21st October 2018

Enter the ‘Monster Mash’ Design Competition with Print My Smile!

I could not be more excited to tell you about the ‘Monster Mash Competition’ with Print My Smile, which is now open for your children to enter over the half-term holidays and Halloween (closing date Nov 2nd). I will be on the judging panel for the competition and can’t wait to see the designs start coming in!

To enter, you just need to click onto the Print My Smile website (scroll to the bottom of this blog post for the clickable link) and show your children how to use the easy design tools to create their very own scary monster! It’s very simple to use – both my 4 and 6-year old managed it on their own very easily and enjoyed every second!

This video will show you how to do it!

There are some seriously cool prizes up for grabs too:

1st Place: A collection of Print My Smile products featuring the winning monster design, including a child’s mug, A4 framed poster, chocolate card, and notebook. They will also win a cool VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch, pre-loaded with a monster detector game they will love! Finally, the winning child will become a product designer overnight, with their design printed on a range of children’s mugs and notebooks (all profits going to a charity fund).

2 runners-up prizes: The two runners-up will also get their designs sent to them on a mug, A4 framed poster, chocolate card, and notebook, along with the VTech Smartwatch.

Every single child that enters will get their own A5 poster printed for FREE (the first 250 entries will have it posted, whilst everyone else will get a PDF to print at home). Posters will be delivered to every child within 5 days.

But that’s not all, because you won’t just be putting a smile on your child’s face by taking part in this competition, but you’ll also be supporting charity too. Print My Smile will donate £1 to charity for every household that enters, split between Bliss and Born Too Soon (up to a total of £1000).

Each child in your household can enter and receive their poster (one entry per child – so if you have three children, you can enter three times and get a poster for each child). The competition is open to children aged up to 16 years old and a parent/guardian must register on the Print My Smile website in order for their child to enter the competition.

 

Have fun creating your monsters – and I can’t wait to see your designs!

Start creating your monster at the Print My Smile Entry Page here – www.printmysmile.com/p/1293/monster-mash-competition



19th October 2018

Fireman Sam: Set for Action Airs Monday Morning!

My children have always enjoying watching Fireman Sam – so when I was asked if they’d like a sneak preview of new movie Fireman Sam: Set For Action, we jumped at the chance. This brand new film is airing on Cartoonito on Monday 22nd October at 8am – and last week, Stanley, Wilfred and Mabel were given the chance to become mini film reviewers for the afternoon (and they took their role very seriously, glued to the screen throughout the film!)

Cartoonito sent the children some ‘Fireman Sam’ gifts to set the scene – and Mabel watched a lot of the film in her fireman hat, totally gripped by the story!

Fireman Sam: Set For Action is about Fireman Sam going viral on the internet after a daring rescue is filmed and uploaded onto “Pontypandy Planet Online”. Fireman Sam is suddenly a star and is invited to take part in a movie, which remakes the rescue. The film is all about what happens next, with Fireman Sam trying to do his best on the film, despite the meddlings of his Hollywood actor co-star Flex Dexter.

My children are aged between 6 and 2 years old – and all three enjoyed this movie. Mabel just adores anything to do with Fireman Sam – and I think the inclusion of the viral internet clip and movie set was enough to keep my YouTube-savvy 6-year old gripped too. I enjoyed it too and thought it was very clever to bring Pontypandy up-to-date with the inclusion of “Pontypandy Planet Online” and Hollywood actors.

If your children are off school for half term on Monday morning, this is the perfect way to kick start the holidays. Younger toddlers and pre-schoolers will enjoy it very much too, especially if they enjoy Fireman Sam – I was really impressed with how it held Mabel’s attention (so you may even get to drink a hot cup of coffee, which is a real win on a Monday morning!)

Thank you for giving us the chance to watch it Cartoonito – and I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did on Monday morning!

Fireman Sam: Set For Action! will air on Cartoonito on 22nd October 2018 at 8am

 

This blog post is sponsored by Cartoonito



12th October 2018

Our Smallfoot family picture, to celebrate the release of the movie in UK cinemas now!

Sponsored Post with Warner Bros UK.

We’re very excited about the release of the animated family movie Smallfoot, which is out now in UK cinemas. With original music and an all-star cast (including James Corden, Channing Tatum and Danny DeVito, no less), the movie turns the legend of Bigfoot upside down when a bright young Yeti discovers a human.

When I told the children about the movie and asked if they wanted to do something to celebrate its release, they asked if we could make our own family of yetis – and so I had the idea to collect beach pebbles and turn them into our own family yeti picture. We just needed white paint, glue, cotton wool, wiggly eyes, blue card, a box frame, and a glue gun – and the children had a lot of fun getting crafty.

So without further ado, here is the short video we made of our Smallfoot themed craft project – and we hope you enjoy it!

Smallfoot is out now in UK cinemas.



27th September 2018

Currently Loving – September 2018

Sorry summer, but autumn has stolen my heart. When the weather is crisp and sunny, with the most beautiful views over the countryside, I think it’s the best season by far. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed watching the trees change colour last year – and I’m getting all excited about cosy weekends, wrapping the kids up warm, and kicking our way through leaves (I know it’s clichéd, but after 9 years in the desert, it’s going to take a while to get over the novelty of it). So here are my top picks for September – and I hope you enjoy a dose of autumn as you have a read…

 

  1. H&M. I’m definitely treating myself to a pink coat this year – and this number by H&M is top of my wish list. I just love the colour and the cut, which will look equally good dressed down with jeans and dressed up with dresses and heels. Shop here.

 

  1. New Look at ASOS. I’ve always loved a bit of leopard print, so the fact it’s autumn’s biggest trend is very exciting – and I have my eyes on these affordable New Look boots, available at ASOS (and currently on sale!) Shop here.

 

  1. H&M. There’s lots I like about these cool high top trainers for boys – but I think it’s the cosy pile lining that seals the deal, keeping their feet snug as the cooler weather arrives. Shop here.

 

  1. Love Roo. If you have a little person in tow this autumn, why not treat them to a beautiful fleece-lined winter bonnet by handmade business Love Roo? My pick is the wolf cub – but the fox cub comes a close second. Shop here.

 

  1. Sheepers. I’ve had my eyes on a pair of Sheepers slippers since I spotted them on feet across Instagram last Christmas – and with the cooler weather rolling in again, I have the perfect excuse to invest. Shop here.

 

  1. Blueberry Boo Kids. Treat coffee lovers to their very own pumpkin spice travel mug, making their consumption eco-friendly this autumn. Shop here.

 

  1. Not on the HIghstreet. If you were planning to buy your little one (or another lucky little person) a sit-on rocker, I don’t think you’re going to beat this foxy design. I just love it! Shop here.

 

  1. Essie. The new season colours from Essie are high on my wish list this month – and this dusty, autumnal red/pink is definitely going on my nails. The shade is called ‘Stop Drop & Shop’ – and it’s the perfect thing to team up with cosy knits as the weather draws in. Shop here.

 

  1. La Redoute. I love this khaki-coloured parka with tiny gold stars from La Redoute – and think I’ll be snapping it up for Mabel’s autumn wardrobe. Shop here.

 

  1. La Coqueta. I’ve fallen head over heels for the beautiful dresses from the brand La Coqueta. Mabel wore a floral white and blue dress from their collection at her second birthday party and everything about it was gorgeous – the cut, the print, the fabric, and the colours. Such a lovely, traditional brand for little girls – for every day wear with knitted cardigans or for special occasions. Shop here.

 

  1. Zara Kids. Zara Kids is my go-to brand for basic knitwear for all three of my children. I love the fact it’s so warm and stylish, but with very low price points. Shop here.

 

  1. Hush. I love the simplicity of this delicate star necklace from Hush, which will add a subtle flash of metallic to your outfit. Shop here.

 

  1. Cath Kidston. There’s always a mug in my ‘Currently Loving’ – can you tell how much I rely on a good cup of coffee? This fox design by Cath Kidston seems like the perfect way to swig it over the coming months. Shop here.

 

  1. H&M. It’s time to cosy up – and these dinosaur-print joggers from H&M would be a very cool way to do it. I just wish they made them for adults… Shop here.

 

  1. Next. Talking of knitwear, I know it’s probably a totally impractical colour for boys, but I can’t wait to see them wearing this chunky ecru jumper this autumn. There’s something very lovely about a simple ecru knit, worn with denim jeans and sandy boots. Shop here.

 

  1. Boden. Boden release different colours of their best-selling Cosy Cardigan every season – and I’m a bit besotted with this dusty pink version for autumn. I can’t wait to see Mabel wearing it over floaty tops and leggings. Shop here.

 

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.



24th August 2018

Currently Loving – August 2018

Another month is nearly over – and it seems that we are hurtling into autumn. We had such a lovely summer with the seemingly endless heatwave (I’d like to order another one of them next year, thanks very much), so I don’t feel sad that the evenings are getting darker and there is suddenly a chill in the air. I can’t wait to wrap up warm in the coming months – and most of my picks this month are with that in mind. I hope you enjoy the feature – and I’ll be back with another one next month (hopefully earlier in the month, given the boys will be back at school!)…

 

1. La Redoute. I really rate La Redoute for their stylish, but affordable outerwear for children – and this duffle coat is so gorgeous for little boys. If you fancy it, be quick – as there is currently a 30% sale off the entire new collection. Shop here.

2. Oliver Bonas. This neon Prosecco sign would look great in my kitchen – and I’d enjoy admiring with a glass of the sparkly stuff. Shop here.

3. Zara Kids. This sheep jumper is definitely on my hit-list for autumn for Mabel’s wardrobe. Shop here.

4. Scamp & Dude. I’m looking forward to stocking up on Scamp & Dude sweatshirts for the boys for the colder weather – and I am starting with this signature green print, worn with dark denim jeans and chunky boots. Perfection. Shop here.

5. HUSH. Now onto my autumn/winter wardrobe – and this sweatshirt from HUSH for adults is definitely on my wish list. Shop here.

6. Cath Kidston. I spotted this mug in the Cath Kidston Autumn/Winter catalogue and I have fallen in love. The colour, the badger, the shape. I bet it makes coffee and tea taste a whole lot better. Shop here.

7. Boden. I’ve tried so many jeans on my boys over the years, but these slim fit jeans by Boden are hands down the best. They are made of the softest denim, are very durable, and look perfect too. Their my top ‘must have’ for boys this autumn. Shop here.

8. Cool Gear. These water bottles are brilliant. You freeze the inside section, so that the water stays cold for hours. My kids got quite accustomed to ice cold water during the heatwave and this is the perfect solution – and they’re very affordable too. Shop here.

9. Matalan Home. Once we shut the doors to the garden when the cooler weather rolls around, I feel like the inside of my home needs some greenery as it makes me very happy. I am not remotely green fingered, so was really impressed by the artificial selection at Matalan. Shop here.

10. Spearmark at Sainsburys. This lunch bag is the perfect size for pack lunches – and I love the retro colour block design. Stanley has this exact one, with a selection of Locksy containers, which fit inside perfectly (Locksy is available at Dunelm, Morrison’s and Iceland). For the bag, shop here.

11. Next. How cute are these waterproof character macs from Next? They are available in several different characters. Shop here.

12. Matalan. These boots for boys are gorgeous for autumn – and at only £14, they are a bargain too. Shop here.

13. UK Swimwear. Are you lucky enough to be heading away to the sunshine any time soon? I’ve just discovered the website UK Swimwear, which is packed with gorgeous bikinis, swimsuits, and cover-ups for every different type of body. I’ve treated myself to a new swimsuit and it’s really lovely quality (and supportive too). Definitely worth a browse. Shop here.

14. Mint Rainbow. I am obsessed with the leggings by this gorgeous company for Mabel’s wardrobe and will definitely be stocking up for autumn. This pink leopard-print design is top of my wish list – and they’re affordable too. Shop here.

15. TOPSHOP. My favourite pointy ballet pumps are out in leopard print this autumn – and of course, I’ll be adding them to my collection. So comfy and so stylish with dresses or skinny jeans. Shop here.

16. Oliver Bonas. I have my eye on this neon pink lamp to add a pop of colour to my lounge. The perfect way to brighten up the coming seasons! Shop here.

 

 

This feature contains some affiliate links



23rd August 2018

Our Brilliant Day at ZSL London Zoo…

The last time I visited ZSL London Zoo, I was a little girl. I don’t remember a huge amount, but I do remember being in awe of the gorillas. I also remember it was a giant zoo, bigger than my imagination could’ve even dreamt up, with so many different animals. I genuinely remember it being the best zoo I’d ever visited – so when I was invited to visit with my little ones this week, I jumped at the chance.

Getting there

ZSL London Zoo is located in Regents Park, with the nearest tube being Camden Town. You can drive, jump on a bus, or jump on a water taxi to reach it, so it’s very accessible. We got the underground to Camden Town and then walked, which took about 15-20 minutes with little legs. It’s a really pretty walk, alongside Regent’s Canal with its resident houseboats and over bridges. We had pre-bought tickets, so joined that queue (much shorter, so I’d recommending buying online before you go – you save 10% by doing this too) and then strolled straight into the zoo.

 

Our favourite animals

The reason we were there was obviously the animals – and I was nearly bursting with excitement to see the childrens’ faces when they spotted them. Wilfred’s favourite – without a doubt – was the Tiger Territory. He loves cats, so it was always going to be the way – but when he spotted a tiger resting above our heads, he couldn’t take his eyes off it. Just at the right moment, it woke up and turned to look directly at him and I think his day was made already.

Stanley’s favourite was the Land of the Lions. This amazing part of the zoo has been styled to look like a colourful Indian village called Sasan Gir, complete with houses, street food stalls, lion transportation vehicles, and lots more. It’s really clever how they’ve done this, because you really do feel like you’ve stepped out of London and into India – and the Asiatic Lions are the icing on the cake.

Mabel’s favourite was the penguins. She was stunned into silence as she watched them dive into the water and pluck fish from the bottom of their pool. The glass wall makes this a really magical experience – and we stayed watching them for a good 20 minutes, as they performed somersaults in the water in front of our noses.

My favourite was the giraffes – because we just had the most magical moment. We walked into their indoor enclosure (the only family inside) only to discover they were all outside. But just as we were about to walk out again, a giraffe walked indoors and right up to the edge of the enclosure where we stood. He or she then proceeded to eat and drink a few feet from us, so close we could see the individual hairs and hear its breathing. I’ve been up close and personal to giraffes twice in my life before, feeding them in both Kenya and Abu Dhabi, but I have never been stunned like this. I think it was the fact we were stood at the same level, suddenly aware of its height and beauty.

My husband’s favourite was the Gorlla Kingdom – because how could you not be stunned and amazed by these incredible creatures? A gorilla was sat right by the glass of the enclosure when we walked past – and seeing its human-like expressions and sheer size was really special.

But they weren’t the only animals we fell in love with. The African Hunting Dogs were a big hit with the children, the snakes had us all mesmerised, we spent a long time watching the komodo dragons, and we adored the plump pygmy hippos. There were so many more too – bugs, birds, mammals, and fish.

The Conservation side of the zoo

But as much as we loved the animals, the zoo isn’t just about entertainment. ZSL London Zoo is run by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), a charity dedicated to conserving wild animals and where they live. Ten per cent of what ZSL invests in displaying gorillas and tigers, for example, goes to protect the same animals in the wild. In fact, the zoo entry fees underpin its conservation projects in 50 countries – and as a big animal lover, this is really important to me.

 

Our day

Our day was brilliant. We genuinely did enjoy every second. I was scared it was going to be really busy during the summer holidays – and despite people being there, the zoo has enough space and enough exhibits to make it feel quite calm and quiet even at the busiest times. We only had to wait 30 seconds or so at the busiest parts of the zoo for someone to step aside so we could have a look too. We ate our (home-made) picnic lunch in a really calm and quiet part of the zoo, where there were several benches free around us. Nothing like the busy atmosphere I was imagining.It was just a lovely day and I can highly recommend visiting with your children. We will definitely be back!

Visit www.zsl.org/zsl-london-zoo for more information

#ZooLife

Written in collaboration with ZSL London Zoo



30th July 2018

Currently loving… July 2018

I’m only just scraping through with this month’s ‘Currently Loving’ on the last few days of the month, phew. The truth is that my to-do list is growing by the day, with the boys off school for summer, but I’ve finally got there – and despite the crazy heat we’ve been having recently, I’m mainly looking ahead to the new autumn collections this month. From denim rompers, to Batman shoes, to pretty mugs (and lots of other brilliant gift ideas and buys for the kids). I hope you enjoy the selection – and I’ll be back with another ‘Currently Loving’ in August.

 

1. Boden Long Sleeve T-Shirts. I’m loving the new collection at Boden, especially these long sleeve tops in the boys’ section. My boys lived in long-sleeve T-Shirts from Boden like these a few seasons ago and I have been hunting for a design I like as much ever since, so I’m delighted to find a fab selection in this new collection. They will take the boys through that warm one minute / chilly the next transition from summer to autumn. Shop here.

2. Cath Kidston Backpacks. When it comes to back-to-school buys, I don’t think you can beat this fun, but stylish Super Dogs backpack. It’s brand new in at Cath Kidston and Stanley loves it! Shop here

3. H&M Home Banner. Oh how I love this banner! I’d like to string it over a cosy reading corner in the boy’s room – but I think it would look amazing over a bunk bed, above a cot, or in a play room too. And it’s only £8.99! Shop here.

4. Not on the Highstreet Bespoke Artwork. I’ve fallen head over heels for these bespoke handwriting signs from Not on the Highstreet! You can write any message and the company will make it into a sign, with the background the colour of your choosing. I’m staggered by the price too, at only £28. Shop here.

5. H&M Home Porcelain Cups. I adore these simple mugs by H&M Home, at only £6.99 each. They’re available in this gorgeous dusky green, pale pink, and white. I’d like to fill my cupboards with a mixture of all of the three colours. Shop here.

6. Oliver Bonas Tricerapot Planter. The perfect addition to your shelfie… This would encourage even me to be green fingered! Shop here.

7. My Busy Bots. You might have caught my post about these activity bags a few weeks ago, but let me just reiterate that they ARE TOTALLY GENIUS! Each bag is tailored to the age of your child, containing an activity that will keep them busy at home, at a restaurant table, or on a long journey. We tested them while away from home and the boys (and Mabel) loved them – and I now have a selection stashed in my nappy bag for quiet moments out-and-about. Read my social media post here. Shop here.

8. Marks & Spencer Mugs. I’m loving this new collection of mugs, which comes with motifs such as ‘Day Dreamer’, ‘Book Worm’, ‘Sleepy Head’, ‘Trend Setter’, and ‘Party Animal’. And at only £5 each, they will make amazing gifts. Shop here.

9. Oliver Bonas Dinosaur Salt & Pepper Pots. Two very cool salt and pepper pots, in the coolest coral hue. They’d make a brilliant gift. Shop here.

10. Next Batman Shoes. I can’t quite put into words how cool I think these shoes are… Just amazing. That’s Wilfred’s autumn footwear sorted! Shop here.

11. Baby Led Spreads. These jars contain healthy spreads for baby-led weaned babies, toddlers, and children – and can be used as dips for them to dunk vegetables or breadsticks or toast (or anything else on their plate), or stirred into pasta, loaded on baked potatoes, or used as bases for homemade pizza. You can use them at home or throw the jars into your bag for healthier meals when you’re out and about. There are six flavours to pick from (Mabel’s favourite is the “Carrot, Apple and Hummus”) with three of the recipes completely dairy-free – and until midnight on Wednesday, you can snap up 10% off all orders with the code 10OFF to snap up your discount (valid only once, per person). Postage is completely free too! Shop here.

12. La Redoute Denim Playsuit. If I had a baby or toddler boy, he would most certainly be wearing this denim romper. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve seen in the new autumn collections. Shop here.

 

 

Written in collaboration with My Busy Bots and Baby Led Spreads

 Contains some affiliate links



12th July 2018

SANCTUARY SPA WET SKIN MOISTURE MIRACLE – THE PERFECT PRODUCT FOR BUSY MUMS

I remember the days when I used to have the time to moisturise my skin head-to-toe after a long bath. The days when I didn’t run the risk of a baby waking up mid-way through the process. The days when my evenings were for me – and not for washing bottles, and picking up discarded pants from the living room floor, and making sure there was school uniform for the next day that didn’t have dinner splattered down the front. Those were the days.

These days, however, my time is limited – which is why I love Sanctuary Spa Wet Skin Moisture Miracle. This clever moisturiser can be applied in the shower – so when you climb out and dry off, your skin is already beautifully moisturised. You don’t have to engage your brain to remember to apply body lotion when you’ve dried off (when it’s actually full of what you need to pack in the kids’ lunchboxes for the next day), nor spend precious time actually doing it.  The job has already been done by this clever product in the shower – and the good news is that until the end of July, the product is only £5 from Boots (down from £8). Read on for more information and the link!

I used it today for the first time – and it left my skin feeling both soft and hydrated. The texture is like a body cream – thinner than a body butter, but thicker than a lotion. It glides onto skin under the water, allowing you to cover your entire body in a matter of seconds.

This summer, Sanctuary Spa has launched two new fragrances of the Wet Skin Moisture Miracle (to join the original Signature Sanctuary Fragrance that launched last year) – a floral ‘White Lily and Damask Rose’ and a citrus ‘Green Lemon & Orange Blossom.

I’m not a floral scent fan, so didn’t expect to like ‘White Lily and Damask Rose’ – but I was very pleasantly surprised. It has a spa-like, quite expensive scent – just like the scent on your skin after a luxury massage. I could smell it on my skin hours later.

The second fragrance ‘Green Lemon & Orange Blossom’ is the kind of thing I’d pick up from the shelf and already know I am going to like. I wasn’t wrong. It’s fresh, zingy, uplifting, and perfect for early mornings (even when I’ve been woken up 1,000 times by my children). This one was definitely my favourite.

And if you like these, you’ll also love the two Sanctuary Spa Shower Bursts – like a thick, whipped foam for skin, with equally tempting fragrances. I’m quite hooked on these now – it’s a bit of sensory treat for skin!

The three scents of Wet Skin Moisture Miracle usually cost £8 each and the two Sanctuary Spa Shower Bursts usually cost £7 each – but the good news is that all the products are just £5 each at Boots.com until July 31st

That’s a total bargain – and the perfect excuse to try them out!

You can find them here – http://www.boots.com/sanctuary-spa/sanctuary-spa-whats-new

 

Sponsored Post



6th July 2018

Dear children; a year ago today, we flew back to the UK.

Dear children,

A year ago today, we flew back to the UK.

A whole year.

To the day.

The night before we boarded that flight, with our suitcases packed and lined up by the back door, we thought we’d go for a late afternoon swim to say goodbye to the desert for a while.

The heat was nearly suffocating that afternoon – but as you jumped into the pool, with fiery-red dragonflies dancing around your heads as you bobbed in and out of the water, I remember thinking “wow, you are such lucky, lucky children!”

And you were.

You really were.

The next morning, as our flight soared into the dawn sky, we didn’t know we were saying goodbye forever. We watched the familiar skyscrapers jutting out of the sandy vista from our plane window – impressive at first, glinting in the morning sunlight, but soon shrinking to nothing more than a city made from LEGO bricks as we drifted further and further away.

We had a brilliant summer together – but just before we were due to fly back, doubts crept into our mind. A calculator, a spreadsheet, frantic googling, tired eyes, stressed brows – and a decision.

We were going to stay.

That first bit was hard for me. So hard. Your Daddy wasn’t with us yet –  and we didn’t have a home of our own. I missed my friends, my routine, my safety net. Everything was raw. Everything made me cry. I thought we’d made a mistake more times than I dared to count. I wanted to go back to those familiar LEGO bricks. I wanted normality. I wanted the life we had built together.

I just wanted to go home.

But whilst I was looking back, you stepped forward with confidence. Right from the first day at your new school, when your steely-faced bravery sucker-punched me in the stomach with a heady mix of fierce pride and crushing guilt.

You mentioned Dubai a lot at first. Your friends. Your nanny. Your teachers. Your school. Your nursery. Your favourite places to go. You packed your little rucksacks with things you wanted to take on the plane when we flew back to visit – and seeing you do that was torture, as Daddy and I had already decided we wouldn’t be heading back any time soon to help you (and me) settle into our new lives in the UK. Every time he flew back to his job in the desert, my heart stabbed with pure jealousy. I wanted to go back too. But deep down, I knew I had to close that door to be able to open the one I was standing in front.

Goodbye had to be goodbye.

Our container arrived back from Dubai in December – and we moved into our new home. As we unpacked those boxes and you rediscovered your toys, I watched your faces light up with amazement. The sudden realisation that you were getting back those belongings, those things that had long drifted from your minds was both amazing and heart-breaking to witness.

It was a long winter – and it took all of us a while to get used to it. I hated the long, dark days. I hated the rain. But you three embraced it.

Before long, I was so used to seeing you in warm coats and wooly hats, with red noses and tears streaming from the cold, that I forgot what you looked like in your swimming shorts, with sunlight glinting on your skin. You didn’t mind getting mud on your hands, or getting soaked in rain, or feeling the wind whip around your faces in temperatures dipping freezing. You morphed into UK children, so happy and settled, so rarely mentioning that old life in the desert that I was sometimes left wondering if it had happened at all.

And I realised – slowly, but certainly.

I had to embrace it too.

And now we are here.

The first anniversary of our return to the UK.

And in the perfect completion of the circle, you broke up from school for summer. Shouting to your friends in the carpark to say goodbye. Grubby knees, worn elbows, and shoes scuffed at the toes. Smiling wide smiles at the thought of weeks stretched ahead, together at home.

We jumped in the car and drove to the coast to celebrate – and as we pulled up, your grandparents appeared and your eyes sparkled with delight. You strolled away with them, hand-in-hand, shrieking with excitement, in harmony with the seagulls circling above our heads.

Life is different, yes.

It couldn’t be more different.

But every step you have taken has swelled my heart with pride.

And as I watched you walking down that harbour, with the sun starting to dip on the horizon and a warm breeze ruffling your hair, I thought to myself: “Wow, you are such lucky, lucky children”.

And you really, really are.

Love from Mummy x



2nd July 2018

Our weekend at Bournemouth Beach Lodges…

What could be better than waking up to the roar of waves breaking onto the shore – and then running down to the sand and getting the whole beach to yourself, while everyone else still seems to be sleeping? Throw in the luck of brilliant weather – and I don’t think there are many UK breaks that can beat it, which is exactly why we had the most amazing time at Bournemouth Beach Lodges this weekend.

Bournemouth Beach Lodges are located on Boscombe Beach, which is just along the coast from Bournemouth Beach and Pier. Whilst it gets much busier along the coast, Boscombe stays much quieter. It definitely has a buzz, but it’s never unpleasantly busy – and that makes the whole vibe very relaxing and easy for parents.

There are 15 lodges in a row, just a stone throw from the beach (literally – even I could’ve thrown a stone and hit the sand). Each lodge can sleep up to six people, with a bathroom, kitchen, double bed and single bed upstairs, and double bed and single bed downstairs (converted from the table area and a sofa). Each has a lovely terrace, with direct views of the beach – and deckchairs to lounge on. We asked for a cot and a highchair, which were waiting for us when we arrived. And the steps up to the upstairs area had a baby gate at both the top and bottom, which I was really impressed by.

Whilst the lodges sleep six, there isn’t a huge amount of space to move around inside – so my first tip would be to pack light (and make sure you pack soft holdalls you can carry on your shoulder, rather than dragging a suitcase down a zig-zag cliff path to the beach like us – spot the first timers!) Packing light is really easy, because all you will need is swimwear, beach towels, perhaps one outfit for a trip into Bournemouth, and some snacks / drinks.

When it comes to food, there is a kiosk on the beach that opens around 10am and makes bacon and sausage sandwiches – and you can buy some essentials (bread, milk, eggs etc) from the lodge office – but if your kids like something specific for breakfast, I’d advise throwing it in, as there isn’t anything open early in the morning. The kiosk is perfect for lunch – and in the evening, you can order pizzas from a restaurant just down the beach, which will deliver to your lodge in 30 minutes (or head to a vast number of restaurants in the area). We had pizza one evening – and the next, we ate at Prezzo in Bournemouth.

Talking of Bournemouth, we had a brilliant afternoon down there on Saturday. We took the land train from Boscombe Beach (right outside the lodges), which goes all the way to Bournemouth Pier. Once we were down there (with three exhausted children fast asleep!), I was horrified to discover the beach absolutely packed – and I’m not exaggerating. Local press reports told us that 100,000 people were on that stretch of beach – and suddenly visions of the pier and aquarium being packed to the brim filled my mind, which was our plan for the afternoon.

But do you know what? With the beach packed, the inside attractions were really quiet – and we had one of the best family afternoons we’ve had for a long time. We started with RockReef at the end of the pier, which had 25 ‘clip and climb’ walls for the boys to try climbing up, along with a cave network they could explore with headlamps. Mabel slept through this whole experience, waking at the end to watch her brothers crawling like spiders up the wall (at 4 and 6, I was seriously impressed by how quickly they got the hang of it – and they are now totally hooked and want to find one close to us to continue their climbing obsession!)

We then walked over to Bournemouth Oceanarium, meeting turtles, penguins, and crocodiles – and Mabel especially enjoyed pressing her face up against the glass and meeting all the creatures (I used to take the boys to aquariums all the time in Dubai – I mean, we walked past walls of sharks and sting rays while even shopping in the mall – but I realised Mabel hasn’t actually been to an aquarium since she’s old enough to enjoy it and it was so lovely to watch her little face light up with amazement!)

We finished our afternoon in Bournemouth with dinner in Prezzo (kids eat for £1 is back on for summer, don’t ya know!) and with tummies full of pizza and pasta, we then slowly walked back to Boscombe along the promenade (which took us about 45 minutes in the lovely late afternoon sunshine.

So what were our highlights of our holiday at Bournemouth Beach Lodges? For me, it was sleeping right on the beach, waking up to the sound of waves and the tranquillity of that view first thing in the morning. It was sipping my coffee in the early morning sunshine and feeling totally detached from normal life for a while. We were only away for two nights, but I felt like we’d been away for a week. It was such a tonic to the mind.

For the kids, I think the best thing was the novelty of beach lodge living – with their beds upstairs and the beach right on their doorstep. And I know they absolutely loved the afternoon down in Bournemouth too – everything from the land train journey, to the ‘Clip and Climb’ at RockReef, to the Oceanarium, to the colourful beach huts in neat rows on our walk back home.

It was just fantastic – and we will definitely be back. I love the idea of an early autumn break, hopefully enjoying some brisk walks along the beach and then drinking hot chocolates on our terrace. It must be so tranquil at that time of year – and the lodges would be lovely and cosy when you wanted to retreat inside.

If you want to look at availability for the rest of the summer and ongoing, visit www.bournemouthbeachlodges.co.uk/  

And for more information about everything there is to do in Bournemouth for a holiday, visit www.bournemouth.co.uk/

 

 

We were guests of Bournemouth Beach Lodges this weekend, in return for an honest review