February 2016 | Modern Mummy

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Three Little Travellers

Since I've had children, travelling has become a real passion of mine. I only flew for the first time when I'd just turned eighteen, and never really felt the urge to go backpacking across the globe like so many of my friends did in their teens and twenties. But all of a sudden becoming a mum has made me want to show my girls the world - and exploring it is one of our favourite things to do; whether that's within the UK, Europe or further afield.

Taking photographs (and videos!) of the memories we make is also something I love to do, as is looking back at them and reminiscing about our past adventures. I don't have any fancy photography equipment, in fact all of my photos and videos are taken and edited using only my trusty iPhone 6S, but as a parent that has to cart around an insane amount of paraphernalia everywhere we go (even more so when we're on holiday) just being able to pull out my phone (and not having to pack a big, bulky DSLR or similar!) suits me just fine. I love to capture images of the girls playing together, or showing me things they have made, or found, or done.

Daisy is also quite the budding photographer, and it's really wonderful seeing the images she captures - both in the physical sense, i.e. seeing things from her height, and in the scenes that appeal to her as a six year old. I'm really keen to encourage both hers, and Evie's, interest in photography.

We all have a special affinity with the beach and, despite living on the edge of the South Downs, find ourselves drawn to the coast most weekends, which is exactly where we were today - and where Daisy took these photos. Pretty impressive for a six year old, don't you think?

We've been lucky enough to visit a few countries as a family, including making our first long haul trip as a family of three to Florida last year. Now that I know we can do it on our own, I'm keen to keep up the momentum by taking as many trips as we can, and we'd love to be able to experience both a sun and a snow holiday as ambassadors for Mark Warner. There's something extra magical about visiting somewhere you've never been before with your children, and seeing things through their eyes for the first time.

This is my entry to the Mark Warner Holidays' Family Ambassador Programme, Photography Category. You can find out more about it here and look at the other entries by searching the #MarkWarnerMum and #MarkWarnerDad hashtags over on Twitter.

Five Favourites: The Bedroom Edition

I love my children, but BOY do I wish the little buggers would sleep more. All my mum friends seem to have been enjoying 'lie ins' this half term (SAY WHAT!) but our days are still starting at around 6am and I can't tell you how desperate I am to snooze until at least 8am one day.

With this life goal in the forefront of my mind I've found myself browsing Pinterest for luxury bedroom inspiration for hours on end, and racking up huge virtual shopping lists in an attempt to create my perfect space. And the most important thing in any dream bedroom is the bed itself and pretty bedlinen, right?

So here is a special Bedroom Edition of my Five Favourites feature. Turns out I have a MASSIVE thing for grey right now. Anyone fancy helping me redecorate?

Clockwise from Top Left: Orla Kiely Scribble Stem Bedding, from 
£22.40 - John Lewis // Grey Chevron Cushions, £7.17 - Etsy // Finlay Collection soft grey throw, £140 - The White Company // Pure Siberian Goose Down Duvet + Pillows, from £130 - The Duvet Store // Birlea Castello Grey Bedframe, £369.99 - Mattress Next Day  

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Five Favourites: Men's T-Shirts

I've got this real thing about baggy t-shirts at the moment. I'm really loving the whole super skinny jeans or leggings, oversized men's tee and chunky boot combo. It's so easy to throw on, and you can easily layer up and keep cosy in this cold weather with plaid or denim shirts and warm coats, hats and scarves.

Now is a great time to do a bit of sale shopping for new t-shirts as they'll easily see you into SS16; I love the boyish, casual look of them teamed with cut off denim shorts and flip flops too.

And on that note - and whether you're looking for something for yourself or for the man in your life! -  here are five of my current favourites:

1. Jack & Jones stripe crew neck tee, £7 (sale) - House of Fraser //  2. Baseball shirt, £7.99 - 
H&M // 3. Black West View tee, £20 - TopMan // 4. Skipperton navy ombre stripe 
tee, £24.95 - Joules // 5. Levi's Wordmark tee, £25 - Very 


Sunday, 14 February 2016

Afternoon Tea at Bel & The Dragon, Windsor

Yesterday I had a rare child free afternoon so when the lovely people from Bel & the Dragon asked me if I'd like to go and sample their afternoon tea menu I didn't need persuading.

Bel & the Dragon are a small chain with seven restaurants around the south east of England. There are actually two others very close to me (Godalming and Churt) but the idea of a wintery wander around Windsor sounded pretty good to me, so off I went with a friend.

The building that is home to Bel & The Dragon in Windsor has been serving food and drink since the 11th Century and is really beautiful and cosy. It has low ceilings and is dimly lit, and has lots of wood panelling and mismatched wooden furniture which is a look I really love. It's located right in the centre of town; pretty much at the gates of Windsor Castle, just over the river from historic Eton College and only a few seconds walk from the train station and shops, so it's ideally located if you're exploring the area.

It's the only restaurant in the chain to serve afternoon tea, as a nod to it's quintessentially English heritage, and the afternoon tea menu is a combination of the classic (finger sandwiches, scones and cakes) and the slightly more modern (other British tea time delicacies, like Welsh Rarebit, Drunken Cheese and Eton Mess).

We arrived a little early and were taken through to the bar area. We ordered a couple of drinks from the extensive menu (the bar stocked some of my personal favourites, including Sipsmith gin and Laurent-Perrier Rosé) and waited for our table to become free.

Once we were seated, we had a good old read of the menu. The restaurant is open from brunch through til dinner and offers a really good selection of meals, all of which are made from locally sourced, fresh, quality ingredients.

I chose the traditional afternoon tea and my friend went for the Devonshire mussels in a Scrumpy Jack Cider and Bacon Broth from the A La Carte menu - and we couldn't resist giving the Drunken Cheese a go too.

First of all I have to comment on how beautifully presented the food was. The cheese was served on a wooden board, the mussels in a gorgeous enamel pot and, as expected, my afternoon tea came on a two tiered willow patterned cake plate which matched the other crockery in the restaurant. I'm a real sucker for food that looks as delicious as it tastes and presentation plays a key part in this. Bel & The Dragon did not disappoint.

The Drunken Cheese was on the Afternoon Tea menu and is so called as the Cashel blue cheese has been soaked in port for 48 hours. It is refrigerated in the process so as to stay firm and is served with oak cakes, celery and chutney. It was REALLY REALLY good and, as a self confessed cheese addict, was quite possibly the highlight of the meal for me....

.... As was the afternoon tea itself. It was a very traditional selection of cucumber, salmon and egg sandwiches, as well as lemon drizzle and carrot cakes, chocolate brownies (oh my!) and a warm scone, served with clotted cream and homemade jam. I pride myself on having a pretty big appetite and I'm afraid to say this almost got the better of me! Portions are incredibly generous, and I needed a bit of a breather (and an extra pot of tea!) half way through before I could polish it off. I'm glad I managed to though, as I was saving the best til last and the scone was AMAZING!

The mussels were incredible. They were HUGE! The cider and bacon broth really made the dish - and has made me want to go back again so that I can try some of the others I was eyeing up on the A La Carte menu.

The service was impeccable throughout our meal. The waiters were helpful and knowledgeable and always on hand, without being intrusive. The restaurant was happy and bustling (even at 3pm, which is often a quiet time in restaurants and bars) and its customers were a real mix of young and old, solo diners and big parties, and everyone seemed to have a really wonderful time - as did we!

Although I went without the girls, I wouldn't hesitate in taking them - in fact I plan to as I know Daisy in particular would love a girlie afternoon tea! There is a children's menu - which contains homemade and organic versions of the usual suspects (pasta, fish fingers, corn fed chicken etc) - but I would probably let them share the grown ups afternoon tea - they would absolutely love all the miniature sandwiches and cakes and I actually think one between them would fill both of their tummies perfectly. If you fancy a trip out to Windsor this week, it's worth noting that Bel & the Dragon are running a kids eat free promotion during half term (13th-21st February, before 7pm). Take a look at their website here for more information and other events and promotions coming up.

Bel & The Dragon, Windsor can be found on Thames Street (SL4 1QB). Our meal was complimentary but all words are entirely true and my own. Thank you so much for having us!

Friday, 12 February 2016

AW15 Sales Bargains from Little Bird by Jools at Mothercare

Ooooh I love a good end-of-sale bargain. So much so that I usually end up stocking up on stuff for the kiddos to 'grow into' ;) Mothercare has always been one of my favourite places to shop for the girls' clothes - as it was for my Mum to shop for me and my siblings. The quality is outstanding and the prices are super reasonable. Of course it goes without saying that the sale prices are even better, which is why I am always keen to stock up and often wait til the sales to do so.

My love of the Little Bird range is well documented on this here blog, and it's worth mentioning that lots of pieces from each collection sell out extremely fast - so I would never recommend waiting until the sales if you see something you like. We were so lucky to pick up these pieces at the end of January!

Daisy wears: Coat - Marks & Spencer
Stripy t-shirt - Polarn O Pyret
Toadstool dress with braces - Little Bird from Mothercare
Knitted waistcoat - Little Bird from Mothercare
Glittery shoes - Monsoon Kids

Evie wears: Lined rainbow coat, £45 c/o Kozi Kidz
Pompom skirt, £26, from Beetlejuice London c/o No Ordinary Label 
Stripy tights - Joules
Glittery shoes - Monsoon kids

Evie wears: Green blouse with peter pan collar - Little Bird from Mothercare
Toadstool dress with braces - Little Bird from Mothercare
Tights - Joules
Boots - Clarks

Daisy wears: Plain white t-shirt - Mothercare
Flowery midi skirt - Little Bird from Mothercare
Tights - Joules
Boots - Mothercare

The unlinked items are either now out-of-stock sale purchases or hand-me-downs, but here are a few of my favourite pieces from the current Little Bird SS16 range : Ribbon smock dress, £14-£16 // Floral A-line skirt, £12-£14 // Rainbow raglan sweat top, £12-£14 // Knitted cardigan with collar, £14-£16 // Purple patent shoes, £15 // Cherry umbrella, £8

Monday, 8 February 2016

Feeling Fine with Green People

Last week I posted over on Instagram about how my skin's been feeling a bit dull recently. It turns out that lots of you seem to feel the same. I think it's mostly to do with the weather; we're all in desperate need of a bit of Vitamin D. The fact we haven't had a proper winter makes me wonder whether it is yet to come, and I hate not knowing whether we're going to have to endure a cold spell before spring eventually arrives and things start warming up!

But this damp, mild winter has also made me re-evaluate my skincare regime for the first time in twenty years, which has got to be a good thing. Since my teens I've had exactly the same routine and have only ever used Simple products. Touch wood I didn't ever really suffer from any major skin complaints growing up, but now I'm in my thirties I'm conscious of the odd laughter line appearing, and I've also noticed that my skin dries out easily either when it's cold or if I'm tired or under the weather, so I thought it might be time to try something new. I planned to do some research into supersonic hydrating anti-aging wonder creams but then last week, in two entirely separate conversations, two mums at the school gates (who both have seriously beautiful, youthful skin) recommended the same two products from Green People.

I like going by personal recommendations so decided to give them both a whirl and went ahead and ordered myself the Fruit Scrub and Vita Min Fix 24hr moisturiser.

Exfoliating is a really important part of any skin care routine. Not only does it remove dead cells, it also deep cleans and makes it easier for moisturiser to be absorbed. The Fruit Scrub is a certified organic exfoliator with finely ground apricot kernels in it which gently buff the skin. It smells AMAZING (that would be the mandarin and fair trade bergamot oil) and leaves your skin feeling smooth and clean, without feeling tight and uncomfortable (which is very often the case for me when using a facial scrub).

The moisturiser is quite possibly the best I have ever come across and subsequently I too have been recommending it to mums at the school gate! Also organic - and alcohol, paraben and lanolin free - it's rich in nourishing vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and contains baicalin, which is clinically proven to protect and extend cell life, making it a great anti ageing cream. I've been using this every night for the last couple of weeks and can visibly see a difference in my complexion. Instead of waking up tired and puffy, my face seems to glow, which is just the pick-me-up I needed. I've not had to wear foundation or concealer since using it either, which is unheard of for me in the winter.

If, like mine was, your skin is feeling a bit meh and needs a little treat I would definitely suggest trying one or both of these products out. They are available direct from the Green People website here, with the exfoliator retailing at £13.50, and the moisturiser at £16.50.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Win a bottle of Limited Edition Elephant Sloe Gin from 31DOVER.com!

Dry January? Whats that? Yeah so it's pretty obvious from my Instagram and Twitter feeds that I didn't even attempt to go dry for the first few weeks of this year but hats off to the lot of you that did!

Just in time to celebrate the end of a month of abstinence for many, artisan distillers, Elephant Gin, have launched a new variation of its London Dry Gin.

Introducing.... Elephant Sloe Gin. Created in small batches of 999, this delicious liqueur is made from only the best hand harvested, fresh, wild sloes which are left to macerate in Elephant London Dry Gin for several months. It's the most beautiful deepest of dark reds in colour, slightly cloudy - due to the fact it is unfiltered to retain it's incredible aromatic flavours, and tastes a perfect blend of sweet and tart. I am usually partial to a sloe gin and tonic but I personally think the Elephant Sloe Gin deserves to be savoured, neat over ice. As a pro-sloe gin drinker I can confirm it's very, very good indeed.

And with that in mind, I am very excited to have a small 100ml bottle of Elephant Gin up for grabs so that one lucky reader can try it for themselves! Entry is via the Rafflecopter widget below, and everyone has seven chances of winning. The giveaway closes at midnight on 10 February 2016. Entrants must be over the age of eighteen and a UK resident. The prize will be sent directly from 31DOVER.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Elephant Sloe Gin is available exclusively online from 31Dover.com, and also in store at Fortnum & Mason in London. I was sent a sample for the purpose of this review.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Family Friendly Travel: Visiting Norwich

The vibrant city of Norwich is packed full of things to do that both big and small can enjoy, making it the perfect destination for a family day out or weekend away. My blogging bestie, Ruth from RocknRollerBaby, is moving there from London later this month and the girls and I very excited about paying her, Florence and Jimmy a visit once they're all settled in!

As one of the oldest cities in the country, you’ll find a fantastic mix of the past and present in Norwich. Accompany that with a welcoming atmosphere and activities that your young ones are sure to get excited about, and you’re bound to have a great time.
To make planning your trip a little easier, take a look at this family friendly travel guide for all you need to know:

Getting There 
At only 110 miles from London and 160 miles from Birmingham, Norwich is well connected by both road and rail - meaning getting there could not be easier. If you’d like to drive for the freedom of exploring the surrounding areas, then you’ll find two large multi-storey car parks conveniently situated in the city centre. If you’d prefer to be whisked there from the comfort of the train, direct services run from London Liverpool Street taking just 1 hour 45 minutes. You can find out more about how to get there by taking a look at the Visit Norwich website here

Norwich Castle (Image Source)
Things to see
Take your little ones on a trip through time by checking out the Norwich 12. These historic buildings span the Norman, Medieval and Victorian eras and include landmarks such as Norwich Castle and Norwich Cathedral. If visiting during school holidays then be sure to stop in at the Castle as they run a number of exciting family activities.

Where to Eat
Finding somewhere to eat that the whole family will enjoy can sometimes be a struggle. Luckily, Norwich is home to a number of restaurants that cater to even the fussiest of palettes - situated in central Royal Arcade, Jamie’s Italian Norwich is one such place. Their seasonal Italian dishes and relaxed restaurant atmosphere provides the perfect location for an enjoyable meal with the whole family. We regularly visit our local Jamie's in Guildford (and have reviewed them here) - their award-winning kids' menu is a favourite with my girls. Chicken lollipops anyone? 

Eaton Park is the perfect place to spend a sunny day  (Image Source)

Picnic in the Park
Just a 10 minute drive or bus ride from the city centre sits Eaton Park, this beautiful historic park covers 80 acres and runs lots of activities all year round that cater to families. This is a great place to head on a sunny day for a picnic and afternoon of games in the park with the kids. Eaton Park also has its own model train ride and 18-hole crazy golf course as well as a playground and plenty of space to run around! 
With so many things to see and do, you and your family are sure to make Norwich a destination you will want to visit again and again.

This is a collaborative post.
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