How to have a happy & healthy First 3 Months of Pregnancy

I am going to be a first time mum and I’m very excited waiting for my baby.  I love this baby in ways only a mum carrying one for 9 months can understand. This has been the best moment of my life and I’m happy. I don’t care if I don’t go out, or if i can’t exercise or do the things I used to do. My number one priority at the moment is for this baby to be born healthy. I’m sharing with you a video I’ve been filming of my journey during the fist 3 months of my pregnancy. As I write this, I’m currently in my second trimester but as soon as this is over, a second trimester video will be launched too on this site so keep an eye out for it.

Why did I decide to film and write about such a private matter as a woman’s pregnancy?  Because the online world  and main media is plagued with more negative than positive stories about pregnancy and I couldn’t relate whatsoever. I’m having such a positive, healthy, trouble free pregnancy that i thought I would share with you my tips on how to achieve this so you can  truly enjoy what will be the most precious moment of your life. This is  your moment, blink and you will miss it, so don’t allow for anyone or anything to spoil it, let alone negative people or awful online stories from dubious sources.

Stop reading negative stories, listen to your body, to your gut. 

Even people around me, all they could tell me sounded negative, as if pregnancy was an illness instead of a natural process that makes you vitally alive. Remember that we women are made to do this and our bodies are made to handle it.Otherwise it would be men the ones creating life. Instead, all I’ve heard were stories about awful pregnancies, difficulties conceiving,  or how a child is a impediment in a woman’s life particularly if she is a dreamer, a doer and a worker who commutes to work daily like I do. This really put me off and one day I stopped listening altogether. The only person I listened to was my mum. A down to earth woman with a positive drama free pregnancy story who kept telling me: “Listen to your body. Pregnancy is the most natural thing a woman can do. It’s not an illness. I worked while I was pregnant both with you and your brother up untill the day I had to go to hospital to give birth and I was fine and my body back to normal months later without no gym or personal trainer. I was simply active looking after you, your brother and working. Yes, it is painful but no pain no gain”. Like her, many women , particularly old school “get on” with it women do have nothing but positive stories to share. The more you get trapped in a negative frame of mind, the more paranoia you will create around your pregnancy.  Your thoughts can make you a prisoner of your own body.I’m surprised that we, modern women living in big cities feel  sometimes as if we can’t cope, but perhaps it is the society that encourages this fear in order for us to spend more, to buy more and feel as if what we have is not enough, but it is. The main thing a mother needs is just her own pure love for her baby , this you can’t buy. It’s within you.

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How cute are these little boots I bought for my baby?

Not all women have awful morning sickness, some have none at all 

For the first 3 months of my pregnancy I kept waiting for morning sickness to arrive, for the moment when the smell of food would trigger nausea, for crazy mood swings, for being bed ridden almost Frida Kahlo like. But all those really bad symtoms I had heard make you really ill during your first trimester, were not making an appearance in my own pregnancy and I was feeling fine and had no nausea whatsoever. Fifty percent of women do have smooth pregnancies and even though some do have awful symptoms and nausea for the first 3 months or way into their last trimester, every woman is different and so, many of us are just fine and hardly have any symptoms. Again, due to all the negativity, I was worried at 8 weeks because I wasn’t feeling ill at all. The nurse at hospital who saw me when doing an “Early pregnancy scan” told me: Not every woman suffers from morning sickness ,in fact honey, just feel lucky you don’t suffer from it and enjoy your pregnancy”. How right she was. In the first weeks of my pregnancy the only thing I felt were minor stomach cramps and extremely tired every day. The first three months will probably be the months where you will feel the most tired and sleepy.Other than that, you could be just as happy as your non pregnant self and instead of feeling blue you can choose to feel high knowing that a baby is coming into your life. These three months can feel long as you don’t get to see or hear the baby’s heart until your 12 week scan, and as your belly is still small or pretty unnoticeable, you do wonder what is going on inside and whether the baby is fine.

Eat everything in moderation and no need to go crazy on the Yoga mat

Even though I was never a big drinker, I stopped drinking any kind of alcoholic drink altogether as soon as I found out I was pregnant, and I started to look after diet a bit more. Instead of eating things that only filled me, I started eating things that nourish me. More fruits, vegetables and a piece of read meat every weak as it is a big source of iron.I’m a coffee drinker, one of those people who wakes up and makes coffee because her mind tells her she can’t function otherwise. Well, during my first trimester, I went off coffee. I woke up, made an orange juice and my body instead of craving coffee was craving fruits, yoghurt, porridge, cereal, milk but definitely not coffee. This was a very shocking thing to me as I really thought i couldn’t handle a day without coffee. Yes, I can!. Again I didn’t need a class on how to avoid drinking coffee. Mother nature is clever and it was my own body the one rejecting coffee. I wasn’t doing any exercise before I got pregnant and Yoga bores me so again thinking in my mum who had no gym membership but still a slim healthy looking body months after giving birth, I took it easy. I believe that for a large majority of women,just being active is enough. I wake up early every morning because I have to go to work. That means I need to prepare my meals, it means I walk to the tube or to the bus, I walk upstairs and downstairs and sometimes I’m on a rush to get to work on time. I do enough every day just getting back and forth from work and yes, Im pregnant so let’s take it easy and trust the body to go back to normal naturally without pushing it too hard postpartum.

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Before: 1 year ago sept 2015
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After:May 2016. 10 weeks pregnant. Noticeable expanding waist to you only and Last time you will be able to lay down on your stomach in your pregnancy
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June 2016 and already a mini bump at 18 weeks

Take your vitamins and folic acid daily

One thing I surely did during these 3 months was taking my daily vitamin which included 40o mg of folic acid as recommended for any woman in her first trimester of pregnancy and even when she is trying to conceive.It is important to get enough folic acid, or folate, before you become pregnant.Add 400 micrograms a day prior to conception to reduce risks of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and anencephaly. These vitamins are also great for your hair and skin which will be glowing from now onwards.

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You will hardly need make up or hair styling. Free courtesy of your glowing pregnancy

You don’t need to eat for two

You need to eat and you need to eat healthy but you don’t need to eat for two, if anything you may need extra calories but no more than 200 calories extra per day. That is a banana and a piece of bread with honey . And why feed your body with cravings that tend not to be too healthy such as a fast food meal, a pizza, processed cakes? This foods won’t feed you,they will just make you feel full. Instead , make your own meals and make sure they are full of all the good stuff that will make you feel better. Plus if you eat your 3 main meals a day and they are delicious and healthy ,then,  you won’t feel the need to snack or go mad on the fast food cravings. In pregnancy it is normal to gain weight but it is also pretty common that you only gain weight in your belly and not necessarily in your arms, legs or face. Just  a cute baby bump making space for your bundle of joy.

Eat healthily. I like to eat simple food and tend to stick to a Mediterranean diet

The “You are old” myth

Doctors scare you, the media scare you, other women scare you, and again you end up believing the whole thing when in reality your own body is like nobody else’s body.  I thought that being in my 30’s I would probably have to undergo some sort of fertility process in order to get pregnant, perhaps IVF.Life however had other plans.I believed that by the time I decided to start trying it would take a year or two, perhaps a fertility treatment was needed. I just never listened to my own healthy body who never gave me any trouble. I had never thought; I never had smoked in my entire life, I ate healthily since childhood and I don’t need to go crazy on the gym for my body to be slim. I just totally believed all the negative hype around about women having so much difficulty conceiving that when I got a positive at the first attempt, I bought another pregnancy test as thought it was a mistake. How could it happen the first time? How when I’m supposed to be already an older mum according to medical terms?. It took me eight weeks and an early pregnancy scan to believe it. Mother nature has its ways and for some women it is just as difficult  at 25 as it could be for others at 35 or 45. You are you and your body is your body and your experience will be unique. Just remember that for most women it is fine and they can get pregnant within 6 moths to one year without no need for medical intervention.

Some friends will disappear as you no longer feel like going out or hang out as before 

That’s fine , you have a beautiful baby on board so you don’t need to be out in town hanging about in some cocktail bar listening to some random dating story.It is your time to nest as much as you like. You are a woman now and you have a responsibility towards your unborn baby and yourself.I was surprised to see some female friendships disappear once I got pregnant and i was no longer able to go out but guess what? I couldn’t care less and it has shown me who my real friends are. The main thing is for you to be mentally strong and just happy with this wonderful thing happening to you.

No baby bump but there is a baby

For the first 12 weeks you may notice a larger waistline but you won’t see a baby bump yet. This doesn’t mean your baby is not growing , it is just pretty common for a woman not to show during the first three months particularly if  it is her first pregnancy.

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No much of a baby bump for the first 3 months but you will notice your breast growing

I wish you all new mums to be the best pregnancy and remember to listen to your body, to your gut and above all, enjoy these rare nine moths in your life. They really are special.

“To be pregnant is to be vitally alive, thoroughly woman, and distressingly inhabited. Soul and spirit are stretched – along with body – making pregnancy a time of transition, growth, and profound beginnings”. Anne Christian Buchanan

Look out for my second trimester video and article coming soon both here and in the Huffington Post 

 

 

Pregnancy: The 1st 3 months video

Hello new mums to be, pregnant ladies going through the first trimester of your pregnancy . Today I wanted to share with you the 1st of a three part video I’m currently filming while recording my 9 month journey.As I write this, I’m currently in the second trimester of my first pregnancy.At 3 months expect no visible baby bump, however it is during this 12 weeks that your body is going through incredible changes. Some women have uncomfortable symptoms such as morning sickness, others, have no symptoms. I belong to this group. Initially I  was worried as had zero symptoms but as the midwife told me: Consider yourself lucky for that.

Happy pregnancy to you all and even if you are going through awful morning sickness it will all be worth it in the end. As for those who like me, are still waiting for cramps, crazy mood swings, food cravings or swollen legs…well they haven’t made an appearance yet so let’s hope they never will. Wherever you feel tired just remember “no pain, no gain”and nothing more beautiful than seeing your little baby growing and growing inside your womb. All I can say is that pregnancy is a positive and rewarding experience and that you will feel extremely happy and content as you wait for your baby to arrive.Here is the video of my first 3 moths. Keep an eye for the article coming soon with more tips and in a few weeks time, a second trimester video will be out.

 

Why I will always be thankful to Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington announced today she is to step down as editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, the hugely successful online newspaper she created back in 2005. She leaves to run a new venture, Thrive Global,a project designed to combat workplace “burnout”.In her own words : “A corporate and consumer well-being and productivity platform”. “When I decided to create Thrive Global, I thought it would be possible to build a start-up and continue as editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post. Today, it’s clear that was an illusion.As Thrive Global moved from an idea to a reality, with investors, staff, and offices, it became clear to me that I simply couldn’t do justice to both companies. Change is desperately needed if another generation is to avoid the burnout that all too often comes with success today.”

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I’m forever thankful to Arianna because back in 2013 she invited me to be part of a team of writers contributing to the Huffington Post USA. That meant the world to me. First of all, English is not my first language. Even though I have a degree in English Philology, one thing is to write University essays and another to write for an English speaking online newspaper with millions of readers. I’m thankful that such a busy woman took the time to see my work and write back to me to say thank you and why don’t you join us. I was used to rejection by people far less important or busy than her. It is now clear to me than when someone doesn’t get back, they are simply not interested. However, I’ve learned that I’m no longer interested in working with people who can the bothered to even reply and say no but thanks.

These two short films below were the reason she invited me to join the Huffington Post as a writer and blogger:

She is a Greek woman from a humble family who once had a dream and she made it a reality with the help of her intelligence, talent, determination and her force of nature mum. She was a student at Cambridge University where her accent was mocked. Having lived in the Uk for more than ten years Im very aware of how this is an impediment when you want to progress in your  professional career. People think you cant either understand them, you are ignorant or you don’t speak English. The reality is very different but it takes a few lines of initial conversation to teach people to leave their prejudice aside. I can talk English literature and history and challenge every connoisseur and nothing I love more than seeing their faces go red after their initial judgement of me is making them uncomfortable. Arianna challenged and overcame every single prejudice in the book. In fact, she embraced them all and became the inspirational figure she is today for many people around the world. Her wisdom, her kindness and her humorous insights will be much missed in the Huffington Post. I wish her the best with Thrive and Im sure she will thrive as she always does.

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Arianna and with her pride and joy: Her two daughters

You can follow me on the Huffington Post here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/author/amancay-films-600

 

Why London 2012 are still the best Olympics of the 21st century for me.

Rio 2016  Olympic Opening Ceremony kicked off last night. I was curious to see what the Brazilians had created for the biggest show on earth: An Olympic Opening ceremony. And why would I write about the Opening ceremony of the Olympic games?  Because it is close to my heart as I was part of London 2012. You probably don’t know this but I was a performer volunteer in both the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the Olympic games that took place in London. It is something that fills me with pride and joy as even though I was one in a million-as they say- you need the one to make the million. I contributed somehow to create a wonderful friendly spirit the city enjoyed for a few weeks and to make an even better Opening and Closing ceremony.

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Olympic stadium 26th July 2012, one day before the Opening Ceremony
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On my way to a general rehearsal. Feeling so happy that day

 

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This was July 26th, a general rehearsal for friends and family.
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27th July 2012. The day of the Opening Ceremony. The olympic stadium behind me.

What an experience that was walking into the Olympic stadium during the Opening ceremony as one of the Placard Bearers of the Athletes Parade section. The one where the flag bearer of every country walks carrying their national flag. I was the girl chosen to walk in the stadium with Cyprus next to tennis player Marcos Baghdatis.It was such a magical time for all of us involved that years on, we are all aware that once we were part of a once in a lifetime experience.

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Walking into the Olympic stadium during the Opening Ceremony with Cyprus, in front of me is the Cuban team and behind, the Czech Republic

 

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As we walked past the Greek Athletes they made jokes with Marco. The vibe was incredible on the night

In case you wonder how come I have such good quality pics of myself walking in the stadium,well I really wanted some so that night I asked quite a few photographers from several agencies to please take a pic of Cyprus, many refused but being someone who never gives up, I eventually came across a very kind Japanese photographer and he mentioned he will try. I gave him my email and 3 months later to my surprise he emails me these photos. Forever thankful to him!ありがとう Arigatou!794_759559_158929.jpg

I was not allowed to film that day but it was a very unique moment not to film my own experience at least.In any case, I was not releasing any footage till after it was all over so I  did buy a small compact camera just for the sake of filming my behind the scenes.Here is the video I filmed of the London 2012 Opening Ceremony from my point of view.

 

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Miss North  Korea and I collecting our food from the check in points for performers
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My diploma signed by Danny Boyle
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During the Opening Ceremony just before we went on the biggest stage ever. We all got a tv shot so our friends and family were watching and they could easily spot us
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Made so many friends that summer, it has to be one of the best of my life
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Chelsea pensioners. Just lovely people

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We rehearsed for months in locations in the middle of nowhere or quite difficult to get to, we rehearsed many days on the pouring rain hoping that on the day of the Opening skies would clear. We got used to hours of waiting around eating a diet of pringles, apples and sandwiches but in the end , it was all very worth it for everyone involved even if no one got paid. Money is not everything in this world and it is wonderful that a lot of people think like that and volunteer their time to either create something or help others.

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Industrial revolution performers before going on stage
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Performers getting their hair and make up done.
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Getting ready

 

 

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Waiting for our turn, some of the 205 girls taking part in the Athletes parade
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The lovely lady fixing my placard . I still have the dress and shoes from the ceremony as we could keep it.
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Ready to meet Marcos Baghdatis and lead Cyprus into the stadium and all the way around
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Miss Cuba but she is from London
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and with Miss Czech Republic who is from China  and me who have never been to Cyprus!

I went for a casting in November 2011 and got intimidated as soon as I arrived to the massive venue full of people wanting the same as me. To be part of the London 2012 Olympics. And then, the movement director told us; Image it is the night of 27th July 2012, and one billion people have their eyes on London and on you, imagine the feeling. I did imagine the feeling because I remember that at that moment when i looked around and felt small surrounded by so many people, an inner light entered my body because I put my heart and soul in everything they asked me to do. When I saw Danny Boyle in the distance keeping an eye on hundreds of potential cast members, I knew I had to be part of it all. And so , when a letter arrived in January 2012 saying I had been selected to be one of the girls in the Athletes parade and that I was also chosen to be part of the Closing ceremony , I wanted to tell everybody but we were told, to keep quiet as the whole ceremony was going to be a surprise and no good to spoil surprises.

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Leaving the scene where the eyes of the world were that night

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Backstage with some athletes, here with the Australian flag bearer.
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Healthy looking athletes from Canada
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Algerian Athletes backstage at London 2012
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The Danish Girls after the Athletes Parade
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Girls just wanna have fun

During rehearsals they were very strict with photography. Photography wasn’t allowed and neither were social media posts about what we were doing. And because as rehearsals progressed we all realised Danny Boyle was creating something just too special, people kept the promise and they kept quiet. No one was selling pictures to the newspapers , no one was posting pictures to twitter or Facebook and everyone was excited about what was to come. A magnificent ceremony. A ceremony that had feeling and spoke to your heart. The key moment of the Opening ceremony for me, was The Pandemonium section showing the Industrial revolution in Great Britain with volunteer drummers led by percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie performing a track by Underworld that gave the world and all of us there that moment, goosebumps . First time I heard this track it was a very cold, very rainy night in Stratford and everyone at the time was saying the London Olympics were going to be a complete disaster ,but the moment when the drummers came into the stadium during rehearsals, I just knew that the Ceremony was going to be a winner, it was just to beautiful and too powerful.

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Some of the London 2012 Placard bearers
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Towards the finale of the ceremony

 

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View of the stadium from the Media centre

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Miss Czec Republic and me

What was great about having Danny Boyle as the chief in command of the opening ceremony was that as an artist and filmmaker, he understood what politicians don’t. Like everyone living and working here, he is aware that London is made of nationalities from all over the world,  that they are part of society not invisible people who are just here, that to represent a city you need to be inclusive not exclusive and that people do come in all shapes, forms, ages, colours, backgrounds. London 2012 was all that and more, the spirit of the volunteers took over the city for three weeks and i have never seen London so vibrant, so friendly, happy and kind.Sadly, that spirit is gone but living and breathing such a positive vibe made you feel alive, the spirit was contagious.

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The Olympic flame burning the night of the Opening Ceremony

 

My two videos about my experience during the opening and closing ceremony have been praised by many of the people who were part of the ceremonies,its the point of view of someone who would have gone unnoticed otherwise but my excitement was shared by many of my colleagues who now probably regret not having filmed their own experience.

Recently, the  BBC contacted me asking for my footage for a programme they did on the Olympics. They loved the videos and they wanted them, however my footage has been online for four years now and somehow, it felt good to say no to them.What matters to me the most is that for a few weeks in the summer of 2012 I was part of a group of wonderful people who made life just a little bit better for everyone around us. We achieved this just by being the best version of ourselves. It was volunteers who made the London 2012 Olympics the best of the 21st century. You cannot buy kindness, you cannot buy smiles, energy, friendliness and positive vibes and all of us together we brought that to the stadium, to the city , and to the world the summer of the London 2012 Olympics. A wonderful moment indeed and a shame the legacy has not lived to its expectations.

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These guys…just speechless, they were wonderful

To watch more videos I filmed during London 2012 including the 100, 200 and 400m men’s final click this link  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLf4ED7AiU5-zTo6eZivE1y_Fb7AopfVT7

Below Im sharing a video and pictures of London 2012 closing ceremony

 

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The Sopwell House and Restaurant

By the end of July, I had time off work and rather than jumping on a plane to one of my favourite beaches in Spain as I do most summers, this year was different. At five and a half months pregnant I decided instead to take it easy and avoid the stress of airports and flying. I wanted to find some peace outside my working life in busy, stressful London and find much needed “Me”time in the countryside.And so, I spent my time off in the elegant yet  discreet Sopwell House, a majestic 18th Century Georgian manor house tucked away in lush surroundings. I took a train from King’s Cross station in Central London to St Albans, a 20 minute journey which was shorter than some of my daily commutes on the London underground. In under half an hour, I was already in what felt like an oasis of calm.

Hotel front

As my taxi drove around the scenic landscape surrounding Sopwell House,  I couldn’t help but lower the window of the car and breath in the fresh air.

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Once in the hotel, I was greeted by efficient, “Nothing is a problem” staff by reception .

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Reception at the Sopwell House Hotel

I checked in and a member of staff accompanied me to the  Mews were I was staying, The Primrose Mews.The Mews at Sopwell House are located right by the main hotel , originally it was an old stable block , but now the 16 Mews Suites available  are what I would call “private country retreats”. They are perfect for couples on a romantic break or for people like myself looking for some peace and privacy. Entering the Mews,I noticed how they are only accessible via a private gate which added to the exclusive feel but more important for me, I felt completely safe considering I was staying alone with my baby bump. I walked through the paved passageway in a stunning botanical garden surrounding each Mews suites. The look is natural and you can tell that tender, love and care has gone into designing this by Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medallist,  Ann-Marie Powell. The best garden designs are the ones that blend with the surroundings and these communal gardens do blend perfectly with the nature and overall look of the hotel. I liked this stainless steel sphere  and how tranquil the space felt.

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Sopwell External Twilight

When the member of staff opened the door to the Primrose Mews, my home for the next two days, I was nicely surprised to discover that the Mews also encompass their own courtyard with a private hot tub and comfy seating areas.A nice touch I wasn’t expecting.

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The Primrose Mews where I stayed

 

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The private Courtyard of the Snowflake Mews

What I loved about the Mews was how cosy and inviting it felt inside. Yes,it is luxury, but it is not “in your face” luxury. This is understated, inviting, warming luxury. There is attention to detail to every aspect of the decoration; tasteful artwork, a tartan fabric sofa, the pretty wall coverings and the super comfy four-poster bed  where I slept like a baby except for the moments when the real baby kept waking me up with her movements.

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Romantic double ended in-room bath

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As most women expecting, I do wake up a few times every night to go to the bathroom. At home it feels slightly nightmarish as that means a day feeling tired at work. Staying at the Primrose Mews made the waking up in the middle of the night , pleasant. The bathroom had everything I could wish for; big full  body mirror, underfloor heating, luxury toiletries as well as bathrobe and slippers. Above all, it was immaculate looking.Just perfect.Well done house keeping staff!

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The Mews suites share the facilities with the Sopwell House Hotel so before dinner, I decided to check out the Spa facilities and go for a swim in the indoor swimming pool.

28. Sopwell-House-Swimming-Pool-Night As I entered the pool I had a yes moment. They have one rule that every hotel pool should have:No mobile phones allowed!. And so there was no people taking selfies, pictures, or staring at their smartphones. Instead, the guests were reading, lounging, swimming, or staring through the glass window into the gardens outside. Very mindful indeed and how wonderful to enjoy a few moments of switching off with everyone else around me doing the same.

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Gardens outside the pool
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Lush pond in the hotel premises
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Natural Beauty

The swim opened my appetite and soon it was time for dinner. The Sopwell House Hotel has a lively Brasserie restaurant with an open plan kitchen and a Restaurant, which is a bit more formal and it serves a la carte lunch and dinner. I like it when things are formal and you do follow an etiquette but in order for this to work, the ambience must be warm, inviting and yes, friendly. Back in May when I attended The State Opening of Parliament where etiquette and diplomacy are expected from every guest, there was an air of warmth amongst the people attending.

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The Restaurant at the Sopwell House

I was welcomed warmly and shown to my table, this was dinner for one and for once I was truly enjoying the experience. As wine was out of the question,  the waiter suggested a Berry Lemonade. It was fresh and refreshing  and so nicely prepared -with the raspberries, berries and cucumber pieces- that I could tell they prepared it with care and love. That’s the rule number one for cooking or drinks preparation: Care, attention, love. Even when you cook at home, do you notice how it all tastes better when you put the effort?. In this place they are bothered, they care and it shows.

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As I waited for the starter, I was offered some canapés to keep me going. The first was a small piece of pork belly with caramelised apple and pancetta popcorn. I’m not keen on mixing too many ingredients but somehow this worked as it tasted lovely. This was followed by a refreshing gazpacho soup. Very seasonal and adequate for this time of the year.

And soon my starter was ready, I ordered the Hand Dived scallops, artichoke, Pancetta and Sherry vinegar. I’m always curious how in UK restaurants as opposed to European ones, they like to mix flavours and do combinations that manage to magically work. Scallops  have to be one of my favourite things to order in any menu, I prefer them on the shell with the coral but even though this was served on a plate and without the coral, it worked wonders in my palate.

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And onto the main course: A majestic fillet of Angus beef, fondant potato, asparagus and spring onion. Simple, yet it looked so pretty and tasted so right. I had a wow moment when eating the potato. I grew up eating vegetables from a garden and in London I find it hard to find fruits and vegetables that taste as such , but on this occasion in this charming restaurant, the potato tasted like a potato and the vegetables like vegetables – even if they looked straight from a vegetable boutique- As for the fillet, it was Angus Beef at its tastiest. I ordered it well done and they knew how to cook it to perfection as it was soft and just as easy to eat as medium /rare.

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Afterwards, it was time for dessert. The pastry chef himself  was around talking to some lively table of 3 and when he saw me eating this gorgeous looking ricotta cheese cake with lemon ice and honey caviar, he came over to say hi. The presentation was so arty and delicate with the little splashes of colour in red and green that it reminded me of beautiful flower fabrics. The lemon ice was similar to a lemon sorbet and it was great after my main meal to clean palate and savour the flavours of the ricotta cheese cake.A memorable dinner indeed and a very pleasant experience made special by the attentive staff.

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After dinner I had a look around the conservatory bar and headed back to my Mews soon after.

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I loved seeing two ladies were enjoying  a glass of champagne while relaxing in the hydrotherapy pool in the Mews gardens. Life felt pretty good and I felt ready to take on the world again.

The Mews at Sopwell House Evening
The Mews Gardens with the communal Hydrotherapy pool at the far left

This was the perfect place to travel alone; extremely safe,elegant, attentive, friendly.The peaceful setting and nature surroundings  of the Hotel was just what I needed before heading back to work . A great time to bond and connect not only with myself but with my unborn baby. Will be back once she is born.

Sopwell House,Cottonmill Lane, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL1 2HQ

http://sopwellhouse.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Poor Cow, ken Loach’s first film returns to cinema

When 79 year old Ken Loach won the Palme D’or at this year Cannes Film Festival for his film “I,Daniel Blake”, I remember thinking, how great that people his age defy the norm and continue being just as bright and productive as when they were younger.Let’s face it, society wants us all to retire at 60, in fact, past 50 they already like to put people on the shelf but life is not over till is over and Ken Loach is an example of an artist with a very long career behind and hopefully ahead. An example of how if you are brilliant you are so forever regardless of all the ageist attitudes taking over our youth obsessed societies.

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Poor Cow. Photograph:Studio Canal

But I’m not here to talk about Ken Loach latest film but his first, “Poor Cow”, a film made in 1967. Yes, 49 years ago. Having recently watched it for the first time, this joy of a film  feels modern, edgy, cool, relevant and refreshing.An ageless piece of filmmaking that is currently getting a nationwide cinema release. There are a lot of reasons why you should see this brilliant piece of filmmaking. First of all, it is a newly restored version so it looks just as good as if you were right there in the streets of London in the 60’s.Second, it is the film that kickstarted the social realist filmmaking or the British version of the French New Wave and last but not least, the main actress, Carol White, is truly a joy to watch. A superb actress who sadly passed away before her time.In this film, she is in a state of grace, a sunshine on a cloudy day.

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Poor Cow newly restored version. Photograph:Studio Canal

The film was written by screenwriter and original novelist Nell Dunn and it tells the story of Joy, (Carol White) a young mother who as the film opens gives birth alone to a beautiful baby boy. The birth scene is superb, it just couldn’t get any better. Joy, the main character, is  a pretty, fun loving woman with a fiery spirit but her wings cant fly too high as she is married to a domestic abuser and thief, Tom. He is sent to jail for his petty crimes and during this time Joy falls for her husband’s associate, Dave who is just as bad for her and the baby boy as her husband . Lost and lonely Joy has a terrible weakness for avoiding her loneliness and meets other dubious gentlemen when Dave is also sent to jail. She gets lost in a world where men pay for her services but the film doesn’t judge her on this, it makes you believe that it is her social background and current circumstances that lead her to letting herself down as a woman.

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Carol White as Joy in Poor Cow . Photograph:Studio Canal

The film has a documentary style look that make you feel as if you were following the characters around London; Handheld cameras, jump cuts and improvised lines.First time I saw Goddard classic ‘Breathless’I must have been 22 and  I was hooked, I remember loving it so much , I spent the whole summer watching every French New wave film screened  at my local cinema at the time, The Riverside studios in Hammersmith. That, I remember it as one of my greatest summers. The same kind of feeling took over me when I saw “Poor Cow” for the first time, I really wasn’t expecting the film I saw because despite the heavy drama, it feels light but above all, it feels frank, honest, open and very fresh.

I seriously recommend that if you love films, filmmakers and good stories, this is the one to watch this summer. For information on upcoming screenings: http://www.independentcinemaoffice.org.uk/films/poorcow

The film is also available on DVD and Blu-ray on the Vintage classic label. 

 

 

 

love, Age and Ageist attitudes

Last year I shot a video and published an article on the HuffPost about having a younger boyfriend. Ever since , I have been inundated with emails from women in similar situations who thanked me for my honesty as not everyone is comfortable with dating someone younger, particularly us women, which baffles me as we tend to look not only younger but our spirits are lively and fiery. Two years into this younger man relationship of mine, I’m now ready to write and film Part Two on the Pros and Cons. I any case, I have so many things going on in my life and relationship that age is a zero important issue. A non-issue. As life moves on, we are now focusing on life changing events and I will tell you more about that on another occasion.Today I’m sharing the story of Kay Kopit, a writer and screenwriter who got in touch and shared her story with me. Its quite a sweet one and she has also written a script about it so hopefully it will make it to the big screen one day . Here is in her own words, Kay Kopit love story:

My husband and I have been happily married for 27 years. What makes our relationship out of the ordinary is that Bryan was born in 1960, the year after I graduated high school. He is 19 years my junior; I am older than his mother.

The secret of our success is a deeply committed love for one another. Ours is a passionate romance. Each of us is whole, happy and healthy. I wish what Bryan and I have could be bottled and sprinkled over the world like angel dust.

We met in 1985 during a rainy winter in San Francisco. We were neighbors on a tiny street near the historic Mission Dolores. The worst storm of the season was on its way and my roof was leaking profusely. I was in dire straits financially, having been newly divorced, and I was preparing to fix it myself. Unfortunately my ladder wasn’t tall enough. I needed help.

None of the folks I knew were home that Saturday morning but I noticed an open door directly across from my house. I hurried upstairs to the second story flat in the azure painted duplex, and walked down the long corridor to the living room. There on the sofa was a guy watching a football game on T.V. I introduced myself and then proceeded to ask for his assistance. He looked at me like I was crazy. The silence was deafening.

How often does a stranger enter your apartment with a request for help with a major repair? I was flushed with embarrassment but was in too deep to recover. Fortunately he agreed to help me.

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Be you so the other person can take it or leave it but no need to be or look like someone else

Our uncommon beginning signaled the magic that lay before us. The sparks flew. We went on our first date within days of meeting. Bryan’s car was broken so we took the bus across the city to an authentic Moroccan restaurant where we sat on paisley cushions and ate with our fingers. I remember clearly how primitive this felt and how natural it was to be with him.

He didn’t seem the least bit concerned about my age. I, on the other hand, was more sensitive. I was healing from a codependent relationship of 12 years and had never experienced true intimacy. I wasn’t sure it was the proper thing to do, but I couldn’t help myself; I was falling in love. I was scared because these feelings were coming so quickly.

Bryan moved in with me within weeks of our first meeting. I remember thinking that, if it didn’t work out, it would be easy to ask him to leave because all he owned was a T.V.

For Valentine’s Day, he created a hanging wire mobile in the shape of intertwined hearts and presented it to me with flowers and chocolate. It was a thoughtful gesture that I would learn is typical of Bryan. He has never missed a special occasion, and has often surprised me with jewelry when he returns from a business trip.

One spring evening, we were waiting to board a dinner train in Mendocino. A drunken man approached us and said, “How come you two are dressed up? Are you getting married?”

Bryan looked at me and said, “Yes, we are, aren’t we?” That was his proposal. It was decided we would plan a wedding for later that year, but, first I needed to meet Bryan’s mother. Just the thought of it terrified me! Bryan and his mother, Sharon, have a truly special bond. He insisted he would not tell anyone about our engagement until she and I met.

We drove to southern California where Sharon was visiting her sister, Bryan’s aunt. I felt sick the entire trip. I knew in advance he was going to take his mother shopping the next morning without me to break the news to her. I couldn’t sleep at all that night. What felt so right to Bryan and me was unusual, especially in the eyes of a parent.

When they returned from their excursion, Sharon looked like she had just come from a funeral. Fortunately for me, Aunt Toby accepted the situation and eased the tension by giving me a white angel ornament.

His mother is a wonderful woman. In spite of her disappointment, she welcomed me into their family. Over the years, our relationship has evolved into a unique friendship. She became a cross between a peer and a sister.

December 7,1986, dressed in an ivory colored Victorian gown, I was driven to our wedding in a horse-drawn carriage. I remember the sensation well. As I heard the clippity clop of hooves hitting the pavement, I felt it was the happiest day of my life. The ride was several miles long, and I enjoyed cars honking loudly at every turn. When we arrived at the elegant Alamo Square Inn, Bryan was waiting to escort me inside to the nuptials. It was a good thing he took my hand, for as I exited the carriage, my knees collapsed from shaking so hard. The day was spectacular marking a lifetime of love.

Both Bryan and I had always wanted kids. By the time we met, my biological clock had run out. He told me he would rather marry a woman he loved deeply than to wait for someone to bear his children. For several years, we were content to be a unit of two. After my dear Aunt Letha died in 1992, I longed for a child. I knew we would be good parents.

Bryan agreed to adoption. It was an arduous experience requiring patience and resilience. We had several birthmothers who changed their minds for different reasons. This process took three years and a great deal of money. Ultimately we were blessed with a baby girl we named Mariah. Our daughter is now eight years old and the light of our lives.

Bryan continues to be my rock, strength, and loving support. During our years together, I have endured many tragedies, including my brother John’s suicide in 1988, my ex- husband Joey’s death from alcoholism in 1989, and my girlfriend Debra’s suicide in 2002. I was hospitalized with a potentially life-threatening blood clot in my lungs in 1998. Bryan stood by me through all of these. I married a great guy! I am a fortunate woman to have found true love in the heart of a younger man.

Age is but a notch on the tree of life. Does it really matter that I have more than he? We are all on a spiritual path. We choose our lovers, friends, and family to mirror our soul’s development. Partners of different ages can accelerate this growth. These diverse emotional experiences are opportunities of a lifetime. Let’s enjoy them.

 

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