April 2016 | Modern Mummy

Friday, 29 April 2016

On Single Parenthood, Sickness Bugs + Me Time

Generally I'm a pretty upbeat person. I don't see the point in moaning for the sake of it; having a negative attitude won't change things. I prefer to look for the good in people and situations, even if that makes me look a bit daft or naive.

But sometimes things get the better of you.

I've been a single mum for eighteen months. My kiddos are amazing but there's no denying it's hard being their sole carer sometimes; I'm entirely responsible for their wellbeing and there's no respite EVER. I have to admit I'm pretty lucky really, as the girls are good as gold 80% of the time but sometimes, for whatever reason, I find my stress levels close to those of 2007 Britney and it's then that I would just love for there to be someone to share the responsibility of parenthood with so that I can take five and pour myself a laaaaarge gin and tonic.

As a single parent it's down to you to bring the money in, make sure all the bills are paid, fill the fridge with food and ensure that the car is roadworthy and has petrol in it. You are the only person that will clean and tidy the house and do the laundry. You have to do all the school runs and Rainbows runs and birthday party runs (good god, we've had a lot of those recently!). But the hardest thing about doing all this on your own, as I found out last week, is that there is no one to help you when you're poorly.

I hate asking for help. I really do. I don't like to put people on the spot and would hate to make someone feel awkward if they had to say no. It might sound daft but asking for help also makes me feel like I'm incapable and that I've failed.

My parents live 45 miles away and, although they would drop everything to come and help me if I needed them to, I feel awful asking them - especially in situations like last week when it was pretty much just because I wanted my mum to hold my hair back for me while I was being sick ;)

So last week, while I felt like crap, I did what single parents all over the country do and got on with stuff by myself. I didn't do any housework or laundry and missed a couple of work deadlines. But I cracked on with the school runs and mealtimes and bath and bedtimes and, when I was on my own, I put my sexy pink towelling dressing gown on and binge watched Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt from the sofa with a sick bucket at my feet. I felt very sorry for myself indeed (although possibly even more sorry for my poor children, who had a thoroughly miserable and grumpy mum for a few days).

Being unwell by yourself is one thing, but being unwell, on your own and having to force yourself to get on with things for the sake of your kids is another. I only had a little sickness bug, but everything mounting up while I was out of action is what tipped me over the edge. It took me forever to catch up with the backlog of work/housework/laundry and for the first time in a long time I found myself in a real downer.

I love my children more than anything in the world. I am so lucky to have them, and I love our little unit. I'm not bothered about having a social life that doesn't involve them. I'm not the type of person that wants to spend every weekend in the pub (once in a while wouldn't go amiss though ;)). I see plenty of my friends - just in a child friendly capacity where the grown ups and littlies all hang out together. Admittedly sometimes I daydream about spending a night in a hotel room all by myself - with a huge comfy bed and squishy pillows and black out blinds - so that I can catch up on some much needed sleep but I don't think that's a single parent thing!

But after my lurg and the stress of having to catch up with everything I found myself really craving some me time. Just like asking for help, admitting that I need a little time by myself is not something I'm comfortable with plus, generally, if I ever DO get some time by myself, five minutes in and I start pining for my two little ratbags.

Anyhoo I digress.

So we have established that it's not often I get time to myself but, lo and behold, on Tuesday afternoon I found myself footloose and fancy free, and wandering round Brick Lane with Ruth.

We did some street art spotting.

We went vintage shopping.

We drank beer. We ate curry.

We were only there for a few hours and were on our respective trains home by 9pm, but it was the best evening I've had in a long time.

Sometimes all you need is a little bit of time out - to regroup, hang out with friends and do something just for you. Just like sometimes you need to ask your family or a friend for a little bit of help.

I think this past week I've finally accepted that there's nothing wrong with either. Which is why I thought I'd treat you all to these slightly garbled, sleep deprived, post-lurg ramblings. A mother's work is utterly relentless - and its the same for us all; single, married, working, stay at home. I'm not a bad mum for needing a little me time. And if you've been craving some too, neither are you.


Thursday, 28 April 2016

Daily Outfit ♥ April Showers

I don't really think any of us has a clue whats going on with the weather at the moment. We seem to be experiencing all four seasons every single day! This morning, we woke up to frosty lawns and icy cars but then the sun came out and at lunchtime I walked home from work in just a t-shirt! Right now the sky has turned grey and it looks as if the heavens are going to open..... Just in time for the school run of course.

Being British, even when summer is in full swing I always like to carry lightweight jackets with us for those impromptu showers and chilly evenings, and this is the time of year when I usually make my annual purchase so that we get the most wear out of them. When we were approached by Belfast based company, Lighthouse Clothing, to review their new collection earlier this month, the timing couldn't have been more perfect - and we've had plenty of opportunities to put their pieces through their paces!

Lighthouse clothing has a casual, nautical feel to it. The collection of coats, jackets and tops is small but perfectly formed - with something for the whole family. We chose three different lightweight rain jackets; the 'Carrie' printed waterproof coat for Evie, the 'Skipper' nautical coat for Daisy (which actually came from the boys section) and the 'Romy' waterproof jacket for me.

All three are waterproof, windproof and breathable - with the added bonus of being machine washable. They also all have a thin jersey lining that adds a bit of warmth which, lets face it, we definitely need right now! I especially like the closing pockets on the kid's coats (there are poppers on Evie's and zips on Daisy's) which means that they don't lose any treasures that they pick up on our adventures! The hood on my coat is detachable and I like the length as it covers my bum ;)

I love, love, love the bold prints of the two children's coats - I'm a massive fan of bright colours! When it comes to my clothes I do tend to tone it down a little, but the Romy has a wonderful floral lining. One thing I would say is that the kids sizes come up a little small - I ordered Daisy, who is 6, a 7-8 and Evie a 5-6 (she is 3, haha!) and they are both perfect.

Price wise, I really think these jackets are a steal. The girls' coats cost just £24.95 each, although mine is a little more expensive at £89.95.

All c/o Lighthouse Clothing

My love of the coast is well documented on this blog so it goes without saying that I absolutely adore this little video from Lighthouse! Blustery British beaches are just the best. And I love their slogan 'Live Simple, Live Happy' 

We were sent our jackets free of charge, in exchange for this honest review. All words and photos are my own.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

It Takes Someone Strong to Make Someone Strong

Yesterday I was invited to The Savoy Hotel on the Strand for a spot of afternoon tea, to celebrate the global launch of P&G's Olympic 'Thank You, Mum' campaign. Jessica Ennis-Hill and her mum, Alison Powell, are ambassadors - and they were at the Savoy to talk to Gabby Logan about their relationship; how Alison supported Jess in her Olympic dream - and also when she had her son, Reggie, in 2014 and embarked on first time motherhood.

We had a really lovely afternoon in the River Room, drinking tea and eating scones whilst listening to Jess and Alison. She may be an Olympic champion and world heptathlete but Jess really is the most lovely, down to earth woman. She said that she wouldn't be where she is today without the help, support and strength of her mum - and I think a lot of us feel the same about our own mothers. Whilst chatting, Jess mentioned how her parents encouraged her with her sporting dreams and used to ferry her around to all her training sessions, which sounds pretty similar to my own parents, although in my case it wasn't to training sessions, it was to music lessons and gigs ;)

As part of the campaign, P&G released this video, entitled 'Strong', which focuses on the journey of four mums and their kids on their way to the Olympic Games (it's hard to believe there's only 100 days to go until the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio!) and demonstrates the courage and strength mums show their children on a daily basis.

What do you think of P&G's 'Thank You, Mum' video? It's definitely a tear jerker, isn't it! Motherhood is such an incredible gift. I'm so grateful for all the things my mum has done, and continues to do, for me; for the things she has taught me and the support she has given me, both throughout my childhood and now that I'm a mum myself. It's so important to me that my own children know that they can do anything they want to do, and I'll be behind them 100%, just like my mum has always been for me. Thank you, Mum.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Introducing.... TheCharmWorks

I often talk about my love of meaningful, timeless jewellery on here. I'm not a fan of buying cheap, throwaway pieces from fashion stores; I like pieces that I will cherish and will last a lifetime, or pieces that already have and have been handed down to me. Similarly I'd like to be able to give my jewellery to the girls when they're older!

One item that has been on my jewellery wish list for some time is a traditional charm bracelet. I already have a kind of 'charm necklace' with an eclectic mix of pendants that I've collected over the years, but I really wanted a bracelet with decorative trinkets that I could personalise to my taste and add to over time.

Then, earlier this month, TheCharmWorks got in touch with me and asked whether I'd like to choose a bracelet from their collection - and of course I did.

I chose this bracelet with a toggle and an oval pendant and had the girls' dates of birth engraved on either side of the pendant in Roman numerals. I also picked a peace sign charm, because I'm a lover, not a fighter ;) and a shell charm, to represent my love of the sea. The shell charm can be opened and has a pearl inside it which is also my birth stone!

Everything is sterling silver and the quality is exceptional. The prices are also incredibly reasonable with bracelets starting at £13, and charms at just £2.95, with engraving starting at £8.50 and free shipping on orders over £20. My choices cost £65, £6.35 and £24 respectively. Additional charms can purchased as clip ons, or you can post your bracelet back to TheCharmWorks who will attach them for you free of charge which I think is a brilliant service.

All jewellery comes beautifully presented in a gift box and I have to mention the GORGEOUS gift wrapping! I almost didn't want to open it!

With a huge collection of over 2,000 charms and prices to suit all budgets I can't help but think what a wonderful present a bracelet from TheCharmWorks would make, especially knowing that you can add to it on special occasions. I've already decided that I'm going to buy the girls one each for Christmas this year and keep adding to them until they're old enough to wear them. I've also got my eye on a few new charms for myself, namely this one, this one and this one.... It's my birthday in June you know! Hint hint.

DISCLAIMER: I was sent a charm bracelet in exchange for this honest review.

Travelling with Children under Five

Gone are the days when you can just grab your coat, keys, phone and purse and then head out of the door. When leaving the house with kids, there are so many things to remember, and this only increases when you heading off on holiday!

A company called Book Mallorca recently got in touch to share the results of their travel survey. They asked 1000 parents across the UK ‘what is the one item you couldn’t live without when travelling with children under the age of 5?’ The results are really surprising, as you can see from this infographic:

What do you think? Is there anything missing from this list?


Saturday, 23 April 2016

Born to be Wild

If you buy one book this springtime, make it this one!

We're an outdoorsy family. Any free time we have is spent at the park, the beach, in the woods, even in the city. We like to get outside to explore and stretch our legs and aren't put off by bad weather or lack of funds.

We're always on the look out for things to do; although the girls do have screen time I'm actually quite anti TV and iPads. I often think back to my own childhood and all the fun I had without them and I want my children to be able to do the same, rather than reminiscing about the time they spent watching YouTube and playing Minecraft (both of which I'm totally guilty of letting them do, just not for seven hours a day, like the average American child). A few other statistics to get you thinking are:

- According to a 2008 National Trust survey, a third of British children could not identify a magpie
- A survey by Play England proved that children actually prefer to play outdoors rather than indoors, with 88% of children picking the beach or river as their favourite place to be
- 80% of the UK'S happiest people say they have a strong connection with nature

With those figures in the forefront of your mind, let me introduce you to Born to be Wild by Hattie Garlick!

As well as being quite possibly one of the most beautiful books I've ever seen (the layout of the pages and the photographs are completely wonderful and really inspiring), it's the perfect book to buy ahead of the six week summer holidays as it contains over 250 free, nature inspired activities. All you need is a few household items (like scissors), bit of outside space and a whole lot of imagination.... then you're free to have fun racing woodlice (Evie is going to LOVE doing this, HA!) making shell wind chimes (that's one for Daisy) and making dandelion crowns (I quite fancy doing this myself!).

The book is split up into seasons, so there are things to do all year round and, as well as being packed full of crafty ideas, there are also treasure hunts, games and scientific experiments to enjoy (and so much more!)

Another thing I really like about this book is its Ten Commandments for looking after nature. Although it's meant for the grown up reading the book, the girls and I actually read it together and talked about it afterwards. It's all common sense to us adults, of course, but food for thought when you're three and six.

PS: MEGA girl crush on Hattie Garlick who had me laughing out loud while I read her introduction!

I was sent a copy of Born to be Wild in exchange for an honest review. You can buy a copy direct from the RSPB for £16.99 (and it's also available in all good book shops) and I totally recommend that you do. It will honestly be the best £16.99 you ever spend when you take into account the amount of fun you're going to have once you've read it!


Thursday, 21 April 2016

Celebrating National Tea Day with Disney

Today is National Tea Day - a day dedicated to Britain's national drink.

I honestly don't think I could function without my usual half dozen cups of tea every day. Tea wakes me up first thing in the morning, perks me up in the afternoon and my bedtime cup is probably my favourite of them all. As well as the 'functional' cups, I also love the 'social' cups; there's nothing quite like having your friends round for a cup of tea, a slice of cake and a good old natter.

The kids might not love tea as much as I do (although they do enjoy a milky brew as a treat every now and again) - but they do love a good tea party! In honour of this special day, Jakks Toys sent us a little box of goodies to throw a tea party fit for royalty!

We're already fans of the Disney Toddler Dolls range - Father Christmas brought the girls Anna and Elsa last year! - so they were chuffed to bits to receive Sofia, Cinderella, Belle and Rapunzel in the post, along with a Sofia the First tea set. Every little girl needs a tea set and this one doesn't disappoint. With a teapot, two cups and spoons, a selection of fabric cakes and a picnic blanket, it's the perfect toy to encourage imaginative play.

These toys are the girls' current faves so I'm fairly certain they'll be played with today. I'm also fairly certain I'll be raising a mug or two of my favourite drink in honour of National Tea Day! How will you be celebrating?

We were sent a Sofia the First tea set (RRP £15) and four Disney Princess Toddler Dolls (RRP £19.99-£24.99) in order to have our own Disney tea party. All words are true and my own.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Springtime, Sunshine + Brand New Clogs

At long last spring appears to have sprung and that can only mean one thing: IT'S TIME FOR BARE LEGS AND CLOGS! This makes me HAPPY!

Clogs are, without doubt, my favourite footwear for the warmer months. They're stylish, comfy and look brilliant with any outfit. I love wearing heels but I walk everywhere - and clogs are the only shoes I can pound the pavements in without my feet or legs hurting!

When it comes to clothes and accessories, the girls have pretty similar taste to me so it was only a matter of time before they wanted Mohedas of their own. And I was pretty excited for us to pick out their first pairs together!

For Evie, we chose a pair with a low heel that could be worn as a mule. They still have an ankle strap for support but I really like that she can just slip them on and off easily - they'll be great in the summer.

Daisy wanted a pair like mine. She has worn high heels before for special occasions, so we chose a pair of bambis, with mini heels and a braided nubuck upper, just like my Moheda Bettys ;)

Evie wears: Little Bird by Jools dress, hand me down - Mothercare // Pale Pink Bambi clogs, £39 c/o Moheda
Daisy wears: Skirt, last season - Joules // Petra Roseanna clogs, £35 c/o Moheda

Of course I had to get some for myself too - these Sofie clogs are a beautiful soft, pale grey leather and have 6.5cm heels. They are also c/o Moheda. I think this might be my 11th pair? But who's counting, right?


Today I went Food Shopping + Other Exciting Stories

Today I was child free, so I did the weekly supermarket shop (as you do). I'm a bit of a weirdo really; I actually genuinely enjoy wandering around the aisles buying bits and pieces for the house and picking out the ingredients for our week's meals.

I'm really anti food waste so am quite good when it comes to planning ahead (I always stock take, meal plan and make a list before I head to the shops) but I'm also a complete sucker for a bargain and always end up buying more than I planned to. Bearing in mind it's only the three of us at home (plus Mabel the cat) we spend a silly amount every week... I'm talking £80 on the big shop plus an additional £20 top up a few days later. I'd really like to reduce that if I can.

According to research from the Money Advice Service, on average, supermarket offers encourage us to spend 21% more than we intend to. I'm enticed in by multi-buys and BOGOFs every single week - they may seem like a bargain but if they aren't needed or aren't going to get used/eaten there's really little point in buying them! Other factors that make us spend more on the weekly shop are being unprepared, having a rumbly tummy and shopping with kids in tow.

Budget, plan, shop around, switch to supermarket own brands, use coupons and be smart when it comes to special offers and you can reduce your expenses dramatically. Just having a shopping list can save you up to £200 a year!

For more brilliant tips on shopping smarter and saving money, take a look at the infographic below or visit the Money Advice Service website.


Sunday, 17 April 2016

A Saturday Night In with BGT + an #EpicDanceOff

Last week MoneySuperMarket challenged us to throw an epic party to celebrate the premiere of their new advert.

When it comes to having a party and a bit of a late night, we don't need asking twice! We were already excited about Britain's Got Talent returning to our screens; having an excuse to buy party food (and wine, ahem) was the icing on the cake!

So we took to the shops and bought everything we needed to create an immense eighties inspired spread of sandwiches, cheese + pineapple, pizza, sausage rolls, scotch eggs, party rings, jammy dodgers and jelly and ice cream and invited our neighbours over for a bit of a do.

When you're three and six you don't need much to have a good time. A whole lot of sugar and permission to jump up and down on the sofa is a party in itself!

We all loved watching the BGT auditions and I rather enjoyed watching the hype about the new MoneySupermarket ad fill my Twitter timeline too! Needless to say it was brilliant, and there was a whole lot of body popping and jiggling going on in our front room for the duration. It seems the rest of the world enjoyed it too!

And after an hour and a half of eating and watching and dancing, the laughter turned to mild hysteria and younger members of our party were ready to crash!

If you fancy a giggle, have a watch of the #EpicDanceOff ad for yourself. My money's on Dave ;) Who's your favourite? You can vote on the MoneySuperMarket website here!



Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Movie Night: Our Weekly Tradition

Every Friday night is movie night in our house. For the last year or so I've been buying second hand DVDs from eBay and introducing the girls to all my favourite family films of the 80s and 90s. Bigfoot + the Hendersons, The Neverending Story, The Goonies; it's great for me as I get to re-watch the films I enjoyed so much in my youth, but its also great for the kids because, lets face it, they just don't make them like they used to!

I love a good movie, and spend most evenings watching something or other on Netflix once the girls have gone to bed. But watching a film is so much more fun when you do it with people that you love!

Our Movie Nights usually involve ordering in Dominos and getting sweets and popcorn to nibble on as well. Its a great excuse to kick start the weekend with a bit of a late night and some quality family time. We aren't huge TV watchers, but there's something a bit special about watching a classic film and talking about it all together once it has finished! 

Last week the girls watched their first ever Harry Potter film - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. We all got into our pyjamas, shared the snacks out between us, turned off the lights and snuggled up on the sofa! 

Daisy loved it (Evie, not so much - although she is only three) and has asked for the books so we'll carry on with the box set once she's read a couple of them. In the meantime, this Friday we have Who Framed Roger Rabbit lined up - can you believe that film came out in 1988?!

We were sent the Harry Potter Box Set and some goodies by Gracewell Care Home Providers so that we could enjoy a movie night at home. Movie Nights are regular events at their many care homes and because they're such a great way to get the generations to stay in contact and socialise with each other, residents' families are encouraged to attend, which I think is a lovely idea.


Remodelling Kids' Bedrooms

So - your kids are getting older and suddenly they decide they want a more grown up bedroom.... They begin to constantly moan at you about the room that they have been happy in for so many years. You are getting tired of hearing: “I hate pink/blue/yellow!”; “Peppa Pig is for babies”; “What made you think I would ever want the alphabet on my bedroom wall…?” 

Sound familiar? Then it's probably time to decorate the space where a child once played with dolls and toy cars, and turn it into a space where a young adult can instead hang out with friends and listen to music. 

What you need to do now is design a room that will see them through their teenage years, because tastes are likely to change, and you may not be in a position to throw everything out and re-decorate on a regular basis. 

Here are a few ideas on how to remodel your child’s bedroom as they turn into a teenager: 

Image via here

Colour scheme: 
When choosing a colour scheme it is best to keep it neutral so that you don’t paint the room black only for them to decide, 'that is so last week', before the paint is even dry! There are many ways they can then add the colour of their choice to the room, which can then easily be changed as and when they wish. 

This could be via the bedding, extra pillows, rugs, lampshades, and so on. For the wall think framed posters, prints and perhaps even a hanging wall tapestry or stencil to give the room some character. You might also want to hang a large corkboard so they can stick up photos of them and their friends, concert tickets and other mementos.     

Keep what you can: 
You don’t have to throw out all the furniture – keep what you can and either paint it to fit in with their new grown-up colour scheme, or repurpose it to make it something completely new and unique that they are excited to show off to their friends.  

So what do you do with their toys? Obviously they have to go – they say they don’t want them anymore and you can’t have a grown up room that is full of teddy bears and kids toys. But what if you throw them out and they regret it a week later? 

That is why you might want to put it all in to storage, like this example in Heathrow, instead of throwing it away or selling it all. That way you can get it back if you need to! This is also a perfect place to keep the furniture if you are deciding what to do with it.

The majority of teenagers will have incredibly messy rooms; unmade beds, so many clothes on the floor you can’t see the carpet, a wardrobe bursting open with everything but clothes. So you need to ensure that there is plenty of storage - give as much as you can a ‘home,’ which will make it easier to keep it tidy. 

The bed: 
When it comes to buying them a new bed you may want to invest in a double, so you don’t have to buy another one in a few years' time when they outgrow a single. You might want to ensure this also has plenty of storage space – an ottoman that opens up, or one with room underneath for boxes. 

You could also consider a bunk bed, where the bottom half, rather than a second bed, provides a desk and/or seating area – which are both vital for a teenager who needs to complete homework and hang out with friends. 


Monday, 11 April 2016

We're Official Camp Bestival 2016 Bloggers!

Happy Monday one, happy Monday all!

I'm in an extra good mood this morning because this summer we are going to be official Camp Bestival bloggers for the fourth year running!

This year, as always, there is an AWESOME line up <<see below>> and an even BETTER fancy dress theme! We spent most of the weekend getting excited about our Outer Space outfits.

As well as the live music and DJ sets, there's also a great line up of kiddie entertainment, arts, crafts and activities, and theatre - and the foodie line up looks pretty rad too (everyone knows the food is one of my favourite parts of Camp Bestival!)

Tickets are on sale now - you can buy yours online here. Will we see you there?

Take a look at our previous years at Camp Bestival here (2013), here (2014) and here (2015).

Sunday, 10 April 2016

A Pizza Party for the #PizzaExpressFamily Kiddos

Over the past few weeks, I've been working on a campaign with Pizza Express to help promote eating out as a family. The girls and I reviewed our local restaurant at the beginning of the Easter holidays and then last week, along with twelve other bloggers, we hosted a Twitter party to talk about what people like about dining out with their families, what they don't, and what restaurants do right when it comes to making it a pleasurable experience.

It was universally agreed that Pizza Express have nailed it when it comes to family friendly eating; they have a brilliant, authentic and extensive Italian menu that everyone enjoys and they also treat children as they do grown ups, which makes everyone happy! 

Today was the last day of the campaign, and we were invited to Pizza Express in Westfields, Stratford for a pizza party!

We eat at Pizza Express all the time, but have never been to one of their pizza parties, so all three of us were pretty excited to see what happens at one! It was also a chance to catch up with the other brilliant bloggers that have been taking part in the campaign (I'm talking about you RocknRollerBaby, What The Redhead Said, Mummy Matters, Me and My Shadow and Blog by Baby!)

When we arrived, we were all seated, and an area at the back of the restaurant had been sectioned off to create workspaces for all the children.

Gean was our head chef for the morning; he and his colleagues had already laid everything out ready for the kids to crack on. As well as talking them through the steps involved in making a pizza, he also helped every child and gave demonstrations too. He was utterly brilliant at keeping the children entertained and praising them, making them all feel very special.

Daisy and Evie loved being able to choose their own toppings - and also enjoyed wearing their chefs hats and aprons!

While they were busy making their lunch, us grown ups got to sample all the new dishes on the spring menu (I finally got to taste the Hawaiian pizza that everyone had been raving about in their reviews - it was the best pizza I've ever had and I'm not usually a fan of fruit on pizza!). Once the children's pizzas had been numbered (to make they went back to the right person) they were put into the oven, and the kids were given dough balls to munch on and were invited to take part in a colouring competition while they cooked.

If you want to find out exactly what goes on at one of these parties, you can take a little look at this video I made!

The kids loved every minute of the pizza party and were very proud of their pizzas! Evie has already asked to go to Pizza Express with her friends for her fourth birthday later this year.

The girls had an absolutely brilliant time - thanks so much to Gean and the team for looking after us and for being brilliant party hosts!

Our food and drinks were complimentary in exchange for this honest review. All words and photographs are my own.


A Morning at the BT Tower with UNICEF

Last week we spent two awesome days gallivanting around London Town with the RocknRoller Baby family. One of the reasons for our visit to the capital was to take part in BT and UNICEF's 300th Internet Safety workshop.

Their new internet safety programme, called The Right Click: Internet Safety Matters, has been designed to help children use the internet safely and securely - and so far over 7,000 children, parents and teachers have benefitted from it nationwide.

As a blogger, I like to think I'm pretty savvy when it comes to internet security. But because Daisy and Evie are so young, I hadn't really considered how I would teach them about staying safe while online. At the moment they use the YouTube kids app but that's pretty much it - although they are both aware of the different forms of social media I use as part of my job.

As well empowering children to become confident online, the programme also works to give parents and teachers the skills to help the children they are in charge of, i.e. by using parental controls and by talking about internet safety openly with their kids.

I know it's only a matter of time before the girls will want to use the internet to speak to their friends and that's when the information I learned today will really be useful.

The children looking out at Primrose Hill

After our workshop we were invited up to the infamous revolving 34th floor of the BT Tower. We are lucky enough to have been there once before (read all about the time we met the Minions here!) but I will never tire of the incredible panoramic views. The first time we were there, it was a rather smoggy day - but this time the skies were clear and we could see absolutely everything. My Nan's flat in Victoria, Wembley, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, the Shard, the Gherkin, Canary Wharf, London Zoo, Primrose Hill. If you ever get the opportunity to go, you absolutely must.

Daisy and I, with the London skyline in the background

Evie wasn't in the earlier picture as she was too busy being grumpy (and eating EVERYTHING)

Thanks to BT and UNICEF for a brilliant day. It was educational and super fun! Take a look here for info about the campaign.


Saturday, 9 April 2016

6 Stag and Hen Ideas for 2017

Stag and hen parties have been happening throughout history in one form or another. Nowadays, they’re typically associated with heavy drinking, raucous crowds and an entertainer in various states of undress - but your party doesn’t have to be quite so predictable…

Image via here
For the Hens

1. A Silver Send Off
You’ll bag yourself some new accessories and enjoy a good catch up with the girls at the London Jewellery School. They offer a ‘Silver Send Off’ private class for hens and the bride, lasting for three hours in central London: materials are included, and each hen gets to make a piece to wear on the big day, as well as creating a keepsake charm to go on the bride’s bracelet for luck. But don’t worry if you turn out to be all fingers and thumbs… you can buy beautiful diamond earrings online to dazzle in the sunshine and glisten by candlelight on the day of the wedding!

2. Glamping in the countryside
Are you a country loving girl but hate the idea of roughing it in a sleeping bag? You should consider glamping! Book yourself into glamorous accommodation set within rolling hills and lush woodlands – many come with hot showers, log burning stoves, proper beds and optional catering. You’ll enjoy a group stroll in your wellies, dinner by the fire and a good gossip over a bottle of champagne with the girls!

3. A girl’s night in 
Is there anything more nostalgic than those sleepovers you had with your best friend when you were little? You know, those ones with the midnight feasts, tubs of ice cream and a movie on DVD… well, you can recreate it for your hen do, and is an especially practical option for cash-strapped bridal parties. Get together for a manicure by booking a professional to come over, break out the chick flicks and dig into steaming bowls of pop corn!

For the Stags

1. It’s a Knockout!
Action men (or straight up fun loving stags) will enjoy this replica version of the hit TV show – with an obstacle course, gallons of water, plenty of foam and a whole load of ridiculous costumes, you’re bound to enjoy the day! If you’ve ever found yourself chuckling at the telly while watching a programme like this, or thought you’d do a better job of it than the contestants, put your money where you mouth is and sign yourself up…

2. A laid back day in a classy location
Are you a quieter, less ‘centre stage’ stag than some of the blokes you hear about?
If so, the idea of nightclubs and fancy dress might send you into a minor panic. Bypass the stereotypical stag do and head to somewhere like Cambridge instead: stags and their friends can hire punting boats or be taken on a tour by professionals, devour a platter of steaks, hot wings and burgers in the city’s many restaurants, and then take a leisurely amble from pub to pub as it strikes your fancy. Perfect!

3. Tank Driving

Ever watched those World War 2 films and wondered what it would be like to drive a tank? Well, take your stag party and head to woodland on the outskirts of Leeds to find out! You’ll be surprised how quickly these massive vehicles travel at maximum speed and get to benefit from the expertise of professional experienced marshals. Each tank is equipped with paintballs, so master the skid steer system and fire away!


Friday, 8 April 2016


I am a dress wearer. I've said this before and I'll say it again: I just don't get people who say how 'easy' it is to throw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt in the morning! I'm tired and grumpy in the morning, picking out a top/bottom combo is hard work.... What's easier than just putting on a dress?

Every spring I always invest in a few new frocks. Ones that I know suit me, that can be worn in any season, and that are good quality so will last for years. I'm not a throwaway fashionista, I like to re-wear again and again.

2014 was all about the Nancy from Boden. Remember that one? I ended up buying every single pattern (and am wearing the blue one today!) Then last year it was the Beatrice, also from Boden, and which I also ended up buying more than one of, much to my bank manager's delight.

This year I would like to introduce you to the Emmeline from Joules!

It fits perfectly, is machine washable - AND IT DOESN'T NEED IRONING! (Oh my goodness, this make me happier than it should!) It's only available in navy blue, but that's probably a good thing as I'm not the richest right now. (Although if you're listening, Joules, a mustard yellow or off white would be rather nice for a future collection!)

Both c/o Joules

Evie took the photos.... can you tell? ;) And then she asked me to take one of her, which of course I did, because how could I not when she looked so dang cute?! 

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty

Last Christmas, Daisy and I went to see The Nutcracker as a festive treat. It was the first time either of us had visited the Royal Opera House and the first time either of us had been to the ballet and we both loved every minute of it. Everything about the performance was absolutely incredible - the ballerinas, the set, the costumes - and it's something we hope to do every year from now on. Next year we'd also like to take Evie. We didn't this time because she had only just turned three and the show was almost two and a half hours long which I didn't think she'd sit through.

But she was gutted to miss out, especially when it was all her big sister talked about for weeks and weeks afterwards! Both girls love ballet and ended up spending the majority of the Christmas holidays watching clips on YouTube and trying to copy the ballerinas.

Then last month, the English National Ballet approached us and asked us if we'd like to go and see Sleeping Beauty - but not just any production - a reimagined version of the classic especially for children! Of course we were thrilled to be invited, Evie especially, so we made our way to the Peacock Theatre in London last week.

Aimed at children aged 3+, the show was shortened to just an hour in length and also had a narrator to help the younger members of the audience follow the story of Princess Aurora, who is cursed by the evil fairy Carabosse!

As you would expect, the set was incredible and the set changes were flawless; from the grand hall of the palace, to the dark and spooky woods - everything was beautiful. As were the costumes! And the dancers, who were all second year students from the English National Ballet School, were absolutely out of this world.

Sleeping Beauty really was a wonderful introduction to the ballet and it was utterly perfect for Evie (although Daisy loved it too - as did I).

My First Ballet: Sleeping Beauty is currently on a national tour, with dates all over the UK up until 10th July. For tickets, take a look at the English National Ballet website here. They start at just £7, which is an unbelievable price for something so special.

We were given complimentary tickets in exchange for this honest review.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

A Family Dinner at Verdi Italian Kitchen, The Royal Albert Hall

Every now and again, I really enjoy getting a little bit dressed up and heading out somewhere fancy for dinner. Pre-kids I'd do it all the time, but these days I struggle get a babysitter so it doesn't happen quite so often.

But THEN The Verdi Italian Kitchen asked Ruth from RocknRoller Baby and I if we'd like to take our children to review their kids menu, which of course we did, and which also meant I didn't have to worry about getting a babysitter! Yay.

We were already in town (staying at the Travelodge in London Docklands) so we put on our glad rags, jumped on the DLR and District Line to South Ken and worked up an appetite on the short walk from the tube station to the Royal Albert Hall.

There's no denying that the Royal Albert Hall is a seriously impressive and iconic building and I'd never been there before so there was much excitement as we arrived; from both adults and kids! The building was beautifully lit up, and we had to ascend a big sweeping staircase to get to the restaurant. On arrival we were greeted by two very happy and efficient hostesses, who knew who we were and took us straight to our table.

The restaurant was packed with pre-show diners (although it is also open for casual dining too) but, despite the extremely busy atmosphere (we arrived shortly before people started asking for their bills and going through to the auditorium) we received excellent service from the waiting staff throughout our meal.

While we were pouring over the AMAZING menu, we were given garlic and rosemary breadsticks to nibble on, which was just as well as it took us a long time to choose which delicious dishes we wanted! The kids were given colouring pages and pencils to keep them entertained, and our waitress also offered to bring their food first, which I think is always a great idea.

Kids can have either two courses of authentic Italian cuisine for £7 or three for £9. Of course our little piglets opted for the three, with garlic bread and crispy mozzarella balls to start, dishes of veal and pork bolognese pasta and brilliant bunny shaped pizzas for their mains and what they called 'nutella' ice cream for dessert (it was actually chocolate hazelnut praline ice cream but tasted pretty much the same i.e. DIVINE!).

We may have been there to review the kids menu, but us grown ups had to eat too! Ruth and I chose to share gamberi in pancetta and arancini siciliani for our starters (the prawns were the BEST I have EVER tasted!) I went on to have the insalata di Guiseppe as my main (a salad consisting of pancetta, baby spinach, avocado and roasted peppers with a balsamic dressing) while Ruth had the sea bass special, and then we each had two bigne alla crema, one filled with vanilla and the other with chocolate. We may or may not have also had a large limoncello each (and an espresso, of course).

Although the restaurant was busy when we first got there at 6pm, by half past it had quietened down quite significantly. If you're heading there to dine with children, I would definitely recommend going that little bit later if you can. Evie was really tired after a full day in London, and had a mini meltdown at the beginning of our evening and, although I took her outside, I was rather worried about disturbing the other diners. The staff were incredibly understanding though, and very accommodating - especially after I came back in with a three year old fast asleep on me!

Verdi serves the most exceptional and authentic Italian food, and is open from midday until 9pm Tuesday to Sunday (with afternoon tea being served in-between 2pm and 4.30pm). If you're nearby and looking for somewhere fancy to take your family for a special occasion I can't recommend it highly enough.

We were invited to Verdi Italian Kitchen for a complimentary meal. All views and photographs are my own.

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