Goodbye, Vaarwel, etc

…to 2016, that is.

I figured as I only blogged once in December 2015, and that was to moan about catastrophe upon catastrophe, that I should try and out-do myself this December while I still have time and blog twice! Go me. Getting it in at the last minute (ooer) has long been my style, of course.

I vaguely remember telling myself at the beginning of the year that I wouldn’t set any goals or resolutions because I needed a year to take things at my own pace after a chaotic 2015. I’d like to tell you that worked out great but in reality it means I have no yard stick for measuring my successes and failures (and I certainly didn’t manage to take things at my own pace).

Still, I don’t need a yard stick to acknowledge that I FUCKING GOT MARRIED. YEAH BOY. We didn’t quite run off to do it, but we did do it mostly in secret. And then had a massive party of course.

I also did some other slightly less life-changing things like volunteering, going to the gym, coming to terms with my PMDD diagnosis and trying different things to get it under control, got sterilised, voted Remain (and despaired at those who didn’t), spent too much money, lost and gained far too many animals, and did a 300ft bungee jump. Phew.

I also, for some absurd reason, applied to take part in a marathon, which brings me nicely on to Things I Plan on Doing in 2017:

  • Not dying, which is important given the trend 2016 set
  • Running a marathon, mofos
  • Learning Dutch, because when half your family speaks both Dutch and English there’s no excuse for not trying
  • Getting strict with my routine so that I can try and bring some control to my projects and their social media profiles (yeah yeah, been saying this for years) in an attempt to actually make some money with them alongside my Real Work
  • Decide what the fuck I’m doing with my career / “Real Work”
  • Did I mention running a friggin’ marathon?!!

Will I manage any of those things? Who knows. But no doubt I’ll eventually blog about them, so here’s to you lot reading my blog through 2017 folks. Happy new year, and all that!

AMA: What gets you out of a funk?

I was going to answer my AMA questions in the order they were asked, but having not long come out of a pretty rough few days or so I figured now would be the perfect time to answer Kelly’s question:

What gets you out of a funk?

The reality with PMDD, which is the root cause of my ‘funk’ symptoms, is that there’s not really any way to stop it. Which means that if I’m having a bad cycle, the only thing I can do is wait it out. With that said, there are several ways I can distract myself from it, which often reduces the severity of the symptoms at least temporarily:

Socialising

Being around people makes a big difference to my ‘funk’ symptoms. I think this is partly because I like to socialise, and enjoy being around other people’s energy, and partly because if I’m in the company of someone who seems to be actively enjoying my conversation and my presence, it tempers the anxiety. I find it easier to convince myself that I’m not a worthless piece of crap because surely nobody would want to be around a worthless piece of crap?

Of course there are times when my mood is so deeply low that getting off my arse and actually going to see someone, or making the effort to socialise is a moutain to conquer in itself. It can be hard to take that step when you’re already ‘in the depths’, so to speak.

Alcohol

Ahh, alcohol. My friend and my nemesis.

One or two glasses of wine can mean the worst of the anxiety completely disappears even if I don’t feel particularly tipsy. However, it will come as no surprise that using a known depressant to ease depressive feelings is a Bad Idea. One or two glasses of wine can become one or two bottles without a second thought and before I know it I’m sobbing over the nearest person who’ll listen and feeling like a massive twat.

I know I have a weakness when it comes to alcohol and so I try and avoid ‘using’ it as anything but a ‘social lubricant’. (Try and achieve are two different things, mind you.)

Running

There’s nothing like a really long run to help you mash out and mull over a shit ton of unwanted thoughts and feelings, and process everything so as to come to a reasonable and rational conclusion.

Unfortunately, I haven’t done anywhere near as much of this as I should have lately and it shows: both in my mental health and my waistline!

Counselling

If the shit really hits the fan, I go and see my counsellor. Talking therapy is the dog’s bollocks and I would heartily recommend it to anyone who is struggling. Find someone you can trust, and get it all out.

Although nowadays my counselling sessions are few and far between, I find it reassuring just knowing that I have that fallback if I need it.

Sex

There is no doubt about it, sex is my #1 ‘fixer’ when it comes to my low moods but it’s a complicated and dangerous path to tread… using intimacy and closeness to boost me up when I’m feeling so fragile can end in tears, and has on several occasions. It might take one ‘wrong move’ or one misinterpreted signal and I can be crushed in an instant.

Even when it goes right (wink wink nudge nudge) it’s not a perfect answer: it can exacerbate the problems I have with my libido during certain parts of my cycle which puts in a vicious circle of needing it more.

Of course the worst part about it is that it feels incredibly selfish to expect Gaz to ‘help’ in this way. It can’t be easy finding someone who is literally rapid-cycling through a million unwanted emotions even remotely sexually attractive, let alone to know exactly the right thing to say and do lest you destroy what little self-esteem they have at that precise moment.

I’m working on my expectations and ‘demands’ in this area.

So there we go: my funk-fighting techniques. If you want to ask me a question, pop it in the comments over here.

Stardew Valley Hints & Tips

There are many ‘obvious’ elements to Stardew Valley that took me an incredibly long time to notice/learn. Hopefully by noting down some of the bits n bobs here, other players will catch on quicker (and other players can fill in gaps!)

banner8

Stardew Valley, drawing inspiration from classics such as Harvest Moon, is an open-ended country life RPG. Starting on a farm you inherit from your grandpa, you can grow crops, raise animals, fish, forage and mine to build a dream life for you and your potential in-game partner.

The game was entirely developed by ConcernedApe and is available to buy on Steam.

Tools

The pickaxe can un-till soil.

You can use the pickaxe, axe or hoe to empty casks before they’ve finished maturing.

You can water / hoe multiple areas at once with upgraded tools by holding down the left mouse button.

Farming

All fruit and veg are worth more when turned to wine (in a keg) or jam/pickles (preserves jar)

When you find your first ancient seed, plant it rather than donating it. Ancient Fruit can then be turned into more ancient seeds.

Put a tapper on a giant shroom to generate mushrooms.

Corn and sunflowers (standard/silver quality) can be put into the oil maker to make oil, which is worth more than the origin products.

Animals

Always close barn/coop doors after the animals have gone to bed, to protect their happiness rating (happier animals give better quality products).

Animals left ‘trapped’ outside at night (with barn/coop door shut) are susceptible to wolf attacks.

The chance of a pig finding a truffle is greatly reduced at peak happiness (see explanation) – pet pigs every other day (or stop petting throughout winter) to keep pigs only mildly happy, increasing truffle profit.

Efficiency

Turn on the ‘Always Show Tool Hit Location’ option in Settings.

Holding right click whilst e.g. collecting veg or animal products, or distributing into kegs, barrels, etc speeds up the process.

Sprinklers make mass farming doable. Krobus sells iridium sprinklers on Fridays.

Best crop formation with normal and quality sprinklers (external)

Mayo machines, kegs, etc can be placed inside barns, coops and sheds to maximise space outside.

Fish

Several (non-rubbish) items caught by the crab pots are classed as fish and can be turned into sashimi and sold for a profit: Clam, regular and silver quality Cockle, Mussel, regular Shrimp, regular Snail, periwinkle, and Oyster.

The above also applies to smaller fish: Anchovy, Sardine, Bream, regular and silver quality Smallmouth Bass, regular Perch, Carp, Sunfish, Herring, regular and silver quality Red Snapper, Ghostfish, regular and silver Chub, and regular Shad.

Other

The Statue of Perfection spits out iridium ore every day when placed in your house (or shed). Don’t keep it in a chest for 2 years like I did…

Keep hold of one of every item that you find, farm, forage etc: you never know when they’ll come in handy for quests.

Give a loved gift on villager birthdays to gain a big heart (relationship) boost.

Once you reached 10 hearts (or 8 hearts for a non-marriage candidate) with a villager, you no longer need to give them gifts or attempt to maintain the friendship.

Hoe wiggly worms in the ground (easiest to spot in winter) to find artifacts, clay, coal etc

Go mining in the winter when farm and forage profit is lower.

You can get further in the mines with bombs than bashing every rock and enemy one by one.

You can stand next to a bomb as it explodes without coming to harm as long as you eat/drink something at the same time.

Optimal cellar cask layout (short of filling the entire cellar as you exit, which allows for over 200 casks, but is a PITA to undo/redo)

External Tools & Further Info

Stardew Valley imagery, names, info etc © ConcernedApe

AMA: Comprehensive list of animals (cat pics yay)

So, the first (proper) question in my recent ‘AMA’ was from Melissa, who asked:

Can you provide a comprehensive list of all your animals with names + types + breeds? And also how you manage your litter box organization! ^_^

Now, there should be a page for this, but every time I work on my ‘pets’ page, something dies or someone new comes along. 2016 has been particularly chaotic, in fact! Anyway, hopefully this post — dated and timestamped and all that jazz — will give you a rough run down of my animal population right now.

Cats

In order or when they arrived in our zoo…

Fudge

Fudge is a domestic shorthair, is 8 and a half (ish) years old and ‘top cat’ in the household since Hex passed away.

Tiny toes

Fudge in the bath

I ‘rescued’ Fudge in 2008 from a pretty awful situation (although looking back there’s lots I’d change about how I dealt with that).

Fudge went through a period of being incredibly subdued and shy, but having been given access to roam outdoors over the past couple of years he’s really come out of his shell and loves a good fuss.

Crumble

Crumble is a domestic shorthair, approx 6.5 years old and is mostly ‘owned’ by Isabel who considers Crumble her cat. I resisted the urge to adopt Crumble back in 2010 for about 2 weeks before finally caving.

Checking out the baby playmat

Wrestling Fudge

crumble

Crumble is a simple cat, content to spend most of her life curled up in a chair. She likes to sit with us of an evening and chirps like a canary if you fuss her enough.

Ripley

Ripley is a bloody expensive cat, AKA British Shorthair. She’s approx 15 months old. She is Gaz’s cat, bought for him last Christmas, and is easily the biggest pain out of all my animals. She has no tolerance for cheaper cat foods (can you blame her?) which give her the runs, so we had to switch all the cats to a more expensive food last year. She demands attention all day, eats more than any cat I’ve ever met and won’t let you empty the dishwasher without sitting right in the middle of the open door, getting in the way in the process.

ripley-on-jem

ripley-in-sunshine

That said, she is one of the most laid back cats I’ve ever owned, and loves everyone and everything, even the guinea pigs. She’s playing an important role in ‘mothering’ our latest addition, but more on him shortly. She’s fat, furry and incredibly affectionate.

Pixel

Pixel is roughly 18 months – 2 years old. We’re not entirely sure, because she’s a rescued stray, adopted from Shropshire Cat Rescue where I spend my Tuesdays. She’s a domestic shorthair like Fudge and Crumble.

pixel-kisses

Pixel is one of the biggest feline challenges I’ve ever approached. I brought her home because she was ‘red carded’ at the rescue for her aggression and was destined to become a farm cat living out her days on someone’s land. I didn’t think this was necessary, as she’d been incredibly affectionate with me, and offered to try and integrate her here.

pixel-on-me

We’ve had our ups and downs. She hides a lot, and doesn’t really like Fudge (because he’s tried to enforce the existing hierarchy and she doesn’t like that at all) but has on occasion played with Ripley. She has been bitey with both Gaz and I on numerous occasions, usually because she’s scared or over-stimulated. We have to be incredibly careful to watch all her body language for signs that she’s had enough fuss. She’s also the only cat I’ve ever owned who refuses to eat wet cat food.

With all that said, she ‘kisses’ like Hex used to, and can be friendly on her terms. I’m hoping that with time and patience she will fully integrate and be happy here, but I re-assess on a weekly basis.

Montgomery (Monty)

And here we have the latest of the purry bunch: Monty (probable domestic shorthair).

Monty is estimated at approximately 4 weeks old, but weighing just 292g when I brought him home on Monday 21st. He was found abandoned in a hedge in a town near Wales and was brought to a nearby vets who re-homed him with me via a friend of a friend.

monty

Monty is all ‘skin and bones’, and is currently receiving the kind of attention you’d expect to give a newborn baby! He’s on supplemental milk feeds (specialist ‘babycat formula’) and regular small feedings of high quality wet kitten food to boost his weight. He sleeps in a small blue fleece hat, on a fleece blanket, inside the carrier I brought him home, in front of he radiator to keep him warm.

ripley-and-monty-playing

Ripley has taken an instant shine to Monty and plays with him, follows him round, responds to his cries with what seems like concern and sits ‘guard’ overnight while he sleeps. I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship between them.

ripley-and-monty

The cats all eat James Wellbeloved and Wainwrights wet/dry food.

Guinea Pigs

We’ve had a recent explosion in our guinea pig population. Earlier on in the year we had 3: Tango and Sprite, a neutered male / female pair, and Spot (my famous guinea pig) the remaining pig from an un-neutered male pair.

spot guinea pig

Long story short, Spot and Sprite had an unintentional pregnancy and we now have 7 guinea pigs: the 3 adults, as well as Mabel (m), Badger (f), George (f) and Pepper (f). Spot has since been neutered and is currently living with Mabel, but once Mabel is old enough to be neutered I hope to reintroduce everypig into a large group.

guinea-pig-family

The guinea pigs have a diet mainly based on hay and readigrass (dried grass) as well as small amounts of veg every day or so and dry nuggets (Supreme Science Selective).

Rabbits

Peanut (tan coloured) and Sagittarius A* are both, oddly, from Shropshire Cat Rescue. I’m not entirely sure of the ages or breeds of either but they make a great pairing, which surprised me as Peanut is a grumpy bugger and their initial introductions weren’t positive.

peanut-and-saggi-rabbits

They live free range in my utility, with a cage as their ‘home base’, and all-day access to the garden on dry days.

The rabbits also have a diet mainly based on hay and readigrass, small amounts of veg every other day and dry nuggets (Supreme Science Selective).

Poops, Pees and Litterbox Fun

With a population of animals this large, poop is obviously a big part of my day to day life.

The cats currently have four litter trays between them, although this may increase with the addition of Monty. We have two covered trays in the bathroom, one uncovered tray in the utility (which the rabbits occasionally use too) and one outside in the sheltered cat run.

However, all is not perfect and we get the occasional cat leaving us a present behind the sofa or outside the tray to express indignation: often with a new arrival, or if I’ve dared leave another poop in the tray for longer than a few hours.

The rabbits mostly poo in a tray in their (always open) cage or all over my utility floor, which is at least concrete and easily cleaned. Despite having managed to perfectly litter train my previous rabbits these two are a little stubborn and would rather have me chase poo nuggets round the place.

Guinea pigs poo wherever they damn well please and their hutches have to be cleaned out regularly.

So boys and girls, there you have it. A comprehensive list of my current animals and details on litter boxes and poop. If you’d like to ask me a question, drop it in a comment on AMA.

AMA

Once upon a time I spent many, many hours imparting my wisdom on a range of topics – from web development to security, breastfeeding to working from home as a parent and a huge variety of things in between.

Unfortunately I seem to have got sucked into using my blog as an outlet for my whines and moans which, while cathartic, is not really conducive to entertaining and educating my readers. So! Ask me anything. Ask me about building websites, ask me about teaching myself PHP and WordPress, ask me about being a single parent, ask me about dealing with being self-employed with a mortgage and 2 kids to feed, ask me about owning a million animals, ask me about relationships and workouts and running and all the things… ask me about ANYTHING.

GO!

Children’s birthday parties are exhausting

That’s it. The milestone I was dreading has come and gone. We have a lot of ‘seven’ left to go, but that initial mountain has been climbed and conquered.

Not made any easier by the organisation of the birthday party, because some bright spark thought that’d be a great idea.

For some reason, when I do stuff like this, I don’t like to do it by halves. Why buy a couple of frozen pizzas, some biscuits and sausage rolls when you can make your own pizza dough, bake your own mini quiches (that none of the kids will eat anyway), dip pretzels in chocolate and create breadstick ‘sparklers’..?

sparklers-and-pretzels

And indeed, why stop there? If making your own party food isn’t hassle enough, why not spend 3 days building an elaborate rainbow layered My Little Pony birthday cake featuring fondant icing that you will inevitably roll too thin so will fall apart when you try to put it on the far-too-tall birthday cake…

img_20161117_140452

Still, I’m nothing if not a show off. And we got through the party without death, disease or tragedy, so it’s a win for a month that has been otherwise pretty crap so far.

And I only drank 4 glasses of vodka & lemonade to get me through it.

Protected: Broken

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Seven

My daughter turns seven years old on Monday.

It’s a milestone I’ve been dreading for some years. Seven years old.

I have organised a party. A disco with music and lights. I’ve bought glow sticks, I’m making a buffet and building a rainbow My Little Pony layer cake. I’ve told her to invite all her classmates. I have bought all the presents that seven year old girls like (hopefully).

Because I want my little girl to remember seven for the year she had an awesome birthday. I want my little girl — my sensitive girl who’s still afraid of the dark, who still likes to cuddle when she’s sad, who still likes her sandwiches cut into little triangles, and who has me sit with her while she falls asleep — my sweet, innocent little girl to remember seven for the year she got to party in sequins and eat pizza and cake with her school friends.

I don’t want her to remember seven as the year a sexual predator with alleged child sex offences won the US presidential election, further normalising the continued treatment of women and girls as objects.

I don’t want her to remember seven as the year a sexual predator with alleged child sex offences won the US presidential election, in part because of votes from a majority of white women, who statistically many of whom have been sexually assaulted but don’t see it as an issue that should affect their vote, demonstrating the further normalisation of the continued treatment of women and girls as objects.

I had hoped that by the time my daughter reached seven, the world would be different. Better. That I wouldn’t have to worry about her potentially experiencing the shit I went through when I was seven.

Because I don’t want her to remember seven as the year she was sexually assaulted for the first time. Like I do.

I wanted better than this.

All the meat, and Age UK Leeds Abbey Dash 10k

I travelled up to Leeds with Gaz to see my brother at the weekend, figuring I should probably make the effort as we’re getting close to C.. Chr… nope, can’t say it.

We celebrated our mutual awesomeness by booking a meal at Fazenda, a Brazillian Rodízio style restaurant. In case you have no idea what that is (I didn’t) it’s basically an all you can eat buffet where you pay a set amount and the waiters constantly bring food to your table. I basically ate my weight in ALL THE MEATS and haven’t felt hungry since.

Given the sheer amount of meat hulked around on big skewers, Fazenda would be a vegan’s worst nightmare, but they do offer non-meat options and an all you can eat salad bar (which included sushi, grains, and the typical leafy salad stuff) is included.

fazenda_salad_bar

(image Fazenda’s own)

The food was amazeballs, the staff were attentive and friendly, and I can’t wait for an excuse to go back. Unfortunately they only have locations in Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester so it’ll probably be some time before I get to repeat the experience.

The following day (Sunday) we completed the weekend with the only logical follow-up to a night of gluttony: we ran. A lot. Having pre-arranged to run the Age UK Leeds Abbey Dash 10k (and as per usual, with me doing no training whatsoever) we lined up with over 10,000(!) other people in the freezing rain for an opportunity to run up and down the roads of Leeds.

The course was mostly flat, which meant that despite intense DOMS from an ill-timed Friday workout and feet numb with the cold, I managed to complete in 1:04:20 – faster than my last 10k but not close enough to beat my 10k PB of 1:01:32. Of course, I know the answer is to RUN MORE, but time and bla bla excuses.

To be fair, the only reason I managed to complete in 1:04 is because I set myself the goal of keeping ahead of the 65 minute pacer. Towards the end I was run-walk-running and every time he caught up I’d surge on, but it did the trick (just about). The guy was a huge motivation and a much needed voice of enthusiasm towards the end and I completed the race and gave him a hug.

That said, it’s a good job I wasn’t following the 60 minute pacer, as she shot off way ahead of our ‘ability’ grouping and was nowhere to be seen. Even my brother (who did finish just under an hour) said he couldn’t find her. I get that it’s a voluntary thing but if you’re going to carry a pacer flag, it helps if you actually stick to that pace.

Pacer complaint aside, it was a good route and I’d definitely do it again next year, if only to give me the excuse of another night out at Fazenda.

How is babby formed?

You’d think at my age — and with two children — I’d know how babies are made. And yet despite pet-owning for some 15 years or more without incident we’ve had an oopsy-daisy surprise pet pregnancy here at Chez Jem.

My famous guinea pig, Spot, managed to impregnate Sprite (who I alluded to rescuing in the linked post but never got round to writing about… worst pet blogger ever!) and she gave birth literally as I was leaving for Las Vegas on Thursday 13th. Because everyone needs something to worry about when they’re leaving the country for a week!

baby-guinea-pig

Despite my pet experience I’ve never handled (or indeed seen) a piggie birth before so it was all a bit of a shock. Luckily mum-pig just got on with it, cleaned up the four fully formed babies and carried on as normal. Even luckier, my pre-arranged pet sitter had experience with baby guinea pigs so knew what to do with them in my absence, phew.

As someone who frequently gets on my high horse to lecture about pet castration I’m eating a massive dose of humble pie at the minute. Although, in my defence, I was advised by a vet that he was too old to be neutered (because castrating guinea pigs is riskier than e.g. rabbits and cats, of which ALL of mine are done.) I’ve since found out that one of the vets at my usual small animal place will do it providing a pre-op check for “age related issues” comes back fine. Given his activity level, appetite and apparent virility I don’t think that’s going to be an issue.

On the plus side, if I can get him fixed I can attempt an introduction with Sprite and her already-neutered buddy Tango, so that he won’t be on his own (which he has been since his brother died). And if that doesn’t work he can be introduced to the (two suspected) male babies when they’re old enough to leave mum to make an all male trio. Either way, I’ve just got to suck it up and deal with it. It’ll teach me to be more vigilant in future.

The one where I enter a marathon

Last week I entered a marathon.

Yes, me, the person who runs slow AF half marathons on no training because it seems like too much effort.

I have entered a bloody marathon.

And not just ANY marathon, oh no. I have entered the “How Hard Can It Be” May the 4th be with you trail marathon. The full version of the half marathon I did in May which as you may recall, included an ascent of more than 2000ft.

Which I will have to do twice.

I don’t know what possessed me. I mean, it’s one thing winging a half marathon and hoping for the best, but I don’t think it’s advisable to attempt over 26 miles without at least doing a few training runs first.

Still, it’s not til May 2017, so I have plenty of time before I need to start panicking…

Opening night at Novello Lounge, Telford

For a large town, Telford has a pretty poor nightlife. With an estimated population of 155,000 (according to Wikipedia), which makes it the largest town in Shropshire, it beggars belief that we Telfordians have to travel to Bridgnorth, Shrewsbury and beyond if we want a few cocktails and some decent music to start a night out.

When I found out, via the does-what-it-says-on-the-tin Facebook page “We want bars and nightlife in Southwater Telford”, that ‘The Lounges’ were bringing a lounge to Telford and that as well as being a “friendly, informal café” they also served good food and most importantly — cocktails — I was beside myself with glee.

So, imagine my excitement when I found out that Telford’s new Novello Lounge was opening on Wednesday: the school night that the kids are with their dad. Seizing the opportunity I unsubtly hinted to Gaz that we should check out the launch:

and post-run (I know, Gaz… running!) we drove over to check it out.

It was gone 8pm by the time we got there, and the venue was already packed. The people of Telford were clearly making the most of the novelty of this new café-cum-bar.

I’ve never been to one of The Lounges before so hadn’t really got a clue what to expect. Not disappointed: the interiors are cosy and eclectic, somewhat reminiscent of my Nan’s living room with its over-sized lampshades, art-packed walls and random mix of chairs (Novello Lounge, not my Nan’s living room. My Nan has been dead a while.)

busy-novello-lounge

Despite being very busy, we were immediately shown to a suitable table and after ordering food and drinks at the bar, it took virtually no time at all for our ‘starter’ of some bread and oil to arrive (post-run carbs!) The bread was warm and my request for butter was met with a generous handful of little packets. I’d already been won over at this point: I was glad to receive soft butter, rather than the little yellow hardened blocks you often get in pubs and restaurants.

bread-and-oil

Bread demolished, I nipped up to the bar to order a couple more cocktails (I would traditionally order one of everything “to try” but I’m skint at the minute) and while I was away from the table the main course arrived. Gaz and I had both plumped for the Steak Frites: 8oz 28 day-aged Black Angus sirloin steak with garlic butter, wild rocket & parmesan salad and fries.

I ordered my steak rare, and rare it was. You wouldn’t believe the variety of well-done-ness I’ve hard served on my plate masquerading as rare before, but this deliciously pink piece of meat ticked every box. The garlic butter was laden with garlic and packed a punch and the fries were crisp and delicious. No complaints here.

steak-cooked-rare

On several occasions throughout the meal we were asked if everything was OK with the food, drinks etc by multiple members of staff, which was impressive given how many people were in. While it was beginning to get a little annoying (is it just me, or do people always ask how the food is when you’ve got a massive mouthful and can’t possibly talk?) towards the end I will forgive it as first night enthusiasm. It’ll be interesting to see if the staff are as attentive in a few weeks time!

The cocktails were tasty, with the Cherry Bakewell in particular going down well, although I found the Honey & Orange Cosmopolitan a little stingy in its size (see below) and the Espresso Martini only had one shot of vodka, which is an offense to vodka lovers everywhere (AKA me). Neither complaint enough to stop me ordering them again (and again) mind you.

honey-orange-cosmo

All in all I was pretty impressed with the Novello Lounge on its inaugural night, and look forward to popping back soon to sample more of its delights.

Apologies for the low-light photos, I only had my phone on me and the lounge was dimly lit.