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Meet and greet with the Lifestyle Blogger tag

playdoThe lovely Aimee Phelan of Aimee Dot has created a Lifestyle Bloggers tag to try and get to know some of us bloggers a little better, and I was lucky enough to be among those she shared it with. I think it’s a great opportunity to share a bit more about ourselves and our blogs with each other and I hope you all enjoy. Grab a cocktail, pull up a chair – or a piece of playdough – and have a read.

1. When did you start blogging and what made you start?
I started blogging nine months ago after being invited to a Blogger’s Party through a friend. I had already set up a Tumblr account a few years earlier and liked it, although wasn’t very committed to it as there was less writing involved. Meeting incredible bloggers, some who blog full-time and make a living from it, I was so inspired I went straight home and set up Absolutely Lucy. I’m so glad I did because I have met some really fantastic people through blogging and it has opened up a whole new world for me.

2. How did you come up with your blog’s name?
It just kind of came to me in a flash. I wanted something short and snappy, had no nicknames or anything like that to use, so I chose this. It wasn’t until later that someone pointed out to me it is the same name as a series of books, which unfortunately seem to beat me on the Google rankings. But I wouldn’t change it, it has become an identity and I “absolutely” love it.

3. Who is your favourite lifestyle blogger?
Gosh I have so many. The blogger who first inspired me was Gemma Seager of Retro Chick, but I also love Hello Wonderful, AnyGirlFriday and Imogen Writes Wellbeing – these are just a tiny handful of my favourites. And my latest obsession is travel blogs.

4. Where do you get your inspiration for posts from?
Every aspect of my life. That’s why I love lifestyle blogging, because nothing is off topic and everything is worth writing. I find inspiration in things I read, things people – whether celebs/friends/family – say, behaviours I witness, things I experience, dreams and ambitions I have, food I eat, places I go and anything else that happens along the way. Like Aimee said in her own post, it is damn hard to turn off once you become a lifestyle blogger because you see the world in the form of your next post!

5. What was your first blog post about?
My first blog post was just a short introduction to me and what I planned to write about, I wanted to ease myself in and to say hello to anyone who might be reading.

6. What are your favourite things to write about?
I love to write on all topics, but I have to say my favourite posts are always travel-related, health and food-related, reviews of films/theatre/shows or extremely opinionated pieces, which always get a debate going.

7. What advice would you give to a lifestyle blogger who’s just starting out?
I was actually asked this on Twitter the other night and I said very simply: “don’t stop writing what you love, even if it doesn’t get the readers you want.” I still stand by this all these months later. Readers respond to you when you write and post what you love. They can see through fake posts or the ones that you are writing simply for followers. At the end of the day, you started this blog for you, keep it going that way or you will fall out of love with it.

8. Is there anything you wish you could change about your blog?
My main thing I would like to change is I would like to go self-hosted so that I have full control over the design and layouts. Hopefully this is something that will be sorted over the next few weeks!

9. Recommend 2 fellow lifestyle bloggers.
It has to be the ladies I mentioned in Question 3.

10. Who would you tag next?
Hello Wonderful/Any Girl Friday/Imogen Writes Wellbeing

Enjoy ladies!

 

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Finishing the weekend back in Norfolk by the river

denver4This post is just to round off my lovely birthday celebrations at the weekend, and to be honest it is just an excuse to post some of the lovely pictures I have from Sunday’s sunny afternoon. We drove back fairly early on Sunday after waking up early and realising how hot it was going to be, we figured it was more of a day to be spent in the lush greenness of Norfolk, sunbathing in the garden or by the sea. I was looking forward to a chilled out afternoon of sunbathing with the tortoise and getting some blogging done, but as always, Mark went swanning in and sabotaged my plans with more ideas about eating. We were less than a hour from home when he suggested popping to Denver, to The Jenyns Arms for a pub lunch by the river, and I just couldn’t resist. The thought of sitting by the river in the sunshine while dragonflies danced by on the breeze sounded just too perfect for words.denver1I’ve been to the pub a few times, and am always overwhelmed by how beautiful the location is and how charming the pub itself is. Some might say it looks outdated, but in my opinion that really adds to the charm and makes you feel like you have stepped back in time. Strolling around the side entrance, we saw the garden was already busy with others who had shared the same idea, but after ordering drinks and food, we only sat for a second before snagging a perfect waterfront table. We were less than a metre from the water, where ducks were swimming by accompanied by a duckling who seemed pretty excited that he was swimming and kept quacking at us for attention. It was such a beautiful day, the sun was beaming down on us as we watched the longboats glide gently past, while the rushes and willow trees rustled in the breeze. Further along the river, we could see swans swimming gracefully in the distance and cabin cruisers parked up along the shore.denver2Of course, quite rightly, you’ll have realised by now that this weekend was all about food and it seemed only right to finish it on a high. I ordered the salmon on a bed of asparagus with rocket, salad and new potatoes, it was supposed to come with hollandaise sauce but I didn’t really fancy that part. The dish was lovely, perfectly cooked salmon and the potatoes were gorgeous with some melted butter on top. It was a perfect Sunday lunch for such a hot day. Boyfriend ordered the steak and ale pie with roast potatoes and peas, this too was gorgeous. A completely home-made pie with delicious pastry – and for me pastry makes a pie – which crumbled and melted in your mouth. The whole dish looked tasty and he really enjoyed it, I’m sure I would have too if I had been hungrier. They had loads of delicious dishes on the menu including a variety of roast dinners, and I will definitely be going back to try another.denver3After lunch, we decided to go for a stroll along the river to look at the boats and dip our feet in the waters after our hot, stuffy drive back from the Big Smoke. We wandered along the riverbank, found a huge house with hardens full of chickens and an empty dock where we sat and sunbathed for a while, dunk our feet in the cool, refreshing waters. A friendly duck came over to say hi and see what we were up to and I found some stale bread on the dock to feed her with. More boats floated past with the passengers waving hello, it was such a peaceful and calm day – really the epitome of what Norfolk is about and why I love it so much. I felt like I had stepped back in time, into a Famous Five novel. It was a shame we had already had lunch or I would have insisted on a picnic basket filled with lashings of ginger beer, hard boiled eggs and a screw of salt to season them with. We should have been jumping in the river and swimming all afternoon with Timmy the dog… Ha I’m getting carried away now! My point is, it was lovely and as we carried on along the riverbank, we found a perfect sunbathing spot where we lay out for hours before finally making our way home to Lynn.

What is your favourite pub in Norfolk? Or just your favourite spot?

Camden Market in the sunshine and the Urban Food Festival

123My weekend was so jam-packed with activities, fun and most importantly FOOD, that I simply had to split it across a few posts. So here is 2/3 and this is all about the time spent in Camden Market on Saturday, a gorgeously sunny day which we spent wandering around the stalls and enjoying delicious food. It was a beautiful day – lucky after a bit of rain in the morning and lots of storms elsewhere – and we headed straight for Camden so we could sit out by the river and relax. Now I love Camden Market, I feel like it is my spiritual home (jokes). I always say to myself that I need to explore more areas of London but I never get round to it because I can never resist visiting the Market. And as I’m sure you guys all know, once you are in, you’ll be stuck in there for hours looking at incredible stalls.

ssWe took a walk along the more peaceful end of the river, where families were sitting and dipping their feet in the water or eating food fresh from the stalls. It was so peaceful and the water was so calm, sitting in the sunshine, you could believe you were abroad it was so warm.

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After sharing a camel burger and a Turkish wrap, we walked back to the Tiki Bar which looked even prettier than it had the day before. We grabbed a table and a jug of Pimms to enjoy, and with live music and a DJ we stayed well entertained people-watching there for a few hours.


When it started getting closer to 6pm, we decided to start out on our tube journey to Shoreditch – which turned out to be a bit of a mission after we found out some of the tube lines were out of order. We ended up getting off at Bethnal Green and after a quick stop for a drink in the sweetest little park, we started on the ten-minute walk to Shoreditch. Our destination was the Urban Food Festival, which we soon discovered had taken over a small car park not far from the tube station. After stumbling across the website last week when looking for free things to do in London, we were so excited to go along and try some different dishes. Both big food lovers, we are always looking for new flavours from different countries and the food festival provided us with a fantastic opportunity to do just that.burgerFirst up for us to try was The Invincible Burger from the Korean stall, we spotted the huge queue and smelt the delicious combination of spice, marinade and meat and figured we couldn’t really go wrong! Everybody was tucking into these gorgeous burgers and I’m really not surprised, they were delicious with a beef burger that had been marinated in Korean spices before being stacked with equally flavoursome pulled pork on top. It packed a tasty punch and certainly had our mouths watering. It was easily the best savoury dish I tried and I wish I had another before I left! After trying this, we spotted the Italian stall and saw that they had several types of gnocchi on the menu. Now boyfriend and I have a long-held obsession with gnocchi despite neither of us having tried it before – it’s all thanks to Gavin and Stacey! Well I went straight over and picked up a gnocchi dish with a sage and pork ragu. Sorry to say but I was so disappointed, I have no real comparison when it comes to gnocchi, but I found the dish soggy and flavourless and I certainly would not bother to have it again. I really wished I had tried the semolina pasta instead.

Third up was pizza and after seeing lots of people tucking into wood-fired and crispy-based pizzas covered in chorizo, cheese, mushroom and more, we were looking forward to this one. Boyfriend went over and ordered the chorizo, cheese and jalapeno pizza which, although it took a while because there was a bit of a queue, was well worth the wait. I’m very particular about my pizza bases and yet I couldn’t have been happier with this one, just the right amount of crunch and softness. The toppings were the perfect combination and we wolfed the dish down, wishing we had more! We had a break after this and enjoyed the live music that had been playing throughout with a beer.1234After a while, the smells and sights coming from the Peruvian stall were just too much and I insisted we have one more savoury dish, just to try. I went over and ordered a steak wrap after studying the orders of those in front of me. I had been keen to order the ox heart dish, but it seemed a bit small for two people to really get the taste so I went for the steak wrap instead. Watching them prepare the food was fantastic, a show in itself. The head chef was so focused and calm despite flames flying everywhere and the orders pouring in like crazy. This was the busiest stall by the time I joined the queue but again, was most definitely worth the wait! The meat was so tender and the whole thing was just so brightly coloured and full of flavour. I can really compare the flavours as they were so unique. All I could say is that it is cooked similarly to peri-peri but the flavours taste completely different and you get the opportunity to add a variety of sauces including a cheese and chilli one, a red pepper and chilling one and another with lime, mint and yoghurt. I sloshed in all three and wow. It was incredible – kind of like eating a mojito-flavoured steak wrap – and if that doesn’t sound good, what does?!

Over on the drinks stalls they had the tasty Orchard Pig truffler and reveller ciders from Somerset and absolutely fantastic. You could taste the sweet apple flavour and it had a nice sparkle. I’d had a few people recommend the cider to me before but had never had the opportunity to try it before now. For those with a taste for ale, we also tried the brand new Indian Runner premium golden ale, which was only launched a couple of weeks ago. A perfect Shoreditch beer, their slogan is ‘refreshingly different’ and it certainly was!12345We sat for hours at the festival, watching people and their food choices, enjoying the beers and wines on offer. The live music was great and had the crowd singing along to all their favourites – the last act on, The Twelve Band, really had people dancing along and gave a great performance. The whole place was packed out from start to finish, and this really added to the atmosphere, it was lovely to see people of all ages enjoying the food, whether they had come straight from work or dropped in right before a night out. As the event was winding down, I made sure to pop by the SE Cakery & Brownie Bar where they had the most amazing cakes on sale. I had spotted and tried a tiny bit early and was determined to grab a bag of goodies to take home. We had six individual bites, a mixture of vanilla cheesecake brownie, oreo brownie, banoffee brownie and honeycomb brownie. All were just incredible – I can’t even describe how good these brownies were. I have to say, I am a baker myself and pride myself on how good my own brownies are but these just blew mine out of the water. If you get the chance, make sure you snap up some of these cakes!

It was a fantastic event, and although smaller than I expected, I have no doubt it will soon be growing in size. I was equally excited to find out that the free event is run weekly on Saturday nights from 5pm to midnight at Euro Car Parks on Shoreditch High Street. From the looks of things, the stalls change weekly so whenever you go you will get a taste of something delicious and new! If I were you, I’d make it my business to head down there often and discover some new foodie delights.

Have you been to the Urban Food Festival? What did you think and what was your favourite dish?

 

Restaurant review: Eating everything from the savannah at Shaka Zulu

sThis weekend, me and the boyfriend decided to take advantage of the empty flat in London before my sister moves in and have a weekend away to celebrate my birthday. We’ve both been so busy the last few weekends, we figured it would be good to get away and do something fun. We had originally planned to go to Zoo Lates, which is the late night opening at London Zoo where they have cabaret and entertainment, but sadly didn’t get tickets in time. I checked my phone while at work in the week and had a hilarious text from Mark saying he hadn’t managed to get the tickets so he had booked a table at Shaka Zulu, the South African restaurant in Camden Market so we could “eat the fuckers instead”.

bfNever one to pass up an opportunity for a good meal out at a fabulous restaurant, I was pretty excited to say the least. I had never really eaten much South African food but knew that I would like it, and after knowing others who had been to the restaurant and hearing rave reviews, I was certain we were in for a treat. Amusingly, Michelle Keegan was celebrating her birthday there the same night I was, although I’m sure she was on the champagne. We headed to the Tiki Bar first for a cheeky Pimms in the sunshine, while live singers performed. It was such a gorgeous sunny day and the Pimms just put us in the summer mood.

bWe arrived at the restaurant and were taken straight to our own booth, on the way to our table I couldn’t help but just stare at everything around me. Shaka Zulu is beautifully decorated from top to bottom, with giant statues of South African warriors, tribesmen and animals, engraved and carved walls with gorgeous designs and the most fantastic  furniture – I was in love with the chairs! The service was amazing, I felt like we had our own personal team of waiters ready to jump if we needed anything and eager to recommend dishes. I couldn’t resist visiting the ladies, just to have a walk around the rest of the restaurant, which was equally impressive with a champagne bar, massive group tables downstairs and another gorgeous bar. Meanwhile, Mark chose us a delicious South African wine which went beautifully with the food.fdMore importantly, what did we eat? Well, we went all out guys, both starving and desperate for some really tasty food. We decided to eat our way around the savannah and by gum, I think we did pretty well. We started with the top dishes, the left is Ham Hock & Wildebeest Terrine with Papaya Salsa and the right is Crocodile Cigars. Both were incredibly tasty dishes with an exciting array of flavours. The wildebeest had a lovely meaty flavour which worked well in contrast to the ham hock, and I loved the papaya salsa – it seemed out of place on the menu, but it certainly hit the spot on the plate. The crocodile was interesting, although I wasn’t expecting the spring roll style, I really enjoyed the taste. It has definitely left me wanting to try crocodile again, next time I would like to try the meat without the spring roll style just so I can really get the individual flavour of the meat. Both were great dishes that certainly had our mouths watering for the second course, but we didn’t have long to wait!

The second course was absolutely my favourite because both dishes were just delicious. It makes my mouth water now to remember them. We shared the Zebra Fillet and the Springbok Loin, with sides of Sugar Snaps & Red Onion, Creamy Spinach and Peri-Peri Fries. Wow. What a feast! The first time I had tried any of these meats, but as a big fan of venison and lamb, I was sure to enjoy them. The zebra was lovely, strangely it looked a lot like lamb but with a different flavour that I don’t think I can compare to anything else I have tried. It went really nicely with the spinach and the fries. My favourite was the springbok, which was just so full of flavour and really reminded me of gamier meats like venison. It was gorgeous with the red wine jus and the red onions from the sugar snaps dish. It was the kind of food where you feel like you need a few minutes to recover because each mouthful is so good. The side orders were delicious, the peri-peri fries were flavoured to perfection and the spinach really added to the tastes of the foods.meAll in all, a pretty darn good birthday meal and I’d like to say a huge thanks to the guys at Shaka Zulu for making it special. I will most definitely be going back again and I seriously recommend that you give it a try too. A perfect restaurant for a special occasion with plenty of entertainment – there was African drummers performing and dancing around us as we ate! If you like experimenting with food and you love a good steak, South African is perfect for you and will introduce you to a host of new flavours and textures – just what all of us food-lovers enjoy! It may be a tad more expensive than you might usually pay for a steak, but for me, quality speaks volumes over quantity and I would always rather a high quality piece of meat.

Have you been to Shaka Zulu – what did you think? Are you a big lover of South African food – what’s your favourite dish?

Life at university – the good, the bad and the ugly

uni2When it comes to university, I will never write anyone off. Even those who are the least academic people around can find a perfect course for them, perhaps with more practical work, and can find it a fantastic experience. The big question is whether it is in fact a truly valuable experience for the individual, and while I think the life experience you gain is immeasurable, often the money and time involved can mean the experience is worth somewhat less in the long run. For me, university was something I had been set on from a young age. Not because of my education, family or upbringing, but because I wanted to study, I loved to learn and I needed a degree in order to achieve my life goals. Plus I really wanted the experience, I wanted to get away from my town, I wanted to move out and look after myself, to gain independence. This was the perfect opportunity and I know that many who are currently looking, researching and making final choices will feel the same.

What I want to do is to make you aware that university is not a doddle, it is hard work for a minimum of three years of living away from home, working while studying and surviving on meagre loans and it can be lonely at times. But at the same time, you will meet the best friends, have the most bizarre experiences and finally have a chance to follow and indulge your true passions. So many people I know are preparing to sit their exams and are trying to make huge decisions about the next three years of their life and where they want to spend it. For me, I was lucky and this was easy – I walked on the campus and instantly fell in love with it. When I read about the courses and met the professors it only further cemented my decision and I am so glad I stuck with it despite my university asking for the lowest number of UCAS points out of each of my offers.

There is a lot to think about when making your decision and it is easy to be blinded by the thought of parties, living in a city, and studying with or following your friends. By writing this, I hope to give prospective university students into the slightly less exciting and fun sides of university just to try and balance out all the amazing fun you will be hearing about. Don’t by any means take this as a negative view of university because it really was the best three years of my life so far and I would encourage anyone to take the opportunity, I just think it is important to make an informed decision. Here’s what happens when things aren’t all sunshine and roses at university:uni1

  • Sometimes things don’t go right. You might not get the place at the university of your choice, you might not get on to the course you wanted or you might not get into the good accommodation. So what happens then? Well, I have a friend who was forced into a hotel for the first few months of university after an accommodation cock-up and she ended up struggling to meet people or make friends. She hated her time at university and found it difficult later on to find housemates for second and third year.
  • Your course might not be the one you wanted. I know a lot of people who switched courses during the first few months because they decided it wasn’t for them. There are always options available – my course allowed us to take on modules from any course in the Humanities sector, it was my choice to focus on English.
  • You might end up in the good accommodation, but with the smelliest and dirtiest people around. We had a particularly smelly individual living in ours who refused to clean his room or wash his plates in the kitchen even when they grew mould in three colours. It was gross, but we found ways around it, piled his stuff outside his room until he got the hint and locked it in one cupboard.
  • You are going to be poor. Being a student in first year I was living in my overdraft from the first week and I had friends who had more than one overdraft as well as their loans. Accept it from the start and be realistic about what you spend your money on. When you get your loan, work out what you have to spend each week and decide whether you can live off this. If you can’t – you need to think about getting a part-time job. This is easy, work in retail, at a bar, in the student union, with the marketing team or even in a supermarket. There’s loads of options available and around universities work is always flexible to suit university students.
  • Sometimes, you and your “friends” will not get on. I was incredibly lucky and the girls I met in my first week in my own flat turned out to be some of the best friends I have ever had. I lived with them throughout university and still see them all regularly after finishing. But if you don’t get on with them, things can often turn nasty in such close living and study quarters and university can become a very lonely place. Do yourself a favour and get out, join clubs or work on the newspaper, meet people on nights out and make the most of every second. Sitting at home alone will only make things worse.
  • The workload could be a shock. After putting in a lot of extra work at A Level, I found I was very prepared for the workload at university, but I know many that weren’t. If you are not one for independent study and reading, you might find it a bit of a culture shock to be expected to do so much on your own. You need to adapt and fast or you will end up behind. Stay organised and keep on top of things because you can quickly feel like you are drowning. Study with friends on your course and talk about difficult bits with them, they may be able to offer help. Don’t be afraid to speak to your tutor and to ask for advice – they certainly get paid enough to help you!
  • You might not be great at taking care of yourself. Whether we are talking personal safety and not walking home alone at night or we’re talking about doing the washing up, cooking and washing your clothes. For those pampered by mum at home, it can be a real surprise to see how much is involved and it can seem crazy to those who have never cooked or cleaned. But this is an amazing opportunity to learn and become capable. I was lucky and knew how to look after myself, but one of my flatmates was scared to cook, another had been pampered by mummy who still sent pack-ups, and another had never used a washing machine. Learn from each other, get your friends to teach you and realise that you will live a hell of a lot better and save a lot more money if you have these vital skills.

uni4Don’t let this put you off – university is amazing. It is so much fun and really does help set you up for life if you make the most of it and grab every opportunity. Just be prepared and aware that it isn’t sunshine and smiles 24/7, and that sometimes you might be homesick and lonely but that is okay. It isn’t right for everyone, but it could also be the best thing you ever do, and it certainly whizzes by in no time at all. I have a friend who studied abroad for a year, left behind her university friends and made a whole load of new ones. She is now travelling the world and staying with all of her international friends along the way. If that doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will! Of course, I would never argue that university is the only option and I know that for many it isn’t, but having the opportunity is amazing and making that decision over what is the right choice for you, is one of the biggest decisions of your life at 18.

What was your best university experience? Planning to go, what are you most worried about?

Review: My stomach ached from laughing at Jimmy Carr

article-1340548093969-13bb9319000005dc-33928_466x310Sorry guys, this review is a bit late, but I’m sure you will have seen there have been lots of important topics to blog on this week and I wanted time to do this review justice. I’ll start by holding my hands up and admitting – I WAS WRONG! Last week I wrote a preview of Jimmy Carr’s upcoming show at Lynn’s Corn Exchange, and to say the least I was a little unsure of what to expect. I love comedians and I love seeing them live – they are sarcastic, bitter, light-hearted and scathing all at the same time and I love this. But I’ll be honest, with Jimmy Carr, having only seen him as a presenter and never performing stand-up, I didn’t have high expectations. In fact, I half expected to hate his show and to dislike him even more. I’m not sure why exactly I disliked him before, I guess it is because he does go so close to the knuckle and perhaps in panels shows it is difficult to find this as funny because it just comes across as unnecessarily nasty.

Actually I’m quite glad to have completely lowered my expectations because I think it made the night even more hilarious by the end. We were seeing the late show, which I’m glad of because I think it gave everyone a chance to really warm up, the audience was a little drunk and the comedian was ready for action after a hilarious earlier show by all accounts. We popped in a nearby restaurant for dessert and wine as we watched the crowds leaving the theatre from the earlier show. We found ourselves laughing at the 18-year-olds who were tarted up to the nines (and I swear to God I actually saw a girl wearing a crop top and knickers for a night out) staggering into the pub nearby. Dead on 10pm we walked over and found our seats, which were amazing by the way! We were sitting up on the side balconies, first time, and we loved it! We had a fantastic view, we had plenty of space, and it was a heck of a lot cooler up there than it is sitting up at the back.

When we arrived, Jimmy had a notice up on the screen with a phone number, and he was asking for people to text it with comments, feedback and heckles, so obviously we were all getting involved! He came bouncing on stage and launched straight into his act. Now I’m not giving away any spoilers or any of the jokes, because it will only ruin it for you. But I was crying with laughter from the start. It was a fantastic show and it was refreshing to see a comedian who is halfway between the storytellers like Michael Mcintyre and the one-liners like Milton Jones and Stuart Francis. Jimmy’s short and snappy jokes gave you just enough time to recover between bouts of laughter and each joke was on point. I think it was the first time I have seen a comedian and genuinely laughed my head off at every single joke. Normally I, and most others I have asked, have those lulls where they are getting almost bored of laughing, but this never once happened during the two hours.

I was also incredibly impressed that he had successfully mocked and made jokes about the Norfolk and King’s Lynn people, bringing up the webbed feet, the fact that no-one ever leaves and the incest but in fresh new ways and completely unexpectedly. I have seen a lot of comedians in Lynn and Norwich and yet have never seen another comedian do this with such ease, they normally stumble across this part and walk into jokes that the audience makes. This impressed me because he has clearly remembered things from the earlier show, from previous performances and just does his research. He didn’t seem to treat the Lynn gigs like they were just a warm-up for his larger venues, this was clearly a top notch show and he was giving us his best material. A couple of highlights for me have to be the use of two words that are most definitely wheedling their way into my vocabulary – “cunt-grunt” and “twinkle-cave”. The second half certainly was a lot ruder, but we didn’t go there for a PG-13 performance and it was exactly what the audience were after.

If you ever get a chance to see Jimmy Carr live, whether you think you like him or not, snap it up. Trust me, you may well change your mind like I did. He was most definitely the best comedian I have seen live and I have no doubt you would enjoy his stuff too. Have you seen Jimmy Carr live, or did you catch him in King’s Lynn? What do you think of his material?

Does Kirstie Allsopp want to send women back to the dark ages?

kirstieI was so disappointed when I stumbled across this article by The Telegraph in which Kirstie Allsopp, of Location Location Location, had been interviewed on the topic of fertility and female careers. Allsopp is one of those women I always had time for because she seemed to have great values and a good head on her shoulders, but I can’t help but feel really let down and quite angry at her comments in the article.

The woman who fronts Location, Location, Location with Phil Spencer said that if she had a daughter, her advice would be: “Darling, do you know what? Don’t go to university. Start work straight after school, stay at home, save up your deposit – I’ll help you, let’s get you into a flat. And then we can find you a nice boyfriend and you can have a baby by the time you’re 27.”

Wow. For someone who considers herself a “passionate feminist”, she seems awfully concerned with our basic biological drives and reasons for existence. What about our rights as women and about all the hard work campaigners have put in over the years to fight on behalf of women for fairer treatment both in the workplace and surrounding the having of children and retuning to work? Fair enough, it isn’t a perfect system and there are a lot of faults and there is a hell of a lot more work to be done to ensure women are being given equal pay and opportunities. But at the same time, a lot of people have worked very hard to enable our society to have the choice – the choice of education and a career, the choice to create a life for ourselves before creating a new life that dominates our own existence. Does Kirstie realise that by pushing these ideas on a hypothetical daughter could leave her without the opportunity to make this choice for herself? I am truly grateful to have had this choice, because I have always wanted an education, to learn and to study in order to benefit my career. I want a job I can love and be passionate about and I deserve that, as does everyone, regardless of their gender.

Steven DepoloWe deserve the right to choose when we want to have children, fair enough our biological clock is ticking and physically we may find ourselves unable to have children if we wait, but does that mean we should turn our own lives upside down and rush into the huge responsibility of raising a family before we are ready? One look at Jeremy Kyle will show you several reasons why rushing into having children and families before we are mature enough to deal with the relationships and the outcomes is a dangerous thing for society. Look at how the children suffer when they parents are more obsessed with sleeping around, drinking and screaming at them than raising them. Then look at how this affects the next generation when they repeat the same model of behaviour. Before you know it, we have a society of layabouts with an attitude that everything should be handed to them and they shouldn’t have to work because they are raising a family. They rely on the state and we end up in huge debt. Sound familiar? (Yes, yes, I know not all young parents are like this, but one walk around my home town will show you a lot who are.)

“Women are being let down by the system. We should speak honestly and frankly about fertility and the fact it falls off a cliff when you’re 35. We should talk openly about university and whether going when you’re young, when we live so much longer, is really the way forward.

At the moment, women have 15 years to go to university, get their career on track, try and buy a home, and have a baby. That is a hell of a lot to ask someone. As a passionate feminist, I feel we have not been honest enough with women about this issue.”

Fair enough, she raises a valid point when she talks about our biology and the fact that there is limited time for women to be able to have a baby, and as I have discussed before it can be life changing and devastating for couples to realise they are out of time. But does that mean we should be rushing and neglecting ourselves in order to raise a family we are not ready for, with a partner who might not be suitable, in order to continue the human race? It just seems sad to me. I’m sure if I came to a point in my life where I had met the man of my dreams and wanted a family but was nearing 40 and suddenly found I could not have a baby of my own – I have no doubt that would be devastating. But, there are a huge range of options available, whether IVF, surrogacy or even adoption and I think, or I hope, that would pacify me and would be enough. But I certainly don’t believe for one second that ditching university and my career in order to have a baby at 18 would have been a useful solution. I would have resented the baby for holding me back and I would not have been happy.Gabi MenasheI’ll be honest, my maternal instincts are not that strong. I have no deep-seated desire for children at this moment in my life. I can appreciate cute babies and love to hold and play with them, but I also love giving them back to their parents. I’m not in any way ready for children at 24 and I’m not afraid to say it. I actually had a dream the other night that I found out I was pregnant right before going travelling and I was so upset, it ruined my life. I see life as something that should revolve around you and you alone at a young age – call me selfish if you want. I feel quite strongly that your teens and twenties are about learning about yourself, who you are, and developing that by experiencing as much as possible, learning as much as possible and growing as a person so that in turn you can help your children do the same. This is done by working hard, playing hard and achieving things to be proud of while asserting your own independence. I feel Kirstie’s comments hark back to an age where women had to rely on their partners for financial and emotional support when raising babies, now I know lots of women who manage all by themselves.

These days your career is something you need to work on from as young as possible. As my boyfriend is finding out now, messing up your exams when you are younger can leave you in a job you hate, education is great key that is handed to us on a plate when we are young but some choose not to take advantage of it. By passing these exams young and by putting the time into placements, work experience and a degree, you can really help yourself in the long-run (I’m not saying this is the only option, just using myself as an example). Those who go back to studying and working later on often find it much harder because you don’t learn as easily as you get older and after a long time away from study and work it can be a real shock to the system. So if we women are to forget everything we learnt at school by going off and having babies and raising them for the next twenty years before heading back to work – who is going to employ us? With no experience and no education – who is going to employ us over those with qualifications, experience and a great CV?tipstimes.com/pregnancy

“I don’t want the next generation of women to go through the heartache that my generation has. At the moment we are changing the natural order of things, with grandparents being much older and everyone squeezed in the middle. Don’t think ‘my youth should be longer’. Don’t go to university because it’s an ‘experience’. No, it’s where you’re supposed to learn something! Do it when you’re 50!”

I had hoped by the end of the article, might have a change of heart, but sadly it was not the case. Perhaps she is from a generation of women who put their careers first with many sacrificing families along the line. But I know so many strong, incredible women, my mum included, who had a great youth, trained and studied, had fun, fell in love later on and met a great man, who took time out to have children and went back to work as a nurse, but has now become a lecturer in healthcare. Say that’s not a success story, I dare you. For every case of heartache and sadness over not being able to have children, there are countless couples who have their own children, find another way and adopt or just live with it and still have a fantastic life. I refuse to go back to a time when having babies was the sole purpose of a woman’s body. I am here to learn, to experience and to live my own life before I create another.

I’m not saying that Kirstie’s ideas wouldn’t work for some people, but for many it would be holding them back and could create a country full of unhappy families and unfulfilled dreams which I think is far more dangerous than a couple of families who sadly cannot have children. Watch the discussion continue on BBC’s Newsnight.

How do you feel about Kirstie’s comments? Would you like to change your life around and focus first on family and then your career?