Gorgeous Wooden Toys… From Asda! (Who Knew?)

I have a funny old relationship with wooden toys. Four years ago when I had a newborn, I thought they were pretentious and so utterly middle class that I’d try to avoid at all costs. Now (ahem) I’ve totally changed my tune. Perhaps it’s a symptom of having spent the last four years wading through a sea of primary-coloured plastic, but if I can choose a beautiful wooden toy over a plastic version, I’ll opt for it every time.

One problem? They can be more expensive than their plasticky friends. Yep, you gotta pay to have a home that isn’t drowning in plastic tat, folks.

Or so I thought. I’m genuinely surprised and delighted that George at Home have launched a range of wooden kids’ toys. Just in time for Christmas – hurrah!

They have a seriously impressive range from a shop (£35) and a pirate ship (£25) to a kitchen (£40) and a farm set (£20).



We were asked to road test one of the toys and we went for the wooden dolls house (£35). The four year old doesn’t have a proper dolls house, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to treat her to one.

She was SO EXCITED when she saw it. Like, properly. “Can I play with it NOW PLEASE?” she asked. It was breakfast time so we let her have ten minutes of playing and then totally used it as a bribe. “If you do lots of listening and helping at pre-school today, you can play with it tonight” (Mum.Of.The.Year.)

She immediately started carefully placing the dolls house furniture (£15) in the house and pretended that the dolls were getting up, having breakfast and going off to work. So cute!


Wooden dolls house from Asda

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Things That Aren’t As Much Fun When You Have Kids


1. Lunch with friends

Pre-kids: Meeting at 2.30pm, somewhere buzzy and fun. Getting stuck into a cocktail followed by a bottle of white wine. Chatting so much that the waiter has to ask you three times whether you’re ready to order. Eating leisurely and losing track of time as you catch up.

Post-kids: Meeting at midday (any later and the kids will get hungry and ratty) at a noisy child-friendly place. Ordering off the kids’ menu before you’ve even looked at what you might have. Having snatches of conversation in between helping to colour in (using the complimentary crayons and colouring sheet) and answer the endless “Mummy?” questions. Rushing through lunch before the kids get bored. Sloping off sheepishly after paying because there’s more food on the floor than in the actual kitchen.

2. The clocks going back

Pre-kids: Yesss! You get an extra hour in bed (or when you were a vodka and dancing loving student: Yesss! You get an extra hour in the club)

Post-kids: Argh! They’re technically up an hour early. And you have to somehow get them to go to bed an hour early tonight. (Suddenly, those conversations MPs have about stopping GMT seem appealing.)

3. Bank holidays

Pre-kids: A lie-in followed by a couple of hours in your PJs watching telly, then going to the pub to meet friends, eating a massive pub lunch and drinking wine in the sun until the early evening. Ahh bank holidays, the stuff of dreams.

Post-kids: Getting up the same time as you always do. Having to pay for childcare even though you’re not using it. Heading to the same soft play (if it’s raining) or beach (if it’s sunny) as everyone else on the planet. Fighting the crowds and the queues. Getting stuck in traffic on the way home. Fun times….

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I Went To Palma For Lunch – Here’s What Happened…

Got my passport, euros, sunglasses! Let's go!

I love a day trip. Not to the sea side or a stately home. I love getting on a plane and going to a different country, just for the day. Back when my best mate turned 30, a group of us went to Dublin for the day. A couple of years ago, I took Mr P to Paris for the day on his birthday. Recently, I flew to Edinburgh to visit my mum for the day. It’s such a brilliant way to spend a few hours in a fab city, perhaps see some faraway friends or family, and then be back in time for bed. No expensive hotels, no need to take more days off work. Win win, right?

Last week, I discovered a new day trip destination: Palma. I know, I can hear you say “Palma? As in Majorca?” but stick with me. It’s a totally overlooked city break destination. Before last week, I’d only ever thought of it as the airport you fly into when you’re going to a beach holiday elsewhere on the island. But it’s a really beautiful city worth visiting. Even for the day…

Which is lucky because Thomson invited me and a group of bloggers and journalists to Palma for lunch. We flew out there on a 787 Dreamliner (which, I admit, I’d never heard of before the trip. Mr P, however, was very excited when he heard which plane we’d be flying on) and even better, the plane was flown by the MD of Thomson Airlines, Captain John Murphy. Before we took off, they filled us in on some company news – things that if I’m totally honest changed my view of Thomson and First Choice. I don’t think I’ve ever gone on a holiday with them, and I’m not really a fan of a standard package holiday, but after listening to the team and hearing about how they operate, I was left very impressed.

It was the attention to detail like the airline crew having iPads which they use to help you do anything from book a brilliant restaurant local to your hotel, to telling you what the weather will be for the next few days, to the football results of your favourite team. They’re also trying to move away from the welcome meeting when you arrive at your hotel, shifting all of that information to the flight and your in-seat TV. And I loved the sound of the family booth style seating planned for future planes. They just seem to genuinely care about the customer’s experience and starting your holiday off in the best possible way.


After a gorgeous Spanish breakfast onboard the plane and an ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at the Dreamliner lightshow (a feature designed especially for the company – nicknamed the TUI Wave) we landed in Palma to glorious sunshine – which was just amazing after leaving a very wet and stormy London.

Spanish breakfast

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36 Things That Happened If You Were A Teenage Girl In The 90s


1. You read a well-thumbed copy of Judy Blume’s Forever, after it had been passed around most of your class.

2. You had to decide whether you loved Take That or East 17 more. You couldn’t love them both, that was against the rules.

3. But if the hot boys from school asked, you were totally into Pearl Jam and Nirvana.

4. You had a crush on all of the Mizz male models. especially Malcolm.

5. You wore Dr Marten boots and referred to them as DMs. If you were really cool, you had the cherry reds. With tartan laces.

6. It wasn’t Saturday afternoon without a visit to The Body Shop to spend your pocket money on a kiwi lip balm. Or if you were splashing out, White Musk perfume.

7. You were addicted to playing Tetris on the GameBoy. And you may have owned a Tamagotchi.

8. You went to see Titanic at the cinema three times – and cried when Leo died, every time (“Jack! Come back!”)

9. Saying “Not” at the end of a sentence never got tired.

10. You decided if you ever got a tattoo, it would be Mark Owen’s dolphin or Mel C’s celtic arm chain. Both totally amazing.

11. But you couldn’t decide whether you’d rather have your eyebrow pierced like Howard Donald or a pierced tummy button (well, flashing a belly bar while wearing a crop top would be so cool.)

12. School holidays were spent watching Saved By The Bell (you really wanted to be Kelly Kapowski), listening to Pulp, Blur and Oasis on your Walkman and avoiding any homework or revision.

13. You loved Cosmetics To Go and pored over their newspaper style catalogue every time it was delivered. Bath bombs! Shampoos with comedy names! Amazing smelling products!

14. Over the knee socks were a totally legitimate fashion choice. Despite what your mum’s withering look told you.

15. Every second Wednesday was all about Just 17. And the first pages you turned to? The advice pages, of course. Anita Naik and Nick Fisher were your gurus.

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Getting The Right Balance


Balance is a word I’ve been thinking about a lot, recently. It’s so important that we have balance in our lives. Time on our own, time working hard, time with friends, time watching Friends (with pizza), time at the park with the family.

When things gets imbalanced, it all gets a bit stressy. At least, it does for me. Often, the first sign for me that things are imbalanced is me feeling a bit panicky or paranoid. Then I realise: I need to rebalance my life. I’m either knackered from too many late wine-filled nights, or often too many late nights at my laptop.

But recently I’ve become aware of a new kind of imbalance. For two and a half years I’ve worked full time, while my daughter is at nursery, and that’s worked really well for us. It has kept me sane in the aftermath of (undiagnosed) post natal depression and it has helped turn her into the sociable, happy four-year-old she is now. But something has changed recently. Perhaps it’s the realisation that she will be going to school in a year’s time – our time together now has a cap on it. This time next year, I’ll be picking her up from school at 3.30pm (is that even when school ends for the day? I have so much to learn) and we’ll have just a few hours a day to hang out. We’ll be restricted by a weekday timetable that will limit how much time we can spend together as a family. And then, all too soon, she’ll be at the age where she doesn’t want to hang out with us at all. (Unless she realises that I’m actually a COOL MUM *cough*)

So I’ve decided to change the four-year-old’s pre-school week and reduce her from five days to four days. On one day each week, we’ll hang out, maybe go to the library, meet friends for coffee or meet her nana for lunch. We might do painting or bake cupcakes. There will almost definitely be difficult days and tantrums, but we’ll get through those with as much of a smile as we can. I’m ignoring the small voice in my brain that is trying to remind me of the last time I spent weekdays alone with her. She was a baby back then, rather than a chatty, fun, four-year-old. And my head and hormones were totally messed up. So sshhh small voice, I’m not listening.

Of course, this decision probably doesn’t seem groundbreaking to you. After all, don’t loads of mums work part time? But it’s a big deal for me. And it signifies a real switch in my head. For the first time ever, I’m actually prioritising my family over my career. It’s SUCH a cliché but nobody ever did lie on their deathbed and wish they had worked more. Women are asked about their work/life balance all the time (men aren’t asked about it, but that’s a whole other blog post) and I’ve always been happy with mine – until now.

So I’m going to work less (I’ve already turned down work this week *high fives self*), perhaps even blog less, and focus on my family. I’m also going to do all of the things in my home that I’ve been ignoring for three years – like organising all of our crap, spring (autumn) cleaning, selling stuff on eBay and redecorating and reorganising the four-year-old’s bedroom. I might even paint her playhouse that’s been waiting to be painted for a whole year.

Wish me luck!

Image: DTTSP