Mini Restaurant Review

SeaSalt Mediterranean Kitchen – Bar, Barnes

My friend Sean took Maggie and I out for some mid-week lunch recently (while I was still lady-of-leisure) at the new restaurant ‘Sea Salt’ on White Hart Lane, Barnes. He had travelled over from East Dulwich and completely underestimated how long it would take to get to leafy Barnes, so we didn’t get to the restaurant until nearly 3pm. Unsurprisingly the only other punters were just leaving as we arrived and we were just in time for the lunch menu which was due to finish. Despite this, we were treated like kings and there was no sense of being rushed to finish our meal quickly. A high chair arrived for Maggie and she happily played with her toys and ate her baby food while we savoured a delicious and tasty Mediterranean lunch.

We chose the set Lunch menu which was 2 courses for £10.50, with the idea that we’d share a starter and dessert. To start with we had smoked salmon salad with a zesty lime and orange dressing. Maybe a little too much greenery for the amount of salmon on the plate but otherwise it was perfect, a fresh and refreshing little bite to get the taste buds going.

For the main course, Sean chose seabass fillet served with sautéed vegetables and mash. I had the Tavuk Sis kebap, basically chargrilled chicken skewers with rice and a side salad. The flavours were distinctively Mediterranean and the portions were extremely generous. I did wonder if we had been given extra as we were the last lunchtime customers. We shared a crumbly and delicious baklava for dessert with a side of vanilla ice-cream and a sneaky glass of vino each.

There was a piano in the corner which was just tempting someone to play it. Thankfully I didn’t attempt it, considering my very limited Grade 5 exam pieces repertoire. I do wonder though if someone comes in to play a bit of jazz in the evenings. I think that sort of jazzy cabaret restaurant would work on White Hart Lane, but I just wonder whether this restaurant has the right atmosphere yet to create that laid-back vibe.

It was such a shame to see ‘SeaSalt’ so empty while its neighbour ‘The Orange Pekoe’ was crammed to the gills, as it always is. That, despite the fact that their food is menu is not as extensive or as sumptuous. But it always feels like a treat to go to ‘The Orange Pekoe’, while ‘SeaSalt’ lacks the same ambience. It doesn’t help to have that large plain window at the front of the restaurant so you sit at your table like a poor doggy in the window. But I was still impressed, and really wish it every success. In the words of Arnie (and with a dodgy Californian accent): ‘I’ll be back’.

Example dishes from the menu include: kuzu sis kebab (lamb kebab) which is priced at £9.50, tavuk sis kebab (chicken kebab) at £9.00 and a meze selection (hummous, cacik, babagannus, roasted red pepper) for £5.00. There’s also grilled hellim (£4.50) while for dessert the choice includes baklava at £3.50.

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Friday: lunch 12 noon – 3:00pm, evening 6:00pm – 10:00pm
Saturday: lunch 12 noon – 4:00pm, evening 6:00pm – 10.30pm
Sunday: lunch 12 noon – 4:00pm, evening 6:00pm – 9:00pm

5 White Hart Lane, SW13 0PX, 020 8392 1111


10 signs that it’s time to go back to work

I’m going back to work in 7 days’ time. This day week. After a prolonged, protracted, extended 13 months maternity leave I am finally getting back to the grindstone. I know it’s the right thing to do, both for Maggie’s social needs and my financial ones, but I’m still nearly sick at the thought.

However, I have been weighing it up carefully in my head (as Librans do) and have come to the conclusion that it is, indeed, time to go back to work. Here are the reasons why.

1. I need to break the cycle of Mummy Time = Wine Time
I am aware that I am washing a crystal wine glass along with the baby bottles most nights. Because I don’t do Monday mornings, I think I am permanently on my holidays and therefore act accordingly. Just because I never know what day it is, doesn’t mean I should always assume it’s Friday or nearly Friday. My liver needs the break.


2. I have too much time on my hands for nonsensical conversations
Like when I phoned customer service at Sainsbury’s to complain about the way the Ham Slicer Person treated me at the Delicatessen. I explained to the nice young gentleman on the phone that normally his staff are the epitome of friendliness and that I was a seasoned customer, being in his store at least twice a week and, no, I didn’t want this to go any further, I was just making him aware of how rude this person was to me and how I hoped it would never happen again. I put down the phone and thought, ‘I need to go back to work’.


3. I don’t have enough time on my hands, full stop
I met a mummy friend last week who went back to work in January when her baby was seven months old and we discussed my impending return to work. She assured me that she feels more rested now that she is back to full-time employment than when she was a full-time carer of her duck. I can see how that works. I stagger to bed far too late every night after a very active, intense, wonderful day changing, cleaning her teeth, dressing, playing, singing, reading, cooking, cleaning, feeding, bathing and- now Maggie is up on her feet- running after her. I have never been this active at work. No sooner have I gotten her to sleep than it’s time to make the dinner, eat it (washed down with a glass of vino of course), clean up and make up the baby bottles for the morning. Sometimes I fit in the ironing, or a quick jog around the houses, but not very often. I have an item on my to-do list that is over six months old, I kid you not. I’m quite looking forward to sitting on my arse for a bit.


4. I struggle to make a decision
I am generally not very good at making decisions anyway, as my star sign dictates. But I now deliberate every decision I make on the basis that I am still learning on the job and don’t know all the answers. Hence I have been known to take up to 2 hours debating what to have for lunch, what to make Maggie for lunch, what to have for tea, what to make Maggie for tea. I find it hard to decide whether to go to the swings, the shops, the library, Miss Hannah’s music class, the deer park or the duck pond. Sometimes we just hop on the bus and see where it takes us.


5. I can’t stop eating cake
The good news is that, since being on maternity leave, I now host a mean afternoon tea complete with homemade banana cake, caramel shortbread or chocolate brownies and served on a vintage-style tea set. The bad news is that I’m having afternoon tea with one of my stay-at-home mummy friends or actor friends (both of whom are free during the day) at least three times a week, and so over the course of the last 13 months I’ve eaten my body weight in cream buns and chocolate brownies.
My cholesterol needs the break.


6. I miss my handbag
I didn’t think I would but, after such a long time using Maggie’s nappy bag as my handbag, I’ve come to miss having a bag which has nice, girly things inside like perfume and lippy. I’ll have to stick a packet of baby wipes and a spare muslin into my handbag though as I’d feel naked without them now.


7. I’m addicted to Tea
One of the implications of hosting and attending so many afternoon tea parties or simply meeting folks for a cuppa at Costa, is that I am now absolutely addicted to the stuff. I have always loved tea, but now if I have a busy morning and don’t have a cup by 2pm I get all twitchy and moody so I suspect I may have a bit of an addiction. And while I’m not looking forward to cutting down the quantity of tea I consume, I am looking forward to actually drinking a cup while it is still hot.


8. I’m on the Baby Weaning Diet
Ever since we have started on the difficult journey to baby weaning, my lunches have consisted of anything Maggie has discarded. Considering what a picky eater she is, that can be anything from leftover vegetable soup, cauliflower and broccolli mush, Farleys rusk, rice cake with Philly cheese to fish pie or lasagne. Today I ate a bowl of discarded peas and half a fish finger for lunch. I’m looking forward to the lunchtime joys of Pret a Manger once again.


9. ‘If you’re happy and you know it’ might stop playing in my head
Or it might not. I think it is doomed to play on repeat in my head forever. Oh well, it will make for an interesting conversation with my boss if I start humming it subconsciously during a meeting.

10. I’ll enjoy the break
One hour’s lunch break? A commute to work with no distractions, no baby in tow, just ‘me time’ and Radio 2? The chance to read the Family section of Saturday’s Guardian in one go, without it taking all week (and it’s only 8 pages long). Ok, so I’ll most likely spend my lunch hour doing the shopping, but hell what a luxury. I’ll have that thanks.


Still feeling a bit sick about it all. Being with Maggie is like walking through a rainbow or drinking a cup of tea in the sun – sheer delight. I am going to miss my little girl like mad.

Nearly 6 days now and counting…..


A Guide to Fabulous (never Frumpy) Maternity Fashion

Hello! This is a guest post today from Claire’s sister Mairead.

As a girl who loves fashion and also went through three pregnancies (with very huge bumps each time!) I was very flattered when Baby Loves Porridge asked me to share my top tips for maternity fashion with all you lovely bloggettes.

The pitter-patter of tiny feet need not mean an end to being stylish and fashionable; there are lots of ways to keep mums-to-be looking and feeling fabulous throughout your pregnancy.

The two pregnant sisters !

Of course one way of dressing your bump is to hide it under layers and layers of oversized clothing. But my approach has always been to embrace my bump and show it off in its best light. As soon as I had shared my baby news, I wore clothes that hugged the baby bump, not hid it. The right clothes can help give your body shape so you look pregnant, not bloated. After all, when we become pregnant many of us feel and look positively ‘glowing’ as those hormones pump around our bodies.

So here are my top tips to looking fabulous, not frumpy in maternity clothes.

1st Trimester
During the first 3 months some women put on very little weight and their figures stay much the same, allowing them to continue to wear their own clothes. Others, like me, find that their body changes very quickly, and after 5 or 6 weeks they feel their body shape alter in several places – mainly waist, tummy, boobs and hips. To save you money buying too much maternity wear at this early stage, instead follow these tips:

1. Have a Wardrobe Overhaul
You will have several items in your wardrobe that will be suitable for the first trimester. You will probably have shift dresses, empire-line dresses and tops, any loose-fitting or elasticated waisted skirts and trousers, and nearly all your jumpers, cardigans (unbuttoned) and tops. These will all be fine for the first trimester at least.

2. Invest in a Bump Band
If you find that your bump is causing some of your jumpers or tops to creep up, then buy a Bump Band. These are literally bands of pregnancy-friendly fabric that ‘hug’ your bump snugly, while still allowing plenty of room for growth. They allow you to wear your favourite tops for longer, as they cover your ever-growing belly while your tops become shorter and shorter! These bands also have a ‘spanx-like’ effect so when you are wearing a fitted dress or tunic top, the band will give you the effect of looking slim all over with a lovely bump, rather than looking bigger all over.

Similar Bump Bands available at Topshop for £7

2nd Trimester
It is at this stage that I think it is important to invest in a few key pieces that will see you through the rest of your maternity.

1. Maternity Jeans
During my last pregnancy with Nancy, I really did live in my jeans. It was a much more practical wardrobe solution with a 4 year old and a 2 year old running around. I tried on many pairs from Mamas and Papas to New Look to 7 For All Mankind (available at A Pea in a Pod) but I found the most comfortable and most stylish were the super-skinny legged jeans from Topshop Maternity. I was pregnant with Nancy in winter and spring and always felt stylish in my maternity skinny jeans and long, bump-hugging tunic top or funky jumper with long black patent knee boots or ankle boots.

Coloured jeans are all the rage for spring/summer 2012, and Seraphine have a large collection of maternity skinny jeans in a range of colours.

Cobalt blue skinny jeans from Seraphine £45

2. Dresses
I’m a girly girl and adore dresses! I wear them A LOT – they’re definitely my favourite piece of clothing, and they are so pregnancy-friendly that I spent the majority of my maternities in dresses. What I didn’t do, however, is to buy many actual ‘maternity’ label dresses, as I found these tended to be boring wrap-style dresses in very dull colours and prints. Instead I found that by scouring the high street and going up a size or two in shift dresses or empire-line styles I felt much more fashionable and on-trend. Just make sure you choose at least knee-length or midi as the dresses will automatically rise up with your bump.

No. 1 on my favourite shops to buy gorgeous ‘maternity-but-not-actually-maternity’ dresses was Zara. Zara offer fabulous dresses in shift styles, and also in many fluid and pregnancy-friendly fabrics. My maternity wardrobe was filled with patterned dresses for work that I teamed with leggings or tights, depending on the season. I also found a wonderful maxi dress in Zara that I wore to a wedding with my bump. Zara’s clothes are always colourful and their choice of fabrics and patterns mean they have a ‘catwalk’ look to them so you really can’t go wrong to do a spot of maternity shopping here. As their stock is always changing it is worth checking out their range every few weeks.

In a non-maternity Zara strapless bandeau dress (x2 sizes bigger than normal) at 8.5months

The dresses below are currently in
Zara Spring 2012 collection and would look perfect with a baby bump.

Red dress with belt £39.99

Handkerchief print dress £69.99

Cap sleeve dress £45.99

Good old Primark also did not fail when it came to buying cheap but on-trend dresses for work and for casual wear. I found that buying dresses in one or two sizes bigger was perfect, and because they were never very expensive you didn’t feel guilty about spending money on clothes that wouldn’t be in your wardrobe for too long (you hope!).

Claire in ‘Darling’ pleated shift at 4.5mths & me in a ‘Primark’ sequin gold dress at 3.5mths

H&M’s 2012 summer collection includes these pretty knee-length chiffon dresses that I thought would look adorable with a baby bump. They have an elasticated waist and 3/4-length elasticated sleeves. And they are a complete steal at only £14.99, so you could afford to buy one a few sizes bigger than usual in every colour!




H&M chiffon dresses £14.99

Topshop has most definitely the best ‘maternity’ section. Its dresses and other maternity pieces are based on current stock and fashions and adapted to fit the lady-in-waiting, so you can look just as funky and fabulous as your non-pregnant friends.

Pretty blossom top from Topshop £36 would look perfect teamed with a pair of skinny maternity jeans

Asos Maternity have quite a decent range for the stylish mum-to-be, both for casual and work wear. I bought a few pieces from here for work, although neither item lasted right through to the third trimester as my bump grew significantly larger! I don’t think their maternity sizing allows for much more than a neat little bump, at least not in the more structured tops and dresses that are fitted under the boob.

Asos maternity tulip dress £35

Many of my friends rate Next and New Look for their maternity ranges. I personally felt both were slightly ‘mumsy’ and didn’t find anything suitable in either store. Do note, though, that I’m not an overly conservative dresser and if you do like a smart work look, then Next have some good maternity options.

Isabella Oliver seems to be the staple maternity retailer for the mum-to-be who has a little more money to spend (their casual maternity dresses are around £100, evening/maxi dresses at £2-300), and celebrities are often papped in this label. Again, the range veers more to the conservative end than following current fashion trends, but possibly is a good investment if you plan on having more than one child and can re-use key pieces again and again.

Ruched T-Shirt Dress from Isabella Oliver reduced from £99 to £79.20. Available in green, blue and pink.

Finally, add a short jacket to your maternity dresses to add instant glamour on a night out. Even dresses in jersey fabric (perfect for comfort as the fabric softly skims over your bump) look more glamourous with a tailored jacket, as they highlight your bump while making you appear leaner overall.

Actress Bryce Dallas Howard in bright dress and tailored jacket which highlights her baby bump rather than concealing it

I saw this soft black waterfall jacket in Dorothy Perkins recently and, although it isn’t officially maternity, it would skim over your baby bump and be perfect over your maternity dresses for the spring and summer.

This jacket is a bargain at only £30. Available in black and slate.

3. Leggings
As mentioned above, good maternity leggings or tights (depending on weather or season) are an important investment, especially during the last few months as restrictive trousers, skirts and jeans become very uncomfortable for the gorgeous mummy-to-be. Again, Topshop for me has the best range of maternity leggings and in a good range of colours. For tights I found the M&S maternity tights most comfortable for me and my baby bump.

High Waisted Maternity Leggings £15 at Topshop – super soft and comfy

4. Maternity Lingerie
A very important investment as your body changes is a good maternity bra. All women will notice a change in their boobs during pregnancy – some more significantly than others! – but all you lovely pregnant ladies should go for a proper bra fitting during the second trimester. M&S, Debenhams and other independent lingerie stores offer bra-fitting services and will advise you on which bra to buy. I always went to M&S for this; I found the ladies to be helpful, informative and friendly and, in my opinion, M&S offers the most affordable and attractive range of maternity lingerie on the high street.

2 pack nursing bras £30 at M&S

As with maternity clothing, maternity lingerie can often be very boring! But, as we know, when we become pregnant many of us feel at our most sexy and sensual. If this sounds like you, and you fancy splashing out on some gorgeous lingerie that will make you feel ‘blooming sexy’ then go to Hotmilk Lingerie. The colourful maternity lingerie from this New Zealand-based label will leave you feeling beautiful, confident and sexy as ever. Hotmilk Lingerie also offer a range of lingerie for nursing mummies – again, most high street stores offer only a very basic range in nursing lingerie.

Hotmilk Lingerie have a wide range of sexy maternity & nursing lingerie

You will probably also invest in maternity swimwear to wear on the beach if you’re brave or, more likely, for those swimming sessions you plan to have. Swimming is not only the exercise of choice for many pregnant women but it is also very relaxing for you and your bump. High street stores such as Next offer great maternity bikinis and ruched swimsuits, or you can invest a little bit extra somewhere like which stocks structured and functional swimsuits and tankinis. You can choose plain black or from a range of trendy designs.

This vintage inspired Halter Maternity Swimsuit £35 is made from a soft, stretch fabric and features ruched sides.

5. Special occasions
If you have a very special occasion or wedding to attend while you are pregnant go to Mama La Mode for designer maternity and occasion-wear. Designers such as Alice Temperley, By Malene Birger, Twenty8Twelve and Issa (Kate Middleton’s favourite designer!) offer fabulous pieces to show off your baby bump in style.

In a gorgeous ‘By Malene Birger’ dress at Maggie’s christening at almost 9mths!

3rd Trimester
My advice for fashion in the third trimester is simply to wear clothes that are as comfortable as possible for you and your bump. Stick to easy-wearing dresses and tunic tops. Wear block colours with loud prints to avoid looking too big, especially if you have an enormous bump like I did.

Gwen Stefani always managed to look on trend and fab with her big bump.

New Look have a set of 3 maternity vests for £12.99: essential wardrobe staples for the summer.

And, although it saddens me to say it, as your due-date gets ever closer do put away those heels! I refused to do so during my first pregnancy with Molly, joining celebs like Victoria Beckham in the ‘pregnancy-in-heels’ debate, and I paid the price with horrendous neck and back ache. I had learned my lesson for my second and third pregnancies and, although only 5ft, learned to finally accept my tiny height in little ballet pumps and flat boots. Towards the very end I lived in a pair of FitFlop sandals as my feet expanded with my bump. In the final few months don’t forget that a pair of fabulous designer sunnies and a spot of bright lippy will always make you feel better, even with swollen ankles and a puffy face.

FitFlop sandals £55 online, but you can get discounts in independent shoe shops so look around

……………………. xx …………………….

I hope this advice helps…just remember, embrace your new shape during pregnancy and dress yourself accordingly – but don’t spend a fortune on maternity wear. There’s lots of fabulous fashion out there and in your wardrobe to ensure you stay gorgeous and stylish!

Love, Mairead @ Bean Boutique

Three in the Bed….

Three weeks ago Maggie was suffering from chickenpox; a dreadful, horrid infection that caused her no end of misery and caused us no end of heartache watching her be miserable. If she was old enough to eat chocolate or enjoy a Mickey D’s or appreciate a trip to the cinema or the moon, we would have bought it for her or took her there as a ‘treat’ for being such a good girl and suffering so valiantly. As it happens, she has no appreciation for such delights just yet, and so the closest we could get was to spoil her with attention and kisses and let her cuddle in beside us at night. Just as she was recovering from the pox, she developed a nasty cold and cough and, a patient once more, still in need of a continued supply of kisses and cuddles.

So she’s back in the bed. That’s three weeks and counting. I’ve since talked about it with other mums and dads, and it seems that most babies and their worn-out parents go through the ’3 in the bed’ scenario at various stages. In fact, a study by The National Childbirth Trust (NCT), suggests that a quarter of all parents routinely share a bed with their baby. The key, my mummy friends tell me, is to nip it in the bud as soon as you can and get them back to their cots. Otherwise you never know what sort of heartache awaits.

Well, the heartache began this morning when Johnny woke up at the edge of the bed as usual and went to get out but couldn’t move. He has tweaked a muscle in his back or shoulder and is currently incapacitated and moaning quite a bit. He is laying the blame solely at Maggie’s feet, both metaphorically and literally, since it is her feet that have ended up in his face for the past twenty nights. She is currently favouring the ‘Roundhouse Kick’ position, but of late she has been inching closer and closer to the ‘Neck Scarf’. She obviously finds her Da much warmer and cosier than her Ma, which suits me fine but has left Johnny walking like the Hunchback of Notre-Dame.


The entire concept of co-sleeping with your precious duck is a controversial one. Some authoritative bodies including the Department of Health and The Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths (FSID) categorically say that parents must never share a bed with their baby due to an increased risk of cot death. But others, including the NCT, openly defend bedsharing. Personally I’m not sure where I fall – instinctively, bedsharing feels a little dangerous when babies are small, but even now that Maggie is older and bigger I still fear she could easily roll out of bed. And yet I am sure that I am keenly tuned in to Maggie as she sleeps beside us. I remember when she had stomach flu after Christmas, and I woke up just as she was about to projectile vomit during her sleep, quick enough to sit her upright to be sick. John couldn’t quite believe how alert my instincts were. So I guess I can appreciate the co-sleeping argument that mothers are so switched on to their babies there is little risk to them. The main issue with co-sleeping, in my opinion, is that mum and dad just can’t get a decent night’s sleep.

Elizabeth Pantley’s book, ‘The No-Cry Sleep Solution’, offers gentle ways to help your baby sleep through the night without resorting to bringing them into bed or – at the other extreme – abandoning them in their cots and leaving them to cry it out. My friend is currently using it to coax her little 9-month man out of the bed and into his own cot, and she is very grateful for its down-to-earth and non-judgmental advice. I haven’t yet resorted to reading it because I’m hoping that our three week bed-share is a blip in her bedtime routine. Besides, I love it when Maggie comes into the bed – I know she enjoys the closeness to her Ma and Da and it almost instantly calms her and gets her over to sleep. We just need to change society’s view of it as a terribly bad thing. And we need to invest in a significantly bigger bed.


News just in -


Let me qualify that a bit…

I don’t actually mean ‘we’ of course, I still detest foul-smelling eggs and have done so forever. Ever since my mum had a craving for the disgusting things when she was pregnant with me and ate a couple every day for weeks.

And ‘love’ is such a strong word. Maggie ate 5 spoonfuls of scrambled egg before she crunched her little nose up and pushed the spoon away in disgust.

But, eat it she did. And we are rejoicing.

Gotta Love Baby Weaning.


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