Author Archives: admin

23rd March 2017

Love is…

17439535_10158452800930607_1094468225_nLove is rocking a baby to sleep, while marvelling at the plumpness of her lips and length of her eyelashes.

Love is dressing two small boys with wet hair in their pyjamas and pulling them onto your lap for a story, whilst breathing in the familiar scent of baby shampoo.

Love is creeping upstairs to watch them sleeping, then laughing with her husband as you retail tales of their antics earlier in the day.

Love is looking back through photos on your phone, feeling warm and fuzzy as you flick through shots of gummy smiles, podgy thighs, and silly dances in the garden.

Love is thinking ‘it’s all going too quickly!’. Love is worrying about them 24 hours a day. Love is wondering whether you are doing it right. Love is all of this.

But love is more than this too.

Love is keeping in touch with family and friends, making plans to meet up, commiserating when everyone goes down with the lurgy, and wiping tears when news of baby scans, engagement rings, and newborn cuddles pings on your phone.

Love is connecting with neighbours, making new friends, asking strangers ‘do you need some help with that?’, and sharing smiles of solidarity with other mothers when toddlers decide the supermarket aisles are the perfect place for a tantrum.

This is life. Everyday life. But this is also love.

And we saw that yesterday, didn’t we?

We saw so much love.

We saw strangers help others on the street. Barely any panic – but instead, a truly stoic British calmness as people stood over the injured, comforted the dying, made phone calls to emergency services, and calmed each on the street.

We saw the emergency services there in a matter of seconds, fighting to save lives. Fighting to save every life.

We saw an MP, still in his shirt and suit, desperately trying to save the life of a policeman.

We saw outpourings of grief, of defiance, of solidarity.

But mostly of love.

Love for London. Love for Great Britain. Love for our emergency services. Love for our way of life. Love for each other.

We held our children a little tighter last night. We watched them sleeping a little longer. We made vows to protect them. And we made vows to carry on.

To carry on loving.

And in all of this, do you see any hate?

It isn’t there.

It doesn’t count.

There simply isn’t a place for it.

So today, we keep on loving. Packing our children’s lunchboxes, filming them dance in the garden, smiling at other mothers in the supermarket, embracing the diversity of our world, and knowing that the world will come to our aid if we need it.

Today, we remember those that lost their life, we thank the emergency services, and and we allow ourselves to feel grief.

But we embrace love.

We embrace love and we carry on.

Like always.



22nd March 2017

Why we love Baby Sensory Classes…

17440175_10158447600015607_651619191_nRewind to January 2013, when my first baby was 9 months old. I was looking for something to do with him – to entertain him and to get myself out the house – and I stumbled on Baby Sensory, which had just arrived in the UAE. I’d done a few trial lessons when I was back in the UK when he was a smaller baby and we’d both loved it – it appealed to my own love of textures and colours and he had loved the bubbles, balls, toys and music. We carried on every week until he was 13 months old.

When I had my second baby, I never got round to attending classes. It crossed my mind several times, but I had nobody to look after his big brother – now a toddler – while I was attending. I felt quite sad about that and vowed to head back to classes if I went on to have a third baby.

So when Mabel arrived – now with her older brothers at nursery and school in the morning –Baby Sensory was back on my weekly calendar. We’ve now been attending for a whole term (in the 0-6 month age group) and her face lights up as soon as we step into the room. Just like her older brother did, she loves the familiar songs, the fun props, the lights and the bubbles.

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I’ve reviewed lots of baby classes in Dubai, but this is the one that I love the most. I just love the way that every lesson is different and so carefully planned out – baby mountains created from mounds of different fabrics with interesting textures for them to crawl over, space-themes with a darkened room and hundreds of twinkly lights for them to watch and hold, underwater themes complete with bubbles, fish and swathes of blue fabric to recreate the water… For me, it beats baby classes where every class follows the same formula – as if I’m bored, I’m less likely to take her every week. And Baby Sensory is anything but boring.

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Baby Sensory UAE hold classes all over the city for babies under 13 months old – and when they get older, they can join Toddler Sense Classes, which are very similar but include more physical activities.

More details and a weekly calendar is online here –  www.babysensory.ae – and the classes definitely come with the Mum of Boys & Mabel approval!



18th March 2017

Is a UK Boarding School The Right Option for Your Expat Child?

reasonswhyschoolfriendsarefriendsforlife2_1430990228When the UK agency ‘Boarding Schools and Colleges’ got in touch with me (an agency providing advice on UK boarding schools to families living overseas), I knew it would be of interest to a fair number of my readers. After all, educating our children is a hot topic in expat circles – and I know the Dubai/UK secondary school debate is always in my mind, even though it’s a way off for my family (Stanley is about to turn 5).

I’m a big believer in the value of a UK education – especially when it comes to getting into the top universities around the world – and whilst we personally have no intention of still being expats when our kids reach secondary age, I have very close family members who attended boarding school from a young age (aged 8, if my memory is correct) and I therefore I have a very open mind towards this kind of education 

How can the agency help you?

If your family is getting close to secondary age education and you have considered boarding school in the UK, this agency can advise and help you.

The agency know boarding schools in the UK very, very well – and they can make recommendations, offer guidance on the whole process, and advise based on their own visits and experiences.

Considering a UK boarding school for your children?

You won’t be the first, as 27,000 students travel to the UK to study at independent schools every year. It’s a safe, secure environment for your children, which ensures an excellent education for your children.

It isn’t just the quality of the education either, but the excellent pastoral care and extra curricular activities that your child will have access to. I personally love the idea of my kids being able to play outside throughout the entire year, rather than enduring the scorching summer heat throughout their teenage years – and the thought of them playing cricket, rugby, and football all through the year is definitely appealing.

That’s not to mention the extremely strong friendships that boarding school environments offer – friendships that usually last lifetimes.

UK boarding schools are steeped in history and tradition – and I grew up hearing about “old boy” and ‘old girl’ societies that become a real help with our children head out into the job place too.

It is a huge step – and as a mother, I understand that wholeheartedly – but seeing the results of a boarding school education for myself in my cousins (and they will love me saying this), I know it’s a safe, nurturing environment that excellently cares, educates, and prepares them for adult life.

If you are considering it for your own children, head over to www.boardingschoolsandcolleges.com  for more information.

 In collaboration with Boarding Schools and Colleges



17th March 2017

Dear Mabel, you are six months old today…

17327911_10158426069295607_1072781804_nDear Mabel,

You are six months old today.

Half a year.

This morning, our day started at 5am. Your biggest brother woke up – and minutes later, the entire house was awake too. As I lay there, with heavy eyelids and feeling groggy with sleep, I decided to flick through the photos on my phone. I went right back to the beginning of my pregnancy with you – and as I flicked through those photos with sleepy eyes, so many happy memories came flooding back.

A silhouette of a tiny bump in a hotel mirror. The scan pictures with you sticking out your tongue. The note scribbled by my obstetrician that read simply ‘Girl’. The final pregnancy photos, where I cradled my bump protectively in the knowledge it would be the last time I’d feel a baby under my ribs. The first photos of you, staring peacefully into the watery eyes of your Daddy. Meeting your brothers for the first time – you curled and sleepy, they with just-washed hair in their printed pyjamas.

And then the photos since those precious first days in hospital – photos taken almost daily, with eyes that get bluer, thighs that get chubbier, and a dimpled smile that gets sweeter by the day.

You grew so quickly, Mabel. But I’ve done this mothering thing twice before and I was prepared for that. I soaked up every second of the early days. I didn’t allow the pace of life to sweep me away. I sat still for hours, nursing you, holding you, letting you sleep in my arms. I drank in every second of your newborn days – and when you grew, I was ready for it. I was ready to get to know the person you were becoming.

I embraced every little milestone, I enjoyed pulling new clothes out of your drawers when poppers got too tight, and I looked forward to taking your photo as another month ticked over, documenting your change into a little girl.

And what a wonderful little person you have become!

You are still so quiet, so thoughtful, and so serene. You spend most of your time watching your brothers, playing quietly with your toys, or seeking me – your Mummy –  in a busy room. You adore being held, being tickled, being kissed, and listening to me singing songs. You are wary of strangers, burrowing your head into my chest for reassurance. You are happiest at home with your family, rolling around on the floor, practicing sitting in your ring, and jumping happily in your jumperoo.

Soon you will be weaned. Soon you will crawl. Soon you will walk. Soon your hair will be long enough to be scraped into pigtails. Soon you will wave me goodbye on your first day of school. I know it’s coming – I’ve been there before, which is exactly why I’m enjoying every second of these baby days.

I enjoy leaving you in a spot and knowing you’ll be there when I return. I enjoy the fact you still sleep beside me in your bedside cot, so I can hear your breathing as I drift off to sleep. I enjoy your gurgles, your giggles, your chubby rolls, your delicious slobbery cuddles.

I enjoy everything about you.

6 months, Mabel.

Half a year.

It’s not a long time really – but already, I can barely remember life without you. When I look at pictures of the four of us before you were born, the photos seem incomplete. When I think back to holidays, or day trips, or celebrations, I wonder where you were, before realising suddenly you were yet to exist.

We never knew it back then, but you were our missing puzzle piece, the last pea in the pod, the little girl that we’d all fall in love with from the second she was placed into our arms. Everything seems right now, with you alongside us. Neat and tidy. Exactly how it should be. Just so right.

And you know the best bit?

This is just the beginning.

Your beginning.

And I can’t wait for the rest.

Love from Mummy x



16th March 2017

Dubai Nursery Spotlight: Little Champions Nursery

17199180_10158383629575607_88996725_nI have lost count of the times I have been asked to recommend nurseries in Dubai – and the truth is that my knowledge is very minimal, based on the areas I have lived and the facilities my own children have attended. So I’ve decided to start visiting, photographing, and recommending a series of nurseries around the city so I am better equipped to make recommendations in the future – and that starts today with Little Champions Nursery, located in Jumeirah 1. This nursery will suit you if you live or work in Jumeirah or Umm Suqeim, DIFC, Downtown, Business Bay – or any of the surrounding areas.

In the post below, you will find sub-headings for location, important details, facilities, home cooked meals, and general overview – so feel free to scroll down to the sections that interest you. There is a link to the nursery’s website at the bottom of the page.

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The Location

Little Champions Nursery is located on a very quiet, leafy street in Jumeirah 1, just around the corner from City Walk. As I pulled up to the nursery, I was struck by the impressive view of skycrapers in DIFC and Business Bay – just a short hop across Sheikh Zayed Road, which makes the nursery ideal for dropping children off on the way to work in those areas.

You get the benefit of being mere minutes away from them while you at your desk – but over the road in Jumeirah, the children get the benefit of plenty of space, fresh air, brilliant facilities, and lots of time spent outdoors during the cooler months.

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Important Details

The nursery takes children from 3 months old, right up to FS1.

You can choose hours between 7.30am and 6pm (and there is a special room for sleeping if your little one still naps during these hours).

All the staff are native English speakers, with a small teacher/child ratio and a nurse on the premises at all times.

The nursery can arrange transportation via school bus, if you are unable to drop your child.

You can choose a catered food package, where your child will receive up to three home cooked and nutritious meals every day (plus snacks). Read down for more details on this!

There is CCTV throughout the nursery and outdoor areas to protect your little ones.

I was very, very impressed by the fees at this nursery – they are the lowest I have seen for a while in the city, for a facility, staffing, and ethos that is extremely good. The nursery are also offering a 10%  flat discount on all the fees, simply by mentioning ‘Mum of Boys & Mabel’ when you enrol your child.

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 Facilities

Little Champions Nursery is located in a large villa on two levels, with plenty of outdoor space.

Outside, you’ll find a large shaded play area, with slides, climbing frames, play houses, bikes to peddle, and sand pits. Beyond this is a fenced off grassy area, which the nursery uses for sports day and practice. On the other side of the villa, you’ll find a shady area with play tents and picnic benches. The outside area combined is very large and really very nice – imagine lots of shade created by trees gently swaying in the breeze, lush lawns, and the sound of bird song. When I visited, the children were very happily playing outside.

The villa itself is on two levels. On the bottom floor, you’ll find the baby room (such a lovely, cosy space for the littlest nursery members to spend their days), the kitchen and dining room (where the warm meals are prepared), a spacious soft play area for littlies to let off steam, and a few further classrooms with children happily learning.

The classrooms for the elder children are upstairs and I struck by how large they are, giving the kids lots of space to play. These classrooms are located around a central area with a stage (where the nursery hosts regular performances for parents), and a cosy reading area. The office for admin staff is also on this level.

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Home Cooked Meals

When I visited on a Thursday morning, the smell of cooking filled the air downstairs – and it really did smell delicious! I had a nose in the kitchen and found a member of staff making a delicious dish for the kids’ lunch.

I was later shown a menu plan and I really was very impressed. Kids that opt in (the price is 1,500 AED per term, in addition to fees) get up to three freshly prepared, home cooked meals a day (dependent on hours). There are also snacks in between these meals. You can expect hearty dishes, with lots of nutritional value – and having seen that menu, I am very confident children at this nursery will grow up with varied palettes, not at all fussy about food.

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General Overview

I really did love this nursery. Right from the moment I arrived and could hear the happy sounds of children playing outside, to seeing how spacious the facilities were, to feeling a very real warmth and friendliness exuding from all staff.

During my tour, a little girl ran up to the owner of the nursery to give her a hug and a kiss. “I didn’t know your daughter attended!” I exclaimed. “No” she said, “She’s not my daughter. I just love all the children here.” It really did feel like a big family, with every staff member knowing all the children’s names. I felt like I’d stumbled on something very special.

If you are heading back to work – or simply looking for a childcare solution during the week – I can personally vouch for how lovely this nursery is.

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** Make sure you mention ‘Mum of Boys & Mabel’ when you enrol your child to receive a 10% flat discount on all fees **

Get in touch for further information – www.littlechampionsnursery.com or 04 344 6420

 In collaboration with Little Champions Nursery



15th March 2017

Wilfred tries: Classes at Heguru Centre Dubai

Screen Shot 2017-03-15 at 14.05.55If you follow me on social media, you will be aware that Wilfred (my middle child; aged three) has started weekly classes at the Heguru Centre Dubai (located in Apex Atrium Building in Motor City – very close to Extreme Fun, for those that have visited there).

We go together once a week, on his morning off from nursery – and after only 4 weeks of attendance, I’m starting to see a big difference in his concentration, enjoyment, and participation. And to be totally honest, I was a bit sceptic at first – but I am now seeing the benefits, so it’s time to tell you about it!

So what is it all about?

Let me explain. In the 1960′s, Dr Roger Sperry performed split-brain learning studies revealing distinct differences between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. His findings inspired new techniques for enhancing learning by tapping into both sides of the brain. With these scientific principles in mind, Heguru created their own teaching concept for Right Brain Education which enhances learning ability so that children are able to absorb new information quickly and easily.

Now spread internationally, Heguru classes are suitable for kids below the age of 6 – generally those in nursery, pre-school (KG or FS in Dubai), or home school. The methodologies have now won praise globally – and come to Dubai as a tried and tested formula. It is worth noting that the Heguru Centre Dubai is KDHA approved too.

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What happens?

The best way I can describe it is that it’s like a lesson – but at a very high speed. The teachers talk fast, the flash cards are shown for a split second, and the kids get very short periods of time to complete tasks. In the first lesson – of course – the kids are a bit perplexed and barely even start their tasks before it’s time to move onto the next.

As a parent, I found it all quite funny and didn’t think Wilfred would manage to keep up for a second – but as the weeks went on, I noticed his concentrating increasing, his tasks speeding up, and his understanding of the flash cards sinking in.

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Take one particular task, for example, where the kids are shown a pattern of colours for a few seconds and then asked to shut their eyes and visualise it in their minds. After a few more flashes of the pattern on the screen, they are then given a colouring sheet and pencils and asked to mark the colours on each section with a tick (using just the image in their mind, as it is now gone from the screen).  On the first week, Wilfred just wanted to colour the pattern red (his favourite colour). On the second week, he started to understand but still only managed one section. By the third and fourth week, he understood what he was supposed to do and is starting to tick the correct colours. It’s really quite fascinating to see.

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In another task, the children are flashed a number of road signs. One of them is ‘No U-Turn’. Wilfred just stares at the teacher and I have no idea if it’s going in – but in the car last week, he suddenly piped up ‘Look Mummy! No U-Turn! Like in class!’ – so it must be going somewhere!

Let’s keep things real though, as it’s definitely a work in progress. Sometimes he fancies lying down in the classroom and ignoring what’s going on, sometimes he refuses to get up and dance, and sometimes he refuses to do the tasks and colours in rainbow colours instead. But that’s OK, as all the kids in the class are the same – but little by little, I’m seeing him get more involved and get more enjoyment from it too.

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When does it take place?

There are classes throughout the week, both in the morning, afternoon, and at the weekend – and your child will be grouped with children the same age to keep the tasks relevant to age.

If you want to find out any more details – or chat to the team behind Heguru Dubai in person, they will be at the School and Nursery Show this weekend (free to attend). You can find out details about that event here – https://www.theschoolshow.ae/

For all further details, head over to the company’s website here – http://hegurudxb.ae/ – and I will be reporting back after we’ve completed six full weeks with my final thoughts

 

In collaboration with Heguru Dubai



12th March 2017

Currently Loving – March 2017

How is it March already? I can’t believe how fast this month is passing – and on Friday, Mabel will be 6 months old, which beggars belief. HALF A YEAR OLD! Crazy. But March it is – and here is a round-up of the things we have been buying, trying and coveting this month!

CURRENTLY LOVING MARCH

1. Magnificent Stanley. I have been coveting these sweatshirts and tees for my children for what seems like forever – and after seeing my friend Coral’s little girl Willa wearing her ‘W’ onesie with pride, I am ready to click ‘order’. They are just so gorgeous! You start by choosing from the range of sweatshirts, tees, onesies, bibs, blankets or towels  - and then you choose the Liberty fabric that you’d like their initial to be in. I am imagining a group shot of mine wearing their S, W and M tops… This is a UK company, but they ship anywhere in the world. Shop here.

2. Mr Tumee. In an ideal world, kids would get all the vitamins and minerals they need from their food – but if you have picky eaters like mine, giving them supplements is a great way to ensure you are supporting their nutrition. I really like the Mr Tumee brand because there’s no added sugar, they are gelatin-free, and they contain 100% natural colours and fragrances (all these things are really important to me – and I’m sure it’s the same for every parent). Kids as young as 2 can take them – and my boys are both big fans. In fact, Wilfred is convinced they are going to make him into a superhero! Dubai mummies can buy them online here – or on the shelves at most pharmacies and supermarkets. Highly recommended by me.

3. Baby Mona. Once in a while, a new kiddie company opens in Dubai that I fall head over heels in love with – and that is definitely the case with Baby Mona. It’s such a beautifully curated collection of interiors, clothing, toys, and accessories – and I have my eyes on several of the pieces for the boys and Mabel. Especially this whale cushion, which would look so gorgeous in Mabel’s new bedroom! This is a UAE company, with delivery available all over the UAE. Overseas shipping may also be possible, so email directly to enquire. Shop here.

4. InstaShop.ae. Oh how I love this app! Simply download InstaShop to your phone (available in the App Store and Google Play), open it up, select your area, and order your groceries to be delivered to your door (usually within 60 minutes of making the order!). I started using the app in my old apartment in Dubai Marina (generally when I forgot lunchbox items and I was already in my pyjamas at 10pm at night) – and I was delighted to discover it is available in my new community too (and almost all communities throughout Dubai, as it happens). You can pay by cash or credit card when your shopping arrives too, meaning you don’t have to stress about heading to an ATM if you are low on cash either. It makes life so much easier – and I’m keen to spread the words amongst all mums in Dubai, as dealing with mid-shop supermarket tantrums when you drag the kids along to do the weekly shop just isn’t worth the hassle. Download it immediately if you haven’t yet tried it out!  Visit the website here.

5. Snapdragon Lifestyle. I’m a long-time admirer of the beautiful teepees created by Dubai brand Snapdragon Lifestyle – and I have my eye on one for the boy’s room in our new house. In the meantime, I treated the boys to a feather headdress each (check out the photo on Instagram here) and they are so beautifully and skilfully made. In fact, we love them so much that we’ve decided they are far too nice to reserve for dress-up and they will take pride of place in their room (until the teepee arrives, that is!) You can shop the whole range from Little Majlis – with colourful teepees, teepee floor cushions, and a range of headdresses. This company really should be top of every Dubai child’s wish list… Shop here.

6. Not All Who Wander Are Lost. This is one of the prints I ordered in my latest haul – and I’m currently in the process of getting it framed to hang up by my front door. As an expat, it just spoke to me, because it’s true isn’t it? And I love the gold foil print (I went for rose gold as you can choose the finish). It’s available from Lovely Decor at Amazon.co.uk. Shop here

7. St Tropez Brunch at Nikki Beach. This Friday, I escaped to Nikki Beach with my three longest Dubai friends (we met when we were all pregnant with our first babies 5 years ago – and we now have 10 children between us!) We didn’t have our kids in tow, the sun shone, and the food and drink was quite simply delicious. The brunch is located alongside the pool in the hotel, with a perfect view of the beach and azure blue sea (Ive never seen the sea that colour in this part of the world!) – and the food works as half table service, half buffet. We had such a lovely time and I highly recommend heading over before the weather gets too hot. I felt like I was in Miami or Ibiza, making it the perfect tonic to city living! Visit the website here.

8. Hamilton Aquatics. The time has come for my littlest boy (aged three) to learn how to swim. He’s more than ready to try, with bounds of confidence in the water – and he’s really excited to swim without arm bands, just like his brother! The company we chose is Hamilton Aquatics, which operate at a large choice of venues (mainly schools) around the city, meaning there is always somewhere close to home. I am so impressed with this company – from the way the assessment could be booked online, to the follow-up email with details of his level, to the way I could then log back online to find the class most convenient to our location. Wilfred had his first lesson last week – and he enjoyed every second. If you have a little person ready to learn, log onto their website to book an assessment. I am confident you’ll be just as impressed as I am! Visit their website here.

9. The Brug. I was contacted by the company behind The Brug a while ago – and I instantly knew they were onto a good thing… The Brug is essentially a rug that transforms into a bag – so you can throw what you need inside the bag for the park, then unfold it all when you arrive. I am always the mum that arrives with 3,000 bags when we head anywhere on mass, so I think the idea is inspired… The product is still at the kick starter stage, but it has already reached its goal – so the good news is that it’s going into production – so make sure you snap yours up soon! This is a UK company, but I think it’s well worth using your Shop & Ship if you are in Dubai (imagine how it’ll transform your trips to the park and beach!) Visit their Kickstarter Page here.

10. Zara Kids. I was waiting for a friend to arrive for breakfast last week – but she was late… And in those 10 minutes, an email pinging into my inbox from Zara Kids, I let my fingers click on the site, and the rest (as they say) is history… I ordered from the UK site to my Shop & Ship – and just three days later, Mabel had this adorable new denim dress, plus 2 broderie anglaise tops (a snip at £3.99 each). I’m still blaming my friend (cough, cough). Shop here.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s selection – and I will post again in April!

In collaboration with Mr Tumee, InstaShop, SnapDragon Lifestyle and Hamilton Aquatics.

 



8th March 2017

Dear Mabel, I want nothing to hold you back…

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 14.28.09Dear Mabel,

Today is your first International Women’s Day.

And the truth is that I feel differently this year, because this is the first time I have been mother to a girl.

So I thought I would write you a letter to tell you about my hopes and dreams for your future. And how I say this as not just a mother of a little girl, but as a mother of two beautiful boys too.

I hope – like me – you grow up truly understanding your worth. I don’t want you to ever feel inferior to any man. I want you to feel just as strong, just as capable, and just as ambitious. If you decide you want to fly planes or fight fires or join the army or save lives on an operating table, I want nothing to hold you back.

But here’s the thing; it doesn’t have to be like that if you don’t want it to be.

For me, being a feminist means you can be whoever you want to be.

It means you have a choice.

So if you grow up and decide that you want to be a hippy, or an artist, or to be a barista, or to stay at home with your babies, I want nothing to hold you back either.

With the world of your side (and mothers raising a generation of little boys that see their sisters, and female colleagues, and girlfriends as their equals), you can be whoever you choose to be.

And believe me my darling, I hope the world is always on your side.

And if it isn’t?

You show it exactly where it should be.

Love Mummy x



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).