Helen Skelton on her career, motherhood and changing the narrative

Helen Skelton on her career, motherhood and changing the narrative

© BROOD MAGAZINE. HELEN SKELTON AND TWO OF HER CHILDREN

“…things happen in life and then you get put on a different path

Inspirational Mum of three, Helen Skelton, is one of Britain’s best-loved Television presenters. Helen started her presenting career at Newsround before landing a dream role at Blue Peter, where she completed numerous extreme challenges for charity. Incredibly Helen has kayaked over 2,000 miles along the Amazon River, and cycled 500 miles to the South Pole, both for Sport Relief. Her amazing career has included many highlights including meeting the iconic late Queen Elizabeth II. Not one to shy away from a challenge, this year she is taking on what will probably be her hardest yet, as she joins BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing Class of 2022; whilst juggling life as a single mum, looking after her 3 young children, Ernie, Louis and Elsie.

The stunning Countryfile presenter kindly took time out from her summer holiday in the Lake District to chat to us about her career, motherhood, and changing the narrative as she embraces the new journey she has found herself on, since announcing her sadness at her marriage ending, only a few months after her youngest child Elsie was born.

Helen Skelton Interview with Brood Magazine
© BROOD MAGAZINE. HELEN SKELTON AND TWO OF HER THREE CHILDREN

“…I’m on a journey right now!

What was your career like before kids?

I was working as a journalist; I was originally working in PR, but I hated it and knew that I wanted to be a journalist… so I ended up at Newsround which was great – I loved it! Then I got offered Blue Peter, but I actually said no to Blue Peter at first because I was enjoying Newsround so much. But my boss at Newsround said to me ‘you can’t not do Blue Peter’. So, I took it, and it was the best gig of my life! It was so amazing, one week you would be going to Malta to ballroom dance, the week after you would be flying with the red arrows and the week after going to meet the queen! We would go away for 7 weeks for the summer going from one country to the next… it was just incredible! After doing so many amazing things, that I didn’t think I could top, such as going to the south pole, north pole and the amazon doing the expeditions, I decided it was time to leave. So, I then went back into sport and started working at BT Sport.

How do you find managing your career alongside motherhood?

I had Ernie in 2015, and since then, it’s always been about taking on work that fits around the kids. I still worked after I had Ernie, like the sport presenting – which was good because it was an intense week and then you’d be off again. That’s why I do less Countryfile, as much as I love Countryfile and I’m really good friends with everyone at the show, but the reason I don’t do it as often is because you have to be away Wednesday and Thursday nights, it’s the other end of the country and it just doesn’t fit with me having little kids. But the other farming show [Channel 5’s On the Farm] that I do is live, so you’re on at 8 o clock at night and you’re off at 10. So I go, get my tea made for me, have my face painted, do my work and then I’m back home.

I think because I’m freelance and self-employed, I feel lucky in that it can be intense at work so you’re ticking your career box and doing your thing there, but then the week after, you can potentially be off for three weeks so then you’re being a full-time mummy again. So, I feel lucky that I get my foot in both camps. I’d like to think that I’ve got a bit more empathy for my friends who work full time and for those who don’t work.

What is your experience with Mum Guilt?

Every mum I know at some point or another feels ‘Mum guilt.’ They feel guilty if they work too much, or they feel guilty that they don’t work enough, the whole thing is a juggle. My mum was lucky, we grew up on this farm, so she didn’t work and that’s the dream for some, but life’s different now. And I don’t think anyone should look at other people’s situations and make assumptions, because I’ve done it myself where I’ve thought ‘gosh she work’s a lot! She must hardly ever see her kids?’ But then I stop myself because I think, you know what, we’ve all got to buy food! That whole thing of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes is so true. I don’t think you can ever say which is the right way to do it, because everyone’s kids and everyone’s situation is different, you can only do what’s right for you and not compare yourself. But it can be hard not to do that because of social media.

You have to remember social media is a superficial top layer of people’s lives, although it’s hard to remember that at times, is important to remind yourself of that. But no one is made of metal but equally every situation is different.

Mine are terrible sleepers, they both like to sleep in my bed which isn’t good, but then other people will be like ‘well that isn’t good?’ Rather than ‘oh that’s nice because they’ll be 18 soon!’ [she laughs] – but it’s survival! I got my eldest to sleep in his own bed the other night and he was negotiating a deal and said he would for £20! I was like – ‘I can’t give you £20 a night!’ – No wonder I’ve had to go back to work! [she jokes.]

Helen Skelton
Helen Skelton © BROOD MAGAZINE

“…it’s always been about taking on work that fits around the kids.”

What was the biggest adaptations that you have made to your life since your children have come along.

Work and travel, I think. I took Louis with me to the world diving championships in Budapest when he was 6 weeks old, I say to him now, you actully saw Tom Daly win his second world title and it just goes [gestures] straight over his head so I don’t even think the biggest adaptations came in when they were babies. I think the bigger adaptions come in when they start school, as obviously they’ve got be somewhere 9-3 so you’re on their schedule then. I notice a lot of my friends who have toddlers will say ‘shall we meet for brunch on Saturday’ [for example], and I’m like, ‘No, sorry I can’t, I’ve got a 15-minute gap between swimming and play dates and it does not include any kind of brunch situation!’ [laughing] I think when you’ve got little kids they will go where you want, you can pop them in the pushchair and bring them along with you, but bigger kids don’t always want to.

Having more than one kid is big change, because you can only split yourself so many ways. Having Elsie though has actually made the boys nicer! They are so sweet with her. I do say to them, ‘you’re so nice with Elsie can you just be a little bit nicer to each other!’ (Because they do fight as siblings close in age do.) So, I love seeing that kindness in them, it melts my heart.

Your next challenge is Strictly Come Dancing! How are you feeling about tackling that alongside your life as a mum?

Part of me thinks it’s bad timing and the other part of me thinks it is good timing. Elsie is only little so she’s not crawling around yet, so she’s little enough to be quite placid and sleep a lot. I think sometimes it’s easy to overthink these things, but when I was asked, it was like ‘You know what, yes! Let’s do it!’ – I’m excited too because I think it looks fun! I love taking on new challenges and putting myself under pressure and having my mind consumed in that way, so that’s another reason I wanted to do it. It’s weird because I have been asked to do things like this before and I’ve always said no because of the kids, but now I’m doing it when I’ve got a nine-month-old as well, but the kids are in school, so in my head I’m thinking that I’m going to train while they’re in school and Elsie is young enough for it to not be on her radar or affect her. But then again, this could well turn out to be the most stupid decision I’ve made in my entire life – but let’s hope it’s not! [she laughs]

I think sometimes, especially in this career you can overthink things and try and plan but sometimes you’ve just got to go with what comes along. Very few people are in the position that they don’t have to work, and this is a job that will be fun and a distraction and all consuming and something positive for me, the kids, my parents, and my friends. That was another reason that I wanted to do it. To do something positive and change the narrative, I guess.

Also, you spend your life telling your kids, ‘Do what makes you happy’, ‘Go after whatever you want’ ‘Dream Big’ so you have to lead by example.

I think no matter what you do and what you plan, things happen in life and then you get put on a different path, so sometimes there is no point putting down a roadmap.

What tips would you give other working parents?

Oh, I’ve got loads of tips – I’m on a journey at the moment. Firstly, lower the standards! I think unfollow people who don’t have a similar life to you. For example, if you’re a working mum, don’t follow a mum who doesn’t work, follow someone who is doing the juggle. Or if you don’t work, follow someone who doesn’t work, because I think you if you compare apples to pears yours will never be as good. I’ve been given lots of tips myself lately, including find companies that will deliver healthy meals – like meals on wheels but for parents. Then that takes the pressure off grabbing something naff for yourself, you can get them pre ordered just a couple of times a week and the whole family has got a healthy home cooked meal. Just make life easier for yourself. Another one is, have a notepad by the bed because every has them things where they wake up in the night where they are like ‘oh s&*t they need a yellow t-shirt for tomorrow’. I also think delegate stuff in your life that you don’t need to do yourself. Like I hate cleaning, so I got a cleaner. I felt really bad about it at first, I felt really middle-class, and I would tidy up before they came, but then the lady said to me ‘why are you doing that, you are paying me to do this?’ Oh, and don’t buy clothes that you need to iron! Again, why are you doing that to yourself. And finally, I have a present cupboard because there is always a party that you have forgotten, or you haven’t got time to go to B&M before you go. And a distraction box is always good too when you’ve got multiple children.

What do you mean by a distraction box?

Well, I would always keep a little box on the side, I’ve done this from Louis being born. I will put a couple of snacks in that he would like, a couple of books, or some little cheap toys in there. So then if you’re feeding or changing the baby and your older one wants you too and you can say ‘Go and get something from your box!’ I think that’s it!

Simon Wood
Written by
Tom Pitfield and his daughter Iris

PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM PITFIELD

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Dining Table Date Night – Ox Cheek Tagliatelle with Simon Wood

Dining Table Date Night – Ox Cheek Tagliatelle with Simon Wood

SIMON WOOD COOKS Ox Cheek Tagliatelle
| SIMON WOOD OF WOOD MANCHESTER AND WoodKraft Cheltenham. IMAGES © BROOD MAGAZINE

“POUR YOURSELF A GLASS OF SOMETHING YOU ENJOY, POP ON YOUR FAVOURITE MUSIC TO UNWIND TO AND START TO COOK…”

Welcome back to Brood food, Last time around I spoke about food and families which are two topics in which everyone claims some expertise, and rightly so. Families are made up of people who eat food. Both families and food contribute to a person’s physical and social well-being throughout life and are the foundation of many memories, both good and sometime not.

Tonight I’m going to focus on a Date night dinner, a tasty, easy to prepare dinner that you and yours can enjoy at a time that suits you. I’m a firm believer in a bowl of pasta and a glass of wine and this dish is as simple as that. There’s some time and love put in to some delicious meaty Ox Cheeks which slowly sit and fall apart in a splendid tomato sauce. This produces a sensational Ragu fit for any table

Here is how it is done, first things first, pour yourself a glass of something you enjoy, pop on your favourite music to unwind to and start to cook. You will need a frying pan, two large saucepans a chopping board, grater and a sharp knife.

Ox Cheek Tagliatelle

Ingredients:

  • ½ Tube of Tomato Purée 
  • 8 balls of Dried Tagliatelle 
  • 2 Large Ox Cheeks
  • 4 Cloves of Fresh Garlic, Grated
  • 1 Large onion, diced 
  • 1 Teaspoon of dried oregano
  • 1 table spoon Aleppo Chilli
  • 2 bottles of passata
  • 8 really fresh large tomatoes 
  • A small bunch of basil 
  • Grated parmesan to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

 

Method 

  • Turn a medium size frying pan on to a high heat, coat your ox cheeks oil and season with salt and pepper, Place the Ox Cheeks in the frying pan, and cook until golden brown. Set them aside and let them rest, take care to retain any juices.
  • Next Peel, and then dice your onion, add it in to one of your large sauce pans, on a low heat, and stir frequently
  • Now peel two cloves of garlic and grate finely. Add to the saucepan and stir before adding in the tomato purée and cooking for 5 minutes or so. 
  • Chop your tomatoes, the riper they are the better the sauce, add them to the saucepan and cook before adding in the passata and the cheeks along with any juices
  • Add a little Salt, Pepper, oregano and the Aleppo Chilli and cook for 4/5 hours on a ow heat (You can use a slow cooker if you like)
  • Once the meat is softened use two forks or the back of a large spoon to flake it into the rich red sauce.
  • Now it’s time to cook the pasta, in another large saucepan bring some water to the boil and add the pasta, cook until al dente before removing and adding into the pasta ragu sauce, finish the cooking of the pasta in here to allow the pasta to absorb the flavour of the sauce
  • Serve in a bowl, top with a some fresh basil and some freshly grated Parmesan 

 

We mentioned earlier about the bowl of wine and glass of pasta and today I am going to go for this delight a lovely Red wine Gaja Sito Moresco*

 

As an Italian wine producer, there is possibly no one more iconic than Gaja.

Established back in 1859 by Giovanni Gaja, the Gaja family had moved from Spain to Italy towards the end of the 17th century.

 

They first started making wines to be sold from their family tavern, by the end of the 19th Century they were supplying their wines to the Italian army.

 

As their name grew, so to did their wines. Angelo Gaja took over the business in 1970 and today Gaja has 101 hectares of vineyards divided into 32 separate plots and produces around 30,000 cases of wine a year. Gaja produces world-class wines that sell for world-class prices.

 

Sito Moresco is a blend of Nebbiolo, barbera, merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. 12 months in oak creating a pale ruby hue with otes of red and black berries, sour cherries a Smokey finish with a hint of green pepper spice.

 

All that said to simply put it. It is delicious and works incredibly with this dish.

 

If you like the idea of having 55 wines by the glass to choose from then why not call in to WOOD Manchester to try them, or you can even pair them with Cheese and enjoy 5 glasses of wine and 5 cheeses in Homage at WOOD Manchester. Drink only is available from 8pm Wednesday to Saturday and pared with Cheese Wednesday to Saturday evenings or lunches Friday and Saturday.

 

As always, thanks for reading and if you have any recipe suggestions or questions please do send them to me at @SimonJWoodUK or simon@woodmanchester.com

 

 

 

Thanks, Simon

 

Simon is Chef Patron or WOOD Manchester on First Street Manchester and WOODKRAFT ‘The Artisan Eatery’ on Regent Street in Cheltenham.

 

Ox Cheek Tagliatelle
Ox Cheek Tagliatelle | SIMON WOOD © FOR BROOD MAGAZINE
WoodKraft Cheltenham
Ox Cheek Tagliatelle | SIMON WOOD © FOR BROOD MAGAZINE
Simon Wood
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Oli Dunn
Morson Group - Find your next job

The Diary Of A Dadpreneur…
By Oli The Choc…

Time Flies, but I’m not complaining! We’re just so bloody lucky to be here in the first place!

The year flies by quick, but time flies when you’re having fun, even quicker when you have offspring, businesses, busy social lives, fitness aspirations, hobbies and an insatiable appetite for travel, new experiences and meeting new people.
Therefore I have no qualms about time moving by so fast, time is a blessing and I’m grateful to have it at my disposal in the first place, the opportunity to spend it how I want, abundantly, lovingly and in a nutshell cramming as much as possible into every single day.

So we’re into the months ending with “ber” already, well I’m not even mad at that, I’m flipping and it I’m inspired by it instead.

The start of the academic year, almost feels like a new year do you agree? Except with added pressure and urgency, if we haven’t succeeded in ticking some big ones off the list then now is the time to get it done before the year is up.

Even though New Years resolutions can be cliché, tacky and last about as long as the conversations you have about them, I am a little bit of a sucker for them. I feel a power in the new year and I get sucked into the hype and excitement of the opportunity to redesign my life.

However, every day is a new beginning and every “now” is the beginning of a brand new creative process, the opportunity to have a new thought, that leads to a new thing, that grows, expands, develops and manifests into amazing new experiences and circumstances.

They say a thought thinks, so I choose those little sparks of energy very carefully because I believe they aren’t as insignificant as most people tend to think, they grow and gain momentum, which is why you can manifest what you do want or what you don’t want, whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not.

I’m hyper aware of this throughout the year but I also thrive under pressure. I only really get things done either because the desire is so strong or the pressure to get it done can’t be challenged.

I call it the power of the 11th hour, I embrace that along with any other quirks in my personality which I’ll uncover in good time. I give myself a break.

So my New Years resolution was to be more curious and I feel that I have been more curious in 2022, asked more questions and discovered new answers.

I’m going to double down on curiosity for this last quarter of the year.

It’s time to ask more questions, of myself and others in order to learn more about both and the world around us, creating even more new and exciting opportunities. Who knows what stories I’ll be telling by New Years Eve and not just those about chasing a toddler around an airport lounge or military style nappy changes, but stories about things I’ve been able to achieve and exciting situations I’ve found myself in.

I feel it’s my job to prove to others what’s possible in life, anything.

My point is it’s not too late for resolutions, it’s never to late to become a better you, improve your life and create new opportunities, even do something completely different if you want to, or have multiple things on the go, even if one of those is raising a small human, there’s no rules, the only barriers are the ones we tend to put up in front of ourselves.

Also don’t be too hard on yourself, embrace who you are and how far you’ve come.
Remind yourself of what you’ve achieved this year so far and the ways in which you have grown, then also remember we still have 4 months left of this year so it’s never too late, it’s always the beginning.

Reflect for clarity and confidence to launch you into this last quarter.

It’s time to step into your power! 💥

Peace, Love, Choc ‘n’ Roll….
Oli ✌🏼

Oli Dunn Chocolatier
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How important is skin prep to improve makeup application?

Sally is the go to MUA for many stars, from red carpet events, magazine shoots, weddings and family occasions, and it’s easy to see why, with over 10 years experience in the industry her impressive portfolio speaks for itself. 

How important is skin prep to improve makeup application?

If you want to avoid those skin moments where your foundation or concealer has faded or melted away to the point that looking in the mirror has become frustrating on an evening out or your just tired of keep touching up throughout the day then it’s worth thinking again about your skin prep and taking that additional effort with your skin routine.
Knowing your skin type is super important to your skin care routine so make sure you use the correct products to get the best results.
I find using an exfoliant once a week helps with removing dead skin and the appearance of pores and also brightening my skin thus helps your moisturisers to penetrate deeper, creating smoother hydrated skin. This one change alone in your skin care routine will help your makeup game.
There are many types of exfoliators on the market for example I love a more physical gritty scrub however this can be quite abrasive so you may want to opt for a chemical based formulas which break down dead skin cells and help them fall away. Sensitive skin types should be a little more careful when using chemical exfoliators.
Cleanse and tone and moisturise daily am and pm especially before your makeup routine. Toning will close pores and trap moisture for a smoother complexion.
Hydrating your skin will help foundation glide on effortlessly, buffs evenly and not sit on top of the skin looking flakey, giving your overall look staying power and a flawless effect.

My top picks for the best exfoliators:

Sensitive skin: https://www.paulaschoice.com/

Dry skin: https://www.murad.co.uk/product/aha-bha-exfoliating-cleanser/  

All skin types: https://zoskinhealth.com/products/exfoliating-polish?variant=31618259779699

Oily skin: https://www.katesomerville.co.uk/exfolikate-intensive-exfoliating-treatment/10095-ExfoliKate.html

Best overall on a budget: https://en.drsturm.com/facial-scrub/?setCurrencyId=1&sku=50-100-04&redirect=disabled&gclid=Cj0KCQjw94WZBhDtARIsAKxWG-8_cSppDTRJmcUHBZ4lyxRt6YdBSTRM18il7y3vxyUC3H5WlMjr634aAncAEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

Best splurge-worthy: https://www.lamaisonvalmont.com/us/en/face-exfoliant.html?gclid=Cj0KCQjw94WZBhDtARIsAKxWG–zYPN6gPVYCweAFQIXWcSgV_zp-esyey4ahLL45kjc1yuFuLRHza0aAvn3EALw_wcB

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I never expected to be a dad: The path to adoption with Adrian Adair

I never expected to be a dad: The path to adoption with Adrian Adair

“…Honestly, I never thought I’d be a dad”

For many, the path to parenthood is not made from perfectly shaped, life stepping stones. Keen to explore the diverse routes to, and experiences of, becoming a parent I reached out to one of our Morson executive managers who has recently navigated the adoption process to become a father with his partner.

For safeguarding purposes, we have kept the identity of the family anonymous, so there’s no BROOD photography provided by the talented Tom Pitfield, but I’m confident you’ll be as moved by this honest, inspiring and, at times, emotional story as I was.

During our conversation, we explore the challenges of raising a child with a traumatic past, the complications of using traditional parenting techniques with an adoptive child and why adoption should be considered more widely as a path to parenthood.

Morson Group
Adoption Process
Morson Group - Find your next job

Let’s start with your new reality, parenthood. How long have you been a dad?

We have had our boy for just under a year now, he moved in with us in November of last year. Honestly, I never thought I’d be a dad, but my partner and I have been together for 17 years and we felt it was time to start a family, so we decided to explore adoption.

We’ve had many a conversation over the past 9 months about how your little boy has changed your life and I’m interested to understand more about your experience of adopting and the adoption process itself…

It’s been an interesting time, not least because of the personal circumstances and realities you become aware of. All children who are in the adoption process will have experienced trauma in one way or another. The very reason they’re in the care system is because they have encountered some kind of harm and that could be anything from physical, sexual or emotional abuse and severe neglect. So, a big part of the process is having to prepare yourself to cope with, understand and manage that child’s experiences and life story.

Because we’ve adopted a slightly older child, who wasn’t put into the system until they were five and a half, he’s had years of not having his needs met. As you can imagine, caring for a child who has gone for five and a half years experiencing that when you cry, no one’s cuddled you, or when you’ve been hungry, no one’s fed you, their parent has gone out and left you alone at home on your own… there’s a lot of things to unpick. Often adopting an older child can come with more challenges than if you adopt a newborn baby. For example, in adoption, you can do something called early permanence. In early permanence, the birth mum is still in pregnancy and social services are aware that it’s a challenging environment with the birth family, so as soon as that child is born the baby is taken into care. These babies are safeguarded and cared for by the system from birth.

However, whatever the path to adoption, one thing you can rely on is that each child who enters care has experienced some type of trauma whether that’s in the womb or in the outside world. So you just need to prepare yourself for this.

So, as a couple, how do you prepare yourself for this reality and becoming adoptive parents to a child with a traumatic past, did you take any leave from work?

We did loads of research, training and workshops so we were fully aware of the challenges and prioritised creating an environment where our child would feel safe and supported. To help with this I took three months of adoption leave. The adoption policy for Morson would have allowed me to take 12 months or more if I wanted to, but I was conscious we needed to introduce work/life balance into our environment as part of the process – because that’s the reality of our lives. Three months full pay was amazing because when you bring your child home, that period of attachment with your child is massively important. Being able to take three months off and not having to worry about my salary was huge for me. My partner took off six months and he could have extended it to 12 months as well. That period where we both stayed at home together to nurture, understand and get to know our child and adapt to our new lives was essential.

Of course, the beauty of having a slightly older child is they do go to school which gave us some downtime, so that’s an advantage! Self-care and a strong support network is of paramount importance when you adopt a child, so allowing yourself time to have a relaxing bath, read a magazine or go for a coffee with a friend is a must.

As the parent of a toddler, I’m looking forward to school! Also, please give me hope, do they sleep when they’re older, please tell me they do?!

Do you know what? It’s funny because when he first came to us he would go to bed, then he would get up a short time later and become dysregulated. During this time he’d be throwing cushions and screaming at us, and it would take him probably an hour to settle.

And now?

You can put him to bed at 7:30 pm, say ‘Goodnight, I love you’ and he’ll not get out of bed until the morning (which happened to be 5:55 am today). We spoke to an educational psychologist who explained to us that if you do not feel safe the primary thing that is affected is your sleep. So, the fact that he sleeps through the night is speaking volumes about how he feels at home with us, so that’s a huge win.

That’s amazing and so positive to hear.

When you first came back to work I remember us chatting and you had loads of interesting tips like this for adopters and anyone caring for a child. Would you mind sharing some more?

Do you know what, a lot of the training when you go through the adoption process doesn’t just deal with children who’ve experienced trauma. Much of it can cover how to handle any child who is demonstrating challenging behaviours.

For me, the one key takeaway here was the power of playfulness. No matter how agitated they are, playfulness will nearly always get a child out of the mindset of being angry or upset. If you can get a child to smile or laugh, they cannot feel anger or upset at the same time. So one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that being playful and silly will help your child to become regulated again. Because of this, we find ourselves doing the most ridiculous things! If he suddenly becomes distracted, frustrated or unsettled we’ll do a stupid voice or a silly dance, or we’ll put on a silly song. As soon as he starts laughing you know he’s coming around, so playfulness is massive.

One of the other tips is distraction techniques. If you can distract your child it can help to diffuse potentially challenging behaviours. Tactics like making anonymous phone calls, for example, picking up the phone and making out that you’re speaking to someone immediately gets him to ask questions like, ‘Who’s that on the phone dad’… his curiosity takes over his agitation.

So, yes, playfulness and distraction are the two big things we’ve learned. My partner and I certainly have a playful nature, so I won’t lie, we actually really enjoy it.

Natasha Jonas Training
ADRIAN ADAIR FOR MORSON. IMAGES © BROOD MAGAZINE

So you say those tips are universal but do you think there are differences in parenting an adoptive child vs. a child who has had a more traditional upbringing?

I would say yes. You cannot parent a child who’s experienced trauma the same way you would a child who has not had a traumatic start to life.

Discipline is one key difference. If you’ve got a baby or child who cries a lot, traditional parenting methods may suggest leaving them to self-soothe or tactics such as sending them to their room to calm down. You can’t do that with a child who has experienced trauma because if your child used to cry, and no one ever came, their behaviour regresses. So you have to go and comfort them. Because of their experiences, many of these children have not met their developmental milestones because they haven’t had their needs met. Therefore their chronological age is different to their emotional age. For example, you may have a child who is eight, but emotionally still could be only 18 months old because they never had their emotional needs met.

It’s little things like when they get out of the bath, wrapping them in a towel and rocking them, which they didn’t experience as a baby. Another thing is around meal times, for example, my boy will occasionally ask for help eating because he didn’t have that support in his earlier years so is looking for that need to be met now. As an adoptive parent, you’ve got to consider their emotional age, not their chronological age. Remembering this is key.

I’ll be honest, I’ve found this part really difficult. I’m fighting 38 years of being parented and in a particular way. The fuses in my childhood home were very short and you cannot behave that way with an adoptive child, you must have patience. So it’s been a real eye-opener for me on how to try and control my initial reactions, be more tolerant and think about things more carefully.

So is it fair to say that the adoption experience has taught you a lot about yourself? Has becoming a parent changed you in any way?

Yes, I would say this experience has definitely taught me more about myself. I’ve always been quite an empathetic person and this has helped me transition into the adoptive parent role. This whole process has highlighted how important empathy and understanding people’s situations are. I think I’ve always been that way, to be honest, but even more so now.

Although I was only saying at work yesterday it’s funny how I have so much patience and tolerance with my team, yet you flip it onto parenthood and my tolerances and patience get a bit shorter. But I think this is because, when you become a parent your child becomes the most important thing in your life. Things that I would get upset and frustrated about beforehand in work, I’m just like, it’s not that important anymore. I don’t sweat the small stuff because my child and his well-being are my priority.

I agree. I think patience is the key word. People say to me all the time that I’ve calmed down since I’ve become a dad. I think when you’re at home, in a social environment or the workplace being more patient with people whether that’s colleagues, children, family or friends ensures you get the best out of those around you.

Speaking of friends, when we used to meet up we’d talk about which restaurant we’d been to or what holiday we’d just booked. Now it’s all mealtime strategies, sleep cycles and ‘guess what food has been smeared on my clothes this morning?’ Is it fair to say life has changed?

Yeah! Now it’s all about soft play and where the best children’s theme parks are. Holidays are not the same. Now you book a hotel based on the kids club reviews and availability of free slushies.

It’s not a holiday anymore. It’s a trip!

Yeah, it’s very, very different, but different in a good way.

I never expected to be a dad. Ever. Because I thought parenthood would be something that I would never do, you don’t work towards it. I think in heterosexual couples (or certainly it used to be) you would get together, get married and have a baby; you’d have these relationship milestones set out. But often in a gay relationship, couples get together, get a house and live the rest of your life frivolously. But as soon as my partner and I started the process we knew we were meant to be dads and I would never change it.

I always said when I first met Leanne that I’m not getting married again, I don’t want children and I don’t like pets…

And look at you now.

Yep, 15 years on, we’re married, we’ve got a dog and Alana proceeded pretty swiftly afterwards. You make a good point though. Society used to force everyone into these ‘norms’ but nowadays people are ripping up the rule book. I think we were probably the last generation who felt that pressure.

Though I couldn’t see my life any other way now. To see the world through a child’s eyes is probably the best thing I’ve ever experienced because they just love everything, don’t they? The first time they step on sand or go on a plane, it’s all new and exciting…

Oh absolutely! The number of times we’ve sat there and our little boy has just looked up and gone ‘This is the best day ever!‘.

It’s particularly powerful for him because he was taken into care at five and went through several different foster placements, so he’s never been able to feel safe, settled or have things of his own. He’s never been spoiled, and now he’s having all these experiences, he’s like WOW! Though we’ve had to reign it in a little bit!

What’s it like seeing the difference in him and knowing you’re giving him the best life experiences possible? Are you an adoption advocate?

A massive yes on both parts. I think more people need to see adoption as an option. People don’t look at or talk about fostering and adoption enough. I mean, consider the positive impact you can have; not only are you bringing joy to your life, but you’re also giving a child who would not have the best life a chance to have an amazing life. So people should think more about it because they’re crying out for adopters.

Look, it’s challenging, I won’t sugar coat that, in some early conversations with you I probably burst into tears a couple of times, but the rewards on both sides are huge.

That’s such a powerful message and you’ve completely opened my eyes, like many others I’m guilty of being relatively naive to the adoption conversation. Do you have any tips for people that are thinking about going on that journey?

I think my one tip would be that you cannot be overprepared. Read the books. Do as much training as you possibly can, because there is nothing that can prepare you for some of the challenges that are involved, but it is very, very, very rewarding. Some training courses we went on and some of the stories we heard were so sad and unbelievable so yeah, just be prepared. That’s the most important thing.

We’ve worked together now for 11(!) years and it’s been lovely to see you go on this journey, I know I’ve never seen you happier. You’ve got such a nurturing personality, and a brilliant relationship with your partner, I know you’re creating a great home for your boy.

Yeah, times have certainly changed since we were dancing on tables doing Karaoke and singing Barbie Girl! But I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Through my relationship with this particular colleague and others, I’ve seen first-hand how adoption has enriched the lives of both adults and children. For me, it’s so important that organisations support and enable people to explore all routes to parenthood, and as business leaders, we must help to facilitate and champion this.

At Morson, our adoption policy has been crafted to ensure that adoptive parents are supported equally to those on traditional maternity or paternity leave. Primary parents receive the same entitlement as those on maternity and secondary parents mirror paternity policy. But, it’s not just adoption, we’re looking at various family structures to ensure our colleagues are supported by policies which are fair, inclusive, and reflective of their personal circumstances. For example, we’re currently working directly with one of our colleagues who is going through IVF to help write and shape our IVF policy to ensure it offers the right level of support.

As a business with a large, global reach we’re passionate about influencing positive change across our network based on learned experience. As such our HR teams are working with a number of clients to help them craft inclusive policies for their current and future workforce, through our HR Outsourcing service.

If you are a business wishing to explore how best to champion inclusion and support your employees or an individual looking for an opportunity in an organisation that cares for the personal and professional you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me directly adrian.adair@morson.com

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It’s back to school time!! Hallelujah!! Of course I love my kids unconditionally but WOW, I’ll definitely be that parent skipping and smiling out of the school gates at drop off on their first day back! 

I’m sure many of you have been juggling work, summer holidays, life in general and now uniform shopping, queuing in school shoe shops and spending too many hours searching for just the right pens, pencils and protractors for your cherubs new, squeaky clean pencil case! I do have to laugh though, I mean, it’s as if my kids were last at school a year ago and absolutely nothing will fit them and I must absolutely buy them everything new or else…..what?! They’ll just wear the uniform they wore 8 weeks ago which pretty much still fits them! The sheer panic when trawling the shops is funny really.

Anyway, onto food talk….more specifically, packed lunches. Trying to find healthy foods that our kids will eat when left to their own devices in the dinner hall is near impossible. They’ll always pick the tastiest options or just not eat what we put in their lunchboxes and go hungry. Neither is ideal. So, I find building their lunchboxes with them the most effective way to get them to eat well. Okay, so let’s be realistic here as well….you’ve been working late or done a million after school clubs and just about manage to feed your kid(s) dinner and get them in bed at a decent hour, then you realise you’ve got to do their lunchboxes! You’re not going to wake them and get them to join you in the slightly tedious process of creating a nutritious yet tasty lunch for the following day. BUT, you can perhaps spend some time over the weekend/evenings chatting and swapping ideas of what they might like to have for the coming weeks lunches. And if you are organised one night, before bed, ask them if they want to help you make their lunch for the next day and that you want to make sure they’re going to enjoy and want everything you put in there. Also, don’t forget they can take leftover dinners such as pasta or rice dishes, which they can eat cold or pittas, wraps or bagels. It doesn’t have to just be soggy sandwiches, crisps and chocolate bars!

One of the main things I would recommend to incorporate into their lunches is variety. Try to add different texture foods – sweet, salty, crunchy and soft, like pretzels, raisins, grapes, tortilla chips, chocolate rice crackers and nuts (be aware of allergies of course, or anyone in their class or who they sit with that may have nut allergies!). I also find putting their food into individual containers, not only keeps it fresher for longer but you can get really cute little jars and pots for their snacks that they will love as it’s something to show their friends and makes their food more interesting. I get mine from Amazon, they’ve got a huge variety that your kids can get involved in choosing with you.

I also find that when I pick mine up from school, they are STARVING – and must eat right now or else they’re going to collapse from the hunger! So dramatic. So I’ve been experimenting with healthy energy bars to take at pick up so they can survive the journey home and not collapse along the way! The most popular ones are the Raspberry and Chocolate ones, they are no cook and quick to make with minimal fuss. You can also cut into smaller portions and use in their lunchboxes to help avoid that afternoon sugar dip and keep them alert and brainy! Here’s the recipe for you to try…

No Bake Raspberry & Chocolate Energy Bars

You will need:

  • Rectangular baking tin – like a bread tin (9inch x 5inch approx)
  • Parchment paper
  • Food processor
  • Spatula

Ingredients:

Base – 

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup cashew nuts
  • 1/2 cup desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp Maca powder
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1 cup dates
  • 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 1-3 tbsp almond milk

Top – 

  • 2 cups frozen raspberries
  • 2 tbsp acai powder
  • 1-2 tbsp rice malt syrup/maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup cashew nuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Optional – 1 cup dark/milk chocolate for the top – melt in a saucepan and use a folk to drizzle over the top before freezing

Method:

  • Line the baking tray with parchment paper
  • Place all base ingredients – accept almond milk – in the food processor and blend until fine and crumbly – if mixture is too dry and doesn’t bind when pushed down, add a small amount of almond milk until sticky
  • Using the spatula push the base down firmly and place in the freezer while you prepare the top layer
  • Place all topping ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth – the mixture will still be fairly thick due to the frozen berries
  • Remove the base from the freezer and place the mixture on top of the base and push down with the spatula until firm
  • Add the chocolate drizzle at this point if using
  • Place in the freezer for half an hour and once set, cut into bars or squares if using for lunch box snacks
  • For storage – keep in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month and remove a piece at a time prior to eating to allow it to thaw.

    NO BAKE RASPBERRY & CHOCOLATE ENERGY BARS
    written BY KATE DEVINE

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    © BROOD MAGAZINE. OUR CO-FOUNDER TOM PITFIELD, HIS WIFE, ACTRESS CATHERINE TYLDESLEY & THEIR SON ALFIE & DAUGHTER IRIS  “Mum guilt never gets any easier!” Only last week our co-founder Tom Pitfield, and his wife, a successful and widely respected actress,...

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    Cath Tyldesley & Tom Pitfield share the news of Cath’s incredible career opportunity overseas that will leave Tom  ‘holding the baby’.

    Cath Tyldesley & Tom Pitfield share the news of Cath’s incredible career opportunity overseas that will leave Tom ‘holding the baby’.

    © BROOD MAGAZINE. OUR CO-FOUNDER TOM PITFIELD, HIS WIFE, ACTRESS CATHERINE TYLDESLEY & THEIR SON ALFIE & DAUGHTER IRIS 

    “Mum guilt never gets any easier!

    Only last week our co-founder Tom Pitfield, and his wife, a successful and widely respected actress, singer, writer and producer – Cath Tyldesley, had a gold-plated spanner thrown in the works when it came to their family life; when Cath was offered a dream role in an exciting TV drama, which meant that she would be filming on location abroad for three months! Within the space of a week, from the amazing opportunity arising, Cath was on a plane and on her way to pursue an incredible career opportunity, with Tom effectively left ‘holding the baby’.

    Anyone who knows Cath knows that she is a doting mum and that she absolutely adores her family, so it goes without saying that leaving her family behind to embark on her latest career adventure was not going to be something that she would find easy, but having worked so hard her entire career and proving people wrong through undeniable determination and unwavering talent, the only option was to embrace the opportunity, and make both herself and her family proud. Cath is flying the flag for all the formidable Mamma’s that stand tall and say it’s more than ok to be a mum and still want a career and achieve their dreams; and equally Tom is flying the flag for all the fantastic hands-on dads out there, as anyone who knows Tom, knows that he is more than capable of manning the fort alone for a few months, (albeit that he may need to have lots of rum on hand!) Tom is an amazing father, and he completely supports his wife’s career goals – just as she does his! Between them they make a marvellous team and are showing their children that teamwork really does makes the dream work. We had the pleasure of chatting to Cath and Tom about this very ‘BROOD-esq’ situation, just before Cath had to leave for the airport, and they bravely shared both their excitement and fears that the situation has brought upon them, and they explain how they see it as just another adventure that they will complete and that will further enhance their family’s life in the long term. 

    Tom Pitfield and his daughter Iris
    © BROOD MAGAZINE. OUR CO-FOUNDER TOM PITFIELD & HIS DAUGHTER IRIS 

    “- yes, I am a mother, but I am also still Cath, and an actress

    Cath, you’ve just landed a dream role – congratulations! It’s so well deserved and such amazing news!!! You’ll be working on location for a number of months though, meaning you will be away from your family, which will inevitably be really hard for you all, but in order to succeed in our careers it can often mean making sacrifices – especially when you have little ones, and you are self-employed; how important is it to you to lead by example in showing your children that they should always follow their dreams, and how much did that impact your decision in accepting the role?

    Cath – “It’s hard, I almost feel like two different people, because there is career-Cath who is incredibly ambitious, extremely self-motivated and very driven, and so I’m always determined to fulfil my goals. Failure isn’t an option. And I love my job. My job is my happy place. But then on the flip side being a mum is my happy place too and it’s ok to want to have both of those things! There’s never a true balance, so there is no point trying to get that. I think I have to remember that sometimes I’m with them [the children] and sometimes I’m not, that’s just how it is. But I get to see my children more than most ‘9-5’ people, so although I might work away for a couple of months here and there, in between jobs I have a lot of downtime and that is always spent with my kids and my husband, so in a lot of ways we’re very lucky. But, yes, I’m not denying it’s incredibly difficult and I’m actually just about to leave to go to the airport and I can’t stop crying! I’ve got tears of joy because it’s an amazing role, it’s an amazing job, with amazing talent, but the other part of me is crying because even though I’m going to be reunited with my family in 10 days’ time, my little girl is only 16 weeks old, so it’s a long time to be away from her, to be away from them both. But I hope I instil a good work ethic in my children and show them that it’s important to remember who you are, because yes, I am a mother, but I am also still Cath, and an actress.

    Also, my parents held down several jobs to give myself and my sister a good life, and for me to be able to go to drama school, so I grew up with working parents. And my kids come everywhere with me, wherever possible, we’re flying them out in just over a weeks’ time, where I go the kids go, we’re a family so I always strive to make it work!”

    We live in a society where unfortunately it still seems to be ‘not the done thing’ for a mum to return to work while their babies are young, what would you say to anyone who may cast judgment on you for working away whilst Iris is so young?

    Cath – “You can’t cast judgement on any parent! Being a parent is the most wonderful job in the world, but it is also the most challenging mentally – and physically! You need to be in athletic condition to be a parent, especially when you’ve got several children. Looking after your health is everything when you’re a parent for so many reasons. It takes real strength of character to be a good parent and you just need to make things work for you and your family, and every single family is different. I couldn’t do a 9-5 job, knowing that week after week that I would be caught in the rat race and only be getting home just in time to put the kids down for bed. That does not appeal to me. Whereas the way that I live, as mentioned earlier, yes there are intense work periods, but in between that I have weeks and weeks where I’m with the children, where I’m able to do the school runs and we can do lots of nice things together, and I just think that whatever your situation you make it work.”

    Tom is obviously an amazing Dad and completely hands-on, so both the children are in very good hands, but the dreaded ‘Mum Guilt’ always seems to creep in – even when there is nothing to feel guilty about! What coping mechanisms do you use to help you deal with ‘Mum Guilt’ when you’re working?

    Cath – “Mum guilt never gets any easier! I was awake at half three this morning and I had a little cry, I’ll admit that because I do feel guilty sometimes. But then I used to feel guilty when I had a more regular job, because I was working all day every day and there was no real end in sight. So, I think that no matter what position you are in as parent in terms of work, you’re always going to feel guilty, and the fact of the matter is that I want my children to have the best possible life that I can give them and for me that means being surrounded by love and wonderful, inspirational people, and that’s what my children have tenfold.

    Hopefully they’ll be inspired by me and Tom, and I really hope that they both have driven personalities and can follow their dreams. I tell Alfie all the time that if you can see it, you can achieve it. I’m living proof of that. So many people told me I wouldn’t do half the things I’ve done, and I’ve done them! I think goal setting is very important in life and it’s very important to establish that positivity for your children because the world that we live in, more than ever, can be a very dark place, so helping them to have a positive mental attitude is so important.”

     

    Tom, how much Rum did you drink when you realised Cath was going to be working on location for so long and that you would be left effectively holding the baby?! (Lol)

    Tom – “I’m not going to lie; Rum will play a part in my parenting over the next three months!” He laughs. “To be honest, with this job and how it just all happened so quickly we didn’t really have time to think. As soon as Cath walked out of the door to go the airport, I had that realisation that I’ve got to cook the tea now, whilst holding the baby and looking after a 7-year-old, and that’s not going to change for the next three months. But you know what, we’ve done it before – albeit it was just me and Alfie then, so we’ve got an extra one this time, but we’ll do it! We knew this was going to be our life whether we had one or two kids, or no kids, so we knew the deal when we first got together and we always said we would do everything as a team, so this is just the next adventure, and we’ll complete it and move on. And we’ve got to just stay positive like that, as Cath’s following her dreams and we support her, just like she supports me, so it’s mutual respect.”

     

    What are your biggest fears of juggling being the main carer for children and maintaining your own growing career whilst Cath is away?

    Tom – “Initially I think my biggest fear is centred around Alfie, because he’s our first and he had 7 years of it being just us three, and when Cath was working away, it was just us two. I’ve explained to him that Mummy’s working away again, but that this time we’ve got Iris so it will be harder, and I might not always be able to give him the attention he deserves.

    With regards to the career side of things, it will be a challenge, but it’s always a challenge when you’ve got kids anyway, especially with Catherine’s career being the way it is, so that has always been a juggling act. Having the extra element of having Alfie and Iris on my own will make it a little bit harder, and I’m sure there will be a fine line in making sure I don’t compromise the kids or my career, but I know I can do it and my main goal is just to get the job done and not to drop the ball workwise at all so that from a client point of no one will see the struggles, as that’s really important.”

    You are a very hands-on Dad and although a lot more people are these days, for some there still seems to be a ridiculous perception that the majority of parenting responsibility should lie with the mother. Are you proud of the example that you are setting your children, in showing them that parenting isn’t just for Mum and that it’s about teamwork where Dad can play just as much of an important role as Mum?

    Tom – “Yeah, absolutely. I think if I look around at a lot of my friends, even though they’ve got full time jobs, they are very hands on like myself, so I think it’s definitely changing. But when you are out in the wider public there certainly is still a perception for what dads ‘should be doing’ and what mums ‘should be doing’ – even in this day and age! So yes, I’m extremely proud. Even if I’m just walking through the supermarket to go and change Iris or something, and it’s just me and her, I’m very proud of wearing the changing bag and just being as hands on as I am. And I absolutely do think that will flow through to the kids and I’d like them to be the same, especially Alfie. I think the way both of us parent, going back to Cath working away, is because we want that work ethic to pass down to the kids. We always show them that Mummy and Daddy train hard, they work hard, and they play hard, and I think there is a lot to be said for that. So, if they can go into adult life with that similar mentality, we know they won’t do so bad. So, it definitely plays a part in the way we construct our lives, because we do want them to learn from it. The roles are very similar these days, it’s not just a dad’s job to go out and earn, Mums are just as big and as important in that respect and vice versa from a parenting point of view. And this is obviously one of the things that BROOD Magazine is about, we want to highlight that it’s ok for it to be 50/50 and get rid of that stigma!” 

     

    Tom Pitfield, Catherine Tyldesley and Family
    Tom Pitfield, Catherine Tyldesley and Family © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY 
    Brood Coffee Table Book
    Simon Wood
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    SIMON WOOD’S FAMILY BBQ: VIMTO SWEET & SOUR HANGER STEAK KEBABS

    SIMON WOOD’S FAMILY BBQ: VIMTO SWEET & SOUR HANGER STEAK KEBABS

    VIMTO SWEET & SOUR HANGER STEAK KEBABS
    BY SIMON WOOD OF WOOD MANCHESTER AND WoodKraft Cheltenham. IMAGES © BROOD MAGAZINE

    It is important, so very important that we eat, cook and relax as a family. Despite life trying its best to get in the way. Once a week we should all make the time.

     

    This is my first column for Brood so I thought I’d lay out my food and family ethos as well as showing you some amazing hands on child friendly Summer BBQ recipes and a little something for the grown-ups to enjoy.

    Food and families are two topics in which everyone claims some expertise, and rightly so. Families are made up of people who eat food. Both families and food contribute to a person’s physical and social well-being throughout life and are the foundation of many memories, both good and maybe not.

    Dictionary definitions of food include terms such as wholesome, supporting growth, or providing energy. People recognize that food is necessary for the physical survival of their families. Although sometimes the purpose of food intake is only to satisfy hunger, the role of food in families goes much further than meeting physical needs.

    We can all recall many memories, special occasions, sad times and celebrations and in every one of them, Food, will at some point be what joins us together. The flavours, smells and sounds of a meal all evoke a sixth sense in us that immediately transport us to that event or period in time.

    It is important, so very important that we eat, cook and relax as a family. Despite life trying its best to get in the way. Once a week we should all make the time.

    VIMTO SWEET & SOUR HANGER STEAK KEBABS

    Today I’m going to focus on the Summer, the smell of a barbeque and dinner in the garden. And a recipe you can get the kids involved making.

     

    When I’m cooking in the restaurant or developing a new dish I have one brief. “Classic flavours served with playful authenticity” and this recipe does just that. It reminds me of my first Chinese, even though I’m using local Manchester products, Hangar Steak from my Butcher, Gav at Albion Farm. Vimto, there aren’t many Children (or Adults) that don’t enjoy the soft drink first sold in Lancashire. It was first manufactured as a health tonic in cordial form, then decades later as a carbonated drink. It contains the juice of grapes, raspberries and blackcurrants and that itself generates many childhood recollections.

     

    I use it as the sweetness in my Beef and Green Pepper Glaze, reminiscent of sweet and sour or beef in black bean sauce from family take-away treat nights.

     

    Using measures of two parts Vimto, one water and half red wine vinegar it’s a great yet simple marinade. In a saucepan add a little oil gently soften some sliced shallots before adding in your liquid marinade and reducing until sticky

     

    • 2 Shallots (Sliced)
    • 20ml Sunflower Oil
    • 300ml Vimto
    • 150ml Water
    • 75ml Red Wine Vinegar

     

    • Place a pan on a medium heat and add the oil, followed by the shallots. Soften the shallot gently and then add in the marinade. Reduce by just over half. Later in the recipe you’ll use a bunch of rosemary to glaze the almost cooked kebabs to give them a sticky sweet and sour glaze.

     

    In this recipe I’m using Hangar steak for my kebabs, you can use any steak for this recipe, it will work with Chicken or even Tofu. However I think beef is best and for that you need to get on good terms with your local butcher. I use Butcher Gav (@butcher_gav) from Albion Farm Shop Butchers in Saddleworth. He is an avid Grill master as well as being one of the best butchers in the business, the produce is amazing and it fits this recipe a treat, plus I’m supporting a local business which in the current climate is absolutely vital.

     

    Simon Wood
    BBQ IMAGES © FOR BROOD MAGAZINE

    For this recipe I’m going to cook for the family, that’s me and the kids (and Grandchild) so in total around 8 People. Here is what you’ll need.

     

    • 5 kilos of Beef
    • 8 Large Green Peppers
    • 8 Large Spring Onions (The giant ones)
    • 6 big sprigs of rosemary (to brush)
    • Maldon Sea Salt
    • 8 Metal 14” Kebab Skewers
    • 200ml Sunflower oil
    • 5 Sprigs of rosemary tied with string

     

    Method

     

    • First Dice your beef into equal sized pieces, around 1.5 inches square is best
    • De-seed and chop your peppers into the same size
    • Then, Half your onions
    • Next starting with the onion, then pepper, followed the beef layer up your kebab skewers with a piece of pepper between every chunk of steak.
    • Drizzle in oil and then Season with a good amount of Maldon Salt before grilling at 200ºc turning until thoroughly cooked, around 15 minutes
    • For the last 5 minutes use the sticky glaze and rosemary brush to coat the meat in the delicious marinade. Don’t do this to soon or the sugar will burn before the meat is cooked.

     

    Once cooked, charred and sticky make sure you leave the kebabs to rest thoroughly at least 10-12 minutes, this is so important and, gives everyone time to take in the smell and anticipation of dinner to be served. I would serve this with a simple green salad and a warm and toasty barbequed flatbread.

     

    Now, while you’re waiting for the meat to rest the grown-ups can enjoy this particularly Summery drink using one of my favourite flavours, Lemon.

     

    A Limoncello Spritz

     

    25ml Luxardo Limoncello

    25ml Forty-Five Dry Vermouth

    Fill with ice and then Top with Sparkling Wine of Choice.

     

    My choice is Exton Park RB45 this is the drink of choice for my restaurants Chefs Table arrival and shows an abundance of tropical and citrus fruit, with subtle notes of vanilla and orange blossom, it works amazingly well with this cocktail

     Once Poured simply Garnish with a Lemon twist or some Verbena before relaxing and enjoying making invaluable food related memories with the people that matter the most.

     

    I do hope you have enjoyed my first Column for Brood, Thanks for reading and if you have any recipe suggestions or questions please do send them to me at @SimonJWoodUK or simon@woodmanchester.com

     

    Thanks, Simon

     

     

    Simon is Chef Patron or WOOD Manchester on First Street Manchester and WOODKRAFT ‘The Artisan Eatery’ on Regent Street in Cheltenham.

    WoodKraft Cheltenham
    Simon Wood
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    Auntie Cath Cooks: Honey Soy Salmon with Thai Salad

    Auntie Cath Cooks: Honey Soy Salmon with Thai Salad

    Honey Soy Salmon with Thai Salad!

    I needed to use up some veg in the fridge. I hate waste!! So if it needs using throw it in!!

    Julienne (ish) your veg (posh word for chopping veg into long thin strips) However- to add bulk and noodle type vibes I #spiralized a courgette! If it’s long and thin- I tend to spiralize! Especially when trying to keep carb intake down!! Prep the salad first.

    The fish:

    1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
    1/4 cup honey
    1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

    Olive oil
    Butter

    Heat the oil in pan – meanwhile whisk together the soy sauce, honey and garlic. Set aside.
    Cool the salmon skin side down till almost cooked through.
    Add one table spoon of butter and melt. Then add the sauce. Allow to thicken for a minute spoon over the salmon

    The veg that needed using this particular day:

    Courgette
    Spring onions
    Radishes (obsessed)
    Mange tout
    Finely chop a handful of coriander
    Finely chop one green chilli
    Whack it all in a bowl!

    For the dressing:

    1/4 cup peanut butter or other nut butter
    2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    2 garlic cloves, grated
    2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
    2 tablespoons soy sauce
    1 tablespoon sesame oil
    1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
    Pinch salt such as Maldon

    Put all dressing ingredients into a blender- whizz up. Job done! Dress the bugger out with coriander!

    Catherine Tyldesley (or Auntie Cath as she’s often known!) is one of the UKs favourite actresses. Making in her mark in the likes of BBC Ones ‘Lilies’ , sitcom ‘Scarborough’, ITVs ‘View Point’ and Ofcourse- the nations favourite‘Coronation Street’.
    Catherine has recently finished filming another drama for ITV and was crowned Winner of All Star Musicals 2021. Cath’s other huge passion in life is Food! After study nutrition on maternity leave with her first child- Caths enthusiasm for food grew. Especially nutritious, budget friendly, tasty family meals. We’re thrilled to bits to have Cath join us and share her knowledge and passion! You’re in for a treat with Auntie Caths recipes!

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    STYLE WITH KIM MINCHIN

    STYLE WITH KIM MINCHIN

    Kim Minchin Dunn © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY

    “…I opened the wardrobe and I was overwhelmed with what I was going to wear!

    KIM MINCHIN DUNN INTRODUCES OUR STYLE SECTION…

    Hey everyone! My name is Kim and I’m owner of Kim Minchin Lifestyle, bringing you exclusively designed jewellery, unique handpicked Homeware and fashion from across the globe, mama to Romy who’s just turned one and wife to Chocolatier Oli the Choc.

    I am delighted to be a part of the brood journey and to bring you a regular style column! 

    I will be talking all things home styling, home organisation, easy to wear fashion, styling yourself and your life around being a parent.

    For my first column I really wanted to talk about losing your fashion mojo when you become a mama. One thing I noticed when I got home after having Romy was that of course it was life changing and my previous life aka “flying by the seat of my pants” was no longer an option. When I was finally out of maternity bras and oversized pants I opened the wardrobe and I was overwhelmed with what I was going to wear, I wasn’t physically and mentally the same person I was when I went into the hospital to have Romy. Who was I?

    Some of you may be thinking why does it matter what you wear, it’s what’s on the inside that matters, right? Yep, absolutely it does! But I know for me clothing is part of my identity and when I feel good in them it makes me feel confident.  I think we can pretty much all agree that feeling good in what you wear certainly puts a spring in your step and gives you that extra boost and as a new mum this is key to bringing YOU back and giving you this new identity –  “mummy” that stills goes on date night and still goes out for lunch with the girls feeling killer.

    IMAGE © Kim MINCHIN DUNN FOR BROOD MAGAZINE LTD

    I know I’m not alone here, it’s something I spoke about in my interview with Brood and a message I know resonated with lots of new mamas. 

    So, what was the answer? Well here’s my guide to feeling your best new mama self, practical clothing but still feeling stylish, on trend and most importantly confident.

    1. Keep it simple. Try not to look too much at trends to begin with, it’s about understanding your new body, the new things you may need to do i.e. breast feeding, picking up and holding baby. Getting the pram out of the car, carrying a thousand bags, changing nappies in the most random of places – the list goes on.
    2. MOM jeans. So, I was very new to a mom jean and prior to being a mum I just didn’t get them, but I thought why not embrace it seeing as though I was a new mum. Well life changing is all I can say. My favourite fit are from Next. I’ve got them in all washes of denim. There’s so many styles out there.
    3. Shirts- everyone needs a white linen shirt in their life mama or not. Comfy loose and perfect if you are breastfeeding. Even better they look perfect with mom jeans and easy to wear for day with trainers or evening by popping on a pair of heels. I find them super comfy and easy to move around in picking up baby.
    4. Stylish trainers. Comfort and style is key here. These will become your essential. They need to go with everything you own and if they do you will wear them all the time and never have to worry what to put on your feet when rushing out of the house. 
    5. Get dressed up. Even if you are popping to the supermarket or to meet a friend for a coffee – first of all make sure it’s a time to suit you around feeds and naps. Whilst baby is having morning nap get showered and get yourself feeling good. It makes all the difference!
    6. And the MOST important one of all. Embrace your new you, your new everyday, your new life and your new body. You and your amazing body did something incredible! Respect it, love it and embrace all those perfections that made you a mama! 

    Go get em mama! ✌🏼

    P.S I know they’re comfy but get out of those those maternity pants as soon as you can- otherwise you may never go back to normal pants if you don’t (trust me I was close to never buying a normal jean again 🤣)

    Kim x

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    Mike Toolan

    Mike Toolan

    MIKE TOOLAN © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY

    “- there is a guilt anytime you do anything for yourself” Mike Toolan

    Award-winning Radio & TV Presenter, doting Dad of two, Mike Toolan, is one of the UK’s most loved presenters; with an impressive career spanning over 20 years. After starting his career as a radio presenter in America, his career in Radio really took off in UK at the exact same time as he became a dad for the first time! In recent years Mike became a single dad, with his two children living with him full time, so he had to learn to manage the juggle of looking after two teenage children and school runs, alongside his work as a radio & TV presenter, Voice-over artist, numerous theatre roles and the latest string to his bow – writing for TV! We sat down with Mike to chat about how he managed to get through the haze of his first big break as a breakfast presenter (with 4am starts), alongside becoming a father; becoming a dad to two under two, and the job opportunities that he turned down when they didn’t fit into his family life.

    Known for his incredible sense of humour we enjoyed a hilarious interview with Mike, but underneath the jokes it’s clear to see just how much Mike’s children mean to him and it was inspiring to hear that despite having to turn down some amazing opportunities in order to put his role as a dad first, it hasn’t hindered his career at all, and he has no regrets about prioritising his family life first and foremost.    

    Mike Toolan & Sir Alex Ferguson. (Image: Key 103/Hits Radio)
    MIKE TOOLAN IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY
    MIKE TOOLAN IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY

    Where was you at in your career when you became a dad and how did you find the transition of managing your career alongside fatherhood?

    “I have been a radio presenter all my life really, but I had just started on the breakfast show on KEY103 the same week that Luca was born. So that was a busy week!” He laughs “I think I got less sleep than a political prisoner for the first months, because he had colic as well, so he didn’t sleep at all, and I was getting up at 4.30am every day. It was all just a weird blur for those first six months to be honest. Obviously, it was amazing being on the breakfast show and it was all quite glamourous, and I remember thinking ‘I should really be enjoying this, but I’m just too tired to’. It was a bit like that feeling you get when you’ve been on a long-haul flight, and you get off the plane and the place is stunning and there’s a nice pool and you just think yeah this is great, but I just want to sleep!”

    How did you survive? Because obviously it was a great moment in your career to get the breakfast show and obviously becoming a dad for the first time is wonderful, but that was quite a demanding schedule.

    “I’d break up my sleep into two halves. I remember people in December would say only 18 sleeps until Christmas and for me there would be 36!” He laughs. “Every day turned into two days, I would go to sleep everyday about midday, wake up at 4pm and it would feel like a new day, although I did spend most of the time feeling very confused – I’m not sure I even knew my own name at that point!”

    So as if that wasn’t enough to manage you went on to have another child – your daughter Lottie. 

    “Yes, and there wasn’t a massive gap between them either, Luca was around 18 months old when Lottie was born. Lottie was a bit of surprise really – a nice one of course – but having two under two was a lot – the juggle was real managing that!”

    Your children are a lot older now, how have you found managing all the different stages that children go through?

    “I personally don’t think that there is any one stage better than another stage, they’re just different. It’s like my son Luca, he’s growing up now and he and I are just like mates, and it’s wonderful. And Lottie has just finished her GCSE’S and she’s an amazing girl. And it is so different to the beginning, because obviously at the beginning you’re like a full-on carer. When you have a baby, you get up to someone else’s schedule, your playtime is to someone else’s schedule, your sleep is to someone else’s schedule, you eat to their schedule and it’s almost like being in jail but you’re in love with warden.” We all laugh “Because it’s like 4am and you wake a bit disgruntled, then you’re like ‘oh it’s you’ and suddenly you don’t care what time it is. As the move through the different stages there are advantages and disadvantages to each stage.”

    How do you think you have changed since becoming a dad?

    “I think I was a lot more selfish pre kids, when you have kids, you instantly have to put someone else first don’t you? Your whole priorities change, and you become a much kinder person. I remember that’s when I started doing charity work, it sounds like a real cliché, but once I’d had kids if someone at the children’s hospital or somewhere would ask me to do a charity event I would be like ‘Yes!’, because you have this precious little bundle of life and you want to put more back into the world.”

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    Has parent guilt been a factor for you throughout the years and do you manage to factor in some ‘me time’?

    “Oh yeah, there is a guilt anytime you do anything for yourself – I was raised a catholic so there’s enough guilt going on there anywhere!” He jokes. “But there were things like I had always had a season ticket at Manchester United, but when Luca was born, I thought no, I can’t just leave him and his mum every other Saturday to go watch the football, so I decided to give that up. And for the last ten years me and Luca have been trying to get a season ticket back!” He laughs “But if you’re a decent parent you’ve got to put all of there interests first. There’s always going to be sacrifices but you get the fun in different ways once you have the kids because you’re having fun with them instead. Massive Saturday nights out with the lads become Saturday swim club with the lads, so you have fun like that. I was lucky because there was a group of us, almost like the show Friends. We were a group of single lads, then there were girls on scene, then everyone started getting engaged and married, and we all had kids at the same time. So now our kids are all the same age and we’re all still friends, so it’s been great to have that network of people all going through the same things.”

    Has becoming a parent ever impacted your career decisions?

    “Yes, it has actually. I have been offered jobs in London on a couple of occasions, various big radio opportunities in London, but I couldn’t really take them, because at the minute the kids live with me full time and have done for a few years, but there was a time that they were split 50/50 between me and their mum, and I just didn’t want to lose all that. I was actually offered to do This Morning regularly too, it would have been two days a week doing the interactive stuff it was called ‘The Hub’ and it was myself, Rylan and Coleen Nolan, and they said to me did I want to do Tuesdays and Thursdays, but it would have meant I would have had to give up my radio job here and spend time away from the kids so I just couldn’t do it. But I have no regrets about that at all.

    I read a book recently called the 5 regrets of the dying. It’s written by a woman in America who works in end-of-life care, and she interviews all these people on their death beds – it’s really interesting. And she asks them ‘What is your biggest regret in life?’ and a lot of them say that their biggest regret is that they didn’t achieve their full potential in whatever area. I think yeah, I could have gone on to be a TV presenter but I couldn’t have sacrificed the relationship with the kids so I would still do the same thing tomorrow if I had to. I think whatever is meant for you will come anyway. Family is everything, and I’m very lucky to be able to do something that I enjoy as a career and it’s obviously important to me but it’s a secondary thing for me.”

    Are there particularly moments that stand out to you where the juggle of work and kids has crossed over?      

    “I was interviewing Fergie (Alex Ferguson) at Tesco when he had his first book signing, and he invited me down and I was on my way down there and I got a phone call from Lottie’s school and she had a sick bug, so I had to go and pick her up. But I still had to do this interview with Fergie, and I was just like, ‘Oh no! Oh god! What am I going to do?’ there was no one else that could help and no where I could take her, so I literally had to take her along and she had to sit there whilst I did the interview. Thankfully she wasn’t sick again, so it was alright, but he tried talking to her and she just kind of stared at him with this green face, and I was like ‘This is Sir Alex Ferguson Lottie’ and the poor thing was just sat there heaving!” He laughs “And there was another time, where I had to go and pick up a signed copy of Fergie’s book from his house for a charity event and had to call on my way home from the school run, so I had Luca with me – he was about 8 at the time and a massive Man United fan – and I said to him we’ve got to go to the Man United manager’s house. And Luca’s face was picture, because Fergie was his idol he was like a god to Luca, and we actually ended up going in and he gave us a tour of his house and sat down and had some tea with him. It was incredible, Luca was just sat there in his school uniform in a bit of daze, he couldn’t believe it. It’s still actually to this day one of his happiest memories. But they were both one of those times where you’re juggling, and you’ve got no choice but to do both things at once. Overall though I think I’ve been lucky that because of the shifts I’ve done, that other than having to get someone to come round and help in the mornings, I’ve been able to do the rest myself. Because I was on the breakfast show and I would finish at 10am, I could do everything apart from the morning school run. I was always at the school gates for pick up, doing the homework and cooking dinner and I know a lot of people don’t get that, as they might not get home from work until about 7pm so I have always felt lucky that my career has allowed me to be able to be hands on like that.”

    Have you got any tips for any other parents juggling work and family life?

    “I’m always making notes of everything on my note’s app, and I put everything in the diary, so the iPhone has changed my life in that way as there’s always reminders popping up. So, I would say just to be as organised as possible, as it really helps you from dropping the ball. I have to write everything down otherwise I’ll forget as I have a memory like Nemo!

    Then the other thing that I do, that is quite a nice tip, is that whenever we go to bed, I have always got the kids to say their prayers at night – not even from a spiritual point of view, but just for them to think ‘what are you grateful for today?’ And we’d do a little list of gratitude, and then the one thing that does is remind them of the best bits of their day, even if that’s the dessert they’ve eaten or something like that. I think that it’s important that the last thing they do before they go to sleep is remember all the good things that have happened, and then they end their day on a positive. That’s really helped them both actually and I think it’s important to integrate a bit of mindfulness into their daily routine.”

    Written by
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM PITFIELD

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    CHEMMY ALCOTT

    CHEMMY ALCOTT

    CHEMMY ALCOTT © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY

    “I vowed never to lose myself when I became a parent.”

    Inspirational Mum of two, and BBC Ski Sunday Presenter, Chemmy Alcott, went down in history as being the first British Ski racer to win a world cup run, and she is widely regarded as one of Britain’s greatest ever skiers. Chemmy is no stranger to adversity having broken 49 bones in her life, and still returning to the slopes against all odds, so it’s no wonder that when she was offered her dream job as BBC Ski Sunday feature presenter at the same time that she was due to give birth to her first child that she chose to take on the challenge of both roles; returning to work only two weeks after giving birth!

    Alongside her successful career as a BBC sports presenter, Chemmy is an inspirational speaker and also runs her own business – CDC Performance – with her husband, 25 Time British Champion Dougie Crawford, providing world class ski coaching and experiences. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Chemmy at her lovely family home that she shares with Dougie and their two boys, Locki 5 and Cooper 3, to discuss how she does it all, and why maintaining her own identity is so important to her.  

    CHEMMY ALCOTT IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY
    CHEMMY ALCOTT IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY
    CHEMMY ALCOTT IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY
    CHEMMY ALCOTT IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY

    You returned to work very quickly after having both your boys, did you always plan to return to work so quickly and was it important to you that you kept your own identity outside of being a mum?

    “I think I was quite lucky as a lot of my friends had kids before me, so I saw them really change through parenthood and lose themselves, and so I vowed to never let that happen to me when I became a parent. But I then went completely the other way, as both my babies were born in the January, and I went back to work skiing only two weeks after, with both babies. In fact, our first labour was really complicated, and they were said ‘Look this isn’t going great…’ with my reply being, ‘Don’t even think about a c-section, because I’ve got to ski in two weeks – I’ve got to work!’ Maybe I felt more pressure being female, but I was about to start my dream job at the BBC doing Ski Sunday, and I remember thinking, ‘I can’t give up this role. I don’t want them to give this job to anyone else, this Is my job! I’m going to make it happen!’ So, when they initially offered me the job my naive plan was, I’m going have the baby, I’m going to go straight back to work, Dougie’s amazing at supporting me so we can do this! Although it was crazy, it was just epic, because people just lose themselves so much and it can be so hard to find yourself again, but I never got chance to stop being me. Actually, in skiing they say that if you’ve skied your whole life and then you become a parent, but then you don’t ski for 5 years then you’ll never ski again! It’s because the fear of being responsible for someone else and the danger of the sport just crushes you so much that you never allow yourself to have that play time again. I hoped that wouldn’t happen to me though, although looking back I think it’s pretty mad that I was skiing only a few weeks after having a baby, but I was really fortunate in how my body held up.

    It was also quite empowering returning to work so quickly. I remember when Cooper was born and two weeks later, we were at the World Championships, and I was working, interviewing the guy who had just won the World Champs downhill. It was a great interview, and when we finished the interview, the producer said ‘Woah, that was epic! You’re on a buzz!’ And I replied ‘Yeah, I am, and do you know what?’ and he was like ‘What?’, and I put my hand in my bra and I had one of those silent Elvie pumps on and I had made almost half a litre of milk whilst I was doing this interview! Throughout the whole interview I knew I was doing that, I knew I was smashing new motherhood and it just made me feel amazing, I was firing on all cylinders, and no one knew! You’re throwing yourself in at the deep end, and it’s hard but you just feel this overwhelming sense of achievement. But I remember going back to work that first time and I was so sleep deprived, and as an athlete I had this massive superstition that I needed 9 hours sleep a night but then suddenly you become a parent and that is just completely unrealistic! Then obviously two weeks after having Locki I was given this script, I’d barely slept, and I remember questioning myself ‘I can’t even remember my own name! How am I going to remember this script!’  But somehow, I did it, and I think you’ve got to keep challenging yourself and that’s what helps you to keep being your very best self. I think that’s how we’ve been able to maintain this mental crazy lifestyle because we never stepped away from it.”

    You spoke briefly about feeling the pressure about being a female and not wanting to lose your dream job role, but was that the only reason that you felt so determined to maintain, being you? 

    “I mean there was definitely the element of proving people wrong, because a lot of people said I couldn’t do it. And all my career when I had multiple injuries – when I broke my leg and neck – people said she won’t be able to come back, and it was always a motivating factor to me. It shouldn’t be but you’ve got to look at it one way or another and it either pushes you down and the pressure is too much, or you go ‘Hey, I’ll show you!’ and it was kind of the same with parenthood.

    I just feel like if you can do those first few years of being a parent and not lose your own identity, then you will come out of parenthood incredibly strong and incredibly grateful for your kids. At times you can miss the old life that you used to have prior to having kids, you might have single friends and you see them going out and at times you can resent that, but if you stick to still being you and defining who you are away from being a parent, then in the long run it’s just magnificent!”

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    “This is my dream job and I’m going to make it happen!”

    Did you experience any parent guilt with returning to work so soon and maintaining your own identity?

    “Oh yes, the other side of it is certainly that, I suffer horrendously from parent guilt, I’ve suffered from that since becoming a mum, and I used to not want to admit to having a nanny because even though I was back at work after two weeks I didn’t want to admit to having help. But my mum is no longer around, and my dad is unable to help, and Dougie’s parents live in Scotland, so there was no other option really, but for some reason I wanted people to think that we were doing it alone. I think it had always been drilled into you that you were ridiculously well off if you had a nanny, and you were judged for it. It took me a couple of years of people saying, ‘God it’s amazing what you’re doing’, before I could say, ‘well yes, it is amazing, but I have got help too and that’s why I can do it!’ And I realised I needed to be open about it.”

    You’ve obviously been a topflight athlete and you’ve been a mum for over 5 years now, which role would you say is harder? 

    “Definitely parenthood! Being a parent can be unbelievably hard! Being an athlete is very easy, it’s very simple, your goal is yourself – it’s me, me, me, me. Whereas being a parent is ever evolving, it’s ever challenging, your child is constantly changing and trying to define who they are, and you have to change with them. I fight the urge to read a lot of books about parenting and how to talk to your kids, because I think ultimately you learn through your mistakes. I feel like I’ve already made mistakes that I felt were a good idea at the time and then as they get older you realise that it maybe wasn’t the best approach. For 8 years during my career as a ski racer, when I had the opportunity to win and I was healthy, I chose to underperform, because I had this horrendous fear of failure and I couldn’t manage everyone else’s expectations of me being this very talented athlete, so I chose to perform at 80% and I kept 20% in my back pocket to self-validate why I wasn’t winning. So, I never took risks, and I was never the best that I could be, and it was good on the world stage, but it was never my best and it was a very unsatisfactory way to live; so, when I became a parent, I was like, ‘Right, I’m going to let them charge! And be 100% and make mistakes.’ So now I’ve created two absolute nutters who don’t have any fear of failure and who don’t have a fear of making mistakes.”

    When your second came along, yourself and Dougie were obviously running your business and you were presenting how did you find the shift from one to two children?

    “Well, you think one’s hard but then you have two and it’s just another level of hard! I always wanted three but no, we are done at two!” She laughs “Because we’re just about managing! We’re like the swans on the lake they look like they’ve got everything together, but their feet are going like crazy to get upstream! I do think I’m a much better parent second time around though.”

    You spoke about having to deal with horrendous Mum guilt, what tips would you give for working through that?

    “Yes, mum guilt is really hard, when you’re at work you feel like you should be with your kids, and when you’re with you’re kids you feel like you should be a work! So, what I did, as I’m really good a goal setting, so for the 5 hours I was at work I would set my goals as to what I want to achieve whilst I’m at work and I’m at work properly the, focused and head down. Then when I’m at home that phone goes to the side, and I am present. I find that is the best way, because I see a lot of people trying to do it all at the same time, but if you’re only giving 50% of yourself then everything is going to start suffering. So, you know, you into your work guns blazing – be there, be present make an impact. Then go home and enjoy quality time with your family. Because the kids notice it when you are distracted, because when I fall foul of my own rules, they’ll say ‘Mummy, you’re not here!’”

     

    CHEMMY ALCOTT IMAGE © TOM PITFIELD PHOTOGRAPHY
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    Kate’s healthy ice cream and fruit popsicles

    Kate’s healthy ice cream and fruit popsicles

    Kate’s healthy ice cream and fruit popsicles

    Summer is officially here…..!

    Schools are winding down, holidays are beginning to be had, and life feels kinda back to normal post Covid. But, the question that I think many parents will face – I know I’m slightly concerned about this – is what on earth are we going to do to entertain our brood for the summer holidays?!

    Well, we’re lucky enough to be going away for 2 weeks but we’ve a whole heap of time afterwards that will require planning activities, working things around work, yet still making sure the kids don’t spend days indoors sat on their Xbox. Sometimes that has to happen, I get it, believe me, and mum/dad guilt will probably set in at some point, but let’s not worry about that too much. Our kids aren’t that bothered; mine are just ecstatic to not be in school! This perception of having to be perfect in every aspect of life lies in each and every parents mind, and it’s a little internal battle of what we’re ‘supposed’ to be doing; rather than what we want to be doing and what actually works for us. We need to give ourselves a break!

    Of course, I will be encouraging my boys to look up from their iPads/phone for a while and join me in making delicious food together, eating and spending more time outside, seeing friends and family and to try not to kill each other!

    Did you know that July is National Ice Cream month? So, there’s no better excuse to get the kids involved in making healthy ice cold treats! Also, there’s one for us grown ups – National Cheese and Wine day on July 25th – it would be rude not to celebrate our appreciation for two of the finer things in life, wouldn’t it?!

    Here’s a couple of quick and easy recipes to make healthy ice cream and fruit popsicles which will hopefully keep your brood entertained, if only for a little while, and help keep their constantly hungry tummies full with healthy treats, a little bit longer.

     

    Easy Peasy Banana & Strawberry/Banana, Peanut butter & Cacao Ice Cream

    You will need:

    • Baking trays
    • Parchment paper
    • Food processor/blender

    Ingredients:

    • 5 ripe bananas (must be ripe)
    • Fruit of your choice 450g – I recommend strawberries/mango/mixed berries or cacao & peanut butter (1 tbsp of each)

     *Optional – Caramel Sauce to accompany the banana, cacao and peanut butter version:

    • 7 medjool dates – pitted and chopped
    • 1/4 tsp sea salt
    • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
    • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
    • Add all the above ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth

     

    *Optional – Raspberry Sauce to accompany the fruit version:

    • 200g fresh raspberries – heat slowly in a saucepan, stirring gently, until smooth
    • 1 tbsp desiccated coconut – stir into the raspberries once cooled.

    Easter Eggs Leftover

    Method:

     

    • Chop the bananas and fruit of your choice into 4cm pieces
    • Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper and place all fruit on both trays in single layers
    • Freeze for 4 hours or over night
    • Once frozen, place all the banana and fruit/cacao and peanut butter, into a food processor until smooth. This make take a while – the texture will go from solid to bitty and eventually smooth. Add a little coconut milk, or milk of your choice, if you find the consistency too thick. You will need to regularly scrape the fruit from the sides
    • Serve immediately and drizzle over either of the optional sauces above if necessary
    • If you require a thicker consistency, freeze for a few hours then place in the fridge until you get the desired consistency.

    Blueberry & Basil Popsicles – makes around 10

    You will need:

    • Food processor/blender
    • Popsicle moulds & sticks

     Ingredients:

    • 3 cups of blueberries
    • 2 cups of live yogurt/Greek yogurt
    • 2 tbsp honey
    • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
    • 2 tbsp roughly chopped basil

     Method:

    • Place all the ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth
    • Evenly distribute the mixture between the popsicle moulds and insert the stick 3/4 of the way into the mould
    • Place the moulds in the freezer and freeze overnight
    • When ready to eat, run the end of the mould under hot water to loosen the popsicle slightly then pull slowly with the stick until free

    Enjoy!

    Easter Eggs Leftover
    written BY KATE DEVINE

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