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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

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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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Boyfriend Jeans & Cute Jackets for Spring 2014

I’m itching for Spring to spring.  I’m over my boots, my dark wintery colours…..so I’ve started to attack my spring wardrobe.  I’ve got a nice mix of clothes going to go up in the next couple of days.  We can start with jeans and jackets.

If you haven’t managed to invest in ‘boyfriend cut’ jeans that you really get on and do it! They are the anti skinny jean and work so well with loads of the shapes coming out this Spring/Summer.  I’d never heard of this brand before, but I’ve had a good look at them and they are lovely denim.  The FiveUnits Molly Jeans – Worn Loved – £79.95.  Just the right amount of fading.  They look awesome with flats but seriously sexy with heels as well.  If you are worried about how to style them, head over to my Pinterest Board and take a look.  It couldn’t be easier!

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For the pregnant amongst you.  I have bought these ones and they are great. Next Slim Boy Fit Jeans – £30  Go DOWN a size as they give a fair bit, but they are comfy and look great!

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If you want to invest in a pair of boyfriend jeans, take a look at the 7 For All Mankind – Josephina £141.32 from Revolve.  They have some clever fading and ‘whiskering’ and distressed areas as well.

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Moving on to jackets.  To go with your new boyfriend jeans take a look at these beauties….

This lovely one comes in 2 colour ways – tide/blue or tide/pink its the Hush Knitted Crop Jacket – £80  it nicely cropped so works really well with boyfriend jeans.

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This one I have got from Next – Long Sleeve Waterfall Jacket – £32.  Its a little longer and covers a bit more bump (in my mind, that’s ok!) its not maternity, so can be worn by any of you.  It’s fitted on the arms, so beware, no bulky jumpers underneath!  It works really well with skinny jeans, but am yet to try with boyfriend.  I have a feeling, it might be too much fabric and give a bit of a frumpy silhouette……

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Boden have some lovely blazer styles in quite a few different colours at Boden (yes!) have the Blenheim Blazer – £89.00.  They are nipped in and would go well with boyfriend jeans.

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I’m totally in love with Zara jackets.  The colour isn’t the most practical, but it looks SO good it is hard to resist. Zara Jacket with Zips £69.99

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One more Zara one…..Stunning …… I LOVE.  Zara Jacket with Zip & Belt – £79.99

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Worried about footwear for your new boyfriend jeans?  Look at my Pinterest Board and see how people are styling them….if you are pregnant and worried about styling your jeans, take a look at this Pinterest Board for inspiration.

Is there Hell on earth? Yes, its called Soft Play….

If you haven’t started down the baby route…READ THIS, it may act as a good contraceptive.  If you have, then good luck and I’m sure you will encounter this!  For me, it was too late, I had avoided it until I was pregnant with my second baby and now suddenly SOFT PLAY is in my face like an angry fish wife….twice in 3 days – I feel battered, grubby and still slightly claustrophobic.  Its been hideous on so many levels.  Let me explain.

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Ok, soft play.  Sounds good doesn’t it.  It is a place where kids can let off steam in what is deemed a ‘safe’ environment.  SAFE?  I can’t even begin.  Most people that are employed to work at a soft play centre couldn’t give a frogs fat ass about your child plummeting through the netting 10 ft up and landing on the 5 year old below and why should they? They are there to take your cash and to lock up at the end of the day …. I’m just saying, because before I ventured into this ridiculous past time, I watched from afar.  In these environments, parents are responsible for their children. Yes, that old cliche, the one that parents seem to forget when it comes to soft play or swimming pools.  YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR CHILD. The days I went, I felt like the parents really just wanted to have a coffee and read a magazine and miss the maiming of other children that goes on in these netted dens of iniquity (these are usually the parents with the kid that is surely a bit old for this type of past time?!) .  They (the parent) occasionally look up and screech something in their child’s direction, whilst thumbing their magazine and stirring their overpriced watery coffee.  Where I live in Surrey, you get the ‘uber’ parents who take it a notch above everyone else and discipline their child in French or Spanish – with a hint of Home Counties accent thrown in. Urggh!

Anyway, there I was with my 18 month old.  He’s eager and a little unsure, but none the less, the bright colours and the amount of screaming and screeching have attracted his attention and he’s wanting to get involved.  He wants to get involved…..as long as Mummy is there in the rope cage, right beside him coaxing him through the different boxes and different dribble covered bits of equipment.  There is a vague smell of old socks, maybe a pooey nappy from some direction and oh great, some school aged child has just coughed his chesty cough all over me.  This is not a game for claustrophobic’s.  I felt like a hamster squished into a tiny cage with numerous people staring vacuously in the same direction that I am now trying to SQUEEEEEEEZE my pregnant belly and ever expanding boobs through a teeny tiny opening as we arrive into…..the ball pit…

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Every parent has heard horror stories about the ball pit.  They are snot smeared, germ multiplying, vomit (oh I kid you not) covered plastic balls of norovirus and deep chest infection waiting to explode and cover you and your child in germs. And guess what.  That’s where my child is happiest. Festering in the germs. Throwing the balls around and laughing his head off whilst he exclaims “mooooooore, mooooooore”. Oh god.  This is just hideous.  I really hoped he’d hate it!  But the smile on his face, and the pure joy it brings means that I will no doubt have to grin and bear it whilst he does it a fair few more times.

What do you think of soft play?  Love it or loathe it?  Can you try and convince me otherwise?

Bodhi Skincare – Little Pots of Luxury

A lovely surprise from Bodhi a couple of weeks ago.  A parcel with 2 little boxes in.  The Cacao Cocoon Lip Treatment Balm and The Mint Thé Temple Balm.  I love the packaging.  So simple and yet a strong logo – which is really important.  It kind of sticks in your mind.

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I’ve blogged about Bodhi before and their wonderful products.  It will come as no surprise that they are free of nasties, pure and the really great part.  They are UK made.  They have oodles of awards for their products from The Beauty Shortlist, Biteable Beauty, and The Green Parent as well.  Well deserved I feel and hard to achieve in such a competitive arena.

Anyway, back to my new products.  First off, the Cacao Cocoon Lip Treatment – this seemed very timely in its arrival.  Having spent 3 months feeling the effects of ALL day sickness as my second pregnancy takes shape, my skin feels in less than tip top condition.  One of the worst parts is that I have flaky lips.  Lip Dandruff?  It certainly feels like it! Well that all seems like a thing of the past.  This is definitely a ‘treatment’ not just a 5 minute fix.  I hate lip balms that seem to make your lips worse and you end up in a vicious circle of applying, licking off, having sore lips – repeat.  The balm is solid to touch but emulsifies as the heat from your finger warms it.  It tastes lovely.  Not how it sounds iyswim?  I was expecting a coco/coffee ish taste?  Nothing like that.  It just takes – ummmm – very pleasant!

What sets this apart from lots of other natural lip balms/salves is that there is NO beeswax in it.  None.  And the Cacao, which I have also not come across in products is meant to be really good for relieving eczema and dermatitis.  Hmmm it all starts to make sense.  After using this for the last couple of weeks, my lips have recovered.  Back to normal.  Shame my skin has a long way to play catch up! It comes in a lovely screw top pot which has 15g of product in and it costs £15 and can be bought from the Bodhi website.  This product will last you AGES and AGES so don’t settle for cheaper imitations!

Second in my parcel was The Mint Thé Temple Balm - 15g for £15 (this is a soft balm).  Hmm.  A balm for temples.  I’ve never really given it a go before opting for pills instead. Weirdly, having had several niggly headaches that I really don’t want to take paracetamol for I thought that it was worth a whirl.

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The smell of it is awesome.  Eucalyptus, Camphor, Frankincense – a strong but fresh smell.  It also has something called cajeput in it which I quote “possesses strong analgesic properties, making it highly effectively in the management of joint and muscle pain. Its purifying and curative properties helps ease headaches and abdominal pain. A potent antiseptic, it is beneficial in the management of cuts and bruises and hastens healing and reduces scaring of the skin.

It also has Babassu Nut Oil which is what makes the product really stand out.  This literally melts when it comes into contact with the skin.  The benefits of this are that you are not left with a shiny patch where you have rubbed your temples, or oily hands from using it.

For me, it worked on some of the headaches, but weirdly, it also stopped me craving so much sugar???  How can that be.  I know pregnancy is odd at the best of times, but honestly, if I put this on after lunch, I don’t need my boiled sweets that were becoming a daily ritual!

If I was treating clients I would definitely use this on them at the end of a treatment.  It kind of refocuses you, lifts your mood and makes you breathe deeply.  My son loves it as well.  He’s had a cold and a little bit of this rubbed into his chest in the mornings has really perked him up!

I saw from other reviews that it alleviates car sickness…….The Toddler is sick on most car journeys over 1 hour so it will be great to test this as well!  I reckon if it works, Elijah Choo the Founder of Bodhi will be in the New Years Honors list! hah! Imagine the delighted parents.  The Toddler and I have a few car trips coming up, so we will be trying this theory out and reporting back.

Thank you Bodhi for introducing me to these products.  I NEVER would have touched a Temple Balm in the past and now, it hangs out in my handbag and seems to be sorting out a multitude of ailments!  And THANK YOU for giving me a product to sort out my ‘dandruffy lips’!

I’m off to tweet you guys about whats a good stretch mark body cream that’s safe to use in pregnancy.  I deserve it!