The Reluctant Hostess

As a child I’d cry if anyone came to the house, and not just strangers; I remember sitting at the top of the stairs at Bromley Cres. crying my eyes out because my Grandparents whom I loved, had come to visit. The cheek of it!

Fortunately, I am no longer shy in my every day life. I enjoy meeting new people and I am confident in one-to-one situations.  I’ve got several close best friends, including some that go as far back as school days; and I have a phone book full of mums whom I see pretty much every week. Cram them all in to my flat for a sober, toddler birthday party and I am sick with nerves.

I love to have guests, but I’m not much of an inviter, self-consciousness creeps in and overwhelms my good intentions.

Growing up, I don’t recall ever having a birthday party although I attended many. I always assumed it was because of the expense (5 kids, 5 birthday parties) but now I have realised it is just too stressful. When I was 11 and in my first year of secondary school, myself and my two younger siblings begged to have a party, and eventually we wore our folks down and convinced them in to agreeing to letting us have a Christmas Party. One condition. I had to share it with my little brother. Easy.

He invited his entire class and I invited a select number of my own classmates. I was too embarrassed to invite boys, so I invited girls only, including some of the “cool” girls. I was painfully shy and hitting puberty- can’t imagine why I thought this would be a great idea. The “cool” girls obviously didn’t attend (No boys – duh!) and that was it for me.

I was picked on and bullied after this for not being “cool”. Do you remember when you were at school and there was always the one kid in the class that really smelt? Or, everyone said really smelt, and you went along with it just grateful that you weren’t the smelly kid? Well, I was the smelly kid. Or at least, I was the kid everyone called the smelly kid. I think it was because (despite the fact I was showering 2-3 times a day in attempts to just not be the smelly kid) once in PE I didn’t use deodorant (for fucks sake, how many 11 year old’s use deodorant?). Anyway I am digressing, these days I try to avoid hosting.

For my sons birthday I teamed up with a lovely, sociable mum (whom also had a birthday tot), my wing woman, (safety in numbers and all that) and planned an outdoor party in the park (neutral ground). I don’t know what I was thinking to be honest, I am a rubbish hostess. Hosting is most definitely not my forte. Anyway, of course my leading lady got sick and the rains came, oh and Sainsbury’s didn’t deliver my grocery’s due to a “technical error”…I needed a Plan B. Let’s have the party here in my home! You know, the one where I avoid hosting coffee mornings or playdates at?  Great idea stupid ass. Rarely does anyone get an invite to my flat, I dislike it so much. We are fortunate enough to live in a very affluent area with pretty river views and lovely neighbours. However, I live above a pub in an old flat. On the upside, the windows and ceilings are high and magnificent, and the flat is spacious and light, and the downside? the kitchen looks like it belongs in a 1980’s youth hostel, and the bathroom grows more mould than Alexander Flemming. Hardly yummy mummy territory.

I want to invite, I really do. I know how loved I feel when I’m invited. I watch friends do it with ease and grace and admire them for their ability to fold people into their lives. I can’t concentrate once the anxiety sets in. The promise of forced interaction in the name of good parenting instills a panic.  What if no one shows up?, or worse, what if they do? Oh god, what if they notice my washing drying in the bedroom, or that my bathroom towels don’t match?

Sweat trickles down my back and my lips are dry. I am talking. I am not sure what about, I am talking non stop. I am acutely aware of the awkwardness I’m desperately trying to hide. I can’t tell if my guests are startled by my deliberate effervescence or if they think I am witty and charming (I did make them wear moustaches!) I am 20% having an ok time, and 80% racking my brain for something to say and wondering when they can all go home? I am at my most uncomfortable as I do my best to ensure everyone is having a nice time.  My surface level housekeeping, eclectic furniture, fear of saying the wrong thing, and decidedly awkward inability to offer anyone a drink, stops me, if I even have a minute to think about being a hostess.

I am lucky enough to have an amazing husband with a level head. Mr Intrepid works in hospitality which we all know is technically hosting for a living. He is charming and he is witty and despite the fact that this party is for a 2 year old, his emergency trip to Waitrose brings us booze. Hurrah.

Oh and there were cakes!

Cupcakes & photo both by Passionfruit Bakery

Happy 2 year old? Tick #ParentingWin

Parents plied with booze mid afternoon with no offer of an alternative, whilst being ordered to wear moustaches?

#Hostingwin? – jury’s still out on that one!
Lindsay X

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Number NinetySeven, Tapas Heaven

I would never usually write about somewhere this close to my home, but in this case, I can’t not. Living in Suburbia has taken its toll. I’m no longer down with the kids, and although Surbiton is rich in delicious, independent cafes, it’s also rich in big branded restaurants, (everything you expect from a family friendly ‘burb). I’m not a fan of the big brand and I have been struggling to find anywhere to call my local. Surbiton is designed for families and whereas I do really appreciate this, (I’m a proud owner of one little monster), how fucking amazing is it to go somewhere that’s just that bit too cool for the kids? I’m not a Pizza Express kind of girl, and it’s great that Surbiton finally has a fresh alternative for us Suburbitons, fighting the stereotype. 



Tapa literally means ‘cover’ or ‘lid’. In the beginning there were olives, almonds fried in oil and sprinkled with salt, and chunks of bread served with an olive oil dip. These are the original tapas. Simple foods, requiring little or no preparation. As the tradition evolved, tapas became more of a gastronomic event, with each new venue developing their own specialties. 


Tapas, is based on simple recipes and the imaginative use of seasonal vegetables and local ingredients. The concept of tapas is to share. It is essentially a style of eating rather than a method of cooking. 


Tapas (or one tapa) can be whatever you want. It is very popular in Spanish culture, the Spanish traditionally don’t drink without eating something, and originally these small snacks were given free as an accompaniment to a bought drink. Tapas can also be dinner with friends too. That’s the beauty of it. You can order as little or as much as you want.  It can be kept simple or be made more complicated. It can be a small snack  taken with a drink or two at lunchtime, an appetiser in the early evening before the main meal, or even as nibbles with a post-dinner cocktail. Whichever way you prefer it, I prefer mine best served with a gin cocktail amongst great company and a lovely atmosphere. Let me introduce you to this little beauty, Number NinetySeven



Tapas at N.97 is hearty and unpretentious. The ingredients are fresh, flavours are robust and the presentation is simple. In it’s own words “innovation and buzz of the city meets the openness and warmth of the country”. N.97 is a breath of fresh air and just what my corner of Suburbia needed. Oh yeah, and did I mention it has a Gin bar? It’s hip, sleek and perfectly cutting edge. My kinda cool.

http://www.no-97.co.uk

97 Maple Road, Surbiton KT6 4AW

Open Tuesday-Sunday

Follow them on Instagram @numberninetyseven

Follow them on Twitter @no_ninetyseven

Find them on Facebook @numberninetysevensurbiton

Lindsay X

All pics were taken by me at Number NinetySeven and are of genuine dishes.