Let’s Go Sales Shopping!

Have you braved the sales? I admit, I’ve done all of my sales shopping online. There’s something so civilised about browsing bargains from your sofa with a cup of tea in your hand. Here are the things that have caught my eye this week…

Sales bargains

1. Marks and Spencer oversized faux fur coat, Was £149 Now £69 – I’m so tempted to buy this. It would look fab with skinny black jeans and boots for the day or on a night out.

2. Accessorize Cara camera bag, 50% off. This is the ultimate blogger and Instagram fan’s bag.

3. Boden Millie skirt, Was £59 Now £29.50. I’ve had my eye on this skirt for a while, and now it’s such a bargain.

4. J Crew top, 50% off. This is so up my street – I love an embellished top, and the navy colour is so on-trend.

5. Boden sequin collar top, Was £89 Now £71.20. I’d wear this under a jumper, with the sequin collar on show, while it’s cold and then on its own in the summer.

What have you been tempted by?

Why I’m Taking A Leaf Out Of Geri Halliwell’s Book

birthday-card

On Christmas Eve, I was sitting in a restaurant with the family, having an early tea (with the addition of a couple of glasses of prosecco) and I started pondering my birthday, which was happening the following day. OK, I admit it, for a good few minutes, I couldn’t actually remember how old I was going to be.

What is it about getting older that makes you forget?

But I counted on my fingers – I’m not even joking – and worked out that if I was born in 1978, I was about to turn 36. Oh God. 36. That’s on the downward slope to 40. Which is old. You might be 40 and reading this now, and be feeling a bit offended that I just said that, but honestly? To a 36 year old, 40 is OLD. Just like, when I was 26, the thought of turning 30 made me want to sob into my Bacardi Breezer a little, and pick up my Nokia 3210 and play Snakes to numb the pain.

The thing is, I don’t FEEL like a 36-year-old. I laugh at smutty jokes, I sing Frozen songs with my daughter at top volume in the kitchen while we skid around the floor in our socks pretending we’re on ice skates, I get excited about watching the new Hunger Games movie, I wear neon pink and orange Nikes to the gym.

Aren’t 36-year-olds meant to be responsible? We’re supposed to wear nice dresses with sensible shoes (me = silly bobble hats), read intelligent books (me = chick lit) and keep up to date with current affairs (does the Daily Mail sidebar of shame count?)

We’re rewriting what it means to be in our thirties or forties all the time. When my parents were 36, they didn’t go to festivals, or shop in Topshop, or palm me and my brother off on our grandparents for the night so that they could have a boozy night out at their favourite pub. They were proper grown ups at my age. Not like us. We don’t even have an EXTENDABLE DINING TABLE ferchrissakes, we just have a tiny dining table we bought from Ikea, ten years ago.

So I’m guessing that by the time I hit 40 (sob) it will absolutely, definitely be the new 30. Which is the new 21. We’re all basically refusing to grow up and in fifty years time, there will be a whole generation of 86-year-olds doing the Gangnam Style dance in mini skirts and doing shots of tequila as they go. Actually, who am I kidding, I bet if you search for that on YouTube, you’d find at least one video.

But on Christmas Eve, I made a decision. I’m going to take a leaf out of Geri Halliwell’s book. The Spice Girl famously knocked a few *cough* years off her age when the band hit the big time in 1996, and I think she had the right idea. Thinking about it, I quite liked being 32. I had recovered from the shock of turning 30, and had realised that (sssshh I’m whispering this in case any twenty somethings are reading this) your thirties are actually loads better than your 20s.

32. It’s a nice age, isn’t it?

So if anyone asks, from now on, I’m 32. I reckon I could get away with being 32 for at least another four years, by which time, I’ll be 40 and won’t mind admitting it because there will be a huge party in it for me. Here goes a little practice…. “Hi, I’m Alison. I’m 32″ YES, that feels good.

So, this is just between me, you and Geri Halliwell OK? Don’t tell anyone…

 

The Most Middle Class Toys This Christmas

Sure, we’ve all seen a hundred gift guides this Christmas. Everyone has an opinion on the best toys you can buy your child (and actually, all my child wants is a Frozen jigsaw and a cape). But, just because it makes me chuckle, here are the most middle class toys you can buy your kid this Christmas.

Middle class toys

1. Cappuccino? Soy latte? Extra hot venti filter coffee? Your child can be a barista with this John Lewis Coffee Machine!

2. This wooden camera might not have as many settings as your DSLR but it’s cute.

3. This wooden sushi set has everything a budding California Roll fan needs. Even soy sauce and wasabi!

4. Mum listens to Radio 2 on her Roberts radio, so little one can listen to CBeebies Radio on this toy knitted retro radio.

5. Want something sweet to go with your decaf skinny cap? Why have biscuits when you can have macarons like these ones from ELC.

6. Just the thing that every child needs, when they’re pretending to go shopping – a Waitrose trolley.

7. Does your child’s dolls house have a toy Aga? If not, I pity the dolls!

8. Help your child get their five a day by juicing and making smoothies with this toy smoothie maker.

I may mock, but who am I kidding, I’d love to see any of these toys in my daughter’s toy box. My name is Alison and I’m a thoroughly middle class mum. I’m off to eat brunch in a posh cafe and read the Sunday papers with my family…

Yay! Santa’s Bringing A Le Toy Van Honey Bee Market

Le Toy Van market

We took the four-year-old to see Father Christmas today. It was just fantastic to see her totally convinced that we were at actual Santa’s house and that she was meeting the man himself. There was a magical quality to the day – the garden centre we took her to has a whole 45 minute experience in the lead-up to meeting Father Christmas, starting with sitting in a ‘train’ to the North Pole, throwing snowballs at naughty penguins in a coconut shy-style game, making your own tree decoration and mixing reindeer food. The four-year-old loved it. Unlike last year, when she was too petrified of this man with a beard to speak to him, today, she bounded up, and when he asked her what she wanted for Christmas, confidently told him “An Anna cape” (the poor man didn’t have a clue what she was on about, so I stepped in to explain… he really should watch Frozen, to become au fait with the little ones’ requests…).

I tried to think back to what it must be like to ACTUALLY believe that Santa is real. I have memories of being aged five or six, trying to get to sleep on Christmas Eve but being so excited about Father Christmas flying through the air nearby. And memories of opening the living room door, to find presents on every chair, knowing he had been. It was the most exciting thing ever, wasn’t it?

This year, as well as an Anna cape (FYI I’m going to attempt to make one myself since you don’t appear to be able to buy one on its own) Father Christmas will be bringing the four-year-old an amazing Honey Bee Market by Le Toy Van. I can tell you this, because she doesn’t read my blog.

Le Toy Van is a brand I’ve loved for a few years. After spotting the gorgeous Honey Bake Tea Set on Mother’s Always Right, I treated my daughter to one, when she was two. Their wooden toys are just beautiful and the market is no different. We were sent the market and trays of food to feature here on the blog, and having given it a thorough testing (OK, Mr P and I *might* have pretended we were market traders…) it’s getting a big thumbs up from us.

Honey Bee Farm Market

You’re right, of course, a farmers’ market is probably the most middle-class toy ever. Just add some freshly brewed coffee, The Sunday Times and an organic roast dinner and you’ve got the perfectly clichéd middle-class family Sunday.

But who cares when it’s SO CUTE….

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A Blissful Night At Woolley Grange, Wiltshire

Woolley Grange Hotel

There aren’t many hotels that I’ve stayed in for one night and wished that I could stay for a whole week. But that’s exactly how I felt as we left Woolley Grange in Wiltshire a few weeks ago. We had spent just 20 hours there, and I could easily have stayed for days.

In a nutshell, Woolley Grange is all low ceilings, wooden beams and log fires. There’s a friendly warmth as you walk into the reception area and in the lounge, elderly couples having afternoon tea mix well with toddlers stomping through in wellies, carrying sticks and other treasures they’ve discovered outside.

woolley-grange-grounds

woolley-grange-pond

 

We stayed in the John Baskerville room, which is on the first floor and is split level – you walk into a living area (with single camp bed for the four-year-old) and go upstairs to a bedroom and large bathroom. It was ideal, as the little one enjoyed having her ‘own room’ and it meant we could have our own space too. In our bedroom, the four-year-old found a small chair in the corner, and declared it ‘her chair’ before promptly plonking herself on it with the iPad to watch CBeebies.

woolley-grange-family-room

woolley-grange-bedroom

books-on-windowsill

woolley-grange-bedroom1

orla-kiely-mug

woolley-grange-bathroom

bathroom-woollen-grange

As soon as we arrived, we realised we’d left the four-year-old’s suitcase at home (OOPS) but the reception staff were really helpful in directing me to a nearby Sainsbury’s where I could buy her some clothes, PJs and toothbrush. While I drove there (through Bradford Upon Avon which is TOTALLY BEAUTIFUL by the way, especially in the purple twilight) Mr P took the four-year-old swimming….

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