This morning I went with my 17 month old to the sold out Social Mama Hertford x Young Gums brunch and book launch event at Hertford House. You may know Social Mama Hertford, run by the lovely Jess, from her widely followed Facebook and Instagram accounts (if you don’t yet, please please go and have a look and a follow, they are so entertaining and give a great sense of Jess as a person) where details of all the events are posted first. This was her first event where children were invited too (all the others have been evenings for mums to enjoy a night out and escape the kids, also a very necessary service!) I think she did a great job and it went super well – apologies again Jess. for my son storming the stage during the discussion in order to get hold of a balloon!
Young Gums is a brilliant blog, Instagram account and now book (published today!) by Beth Bentley, a mum of two, from a foodie family background. When she first walked down the baby food supermarket aisle she felt “disappointment with an edge of frustration” at the wide selection of highly processed foods, fortified juice drinks and artificial flavourings in everything. And I agree she is right – there is very little available other than pouches of puréed mush, mostly containing a high amount of fruit (yes even the “savoury” options!) However I am not going to rant on about this as I love the convenience of an Ella’s pouch for a handy and portable snack or dessert for my little one. Great to learn instead how Beth used this lack of inspiration in the shops to start up her Instagram account, posting a couple of pictures and sharing how daunted she felt about teaching a baby to eat when it was so difficult to find nutritious baby food readily available. She moved onto sharing recipes and within days had hundreds of parents following and commenting on the account, proving she was onto something that many people thought was important too.
The location was one of my favourite venues in Hertford: Hertford house (located at the Mill Bridge end of Fore street) in the gorgeously-decorated basement room. It felt like such a treat to be going there during the day albeit with toddler in tow! Once inside (following a red carpet entrance no less and accessible by lift) there were plenty of refreshments for mamas and bubbas available, amazing bacon or egg sarnies in brioche buns, OJ water, coffee and tea along the bar down one side of the room plus Jude’s flavoured milks and Emily fruit crisps which went down very well with us. Social Mama had actually thought of everything today: nappy change set up in the toilets, buggy parking, plenty of sofas and chairs for everyone, really nice lighting, I’m secretly hoping this could become a regular venue for Mama coffee mornings, Jess??!!
To keep the babies entertained, Megan from baby/toddler/pre-school group Musical bears was there, sparkling with energy as always, providing a ball pit, bubbles and disco lights as well as a million toys. This area was well-used and it was really nice to meet and interact with other mums before the talk started, especially as we, like many others had come on our own.
It was also a lovely surprise to see Eleanor from Flexible working mums Hertford helping welcome guests on arrival. If you’ve not come across Eleanor before, you must check out her work on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, a fellow Hertford-based Digital Mum, she shares a lot of useful advice and information for mums around maternity rights, returning to work and flexible working.
Event partner for the day was Busylizzy Hertford who I didn’t get the chance to meet today, but hope to do so in future.
I spent much of the talk itself running around the edges of the audience after my toddler, but the Q&A format between Jess and Beth made sure there was a nice structure to the presentation. It’s something very special to hear an author read their own words on stage, knowing the subject is something they believe so strongly in. I think Beth has hit on a really important topic here, and something close to every parent’s heart (how can it not be?) and her book is testament to that. She has clearly done a lot of research, both theoretical and testing ideas out on her own daughter, and all her recipes are backed up by nutritionist Dr. Emma Derbyshire RNutr PhD. The book has a very down to earth feel, and a lovely chatty tone. Beth clearly has a passion for food and her approaches to weaning are sensible and realistic – as a mum she understands it isn’t easy to negotiate weaning, so even includes some recipes that are simple enough to be labelled “one hand cooking”! As well as plenty of advice and ideas on the what, when, where and how of introducing solids to your baby, chapters include breakfast times, lunches/snacks/sides, bread and savoury bakes, dinner time, puddings and a gorgeous little collection of recipes at the end called “Mama treats: nourish yourself” (how important and overlooked is that?!)
OF COURSE I bought a copy! My two may be older but could do with a healthy dose of these lovely and wholesome recipes in their lives (as could I!)
The beautifully designed YOUNG GUMS Baby food with attitude by Beth Bentley is available to buy now.