Thursday, 29 December 2016

The 2017 To Do List...


Wow, Christmas has now been and gone and we are nearly at the end of the school holidays - can you believe all that build up for two days, all that shopping, wrapping, sticking, baking and of course eating and as we prepare to enter 2017 I shall see in this season at least half a stone heavier. Grrrrr. Oh, go on then, just one more Lindt ball. 

I am currently sitting in the beautiful Vale of Glamorgan reminiscing on what a year 2016 has been. 2016 saw the loss of so many great people with more recently one of my childhood idols, Mr George Michael, another one taken too young. This year also saw the world being robbed of two mothers of friends of mine who again were taken too soon. So, as I sit here reflecting on the year I look to next year and what that year will hold but full of optimism of what I hope it will become. 

Every January I start the year with great intentions - I think we all do really, so, I thought I would share with you my "to do list" for next year.

1. Shed a stone. At least.

I have been long saying that I want to get my body back to where it was pre baby and everytime I do something comes up that seems to stop me in my tracks, usually chocolate, cake or my ever expanding dessert stomach. This changes here. I am rejoining my local Slimming World with the determination to lose at least a stone, and I will by my holiday to Greece in July.

2. Scrapping negative thoughts - positive affirmations from here on. 

I have been reading a lot about "The Secret" and about changing the way I think. 2017 will be about positive thinking and reflection about how grateful I am for the life that I have. Positive mind, positive thoughts.

3. New job.

On January 4th I will return to work having taken the last two months off and will return to a full time job. I am going to work at a boarding school which will see me working everyday term time only. I will be honest, as much as I am very excited about starting my new role I am also concerned about how returning to work full time will impact on my family life and life in general but the knowledge that I am only every six - seven weeks away from  a week away with my family will see me through.

4. Make by blog BIGGER and BETTER

Since starting the blog in September 2015 I have to say I have loved every minute of it. I enjoy the writing, the working with brands and the interaction I have with my instagram friends and friends I have made though my blog. In 2017 I want to make my blogger bigger and better. I want to work with more brands that I love. In an ideal world I would love my blog to take me and the family to new and exciting places. I have recently started my YouTube channel (click here ) and will do more vlogs in 2017 too. This is the year for my blog.

5. Be more organised.

I say this every year. I am going to do my washing every day as opposed to waiting for it all to build up which at this point I turn into Dot Cotton f'ing and blinding about how much sodding washing I've got to do. A little bit every day should do it, ish. I am also going to do my Tesco online shopping religiously which will lead to less waste, more savings and me generally having to get my arse in gear with meal planning which will aid point 1, of the weight loss! I am also going to actually do my photobooks this year month by month rather than by waiting till December to then sort through ALL the years pics which always stresses me out! 

6. Be less of a nag.

I am very aware that I am a very naggy individual. My mother (love her dearly) has passed down to me the ability to set standards that no normal human being could every achieve. I will in 2017 learn to get less stressed about whether that cup that's been sitting on the side for the last hour will ever make it to the dishwasher and I will try to remember that I don't have to ask Tom ten hundred times to do something. 

I was thinking of a number 7 but to be honest 6 is plenty and the chances of me sticking to 1-6 are slim to none but I always think it is best to be think positively!                                                        
So, here is to 2017, I look forward to welcoming you with open arms and embracing all the challenges that you have for me. Bring. It. On.

Nathalie x

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Oreo cupcakes....

Yes you heard right! We love an Oreo in this house and if they are double stuff than even better!

This weekend is our school fair so I'm doing a trial run for that and potentially Webbo's birthday next weekend.

The recipe is hideously easy to follow and comes from the uber cool bakery Crumbs and Doilies in Soho - their unicorn cake is famous!

If they go to plan then I would like to try to make a cake version of it.

Ok, so here's the recipe....


85g Self Raising Flour
25g Malt Powder (I used a 25g sachet of Ovaltine)
15g Cocoa Powder
1/4 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
Pinch of Salt
125g Caster Sugar
135g Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)
2 Large Free Range Eggs
1 & 1/2 tbsp of Whole Milk
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Packets of Oreo Cookies

200g Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)
450g Icing Sugar
3 tbsp Whole Milk
1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 Packet of Oreo Cookies (crumbed)

How to make it...

Line a cupcake / muffin tin with cupcake liners (recipe makes 12 cupcakes) and preheat the oven to 170C.

Sieve together your flour, malt powder (Ovaltine), cocoa powder, bicarb, salt and sugar in your mixing bowl. Add your butter and eggs and mix on a medium speed. Once well combined add your milk and vanilla extract and mix for a further minute. 

Place one whole Oreo cookie in the bottom of each cupcake (YUP!!) case then fill the cupcake case 3/4 way full with your mixture (about a heaped tablespoon). Place in the oven to bake for about 22mins or until a cocktail stick stuck in the middle comes out clean, mine took about 25 mins. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack while you make your frosting. 

Start by placing your butter in your mixer and beat for about 6 mins on a medium speed until the butter is pale and fluffy. Add in half of your icing sugar and mix until combined. Repeat with the second half of the icing sugar and mix for a couple of minutes. Turn down the mixer to a slow speed and add the milk and vanilla extract and mix until combined. Turn off your mixer and add in your Oreo crumbs, give a good mix again. I made my crumbs by placing in a sandwich bag and bashing the life out of them with a rolling pin, but you could use a food processor. 

Put your icing into a piping bag and pipe onto your cupcakes or simply spread the delicious frosting all over the top of the cupcake. I then decorated the cupcakes with half an Oreo cookie, ideally I would have used one of the mini ones on top but could not find any when I nipped to the supermarket earlier. 

Give them a try and let me know what you think!

Nathalie x

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

So, yeah, I just quit my job...

So you may have seen from my recent blog post that my life has been on a bit of a roller coaster these last few weeks and now I can break my silence and tell you why.

I have today left my job.

I loved my job. I loved the freedom, the ambition, the general public (yes even the weird one from no. 46 who came in and told me about his scabby toes) and the job satisfaction that I got from my job and whilst I understand that in all businesses when times are challenging that cutbacks must be made it is still an emotional and upsetting time for all involved.

There is something that I will miss more than ever. I will miss my colleagues terribly. When you start any job it's pot luck whether you can bare to even stomach the colleagues that HR have thrown you together with but my goodness when you get a good bunch it makes you realise how bloody lucky you are. No one knows more than my colleagues how I like my tea, how to pop a piece of chocolate on my desk at just the right time, who put up with my really bad afternoon singing and who have also comforted me in times of joy and sadness, hey on a weekly average I spend more time with these guys than I do my own family and I will cherish the time we had and look back fondly on our times together.

Luckily for me things were more on my say. Alternatives were offered to me but they simply would not suit where I wanted to be at the age of nearly 32 on November 9th 2016. My family must now come first and that is my priority.

If one thing that being made redundant has taught me is that I now have a shot to try and find a job/career that fits around my life and my family rather than finding a job which means that I miss bath and bedtimes, I miss those precious won't get those moments back despite a pay cheque compensating for it moments and above all from now on things will be on my terms.

I have to remember that being made redundant is nothing personal and it's by no ways a reflection of me as a person and when the times can be uncertain and it feels like there is a big fat looming cloud I know that there is one hell of a silver lining coming and it will all be for the better.

Onwards and upwards.

Nathalie x


Thursday, 3 November 2016

When life gives you lemons....

I am currently sat in our gorgeous woodland lodge in the heart of Elveden Forest sipping on a shandy (I know how 80's) with many a thought buzzing around my head.

The last couple of weeks in my personal life have been somewhat up and down, nothing major mind you but enough to put the axis of my own world slightly off kilter.

"If it's meant to be it's meant to be" is what my mum and grandmother preach - it's their motto for everything in life. I suppose being the ever life half full girl this is a motto that I resonate with but do you ever get thrown into those life situations where you simply do not know what to do for the better.

I am being quite cryptic here and I will in time tell you why but as I sit here typing I am looking for advice from the wider world, my online friends and family I suppose.

What would you do? In life's crossroads would you jump and deal with the consequences or settle for something that may not be forever and could leave you questioning why the hell you didn't jump when you had the chance - almost follow your heart and screw your head?

When I was single and younger life was so much easier, I only had to think of me, whatever my decisions and choices were only ever impacted me but now at nearly 32 years of age every single thing I do has consequences for the small people and indeed my family around me. Crikey when did s**t get so real?

I am very lucky to have the most amazing husband, parents, siblings, family and friends around me who will support me and who actually encouraging me to jump but what if what my hearts telling me to do is the wrong thing?

Life is a funny old thing, just when you think it's all plain sailing there's a bump in the ocean. I'd like to say it's all character building but to be quite honest it's just a sheer inconvenience and pain in the ass.

So, when life gives you lemon, do you squeeze the s***t out of them and make a lemonade that would make R. Whites quake in his boots or just pop that lemon back in the bowl and settle for that sadder more pathetic looking lemon in the hope that you rejected the right one?


Nathalie x


Monday, 17 October 2016

Boys Autumn/Winter 2016 Fashion Picks....

The temperature is most definitely dipping and as half term approaches I've started to look through the boys wardrobes and see what needs updating. 

Charlie seems to be growing at the rate of knots and Hector is now in 18-24 months clothes and it's dawned on me that I don't actually have much for him as Charlie's clothes at this age were fairly grotty and clearly were not worth saving for second time around.

I have to say that normally I dread shopping for the boys, especially Hector's age range as usually everything is adorned with characters and for Charlie's age they are more suited to older boys when I would prefer clothes for him that suit his age, 4.

I thought I would share with you a few picks that I will be getting for the boys wardrobes for their autumn/winter wear 2016.

First up is Jo Jo Maman Bebe - it remains to this day my go to reliable brand for childrens clothes albeit now that Charlie is slightly too big for majority of their range Hector fits a treat. This season there are some great multi buy offers on which if you are like me like nothing more than an excuse to spend money and save money.

I'm having a slight love affair with their fox range - Hector already has the fox leggings and we get such compliments on them.

Fox Leggings - £10 as modeled by Hectie (save £5 when you buy two)

Fox Hoodie - £20

Fox Top - £12 (save £5 when you buy two tops)

Fox Extra Thick Leggings - £10.00 (Save £5 when you buy two)

Next up is a firm favourite of mine, good old, Boden. Now, this whilst is a "High Street" brand commands much higher than your average High Street price and given I have two boys don't mind spending a little extra on clothes for Charlie from here given they will eventually get given to Hector. I'm still saddened that they closed the majority of their High Street stores.

Charlie is forever in, out, in, out of his hoodies and I love the furry lining of this one which is bound to keep him cosy in the colder months - there is also 10% off across the store at the moment which is always a bonus!

Printed t-shirt - £17.50

Now, when it comes to jeans for both my boys I tend to only shop at Zara, and 9/10 if I am going for a skinny stretchy jean it's usually from the girls section. Both my boths have small waists and I find that the jeggings style suits their shape better.

So, the jeans are not the cheapest around but they wash so well that I don't mind spending a bit more on them.

Skinny Harem jeans from £16.00

Now, finally, footwear! I am a big fan of Ugg boots and I think they are so great for the kids, both boys and girls alike. They are an easy, go to, warm, slip on boot that is so useful for the wintery months, the downside is that they are not cheap so it's worth checking out eBay for second hand ones as the kids grow out of their shoes so quickly we've been known to pick up a pair for £11.

Ugg Classic Boot
There are so many deals around on the High Street at the moment it's always worth registering with the brands that you love direct so that you don't miss out on any of those 10% and 25% off codes as well as previews of the forthcoming collections!

Happy shopping!

Nathalie x


Sunday, 16 October 2016

Sunday Bakes.....Sara's Chocolate & Banana Loaf

Yesterday afternoon on a rare Saturday off with the small people we headed to Brontes, a trendy little cafe selling lots of yummy food that aims to nourish and restore you. We enjoyed the best hot chocolate around and a large slice of their gluten free, dairy free, chocolate and banana loaf.

I love a good banana loaf,  our family friend Penny used to make it all the time and as a child I fondly remember her bringing us round a loaf that my mum would slather jam on (odd I know but it works!).

One of my best friends Sara introduced me to this cracking chocolate and banana loaf (I'm pretty sure it's Nigel Slater's recipe but I'm giving her full credit here!) a couple of years back when she whipped out a tin with the loveliest and stodginess slice of goodness in after one of our Bushy Park October dog walks and it's the recipe I've been using ever since....


175g unsalted butter (I used same quantity of vegetable oil as ran out of butter!)
175g sugar (1/2 light muscovado, 1/2 golden caster sugar)
2 free range eggs
175g self raising flour
2 very ripe bananas (the ones I had used yesterday had definitely seen better days!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
175g chocolate chips (I like to use 1/2 dark, 1/2 milk)


- Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/GAS 3 and line a loaf tin (20cm x 12cm x 5cm)
- Beat the butter and sugar until creamed
- Add the eggs one by one.
- Add the self raising flour until all combined
- Finely chop your bananas
- Gently fold in the bananas, chocolate chips and vanilla extract
- Plop into your tin and pop in the oven for about an hour, an hour twenty or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Transfer to a cooling rack and leave ten minutes before turning out of the tin.
- Leave to cool and slice a big chunk and serve with a lovely big cuppa of your choosing!

I have made this cake using gluten free flour and dairy free chocolate so if you replace the butter for vegetable oil it will be suitable for allergy sufferers too!

So, if you've got any ropey black bananas knocking about most definitely give this a try.


Nathalie x


Wednesday, 5 October 2016

No Sew Last Minute Maths Week Costumes.....

Charlie's school loves a theme week and a fancy dress day and these generally fill me with fear as parent participation is actively encouraged and I am crap at sewing and 9/10 completely forget about the sodding day until one of my friends sends a friendly reminder out on our WhatsApp group.

Take last year for example, Maths week! I totally forgot and resorted to bringing one of our FOR SALE boards home (it had our phone number on it - that was the tenuous maths link) with a view to fashioning some excellent sandwich board typeesque costume before bottling it and sending him in in his football kit because it had a number 9 on the back. Fail and it's always made worse by mums who are better organised and generally really sodding good at costumes, like Clementine's mum (there is no Clementine in our class as far as I know but I know we all have at least one Clementine's mum in every school!).

So, next week at our school it's Maths Week once again and this year I am being far more organised, our costume is already sorted (cue smug mum face) but thought that I could inspire some of you mums who like me are usually a bit!


Everyone loves a dice! Simply get your hands on an oversized box, paint it white with the relevant dots, cut a hole for the head and arms and ta-dah – one walking talking dice!

Count Dracula

Now I saw this on Pinterest and thought what a lame but marvellous idea. I love a bit of money saving and given that we are three weeks away from Halloween and the supermarkets are awash with Dracula outfits, get your mitts on one and kill two birds with one stone by making your little one go as COUNT Dracula! One costume for Maths Week that doubles as a perfect Halloween costume!!

Playing cards

Super easy. Two boards, get your red paint out and copy a playing card, string the two together with string or ribbon and hang over like a sandwich board!


Simply make a calculator out of card and attach with safety pins.


Get some bank notes and photo copy them (although do not do on your office photocopier like I did once for my colleagues niece to find that the copier had picked up the notes and identified it as a fraudulent activity and shut down the whole copier system for the entire company) do it at home or alternatively pick up some play money notes here and attach to an old t-shirt.

Good luck!

Nathalie x

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Bedroom Re-design Inspiration...

Charlie has been off school the last couple of days which has given me lots of time to start thinking about our next house project!

We moved into our Cottage last Christmas and have since then managed to re-do the bathroom, kitchen, kids bedrooms and reception rooms all on a relatively small budget.

Now it's the turn of our bedroom that has been neglected since we took occupancy.

I am keen to keep the theme of the bedroom pretty simple sticking with three core colours, grey, blush pink and a hint of copper.
Tom I think will be pleased with a splash of colour as our house is pretty much grey throughout - I can't help it - I like grey!

The colour that is on every wall in our house (and our old flat too!) is a colour by Dulux called Polished Pebble. I was introduced to this by my friends Sarah and Ross who had just refurbished their house and decorated it with this colour and as soon as I saw it in the flesh I knew that was the colour I had been looking for. It's a warm colour in certain lights but then a cooler colour in other lights and works really well in the Cottage.

Our bed is an upholstered grey head boarded bed and given that I have sheets and bedding sets to match a fairly neutral room this will cut down on me having to go out and having to buy extra bedding for the newly decorated room.

That said I have just stumbled across this from Ted Baker at John Lewis - would be perfect for spring days when the throw is not so necessary...

I don't plan to go wild on the copper but think a few nice accessories would add a sense of warmth to the room. I do need (sorry want!) to get some new bedside lamps and love the idea of something quite industrial possibly like these from Dunelm and reasonably priced at £19.99 too and the lampshade too at £19.99 could also work well.

Below are some pictures of the room as it stands now. 

Love this mirror from Dunelm - it's floor length free standing and was a bargain at £49.99

Contemplating painting the Ikea unit a grey colour and replacing the handles, the dressing table chair
will also be upholstered.

These wardrobes can be given a new lease of life with a lick of paint and new handles. 

I would ideally like to get the room finished before Christmas but with the weeks rapidly running away from us and being away over half term it may have to be a New Year project!

Nathalie x


Friday, 9 September 2016

Sssshhh..... but it's less than 100 days till Christmas (ducks for cover)...

Can you believe that it's really only less than 100 days till Christmas??

Being a local Cobham girl I always get excited when I see the first bit of social media buzz regarding the start of the Christmas season. For me, it has to kick off with Cobham at Christmas now renamed Cobham Extravaganza. It's an amazing local night where the shops open late, there are festive stalls and the smell of mulled wine in the air as we wait in anticipation for the lights to be flicked and for the tree to burst into an array of colours heralding for me the start of Christmas.

Find out more here

It's madness to think that even though it's the start of September that the Christmas word is even being banded about. I love Christmas, my boss however shudders at the thought, I am the Buddy the Elf to his Grinch - it just kinda works, even the supermarkets are selling Christmas cards so it can't be that far away!

What's special about that time of year is that there is so much to look forward to. Being of Scandinavian and English descent I am very lucky to celebrate both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and this year in a break with tradition we are heading out to eat at our local pub on Christmas Eve and can you believe that already they are fully booked - shows the sign of a great pub I guess.

Being in property our industry tends to quieten down around December so I tend to take a large portion of my annual leave then often with a few days before Tom and Charlie break for the holidays so I am able to get a few bits done in peace!

This year I am so very excited as we have just booked a family weekend break to my uncles house in Bremen to enjoy the Christmas German Markets. It's a place that I fondly used to visit as a child but I am really chuffed to be going back there with Tom and Charlie. We are leaving Hector behind as he's at that age where it really would be more pleasurable travelling without him, besides he won't remember it and I'm actually looking forward to showing Charlie on his own. We are also travelling with my aunt and uncle, their three kids (all under 10) and my grandparents - think National Lampoons but no doubt more drama - it'll be great and I cannot wait!! If you are on the Ryanair flight I can only apologise in advance as it's bound to be carnage.

I know it's early but am starting to compile my bucket list of things to do and make in December. My mum whines at me every year that we squeeze too much in and yes she may be right but the boys are growing up so fast I don't want to miss out on anything.

So far on the list we have.....

1. Our yearly tradition of visiting Father Christmas at Painshill Park bookable from 7th October.

2. The spectacular Christmas lights at Kew Gardens.

3. Christmas Market in Germany.

4. A pantomime. Charlie I think will really enjoy this so it's definitely a must this year!

5. Christmas Eve box. I am going to make the kids Christmas Eve boxes (one each) filled with a Christmas film to enjoy during the day, some hot chocolate, sweet treats and new pyjamas!

6. The return of Jack Tingle our resident Elf on a shelf! Read all about last years adventures here.

There is still many more things to add to THE list, would love to know what you'd like to do and also what family traditions you have or would like to start with your little ones?

Nathalie x


Monday, 5 September 2016

A letter to my baby on his first day of school.....

Dear Charlie,

Gosh, you looked so smart this morning standing there in your new shirt and tie with its pingy elastic which will no doubt get you into trouble at some point. Your legs looked so skinny in your grown up grey shorts and old man shoes. 

I still can't believe that tonight as I tucked you into bed all overtired and upset as you didn't want to go to bed that you've just done your first full day at big school, the same school I started at at your age and with no dramas, then again I didn't expect there to be. 

Charlie, there are so so many things that I want for you as my baby. I want you to grow up, be happy, enjoy doing the things that you love and as you start school there are so many things that I wish for you too....

I wish for you to love your school days the way that I loved my school days.

Enjoy the freedom and fun that your school days will give you. What I wouldn't give to go back to school again when my only worries were what was for lunch and if I was gonna get my homework done in time. I don't want you to stress the little things. 

Don't get upset when you don't fully understand your CVC words, or those pesky fractions BUT you will learn them soon enough and I can't say I will know the answers and if I draw a blank which I know I will then you've got a crack team of teachers in the family who will always help you. And on that note, ask for help when you are struggling or you don't fully understand something, don't be shy or afraid. Daddy will stand by this being a teacher that you should always ask for help if you don't get something. 

Be kind. Be so kind to your friends and your enemies for that matter too, because you never know when you might bump into them later on in life!

Go over to the boy or girl who is in the corner of the playground on their own. It's horrible being lonely and I would want someone to do the same to you should you ever find yourself in that situation. 

Don't be cruel. Words hurt. They say that "sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt me" but words can really hurt, and people remember,  always remember that. 

Stand up for what you believe is right and say if you think something is wrong. Always tell a teacher or a grown up if you think that somethings not right, your gut feeling is a strong one and you'll learn as you grow that your gut feeling is always right.

Try everything on your plate at lunch, you never know you might like it! 

Don't take for granted the opportunities that you've got before you. Embrace every sport you get to try. Soak in the atmosphere of every museum and art gallery you visit. Embrace every culture that you are lucky enough to experience. I know that Daddy and I have chosen to send you to an independent school and if I'm honest I'm not sure for how long we will be able to do it but we live in for the now and I know in time when your school work will be getting you down that you'll want to jack it all in when I tell you "you aren't going to that party on Friday your exams are in two weeks time" (I know because I've been there) I want you always to remember that we only wanted to give you what we felt was the best start. We will lay the foundations for you and you do the hard graft, and to coin a phrase of my old school founder Andrew Reed - "an education is a fortune a child can never spend". Now, when you've made it as a teacher as you want to be when you are older just like Daddy that I hope you'll thank us when we are old and without a penny to our names that you'll repay us not in money but with your stories and also with roast dinners and pushing us around in our nursing home when we get older. 

Have fun. Too much fun even. Make memories, memories that will stay with you forever. Make friends that will be at your wedding and who will be with you through the thick and thin. Be thankful and polite, and always stand up when a teacher comes in the room. 

And above all else. Have fun. Have so much fun. 

Go get 'em baby boy. 

I love you so very much. 

Mummy X 

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Kissing goodbye to the summer....

Can you believe that as the clock strikes midnight tonight we shall be kissing goodbye to August and saying "hello" to our friend September once again.

Don't get me wrong, I've loved this summer. We have had some awesome adventures, met new friends, and spent some well overdue quality time together as a family which was so very needed but as I reflect on happy times I look forward to heading into a new month which will hail a new chapter in this years annual.

September for me is a fantastic month. In years gone by the weather has been kinder to us than the summer months and as the leaves slowly start to turn and the evenings take on a slight chill we head into yet another school year and of course autumn.

Next Monday Charlie starts in Reception and as I look at the piles of school uniform that need labeling, blazers that need to be dry cleaned and school shoes that need to be polished I just can't quite seem to get my head around the fact that my little boy is starting school for real.

I look back at my school days with such adoration and now with such pride as Charlie attends the same school that I did, and when I look at Charlie smile it mirrors the same smile I had on my face as he skips down the same path that I skipped down at that very same age. Madness really.

So, as I prepare to kiss goodbye to summer for another year here's a little round up of our amazing summer....

Thanks summer for some amazing memories! We've loved every minute!

September - WE ARE READY FOR YOU!!

Nathalie x

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Are the school holidays over yet?

So, it's 3pm and I'm hiding in my office tucked away at home, hoping desperately that the children won't find me - well for five minutes ideally.

We are in week 6 of an 8 week summer holiday and I'm starting to question, scrap that, I am questioning how my mum made it through all those holidays being a full time stay at home mum?

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my kids with all my heart but today as we attempt our first "let's stay at home all day" I'm contemplating putting them on Ebay. No refunds.

My children are most definitely spoilt. I will deny it to the hills but I know that there is no denying it. They have too many toys, watch too much tv and are used to going out to eat at great places and hanging out at all the super cool hangout places that kids of four years of age like to hang out it.

I'm creating monsters. Please say I am not alone?

Growing up in the same area that I am raising the boys in is very different today compared to how it was in the late 80's early 90's when I was little. Really? Yes really and really for a few reasons:

1. Soft play did not exist - the nearest you got to "soft play" 90's stylee was what is now Leatherhead Fun In The Foam which was reserved purely for birthday parties where as soon as one received the invitation my mum would sigh "oh not the place that smells of cheesy feet". Yes that place.

2. Merlin passes? Er no. I remember the days when Chessington World of Adventures was a real treat that your parents would psych themselves up for months before attempting to take you, whereas now you're almost a social leper without one of those laminated bad boys hanging around you neck and boasting that "we only nip for a couple of hours". Of course you nip, hell if I've paid near on £100 to take the kids we are queuing at 10am and staying till the bitter end, whereas when nowadays you can pick up family passes for under £300 for three gazillion attractions why wouldn't you not just nip for a couple of hours? NOTE TO SELF - MUST BUY MERLIN PASSES FOR NEXT SUMMER!!!

3. Memberships did not exist. We have memberships for National TrustHobbledownHampton Court Palace (yes that place that you pay for to send your children on an educational school trip we have a membership for that too) basically we have enough family memberships to shake a stick at. Whilst this is all well and good I think it's taken the fun and excitement out of visiting these places, if I'm being honest I've taken Charlie and Hector to more of these places this summer than I have to Sainsburys or the big Tesco and that is a sad state of affairs.  Staying at home is just plain boring for them.

4. We made our own fun. We played in the garden. We made mates we never knew existed by knocking on our neighbours doors asking if they had any kids. I made friends through that method that are still friends of mine to this day. We hung out till dusk and we walked to the nearest shops on our own, ok maybe not at the age of 4 but parenting 90's style was certainly more free range and care free than today. The likes of weirdos and kiddy snatchers  from years gone by have put the end to that and replaced those free range years with years filled full of fear of letting the little ones out of our sight and that saddens me.

 Heck I even found myself justifying the benefits of Pokemon Go to Tom the other day where he was telling me that it's got to a sad state of affairs when in order to tempt kids out of their bedrooms and into the fresh air had to be used in conjunction with a video game - you know what he was right.

Places like Chessington World of AdventuresLegolandGuildford Spectrum these places growing up were reserved for real treats and ones you would really look forward to and the problem is now with all these places being so cost effective with various offers and 2 for 1's on every sodding day I find myself asking the question - what exactly do our children have to look forward to these days?

I want my children to realise that these days out should be seen as a treat but how do I reverse what has sadly become the norm for them? How do I get them to realise that we simply cannot do something every single day?

Sod it. They've found me, my five minutes of reflection time is over, but first, please don't judge me, I am not trying to brag about how many times we take our kids to all these places as I am very aware that I am lucky enough to be in a situation to be able to take them to all these places but from here on what I am going to do is to make far more of an effort starting now to entertain the kids at home and to enjoy what we have here.

I would love to know how you guys are all entertaining the kids at home during the summer holidays?

Big love,



Sunday, 14 August 2016

Smelling lavender and eating Thai food...

It's mad to think that we've only got a couple of weeks until we kiss goodbye to the summer holidays and welcome in what is always a mad time in our house, the return of the school term and a particularly busy one the autumn term.

The weather has had its glorious moments this week and with the weather set to continue into the early part of next week it feels like summer is getting its second wind.

So, we've had a lovely week getting out and about in Surrey and I thought I would share with you two little gems we discovered this week.

Last weekend we ventured as a family for an anniversary photo shoot to Mayfield Lavender in Banstead. We had heard lots about this place but as yet had not had a chance to experience it for ourselves so as we saw in our 5th anniversary it was an opportunity to take the kids and grab some photos to show just how far we had come in five years.

The lavender is in full bloom from June - August so there is still a couple of weeks to pop down and get some fab photos - it's definitely something we will do each year now.
Five years ago on our honeymoon we travelled to Thailand where we fell in love with a country, people, food and culture and five years later we found ourselves sitting in a restaurant surrounded by decorations and authentic surroundings that we would have believed them if someone had told us we had woken up in Bangkok. We had discovered Thaikhun, a super cool Thai restaurant situated in a bustling street in Guildford.
We were invited down to try out the new kids menu that has recently launched with aim to get parents and kids eating the food that they love together. We took my mum and dad and feasted on Pad Thai, the most delicate beef strips and mouth watering ribs and not forgetting the massaman, whilst the kids tucked into the new kids menu - superbly priced at £5.95 for three courses.  Hector being baby led weaned from six months took to the delicate fragrances and spicy palate like a fish to water devouring his Pad Thai along with quite a few of our dishes, Charlie (a notoriously picky eater) was happy with plain noodles and chicken and enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere of his surroundings.

We all agreed that this was some of the best Thai food that we had eaten in the UK and having told my colleagues at work we are going back in a couple of weeks time for a staff night out - it would be wrong not to sample the cocktail buckets right?? Thanks to the guys at the Guildford restaurant for having us - we had a ball!
This week is a relatively quiet one for us all as we prepare for our first family visit to Wales to visit our friends who we met on our recent holiday to Greece - we are hoping for a full Welsh experience! But before that, Tom is taking Charlie camping! Well, I say camping, what I really mean is that Tom will be taking our tent out of it's bag (the first time we have used it since we were given it as a wedding present from his parents), erecting it in the garden and where he will spend one of the warm evenings with Charlie and my cousin Hugo toasting marshmallows whilst I stay inside looking after Hector! That's my kinda camping!!
Hope you guys enjoy the warm weather this week!
Big love,
Nathalie x

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