Saturday, 23 February 2013

Lakeland

There come moments in life when you have to be realistic about who you are and what you are actually like, rather than nursing febrile projections of what you hope and dream that you are like.

The first time is always when you hear a recording of your own voice. It is always traumatising. Always more high pitched and posh, or common, or flat, or regional or just otherwise terrible than you can possibly have imagined. One of the reasons I left my job on a newspaper was that I had to listen back to my stupid stupid buggery awful voice on recorded interviews.

There are many other moments after that, but that first moment of being confronted with the reality of what you sound like is always terrible.

I had another one today. I was beside myself with excitement at having a piece in the Guardian's Family section. I love the Family section of the Guardian nearly as much as I love Style, so being in it RIGHT THERE THERE I AMMMMM more than made up for Kitty's massive and terrifying nosebleed + 103F fever at 4.30am.

But then I opened the Times Magazine to see a piece they had on the "world's best food blogger", called Katie something; What Katie Ate, is her blog. She is beautiful and thin and her food looks fucking amazing. There was a glowing intro written by my husband's editor at the magazine, which contained a slightly disparaging comment about "mummy" food bloggers.

I looked back at my picture in Family. I looked a bit fat. My hair needs a cut. I turned to see that Kitty was still staggering around the kitchen in her blood spattered pyjamas because she screamed every time I tried to take them off to get them soaking in Napisan. I thought about my clumsy, unchic blog, my stupid shit photos, my total lack, generally, of style and I felt really quite ill.

I have recovered now, by telling myself that this is just one of those times where you have to confront the reality of who you are and what you are capable of. This blog is almost entirely a response to food blogs like What Katie Ate, which are so professional and beautiful and chic and purposeful. I can never, ever be like that or do that. So I do this.

That's another reason why I decided to go against most of what I stand for and feature a click-through to Lakeland at the top right hand corner of this blog. I love Lakeland. It's not the height of glamour, but it is useful and I happen to know an editor at Vogue who reads the Lakeland catalogue in bed at night.

So that explains what that Lakeland thingy is doing on my blog. I'm sure Katie doesn't have anything like that on hers, (I am literally too scared to look in case it gives me a nervous breakdown), but I've decided that I am that person. I am a Lakeland advertiser. If you click on the little picture and buy something off the website then I get 7% of your basket. And Lord knows all that germicidal soak we're getting through these days isn't going to buy itself.

 

45 comments:

  1. I had one of those moments the other day; pressing click to order a pair of jeans from (deep breath) Boden, the dimensions of which are a duplicate (y'know, 28in x 28in... Except not 28). Therefore, I must accept that I am a blousey middle class cube, and not the edgy, waify trendsetter of my imagination. Rubbish.
    I for one LOVE the no-frills frankness of your blog. If you were a perfect wife-bot, I almost certainly wouldn't identify, empathise or read, and I bet that goes for loads of your readers.

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  2. Hi Esther,

    I've been reading your blog for around a year but hadn't piped up to comment until I read your this post - because I just wanted to say emphatically how much I absolutely LOVE your style of blogging. Real life is what we want, and seeing how many followers you have, clearly a lot of others agree!

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  3. I wouldn't worry, I love your blog. It makes me laugh and as a final year student who can barely stretch to anything beyond mashed potato (last night I made broccoli and stilton soup and genuinely felt I may have been Nigella Lawson) it gives me faith I too may one day be able to cook!

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  4. It's hard not to compare ourselves to other bloggers. I have had many feel like shit moments but at the end of the day I love blogging for me. I will never be perfect but so be it!

    Oh and I bloody love Lakeland!

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  5. I love Lakeland and I love your blog. Not to sound really sycophantic but yours is one of my favourite blogs, your writing seems so effortless and is funny & realistic. Some blogs are so far removed from reality that you can't believe in the author, there is no authenticity.

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  6. I love your blog, and I hate cooking. I just read it because I enjoy your writing, it always makes me laugh and can identify with most of what you say... so puh-lease don't change it at all. Thank you.

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  7. Hi Esther,
    Saw that article too but wouldn't dream of looking at the blog-too perfect to be true!
    Reading about you in the Times article about women bloggers last year inspired me to have ago too. I don't think Katie's would've.
    Your blog is amusing and real as everyone else has commented. Keep up the great work!

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  8. I too love your blog, am really pleased when there is a new post. What stands you apart from most blogs is that you put your personality into your posts which makes me feel I know you (it's OK, I'm not a stalker!). I love that you put comments into recipes to tell your us, your readers, how things should be going, what things look like at certain points, etc. Ignore those so called perfect other blogs, at least we know you're human and that reassures me just to give stuff a go!

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  9. Well - I've just looked at the blog and definitely prefer yours, you've got humour and are disarmingly frank at times. I won't be reading that blog - it has ingredients I have never heard of for example 'verjuice' what is that? You write a great blog and I look forward to your posts - keep on as you are xx

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  10. I've been reading your blog for a few months and I love it because of your attitude: I feel reassured by your 'If I can do it so can you' vibe. I have 3 small children and a physician husband who works loads so I appreciate your sane ideas for normal people who want to put a decent meal on the table. The only thing I've ever bought from Lakeland is a pair of those rubbery, green egg poaching cup thingies. My kids like to pretend they are motorbike helmets for their dolls.

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  11. Perfect bloggers like that are like the front covers of glossy mags - they're not real - they're all photoshopped and have vaseline on the lens and no one actually relates to them at all - they just make us all feel shit about how "nearly" we are. I'm sure katie is lovely in real life but i bet she's just as crap as the rest of us when she has her period or when the kids are pissing her off.

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  12. I'm deeply suspicious of the world's best anything. I keep reading your blog because it's bloody funny, it has personality and has recipes I actually think I'd cook. As a deranged mother trying to work, raise kids, enjoy my husband and have some fun, I don't really want to read an airbrushed version of life.

    And if Lakeland shipped to New Zealand, I'd buy through your blog!

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    Replies
    1. Me too! Come on Lakeland, are you reading this? New Zealand needs you!

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  13. There is only so much white background and perfectly lit pictures I can take before shouting "No one eats like that every day" at the screen.
    I love your blog because it is varied and honest and that why I look forward to a new post from you over the other blogs that come and go from my reading list. I am very much looking forward to reading your book when it comes out in March.

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  14. Esther, I love you "Just as you are". Ignore the pompous editor - you have loads of style and I love reading your blog!

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  15. This made me laugh. I've had my best friend since the age of two, she is beautiful, intelligent, great career blah blah and I feel exactly like that EVERY TIME I get a text/read a twitter update; slightly too fat, bit unstylish and with some grubby kid trailing after me muttering 'no mummy not'. I think I'm going to buy myself something from Lakeland to cheer myself up. Poor Kitty mind, it's hard being small and ill.

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  16. Oh, ditto those thirteen other lovely people that said all the things that I wanted to say before I did. But for the personal touch, I value an actual real-life human approach to blogging (sense of humour! crap photography! recipes that don't turn out like you thought they would, but you eat them anyway because its either that or cheese-on-toast for dinner again!).

    In any case, please do keep going just as you are. And mummy blogging, Jesus, don't get me started... if you have time to write a blog regularly, cook, look after your child(ren), and get dressed in the morning, then you should be festooned with flowers, plied with chocolates and fancy cocktails with wee umbrellas in them and generally pandered to as much as possible in the hopes of learning your secrets.

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  17. Hi,

    Well look. I love your blog precisely because it's honest and varied and, here's the thing, accessible. Those people you wrote about in the guardian today, the generation that can't cook - that's me. And and AND, I don't want to be A Cook. I just want to not starve. I'm easily put off, easily overwhelmed. Perfection repulses me because it frightens me. All of this, you being who you are on the internet where I can see it means that in the 18 months since I've been reading I've regulary catered for 9+ people, and more crucially, not starved.

    Thanks, really thanks. And however you carry on, please don't stop.

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  18. I confess that I went to the Lakeland shop when it was ONE SHOP (in Lakeland) and I live in Australia, so I think it is fair to say that I am partial to a bit of Lakeland magic AND I love your blog precisely for all of the reasons above. If you get 7% of the orders good luck to you - we have been enjoying this blog for free for long enough to give you something back!

    Rosemary

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  19. It would be so time consuming to be perfect all the while, I'm much happier knowing I made some laugh or even snort with delight becuase my skirt was tucked into my knickers that day.

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  20. ...on the other hand, the piece you wrote in Family is fantastic - or perhaps I just felt that because it reflects one of my favourite rants?

    I quite enjoy food porn (on TV and in blogs) but the important stuff is found on blogs like yours, which are rather more based in reality.

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  21. Yours is the only food blog I follow as I love the way you write, not the way your blog is laid out. Having said that, I do follow a few blogs like that simply to soak in their beauty. And I also love Lakeland, they have recently opened one in Brighton on my route to and from the car park; it is my downfall.

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  22. Thank you, thank you, thank you for letting me know I have something in common with an editor at Vogue. I'm assured that this will be the only thing, but it's something none the less!
    Dawn

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  23. I like you,try not to read the ultra chic food blogs because I don't think it does me any good. But, I love Lakeland although I try not to go in too often for fear of spending too much money. I love the Saturday Guardian and it's my favourite read of the week. Your article was great. For me as a cookery tutor teaching young mums, dads and their kids how to cook and enjoy food, I know just how important it is to get these family talking and doing something together. You would be amazed at how many of them don't actually communicate!
    Look forward to the book :)

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  24. Hi
    I love your blog too and enoyed the Guardian article (and picture). Your blog is much more interesting and useful to me with a toddler and a baby on the way than others that can be a bit ambitious. And I agree with your feeding a toddler philosophy, offer a variety and they will choose what they need. I'm pleased to discover I can now subscribe by e-mail so I won't miss another blog. Keep up the good work!
    Judith

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  25. I came on here to say how much I loved the Guardian piece -- before I read this post. It was great, honestly, in every way. Photo and all.

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  26. You know what - who needs those perfectly styled pictures? I mean they are fun to look at, but do they get you cooking? What normally gets me cooking are posts with photos that tell me whoever was cooking has a life away from their blog as well. It's the posts that make me realise that it's ok to sometimes feel like a walking kitchen disaster and that other people have cakes go wrong as well.
    I wouldn't want to miss your blog because it's real.
    I keep worrying that my own blog hast to take one of two directions - gorgeous photos and a super polished look (something for which I simply don't have the time) or deciding to be ok with recipes that ask for a pack of cake mix or something. Yet, your blog reminds me of why most of us started blogging about food in the first place - because we like food. Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes your child has a fever. Sometimes work takes over weekends or whatnot. But that's life and I feel it's nice if blogs reflect that.

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  27. You are blooming brilliant: don't change a thing.

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  28. I love your blog because I love the way you write. Thank you for posting so frequently recently. Lakeland is great too..

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  29. Hmm, I don't usually comment on any of the blogs I regularly read (not really a joiner, see) but felt compelled to say I love your blog - it's believable, funny, and honest. I was curious about this "world's best food blogger" so pootled over to take a look...good lord, what a cliche overload...Prissily splodged dishes? tick. Precious vintage accessories? tick. Picturesquely grimy worn wooden tables? tick. Pretentiously long recipe titles/descriptions? tick.
    Meh, give me somebody who tells the truth even when it's not necessarily flattering, AND makes it funny/touching/illuminating, whilst also supplying good ideas to feed my family and friends... Oh, yeah, that'd be you :-)
    Thank you, Jo

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  30. It's all been said above so I won't repeat, small query, has the background always been blue?

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    1. The background has ALWAYS been blue! I don't know why I chose it. I think it seemed to me at the time to be sort of... serene... Reading text online is so horrible I think the black/pale blue combination hurt my eyes the least.

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    2. I like it but somehow until approx 4 weeks ago everything appeared on a plain white background for me (perhaps something to do with following the link from my android phone.... who knows). Now it's blue ..... as I say, I like it....

      I want to say something along the lines of the ambassador's reception/with zese posts you are really spoiling us...

      Xx

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  31. Elizabeth Medovnik24 February 2013 23:35

    Esther, you still look vastly more stunning than the majority of mums (not that looks should matter, obviously). I had a quick look at Katie's blog and it was all just off-puttingly swish. I much prefer yours! xx

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  32. What Katie Ate is a photography site more than a food blog, I've always thought. Definitely not a cooking blog, which is what I like about this one.

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  33. I'd far rather read your blog than the Katie one - in fact, I never do read hers. I thought your piece in the Guardian was great too - I bet Katie couldn't write something like that - and I bet it will all got o hell in a handcart for her once she has kids. No more fancy pants food then. Ha. (or does she already have kids? doesn't bear thinking about if she does :-()

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  34. Oh Esther, if it's any comfort I didn't bother to read the article once I realised that the featured blogger wasn't VOUS, and having glanced at the recipes decided they were too difficult - and then it went straight into the recycling. Fnaar, fnaar.... Lisa Exx

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  35. Lakeland is like cooking crack to me. I have a shop near me and I have to stop myself from going in or talk myself into putting things back! The beauty of blogs is that you can always find something that suits what you want - I love your blog and you inspired me to start my own little one just for the fun of it!

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  36. Esther- I was the twitter person who didn't know there was a difference between a food blogger and a restaurant blogger (its doubtful that you remember, but you and Giles were v. quick to set me straight) Anyway for what it is worth from a blog idiot , your blog is best, and makes me feel less panicky and sad about being nearly 30 and not having any children yet. Plenty of time to feel panicky if/when i do have them, no need to panic now! Then you post photos of Kitty and i get panicky again in case i dont get to have one , what with her being ridic cute and all.

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  37. Sorry to be anonymous by the way, i cant make my googlemail connect to this! #blogidiot

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  38. Esther- Am I missing something here? I read your blog for childcare advice... Your take on boozing, boredom and maternity chic has been invaluable. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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  39. OK I DID look at What Katie Ate. I was curious because I only got into blogs from YOUR blog. And actually being a constant (failing) fat fighter i don't really need to be looking at gorgeous, sumptious photos of delicious food i'll never cook despite desperately wanting to eat. The photos were lush. But how could you even compare the two sites? Your blog, i don't know if you've noticed, is as much about your crazy, neurotic, hysterical take on life and motherhood as it is about food. You are funny, kooky, brutally honest...no one REAL wants fluffy pictures of blueberry pancakes and artfully scattered pomegranate seeds. They want scatty, crazy you. You must see that in this field, you ARE the top blogger?????

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  40. You are fantastic and I look forward to spending a small fortune at Lakeland - I've even turned off my ad blocker specifically for your blog! :D

    Keep doing what you do - you're one of the few food bloggers who actually covers recipes I want to try!

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  41. Oh Esther, just steel yourself for how beautiful What Katie Ate is, and actually read some of it. Your blogs are really chalk and cheese, and I love your funny, honest take on real life and real food.

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