Modern Mummy

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Celebrating Elephant Appreciation Day with Blackberry Gin Fizz Cocktails +

As if I ever need an excuse to make cocktails, tomorrow is Elephant Appreciation Day and my good friends at very kindly sent me a bottle of Elephant Gin in order to celebrate.

Elephant Gin is an independent London Dry Gin inspired by Africa, and 15% of all profits go to two African elephant foundations to support their preservation and that of African wildlife in general. It's distilled in Germany using fourteen botanicals, including some rare African ingredients which really give it a really distinctive spicy taste.

Each bottle is custom made and priced at £29.95. Elephant also make a sloe gin which is utterly delicious and really warms the cockles (especially at this time of year when the weather's getting a bit chilly!).

ALSO perfect at this time of year is a Blackberry Gin Fizz, and that's exactly what I made using my bottle of Elephant Gin.

Elephant Gin
Prosecco (I used Martini prosecco, available from for £9.95)
Blackberries (frozen ones work just as well as fresh)
Lime juice
Crushed ice

What to do.
Use a fork to crush four or five blackberries in a bowl. Remove the cores if they're especially big.
Add to the bottom of a hi ball glass and add a small shot of gin. I used 15ml but you can add more if you want to ;)
Fill glass with crushed ice.
Top up with prosecco.
Add a squeeze of lime.
Garnish with a slice of lime and a couple of blackberries.

Enjoy x


Divorce or Break Up: Who Gets the Dog?

A separation or divorce from your long term partner can be traumatic, and all the more stressful if there are disputes over shared belongings. Add a beloved family pet to the equation and the emotional anguish of who should get the cat or dog can be as heart breaking as if there were children involved.

Pet custody battles are becoming more common during separation and divorce proceedings. According to research carried out by the Cooperative Pet Insurance, about 1 in 5 separating couples take legal advice and fight for the custody of their pet when the relationship breaks down. What’s more, 1 in 10 people felt that losing their pet was actually worse than splitting up with their partner!

If think you may have to give up the family pet as a result of a relationship ending, an experienced firm of divorce and family law solicitors should be your first port of call for specialist advice on how to deal with this difficult issue.

How are pets treated under English law? 
While you may view your pet as a family member rather than a possession, pets are viewed as ‘chattels’ under English law. Just like any other personal property, or the contents of the former matrimonial home, they can be fought over by both parties in divorce proceedings.

Courts are often reluctant to get involved in pet disputes. In the same way as you might argue over who should keep the TV or the car when you get divorced, the Court will always prefer you to settle these kinds of issues between yourselves. If this is not possible, the Court can break the impasse by ordering a transfer of ownership or pedigree papers to one party.

The Court may also make a provision for the cost of the pet’s upkeep as part of calculating the income needs of the party keeping the pet. Kennel space, vet bills or land for horses, for instance, will then form part of the overall financial divorce settlement. While English law makes no provision for how a Court will arrive at such a decision, the main carer for the animal will in all likelihood stand the best chances of being awarded ‘custody’. In a divorce case in 2011, the judge rejected an application for the transfer of the family dog to the wife because the pet had mostly been looked after by the husband.

What if you’re not married? 
In the case of unmarried couples, the Court is most likely to make the decision based on a strict interpretation of the law: ownership of the pet is determined by who paid for it and who is the registered owner. Evidence can take the form of receipts and invoices or Kennel Club registration papers.

Of course, it is not uncommon for often lengthy and costly legal proceeding to ensue regardless in an attempt not to be separated from the family pet.

Could the law be changing? 
Earlier this year, Alaska enacted a law that will treat family pets more like children. Courts there will now have to take the animal’s wellbeing into account when deciding which party the pet should go to, with joint custody being the default option.

English divorce law is a long way from this approach, despite the fact that animals do actually have significant rights in the UK. However, granting pets enhanced rights would raise new questions. Should a pet dog have the same rights as, say, a guinea pig? How would you assess the best interests of a goldfish? In reality, it would seem that grappling with intricate legal stipulations such as these is not high on the government’s list of priorities.

Pets and prenups 
Pre-empting the problem of who gets custody of the family pet if the relationship fails can be done via a prenuptial agreement (for married couples) or a cohabitation agreement (for unmarried couples). This agreement can include provisions for care of the family dog or cat, including ownership, custody and even visitation rights in case of a breakdown in the relationship.

Without an agreement like this in place, it is up to the separating couple and their respective lawyers to deal with the issue of pets and any disputes surrounding custody with the utmost sensitivity.


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Mindfulness for Children // The Calm Buddha at Bedtime

Mindfulness is a bandwagon that I've happily jumped on recently. Its very trendy to practice meditation and mindfulness right now, but it is in fact something that has been practiced for thousands of years and I don't think it should be a passing phase for anyone.

In short, mindfulness is a really simple type of meditation, that involves relaxation, breathing, focusing on any negative thoughts you may have and learning to deal with them before they have a more serious effect on you. Its a way of controlling your feelings and, ultimately your life, and in doing so leaning to be compassionate - to yourself as well as to others.

Today's world is incredibly fast paced, which I think can sometimes have a negative effect on us all if we're not careful, children included. Daytimes are packed full of activities and technology, so it's important to me that the girls and I all take some time out to relax at some point. Our evenings have always been the time to reflect on the day and to wind down before bedtime. We have a no tech rule after dinner (that includes TV) and, even though the girls are getting older now, we still follow the traditional bedtime routine of dinner, bath, pyjamas, story and then sleep!

Evie has now joined Daisy at school, which means lots of changes for her. Making new friends, learning new routines and new things in general, even just being away from home for six hours a day can all take its toll on someone so little. I hate to think of any child feeling stressed about changes in their lives, so I'm making an extra special effort to spend time with her, one to one, at bedtime. To talk about how school is going and to make sure she is happy and relaxed. I've started to stagger bedtimes so that Daisy also gets a bit of time with me once Evie is all tucked up and I have to say it's working really well.

A new addition to the kids' bookshelf is The Calm Buddha at Bedtime by Dharmachari Nagaraja, a practising Buddhist for over twenty years and previously head of the Covent Garden Meditation Centre and a regular presenter on BBC Radio 2. He has put together a collection of eighteen ancient Buddhist tales that teach children about friendship, honesty and compassion. These particular stories have been chosen to reassure children about any worries they might have, to teach them valuable life lessons, to boost their self-confidence and to promote relaxation and prepare them for a good night's sleep. Of course they are also really lovely stories, with beautiful illustrations, engaging characters and good morals, all of which makes them perfect bedtime reading!

We have been reading a story a night since the beginning of term and Evie loves getting 'the bedtime book' out and finding the right page to start the next instalment! Each story has a message and we like to take time to talk about them and relate them to every day scenarios once we have finished reading them. There's also a collection of mindfulness meditations at the end of the book that can be used at any time of day to help bring calm and contentment, and a bit more information on learning to mediate, which is great for first timers both young and old.

I very rarely review books on the blog but this one (which we were very kindly sent by the publisher - thank you!) has turned out to be really special and I'd recommend it to any parent looking for something simple and meaningful to read with their children, particularly at this quite stressful time of year.

Its available on Amazon here for £12.99.
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