Friday, 29 November 2013

A day out in London

As self-confessed country bumpkins we get a bit excited over the prospect of a day out in London!

For the past three years we've been going to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, it gets us into the festive spirit and we get to spend a lovely day together. It's one of my favourite days of the year.

As we stay with my mum at this time of year, London is only half an hour away so we make a day of it. We plan our day out beforehand and always try to do something different, although Hamleys always makes an appearance. We left Milton Keynes at 10.20am and once in London headed straight to Hamleys. Ava's eyes lit up as soon as we got inside and it was lovely watching her rush around the shop, interacting with everything.



We bought her a few stocking fillers and a "My First Baby Annabel" which we are hiding away for Christmas, we also stopped off at the Disney Store where I picked up another couple of bits.

We'd decided to spend part of our day in Covent Garden which was all dressed up for Christmas.



I love Covent Garden, it's full of cute little shops and lovely restaurants. We were recommended Bills Restaurant and it certainly didn't disappoint! It was cute & quirky and the food was delicious.



I had the macaroni & cheese with leek and mushroom, Nathan had ribs with sweet potato fries. Ava was asleep throughout our meal so didn't get to sample the delights of Bills. It's definitely somewhere I'd visit again!


We then made our way to Winter Wonderland which as usual, didn't disappoint. It's free to enter and you have bars, rides and little market stalls selling things from Christmas decorations to German sausage.




It seemed a lot bigger this year and as Ava was a lot older we got to take her on some rides which she loved! I'd recommend going at around 4.30 we left at 6.30 and it was starting to get busy. Nathan spotted the steins and had to have one. I had a hot apple cider which was lovely.


There were only a few rides for little ones but Ava loved the teacups and had to go on twice.





There is so much to see and do, you could spend a lot of time (and money) there! It's such a magical place and I would recommend it to anyone. I'm already looking forward to next years trip!




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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

2 Years






Today marks the anniversary of my brother's death. 

He was 21, full of life and full of fun.

He was taken far too early and I miss him every day. 

I find it hard to talk about how I feel,

 possibly because part of me still doesn't want to believe it. 

I also want to say how wonderful my mum has been through all of the heartbreak. 

She is such an inspiration to me. She's an amazing lady. 

My biggest regret is that Lloyd never got to meet Ava.

 I was 6 months pregnant when he died and I know he would have just adored her. 

So today I am thinking of the good times I had with him.

But also the huge void he has left behind. 

Below is a lovely poem that was shared with my mum on Facebook. 

I don't know who the author is unfortunately but I think it's just lovely.




As i sit in Heaven, And watch you every day

I try and let you know with signs, i never went away.

I hear you when your laughing & watch you when you sleep,

I even place my arms around you to calm you as you weep
.
I see you wish the days away, begging to have me home


So i try to send you signs, so you know your not alone.

Don't feel guilty that you have a life, that was denied to me,

Heaven is truly beautiful just you wait and see!

So live your life, laugh again, enjoy yourself, be free

Then i'll know with every breath you take,

You'll be taking one for me



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Monday, 25 November 2013

Ultimate European Family Roadtrip

Holidays are something we all enjoy and look forward to throughout the year. But if you’re bored of staying in expensive resorts or hunting for new and interesting places to stay, then why not consider planning a road trip instead?
The French Riviera attracts a range of tourists every year – especially those who like to flash their cash. But one little known fact about this popular area of France is that it’s a great place to start a road trip around France, Switzerland and Italy.


Planning
All holidays require a certain amount of planning but road trips even more so. For one thing, you need to plan your itinerary and where you’re going to stay along the way. It’s worth not being over-ambitious with your itinerary and only doing manageable distances ensuring that you still have plenty of time to take in the sights along the way.



Bring puzzles and games for the kids. A trip around Europe is an excellent family holiday and a great way for you to spend time together. To avoid the kids getting bored in the back of the car, make sure you pick up some entertaining printable puzzle games before you set off. There are also a great range of apps available to keep them entertained en route.
It’s also a good idea to budget seeing as fuel is going to cost you a fair amount but you should also account for food and drink as well as emergency funds (in case you get lost).



Take a GPS with you just in case. While you should consider your road trip an adventure, no one wants to waste vast amounts of time being lost.

The Route
This circular route will take you on mountainous roads through the French Rhone-Alps, the crystal clear lakes of Switzerland and Lake Como in Italy. The lap around Alps will provide you with some of those most gorgeous views in Europe and offers a diverse range of roads to travel.



For a smoother, faster journey, it might be worth opting for the AutoRoute heading out of the French Riviera to quickly get on your way. Alternatively, there are a range of other, more scenic routes to take through mountain villages. The first destination is the French town of Embrun – home to two national parks as well as a range of impressive mountain passes.



You’ll then continue you north to find yourself gazing out onto the stunning landscapes of Samoens, close to the French/Swiss border. You’ll then cross the border into Geneva, Switzerland where you’ll need to decide on where your holiday will take you next.
More active holidaymakers might like to visit Interlaken, whereas the more laidback holiday maker might like to take in the sites at the beautiful city of Lucerne.
Italy is the next destination where you’ll head, going south across the border to the stunning Lake Como, where you’ll admire the multimillion-dollar villas that run alongside the lake. Lake Como is the perfect place to take a relaxing break and indulge in the fine Italian cuisine before heading on to Turin – a much larger more cosmopolitan city.
In Italy tolls are levied on the majority of motorways. Payment is made either in cash or via debit/credit cards from Visa, Eurocard and MasterCard.

“Only one in four petrol stations are open 24 hours a day on Sundays and public holidays. On roads in built-up areas, parking is only allowed on the right-hand side if there is two-way traffic. On one-way streets, you can park on either side providing a space of at least 10ft is left”, says Mike Callaghan a Head of Argus Car Hire.

Once you’re done seeing the famous landmarks such as the Shroud of Turin, you’re on your way back to the French Riviera.

*PR collaboration
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Sunday, 24 November 2013

Ordinary Moments #2


Excuse the grainy photo, it's an iphone "selfie".

When Ava was born I remember wistfully daydreaming about the days where Ava would come up to me, give me cuddles and kisses and call me "mummy".

She'll be two in March and a couple of months ago started calling me mummy, after her being able to say "daddy" for a while I was thrilled and my heart swelled with pride. Even now my heart melts when she calls me mummy. It's such a special word. The above photo was taken last night and was swiftly posted to Instagram and Facebook. We were both in our onesies about to go on a roadtrip to my mums. We're here for a week as on Wednesday it will be two years since my brother died.

Ava grabbed me round the neck and kept saying "aww", she's so loving and I'm so glad I managed to capture such a special moment although the quality is useless. It's a photo that makes me smile and I know I'll treasure it forever.

I'm linking up with Mummy Daddy Me for the Ordinary Moments.

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Friday, 22 November 2013

Wedding Update

As it has been quite a while I thought I'd fill you in on my wedding preparations. For those of you who don't know I'm getting married on 22nd August next year. You can see more of my wedding posts here.

The dress

After a search that took longer than anticipated I have found "the one". After my Maid of Honor and I travelled to my mums in Milton Keynes, visited two bridal shops and a dressmakers and still hadn't found my perfect dress I felt a little deflated, I found two dresses that I liked but I didn't love them. I wanted to find the dress that I couldn't wait to put on, one that I felt beautiful in and one that had my mum in tears (sorry mum). After searching online whilst on the phone to my mum one night we came across a selection of stunning dresses that were right up my street. There was a stockist in Chester so we made an appointment for October, my mum came up from Milton Keynes and along with my auntie and Maid of Honor we went hunting for the elusive dress. After trying on several pretty-but-not-it dresses we found it. As soon as I tried it on I knew. My mum & auntie cried so I knew it was a winner. We're putting the deposit down next week and I already can't wait to try it on again.


Celebrating with a champagne breakfast in The Grosvenor after finding my wedding dress.


Suits

You'll know from this post that I've had a firm idea of how I want the men to look for a while. They went suit hunting and we've decided on the colours. Nath has found a lovely suit from Ted Baker but we are still looking for our ushers suits. I'm waiting for the S/S range to come out as the colours will be lighter and perfect for a Summer wedding.

Bridesmaid dresses

I had a completely different idea of what I wanted my girls to wear. I'd seen a beautiful Ted Baker dress in a duck egg blue but when we went shopping my Maid of Honor tried on a gorgeous fitted dress in pink which was perfect. My two bridesmaids still need to try one on so it's not a definite yet.

Image via Pintrest

Theme

The theme is still rustic and my colour palette is pink & grey. I have an idea how I want everything to look and have been pinning like mad. We're going to my mum tomorrow for a week so I might put a mood board together. In the New Year I'll be visiting charity shops to try and find some knick-knacks to dress the room. I really want to transform the room but I'm so worried I won't be able to do it. I really need to get my thinking cap on. We still need to come up with some ideas for our stationary. It's times like these I wish I were more creative.

Music

We're having a live band followed by a DJ later on. We're still on the hunt for the perfect band. We've found a few that we like but they are SO expensive. Although I'm a big believer in you get what you pay for and I want a great band that will really get our guests up and dancing. It's quite a tricky one but again it's something I'll be looking for into when I'm at my mums next week.

Hen/Stag parties

Next June Nathan will be jetting off to Marbella with some of his guy friends and a week later I shall be jetting off to Barcelona with 14 of my closest girls. I'm so excited. I've never been to Barcelona but I've heard it's stunning and I can't wait to take it all in. We're going for 3 nights and have some fab activities in store. I'll also be having a night out in Chester with the mums, aunties, cousins and friends nearer the time which will be fun!

Image via Pintrest

Honeymoon

Another thing that has been sorted, we obviously have our priorities right! Next September Nath and I will be off to a Sentatori hotel in Crete. I've been to Crete before and am so excited to go back, it's such a beautiful place. We have our own plunge pool on our balcony too which will be a real luxury. Ava will be spending some time with both her grandparents. I do feel guilty about leaving her but we won't have another honeymoon. Although it will be nice to spend some quality time with Nath I know we're both going to miss her like mad!

I'll leave you with a couple of sneak peeks from our pre-wedding shoot with our fab wedding photographer Phil, you can see more of his brilliant work here. More of these to come soon.




Do you have any wedding tips? I'd love to hear them.

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Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Ava's bookcase #2 The Little girl who lost her name *Review

Lately we've been extremely lucky to have received new releases of some children's books. Each one has been gorgeous but I completely fell in love with this particular book. It would make a fantastic gift for Christmas, Christening or for a new born baby.



The Lost My Name books create magical stories that are personalised with the child's name. They have separate versions for boys & girls and we were lucky enough to receive a copy of each. My little cousin will be very chuffed with his book on Christmas day.




The story follows the adventure of a little girl who loses her name, she embarks on an exciting adventure looking for her name meeting an aardvark who gives her an A , a viking who gives her a V and an angel who gives her another A. Obviously spelling out Ava. The story is fun and the illustrations are beautiful.


The books are so special and exciting. They would make the perfect gift, Ava loves her and it is something that she will treasure forever.



R.R.P is £18.99 with free shipping. Head over to their website www.lostmy.name to see how yours would look.

*The book was sent to us free of charge for review purposes. However thoughts as usual are my own.

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Sunday, 17 November 2013

Happy Blogversary to me!



I can't believe that my blog is a whole year old today! Something that I started as a way to meet other mums and to fulfill my writing hobby has become a real passion!

I've met some lovely people and have been given so many wonderful opportunities. Thank you for reading my ramblings! I honestly knew nothing about blogging before I started and it has developed into something I never could have imagined! I'm going to keep building my little blog and who knows where it will be this time next year, it's so exciting!

I'd love it if you would follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Call it my blogversary present!

Thanks everyone! The cake is on me! 
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Saturday, 16 November 2013

20 months


All dressed up for Children in Need at nursery

20 months old already. The time is flying by! We're having so much fun together these days. Although the tantrums aren't that great! Your speech is coming along so well, you can string words together for example "bye bye woof" which I find so clever. You know so much, your understanding of the world around you amazes me. You tell me when it's dark or when something is cold. Although you haven't mastered the word "hot" yet.

Bed time has become easier. We have a story in mummy & daddy's bed then a cuddle. I then put you into your bed and you usually drift off. You've really been suffering with your back molars recently. So dribbly and cranky, you hadn't had any through for a while and I'd forgotten how much it breaks my heart to see you in pain. 

We're enjoying walks together, weather permitting and you love helping me bake and cook the dinner! I'm so excited for Christmas with you this year! I need to dig out the video camera because I need to document your surprise on Christmas morning. I can't wait to start putting some traditions together that we will enjoy throughout your childhood.

You're such a loving little girl. Always hugging and kissing! We are so lucky to have you, you're so loved.

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CANparent Parenting classes

As a first time mother I was often given advice by other parents. The advice was usually a lot of do's and don't and what had worked best for them and their child. I would take the advice on board but would also Google everything and read every information leaflet going.

The hard part was trying to weed out the parenting myths from the facts. Because that is all I wanted, facts. Being a mother is hard work and it can be pretty scary at times. I remember the early days well, I was worried that the midwives would think that I was an unfit mother, the amount of times I would ring the midwife unit just to ask a question but all I was looking for was some professional advice.

That is why I think the CANparent parenting classes would have benefited me enormously. CANparent classes have been put in place by the government to offer quality, practical parenting classes to families,covering a range of topics, from learning through play to behavioral solutions.

 And most importantly, breaking down the myth barriers. Watch this video for a selection of the most popular ones according to the parenting experts.




Here are some myths that I've encountered as a parent:

If you co-sleep with your baby, you will never get them into a normal routine.

Not true in our case. Ava has often found herself in our bed, usually when she is ill or teething. However she much prefers to be in her own cot and after wriggling around in our bed for a few minutes, often asks to go back into her own room.

You shouldn't give your children chocolate when they are small as they will ask for it all the time. 

My advice is "everything in moderation" Ava has chocolate as a treat every so often. We haven't yet introduced sweets but she knows when no means no and a little isn't going to harm her.

You should stop giving them a bottle at 18 months old

Ava is 20 months old and still has one bottle in the morning and one in the evening. I have been thinking about phasing them out but I'm in no hurry, every child is different and she is happy.

There are so many parenting myths out there, as a new parent it is sometimes hard to come across the truth. Some parenting situations can also be hard to deal with which is why I am fully behind the CANparent parenting classes which are currently being trialed in Camden, Middlesbrough and High Peak. If you live, work or study in these areas or your child goes to nursery or school there, you can attend a CANparent class for free by using a £100 voucher.

Head over and "Like" the CANparent Facebook page for more information and expert parenting advice.

*sponsored post
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Wednesday, 13 November 2013

A peek into Ava's A/W wardrobe

If you've been following my blog for a while you'll know that I love to shop for Ava. The changing of the seasons was a very exciting time as I got to pick a whole new wardrobe for Ava. Obviously heading to my favourite, Zara Baby, for a few bits. Another favourite is Primark, they sell some lovely pieces at tiny prices. Great for exploring toddlers who like to get messy! Below are a few of my favourite outfits, some of which you may have seen in previous posts.









What do you think of Ava's outfits?

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Tuesday, 12 November 2013

How do you sleep?

When I became a mum I knew that my sleeping pattern would change, but I didn't anticipate by how much and how cranky I would get after an interrupted night's sleep. I must say I do miss it, especially the long leisurely lie ins. I'm a big fan of sleep! I now get around 6-7 hours a night which isn't too bad considering it is the amount most of us get. We usually watch TV before going to bed and apparently my most annoying habit is pinching the covers off Nathan, oops. Take a look at the interesting infographic below. I think you'll be surprised!

  How Do You Sleep

*in association with mysofabeds.co.uk
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Saturday, 9 November 2013

Sammy & The Skyscraper Sandwich Giveaway



If you've been following my blog for a while you'll know that we are big bookworms in our house. Now that Ava is getting older I love browsing book shops or our local library to find some of my old favourites or exciting new stories.

We were recently kindly sent some new book releases one of them being Sammy & The Skyscraper Sandwich. This is a wonderfully fun book about a little boy named Sammy who becomes rather peckish one day and decides to make a ginormous sandwich.



One of the first things that caught my attention was the fantastic pictures. The illustrations are so retro and cool, like nothing I've ever seen before. 

Here is a short Q & A with Pieter Gaudesaboos, the illustrator behind these amazing drawings.

1) Can you tell us how Sammy and the Skyscraper Sandwich originated?

I met Lorraine when I was an exchange student living in Ireland (Athlone) for three months in 2000. One year later, during the summer holidays, I came back for a month to work in Galway and made contact with Lorraine. I knew she was a writer, and I wanted to do something with picture books. We had an amazing brainstorm, and this story just popped out. Back home, Lorraine wrote the text and I came up with the illustrations. We sent our ideas to a few big English publishers, but with no result. Meanwhile, I had a successful picture book career on my own back in Belgium. In 2008 I contacted Lorraine again with three questions: 1. Did she remember me? 2. Did she remember the great book idea we had? 3. Was she interested in publishing it for the Dutch market? Lorraine changed the text a little bit, I created new illustrations, and the book was published in 2009. Now we’re very happy to have it published in the original English version as well.

2) Please can you tell us about the inspiration for Sammy and the Skyscraper Sandwich

 It just came naturally. I showed Lorraine my sketchbook which contained a lot of crazy illustrations, including a page with all different types of sandwiches. We joked about a boy that was so hungry he would demolish his house to make the biggest sandwich in the whole world. We laughed a lot and realized it was a great idea!

3) There's so much detail in Sammy and the Skyscraper Sandwich! Do you have a favourite illustration?

I think my favourite one is this




  There’s lots of details on this one, and it’s the first time you see the whole sandwich.

4) What children's books did you enjoy as a child?

All sorts of books with fantasy and imagination. I’ve read all the great Roald Dahl books, and Dutch children’s books in the same style.

5) Who are your favourite illustrators?

I really like the vintage ‘golden books’. But my all time favourite illustrator is Oliver Jeffers. I adore the absurdity of his stories, in combination with the simple (‘less is more’) but effective style of his illustrations.

I have 5 copies of this beautiful book to give away. It would make a lovely Christmas present for someone.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Friday, 8 November 2013

Silver Linings

Let's get real for a moment, I'm sure you'll all know by now that motherhood isn't all sunshine and rainbows, sometimes it can't be darn right hard.

As I've mentioned before Ava is a very determined little lady. She knows what she wants and if she doesn't want to do it, well, she won't! As her mummy and the person who spends the most time with her, now and again she likes to play me up. Let's take tonight for example, I needed a few bits from Morrisons for our dinner, literally 5 items, no point in grabbing a trolley, I was only going to be in and out plus I never have any change on me! It was an EPIC fail! So much so that I've vowed never to go shopping with Ava ever again, well until next week at least.

She was running away for me and got so worked up at the till she was sick all over her new Zara coat. I felt like crying myself, it was awful. You know when you can almost feel other people's eyes burning the back of your head?! So embarrassing. At home it wasn't much better, with Nath working until 8 I had to get the tea together as well as entertaining Ava who had by now started her evening whingey chorus and wouldn't let me out of her sight.

Bedtime was a battle and she only calmed down when I offered her some milk. She wanted to go upstairs so we went, not into her room but to mine, where she wanted to get into my bed. She had some milk and snuggled right down next to me, turned to me said "hiya" and started stroking my face. Suddenly all the evenings events didn't seem so bad after all.

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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Our Annual Trip to London

On 27th November this year it will be two years since my bother died. Two years! It still seems like it was yesterday. For the past two years Nath and I have been travelling down to Milton Keynes to spend time with my mum, trying to keep her spirits up as much as we can. We also make time to go to London.

Last year was the first time that we had taken Ava. We do touristy things and spend early evening at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. It's amazing there and really gets us into the Christmas spirit.



We've already planned some of our trip. We'll be taking the obligatory visit to Hamleys, this year we'll be exploring Covent Garden and later on we'll head on to Hyde Park. I've already picked the restaurant for our lunch time meal with a little help from Olivia. We'll be heading to Bills, one of the restaurants that she recommended to me which looks amazing!




If anyone knows of any toddler friendly things that we can do around the Covent Garden area I'm all ears as I don't know London at all!

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