How Would You Spend A Spare £100?

house-plant

I love playing imaginary games over coffee like “What would you buy if you won the lottery?” Dreams of buying a swish new house, treating yourself to a new car, going on a couple of luxury holidays a year, buying a posh handbag… What’s a bit harder is thinking what you would spend a spare £100 on. There are almost so many options that I find myself going around in circles and ending up thinking I’d just pop it in the bank.

Would you treat someone you love?

£100 would cover a lunch for two at a restaurant like the Berners Tavern in London or a couple of tickets to see The Book Of Mormon – two of my favourite things to do in London.

Would you treat yourself?

We all need a little R&R sometimes so taking yourself off for a spa day somewhere like Whittlebury Hall. From £89pp you can book their Escape & Spa Stay package which includes an overnight stay and a 25 minute treatment.

Would you give it to charity?

The Nepal Earthquake Appeal is the one that springs to mind, first of all. Hundreds of thousands have lost their homes and over 7000 people have died. Donating money to the appeal would help – a little….

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Did You Feel Like Wearing Tracksuit Bottoms, Kate?

Royal baby

Before I go any further, let me say one thing: I’m a fan of Kate & Wills. Not in a hardcore-royalist way, but I like them. I think they seem like a decent couple and they appear to be doing well, finding their way in what must be a strange hybrid of honouring tradition in a modern world.

When it was announced that Kate was in labour and had been admitted to St Mary’s Hospital, I confess, I got a bit excited. I have no idea why! Millions of women give birth every day, so why is this one different? But there’s something about a new prince or princess being born that is exciting. News correspondents reported that it might be hours before the baby was born (on hearing this, did anyone else think: ‘Nah, this is her second baby – it’ll be here quicker than you think!’… and she was.)

At 8:34am, the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

At 6.12pm – less than 10 hours later, Kate and William appeared on the front step of the Lindo Wing with their new baby. Kate wore a yellow and white Jenny Packham dress, nude heels, her brown hair was curled and tumbling on her shoulders, dewy glowing make up looking perfect.

Ten hours after giving birth.

I’m guessing she had a team of people head into the hospital to glam her up, for her exit – a hair stylist, a make up artist and possibly an assistant who could help her into her beautiful dress. It’s royal tradition that the couple appear outside the hospital with the new baby, for the world’s press to see and photograph, and on one hand, I totally understand Kate wanting to look her best.

But on the other hand… do you think she said William, inside that hospital: “Oh William, do we HAVE to? Can’t we just sneak out the back?”

Because, ten hours after giving birth, I still felt like I’d been hit by a bus. I didn’t know what day it was and the surge in hormones meant I wanted to laugh and sob at the same time. Like every new mum, there was a lot of bleeding as my body got rid of the lining of my womb and thanks to the stitches, walking hurt a bit and I was scared to go to the loo. If you’d asked me to shower, pop on a pastel frock, heels and have my hair and make up done, I would have cried into my (unwanted) Bounty pack.

A pastel frock – a designer pastel frock no less. Imagine leaking blood all over that. Yes, it’s a gross thought, but let’s be honest, it’s the reality that every mum goes through after she’s given birth. Maxi pads are our friend. I think I used two at a time, for the first few days.

I do wonder whether Kate just takes her royal duties on with a smile, or whether she has a private cry sometimes, and then faces the press with a big smile on her face. And of course, it’s not just Kate who’s affected by these royal traditions – it actually has a subconscious effect on every pregnant woman who sees the photos. Chances are, many of them will think that it’s totally normal (expected, even) to snap back to normal, on the day they give birth. So will they feel like a failure when they’re heading home from hospital, greasy-haired, pale and hobbling slightly as their stitches smart a little?

To be fair to Kate, I don’t blame her for sprucing herself up, when the world’s media is waiting for her outside the hospital. But wouldn’t it have been refreshing if she’d ignored what was expected of her and actually thought about what she wanted? Wouldn’t it have been brilliant if she’d scraped her hair into a top knot, dabbed some powder on her tired shiny face and worn tracksuit bottoms for her hospital exit?

 

Fresh Flowers, New Shoes & WIN A Case Of Kumala Wine

Kumala white wine

Two things I love in life: wine and life hacks that make things a bit easier.

If you read sites like Buzz Feed (or, you know, you’re just on Facebook where these posts are shared every-single-day) you’ll have seen a flurry of posts on life hacks in the past year. Kumala Wine have come up with some life hacks which will, in turn, leave you more time to relax with a glass of wine. Which, actually, sounds like the best thing I’ve heard all week.

As the UK’s favourite South African wine brand, Kumala know a thing or two about relaxing me-time. Personally, I love to have a sneaky glass of wine while in the bath (watching Hannah Maggs on YouTube, since you asked) but I can also regularly be found glugging sipping a glass of red on the sofa, watching Netflix.

For nearly twenty years, Kumala has been growing a wide variety of grapes in its beautiful tranquil vineyard with lush landscape, nestled in the foothills of South Africa’s famous Table Mountain. Somewhere that the travel blogger in me is desperate to visit.

But back to the life hacks! One of the Kumala’s favourite life hacks is this:

Make fresh flowers last longer by trimming the stems and dipping in boiling water

Why does this work? Apparently one of the main reasons for cut flowers to wilt and die is bacteria microbes in water. So the theory is that the boiling water will kill off any microbes on the stems. Try it – it really works!

rose-kettle-scissors

I’ve got a few life hacks that I use all the time – rolling up my clothes before putting them into my suitcase when I’m packing (you can fit so much more into your suitcase that way!) and using hair straighteners to iron shirt collars are two I love. But my favourite one is this……

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59 Thoughts A Blogger Has Every Day

blogger-desk

1. I’m just going to check Twitter before I get out of bed.

2. Oh and Facebook.

3. I wonder if anyone’s liked my amazing Instagram photo from last night? I’ll take a peek. Then I’m definitely getting out of bed.

4. Oh God I need a cup of tea. Bugger, all my pretty mugs are in the dishwasher, I can’t Instagram an old tatty mug.

5. Phew! I spy an Orla Kiely-esque mug at the back of the cupboard. That’s a relief.

6. I wish my kitchen was tidy so I didn’t have to take Instagram photos in this one corner of the room.

7. I wish my kitchen was brighter and didn’t have spotlights – soooo annoying for casting shadows when taking photos.

8. Bugger. My tea has gone cold because I took so long to faff around, taking photos of it.

9. Ooh my hair’s looking quite good today. Going to take a mirror selfie.

10. How do I angle my phone so that I get all of me in shot?

11. Ooh no, my chin looks huge in that pic. Delete. Try again.

12. Should I look at myself, the camera lens or the screen on my phone? Which looks the least vain / pretentious?

13. I’ll look at my feet. Looks totally casual and off-the-cuff then.

14. Is it normal to spend 20 minutes and 68 attempts at taking the perfect selfie?

15. Argh – how is my phone already down to 30% battery? I’ve hardly used it this morning.

16. Right, popping to the shops and then head to a cafe to work from. Ooh, that brick wall would be an awesome backdrop for some photos.

17. Wish I lived in East London where there are loads of amazing brightly coloured walls and street art.

18. Maybe I should become a street artist and graffiti some walls in this area.

19. I’m sure the local council wouldn’t mind.

20. Ooh, the tiled flooring in this cafe is gorgeous.

21. Just going to take some photos of my feet.

22. Why is that old guy staring at me? I’m just taking photos of my feet.

23. I’ll take some of my whole outfit, while I’m here.

24. How do I angle it, so that I get my whole outfit in?…

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Loving Your Community & The Aviva Community Fund

community

Since becoming a mum, I’ve started to really value my local community. A few years ago, I’d leave my house at 8am to jump on a train to Central London where my office was, and I wouldn’t return home til 7.30pm – or later if I went out in Soho for a few cheeky tipples. And when I did come home, as obvious as it sounds, I’d be in my house, curtains closed and watching TV or eating dinner (probably both at the same time, knowing me). I didn’t actually mix with anyone in my community – I rarely even spoke to my neighbours except for popping around to their house, if they’d taken in a parcel that had been delivered while I was at work. Even at the weekends, I’d jump in the car to head off somewhere to meet friends or family and I’d rarely stay local.

But since having my daughter, all that has changed. Starting with making friends with my NCT class and socialising with them locally and my year of maternity leave where I was forced to discover where various church halls were so that we could attend baby classes, I started a journey of exploring my local area… and falling in love with it. As my daughter started nursery and I got to know other parents, and as I met local friends through blogging, I realised how fab it is to be walking down the high street and bump into people you know. How useful it is to know people who can give you tips, tell you about things happening locally, and (yep, call me shallow) fill you in on local gossip. I also started shopping more locally and popping into our nearby cafe for lunch more often and getting to know the lovely owner. I know this will only increase, as the four-year-old starts school in September and no doubt will join Rainbows or local dance classes.

There’s no denying – life is better when you take an active part in your local community. Which is why I’m really thrilled to be involved with the Aviva Community Fund as a member of the ACF Team – where anyone can have the chance to secure funding for a local community group or charity that’s important to them….

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