The one where I actually go out sans baby + Neal's Yard

SO you may remember the last time I tried to go out without Wilf was pretty much a disaster. Tom and I have been out without Wilf once, for a meal, for two hours. The thing is, up until about 6 months or so I had no desire to do things without Wilf. Its not like we were stuck in the house all the time, we went for drinks/meals/shopping/nights away etc but we just brought Wilf along, no problem, we enjoyed him being there with us. I'm not saying that was right or wrong, that not having the desire for time to myself for that long makes me a better parent or some rubbish, its just how I felt. People told me we needed to leave him, that he would get 'too dependent or spoilt' (utter nonsense..you cant spoil a baby under one) and I truly felt that forcing myself to leave my baby when I didn't real ready was not a good thing. I'm glad I came to those conclusions.
However around six months I started to feel the need for a little time out, a few weeks later my mum came to visit and we left Wilf with her and my sister (and a bottle of expressed milk) for a couple of hours whilst we went for a meal around the corner from us.
Fast forward a month or so and I tried to go out for the first time alone, no Tom, no baby just me and a friend..well it was a failure, I felt all kinds of anxious and I didn't go, we had a family picnic in the park instead. I felt really stupid for quite some time after that, what was wrong with me? But I wasn't ready and it wasn't the right time. Again I am glad I waited until I felt ready as..dun dun dun...last night I went out, for drinks, sans baby!
My twitter friend Hayley mentioned me in a tweet regarding a Neals Yard blogger evening. There was to be free organic wine and nibbles..so naturally, I was sold. My good friend Dona (who happens to work for the Soil Association ) said she would be happy to accompany me and so it was arranged!
The day leading up to the evening was a little stressful, Wilf had a cold so was grizzly and also managed to knock over half a bottle of laundry liquid all over the kitchen (which took SO long to clean up, what with having no where to put Wilf safely and him wanting to play in the spilled liquid). As Wilf was feeling under the weather it was twice as hard to occupy him and most of the day was spent carrying him around else he cry when I placed him down somewhere. About an hour before I was due to leave/feed and change Wilf/do my make up Wilf also knocked a full (but ten hour cold) cup of tea over himself and some books. The sight that Tom was greeted with as he entered the house was a half naked baby as I gave them both a quick kiss and ran for my train! Perhaps this manic rush gave me no time to feel anxious about leaving or perhaps the day had been so stressful it reinforced my need to time away, who knows but I went and had a really good time!

I used to work just down the street from Neals Yard's Bristol store, and whilst I liked their products (I had a free hand moisturiser in a magazine once and remember thinking how good it was) I never really thought to go inside. What surprised me about the evening was that although I knew Neals Yard was a organic creams and lotions type of company I had no idea what else they did. Not only lotions but tea's, tinctures, make up and candles as well as massages and facials, acupuncture and reflexology, nutritional therapy and aromatherapy..basically everything you can think of!
I genuinely found it really interesting to learn about the history of Neals Yard and a testament to Romy Fraser that when selling the business in 2005 went against the large corporate chains bidding for a green business for their books, instead choosing Peter Kindersley (owner of Sheepdrove Farm) who showed as much passion as she did in his love for organic products.
Since having a baby I have rather predictably become more aware of the things we put in our body. I have written before about eating organically and cleaning with eco products. One of the most important things to me when Wilfryd was born was to use organic products on his skin, this then made me question the products I use on my own skin. My make up routine mainly involves products from the Body Shop/Lush and Burts Bee's I had no idea that Neals Yard had a make up range and this is something I am now eager to test (I got a free lip tint that I cant wait to try).
Over our free organic wine (with offers of top ups at perfect times, I had three!) and sheepdrove cheese we listened to Elisabeth Winkler's passionate talk about organic produce, the dangers of pesticides and the importance on the ingredients we put in/our body. After which Nicola Nolan gave a brief history of Neal's Yard, the importance of natural ingredients and the reasoning behind their blue bottles (it stops the sunlight getting in and effecting the products). I also learnt a lot about their Bee Lovely range of which 5% of their profits goes to, you can also sign the petition here to ban deadly neonic pesticides and help save the bee. At some point in this talk a boyfriend/husband/significant other of one of the bloggers dropped a slice of soft cheese down my leg, which I found pretty funny (he turned red and apologized).  

After the talk we were encouraged to test the products and ask any questions we might have. I took this opportunity to indulge in the free hand and arm massage. Did you know your hand can feel refreshed?? I didn't, I do now. Both myself and Dona raised out arms zombie style afterwards as our hands felt 'so light!'. Dona was kind enough to snap some pics for me whilst I had my hands treated, the lovely store manager and massage lady Zoe asked her if she was my photographer which made us laugh a fair bit. Zoe also filled me in on all the jars of herbs and spices. Originally I thought were just there for show they are in fact there to make personalised tea's and tinctures. I found this level of customer service really impressive, I do feel hesitant to over medicate and its a comfort to know there is a shop you can go to that will be able to give you advise on natural remedies to ease ailments.

Once our wine had been drunk and we had eaten enough nibbles it was time to make my way back to the train station and home to my little boy. Neals Yard were kind enough to give us both goodie bags containing products for both me and Wilf which I cant wait to try! Thanks Neal's Yard for a great evening and for making my first solo evening without my baby a relaxing one!

Also thanks Dona for being ace 


Anonymous said...

It is delightful to read this account.

It is also fascinating to see the lead-up to what it takes to get OUT of the house! Especially with a baby...

It was a pleasure to meet you - love social media but it all comes together when there is a real-life meeting - and thank you so much for this account.

It is really helpful to read what you thought of Neal's Yard Remedies before you came, and what you learnt.

Thank you.

Hayley said...

Yay! I'm so glad you went and had fun :)

fritha strickland said...

@Hayley thanks again for letting me know about it! xx

fritha strickland said...

@Elizabeth thanks for the lovely blog comment I really enjoyed myself and your talk. Your passion for organic produce really shone through! x

Circus Queen said...

Gosh, I wish I'd realised it was you! I remember reading your blog post about the breastfeeding sit-in but hadn't clocked that it was you. I was also at the Neal's Yard event and remember thinking you were very glamorous. Would have liked to have met you.

A few mum bloggers in Bristol are meeting up next week for a coffee. Come along if you're free? You can find the details on the closed Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/259269314166889/

fritha strickland said...

Oh! I'll go join now, would love to meet! (and thanks for the lovely compliment) x

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