Monthly Archives: February 2016

28th February 2016

Currently Loving in Dubai – February 2016

Time for another Currently Loving – and this month, it’s all about Dubai (apart from one sneaky Shop + Ship purchase!) – and I’ve just managed to sneak it in before the end of February, phew.

Currently Loving Feb New

1. Bumpamats. I have been looking for a rug or large mat for the boys’ room for a long time – and right on cue, Bumpmats UAE got in touch with me to tell me about the brand’s arrival in the country. These giant mats have a car track printed on one side (heaven for Wilfred) and a stylish design printed on the other (heaven for me). Better still, they are hygienic, water resistant, embossed, cushioned, easy to clean with detergent, and non-slip. The launch price is Dhs950, but they have a special offer running for Dhs1700 for two mats (delivered to one location) so you can team up with a friend for less (or buy one for two different rooms!) The discount code is “friend1700″. Buy here.

2. Comptoir 102. If you are always on the hunt for cool cafes with a delicious menu, good coffee, and free Wi-Fi, let me introduce you to Comptoir 102. Located down in Jumeirah 1 (opposite where the old zoo was located), it’s the most peaceful spot – with seating inside and outside, and natural sunlight streaming inside. The styling is quirky and incredibly stylish and the menu is not only yummy, but super healthy too so you can feel virtuous as you enjoy a catch-up with a friend. The French-owned cafe has a fashionable store attached with clothing, accessories, and homewear too. I spent a morning there last week and will definitely be back soon. More information.

3. Ya Ya Multi Minerals. After an endless battle with germs in my house in the run-up to Christmas, I needed to get some vitamins into the boys to boost their immune system – so when Wilfred turned two, I could start giving them both Ya Ya Multi Minerals. Just one little gummy pastel a day is enough to make sure the good stuff is going in – and the boys literally queue in the kitchen every morning, completely unaware it’s not a regular sweet. I can vouch for the effectiveness, as we’ve had no snuffles since we started using them (and impressive 2 month period of wellness, which has been unheard of!) More information.

4. White Cotton Cards Dubai. How many times have you handed over gift cards to a shop assistant in Dubai and recoiled in horror when you have been told the price? It’s happened to me plenty of times – and the worst bit is that the cards I am buying are usually seriously underwhelming, making me vow to buy a stack of cards on my next trip to the UK (but of course, I always forget). For this reason, I was delighted to hear about White Cotton Cards Dubai – a range of high-quality, beautifully designed cards, which have been sold in top end boutiques across the UK (and the likes of Harvey Nichols and Harrods, no less). I’ve been stocking up! Shop via the Facebook Page here.

5. Man Cub T-Shirt. It was love at first sight when I spotted this Man Cub T-Shirt by US brand Love by Hannah and Eli – so I immediately snapped one up for Stanley with my Shop & Ship account. They sell out fast – so be quick with your order. I’m coveting a Baby Bear design for Wilfred too! Shop here

6. Four Cow Farm. This 100% natural baby, kids, and mum-to-be range is handmade on a farm in Australia – and it’s just found its way to Dubai. Suitable for the most sensitive skin, I’ve fallen in love with the gentle formulas and beautiful ingredients – and the fact that the products are never tested on animals is another big bonus. Shop at DbBabies here.

7. Ronda Locatelli Brunch. We were invited to the launch of the new Saturday brunch at Ronda Locatelli, Atlantis The Palm a few weeks ago – and we had a lovely lunchtime. Not only was the table filled with the most delicious cuisine (it’s table service, rather than buffet, and believe me; you won’t go hungry), but the activities for children were fantastic. Stanley enjoyed painting his own canvas in a shaded courtyard (thanks to a pop-up by The JamJar) and making his own pizza (he even got a tour of the kitchen, lucky him!) It’s really affordable too – at just 195 AED per person (non-alcoholic) and 295 AED per person (including house beverages). Details here.

8. Fortnum & Mason Dubai. If you haven’t yet visited The Parlour in Fortnum & Mason Dubai, you are missing a treat. With incredible views of Burj Khalifa (and so quiet in the morning), kids will be nothing short of delighted when they arrive and spot what is on offer. With rows and rows of pastel-hued ice cream flavours to pick from, alongside traditional favourites including Banana Splits, Knickerbocker Glories, and Coke Floats, it’s our new favourite hangout. Details here.

9. Party Camel. I get more impressed with party supplier Party Camel every time I log on, with a stock of decorations and party essentials that are definitely the most stylish, unique, and fun available in Dubai.  I purchased most of Wilfred’s 2nd Birthday Party supplies from the online store – from rainbow hued food boxes, to a fun cake topper, to striped goody bags for handing out as everyone left – and I was impressed with not only the selection and quality, but the prices too. Delivery is very quick too, making it ideal for last minute panic buys before parties. Shop online here.

10. HotelsCombined. I’m always being asked for hotel recommendations in Dubai – and the most common request is for accommodation that is a little more affordable. I now know where to direct everyone, as I’ve discovered HotelsCombined, which scours the city for the best deals. I have been craving a weekend staycation – and a quick browse on the site came up with budget hotels for as little as 250 AED a night and 5* luxury resorts on the beach coming in as little as 1000 AED a night for a deluxe room! Seriously good prices and definitely worth checking out!  Visit http://www.hotelscombined.ae/



25th February 2016

These things shall pass…

Screen Shot 2016-02-25 at 20.32.02A memory popped up on my Facebook feed today from two years ago.

“Took both boys out on my own for the first time. We survived.”

And we had survived. Despite the nerves before I left the house. Despite being convinced that my newborn would demand a feed at the very moment my toddler threw himself head first from a climbing frame. Despite totally underestimating the temperature and overdressing the baby in a thick velour suit.

Despite it all, we had survived.

Seeing that memory today brought it all back. The nerves gurgling in the pit of my stomach as we prepared to leave the house, mixed with internal pep talks and short bursts of confidence. Returning to the kitchen three times for forgotten items before we made it out the door. Panic as the baby started wailing in the car, whilst the toddler demanded a dummy that had flown across the back seat. Relief as I parked, worked out which child to get out first, and sprinted towards my friend in the distance with the double buggy.

We did it.

And after that, it only got easier to take them out on my own. Little by little, I became more confident about being a mummy of two.

Now, of course, it’s so normal that it feels strange when I only have one of them. A missing piece of the puzzle. A hand that feels strangely empty. A missing part of me.

And thinking about all that today – about how this huge, monumental step in my life has become so normal that it’s second nature – I realised how quickly every obstacle in motherhood has passed.

The newborn days.  So precious, but so exhausting. Over in a flash.

Teething. Those angry red cheeks, those broken nights, and that rising panic when the Calpol stocks ran low. Soon they have their teeth and you almost forget the pained whimpers in the night.

Settling into nursery or school. At one point, the single most stressful thing in the world. A battle of emotions. But weeks later, just a memory.

Fear of monsters lurking in the night. Broken nights; as brutal as the newborn days. But weeks later, the monsters go into hiding and normality ensues.

Sometimes these things last days.

Sometimes weeks.

Sometimes years.

But they pass.

And one day, when my boys are grown up, they will have blurred into one – memories fused together of the early days of motherhood. A struggle at times, but wonderful nevertheless.

So I will try to remember this when the next obstacle moves into our path.

These things shall pass.

And just like the pictures of that first trip out with my boys two years ago, I have a feeling I will look back and smile.



23rd February 2016

10 things I fear I will never finish again…

unspecified1. A cup of coffee.  Long are the days of getting to the bottom of the cup in one sitting. I’ve got used to taking a swig and recoiling in horror when it is stone cold. To be honest, I’m not sure I could survive motherhood without my microwave.

2. A novel. Oh how I used to enjoy reading books! On sofas, on beaches, on flights, and before I switched off the bedroom night every night. How relaxing! How intellectual! These days, however, reading words on a page send me to sleep in a matter of seconds (if I’m not disturbed by a child first, that is).

3. A conversation. We arrange play dates in the hope that we can settle down and enjoy a little adult conversation while our darlings play happily at our feet. Between every sentence, however, we are interrupted by demands for biscuits, fights over a remote control car, or the need to jump up and wipe a snotty nose or rush a child to the toilet before we’re faced with a puddle on the floor and entire outfit change.

4. My lunch. Since my eldest decided that midday naps are overrated, he’s become fascinated with my lunch. A meal that he never knew I ate! What a revelation! And whatever I choose to eat that day, he proclaims he loves more than anything in the world – despite the fact he has rarely tasted it before – and he therefore deserves to eat the majority. I’m considering eating a plate of green vegetables every day – that should do it.

5. A thought process. In the rare moments that the boys are playing nicely, the kitchen is tidy, and I have a second to sit down and think, my mind might turn to a birthday party I need to organise or a trip I have been meaning to plan – until I am distracted by a child approaching the sofa with a pen or the whiff of a stinky nappy. And that’s the end of that.

6. Emails to friends.  The same goes for emails to friends. The intention is there – but the reality is that I rarely get further than ‘Hi, how are you?’ before having to rush away from my laptop and forgetting about the draft I saved until weeks down the line.

7. The laundry. It’s a cliché I know, but I really don’t remember the last time I saw the bottom of the laundry basket. Because just when I get close, a child does a wee on a giant towel and once again, the lid doesn’t shut properly again. It’s the law of the world.

8. A relaxing bath. It’s not always the kids, to be fair. It’s usually because I suddenly remember I’ve got packed lunches to make before bed / panic that we’ve lost the library book from school / realise I have less than 6 hours sleep before the alarm goes off. I’m never going to stay in that bath until my fingers are wrinkly, because I seem to have forgotten how to relax.

9. The baby books. I had the very best intentions – and with my first, I didn’t do a bad job. I filled out most of the pages, leaving gaps for the bits that needed a bit more thought. He hasn’t done badly, to be fair. My poor second child, however, has a few pages filled in at the beginning with the rest waiting to be filled out on a rainy day. I’m blaming the fact we have very few of those rainy days in Dubai on the fact that it’s still pretty much blank. Poor neglected second child.

10. A full night’s sleep. Nearly 4 years down the line, I have realised that I may as well give up; the day I will wake up feeling awake and refreshed, thinking  ‘wow, what an amazingly fulfilling night’s sleep that was!” is decades away. Decades, I tell you. Until then, I will always feel like sleep has been unjustly snatched away from me as one child crawls up onto our bed at the crack of dawn to steal my leg space, whilst the other child prods me in the eye to see if I’m awake.



15th February 2016

Nobody warned me that you don’t always feel a rush of newborn love…

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 16.53.51I was happily scrawling through Instagram last night when a picture of a mother posing with a newborn baby stopped me in my tracks. I’d never met the mother, but I’d been following her account for a while and I was eagerly awaiting her baby news.

And here it was; a smiling photo in a hospital bed, posing with a scrunched up newborn (as let’s be honest; they are all a bit scrunched at first) and the words underneath:

I loved him from the very second we met eyes. I never knew love existed like this. Blessed.”

There was no doubt that it was a lovely photo and sweet words.

But I can never read comments like that without thinking back to my own birth experiences – and the truth is, I just didn’t feel the same way.

Delighted, yes.

Relieved, yes.

Protective, yes.

But filled with instant and unconditional love? Just not yet.

It took a while with my first baby to feel a rush of motherly love. The kind of love that you read about everyone experiencing. When I imagined the moment of meeting my baby, I expected to lock eyes with him and feel my heart swell with these overpowering feelings. After all, I had heard countless stories recounted on social media and within articles in magazines. Nobody warned me that it doesn’t always happen the very second a newborn is placed on your chest. I didn’t even have a chance to wonder if anything was wrong; I was so overcome with having this new little baby to cuddle that it didn’t even occur to me that it hadn’t happened in the first place.

Despite the lack of this epic, otherworldly rush of love, our bond grew quickly. He was taken away to the nursery to be changed every morning and my heart pined until he got back. I was in too much pain to even stand up and change a nappy and I felt overwhelmed by news that there was a small hole in his heart; it turned out to be nothing to worry about, but seeing him wheeled away to see a cardiologist with my husband in tow made my heart jump right into my mouth. I definitely felt like his mother. I definitely knew he was mine. But still I didn’t experience this amazing epiphany.

Once we were home, I enjoyed being his Mummy. I loved showing him off. I enjoyed hanging out with him at home – or going on adventures to pick up groceries at the mall. I started to wonder if it was all a myth; this sudden rush of newborn love – a lie fed to Mums-to-be to keep their spirits up through encounters with hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and middle-of-the-night grabs in the dark for bottles of Gaviscon.

But while discussing birth stories with friends over extra strong triple-shot lattes, I learnt that some of them did feel this amazing rush of love as their eyes locked. It did happen for them, they said. It was amazing, they gushed.

I eyed them suspiciously as they told their tales – but soon realised they had no reason to lie to me. Some of us felt it – and some didn’t. Gazing down at my sleeping newborn in his pram, I wondered why I wasn’t one of the lucky ones.

Then at 4 weeks old, something happened.

He’d been gurning like an old man for a while, but suddenly my delicious newborn baby cracked it – he could smile! It might have been aimed at the cabinet by the TV – but could definitely, definitely smile!

I grabbed my camera and ran back to him, cooing away like a loon above his face. And that’s when it happened – he looked at me and broke into the biggest, most beautiful smile. Tears filled my eyes and quickly began falling down my cheeks. The love literally rushed around my body at 3000 miles per hour – and I knew that I’d finally experienced it; the amazing rush of maternal love I’d been waiting for.

I had loved him throughout it all, of course – but doubting my own feelings without something to affirm it, I needed that moment. And I sobbed for at least 10 minutes at the amazingness and the relief when it happened.

With my second baby, I was more relaxed. I think the bond grew quicker, but I still wasn’t treated to the instant rush of love when he was placed on my chest. This time, however, I was content in the knowledge that I didn’t need that moment to be a good mother. And two years on, I genuinely couldn’t love either of my boys more.

I wish somebody had warned me that you don’t always feel an instant rush of love when a newborn is placed on your chest.

And I wish somebody had told me that it really doesn’t matter at all.



11th February 2016

We have an imposter in our midst…

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 20.25.25Stanley, I don’t quite know how to break this to you…

But we have imposter in the house.

For nearly 4 years, your blue bunny has barely left your side (not that he is blue anymore, but more of a grubby grey).

You slept with that bunny every single night, your fist clutched tightly around him as your chest rose and fell with each sleepy breath.

I have lots of pictures of you with bunny; right from the first day you arrived in the world.

Bunny came on aeroplanes and you held him up at the window to show him the snow-capped mountains below.  Bunny went to nursery when you were little, in case you needed comfort or were tired. Bunny came on long car journeys to visit friends and relatives. And Bunny  was clutched in your hand when you came to hospital to meet your baby brother for the very first time.

Always your sidekick.

Always your favourite.

An extension of you.

A reminder of your babyhood.

Until something happened.

We innocently picked up ‘Puppy’ during a trip to IKEA.

You spotted him and held out your arms like you’d found a long-lost member of your family. The look in your eyes was unnerving – but we agreed you could keep him as you’d been quite well behaved (and quite frankly didn’t want that to stop in the middle of a shop that causes more arguments than any other shop in the history of the world).

Your brother got a similar model – and you were both thrilled with your cuddly dogs, clutching them all the way to the checkout area. However, we fully expected them to be relegated to a shelf in your bedroom shortly afterwards and quickly forgotten about. After all, every other soft toy you have ever owned (bar Bunny, of course) has been discarded in a pile at the end of your cot or bed in a fit of ‘why are you trying to make me love these stuffed things?‘ rage.

In your brother’s case, that was very true. In fact, I don’t think he’s even looked at his stuffed dog since that morning – unless it was used as a ramp for his remote control car, that is.

But Puppy is different.

He has practically become a member of the family.

And I don’t like it.

You think it’s all very innocent, the ever-increasing presence of this floppy brown dog.

But let me enlighten you; he is an imposter.

Where was he when you were crying for milk as a newborn? When you felt unsettled at nursery as a toddler? When you were scared at take-off on an airplane? When you were frightened of the dark and needed something comforting to clutch?

I’ll tell you where he was! He was on a shelf in IKEA!

But Bunny was there. He never let you down.

Yet whenever I walk into your room at night to check on you after you’ve fallen asleep, it’s not Bunny lying across your little chest.

It’s Puppy.

The new sidekick.

And Bunny lies at the end of the bed, discarded and unloved, face-planted in the duvet.

It’s like the story of Woody and Buzz all over again.

I know you’re growing up Stanley.

You are nearly 4 years old and let’s face it; the bunny rabbit with a grubby blanket attached was never going to make it to your teenage years.

But replaced so soon?

Cast aside without a second thought?

I’m not ready for that.

And I’m blaming that dog for everything.



10th February 2016

How to infuriate your sibling in a matter of seconds, by Wilfred aged 2

DSC_50671. Snatch one of his snacks from his bowl when he isn’t looking and run away with it in your mouth.

2. Lean over his shoulder when he’s playing a game on Mummy’s phone and jab at the screen repeatedly.

3. Wait until he’s built the tallest tower from his blocks – and then shriek with excitement as you knock in down.

4. The same goes for sandcastles.

5. Ruin a game of ‘hide and seek’ at a playdate by standing next to his hiding place and shouting ‘BROTHER! BROTHER! COME OUT!’

6. Walk casually past him clutching his favourite cuddly toy.

7. Grab the remote control and manage to switch off the TV when he’s watching Team Umizoomi.

8. Dare to go anywhere near his latest school library book with grubby hands.

9. Pour water over his head in the bath and laugh.

10. Interrupt him repeatedly when he’s trying to tell Mummy about his latest ideas for his birthday party in 3 months time.

11. Grow big enough to fit into a pair of pyjamas that he deems to be his.

12. Sit at the top of the slide at soft play and refuse to come down, even though he’s behind waiting for his turn. And when you do eventually slide down, refuse to move from the ball pit below it just to annoy him for a little longer.

13. Drink out of a cup labeled with his name.

14. If he thinks he’s won a race and shouts ‘I’M THE WINNER!” just keep repeating the words ‘NO I THE WINNER!” over and over again.

15. If Mummy says “No pudding until you both finish your tea!”, make a special effort to eat very, very, very slowly.



7th February 2016

Here’s why I’m excited about Buy One Get One Free Virgin Atlantic flights with the Entertainer…

12647906_10156530295340607_1706426362_nIf I had to name my three favourite cities in the world, they would be Dubai, London and New York. So when I heard about an offer for Buy One Get One Free flights back to either London or New York with Virgin Atlantic, my ears pricked up immediately.

That is exactly what the Entertainer is offering this February. Book a return flight by the end of February (to fly the first leg by end of June) and we will get another flight completely free.

The flights need to be booked by the end of February (details on how to book at the Entertainer website here) and flown by the end of June – and it’s valid on both Economy and Upper Class fares, meaning we can enjoy a little luxury for less!

It seems too good an offer to miss, but which city to choose? That’s the bit I’m struggling with…

london_big_ben_england_city_architecture_hd-wallpaper-1827314

Oh London, how I miss you! You have been part of my life forever, with childhood visits to Selfridges, Harrods, and the Natural History Museum, then later school trips to watch plays at The Barbican, shopping on Oxford Street during my teenage years, and work experience on Carnaby Street while I was at University.

And then I moved to London when I was 22, living in houses in Clapham, Tooting, and then Blackheath. I spent my mornings on trains, walking over London Bridge to get to my desk. Every morning I looked to my right to soak up that view down the Thames to Tower Bridge – and however tired or miserable I was feeling, the city picked me up.

I miss the city’s energy, I miss the determination of the people to ‘just get on with it’ even when it was pouring with rain. I miss seeing moments in history whenever I turned – the starting point of The Great Fire of London down a tiny side street, reminders of the grisly history of The Tower of London whenever I glanced down the river, policeman riding on horses down Charing Cross Road and no one batting an eyelid, and the heart-stopping sound of Big Ben chiming to remind me I was running late.

If I booked one of those Virgin Atlantic flights with the Entertainer for myself and the husband, I’d revisit all of that. But because we’d saved so much money getting there (buy one, get one free, don’t forget!) I’d spoil myself too – I’d book Afternoon Tea at The Ritz, I’d window shop on Bond Street, and I’d have cocktails at The Mayfair Hotel. It would be the ultimate city break!

Virgin Atlantic flies into London Heathrow – and that’s just a short tube journey away from Central London, meaning that we’d be in the heart of the city in no time. Just the thought of it is exciting!

NYC-1

But hang on, what about New York? The Virgin Atlantic deal with the Entertainer is also valid to the city – and that’s a whopping saving on the usual price of flying from Dubai!

And New York – well, there is nowhere quite like it in the world. It sounds like a cliché, but the first time I visited I genuinely felt like I’d stepped into a movie. The buildings! The people! The fact that smoke actually does come out of the ground! I walked around for 10 days feeling like I was in a parallel universe – and when I came out the other side, the place had stolen my heart forever.

So what would I do if I used the Entertainer offer to buy a couple of Virgin Atlantic flights? I’d stand in queues just so I can eat the fluffiest pancakes in the city for breakfast, I’d book tickets for Broadway Shows and spend the day feeling flutters of excitement, I’d stop on Fifth Avenue to buy a steaming hot dog piled high with caramelised onions for lunch from the cheeriest street seller, I’d stroll around Central Park in the afternoon to take in the incredible vistas, and after the show, I’d treat myself to a Manhattan in Manhattan (and I’d enjoy every sip).

And no trip to New York would be complete without popping into FAO Schwarz on Fifth Avenue to pick up something special for the boys! So yes, I would love to fly into New York this spring using that amazing Virgin Atlantic deal with the Entertainer. In fact, I’d enjoy every second.

So fly to London or New York? I haven’t decided yet – but it’s got to be one of them.

Have you decided? For details of the booking process for Buy One Get One Free Virgin Atlantic Flights with the Entertainer (and all the terms and conditions), visit http://bit.ly/TheEntertainerVirginAtlantic



4th February 2016

A warning about smugness

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 20.30.34My first baby didn’t like sleep.

It started with milk.

His favourite time to request it was about 20 minutes after I’d fallen asleep, so I was woken from the kind of deep sleep that leaves your heart pounding and mind confused when it is suddenly snatched from you by a screaming newborn.

Then it was the dummy.

However many I left in the cot, he’d wake up demanding one. My hand would stumble blindly into the cot in the darkness, feeling around with increasing panic, cursing under my breath that the longer it took, the less likely he’d settle back to sleep. At that moment, I hated those dummies. But as soon as it was back in his mouth and the screaming stopped, I bloody loved them again.

Then it was his new room.

Essentially, I wasn’t in it. And whenever his eyes snapped open and was reminded of this fact, his screams demanded that it was rectified immediately. I spent a lot of time during those long, exhausting nights stood over a cot, with one hand contorted over the top and place on his tummy, weighing up exactly how I could extract myself from the situation without his eyes shooting open again.

Then it was a love of early mornings.

And I mean 4.30am. Every day. My hazy memories of that exhausting time are permeated with the theme tune of Peppa Pig. And I remember drinking coffee. A lot.

And then, praise be, he finally realised that he liked sleep. Sleep was good. Sleep was precious. I raved about what a wonderful sleeper I had (before you shoot evils at me through your phone or laptop, let me just add that I had another sleep thief by now – and it was far worse than the first time).

I became pretty reliant on my eldest sleeping. In fact, I counted on it. And for a few years, I really could. He slept like a dream.

Then a few weeks ago, something happened.

Monsters.

They crept into his bedroom in the middle of the night, shook him in his bed, hid in his tent, and shouted in the darkness.

And understandably, he was terrified.

So he started dragging his duvet into Mummy and Daddy’s bed to escape them (much safer place, granted). At 4am. At 2am. Sometimes even before we’d gone to bed and were still in the lounge (much to his squinty-eyed confusion).

And weeks later, the monsters are still causing trouble. Sometimes they even wake up his baby brother too (or maybe that’s the yelling from the toddler bed). Oh yes, it’s fun and games in our house when darkness falls.

And if this sorry episode has taught me anything, it’s that I should never, ever be smug as a mother.

Absolutely nothing is guaranteed.

And if you make the mistake of being a little bit smug, the monsters will come.

The monsters will come and shake some sense into you.

You have been warned.