Monday, 24 April 2017

Webbo Does The Virgin Money London Marathon...

If you follow me on Instagram then you may well have followed our story from Sunday as we made our way around the streets of London because yesterday Webbo participated in the Virgin Money London Marathon.

The London Marathon is an amazing event.  In fact it’s the only race in the world where a plumber, a teacher, a street cleaner, in fact any old Joe Bloggs can apply to run in the same race with professional runners who's employment is to train specifically for THAT race whereas everyone else fits their training in around the normal goings on of their daily lives.

This year was the first time I ever had been a spectator for this event. I ran the marathon back in 2009 and what I remember fondly was all the random people shouting my name and spurring me on, handing me sweets and clapping, furiously clapping, as I passed each mile marker.

We ventured up to London early Sunday morning and headed over to Deptford, my Dad’s old stomping ground where we met up with my couisns or who would also be renamed “Webbo’s Team”. From here we followed him around the course soaking up the atmosphere of the day as we went along.

The marathon for a spectator as for all involved is an incredibly emotional day. Not only are you waiting at your mile markers for a glimpse of your loved one among the 50,000 runners, but you are also watching all these different people from different walks of like running their socks off for a cause that means so much to them and you can't help but get caught up in the emotion of it all.

London looked amazing. London is most definitely open for business. The streets were lined with sellers selling ice creams to wraps and the pubs were bursting at the seams! Street music played wherever you walked and the positive vibes of the day filled the streets. London really knows how to put on a party.

We had an amazing day supporting Webbo in his efforts for The Princess Alice Hospice and I would seriously urge you that next year, if you know ANYONE running to go up and support. It’s a great fun family day out and I can tell you,  that as an ex marathon runner, just supporting the people as they run, shouting their names, giving them a high five and encouraging to “just keep going”, just how much that means to them.

Webbo was running for The Princess Alice Hospice in memory of his dad, Bill Webb, who passed away there in June 2015. The hospice is an amazing place that apart from a little relief from the NHS relies purely on donations.

If you would like to sponsor Webbo you can still do so at

Nathalie x


Thursday, 20 April 2017

Wardrobe Overhaul with You Need A Vicky

I'm a pretty organised and tidyish kind of person. I think I've got my s**t together most of the time and not a lot tends to phase me, but there is one thing that down to a fault only of my own that can send me over the edge each time that I open it and that is my wardrobe.

Imagine taking the time to wash, fold, ironing all your clothes, then basically balling them up in a ball and shoving them into a creasy hell. Well, welcome to my wardrobe!!!!!

My wardobe has got so bad that I literally rotated between three or four tops and that was it. I had lovely new clothes but they were hidden away amongst old maternity wear, clothes I would never wear again, clothes that made me feel fat, clothes that made me look fat, clothes that I was too fat for, too thin for (yes there were a few!!) and it had gotten so out of control that I had a serious case of CBA (can't be arsed) when I thought about sorting it out. So it got neglected and it got worse to the point in which I needed help.

I came across trawling Instagram an account belonging to Vicky Silverthorn from You Need A Vicky who offers a Decluttering and Professional Organiser service. She's worked with many celebs and even appeared on ITV's This Morning. This is what I needed. I saw that she had written a book called "Start With Your Sock Drawer" that I immediately downloaded and began to start reading.

Sometimes.... You just need a Vicky

Vicky started her first business in 2010 but after ten years working as a PA for well known names such as Lily Allen as well as professional sports people she decided that she wanted to concentrate on the area of Professional Organisation and Decluttering. Her belief is that it starts at home; if your home is in shape, other elements of your life will follow. This is what I needed.

I contacted Vicky and explained the predicament that I had got myself in to and she and I arranged a time for her and her "team" to come and sort me out.

So, on a sunny Tuesday morning in April she appeared along with two of her colleagues determined to sort out my life basically. I was relieved to be honest, oh and embarrassed about the state of my wardrobe too but she put my mind at ease and assured me that I was very normal. I still reckon she was just being polite!!

Vicky and the team coming to my rescue!

Cup of tea in hand I was told to sit on the bed whilst her team got all my clothes out whilst I decided whether the items how the items made me feel when I wore them and encouraged me to part with clothes that realistically was I ever really likely to wear. As I went through each item by item I started to discover pieces that I had forgotten I even owned as well as items that there was not ever a chance I would wear again.

Before I knew it we were up to TEN bags!! These were destined for the charity shop of my choice which in this instance was The Princess Alice Hospice in Cobham.

Even Webbo's wardrobe got an overhaul! 

The eye of the storm

I was soooooo embarrassed about the amount of clothing that I owned!

Then it was on to Tom's clothes!! She did the same method with him and we went through parting with items that he was never likely to wear again or that has simply seen better days.

As each piece entered the "keep" pile it was swiftly whipped away, re folded and designated a new home. It was mesmerising to watch!! The girls taught me how to fold clothes in order to gain maximum space. I'm a folding addict now!!

In less than 4 hours my wardrobe went from a place where freshly washed and ironed went to die in a crinkle hell to a place where ever piece of clothing ever designed wants to end up.


Now I can shop my own clothes!! 

Vicky just tweaking the pieces!

I can't tell you how lovely it is to be able to open my wardrobe and see clothes that I have not worn in ages, new pieces I purchased but forgot that I had and just being able to pick out a top that is not black!!

Thank you so much to Vicky and her team for sorting my wardrobe out. The tidying bug has definitely caught on in our house, no room is safe!!

If you think you would like to speak to Vicky and her team about organising your home why not get in touch with her or visit her website  for more information on the services she offer.

Nathalie x


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

YoYo by BabyZen Review In Association With A3 Baby Barn

So, Hector is walking pretty much everywhere now which is fab, but equally has this really irritating habit of deciding that he "you know what today, I don't feel quite like walking". 9/10 they do this in the most inconvenient of places, trains, supermarkets (when it goes hand in hand with not wanting to go in the trolley) and most irritatingly as we have experienced when you go to disembark the plane. Is it just us that always has to wait three hundred hours for your pram to be hauled off the oversize luggage whilst you negotiate trying to get suitcases and a toddler on the loose, or even more pain in the rear end when they have been WIRED the whole flight and then decide to fall to sleep ten minutes before landing. That is when you really need the pram. 

Well, teamed with the prospect of the above happening again AND quite a few UK breaks planned and limited boot space, you know the drill, too many clothes just in case of this and that type of weather, the dog, the dog bed and for it all to fit in comfortably we set out on a mission to find a more compact buggy that would mean we could kiss goodbye to our beloved Mamas and Papas Armadillo. 

I wanted to have a look at some new buggies and try and see before I parted with my cash just how much space they would take up in my boot, after all this was the main driving force so if I was not going to gain boot space it would be a redundant task. 

I headed to one of the only places I know where I could get independent advice AND try the buggies in my boot before purchasing, the A3 Baby Barn which is nestled in the grounds of Surbiton Golf Club literally ten mins from here. 

I met with my friend Louise (who also happens to be the owners daughter) and we had a look at some of the options. I was really keen to avoid getting an umbrella style pram as these still took up a large chunk of my boot. 

She recommended the YoYo by Baby Zen and I was initially sold on one factor as we discovered it can be placed in the footwell in front of Hectors car seat meaning a completely free boot space. RESULT! She also went onto add that it's one of the only buggies on the market to fit in the overhead luggage compartment of the airplane meaning that there would be no hanging around in the airport terminal waiting for the buggy from oversized luggage. Could this get any better?!? Although completely irrelevant for us in our stage of parenting but it can also be used from birth and have a car seat attached to it! It is also incredibly light coming in at a featherweight 6.7kg and it has a travel strap enabling it to be carried over ones shoulder and even has a one handed fold and close mechanism which is super cool although we have failed miserably to master, but give us time! 

So, we settled on a YoYo in all black with white chassis and planned its maiden voyage with Family Webb to Cornwall and Wales over the Easter break. 

As you can see from the above photo, the BabyZen YoYo fits perfectly behind the passengers seat and neatly in front of Hector's chair which meant we had the whole boot free for our belongings. 

Now the seat itself is roomy and Hector is a pretty hefty near two year old and he comfortably slept and sat happily in the pushchair whist we went about our travels. 

The ride is an incredibly smooth one, however, St. Ives is particularly cobbly so this meant that Hector had a bit of a bumpy ride but nothing that would put me off the pram itself. Now, the handle is lovely chunky but what it does lack is the ability to hang bags off it and the shopping basket underneath is a tad small. That said I would rather have the compactness and space in my boot over these, after all it is marketed as a compact travel system. 

It's sleek in its design and the materials used are all quality and I love the mix of white chassis and black surround. 

We LOVE the fact that it is so light so its quick and easy close and throw over ones shoulder. I am excited at the prospect of taking this on board with us in when we fly to Greece in the summer. 

Now, the downside is the price but this is only a downside I think for us as we are buying this as our final pram and more of an occasional pram and probably a tad excessive some may say. 

It retails at £369 but this does come with an A3 Baby Barn special offer of a free cup holder and parasol. I personally think this demonstrates exceptional value for money for a pram that will see you through from birth to 3/4. 

We LOVE this pram and look forward to having many more adventures with it over the coming months. If you fancy having a peek at the pram for yourself why not head down to the A3 Baby Barn and have a look at it and all the many other baby and toddler items available in store. 

Nathalie x

DISCLAIMER: The A3 Baby Barn kindly lent us the YOYO for the purpose of this review but all views are my own. 

Monday, 17 April 2017

Helping Your Child Prepare For Exams....

So, after three glorious weeks off tomorrow is the start of a new term. The Summer term - the final term of this school year!

In a family where if you don't or have not worked in education you're in the minority it's at this time of year when you know that exams are coming.

For me I know when exam time looms as the postman starts to deliver packages of coursework ready to be marked and where I say goodby to my dining table for the next 6-7 weeks as Webbo trawls through the GCSE and A level papers.

There has been much debate in the press about the numbers of exams children take even from such a young age but at the moment whether we love (er...who loves exams) or loathe them they are here to stay and one thing we can do is help to prepare our children for them.

There are many ways in which you can help your child get their head in gear for exams whether they be in school, external entrance tests or public exams and it's where your role at home really steps up and your support becomes even more paramount.

As parents, carers, guardians, you are going to be the rock of support during revision and during the stressful exam time. One of the key things is to try and keep the home environment as calm, happy and pleasant as possible and where you can try to be at home as possible so that you can just be there to share a quick chat and a cuppa when they just need a break.

One of the main things to assess first hand as a parent is to try and find out what type of learner your child is. Are they like sponges and just take on information or are they more of a hands on learner? By establishing what type of learner your child is you are able to offer assistance and relate to them during their revision time.

There are three types of learner and you'll likely fall in to one of those categories.

Kinesetic, auditory and visual.

Kinesetic learners 

Is your child a natural at sport or a great dancer? Chances are they are a kinesetic learner. Children who are kinesetic learners usually have a strong sense of balance, and they learn best by touching or doing things themselves, ie hands on and they may count with their fingers. 

  • Can be described as a fidgeter
  • Loves hands on playing
  • Enjoys writing and writing exercises
  • Was an early bloomer often crawling, walking and sitting early
  • Sharp hand-eye coordination
Auditory learners

These types of learners love sound and may have a passion for music, singing or expressing themselves through sound. These learners are good listeners and have good verbal strengths and can follow verbal instructions well. 

  • Aptitude in music, instruments, or vocal ability
  • Sings along and sings as she plays
  • Strong verbal ability, especially through repetition of words or phrases she’s heard before
  • Listens well and is able to follow oral direction
  • Loves talking (perhaps too much some times!)
  • Sharp hearing
  • Perks up when they hear noise or conversation
Visual learners

Is your child a keen drawer, or drawn to art? Chances are she's a visual learner. Visual learners are drawn to books with photos and can often take on information from books well. Visual learners often have vivid memories and have the ability to remember information that we may have even forgotten!

  • A vivid imagination - is able to be creative in their stories
  • Keen interest in arts and crafts
  • A great memory for remembering things they have seen 
  • Good sense of direction (handy when map reading!)
  • A love for reading and books
  • Recognition of people, faces, and places
Being able to assess what type of learner your child is will make it easier to relate to their revision. For example a child who is a kinsetic learner won't benefit from staring at a book for hours on end. 

Secondly, when preparing for exams, both you and your child must establish realistic targets. The word ‘realistic’ is KEY here. Let's be honest, whilst we all want our children to do well and be the best they can, but do we as parents have expectations so high that our child is likely to fail in your eyes before they have even started? Being realistic to your childs learning abilities will prepare both of you for the end outcome. 

Once realistic targets have been agreed then you can move on to how your child can achieve these with minimal stress and anxiety, this may be with a timetable or at least a flexible schedule enabling them to cover the topics whilst at the same time allowing sufficient downtime. 

Whilst some children may benefit from studying on their own (as they get older this usually becomes more the case) but in younger children having you on hand can be massively beneficial. 

Thirdly, it is key that as a parent we don't allow our child to get caught up in the stress and angst of these exams and below are a few ways in which we can help. 

• REST and SLEEP - Make sure your child is getting lots. 
• Prepare a timetable that allows concentrated study time and downtime. 
• Ensure that all subjects are divided proportionally, more time spent on trickier more challenging subjects for example.
• Practice papers. With the internet now it's so easy to print off old papers so timed preparation exams or mock exams are good at putting into practice what they have been revising.
• TIME OFF! Make sure your child’s time off is exactly that – time spent away from books and papers, no one wants their child to burn out or peak too early either! 
• MORE TEA? Keep them fuelled with their favourite snacks - we all work better and more productive when we have full bellies. 
And finally, try not to stress yourself. As parents we have this marvellous ability to churn up a range of emotions, "oh if only I could take the exam for the" for example, well we can't, so the next best thing is to just be there, support them if it's gone well, support them if the exam did not go to plan but all importantly just be there for them. 
As a school matron I am going to be stocking up on tea, biscuits and little goodies to keep the boys in my house going during this term and good luck if your child has got exams, it's a stressful time for all involved but they will be over before they and you know it!
Nathalie x


Sunday, 9 April 2017

The Easiest Ever Fake It Bake It Easter Chocolate Centrepiece Cake!

So, one of the most popular posts on my blog has to be my cheats Bourbon chocolate brownies and this recipe is just as easy.

With Easter coming up I feel the need for a seriously cracking chocolate centre piece cake enough to feed a small army. Now, please don't take the title of this cake literally - this really is an any occasion cake, in face Charlie has requested this very cake (albeit with dinosaurs on top!) for his birthday on Monday!

Now, roll up, roll up, the star of this little show - let me introduce you to Waitrose Essential Chocolate Sponge Mix at a cheap as chips 95p per bag! Having tried a number of ready mixes, packet mixes, cheat mixes whatever you want to call them and this is by far one of the best for making tiered cakes.

Now, yes it is a cheat to make a cake this way, and yes it probably is cheaper to make one from scratch but having a packet of this in the cupboard and being able to quickly knock up a cake with minimal washing up and mess is always going to be a winner in my eyes.

For me a cake is made with love and thought and that goes whether you've weighed out the flour and eggs or simply thrown a packet mix in a bowl and made it that way.

So, let's get this chocolatey show on the road.

You will need....

2 x Waitrose Essential Chocolate Sponge Mix
4 x Eggs
300ml Semi Skimmed Milk
100ml Vegetable Oil
300g Soft butter (room temperature)
150g Milk Chocolate
30g Cocoa
550g Icing Sugar

How to make it....

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan.

2. Start by making up two of the packet mixes as directed on the back.

3. Line and grease three sandwich tins.

4. Pour the mixture evenly into the three cake tins.

5. Pop into the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes - don't open the door but keep an eye!

6. Once the cakes are done take them out and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

7. Now onto the icing sugar. Beat the butter until it is pale and fluffy. I normally just whack the butter in the freestanding mixer on a low/medium speed and leave it whilst I melt the chocolate.

8. Break up the chocolate and melt on a low simmering heat over a pan of boiling water.

9. Once the chocolate has melted pop aside to cool.

10. Now prepared to get covered in icing sugar! Slowly add the icing sugar to your pale and fluffy butter and beat until it's all incorporated. Your surfaces will also be covered with a fine later of icing sugar just to warn you!

11. Once the chocolate has cooled but is still melted pour into the buttercream and sift your cocoa in and give another jolly good mix.

12. Now it's time to layer!

13. Take a good lump of butter cream and sandwich two of the layers together and repeat with the remaining third top layer. Then take your icing and smooth it all around the side. I have a turntable and an icing scraper which makes it look super smooth, although, I have been known in the past to use a ruler!!

14. Once the cake is iced and smooth, plop any remaining icing in the middle and decorate with chocolate Easter goodies of your choice. I opted for a naked Lindt bunny and the classic mini eggs.

15. Serve over Easter as your chocolate centrepiece cake!

Would love to see your Easter cake creations so be sure to tag me on Instagram using my tag @thissurreymummy !

Nathalie x

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Easter's Coming....

We've had a busy couple of weeks since I finished for Easter and am currently wading through our washing from our week in Cornwall ready for our next adventure. 

Whilst in Cornwall we've also been trying out the super compact Baby Zen YOYO pram from our friends at A3 Baby Barn to see if this is the ultimate travel friendly pram - review coming soon!

There are not many prams you can simply sling over your shoulder!! 

This weather has been incredible has it not? It's at times like this that the boys and I just love being out and about in the garden soaking up that vitamin D.

So, Easter is just around the corner and I can't wait!! Easter is by far one of my favourite times of year. The run up this week also coincides with Charlie turning 5 on Monday - errrr where did those 5 years go!!

I've been getting the house "Easter ready" which means decking the place out in pastel colours and fluffy chicks!

We like to split our time evenly between our families and luckily they tend to take the same approach so we get to have two Easter meals so to speak which is always nice.

We are going off piste this Good Friday with a big family bbq - somehow a roast for 17 people is just a tad too difficult followed by a traditional Easter (ahem turkey Christmas at Easter dinner) lunch on the Sunday.

I will of course be making my popular white chocolate Easter cake, in fact I'm making two this week as we are taking one of them down to Wales this week and chances are I might even knock up an Easter chocolate cake too - after all Easter is not Easter without far too much chocolate!!

Recipe - click here

What are your plans for Easter weekend??

Nathalie x

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