Life Lately

Our two-week summer holiday in Sweden  has all but faded to a distant memory but luckily we managed to fit in a bit of beach time before school started last week. We spent two consecutive Saturdays at the Witterings (both east and west) and rounded off August with a three-night break at a house on the beach, near Rye in Sussex.

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{East Wittering Beach – the weather wasn’t great but we spent the day with friends and had a lovely time playing on the beach}

West Wittering

{Having not been spoiled with sunny weather this year, on the hottest day of the summer we packed up the car and headed down to West Wittering in Sussex at 8am. A full day of swimming, building sand castles and soaking up the rays.}

V Festival

{Cameron and I went to the V Festival in Chelmsford to see Ella Henderson, George Ezra, and Ellie Goulding among others. A great experience despite the weather and toilet facilities!}

Bank Holiday

{We ended this year’s summer holidays with an impromptu weekend away at Petts Level in Sussex where we rented a lovely house right on the beach.}

Now we’re hurtling headfirst into autumn, my favourite season of them all. Bring on the falling leaves, cosy scarves and bobble hats, mugs of steaming cocoa, and crackling log fires!

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Summer Vibes ♥

Holidaying in Sweden is always a precarious venture when it comes to the weather – will the sun grace us with its presence or will chilly winds and pouring rain be the order of the day? This year it seems to be a mixed bag weather-wise. While the temperatures remain determined to stay around 19-22 degrees, there have been enough glimpses of sun to ensure that trips to the beach err on the side of pleasant rather than torturous. Having said that, the water in the lake near the house we have rented is far too cold for me to contemplate anything other than the very briefest of toe dips. The boys, however, have no qualms about braving the freezing water and staying in until their lips start to turn blue! The rest of us stay on land building sandcastles, reading books and admiring the beautiful scenery.

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The property we have rented is a big 1920s house with a terrace that overlooks the lake – perfect for enjoying a chilled glass of wine in the evenings – and a trampoline to entertain the cheeky monkeys. Fittingly, there is also a sauna to warm up in after a day spent on the beach!

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Amsterdam ♥

Another long absence from the blog! We are still in the midst of building chaos and living without a kitchen is starting to take its toll. I don’t think I can take many more microwaved meals and takeaway pizzas! Luckily, the husband and I had booked a very timely weekend break in Amsterdam earlier this month and it was the perfect opportunity to escape from all the noise and dust for a couple of days. It is one of our favourite European cities but the last time we went was at least 12 years ago so a return visit was long overdue.

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{In the driverless pod taking us from the car park to Terminal 5 at Heathrow. Very high tech indeed!}

Hotel Pool

{After a slight mishap where we caught the wrong train at the airport and ended up at Amsterdam South rather than at the Central Station,  we arrived at the hotel and headed straight for the hotel spa complete with pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi.}

Hotel bar

{A pre-dinner drink in the hotel bar – we stayed at the Hotel Amrath which had fantastic service and was in a great location.}

Tales & Spirits

{On the first night we had dinner and yummy cocktails at Tales & Spirits.}

Amsterdam

{We spent many hours walking around Amsterdam taking in the sights. The weather was cold but (mostly) dry.}

Park

{The sun came out when we strolled through Vondelpark.}

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{A really cute side table at cool interiors shop Droog.}

Diamonds

{We visited the Gassan diamond factory..}

Foam Photographic

{..and the Foam photography museum.}

Pancakes

{We feasted on pancakes (a must when in Amsterdam) and…}

Restaurant RED

{…ate the most divine caviar, lobster and steak at the very excellent Restaurant RED.}

Breakfast

{A lie-in and breakfast in bed on the Sunday morning…}

Flight home

{…before flying back home to London.}

It was the first time that we had both been away from the children for more than one night. We did really miss them but they had a great time with their grandparents and I think they’re old enough now for us to make a weekend away a yearly occurrence. We’re thinking of Rome next!

 

Christmas 2014

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas filled with joy, presents, food, friends and family. Was Santa generous this year?

Unfortunately I was hit by the flu virus at the start of the week and by Christmas Day was suffering from a terrible head cold & a temperature of 39C 😦 Not quite the Christmas I wanted, but I managed to struggle on and enjoyed a lovely lunch with the in-laws and LOTS of present opening before collapsing into bed at 6pm. I’m slowly on the mend now and enjoying a few lazy days at home with my family, including much Lego building, watching Christmas films and consoling Baby Annabel when she cries (no, not a new bundle of joy, just the very lifelike doll that Clemmie got For Christmas!)

Given that I wasn’t exactly feeling on top of the world, I didn’t manage to take that many pictures on Christmas Day but here are a few from the last week:

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{Baking gingerbread biscuits is a tradition in our household. I buy ready made dough from the Swedish shop so it is easy-peasy, just roll it out and let the children go wild with the cookie cutters}

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{Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a few board games. Our favourites are Monopoly (ideally the Junior version as it doesn’t go on for hours) and Cluedo}

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{All ready for Father Christmas. I bought new personalised Christmas stockings for the children this year as the old ones were in such as sorry state}

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{This beautiful dragonfly necklace by British jeweller Alex Monroe was hiding in my Christmas stocking. Santa has obviously been reading my blog!}

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{And finally, the children in all their finery before Christmas lunch with the in-laws}

Wishing you all a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! X

 

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Christmas time

If we overlook the tiny little fact that we don’t yet have a Christmas tree, our house is starting to look very festive indeed. The tree will definitely be purchased this weekend and then we can hopefully sit back and enjoy the seasonal cosiness. We’re having some major building work done at the moment and I’m very relieved that the builders told us this week that the kitchen will remain intact until the new year. Somehow, I did not relish the thought of attempting to cook Christmas dinner in the microwave!

Meanwhile, the schools have started the rather grueling countdown to the Christmas holidays. I know it’s all good fun and I’d hate to sound like the Grinch but at the moment emails are being fired at me left, right and centre about Christmas concerts, class parties, Christmas hat day, Christmas jumper day, Christmas mini market etc etc. To be honest, the children are all completely exhausted and as they don’t actually seem to be doing any work at the moment maybe the schools should consider breaking up this Friday rather than next…

At least my Christmas shopping is done now, after numerous Amazon orders and a four hour session in town today. All that remains is the wrapping and of course sending out the Christmas cards (I bought pre-printed ones this year to save time) and then I really will put my feet up and sip a glass or two of mulled wine.

How are your Christmas preparations going?

 

Life Lately…

Sorry, I know that I’ve been MIA for over two weeks now. Bizarrely, I seem to have even less time now that all three children are at school! This is probably because I’m trying to catch up on all the things that have been festering on my to-do list for the last few years such as clearing out all the closets and toy cupboards and finally putting together our photo albums, dating back to 2011. The blog has definitely taken a backseat and, as we are starting a major building project next month, I suspect it will continue to do so for a while longer. But here is a quick update on the last two weeks.

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{I love that moment of calm after the morning chaos. I drop all the kids at school and have breakfast at my desk while checking my emails and reading a few blogs}

Chocolate Sundae

 

{We went out for dinner last weekend and the boys both ordered chocolate brownie sundaes for pudding. I didn’t realise they would be so huge!!}

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{More Instagram magnets for the fridge. A lovely way to relive some of the summer memories on a daily basis}

 

 

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{Clemmie goes to the cutest ballet class every Saturday morning where they dress up in fairytale costumes and dance through the stories. Needless to say, she loves it}

 

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{I went to see Gone Girl at the cinema last Friday. I haven’t read the book but the movie was fantastic so if you haven’t already go see it}

 

 

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{Yesterday was Casper’s birthday so on Sunday he invited nine of his friends to a quad biking party. Bikes, mud, pizza, cake and presents- life doesn’t get much better when you’re eight years old!}

Thanks for reading! ‘Til next time. XO

 

Fall in Love with Fall ♥

Did I mention that Fall is my favourite season? Yesterday was the first official day of autumn so it seems like a good time to celebrate some of the reasons why I love this time of year.

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{Never mind Sonia Rykiel, I am the Queen of Knitwear and I can’t wait to dig out those sweaters (old and new) hiding in the wardrobe and team them with my jeans, ankle boots and a long cosy scarf. Comfort dressing at its best!}

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{I’m also looking forward to going for long walks, marveling at nature’s shifting colours and breathing in the crisp autumn air.}

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{Autumn is the time to eat toffee apples, apple pie, apple crumble – in fact, pretty much apple anything.}

Hot chocolate

{Ideally with a cup of steaming hot chocolate with a generous dollop of whipped cream on top…}

Mulled Wine

{…Or a warming glass of mulled wine…}

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{…In front of a roaring log fire…}

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{…Wearing a pair of cosy sheepskin slippers}

Pumpkin

{Let’s not forget Halloween..}

Fireworks

{…and, of course, Bonfire Night and amazing fireworks displays.}

And then, when autumn and all of its wonders start to draw to a close, the countdown to Christmas begins in earnest.

Happy Autumn to you all ♥

 

 

Autumn Resolutions

Autumn resolutions

Summer is still lingering here in England – the weather is (mostly) T-shirt friendly and the Mr Whippy ice cream van is still parked outside the school gates every afternoon tempting us with yummy ice creams. But there are definite signs that autumn is drawing in – the mornings are much cooler, the evenings are getting darker and Halloween themed merchandise is starting to creep (yes pun intended!) onto the shop shelves.

Autumn will always represent new beginnings to me. It is my favourite season, not least because my birthday falls in it (as do my husband’s and both my sons’ so it’s a busy time of year). As a child the arrival of fall would be signalled by the start of a new academic year and all the paraphernalia that it entailed like new school shoes and new pencil case. And while I left education many years ago, I still feel that renewed sense of purpose at the end of summer. For me, autumn beats new year hands down when it comes to drawing up a list of goals and resolutions for the next 12 months.

Some of my goals from last autumn remain the same: exercise more, eat healthily, strive to live in the moment but I have also added a few more:

1. Be more selective about my spending. The 30 Day No Shopping Challenge made me think about how often I buy things (for myself or for the children) that I simply do not need. 9 times out of 10 I shop online and somehow when you ‘click to buy’ it feels less real than punching in your pin at the counter or handing over real, hard cash. I really should be focusing on clearing things out of our house rather than bringing more stuff in.

2. Stress less, or to quote that popular saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. Let’s face it, I’m not a brain surgeon – if I make a mistake at work it is not going to kill anyone. Similarly, the world will not end if my son is late for tennis or my daughter forgets her schoolbag. And let’s not even get started on all the replaying in my head of conversations I’ve had and agonising over what I’ve said or not said. If something is said and done there is no point in worrying about it.

3. Use my time wisely. Now that all three of my children are at school, all of a sudden I have 30 (!) child free hours every week. Sixteen of those will be taken up by work but the rest of the time is mine. Fourteen hours sounds like a lot but I know how easy it is to fritter them away doing nothing apart from checking Facebook, Pinning pictures of my dream home or searching online for stuff I don’t even need. So if I want to be able to fit in the things I want to do like exercising, seeing friends and blogging as well as the things I need to do like the ironing, cleaning and cooking I need to plan my time better.

4. Carry on blogging, but in a realistic way. I started this blog as a creative outlet when I was in between jobs. Now that I’m working again, the blog has slipped down my list of priorities and over the summer I questioned whether it was worth carrying on with. I have decided that it is but posting every day is not an option at the moment so two or three posts a week is a more realistic goal.

5. Make a real effort to spend more one-to-one time with my children. It’s easier said than done as the weekends tend to fill up with sporting activities, birthday parties etc but having time alone with each child is so important. They’re all at different stages of their childhood with different things going through their heads and I want to give all three of them a fair share of individual attention.

6. Get more sleep!!! I’m doing better than I was but still spend much of the day yawning and wishing for bedtime. I’m prescribing myself camomile tea and no screen before bedtime.

And on that note I’m off to bed. Happy Thursday everyone! X

 

 

The BBC Good Food Festival

Last Saturday we went to the BBC Good Food Festival held in the picturesque grounds of the historic Hampton Court Palace. It really was a feast for all the senses: a beautiful setting, gorgeous smells and of course lots of yummy food to taste. And taste it we did, walking up and down the stalls sampling everything from cheese and chorizo to brownies, biscuits and fudge before deciding what to buy. We were lucky with the weather too, it was the last day of sunshine before the rain arrived.

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{The boys and I in front of the fudge stall that sold almost every flavour imaginable from traditional vanilla and clotted cream to Jammy Dodger, Skittles and Bailey’s fudge. Casper got a tad over excited!}

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{Cameron tasting some cheese. In the end we bought five different varieties to take home, including caramelised onion, mango and garlic cheeses.}

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{These deep fried sugary churros were delicious – even more so when dipped in the pot of melted chocolate that they were served with. I have found a recipe on Pinterest that I intend to try next time I feel in need of a calorific treat.}

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{The beautiful palace was the perfect backdrop. It’s almost impossible to get a photo of Cameron these days without him doing the ‘Victory’ sign. Must be a ten-year-old boy thing!}

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{When you got bored of eating there were lots of games to play in the gardens, including croquet, giant chess and connect four. The children challenged Daddy to the tug of war and, thanks to a superb team effort, they won!}

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{Clemmie loved the ‘princess’ stamp that the ticket lady stamped on our hands when we arrived at the food festival}

All in all, a lovely day out. This week so far has been work, work and more work. Looking forward to the weekend and my mini break next week. X

 

A Holiday to Remember

Hello again! Over two weeks since my last post – the longest gap since I started blogging – but we have just come back from our two week summer holiday in Sweden. We went to an island called Gotland, just off the east coast, where I spent pretty much every summer from the age of 0 to 12.  It was just as beautiful as I remembered and there’s something magical about seeing your kids running along the same beach and jumping in the same waves you did as a child.

Apart from allowing the children to play on the iPads during the long car journeys and a bit of Instagramming for me, we had a fairly screen free holiday. I decided not to blog while we were away, partly because of the rather patchy wi-fi and also I needed a proper break from it. Over the past couple of months my heart has not really been it, and I was debating whether or not to give the blog up. Now that we’re back I feel more motivated to carry on and I think that when school starts up again I will hopefully have a bit of time to actually write some of those posts lurking in the back of my head.

But first, here is a quick summary of our holiday:

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{On board the boat from Harwich to Esbjerg in Denmark. Unfortunately this is the last summer the boat is running so next year we will have to figure another way of getting to Sweden.}

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{Crossing the famous bridge from Denmark over to Sweden. Luckily there were no dead bodies and the weather was glorious.}

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{After more than 48 hours of traveling by car and (two) boats we made it onto the Swedish island of Gotland and arrived at the cabin where we were staying.}

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{Much of our time was spent on the lovely sandy beaches that stretch for miles around the island.}

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{Jumping in the waves with my boys}

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{Clemmie didn’t like going in the sea but she was very happy playing on the beach.}

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{Casper is very proud of his sandcastle.}

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{We were really lucky with the weather and it was warm enough in the evenings to go on the beach and see beautiful sunsets like this one.}

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{We played mini golf three times and each time it ended with a tantrum but the kids still claimed to love it and wanted to play more!}

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{On one of the many water slides at Gotland’s big water park}

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{The highlight of Clemmie’s holiday was getting a cuddle from her all-time heroine Pippi Longstocking. The original house seen in the Pippi films is on Gotland and is now part of a bigger amusement park with lots of rides}

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{And if that wasn’t enough, we also spent a day at Tivoli in Copenhagen on our way back to the ferry. Not quite so lucky with the weather that day but at least there were no queues!}

So that’s it, a brief synopsis and rather a lot of pictures of our holiday. Hope you are all well and enjoying the last of the summer.

‘Til the next post. X