Monthly Archives: February 2017

26th February 2017

I’m more of a “Netflix and Diet Coke” than a “Boot Camp and Kale” kind of girl…

16997324_10158329875845607_502937731_nIt’s taken 36 years to work out that I’m just not that into exercise.

I’d love the hot beach body – but I’m just not prepared to head out to boot camps at 6am to get it.

And I like food.

I mean, I really, really like it.

And I know that healthy food can still be tasty – but I’m sorry, it can never be as tasty as a bowl of rich Italian pasta, a large glass of red wine, and a large slab of chilled chocolate for dessert. It just can’t. Not possible. Definitely not. No way.

I’ve tried, though. I really have. I’ve bought the snazzy trainers. In fact, for one 6-month period when I lived in London, I convinced myself I was a jogger.

I lived in Blackheath in London back then – a part of London located on a vast expanse of grass – and I used to run around it coughing and spluttering, with LMFAO on repeat… “Girl look at that body, Girl look at that body, Girl look at that body, I work outttt!”

I even applied for the London Marathon once. I mean, seriously. WHAT WAS I THINKING?

With dodgy knees and hips from way too much gymnastics when I was younger (see, I was sporty once), I soon realised that jogging was doing more harm than good. Trainers went back in the wardrobe, cool running iPad bum-bag-contraption went back in the drawer, and exercise was forgotten for a little while. When the rejection arrived from the London Marathon, I collapsed in hysterical (relieved) giggles on the floor.

Then I discovered Pilates – and that was far more successful. With flexibility part of my make up (all that gymnastics worked in my favour, after all), I actually enjoyed the classes. But still, when I had those evenings when the UK got dark way too early and I fancied a takeaway and a glass of wine on the sofa instead, even that hit the bumpers.

And now, fast forward 8 years – and here I am. Now a mother of three – and a size or two heavier than I was when I was jogging around that expanse of grass, coughing and spluttering.

And whilst I know I need to up the fitness levels, I’m kind of cool about my body shape.

For the first time in my life.

I’ve started Pilates again and occasionally swim a few laps in the evening in our community pool. I want to be fit and healthy for my children – and of course, I want to fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes comfortably without them hugging my post-pregnancy tummy.

But supermodel-esque hot beach body? It’s never going to happen.

And it’s taken me to the age of 36 to accept that.

It’s OK.

Because as a child, I don’t remember hearing a single woman tell me they were happy with their body. I don’t remember seeing celebrities say that. Or political figures. Or family members. Or family friends. Nobody said: “I wasn’t made to be a size 8, rocking a bikini in Ibiza with the supermodel set – and I AM OK WITH THAT.” Nobody said that.

Nobody.

And I want Mabel – and her brothers – to hear otherwise.

I will never be a keen jogger. Or a marathon runner. Or a supermodel.

But I am a very proud mum of three, who’s body has done incredible things.

And yes, I enjoy Pilates. And yes, I enjoy swimming the odd lap in a pool. And yes, it’s important to be healthy bla bla bla.

But I only want to do it a few times a week.

The rest of the time, I’ll be on the sofa downstairs with the Netflix control in my hand and a can of Diet Coke next to me, while my babies sleep peacefully upstairs.

Because that’s who I am.

And I want them to know I’m proud of that too.



20th February 2017

We test: Anti Grabbity Balcony Safety Strips

16831632_10158303930435607_303171762_nWhat’s our biggest priority as parents? Our children’s safety, of course – and that’s why living on the 21st floor with an accessible balcony has been a big worry for me for the past 5 years. In fact, I was so terrified that the boys would somehow topple over the balcony, that I completely blocked it off – quite literally, with a large plank of wood that made it impossible to slide open the door. The door stayed locked and they simply weren’t allowed out there, which meant we never got to enjoy the balcony either – and whilst that was well worth it for peace of mind, I often wondered if there was another way.

And in November last year, I found it.

Let me introduce Anti Grabbity; a prickly, textured strip that fits along the top of your balcony railing to prevent hands from grabbing hold.

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Totally ingenious.

After ordering the strips and receiving them to my door a week or so later (the company use a courier company), I tested them by trying to put my whole weight on them. It’s pretty much impossible – it doesn’t hurt when you touch them lightly (so no little hands will be damaged if they reach up to investigate), but they will dig painfully into hands if any weight is applied, meaning they would find it very, very hard to heave themselves up. This – as you can imagine – is very, very reassuring.

For so many families in Dubai living in apartments, they offer the perfect solution to making a balcony safe. The transparent strips are virtually invisible to the eye, meaning your view is never obstructed and the aesthetics of the building aren’t altered – yet the ingenious spikey design will mean little people stay firmly behind the rails.

In fact, the strips are so effective that the company recommend them to hotels too, to prevent accidents on balconies, and to cruise liners, to prevent anyone going overboard – and also recommend them for use inside the home, placing on the top of chest of drawers to prevent little climbers. Now I’m living in a villa, I have quite a dangerous shelf that the boys could climb on over the stairs, so I am going to put a strip on there to stop them pulling themselves up.

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The strips come in three types – curved, semi-curved, and flat, so they will work on any type balcony. And the clever inter-locking design means it will fit any size of balcony (you simply measure the length before ordering) and fixed by either ties (if you have space under the rail to loop it through) or through glue dots (if there is no space underneath). When you receive the strips, instructions to affix them onto the balcony are included – and it’s very, very easy.

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Balconies terrify me – and whilst the boys still weren’t allowed out on the balcony without me, having these strips gave me peace of mind that if they did work out how to open the door to get out there, they wouldn’t come to harm.  And wow – you really can’t put a price on that.

Special Offer – Free Delivery to the UAE for a limited time, for orders over $100.

Head to www.antigrabbity.com to buy online (prices are in Australian Dollars, with prices starting at just $19.95 (about 56 AED).



15th February 2017

Dear Mabel. Time is passing so quickly…

16780004_10158275668270607_337425883_nDear Mabel,

Time is passing so quickly.

I was lying in a hospital bed one moment, running on pure adrenaline with the most delicious newborn curled on my chest. And the next? I am listening to you shriek with laughter, watching you roll over, and communicating with kisses, songs, tickles, and smiles.

You have changed – but caught up in a fog of sleeplessness, endless nappy changes, and everyday life, I just didn’t notice.

Until that is, I was queuing at the supermarket check-out this morning and somebody sneezed in front of me – and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a newborn baby jump out of his skin in his pram.  The kind of jolt where the baby’s entire body moves, before their fingers twitch in shock. “Ah look”, I thought, “Another newborn!”

I made eye contact with the mother and smiled, glancing down at you in your pram as if to say ‘Look! Me too!’ But as my eyes met you – now 4 months old and dribbling as you chewed your own foot – the truth hit me like a ton of bricks. Because you aren’t a newborn anymore.

You no longer jump out of your skin at loud noises. You no longer curl on my chest and sleep peacefully between feeds. You no longer gaze at me with cross eyes as you try to focus. And devastatingly, I can’t even remember the last time I breathed in the scent of your skin and smelt that familiar, milky newborn scent.

Time has passed – and you are a baby now.

A wonderful little baby.

A baby that has started to burrow into me with the sweetest shyness when you don’t know the person you are meeting. A baby that adores her brothers, giggling at the funny dances and songs they perform just for you. A baby that rewards us with long chunks of sleep through the night, but enjoys sqwarking loudly at the crack of dawn to wake everyone up in the house. A baby is that is becoming a little girl.

You are wonderful – but you are not a newborn any more.

And today, I realised that.

I am not sad about you growing up –  how could I be? But this morning’s supermarket sneeze was a stark reminder that time is set to fast-forward. Because as a Mummy of three, I know that I will blink and you will suddenly be a little girl, ready to go to school, asking 300 questions a minute, and getting to grips with the joy of phonics (oh lord, I have just realised I am going to have to deal with phonics three times over…) And when that happens, I know I will look at pictures of you as a 4-month old and wish I could go back for just one cuddle.

So Mabel, you may not jump at loud noises anymore – but you are still so very little.

And I fully intend to slow down and soak up every second.

Mummy x



12th February 2017

Currently Loving – February 2017

Time for another ‘Currently Loving’ post – with things I have coveting, trying, or enjoying this month…

Currently Loving

1) Scamp & Dude. Top of my wish-list this month is new clothing Scamp & Dude. Not only are the clothes totally gorgeous (I have my eyes on several T-Shirts for the boys), but the collection has a fantastic story behind it too. Scamp & Dude was created by Jo Tutchener-Sharp, a former Fashion and Beauty PR, who saw her life change forever in October 2015 when she suffered a brain haemorrhage. She had to leave her children for a lengthy stay in hospital to undergo life-threatening brain surgery – and it was this moment that inspired Jo to create a brand that helps children feel more secure when apart from their loved ones. From something dark came something light – and Scamp & Dude is the result. Shop here (UK company; ships worldwide).

2) Talking Tables. I’m not really into Valentines Day – but if I was going to celebrate, this ‘Love Balloon’ by Talking Tables (available at ASOS) would be top of my wish list. The balloons would look great hung above the table for a romantic dinner – but would look equally good the next day (and weeks that follow, as they last an impressively long time). And the best bit? It only costs £5. There is also a ‘Happy Birthday’ balloon, which makes a really fun alternative to birthday banners. Shop here (UK company; ships worldwide) #aff

3) Little West Street. I recently discovered this beautiful company, which now ships (for free) to the UAE – and after ordering a few bits for Mabel and her new room, these alphabet cushions are next on my shopping list. I’d love an S, W, and M to pop on each of their beds. And if you are in the UK reading this, the good news is that the company ship to the UK too! $25 dollars each. Shop here. (US company; ships worldwide)

4) Greenheart UAE. I ordered from this UAE company for the first time this week and received a box of amazing organic vegetables to my door. The quality of the vegetables is like I have never seen before in the UAE – and after using the vegetables in meals every evening since, I can vouch for the fact that they taste amazing too. I’m constantly hearing good things about this UAE farm – and the truth is that it’s worth all the buzz and more. Shop here (UAE company; delivery to UAE).

5) ‘Inhale & Exhale’ Prints. We moved house last week and so my mind is on home decor – and I have just ordered these prints by company Lovely Decor at Amazon.co.uk. When they arrive, I’m going to take them to Satwa to get them framed (I’m thinking thin gold frames like these pictured). I can find life at home with two crazy boys stressful at times – and these will remind me to find my zen and take some deep breathes when things hot up. From £13.99. Shop here (UK company; ships worldwide). #aff

6) Fairy Platinum Dishwasher Tablets. It’s not usually my style to recommend household cleaning products (zzzz) but I was sent these dishwasher tablets this week and I’m impressed. The package arrived with an invitation to order a lasagna from a Dubai restaurant – and when I ordered, it arrived in a large glass dish (with instructions to pop the finished dish in the dishwasher with one of these tablets). I didn’t make any attempt to wash it before plonking it in the dishwasher – and in the morning, it was sparkling clean. Not a single mark. It was a clever marketing stunt to show how well the tablets work – and I honestly wouldn’t be bothering to tell you about them if I hadn’t been  impressed. Available at supermarkets (UK and UAE).

7) Boden. I always dress my boys in rash vests when we go to the beach as we all have such fair skin – but with so many beautiful little girly swimsuits in the shops, I’ve been so tempted to buy them for Mabel instead. Then I spotted this gorgeous floral rash vest and knickers set at Boden, which will keep her protected without having to sacrifice on the cute factor. I like it so much, I think I’m going to buy it a few different sizes. £25. Shop here (UK company; ships worldwide) #aff

8) Maluco World. I fell in love with the beautiful wooden toys at Dubai company Maluco world at first sight – especially the pastel pretty kitchens, which I’ve snapped up for Mabel’s new bedroom (not that she’s in it yet. I also have my eye on the doll’s buggies, doll’s houses, and gorgeous cloud and star cushions. Worth a look if you like your toys both traditional and well-made. Shop here (UAE company; delivers UAE).

9) Zara Kids. There are some gorgeous things at Zara Kids in the new season collection, including these beautiful unisex dungarees. Seriously tempted for Mabel (I’d team them with a pretty floral vest underneath) – but I’d definitely have dressed the boys in them too. £14.99 / 99 AED Shop here (UK and UAE stores)

10) Transguard Living. We moved house last week, which can be a stressful affair – but discovering the new app by Transguard Living has definitely eased the pressure. You download the app from The App Store or Google Play and then choose ‘Fix’ ‘Clean’ or ‘Move’ to book a service. ‘Fix’ includes services including air conditioning repair or service, appliance installation, handyman, painting and plumbing repair. ‘Clean’ includes regular home cleaning services, deep cleaning services, and window cleaning. And if you choose ‘Move’, a representative will get in touch to discuss your booking with a moving team. Booking a service takes a matter of seconds via the app – and the prices are very competitive (a handyman starts at 140 AED per hour, for example). Best of all, however, I can personally verify that the team are incredibly professional and reliable – and we know how valuable that is in a city like Dubai. I highly recommend downloading the app for whenever you need some help at home (services are available 24 hours a day, which means you’ll never be wondering what to do about  a leak in the middle of the night again). For more information, www.transguardliving.com or 800 845.

 

 



9th February 2017

On My Wishlist: Pumpuli Baby-proofing Magnetic Lock Set

16683289_10158247864445607_451898443_nMabel has learnt to roll – and whilst I know it’s still a while until she’s bombing around the house like her brothers, the step from lying flat on her back when I pop her down to being somewhere else when I return is enough of a reminder about what is to come.

Her brothers were quite good at home as toddlers, but there were always quite inquisitive about the kitchen cupboard. I bought packs of  ‘baby proofing’ sets, but they could still break into the cupboards. I remember fixing one triumphantly one day, before Stanley crawled straight in and yanked it open again. They were ugly, annoying when I needed to get inside, and really not that efficient. So when Wilfred was a baby, we just didn’t bother as we’d already rearranged the cupboards.

And now I have a matter of months before Mabel is into those cupboards soon – and with he boys past the age of exploring, we’ve got a bit complacent with breakables in easy-to-reach places. This is why I absolutely love the sound of Pumpuli Magnetic Lock Sets. Basically, baby proofing has got clever – and they are definitely on my wish-list to make sure she stays out of our kitchen cupboards.

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And here’s why I love the sound of them:

1) They are easy to install. Being a bit of a DIY-phobe, I love the idea that you simply affix the adhesive to the drawers or cupboard – no drilling or holes required.

2) They are very strong. The company promises that the locks will keep even the most curious children out and away from harm. You hear that Stanley? We needed this when you were a baby.

3) There is an off switch. I vividly remember how annoying it was when I wanted to get into a cupboard and I forgot the clasps were on there – so the fact you can instantly change them to unlocked when you want to get inside is a big plus point.

4) They are invisible. Praise be – a big bonus after the ugly white locks that I’ve used in the past.

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So where did the idea come from for Pumpuli Magnetic Lock Sets? Ali and Anko – founders of Pumpuli – and originally from Finland, and the idea for the company was born from the unique approach to family care in the country. The duo seeks out clever products that will ensure a healthy environment for children to grow – and the first is this ingenious baby proofing solution.

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Pumpuli Magnetic Lock Sets are £19.99 each and include 4 locks, 4 catches, 2 keys and 2 key holders. They can be used on cupboards and drawers up to 25mm thick. 

For more information or to buy online, visit www.pumpuli.co.uk

 In collaboration with Pumpuli 



7th February 2017

5 reasons why we loved Global Village (especially during Kid Fest!)

16522865_10158235139285607_1586586341_nI’ve lived in Dubai for 6 years now – but I’ve never set foot inside Global Village. I’m not the only one either, as a quick survey amongst my friends revealed that very few had ever visited. So yesterday, after being told about Kids Fest (which is running every day at Global Village until 25th February), I thought I’d bite the bullet and head over with the boys – and after the best afternoon in a very long time, I just wish we’d done it earlier.

We arrived at 4pm, which is the time the park opens, and stayed until 7pm. This gave us plenty of time to wander around the different areas, watch several shows, enjoy lots of the kid’s activities, and eat their pick of food for their dinner – and we got to watch the sun set (which is amazing by the way – the sky is so beautiful!) If your kids are a little older (or better at staying up past their bedtime), the kid’s events continue until past 9pm. We visited on a week day and it was fairy quiet. I was worried about it being too busy and losing the boys, but it really wasn’t. It was very manageable on my own with two boys and a buggy. It’s a huge place with lots of open spaces, so it has to get very busy before you notice the crowds.

So what is Global Village? Put simply, it’s an entertainment park built around a large central courtyard, with each country from around the world (or a good proportion of them) having their own pavilion to sell traditional goods, food and drink. There are also central stages to watch shows, an area filled with fairground rides for thrill seekers, and plenty of street vendors selling food and drink. And during February, Global Village are running Kid Fest – which means you get all of the above, with the addition of regular kid’s entertainment and activities to keep them busy and happy throughout your visit.

So here goes; here are the five reasons why we loved Global Village… And now is the perfect time to head down!

1. There is lots happening for Kid Fest!

Kids would enjoy a visit to Global Village at any time, but with ‘Kids Fest’ running at the park until 25th February, it’s even more fun. All the extra activities are free of charge, including face painters, balloon benders, meet and greets with ‘Angry Birds’, a brilliant bouncy castle assault course (Stanley’s favourite thing about the afternoon), interactive dance sessions, and plenty of different shows throughout the afternoon and evening to keep them entertained.

Then you have all the kid-friendly things that are always at Global Village – dancing fountains, toddler play areas, a little train ride (Wilfred’s favourite thing about the afternoon), and the shows on the main stage (my boys were stood open-mouthed in amazement at the circus show!)

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2. It’s really cheap to get in 

Global Village costs 15 AED for entry (free for children under 3). I think that makes it one of the cheapest things you can do with the kids in this city – and well worth it for a few hours of fun.

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3. The food is amazing

I loved the street with all the vendors – it was like we were walking through a variety of different cities throughout the world. You can opt for fast food instead if that is your thing (there is an area with eateries like KFC), but we wanted to walk down this street and take our pick from what was on offer. Boys chose German Jumbo Hot Dogs With Fries – and I chose a delicious Canadian Lobster Roll. We sat down by the canal with dhows sailing past and ate it as the sun set. It was a really lovely setting and the boys felt like they were having a treat. It’s all very cheap too – their meals came to 50 AED in total, while my lobster roll was 30 AED.

There are lots of fun things on offer for drinks and snacks too – make sure you head into Afghanistan, where a vendor will make pomegranate juice fresh as you wait. And if you like cotton candy, you must visit the China pavilion. A very skilled man will weave pastel coloured cotton candy into the most beautiful flowers and heart shapes. I had trouble trying not to snatch it out of the boy’s hands.

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4. The shopping is amazing

Walk into any of the pavilions and you will find stores selling authentic items from those countries. My highlight was Africa, where I found an array of the most beautiful weaved baskets and bags. I snapped up a giant woven beach bag with leather handles for 70 AED (and I probably could’ve haggled lower, but I’m rubbish at bargaining) and a multi-coloured fruit bowl for 20 AED. I need to go back soon, as I have my eye on all the baskets for my new home (literally a fraction of the price I’d find them elsewhere in Dubai). I am also tempted by the pots of pure Shea Butter that a lady rubbed into my hand (I walked away but regretted it later).

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5. Kids get a chance to see the world (without the airfare!)

But I think one of my favourite things about Global Village is the fact you have all these different cultures mixing together and having fun – and the kids can discover about new countries too. Stanley and I had lots of conversations about the different countries we were visiting, their National Dress (as there are plenty of people in national dress milling about the pavilions offering photo opportunities), what kind of food the people ate, the music they listened to, and even their climates (he asked why Afghanistan sold fur coats, for example, which led up to conversations about how cold it can get).

Obviously nothing can beat jumping on a plane and showing your children the world – but failing that, I really recommend heading to Global Village. We will definitely be heading back soon!

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Kids Fest runs until February 25th. Entry Tickets to Global Village include access to the Kids Fest activities. Global Village is open from 4pm-12am Saturday-Wednesday and 4pm-1am Thursday-Friday and on Public Holidays until the 8th of April 2017. Mondays are family days at Global Village. Visit http://globalvillage.ae/en/

In collaboration with Global Village