All Grown Up
9 May 2016

A few months ago while driving my white Volvo station wagon to pick my kids up from school I had an epiphany. “I am actually a grown up.” A couple of things in that picture helped me join the dots. But why did I just realise this?

I’m about to turn 40 in a few weeks. People ask me how I feel about it. I say I’m totally cool with it, but part of me feels like I am not actually done with my 30s. I feel like I could wring a little more out of it.

When I was 22 I worked as a junior graphic designer. I clearly remember the day one of my bosses turned 40. I thought he was washed up and ready for the scrap heap. In fact, I remember thinking any design from his 40 year old brain was instantly irrelevant.

Now here I am. Feeling in no way on the verge of irrelevancy.

Last week I got my eyebrows waxed. The lady asked me to check out my new brows in the little handheld mirror. There’s something about those mirrors, they like to MAGNIFY. The eyebrow lady made me giggle and for the first time ever I saw some ripper laugh lines shooting directly from the corners of my eyes.

At first this shocked me. Then it freaked me out. Then it scared me. Then I thought, I must have laughed a lot to get those. They were really quite defined. It made me smile. Then I had some less crazy, but just as impressive smile wrinkles sprinkle across my face.

Being almost 40 has given me something I’ve searched for my entire life. Acceptance. I don’t need anyone to tell me I’m alright or enough. I finally know I am both these. I may have had to shelve a few of my favourite bits of clothing. But that’s OK, because I have never felt more comfortable in my skin.

A recipe from my ace mate Eat This My Friend


For the pastry

  • 85g / 3oz cold butter, cut into rough cubes
  • 143g / 5oz pastry flour
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 65g / 2.3oz cold cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1 1/2 tbsp double cream
  • 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

For the filling

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup golden syrup
  • 1/2 cup packed muscovado sugar
  • 60g butter
  • 1/4 cup double cream
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  • 80g dark chocolate, chopped
  • double cream, to serve


  1. For the pastry, if possible, have everything weighed up and kept cool in the freezer for 1/2 hour before you start, including the flour.
  2. Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a food processor and pulse for a few seconds.
  3. Add the cream cheese and pulse again for about 20 seconds. Add the cold butter cubes and pulse until you have the course sand consistency – it should only take a few seconds.
  4. Add the cream and vinegar and pulse until the mixture only just begins to come together.
  5. Place the mixture onto the bench and knead for a minute with the heel of your hand, until the dough becomes a little stretchy.
  6. Form the dough into a flat circular disc, wrap it in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for at least 45 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 200˚C / 400˚F / Gas Mark 6.
  8. Once rested, remove pastry from fridge and leave at room temp for 10–15 minutes so it’s easier to roll out.
  9. Grease a 23cm tart tin.
  10. Dust your bench top very lightly with some flour. Use a rolling pin to roll out a circular shape about 30cm in diameter. Fold into quarters then transfer to tart tin and unfold.
  11. Squeeze the pastry to the edges and fold the overhang into itself so the edges have a double layer. Allow to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  12. Line with baking paper and fill with pastry weights or beans.
  13. Loosely wrap some foil around the edges so they don’t over brown. Blind bake for 20 mins.
  14. Remove pastry weights, prick the base several times with a fork and return to the oven for another 5 mins.
  15. To make the pie, preheat oven to 170˚C / 325˚F / Gas Mark 3.
  16. Place all but the vanilla, pecans, and chocolate into a heavy based saucepan and put over a gentle to moderate heat.
  17. Stir continuously with a whisk to break up the ingredients.
  18. Simmer gently for about 10 mins, stirring regularly.
  19. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla.
  20. Place pecans into pastry shell.
  21. Strain mixture over the pecans. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes. The pie will be a just a teensy bit jiggly.
  22. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  23. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler (or just place the bowl on top of the oven while the pie is baking) and drizzle over the top of the pie. Allow to cool before serving.