I Bloody Love A Child-Free Break

 

Holiday essentials

Yessss! It’s September!

I’m pleased about the new month starting for a few reasons. It’s my daughter’s 4th birthday later in the month (so we’ll be having a big party – imagine 30 pre-schoolers running around a hall while Demi Lovato warbles Let It Go and you’ve got it nailed), it’s Mr P’s birthday this month (his celebrations might feature fewer Frozen songs) and all of the shops start getting lovely big coats, boots and chunky knits in (although who am I kidding? I can’t pull off a chunky knit without looking, hmm, chunky myself).

But the main reason I’m excited about September? I’ve got TWO child-free breaks coming up. TWO!

I was chatting with a good friend the other day about being away from our kids. It’s one of those weird things that, as a parent, leaves you feeling torn. On one hand, you know you’ll miss your children. But on the other hand… WOO HOO!

At the moment, I’m definitely veering towards the latter reaction. I know I’ll miss my daughter loads while I’m away but I think that cocktail drinking and book reading will soften the blow. So where am I going? Well, first up, next week, I’m off the Greek island of Rhodes. Mark Warner are taking ten bloggers to their Levante Beach resort for four nights and I can’t bloody wait. I’m thinking that four nights is probably the perfect number of nights for a child-free break, as I’ll love the novelty of feeling free without the heart wrenching misery of pining for my child. Of course, knowing she is at home with her dad will make it practically guilt-free.

Later in the month, Mr P and I are going to Barcelona for three nights to see family who are going to be holidaying there, and to celebrate Mr P’s birthday. The three-year-old (hang on, she’ll be four then!) will be staying with her grandparents while we head off on a city break. Every time I close my eyes, I can see red wine, tapas and the cobbled streets of the gothic quarter…

So does it make me a bad mum for being so excited (woooo!) about having two adults only breaks coming up? Of course it doesn’t. Just as it’s important to value your time as a family and create fun memories together, it’s important to have time out where you can be on your own or spend time as a couple. It’s healthy to have a balance and take time to think about yourself, what you want in life and what great things you could achieve next, and these are all things that people tend to think about when on holiday.

Of all the things (and there are many) that I’m looking forward to, about my child-free breaks, these are my top five:

1. Having a lie in

Do you even remember what they are like? No, no, I’m not talking about those lie ins your husband or partner might give you every weekend, where you’re woken at 6.30am by a stuffed animal being thrown at your head before listening to your child being ‘shushed’ lots while they’re taken downstairs for breakfast, then as you try to get back to sleep, all you can hear from the kitchen is: ‘I don’t WANT that bowl. I want the YELLOW one’ followed by the theme tune to Peppa Pig blasting from the TV. Not those lie ins. A proper one, where you don’t even stir until 9am and when you do, all you can here is silence. Lovely lovely silence. And maybe a bird chirupping from outside the window. Ahh bliss.

2. Being able to read a book by the pool

In my 20s, holidays meant two things: drinking wine every evening and reading books by the pool. They were a chance to properly relax and switch off from the real world. Now, holidays are about entertaining the kids whilst snatching moments of relaxation (thank goodness for kids’ clubs). They’re fun, but not the same. I’m going to take my Kindle away with me and read as much as I can.

3. Finishing a conversation

I don’t know about you, but if I have the three-year-old with me when I meet friends, I can forget about finishing a conversation. I can start lots of conversations, but you can guarantee that just as I’m getting to the crux of my point, my daughter will say, ‘Mummy! Mummy! Mummy! Mummy!’ until I give her my attention. (She’s even taken to doing it and then when I say ‘Yes honey?’ she clearly has nothing she wants to say or ask, and so makes up something like ‘Why are you wearing a t-shirt?’) So being able to just chat and set the world to rights on holiday will be a treat. Continue reading

My IKEA Shopping List

We moved into our current home nearly five years ago (where does TIME GO?) and we spent three months decorating, buying furniture and doing it up. Because it was our first proper house (after five years of living in a one bed flat) it was so exciting and ‘grown up’ to decorate. “We have THREE bedrooms!” I remember saying. “What are we going to do with three bedrooms?”

A few months after we moved in, it became clear what we would do with one of the bedrooms – it would be a nursery. After thinking that my period was a bit late (but not being too sure because I never kept track of it) and marching excitedly down to Sainsbury’s to buy a pregnancy test, we discovered that I was 3-4 weeks pregnant. SCREAM! So as morning sickness and tiredness kicked in (woo) decorating and house organisation ground… to… a…… halt.

Fast forward nearly five years and pretty much all of the things we didn’t do, back then, STILL need to be done. And plenty things we bought then need to be refreshed. So as such, I’d like to totally revamp my whole house, please. Totally doable, right? Hmm…

But because we’re not made of money, I’m going to focus on a few important things which need to be sorted and then do the rest gradually. And – brilliantly – lots of the things I’ve been lusting after come from IKEA. We paid the store a visit on Bank Holiday Monday (bank holiday fail) but it was so busy, all we left with was a 50p flamingo glass.

Admittedly, it’s a gorgeous 50p flamingo glass, but there was so much more I wanted to buy. So here’s my current wish list, ready for the next time we brave the IKEA crowds. My IKEA must buys:

First up is the Stockholm rug (£100) which would look amazing in my living room. We’ve been talking about replacing our (boring) black sofas with something mid-century for a while now, and this rug would fit in well now, and when we eventually buy new furniture. Also on my list is the Kallax shelving unit (£45). This is for our daughter’s room. We’re going to update it a bit – after all, it’s four years since we decorated it, and she isn’t a baby any more! These shelves look so versatile and lots of stylish mums (looking at you Fritha and Bryony) tell me they have them. The best bit is that you can really put your own stamp on them with the different inserts available.

Next, a must-have for any self-respecting child (!) is a good place to store books. We’re going to buy a large bookcase but we’re also going to buy IKEA’s wooden spice racks (IKEA hack alert!) which make brilliant book shelves and are a snip at £3 each. I love how you can paint them and drill them to your wall to create a stylish way to store and display books. Lastly, the £120 Kura bed looks amazing. You can have it with the bed up high (we’d put a reading corner down below) or you can flip it so that the bed is down below and you have a panel to climb on, up top. One thing to note is that this bed is fairly small in height, so you might find kids grow out of it fairly quickly. We’re unsure whether to go for this bed or a taller one… What would you do?

Different ways to use the Ikea Stockholm rug in a living room Continue reading

A Flying Visit To Edinburgh

This week, I paid a flying visit to Edinburgh. It’s probably my favourite city in the UK – the beautiful buildings, the winding streets and alleys, the green spaces, the shops, the bars… I can’t think of another city that has my heart in the way Edinburgh does. It’s small enough that you can get a real flavour of it in a day, or if you have more time, book up a hotel (there are loads to choose from on Hotel Direct) and stay a few days. things to see and do in edinburgh

My 4.55am start meant that by the time I got to Gatwick Airport, I was ready for some caffeine…

Getting from Edinburgh Airport into the city centre is easier than ever now that the Edinburgh Trams are running. You could still opt to get the Airport Express bus into town, but I hopped on a shiny tram and whizzed into Princes Street with the joy of free wifi onboard. Wheeee!

Edinburgh Tram

I met my mum and after a quick cuppa in the cafe in Jenners (a department store that’s been there since 1838) our first stop was Calton Hill, where you get some amazing views of Edinburgh. You can stand at one side and see down to the Firth of Forth (even getting a glimpse of the Forth Rail Bridge in the distance) or from the other side, you can see Arthur’s Seat (which will forever more remind me of the book One Day).

Calton Hill

Calton Hill, Edinburgh

Firth of Forth

arthurs-seat Continue reading

Katrina Cool Banana’s Guide To Juicing

I’m nearly three months into my ‘all-new’ healthy eating thing (imagine me doing jazz hands as I say that) and while I’m really happy about all of the junk that I’m not putting into my gob, I’m aware that I need to be better at putting super healthy things in there. We’ve been eating lots more vegetables but something I really want to try is juicing. However I don’t know the first thing about which juicer to buy and what to do. So I asked my friend, fellow blogger and juicing pro – Katrina – for a beginner’s guide to juicing. So here’s her guest post for me – and check out her fab Cool Bananas Blog too! Over to Katrina…

Katrina Cool Bananas

Beginner's guide to juicing

Whether you want to juice for a detox, as an aid to slimming: or simply for a lifestyle boost to up your intake of those all-important 5-a-day fruit & veg portions, there’s no denying that juicing gets my seal of approval. In fact, it’s an integral part of my daily routine (along with being a toddler tamer). I suffer with several food allergies & malabsorbtions so for me juicing is a way to aid digestion function, increase my intake & absorption of essential vitamins & minerals, & besides they taste delish (honestly, they do!)

Have you toyed with the idea of juicing, but found it all rather baffling? Fear not! My mission today is to introduce you to this wonderful world & show you just how easy, tasty & fun it can be. Now, I’m known for rambling, so I’ll try my upmost to keep this short & sweet, to ease you in gradually.

The basics: What do I need?

1. A machine & compostable food waste bags (or similar). Don’t scrimp on this or, I can say from experience, you’ll be disappointed. Originally I purchased a cheap machine, it juiced badly & I spent far too long preparing food to feed through the tiny shoot. Admittedly the juicer market is highly saturated market so it can be tricky to choose one. My weapon of choice is the Sage Nutri juicer (if I had the money, I would most definitely invest in the next model up, the ‘pro’)

Ta Dah!

Juicing machine

Use a food compost bags to line the caddy-it’ll save you so much time, & there’ll be a hell of a lot less mess to faff with (ah, the great faff)

Lined Sage juicing caddy

 

2. Fruit. Some fruit will juice better than others – although it’s been reported that you can pretty much juice anything. But WHOA! Easy cowboy….don’t go spending large, buying up the entire fruit & veg section. Start slowly, just make a couple of juices: get the hang of your machine before you dive into the deep end & go cold turkey on food. If you decide to undertake a ‘cleanse’ or ‘detox’ (I do highly recommend these now & then) you’re far more likely to succeed by easing in gradually.

Which juices should I make?

Lets keep it simples (said like a meerkat), here are my three favourite juices:

Carrot, orange & ginger

4 carrots, 2 oranges & a slice of ginger. All blitzed through your machine on the high speed. This lot should give you at least 500-600 ml of juice (Carrot will juice surprisingly well). For fruit with skin, like orange, I advise you peel them. The result, if you don’t, is extremely bitter!

Carrot, orange and ginger Continue reading

The Day My Three-Year-Old Stayed In A 5* Hotel

welcome-note-edition-hotel

Kids today, hey? *rolls eyes* London Edition Hotel family style package

That phrase is usually used when talking about kids wearing hoodies and tearing it up in a shopping centre or two, but I mean it in a ‘These kids! They don’t know how lucky they are!’ way. Yes, I fully realise this makes me sound 55. But it’s true.

There are so many things that my three-year-old has experienced in her short little life so far, that I didn’t experience until I was an adult. She’s been to the Royal Albert Hall (something I didn’t do until I was 22). She’s been abroad (something it took me until I was ten to achieve). She’s been to a festival (my first one was V97 when I was 18).

She has also now stayed in a five star hotel.

My posh hotel habit has had to go slightly on the back burner since having my daughter. Aside from the money aspect – we’ve been spending more on nappies, small boxes of raisins and entry to London Zoo than extravagant mini breaks – I’ve never considered 5* hotels as being particularly child-friendly. Until now, that is.

A few weeks ago, we headed into central London to stay at the London Edition. The Edition group of hotels is a new concept from Ian Schrager, the man behind The Sanderson in London, The Mondrian in West Hollywood and The Delano in Miami. He knows his hotel stuff. As well as being brimming with luxurious touches (and an awesome bar and restaurant… more on that later) the London Edition has a Family Style package which looks after the little ones as well as you.

london-edition-hotel-lobby-bar

London Edition Hotel room

London-Edition-Hotel

London Edition hotel books

What the three-year-old loved…

She had attention lavished upon her from the moment we arrived. At check-in, the staff used her name and chatted to her, complimenting her on her Rapunzel dress. The fact that she had a room of her very own went down well (we were given a Loft room with a connecting room) and you should have SEEN her excited face when she realised she had her own bathroom (“If you need a wee, you can use your toilet. But if I need a wee, I’m going to use MY toilet”). Continue reading