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Thank god this is the year of the flat (ish) shoe!

I say that with slightly clenched teeth.  I like my heels.  When I am not pregnant, my body lends itself well to having a little va voom in the heel department. Now at 24 weeks pregnant, with my feet starting to do ‘the pregnancy spread’ and my back telling me that high heels are definitely off the menu, I have been researching LOADS of flats and block heels.  Here are my favourite ones.   Starting with trainer types;

So, it started with a CRUSH on a pair of New Balance 420′s Vintage Style, that I simply CANNOT get in the colour way I want in my size.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE these trainers and wish they could be mine.  So, for all of you with small dainty feet – get shopping!

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Superga Cotu Classic Sneaker £45.00 – a total classic, you can’t go wrong with a pair of these.  They look good, wear well and can be worn with trousers or shirts.  You can buy them here in a variety of colours.

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Slightly more casual but still fairly elegant (as sneaker types go!) – The Bensimon Tennis Elly Shoe in white – £35.00.  Great for the summer. Buy them here.

trainer2I have a fixation with Skater shoes at the moment. Supa comfy and look great with boyfriend jeans or turned up skinnies.  Take a look at these bad boys! Litzie pin stud slip on chunky sole shoes – £75

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Moving to sandals – how about these?  Gap Classic Sandals – £29.95

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These would look great with skirt/dress/trousers – Dune Ladies Neutral Leticia – £89.00

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 I LOVE these!  They look really comfortable as well.  Steve Madden Black Herra – £75

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Straight in to more spangly sandals

Boden Embellished Summer Sandal – reduced to £53.75

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Or these ones from Aspiga – Rosa – £80

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I think these would look fab on.  Dune – Jayla – £59.00

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Clarks have come up trumps with these a block heel which looks elegant. – Clarks Smart Deva – £49.99

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These are from Dune – Funkie – £59.00

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I have posted loads of other ideas on to my pinterest boards.  There is a board for FLATS and one for BLOCK HEELS & LOW WEDGES.

The Feathered Nest – A Birthday Lunch.

The Husband had his birthday last week and I decided to take him out for lunch – just the two of us.  A rare treat……time alone and time to take a deep breath, chat, laugh and concentrate on each other.  Well that’s the vision in my head.  The reality is that one glass of champagne later and both of us are quite giggly….which leads into irrelevant discussions, hopeless laughing and a large amount of over eating – the perfect afternoon!

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I chose The Feathered Nest in Nether Westcote because its BEEEEAUUUUUTTTTIFFFFUUUULLL and it isn’t a pub that I would go to with The Toddler (although ‘well behaved’ children are very welcome…….I never get that – what do they do with the ones that misbehave – tie them to a tree?).  My husband loves beautiful scenery, wine and food (and not necessarily that way round) so it seemed fitting.  Hardens describes it as “stylish and soigne, this Cotswold Gastropub in a beautiful setting, hidden away down winding lanes is worth seeking for its refined cuisine”.  It is “proper Cotswold”!

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I took my camera – which I am learning to use – its a hefty brute, but I am determined to learn how to use it on different settings.  Here are some of the snap shots I took of a lovely couple of hours.  Some of the pictures I took were not good enough to publish, so I have used a couple from the Feathered Nest Website and from The Telegraph review of the pub.

The inside of the pub is immaculate, but quirky.  Check out these bar stools.  Saddles.  Quite a sight and probably not one to try in a pencil skirt….

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There is memorabilia everywhere, all good old English stuff, which makes the pub seem really welcoming.

2014-04-15 13.38.13-2Such an awesome antler chandlier..

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Beautifully picked memorabillia around the pub.

We sat in the April sunshine and took in the awesome views…

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The food was delicious.  I’m not a restaurant critic, but I love my food.  As we were feeling merry after our Champagne, sofistication went out the window and we both had burgers as our main courses.  I must say – they were delicious and cooked to order – just how it should be!  The onion rings deserve a special mention because they had to be the best onion rings I have EVER tasted!

2014-04-15 12.35.57-1The starters were wonderful as well.

Potted Shrimps

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Octopus with chorizo, samphire and red emmalie potatoes

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The menu is updated regularly, so take a look at it.  What a lovely place to spend an afternoon.  If you are Cotswold bound, get yourselves here…..there are bedrooms as well so you can make a weekend of it!

 

 

Vita Coco Kids Drinks

The Toddler has been part of a tasting panel that has been going on for several months now.  Vita Coco – the coconut water legends had decided to expand their range to encompass children as well.  The Toddler put his seal of approval or disapproval on various flavours along with many others until they came up with their final flavours.  Apple and Blackcurrant and Mango and Pineapple.  We were sent a lovely box of them to try and here is the result….

 

The Vita Coco Kids taste test performed by The Toddler!

 

VitacocoSo, there we have it! As you can see no tears, lots of slurping and a tiny bit of squeezing the carton as well because its fun getting soaked!  Seeing as The Toddler has a vocabulary which revolves around yelling BOAT, TRACTOR and saying NO, NO, YES…..I am going to have to translate for you.  He sat still (ish) for a good few minutes – that’s because we don’t drink juice normally at home, its what I like to think of as a treat for when we are out or doing something like a picnic – he was really happy to be in possession of a carton!  The straw caused a couple of moments of mirth because I wanted him to drink with the logo facing outwards (makes for a nicer photo) but being little and looping straws over cartons is hard work so we just went with the flow.

He LOVED the Apple and Blackcurrant.  So much so that once he had rushed around the garden a few more times, he came back for more of it!  The Mango and Pineapple is probably better suited for a slightly older palette – I like it!

So, what make these stand out from the rest of the gazillion juices on the market.  Well, they are made with 37.5% Coconut Water which is naturally sweet which negates the need for them to shove any artificial sweetners in to the mix.  They are flavoured using natural flavours – so the essential oils, extracts and natural essences derived from each fruit.

When it comes to sugar (which most parents are obsessed by!) here is the down low…… for each 180ml serving, most leading juices have about 16g of sugar – Vita Coco Kids has 9g and more importantly it has Potassium at 170mg which is a fantastic hydrator so perfect for kids that rush around!

Available on Amazon and if you are and Amazon Prime member, you can get it delivered to your door for free.  How easy it that! Failing that make sure to keep your eyes peeled as a quick search on My Supermarket showed it being available in Waitrose and online at Ocado.

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The Toddlers verdict?  A big thumbs up and definitely something that we will have on hand for picnics and special occasions.  Saves him nicking my grown up Vita Coco!

*we were sent some cartons of Vita Coco Kids drinks in return for an honest review.

 

 

Hello Cotswolds (again) ……

Burford

We’ve moved house.  Thank god!  Surrey wasn’t pressing the right buttons for either of us and we decided to make some fairly major changes which involved moving 90 miles up the road back to the edge of the Cotswolds and where my heart had definitely been saying we needed to go.

Its hard isn’t it knowing where to live.  We live such fractured lives now moving around so easily and switching countries at the swish of a passport.  I love the idea of being able to get up and go and my husband and I both have a wanderlust that is well matched (if my Mum didn’t have Alzheimer’s, there is a very good chance we wouldn’t live in the UK for a couple of years).  That said, we really needed to set down roots for us as a family.  He comes from Jersey and I come from East Kent…….with my Dad being in Wiltshire – so we had pretty much the whole of the South of England to choose from.  We went to Surrey because it was an easy commute to London.  It was.  Very.  But with easy commutes comes compromise and having lived in The Cotswolds before, I didn’t adjust well to the compromises at all.  Mostly I missed the community spirit that happens the further you live away from London.  Its hard to describe and I certainly don’t want to trash Surrey – it works well on many levels for many people…..it did us very nicely for that period of our lives, but we both felt a little ‘meh’ about life there.

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Now we live near Burford.  30 minutes from Cheltenham, 30 mins from Oxford.  Close to some fabulous Market Towns and honestly there are more awesome foodie hangouts than you can shake a stick at in a 15 minute radius of here! Dogs walks are insane and The Toddler is spoiled for choice when it comes to activity and classes and his new nursery ROCKS (they go and pat the sheep and count the lambs down the lane…..I honestly couldn’t have wanted more for him at this stage).  As I type, my husband is testing out one of the local golf courses to see if it ‘challenges’ him. The local garden centre is off the rickter scale and offers not only plants, but food, homewares and much much more and good old Daylesford is up the road for a posh coffee and a massage. Happy Happy Days.

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So after 3 weeks of no broadband, I’m back and here are a couple of pictures of the views from our new home and stuff. Blogging will be resumed properly next week…..

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When to ‘stick like glue’…..my best discovery so far this year!

I have to tell you about my find.  I think its GENIUS.  It has certainly helped us out of one of the many Toddler traps that we were falling in to.

The time had come to remove any of our possessions that we loved, just for the fear of them being broken.  Ornaments, picture frames, basically anything that wasn’t fixed to the surface was in jeopardy….until I discovered MUSEUM GEL.  The Toddler is a pretty relaxed child, he isn’t destructive, more inquisitive about things that are just in/out of his reach.  This has proved the perfect solution – I also have peace of mind when the ginormous cat/dog throws himself at a bureau in an ungainly way that things will remain put……he’s managed to smash a couple of  ornaments in his short life, but things are safer now that they have museum gel on them!

So, I can’t really make this any more than it is…..here’s the product…..and yes it REALLY (I know I’m shouting, I’m very excited!) works.  If BT would hurry up and fix my internet and I wasn’t using a chuffing mobile dongle thingy, then I would upload a video for you.  Get it, buy it, you wont regret it!

Right, what else can I stick down…..I may even try sticking The Toddler to the same spot for fun (joke)

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Good Grief – One of many ways to cope with a family member with Alzheimer’s.

Grief

Grief is a funny (!) thing.  As humans we grieve things – loss of friendship, loss of possessions, loss of health – so many things.  Then there is loss of something infinitely more tricky to get your soul around.  The loss of someone you love. Right there.  In front of your eyes.  Slowly vanishing, being  eaten away by a degenerative disease .  When I say loss it sounds like I am being sloppy, like I should gather my wits and go get back the thing that seems to be creeping away, except I can’t.  Like so many other families who have loved ones who are suffering from degenerative diseases, the worst part of it is the watching life literally slip through everyone’s fingers.

When my Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimers, I was already on the path of grief and yet I didn’t know it.  It didn’t take a neurologist to work out things were not going so well for her.  As a daughter I was already experiencing the gut wrenching pain that was a bond so close, fun and happy starting to diminish.  At the time, I really needed my Mum.  I couldn’t bear the fact that she wasn’t ‘there’ in the way I needed her.  She had been my rock, my sounding board, my saviour and now, in the middle of the blur of life and a right royal mess that I had gotten myself in to, the tables were  turning and I was becoming the carer in the relationship.  There was a  mentally dark dark patch for me.  A time of intense mental wrangle.  I don’t think that I really understood that my own mental health was seriously jeopardised at this time and that I changed as a person into something almost unrecognisable.  I couldn’t grieve.  I simply couldn’t grieve for the loss that I was experiencing.  I seemed like I was giving up on her by letting my grief out.

The first time I really let my grief out was to my now husband.  It took both of us by surprise; I had kept things as private as I could, trying to carry on as usual compartmentalising Mums illness under the title of “deal with it later”.  Then wallop, there it was, hot grief that had been culminating over time. Hideous, wracked body sobbing.  And then more sobbing because it felt wrong to be sobbing for someone that was still alive.  And you know what…..My husband told me it was OK.  Simple words.  It was OK.  No drama.  I wasn’t creating drama, in fact it was healthy to just let it out.  And that’s when the penny started to drop.  Grieving is so hard; everyone has to grieve in their own time and their own way.  To start to grieve is a terrifying thought.  The idea that you may lose control, become some dodgy person that other people avoid.  Imagine losing the plot completely?  Those were all things that terrified me.

I think of Mum’s illness as a drip feed of grief.  It is unique to me, the way that I cope with it and in turn grieve it.  Sod being acceptable to ‘society’ in the way you grieve.  For me trying to grieve or not grieve was nearly the unravelling of me.  So here I am 4 years into the diagnosed Alzheimers journey with my Mum.  Now I am starting to work out my own formula for loss and losing her.  I am learning to let myself be peaceful and to grieve when I want to.   I think of all the great times that we have had together and of course all the lovely memories that I will continue to create with her.  These are so important, they help me to keep the grief in perspective.

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As I was writing this, I got a card in the post.  We have recently moved house – my Mums carer and Mum had gone and bought one (all the carers doing, Mum doesn’t even know where I live, let alone that I am pregnant again). A heart warming moment receiving a card from Mum and then I looked at the message and the tears started.  My Mums writing has ‘gone’ – another twist of this cruel disease.  More hot tears as I tried to decipher the message, a huge hug from my husband and son and that little bit of grief is now ‘out there’ and I feel more peaceful because of it.

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This is the way life is now.  It doesn’t mean I don’t lead a happy and lovely life, I do, I really do.  Its just that I have learn’t that letting things go that I can’t control is much the best way.  It keeps my grief in perspective on a day to day basis and helps me keep on an even keel.

How do you cope with grief?  Do you have your own coping strategy?  I’d love to hear from you.

 

Pregnancy Wardrobe Using NON Pregnancy Clothes!

Last time I was pregnant, I went ALL out to get all the pregnancy bits and bobs I could get….its novel, you want the wrap top that allegedly goes round your growing bump, the band that everyone tells you to get, the dresses with the boob out option (thats for later!) – its all so exciting and fun…….fast forward 9, 10, 11 months and the novelty has well and truely worn off.  Not pregnant any more, you want desperately to fit back into ‘normal’ clothes… so this time round I thought that with a bit of effort I could try and keep my wardrobe 50:50 with pregnancy and everyday clothes.  This is what I have acheived so far……..

Jeans: Next Maternity Relaxed Skinnys – £28

Boots – Cara Elderberry Suede Ankle Boot Taupe – £90

Cardigan – Marie Sixtine Louis Cardigan – £75

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Excuse my scrumpled jeans….didn’t realise that was going on or else I would have given them a good tug!

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This jacket works really well with jeans or chino’s -

Jacket -Next Long Sleeve Waterfall Jacket – £32 

Trousers – H&M Mama Trousers Slim Fit – £14.99

Shoes – M&S Snakeskin Print Ballerina Shoes – £35.00

Necklance – Accessorize Slinky Stone Collar Necklace – £17.00

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I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE the top below and its sold out where I got it, but they have it in another colour way – YAYA Solid Blouson Top – Wind Chime – £49.95.  If I wasn’t pregnant, I would be pairing it with a pair of Yaya Sweat Pants – Taupe – £59.95, but alas, my arse is growing (one of the downsides to pregnancy) and it shall NOT be seen in sweat pants in public! Its great though.  It has a sweatshirt collar, cuffs and hem, which gives shape to an otherwise billowy shape and to be honest, when I’m wearing it, I don’t think people suspect I am pregnant (yet).

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This jumper is so comfy, but manages to look smart/casual at the same time.  I can’t believe how WHITE my back is!  That is my flesh you can see, not a white t shirt underneath!  It has a beautiful tear drop shaped cut out and it looks great either with a top underneath or bare flesh.  The back hem is lower than the front, so uber flattering as well.  The colour is divine!

Jumper – Dr Denim “Amira” Sweater – £49

Shoes are a total summer failsafe.  Superga Cotu Classic Sneaker – Light Grey – £45

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Arghhh the dog photo shadow bombed the best pic!

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Last but not least…..and I’ve done this last because its is a maternity top….a nod to the breton stripe, with a bit of a wiggle!

ASOS Raglan Stripe Top – £15.oo 

Jeans – Next (as above)

Shoes – Superga (as above)

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What makes a good friend?

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I watched Oliver playing with his ‘best’ (read ‘only’) friend over the weekend and it struck me just how in sync they are with each other.  They spend a day together at nursery every week and have done since they were 7 months old.  Now that they have little pull out mattresses for their lunch time snooze, they have apparently rearranged things so that they sleep next to each other every Wednesday.  No messing around, no giggling, no preventing fellow classmates from sleeping – just comfortable in each others company.

Oliver’s friends Mum and I met in the Village Hall.  Both new to the area and with 9 week old babies, we sat awkwardly beside each other and over complimented each other on our little bundles of joy.  Little did we know that that chance meeting would lead on to a really lovely friendship that just, well, you know…..flows….I think we would both admit that on paper, we really shouldn’t have that much in common with each other.  We come from polar opposite backgrounds, had extremely different childhoods and early adult years and crashed into each other in our late 30′s.  But over the course of 18 months we have taken the time to get to know each other.  There’s no judging on pasts, no wanting to hide anything because of shame, regret or worrying about what the other one will say.  Just an open and honest and happy friendship.  On the flip side of that, our children have been thrust together and developed their own unique friendship.  As Oliver gets older and understands more, he genuinely looks forward to his play dates with his ‘girlfriend’.  Next week, we move house.  1.5 hrs away from Oliver’s only friend.  1.5hrs away for me from someone that puts a smile on my face every time we manage to catch up.  Whether its for a dog walk or whilst our children play together in the garden.

It got me thinking…..these types of friendship run the test of time.  At my wedding, one of my longest standing friends who now lives in New York with her family, flew over to celebrate our big day and did the reading at the wedding.  This friend was my ‘best’ friend when I was little.  Her parents moved from Kent to Cheshire when we were about 6 – over the last 34 years, we have managed to continue that relationship – its possible – we really do pick up where we left off.  I love seeing her.  If I don’t hear from her for 6 months, you know what – that’s OK.  I know when our time comes, we will have a meeting or conversation that makes me feel happy, fulfilled and cherishing those fabulous times together.

Do you have any similar friendships with people which stand the test of time and distance?  Have you noticed your children forming really close bonds with other children early on?  I’d love to hear.

Here are some pictures I found of my first friend over the years and then some of Oliver’s only friend.

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We are also twins, so we shared Birthdays!

twinnyIn our 20′s when we charged about London getting up to mischief!

 

2013-11-03 21.27.22-2At my wedding, I was so happy she could make it.

 

2013-06-30 17.56.30Baby bottoms!  That’s one to pull out at their 18th Birthdays!

2013-08-04 18.19.47Sharing their 1st Birthday together

2014-03-09 17.03.02-1Lots of hugs and kisses

2014-03-10 11.05.35Hanging in the garden together.

 

 

 

A new jacket

This is the shortest blog post EVER!  We are in house moving chaos for the next couple of weeks, so please bear with me.  I wanted to share with you my new purchase.  I’m yet to receive it, but I don’t think it will be available for long.  For me, the perfect spring jacket…..why?  Its pastel colour – HUGE for SS14.  Its collarless a must for this season AND its boucle.

Downsides….when you don’t spend much wonga, you expect a couple.  I have sized down 1 size as I think it has been ‘drowing’ some people and its pretty thin, so definitely a spring jacket……but take a peek.  I’m so excited.  I will post pics once it has arrived.

How to wear?  For goodness sakes, don’t wear with baggy trousers!  Its unstructured, which works well and can be good on all shapes as long as you look after the other areas.  You want to create a silhouette, so no baggy jumpers or loooooong tops either!

Matalan Collarless Boucle Jacket – £40

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collarless-boucle-coat (3) collarless-boucle-coat (4)Happy Shopping! X

 

Saying goodbye…..

The last puppy leaves tomorrow at 13 weeks old.  She is going to an amazing family based in Kent where she will live with her Great Auntie.  Its going to be sad to see her go especially as she has made herself part of our family and The Toddler adores her.  She is his ‘Buppy’. I guess its a lesson that has to be learned, but with 38 years on him, I think it never gets easier!

Here are some photos of Lottie (aka Slinky Malinky) the best ‘buppy’.

8 Weeks Old and SUPA cute

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Gentle Girl

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Singing in the car…..2014-01-10 15.44.54

Favourite spot – beside the Aga….2014-02-02 20.25.21

Best sleeping position.2014-02-08 18.10.32

 

Watching the ‘grown ups’ at work….2014-02-10 09.07.20

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The Toddler and Lottie made a great team.

2014-02-06 17.35.58Family portrait, with Granny, Uncle, Mum and Lottie.

2014-03-04 11.05.48Mum and daughter – two peas in a pod….

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