in my life anymore, and that my brother lives miles away, that heightens that need for male company.
Throughout school I had male best friends and would regularly hang out with my brother and his friends when they were round.

When I went to the Isle of Man I loved being in that environment. Being surrounded by men and feeling comfortable enough to be around them without feeling inferior and feeding off their banter and so on.
I feel comfortable in the company of men because I suppose I don't feel so judged by them as I do by women, I feel a little more like I can be myself around them, and that I can talk to them about pretty much anything.

I know it's early days for me, from the eyes of other people.
But for a long time I have felt unattractive, lonely, not good enough. All of those things.
For so long I felt not good enough for the person who I was going to spend the rest of my life with. For so long I felt single.

And now I am single. Now I have that "status" and it is scary.
There is that feeling of having to put in effort to make sure you look nice, to make sure you are looking your best, just in case.
I'm a walking advert for myself I guess.

And I can't help but to get those feelings like my friend did.
That feeling of not ever meeting anyone else, never having someone look at you and to want to spend time with you. To want to cuddle you, spend time with you. To look at their phone and wonder why you haven't messaged them.

I feel like, at 30, that's it.
And I know 30 is still considered young, or is young, whatever, but there is that feeling of "It's too late". I feel like I'll never meet anyone else who would find me attractive.
It's not about replacing my husband, or wanting a life partner. But more finding someone who, for now, enjoys my company, wants to get to know me, and would even just like me in their life in some form.

Like, what are my good points? Why should I expect anyone to want to spend time with me?
If I find myself annoying, then everyone else will too surely? Especially someone who I would want to  enjoy my company, like me for what is on the inside as well as what is on the outside...which is a completely different blog post all together I suppose!!

As much as I can see that it is irrational, I also can't help but to feel that way.
I can't help but to feel like I'm never going to be that person that someone wants to spend any amount of time with.
I feel like I constantly have to justify myself. To constantly sell myself.
I've always felt like that.
But particularly now.


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18.9.15

Divorce and the Innocence of Children

The boys now know. For a while I thought it was best that they didn't, mainly because they are so young and to turn round and say "Mummy and daddy are going to not live together anymore" whilst we are still living under the same roof seemed a little too confusing and too much to put them through.
However, Charles asked some questions which eventually lead to him being told and thankfully we've managed to do it in such a way that it isn't the most devastating news for him.
I remember when my parents split, it was awful but mainly because of the situation and because I was so aware of the consequences and feelings around it all. I think the positive side to children being so young when this sort of thing occurs is that they don't get involved in the emotional side as much. They don't understand as much as someone does when they are 15, when they can take in and remember certain conversations and actions.
At 4 and 6 it's easy to distract them and to only mention the good things, or things that would make them happy.
In turn, they make it a little easier for us. They mention things that are ridiculous and so unimportant, to us at least, but things that to them mean so much.
Their innocence makes it easier.
Charles worried about whether or not we would have Nick Jnr anymore, and asked what would be on our tvs.
Harry decided that he would live with me and Charles would go with his dad.
He then decided that they would swap over half way during the week, not realising that they would then not see each other.
Charles wondered whether or not they would have two wardrobes and when I mentioned the fact that they would, and added that another good thing about having two houses is that they would kind of have two Christmases meaning Father Christmas would visit twice because he knows everything and knows that they would be celebrating with me and then with their dad. Charles' reply was..."Yeah but, does Father Christmas know that deers lose their horns?" Random, innocent and so out of the blue that I laughed until I cried.
And then there was the school playground. As we walked through and I mentioned how I would take them some days, and pick them up, and other days their dad would do the drop off and pick up...Charles decided to quite loudly inform me...."No more babies for you then!!"
And as I almost died of embarrassment I couldn't help but to laugh and to be comforted by his innocence. The innocence that helped take away some of those feelings of guilt that pick away at me.
As I try to remind myself that really we are doing the right thing, the children's reactions take away the seriousness, and provide a much needed happy distraction.


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17.9.15

Adulting Part I | The First Steps

Since turning 30 last Friday adulthood seems to have crashed on my doorstep, or lap, however you would like to visualise it.
Not only the whole divorce thing but the fact that I can now make my own decisions, be in charge of my life, and to an extent do what I want.
3 bottles of Prosecco as gifts instead of Apple Sourz and cider created a certain feeling of being an adult.

Solo parenting at the weekend, although not a new concept but now more of a "thing" than it ever was before, switches on that adult mode.

Thinking logistically about where I am going to stay in the evenings and night-time's to make our living situation....erm...liveable is also something that seems quite grown up. Although, this also brings on massive feelings of vulnerability so whether or not that makes me a full time grown up I don't know.

And then there was Tuesday. The day that had me adulting more than I've ever adulted before.
A meeting with a solicitor.

Gosh, standing outside whilst I waited for them to unlock the doors from lunch was nerve wracking. My heart was pounding and I felt really open. I felt as though everyone who could see me would be judging me and deciding for themselves why I would be needing to go to a solicitors.

I almost took up my friends offer of going along with me. Thinking I wouldn't understand or take in any of the information given to me. The same way that post-tattoos I had to text the same friend who came with me to ask what the after care was because I wasn't really taking it in.

However, the "scary solicitor" as I imagined her, was really rather lovely and in no time at all I felt comfortable and confident enough to be there and to do what I had to do.
It was daunting, and it wasn't the nicest thing to ever go through. And despite it being a simple (and free thank goodness!) half an hour chat, I ended up curled up on my mums sofa, surrounded by cuddly dogs, feeling quite drained and exhausted.

Getting married and having children, buying a house and making life long plans always felt very grown up. But this, seperation and divorce and an uncertain future, feels like full on adulting.
And I can do it, because I have no choice.

But I will ensure that I have on a pair of killer heels as I go.



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13.9.15

The "I'm OK" Head Bob.

Do you remember that scene in Friends, where Richard tells Monica about his divorce? Season 2, episode 15 apparently. He explains how people do a head tilt when they ask if he is ok, and he responds with a head bob and a "yeah, I'm ok".



I always loved that scene...ok mainly for Tom Selleck but still, I thought it was rather funny. And now, I kind of love it more.
I'm in the middle of sorting my stuff out. Being strict with myself and throwing out anything I really don't need. Packing up clothes I'm unlikely to grab for on a day to day basis to send to my mums to hang in her spare wardrobe (yeah I know, SPARE wardrobe?!) until things are sorted and I know where I will be living and whatever.
So, anyway. Now that the separation is out there, and by out there I mean we've done the whole Facebook announcement which obviously makes it like proper official. I wonder if in a few years time the decree absolute will be abolished and the change of a Facebook relationship status will be enough to confirm someone's divorce?!

When you get engaged people expect a standard reaction...tears, smiles, squeals, Towards the end of a pregnancy we expect the standard "I am fed up" comments from the mother to be. And when it comes to a separation people do seem to expect a standard response. They expect tears, a sad face, maybe a sob story or a story of how the person involved didn't see it coming, some kind of story that could be potential school run gossip.

The head tilt is a thing. It is an actual thing. A thing that people do a lot. And following the "I'm ok" head bob, the head tilt again and then, the head bob. 
As someone who is open and honest about most things, especially things like this I suppose, I do get a bit funny when it is assumed that I am not ok. 
When it comes to something like this, it isn't a spur of the moment decision...like "LET'S BOOK A LAST MINUTE HOLIDAY! OH, AND AT THE SAME TIME SHOULD WE GET A DIVORCE?!". 
There was months of confusion, sadness, confusion, hurt and more confusion. And deciding to actually go through with that conversation wasn't easy, but was necessary. 
Before that conversation, I wasn't ok. I felt like I was living a lie. I wasn't being myself. I wasn't being true to the person who I always promised I would be honest too. 
I couldn't live any more pretending that this is the life I want and the life that I am happy with.

We didn't live as a married couple for a while. And that is sad. But, we just simply grew apart. 
I tried to "fix it" and to "snap out of it" and tried to be the person I was before. The wife I was last year, or two years ago, but I realised she was gone and to try and be her again was a lie. 
The person I am now, this confidence, this need for a social life. This person who kind of craves freedom.
And as hard as it was to make that step to say "this isn't right, neither or us should be going through this", and to potentially hurt the person I once thought I would spend my life with, I know it would have been harder to spend every day together avoiding the issue. And it would have hurt us both more. 

I have received the most incredible support from those around me the last 2 weeks. It's been quite overwhelming and hard to deal with really.
I messaged a friend today to thank her and admitted that before, I hadn't appreciated her as much as I do now. Because in these times you really do find out who your friends are. You find out who you can trust, who you can't, who is there for you and supports you and who doesn't.

This is scary. It is tiring. And I'm sure there will be days when it seems like a battle.
But.
I'm ok.
I really am ok.



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10.9.15

Life and the End of my 20's.

Tomorrow I turn 30. It seems like a really big deal. 30 feels like a real "grown up" age. Like it's time to really knuckle down and be that adult that you have to now be.

My 20's have been cool.  I've spend the whole of my 20's married, I had jobs that I loved, jobs that I hated, I tried hard to have a relationship with my dad which I was then able to realise wasn't worth trying for anymore. 

I suffered a lot with mental health and as much as a suffered, I fought too. In fact, I fought really bloody hard.
I battled with my body putting on weight, losing weight.
My body treated me to two pregnancies and allowed me to feed these two beautiful boys for as long as I wanted/needed.

I made friends, I lost friends, and I found the most amazing friends who I am confident will be in my life forever.

I visited some amazing countries and had the best experience of my life at the Isle of Man TT this year. Spending 5 days with one of the most important people in my life.

And this year. Unexpectedly, I changed. Not in a negative way. But it was almost like I found myself. I found a confidence I didn't know I had. I found bravery that I would never have expected to have.
I found this woman that all of a sudden quite liked motorbikes and appreciated everything about them. A woman who thought she would never even consider getting a tattoo and ended up with 3 and a PINTEREST board full of future ideas for more.

There were consequences with this change though. And as a result I grew apart from someone who was a big part of my 20's. The person who made it possible for me to be a housewife, who made those children possible, who paid for those holidays and chances to explore other countries.
There came that moment when I realised that I didn't want to go into my 30's pretending everything was OK anymore. It had been a long time coming I suppose and 2 weeks ago we seperated.
I am ok. I am scared of what is to come but I am ok. 

A weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and his too I would imagine, and as we learn how to now navigate through this chapter of our lives I actually feel stronger than ever.
It's funny how you discover so much about yourself and those around you when you go through something like this. 

You wake up to how amazing your friends are and let me tell you, my friends are the best there ever was. Their support has been overwhelming. As has the support from my family, my mum in particular.

I remind myself that as scary as this may be, I'll be OK. Because people go through these things. I'm not suffering. I'm not pretending everything is OK with us anymore. We don't have to wonder what the other one is thinking or question the other ones feelings anymore.
We can be civil, and maybe be friends for the sake of our children at least.

Tomorrow is going to be OK. 

Tomorrow, as I turn 30, I am looking forward to the future. I am looking forward to realising just how strong and grown up I can be. 

I am looking forward to celebrating my birthday with my best friend and then having an evening with an even bigger group of friends.
I'm looking forward to heading into my 30's and to discover more about the person I have become and am continuing to become. Who I've had to keep hidden a little and to maybe not let blossom as much as she wanted to in fear that it wasn't the right thing to do. 

I can't stop her though. I can't not be myself for the sake of other people, even if the consequences are not what I expected in life.
Things happen for a reason I suppose.

But one thing I am sure of, and confident of, is that the me I have changed in to, the one I have become and am still becoming. She is a good, better, updated version of me.
And I like her. I actually like her.
That always felt like a big thing for me, to say I like myself. But right now, I do.

My 20's have been wonderful and I saw them in as a married woman.
I now see in my 30's as a single woman. I don't like the term single mum. I don't want to combine my relationship status with that role. It doesn't seem right.

I can do this. Everything will be OK. And although this isn't how I envisaged seeing in my 30's, it is how life has turned out and I'm alright with that.

Life is far too short to hold back and I'm ready to grab whatever happiness and experience I can and live the best life I can for me.

It won't be easy I'm sure.
But in the end....it will all be OK.
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4.9.15

The Replacement

When my dad left us I worried about how my brother would take it, more than how I would. Despite it always being me and my dad as part of a team and my mum and my brother, I couldn't help but to think that a boy needs his dad, a male role model and a male figure there for him.
It's all a bit of a haze now. We both reacted in different ways and other things that happened around that time made it hard for me to see how my brother was coping.

When it came to my wedding I wanted my brother to walk me down the aisle, but it would have caused too much of an issue so it didn't happen.
I will never forget him getting one of my favourite songs on at the reception so he could dance with me. I was singing along to the song, Jessica Simpson "With You" and I remember him clearly telling me not to sing.

I have so many wonderful, special memories with him that just keep being added to over and over and he truly is one of the most important person in my life.

This past week has been the first time in almost 2 years, since I completely cut contact with my dad, that I have missed having someone in that role.
Someone to give me that feeling of protection, support and to be my strength. And just to tell me they love me and that they are there for me.
I realised pretty soon, that it wasn't my dad I missed. It was that role, but not necessarily him.
I have someone who replaced him, who took on that role without needing to. Who became head of our family, and is that strong male figure we need.

My brother. And right now, I miss him more than I ever have done.
This year, with the memories we made and the fact we have got closer due to him now sharing his passion of the TT and motorbikes in general with me,
I feel like we are closer than ever, despite not being close in terms of distance. But the distance right now, is breaking my heart.
I just want to sit in a room with him. We don't have to talk. We don't have to acknowledge each other. But just being there, that's all I need.

My mum came home yesterday from a meal out with a friend, and walked in to find me watching the Classic TT on ITV4. I joked that it must be like having my brother there.
And then I burst into tears. Because I just want him here.
My twin and my best friend.
The replacement. The man who fills the role of dad, that strong male role in my life.

He may not agree with everything I do in my life, he may be super protective, he may find me annoying most of the time. He may be grumpy and I may feel like he doesn't want me to talk to him sometimes.

But in the hardest of times, it's his arms I want to wrap round me to say that I will be ok. It's his acceptance that I need.
He is everything to me. And always will be.


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When Nights In Replace Nights Out

If you're anything like me and my friends, you'll find arranging a time to socialise with friends a bit of a challenge.
Where to go, what to do, as well as arranging time when you are all free can become quite frustrating and time goes by with no plans being made that in the end, you can all give up on making plans all together.

With technology being as it is these days, cinema dates can be replaced with either a dvd night in or binge watching the latest popular series on Netflix whilst sharing a bottle of wine, pizza and snacks. Or, for a more random alternative and one I partake in sometimes, Facebook messenger/Skype conversations whilst watching the same film or tv programme in your own house. Saving the cost of a babysitter, cinema parking, plus all being able to drink some wine without one needing to be the designated driver all add to the benefits.

Smart phones and tablets take away that need to hunt out local pubs for the best pub quiz, and having to sit for 10 minutes trying to come up with an appropriate team name. 

With a variety of different apps to download and take advantage of you can either have a pub quiz from the comfort of your own home, all together in a friends home, or even in the local pub but playing against each other instead. Winner buys the next round?

Most games that have traditionally been played in person can now be found online, sites such as Bingo Extra being one of these
The thought of going to my local Bingo hall isn't really that appealing to me. Not only would I find it incredibly intimidating (have you seen how competitive and serious some Bingo players are?!) but there are also extra costs such as parking, refreshments and so on.
Playing free bingo at home is a perfect way to relax and unwind and the ability to fit it around your routine, dipping in and out as and when you please without being restricted to time limits is certainly another advantage.

Also, lets not forget the biggest advantage to playing bingo and other games at home...the chance to wear your pyjamas and no one else would know. Because apparently it's not suitable attire to leave the house in?!



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