dr jessamy hibberd

The brilliant Jessamy Hibberd- a clinical psychologist with a really inspiring Instagram account – interviewed me about where I find inspiration, advice for my 16-year-old self, the things I feel grateful for, and more.

Here’s her intro –

For my next Q&A I’m delighted to have Annie Ridout on the blog. I’m yet to meet Annie IRL, but she very kindly gave me a guest blog spot on her brilliant online lifestyle and parenting magazine The Early Hour, last November. I remember my excitement when she said yes to my blog on the early days of motherhood and it was so nice to have such a warm and lovely response to my request!

Annie is founder and editor-in-chief of The Early Hour, as well as a freelance journalist (The Guardian, Red Magazine), a regular blogger for BabyCentre and a copywriter (she’s currently creating the copy for a new app, aimed at women). She regularly speaks about parenting and feminist issues on radio and TV and is speaking at Stylist Live next month.

I love reading The Early Hour. The range of topics is excellent, I love finding out about other families and businesses and it’s not afraid to cover all subjects from funny to serious, shocking to sad.

I found myself nodding along at lots of Annie’s answers and am very excited about the possibility of an early hour book and podcast!

Thank you Annie for all your brilliant answers and being part of my blog!

You can read Dr Jessamy Hibberd’s Q&A with me here.

Following a fairly atrocious article in the Daily Mail, where I was misquoted and generally misrepresented (I won’t do them the favour of linking to it) I was asked to speak on the Niall Boylan show about raising children as gender neutral. The presenter (Niall) was biased and ill-informed on the subject, so it wasn’t quite the intellectual debate I was hoping for, but I at least got the opportunity to share my unedited views on the matter, as it went out live. If you fancy having a listen, the programme is online here.

I’m on an accidental detox. After spending a few weeks in India not drinking much alcohol, doing lots of exercise: walking, running, pilates – eating fresh vegetarian food and sleeping lots, I felt amazing. And so I decided to incorporate this healthy-living into my London life.

It’s surprisingly hard to detox in the capital. The lure of the pub is strong and social gatherings most often involve alcohol. In these cold, wet, wintery months – when energy is low – sugary foods are tempting. As is coffee.

And so I’ve decided to compile a list of helpful tips on how to stay healthy in the capital – without feeling like you’re missing out.

1. Instead of spending Saturday afternoon downing pints in a pub on Broadway Market, meet a friend in a coffee shop. Drink herbal tea (Gossip on Broadway Market has an amazing selection, elsewhere – opt for Teapig’s big, bulging herbal teabags):


Herbal tea definitely doesn’t taste as good as coffee – but you will feel so smug that you’ll forget this. If avoiding coffee is absolutely not possible, try decaffeinated. I used to laugh at decaffeinated: coffee’s weaker little sister – but have recently had a few and it’s exactly like the real stuff.

Bear in mind, whilst drinking tea with your friend, that you won’t have a massive hangover tomorrow – and feel yet smugger still.

IMPORTANT: Alcohol makes even the most boring/ annoying people more tolerable. Herbal tea doesn’t. Ensure you choose your company wisely. Last Saturday I enjoyed a 3-hour camomile tea-off with a girlfriend. It was delightful – but purely because she’s interesting and we had lots to talk about.

2. Fancy some chocolate ice-cream? Have a delicious chocolate soya dessert instead:

soya dessert

3. Swap steak, beef casserole, roast lamb and beef-burgers for jerk chicken, coq au vin, bean burgers and maybe just forget roast meals, actually – there’s always too much on the plate and it’s coated in oil. Have a homemade vegetable curry, or smoked haddock with a poached egg and steamed spring greens. You’ll feel better afterwards, I assure you.

4. Don’t stop exercising because it’s cold outside and you can’t afford a gym membership. Use an online pilates video, like Renee’s Pilates – it’s free. I use this half hour video every morning, at 7.30, before breakfast. It’s good for core strength, as well as flexibility and all over toning.

Walk everywhere. Walk quickly if it’s cold. Walk up the stairs instead of the taking the lift or the escalator. When your boyfriend/girlfriend asks you to get them a beer from the fridge, instead of telling them to shut up and get it themselves – go and get it: relish the opportunity to both please your lover and get some exercise.

Avoiding the bus and tube not only means you are walking and so getting fresh air and exercise – it also means you’re less likely to catch the norovirus from sneezing commuters.

5. It’s tempting to spend Friday nights in the pub, or going clubbing (well – for some people. I haven’t been clubbing for about five years). HOWEVER – going for dinner, or to the cinema – and maybe for just one pint – means you’ll wake up on Saturday morning feeling FLY and you can then read the papers, or your book, visit a gallery, go swimming – without the shakes. Being hangover-free makes you feel so much better than the fifth g&t does. And you also won’t have to worry about having embarrassed yourself the night before.

Many of us rely heavily on intoxicants to stimulate us, make us feel more sociable or to relax us. You will feel at your most sociable, relaxed and stimulated when you have purged your system of all the toxins. And you won’t forget what you’re talking about mid-sentence.

I looked in the mirror yesterday and noticed that my sclera (the white of the eye) is bright white, rather than slightly yellow. Rich laughed when I suggested this – but I’ve definitely noticed a difference. This is due to lots of exercise, water, vegetables – little to no alcohol and reducing caffeine intake.

Healthy body = happy mind.

Kicking Off in Clapton

My mum was worried when I said I wanted to move to Clapton – to a road just off Lower Clapton Road. “But that’s murder mile!” she squealed, panicked; an estate agent had shared the ‘murder mile’ nickname with her.

But we moved here a few months ago and the sense of community by far outweighs any sense of unease. There’s the little Italian coffee shop that sells coffees (not lattes, cappuccinos, flat whites – just coffees) for £1. And they’re good. Builders, road sweepers, business people all queue here in the morning, laughing and chatting.

Round the corner the Jamaican mechanics, whose wide smiles never falter, fix up cars and then pop to Grannies for jerk chicken. There’s Palm 2 on the main road selling organic fruit and veg, wines, freshly baked bread and Climpsons coffee from a stall out the front, sister-shop to the Organic Cafe (and health food store) further up towards the Lea Bridge Roundabout.

The Turkish-owned convenience store is well-stocked and the men behind the counter greet everyone with a friendly “hello darlin”. The benches lining the Clapton Pond are used by mums with buggies, six-formers from the Bsix College – whilst they eat their greasy chicken shop lunch, and elderly people.

The Clapton Hart has taken over what was once Chimes nightclub – and the reason Lower Clapton Road was named Murder Mile – and is bringing people from all over London to this part of Hackney.

So Clapton is mostly amazing. But then there are moments like the one I just had. I left the flat, walking up my road towards the postbox. Two hooded boys were walking fast and shouting – but that’s not unusual: it was 4 o’clock so there’s always lots of six-formers leaving college. But then they shouted something like ‘let’s get them!’ and ran towards a group of boys ahead of them, with lit fireworks in their hands – aiming them at the boys’ heads. They let them off and a green flame flew into the air with a scream. I swiftly turned on my heel and decided to walk the long way round.

Groups of young men were gathered, passing things to each other and whispering – but, again, not uncommon when college finishes and there are girls they fancy about. I walked to the postbox then turned back down my road and an uncover police car sped past with the siren blaring. The car mechanics were looking up and down the road – trying to work out what was going on. Two girls walked past me, discussing the fact that someone had been stabbed earlier in the day.

Up ahead, four boys were walking away from me, one in what looked like a citizen’s arrest, a riot van met them at the corner, two more police cars with sirens sped past me.

My phone started vibrating in my pocket as Rich rang to see if I was alright: he’d seen an undercover cop run past the flat.

I got back in and decided that the only way to overcome the ordeal was to eat the delicious (massive) slice of orange and chocolate polenta cake that I’d bought from the Organic Cafe when trying to determine if trouble was bubbling up or I was just being paranoid:

It’s strange how an area can go so quickly from feeling safe and friendly to dark and dangerous… maybe it’s a full moon.

But I maintain that Clapton is *mostly* wonderful.

Summery Summary

The last seven months have been quite epic. At the end of March I left the lovely art gallery I was running in Frome, Somerset, and returned to live in London. It was the end of a two-year-stint in the West Country, which included: keeping chickens, making chutneys, walking – a lot – getting married in a field, drinking quite a lot of ale and eating quite a lot of pork scratchings.

Here’s some of what I’ve been doing since the return to the Big Smoke…

Yayoi Kusama at Tate Modern:

Invitation inspiration for my next party (also Kusama):

Hackney Weekender and Lovebox:

Yauatcha for Rich’s b’day:

Celebrated with Rudimental when ‘Feel The Love’ went to No.1:

We watched the Olympics in Victoria Park and that was nice but my sister’s banging midnight blue jumper, teamed with magenta shell earrings was nicer:

Popped over to Turkey for some sun, sea and lahmacun:

Lived in Crouch End for a bit:

…whilst doing up a flat in Clapton:

Drove our van to the Green Man with a mattress in the back and felt very smug each time we curled up in comfort, listening to the pelting rain smashing down on the tents around us:

Danced to Van Morrison, making intermittent comments about just how tiny he is:

Drank rum at Carnival (Lauren and Lizzie):

Chilled with a pig on Rich’s dad’s farm (him – not me):

Went camping in Devon:

Fell in love with L’Entrepot on Dalston Lane:

Moved in to our new flat and built some amazing shelves to store all my favourite books (less favourite books will be living on the overspill bookshelf – out of public view):

And my running route has changed from fields and meadows and winding country lanes, to the much less tiring but equally as charming Hackney Downs:

But the highlight of my return has to be buying Collected Thoughts from Drive-By Abuser from the Broadway Market bookshop for the second time (I’d forgotten I already had it) and reading it aloud to my sister whilst we pissed ourselves laughing.

See ya!