The Birthday Weekend


It comes around once a year at the same time every year, and somehow I always manage to find myself ever so slightly under-prepared for it. That’s right, it was my wonderful Fiancee’s birthday on Sunday. Cue the annual mad dash (well, mad internet browsing session) to find the perfect gift. I found myself in a dangerous place – the John Lewis website.

Before I knew it I was knee deep in a world of premium perfume. I consider myself a fairly up to speed man when it comes to designers, but as I browsed around names that bore no resemblance to me, I knew I was out of my depth. Knowing she liked it, I went for the classic Chanel No. 5. I plumped for the 100ml bottle of Eau De Parfum for the princely sum of £99. Telling myself that it reflected the best value for money because the 50ml bottle was £76, I clicked the dreaded add to basket button. But it didn’t stop there, oh no. A sensible man would have clicked proceed to checkout and left it at that, but a sensible man I am not. Next stop: Designer Handbags.

Kate Spade Bag

The chosen one

This little beauty caught my eye as I was browsing and the fact that it was a brand I recognised helped make up my mind. It weighed in at £228 which is pretty good for a Kate Spade bag, or so I’m told. The add to basket button was clicked once again, and my debit card winced as I entered it’s details to pay for my bounty.


Due to said mad dash to obtain this treasure, I was left with no choice but to get it delivered to the office. That was a mistake. A chorus of ‘somebody gets paid too much’ echoed the halls for the day, only to be replaced by an ‘ooo, she’ll love it!’ from the female contingent once the package was opened. Come Friday night, she did indeed love it and excitedly picked a matching outfit for a birthday night out with the girls.

This offered me a brief respite to pat myself on the back for a job well done, watch the opening game of the Premier League season on T.V. (come on United!) and prepare myself for the festivities.


bar drinks party champagne

Photo by Salo Al on

The festivities began in earnest with a morning trip to my future Father-in-law’s for his signature breakfast; bacon and buck’s fizz, with a side of birthday cake on this occasion. Clearly, the breakfast of champions. I followed this up by heading to Sainsbury’s on the way home and picking up enough Prosecco to empty the vineyards of Italy.

The festivities continued at home when my Mum, Sister and future Brother-in-law arrived with pizza, cake, gifts, and more prosecco in hand. Half a pizza, three slices of cake, a packet of doritos and too much alcohol later we wound down the night with a cuddle on the sofa and watched a movie. Job well done once again.


The big one. The anniversary of the actual day of birth twenty-nine years ago. A trip to my future Mother-in-law’s for eggs benedict, more gifts and lots of tea was the first port of call. At this point, I think I must have put on the best part of 3lbs from the sweet, sweet carby calories of the weekend. But it wouldn’t end there. We had better plans. A trip to Piccolino’s in Nottingham to round off the weekend.

We decided a swift cocktail or two (and a couple of Peroni for me) from All Bar One to line our stomachs before the feast was in order. And what a feast it was. Mozzarella garlic bread and olives with a side of beef carpaccio to start, a crab linguine for her and a half-lobster linguine with arrabiata sauce for me; potentially the best pasta dish I’ve ever eaten.

On the subject of Piccolino’s, their new menu is fantastic. It’s full of fish and seafoody goodness with classic hearty Italian flavours. Plus, sign up for their loyalty card and you get £20 off on your next visit, which is essentially a free main course. To top it all off, they give you a free shot of Limoncello with your dessert (if you can stretch to dessert, the portions are massive for this kind of restaurant) or coffee just for having the card.

We rounded Sunday off with a cup of tea while we sat and laughed at Bruce Almighty, before heading to bed to finish off the perfect Birthday Weekend.

Well, almost perfect. I did forget something – a birthday card. I’m sure I’ll be reminded of that before too long.


On the Eve of a New Mattress


The New Setup

Maybe it was the massive amount of new mattress companies popping up, the endless TV adverts, or the fact that my lower back hadn’t felt right in the best part of three months, but I knew I needed a new mattress. The one I had was an eBay find – it was coil sprung with a memory foam top and a solid 15cm deep, and at £129 for a king size it seemed like one hell of a deal. Three years and two house moves later, that deal wasn’t working out so well.

The latter of the house moves was to move in with my girlfriend (who is now my fiancee). We had the image of the perfect home in our head, but unfortunately we didn’t quite have the budget to make it a reality. Our first solution was to leave the mattress on the floor for a few months and wait to buy a decent bed. As is the case with most things, we found something else to buy instead and made do with what we had for the best  part of six months until we found a fantastic deal on a little website called Groupon. We picked up a king size divan base and coil sprung mattress for the tidy little sum of £200.

Clearly the lesson of the eBay purchase hadn’t etched itself in to my brain at that point, and a month later we ended up putting the old mattress on the new base and sticking the new mattress in to the shed. It remains there to this day as a reminder not to be so stupid.

Another six months passed, and we decided to take the plunge in to what we thought was the luxury mattress market that was being paraded all over the TV and the internet. You know the ones I’m talking about; Eve, Simba, Otty, Emma, Casper etc.

After some research, it turns out that the luxury mattress market starts at almost three times the price of these newcomers and I guess that’s one of the reasons they’ve seen such a boom.

It seems as though nobody has a bad word to say about the vast majority of any of these mattresses, so trawling through the reviews didn’t help much. I was looking for memory foam so that ruled a couple of the options out, and after finding a great deal through Very I plumped for the Eve (find it here) mattress. The king size option came in at £679 With 12 months interest free credit and 20% cashback on offer, making it £543 (or £45 a month).

It’s marketed as a medium-firm mattress and I’d say it’s much closer to the firm end of that scale, which is a world away from my old mattress – that’s a world that I won’t be returning to anytime soon. The one drawback is the yellow colour; it does show through lighter base sheets but it’s not a bad shade depending on your colour scheme.

Fast forward one month in to the future and I’m sleeping better than I ever have and my back pain is close to non existent. It might have been 4x more expensive than my old mattress but compared to the more traditional options out there it’s a bit of a bargain.

My bank account might be £45 lighter this month, but it’s turned me from a morning grouch in to a morning person and I don’t think you can put a value on that.