A Day At The Races

Back in 2003, I was 24 and the MOST FUN THING EVER was a day at Royal Ascot with my friends. To someone who was more used to Soho pubs and studenty clubs with sticky floors that played Girls Aloud songs, it felt ever so grown up and sophisticated to be going to the races.

A group of around ten of us bought tickets, booked a nearby hotel and then the real preparation began… looking for an outfit. I remember spending endless weekends in department stores, trying on dresses and fascinators until I found one I loved in Warehouse. I also wore it to my engagement party later that summer – back then it was much easier to wear the same dress to different events. Facebook didn’t exist in the UK so there was no risk of everyone I know seeing my frock. This snap (below) was taken in a pub near the Ascot racecourse at around 11.30am (rock. and. roll) and believe me, I thought I looked ace at the time. Now, of course, I’m thinking that side-sweep fringe was a mistake and that lavender fascinator? What was I thinking?! My friends’ outfits have definitely stood the test of time better than mine. In fact, my best mate Kim (red coat) could easily wear that outfit to Royal Ascot 2014 and look hot.

Royal Ascot

Of course the brilliant thing about 2014 versus 2003 is that now, there are more options when it comes to shopping for the races – trousers look just as good (and on many people better) than a frock. If I were off to Royal Ascot this year, I’d probably go for an outfit like this…

Royal Ascot outfit

Yes! No hat or fascinator. They just don’t suit me (see top pic for proof) and I’d much rather feel comfortable on a day out with friends. What would you wear to the races? Would you stick with the tried-and-tested frock and heels or try something different like trousers?


Huge thanks to Betfair for sponsoring this post. For details on how I work with brands, see my Work With Me page.


BKD Biscuit Decorating Kit: The Coolest Last-Minute Father’s Day Gift

BKD Kids  Pin Wheel Baking Kit 01

If you’re anything like me, you spend weeks resisting the huge Father’s Day displays in shops everywhere (“Oh it’s WEEKS away, still”) only to have it creep up on you. I realised with a jolt on Monday of this week that Father’s Day is, in fact, this Sunday.

Cue: running around in a panic, hoping I can still order a kick-ass gift for Mr P, on behalf of his daughter.

Thankfully, BKDLondon have come to the rescue with this amazingly cute and simple biscuit decorating kit. Adelle, who runs cupcake and cookie decorating classes for kids, has branched out and opened an Etsy shop selling cookie cutters and biscuit decorating kits. The Father’s Day kit, which she kindly sent us to road-test, contains biscuits (the letters D, A, D and some cute shapes) pre-iced with white fondant, and two edible icing pens. All you need to do is get busy with the pens and decorate the biscuits in a way you think Dad will love. Adelle’s cakes and biscuits are properly delicious so not only will he be touched by the artwork, he can tuck into the biccies with his morning coffee. She also does lots of other shapes of biscuits in a kit too – like the pinwheel ones at the top of this post!

Continue reading

When You Multi-Task Like A Boss…

… it makes you feel like you can achieve ANYTHING.

What is it about multi-tasking that makes you feel this way?

I recently started working from home (best. decision. ever.) and since then, my life has changed. Before, it was chaotic and manic, with me hurrying from one thing to the next, squeezing in work and family time while ignoring things that need to be done around the house…it’s fair to say my house was a tip, we were forever running out of fresh bread and milk, I’d rush my three-year-old to pre-school before jumping on the 7.58am train to work, I’d get home at 6pm after rushing the three-year-old back from pre-school and into a bath. Which was about as fun as booking a holiday and your passport not arriving in time (ooh topical).

But now… my life feels calm and organised. I can smoothly juggle work, home shiz and family fun with time to breathe. That breathing part is important, isn’t it?

Take right now, as an example. I’m currently doing all of the following (right now!):

  • Washing a load of clothes
  • Drying a whole rack of clothes
  • Boiling the kettle to make a cuppa
  • Replying to work emails and organising workload for the rest of the day
  • Arranging a meeting with someone I work for
  • Writing a blog post (this one!)
  • Sunning my legs, as I sit on my back door step

Earlier this morning, I was able to drop my three year-old off at pre-school, drop some stuff off at a local charity shop, come home and tidy up breakfast dishes into the dishwasher, book some activities for our forthcoming holiday at Bluestone Park and pay some bills. I’ve achieved so much already today.

Which makes me want to do the running man dance and high five myself (totally wish you could high five yourself, it would be such a brilliant thing to do at least once a day) because it contrasts so starkly with how I was operating just a few weeks ago.

What is it about multi-tasking that makes us feel such a success? According to Zheng Wang, assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University, we get an emotional high from it. “There’s this myth among some people that multitasking makes them more productive,” he said in a statement. “But they seem to be misperceiving the positive feelings they get from multitasking. They are not being more productive — they just feel more emotionally satisfied from their work.”

Some experts say that multi-tasking isn’t the best way to do things – they think we should be single tasking instead – focusing on one thing really well at a time. But when it comes to being a working mum, I disagree. It’s all about how many tasks you can get done simultaneously. So later on today, I’ll be walking my daughter home from pre-school while testing her on how many words she knows that rhymes with ‘goat’ (“No, not submarine…”) and picking up dinner at the same time. That way, I’ll have really earned my 7pm wine, right?


Work.Life.Mum: Mr & Mrs Smith’s Juliet Kinsman

Juliet Kinsman, Smith Hotels

Juliet Kinsman is Editor-in-Chief of Mr and Mrs Smith – the travel company which handpicks the most stylish places to stay, around the world. As well as being an expert in luxury travel, Juliet is Mum to six-year-old Kitty and lives in North West London with her partner. The recently-launched Smith & Family is the go-to place for perfect family hotels, with a child-friendly attitude and grown-up features alike.

Which, for someone who is as posh-hotel-obsessed as I am, is the most exciting thing ever. Being the typical Mr & Mrs Smith customer during my 20s (tripping off to Babington House of a weekend or arranging my hen do at Calcot Manor) I now can’t wait to try out the hotels recommended by Smith & Family.

In the first of a new series of Work.Life.Mum interviews with inspiring women, I caught up with Juliet for a chat about her own travels, how she balances work and life and (naturally) to get some travel tips from her…

Juliet Kinsman and daughter Kitty

Continue reading

An Open Letter To The 7pm Wine

Kids' bedtime wine = the best wine in the world


Dear 7pm wine,

I think I love you. Is that a bit bold to admit so early on? Well, I’ve said it now (hashtag-there-I-said-it).

It’s only since becoming a mum that I’ve truly discovered your healing powers.

Back when I had my first taste of alcohol at around 16 (I’m pretty sure it was something gross like strawberry MD 20/20… I know. Sacrilege, right?) it was out of curiosity and it’s no surprise that for a few years after that, I drank long vodkas and Baileys because they pretty much taste like soft drinks/a milkshake. Throughout uni,  I moved onto more *cough* sophisticated drinks like Bacardi Breezers (cranberry, natch) and Archers and lemonade. I drank in cheesy bars and clubs (Amadeus in Rochester, I’m looking at you) and danced until the designated driver dragged us out of there.

Then, in my early twenties I drank vodka and Diet Coke because I was following the Weight Watchers plan (wish I could go back to my 22-year-old size 12 self and tell her to chill the heck out about her weight) and it was only one ‘point’. I’m pretty sure you’re not meant to save up ten points to drink in one evening, but hey, it worked for me.

It wasn’t until my mid twenties that I discovered your close friend, the after-work white wine. Before that, I hadn’t liked the taste of wine (can you believe that?). The after-work wine was a great stress reliever and when paired with a couple of packets of Mini Cheddars and some office gossip, it was a cracking way to spend every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night.

But nothing compares to you, the post-kids’-bedtime 7pm glass of wine. I tuck my daughter up in bed, read her a story or two, then come downstairs and head to the fridge. The noise of the screw cap loosening coincides with my shoulder muscles loosening. The glug glug glug of the wine hitting the glass soothes my tight forehead. But it’s that first sip…

Cold, crisp, fruity, dry. Bingo.

I don’t event mind when I hear a little voice from the top of the stairs saying “MUMMYYYY! I NEED A WEEEE!” because I know that when I come back downstairs after taking her for a wee/giving her a drink/fixing her covers/moving her teddies/whatever excuse she happens to be using that night to avoid going to sleep, you’ll be waiting for me.

Thanks, you.

Love, your Number One Fan x

<<< I’m linking this post up to The Bad Mums’ Club – a collection of posts by bloggers on our failings as mothers. The Bad Mums’ Club consists of me, Morgana from But Why Mummy Why, Aimee from Pass The Gin and Katie from Hurrah For Gin but really, everyone is welcome. Of course, we know we’re not really bad mums, but I think it’s important to highlight all the imperfect stuff we do, as well as the amazing rose-tinted moments. It’s good to keep it real, right?Do visit MorganaAimee and Katie‘s blogs to read their Bad Mums’ Club posts! >>>