Author Archives: admin

18th August 2017

Spotlight on: Wild Folk Company…

Followers of my Facebook page will know that I am shining the spotlight on a number of small UK businesses while I am back in Blighty this August. It’s been so nice to connect with companies back on home soil for a while and I’ve discovered some real gems – and new startup Wild Folk is up there with my favourites…

The team behind Wild Folk are passionate about Textiles and Homewares. All their collections are exclusive to them and designed in house, with their signature Wild Folk Nursery Collection featuring gorgeous Animal Head Cushions (I am seriously coveting the Elephant for Mabel’s bedroom!), alongside a large choice of textiles, wallcoverings, and accessories.

I love the Wild Folk Pattern, which features in this nursery collection. The neutral colour palette would work really well in every nursery – and there’s a fab choice of cushions, wallpaper, mummy bags, baby sleeping bags, storage baskets, clocks, two-in-one cushion duvets (ideal for sleepovers or travel). And that’s not all, as cot bed and toddler bedding, curtains, and patchwork quilts will be coming soon!

With three little people at home, the Wild Folk Nursery Collection is top of my wish list – but there are lots of other collections that are extremely covetable too.

Take the Woodland Folk collection (pictured below), for example, which is inspired by Woodland (available in wallpaper, cushions and bedding sets). Spring Empress showcases beautiful artwork of flowers and wildlife (available in bedding sets and tote bags). Legacy Isle celebrates British wildlife in vibrant colours (available in cushions and tote bags). And Bijoux features vibrant designs embellished with jewels, crystals, and metal work (available in cushions).

As a dog lover, I also adore the Wild Folk Friendly Paws collection (available in cushions) (pictured below). I think they’d make great presents for fellow dog lovers! Heart & Soul features beloved places from around the world, with the first location features as Lancashire (where the company hail from). This collection will allow commissions for those that want something personal =- for hoteliers, for example (available in cushions, tea towels, tableware, accessories, and wallpaper). Finally Picture Perfect features landscape and nature photography, with a 3D element (available in cushions).

I love companies where you can see passion shine through collections – and this company stands out for exactly that. I can’t wait to throw a couple of Wild Folk Animal Head Cushions onto Stanley Wilfred and Mabel’s beds, alongside bed linen and accessories with that stunning print. And what could be better than supporting a new small business in the UK too?

If you love it as much as I do, you can make orders through their Facebook Page here!

In collaboration with Wild Folk Company



25th July 2017

It’s my life – and I’ll pick up my phone if I want to…

I’ve felt the pressure for a while now. People going on Instagram strikes, others blogging about the virtues of a digital detox, the constant reminders that too much screen time is bad for us, the rants about mothers picking up their phones in the park and ‘neglectfully’ ignoring their kids…

The pressure to put down my phone and ‘reconnect’ with the real world has been ever present in my mind for a while now, making me feel like a bit of a crap mother whenever I scroll through my Facebook feed or upload a photo to Instagram during their waking hours.

So this holiday, I had a plan.

I’d have a digital detox.

It would clear my mind, make me feel like a good mother again, and I’d come out the other side feeling much better for it. It would be the digital equivalent of heading to a strict Thai detox resort for a month – and whilst I wouldn’t have the skinny thighs that living on a liquid diet under palm trees would bring, I’d be glowing from the inside like the virtuous, digital-free, totally-present mother I’d become.

I couldn’t wait to feel smug about it.

But when I got here, holed up in this beautiful Umbrian villa for two weeks, do you know what?

I didn’t want to do it.

And the more I thought about it, the more I realised the pressure had got to me. I realised that I’d started to believe that those moments of ‘time out’ scrolling peacefully on my phone when the kids were happy playing, or scoffing their tea, or watching an episode of Peppa Pig made me a bad mother.

Other people’s opinions had got to me – because whilst I knew I wasn’t neglecting the trio at my feet, I couldn’t help feeling like I could be doing something more productive for their wellbeing. Perhaps preparing a craft activity or organising a drawer of clothes. Sitting lazily on the sofa with my phone felt nothing less than naughty – and if anyone had walked into the room unexpectedly, I’d probably have hastily dropped my phone behind a cushion and adjusted my face to a fake smile that said ‘oh look at the little darlings – I’ve been simply sitting here and watching them for hours!

But having given it all some thought out here on this Italian holiday, I have realised it’s all utter nonsense – because when you work a 24-hour shift as a mother (and some days, I really do attend to their needs every hour of the day and night), it’s OK to have some escapism. It’s OK to have a moment to connect with friends, to check what is happening in the world  – or even, god forbid, play a bit of candy crush on your phone.

I’m pretty sure mothers throughout history have had moments of escapism, well before the days of social media. Reading papers, picking up the phone to give Aunt Susie a call while the kids play, watching an episode of Neighbours during nap time, getting stuck into another chapter of that Jilly Cooper novel while their kids ate dinner, or having a good old chin wag with friends over coffee at play dates. There have always been ways to zone out and get through the day – but I bet none attracted the wrath of the sisterhood quite like a mother scrolling on her phone.

So now back to my holiday – and the very nature of two weeks in the sunshine means that I’ve looked at my phone 80% less than I usually do, but I’ve enjoyed those rare moments of solitude. Having a browse when I’m sat in the passenger seat of the car, lying next to Mabel at nap time in a cool, air-conditioned room and picking up my phone for a while, or scrolling through pictures and videos with a glass of wine every evening before dinner and sending to family and friends.

It’s not cool to admit that your hobby is scrolling through social media on your phone, but I am going to say it.

I enjoy it. It helps me to escape for a while. It keeps me in touch with friends. And sometimes it’s the only thing keeping me sane when there is play dough all over the floor, untouched dinners on the kitchen bench, and a baby refusing to sleep unless I’m lying alongside her.

And I’m not going to bow to pressure to stop.

After all, it’s my life – and I’ll pick up my phone and scroll through social media if I want to.



3rd July 2017

Eight years ago today, my boyfriend left

I waved him goodbye, walked up the stairs, and sobbed big heavy tears into my pillow.

We were 26 and 28 years old then – and we had been living in Blackheath in London with our 10-month old puppy. Our weekends consisted of walking across the heath to the farmer’s market with our dog on a lead, stocking up on food from the various stalls, nipping into the village store for the papers on our way home, and then sitting in front of a roaring fire as the hours passed slowly and lazily. In the evenings, we travelled into London and met friends, laughing, chatting, and drinking wine and cocktails early into the next morning.

We were happy – and I was sure my soul belonged in London.

But he worked in finance – and with the ‘credit crunch’ paralysing the financial industries in the UK, we both decided it was a sensible decision to accept a job he had been offered in Dubai.

It was a mutual decision – and in hindsight, it was the right decision. But I still felt like the world had been ripped out from under my feet on that warm July day back in 2009.

He told me he would give it 6 months and we’d see where we were. I moved in with my parents – furniture in the top of their garage, dog running a-mock in their house, and clothes crumpled in several suitcases. I flew out to Dubai to visit him every other month – and he returned the favour on the ones in between. That six months passed slowly and difficultly – but he didn’t return. I forgave him when he proposed on a sunny day in Greenwich Park with the sparkliest diamond and a view over London that will forever be etched in my mind.

That 6 months turned into 18 months – and we got married on a December day, with our beloved London blanketed in snow. And as January ticked around, I packed those belongings in a suitcase once again, kissed goodbye to our dog on my parent’s doorstep with tears pricking my eyes, and made my own way to Dubai to begin our life as husband and wife.

That was 6 and a half years ago now – and 3 kids and 6 homes later, we are still here.

I often think about our life in London – and my heart aches. But I don’t think it’s aching for ‘home’ – I think it’s aching for the simplicity of life before kids, when my skin was glowing with the benefits of regular sleep, when friends answered pleas to meet up within minutes, and the buzz of London living perked me up far quicker than a mug of strong coffee.

I adored that city and I adored that life – and if you had told me that I’d be living in the Middle East as a mother-of-three in eight years time, I’d have laughed until I was on the floor, then thrown a bowl of cold water over your head to sober you up.

I never had wanderlust. I never travelled the world after I finished university. I never wanted to live anywhere else in the world. Each to their own, but the idea of being an expat just wasn’t appealing to me – so I am as surprised as anyone that I am still here in the desert, bringing up my kids in a 45’C eternal summer and barely stepping out of my flip-flops in nearly a decade.

But I don’t regret the move we made for a second – and whilst my love from London has never waned, my love for Dubai has grown strongly and steadily alongside it as the years have passed. The city that embraced me as I grew three children in my belly, that has given me friends as close as family, that has offered us opportunity after opportunity, and that truly is ‘home’.

The pang in my heart I feel for the London skyline is still there – but now I feel the same for burnt orange desert dunes, for palm trees swaying the breeze, for silver skyscrapers jutting into a flawless blue sky, for starfish and pale pink shells on the shore, for the smell of jasmine in the air on a warm evening, for the sound of crickets when I head outside to my car. And for the people, every colour and every nationality, living shoulder-to-shoulder alongside us. Two cities and two homes.

Eight years ago today, my boyfriend left.

And I will never regret letting him go.



26th June 2017

Currently Loving… June 2017

So here we are in June… I am the mother of a 9-month-old baby girl crawling around the house, a 3-year-old little boy who has finished nursery and about to start school, and a 5-year-old little boy who has graduated from Foundation stage and is soon to start Primary School. It’s nuts – where has the time gone exactly?! And throughout all these changes, life has been as busy as usual, which gives me lots of opportunity to tell you what we have been doing, seeing, eating and buying… I’ll probably pause these round-ups until after summer now (as I fancy a bit of break, just like everyone) – so have a wonderful summer and I promise to be back on schedule in September…

1 – Zipadeedoodah Babies – I love sleepsuits for babies and use them for years as pyjamas – but one thing I do not love is dealing with the poppers! It can take me a good 10 minutes to get Mabel in an outfit with poppers as she’s such a wriggler – so imagine my delight when I discovered the amazing UK-based company Zipadeedoodah Babies, which make the most perfect zip-up baby grows. Each babygrow is only £11.99 each – and they do up in a matter of seconds, fit so perfectly, and feel so beautifully soft. But that’s not all, as this company have a real heart too. In fact, if you buy a baby grow from the company, a portion of money will be donated to feeding a family of six in the poorest parts of South Africa. Watch out for pictures of Mabel wearing her Zipadeedoodah baby grow soon – and in the meantime, get ordering with the code NewBabies01 to snap up 10% off the already very affordable price tag! Shop here (shipping available worldwide).

2 – Done by Deer. I have fallen head over heels for this cool Scandinavian brand for kids – and pretty much want everything they make, as it’s so much more stylish than the brightly coloured plates and cutlery I’ve had for years! I started my collection with the elephant place mats, which I love so much I’ve decided they live permanently on the table and I’ll be adding to it soon! I purchased from UAE store Giggles & Dimples. Shop here.

3 – My Unicorn Life – I discovered this UK-based company through the UAE blog Stella & The Stars – and needing some new prints for the walls of my new villa, I quickly clicked online to have a look. I was amazed by the prices (starting at £4) and quickly ordered three different large prints for my walls. I used my Shop & Ship account, but they do ship all over the world. There is everything from beautiful photography, to gorgeous illustrations, to motivational quotes – and delivery is super fast too. Visit website here.

4 – James and the Amazing Gift by Nicola J. Rowley. I’ve really enjoyed reading this book to the boys over the past few weeks. With beautiful illustrations and a wonderful story about a little boy who only has to smile to brighten up the lady of an old lady he meets at the garden centre, I think it’s got a lovely message too. If you’re looking for an addition to your book shelf for the kiddie , this is a really lovely choice.  Shop at Amazon here.

5 – Elli Junior. Talking of Scandinavian brands, lots of people have asked where I got the bibs for Mabel that she has been wearing every meal time – and the answer is via the company Elli Junior here in Dubai, who distribute Swedish brands in the UAE. I love these bibs as they not only look gorgeous, but the big frills around her neck mean that food never, ever reaches her clothing – and when you have a little girl determined to feed herself exactly what her brothers are eating, that’s a godsend! Shop here .

6 – ClevaMama. I’m using the Apron Towel by ClevaMama every night at Mabel’s bath time and it’s one of my very best buys for her! Not only does it keep me dry while she splashes her way through her bath (and I’ve had to have full changes in the past as she’s totally drowned me) – but it means I can stay dry while scooping her out of the bath too. And once you have them cuddled up to you, simply fold the towel up, hook it over their head, and they are snug and warm too. It’s one of those things that you wonder ‘how did I ever cope without this?’ and can be used from their very first newborn bath, right up to the toddler years. Shop here.

7 – H&M. We’re getting ready for our summer trip back to the UK –and then onto Italy for a two-week holiday, so I am doing my usual shop before we fly for everything we need for the next few months. I usually head straight over to H&M as I love the choice, the affordability and the style – and these swimming shorts have definitely caught my attention for the boys. At only £7.99 (and available in UAE stores too), I don’t think I can go wrong. Shop here.

8 – ALLEGRO Baby & Child. As soon as I spotted the beautiful range of shoes for little girls and boys at UAE-company ALLEGRO Baby & Child, I knew I had to have them for Mabel. The range of pretty shoes in the softest leather are so perfectly for little feet, with a range of styles that are classic, stylish, and very, very beautiful. I went for the silver ballet pumps (called Lily) and the baby pink Mary Janes (called Poppy) – and I know it’s going to be an addiction as she grows and takes to her feet! I warn you – one look and you’ll want the lot! Shop here.

9 – Kiddiewinkles. My boys needed some new bed linen recently so I ordered from the UK online store Kiddiewinkles – and wow, what arrived is very, very lovely indeed! I went . quality is beautiful. I also added the Bedside Pocket Organiser for both the boys to my online basket – and this has gone down really well. The boys love storing their torches, books and bottles of water in their organisers – and with them knowing exactly where things are, it’s made my life easier too! Highly recommended! Shop here.

10 – Jumeirah Beach Hotel – If you are looking for a staycation hotel in Dubai for the coming summer months, look no further than Jumeirah Beach Hotel. We had an amazing weekend there last weekend (see my vlog here) – and because of the ongoing renovation work at the hotel, there are some seriously good rates to be had over coming months for UAE Residents (see details here). I highly recommend a visit – even though we were so close to home for the weekend, I really felt like I’d escaped normal life and it was such a tonic. Definitely my new favourite staycation hotel! Visit website here.

 



13th June 2017

On the subject of sharing photos of my children online…

19190877_10158867362955607_782359639_nIt happened this morning. I had five minutes to sit down on the sofa with a mug of coffee before the school drop – and I clicked onto Instagram to have a scroll. The fact that I was browsing social media while my kids watched a cartoon before school will have the judgy mums spluttering into their homemade oatmeal – but bear with me, because I’m only just getting started.

Because then I noticed something that stopped me in my tracks. A post from a fellow writer  here in the UAE telling other mothers why she never shows photos of her children on social media. I won’t be sharing the name of the writer, nor the website as this isn’t supposed to be a ‘name and shame’ – but I will say that the piece was titled “I know where your children are and what they are up to.” Woah. But it certainly made me click, which I guess was the intention.

So I did click – and I started reading. Apparently by sharing photos of my children online, I preventing them from living ‘virtually freely’. I won’t go into the rest of the article, but it follows a very similar tone. And the line that really threw me was: “You may choose otherwise and there is nothing wrong with that as long as you are fully aware of the consequences.”

And that’s the bit that made me stop in my tracks.

Because we are the very first generation of mothers that has raised children in the world of social media. It didn’t happen when I was a child in the 80’s, nor when my parents were growing up in the 60’s. It wasn’t something that my grandparents or my parents had to worry about.

A little like deciding how your baby will be fed, whether you use a dummy or not, how you will discipline, whether you will allow screen time, where your kids will go to nursery or go to school (and the list goes on), choosing whether we share the faces of our children online is now a decision that every parent has to make for themselves.

And the truth is that nobody knows the consequences of choosing to share our children online. Nobody has ever stepped down these virtual cobblestones before.

We are all feeling our way in parenting as best we can – I’m a true believer that there are very few ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers – and criticising or scaring those that choose a different path is only going to make other mothers feel incredibly judged and filled with self-doubt. And I don’t think this is remotely helpful

But I digress.

So why do I share photos of my children online? For me it isn’t a blogging thing, as I only started this blog when my second child came into the world – and his brother had already been starring on my social media accounts for two years. For me, social media is a way of sharing my life with the world. And if my children didn’t feature, it honestly wouldn’t be my world. It would be an edited version.

And I’m not the only person that chooses to share their children online. Millions of other parents choose to do it too – mothers and fathers around the world, bloggers, photographers, celebrities, politicians, even royalty. I personally take steps to protect my children, such as never revealing their schools, nurseries, where we live, or the location of our regular activities. That makes me feel more comfortable with my decision – but I wouldn’t dream of judging anyone who didn’t follow the same steps.

Of course I have had moments when I’ve wondered ‘is this the right thing to do?” –  but for me, that moment of doubt is what makes me a mother. I had the same thoughts about breastfeeding, the same thoughts about giving my child a dummy, when choosing a car seat or a stroller, when wondering whether it was too early for my child to start school. We are natural born worriers – and I think that’s pretty much the definition of motherhood.

I am pretty sure that when my children are older and they look back at their life through the pictures and videos I have shared online, they are going to realise I made the decision purely through my love for them. I’m pretty sure they aren’t going to judge me for not being able to live ‘virtually freely’ (whatever that means).

And if you choose not to share your children online? I absolutely, wholeheartedly, enthusiastically respect you for that decision. Your life, your children, your decision.

There is no manual for motherhood, after all.



12th June 2017

A day in the life of Mum of Boys & Mabel…

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5.30am – Stanley comes rushing into our bedroom and plonks himself on the end of our bed, saying ‘is it time to go downstairs?’ That’s enough to wake up Mabel, who sleeps in a cot alongside our bed. She starts moaning, because she’s still tired, but eventually rolls over, claps eyes on her big brother, and lets out a shriek of happiness. The day has begun.

6am – Wilfred joins his brother and sister on the bed and we manage to keep them there with the help of books, toys and cartoons on the TV. By 6.30am, we’ve all had enough and my husband heads downstairs with the kids.

6.30am – I shower, while my husband and our nanny start doing breakfast, packed lunches, and getting the boys ready for school. He makes coffee and brings it up to me. At 7.15am, we swap and he goes upstairs for a shower, while I take over downstairs.

7.45am – It’s time to head to school – 30 minutes later than usual, because it’s Ramadan and that means later school hours. We wave goodbye to Mabel, who is staying at home with her nanny for the morning – I usually work from home so I am at least around her as I work, but I have a meeting at Stanley’s school this morning, which means there isn’t time to head home if I want to get any work done. Luckily, the traffic isn’t too bad today. We drop Wilfred at nursery first, then I drop my husband at the metro, and head onto school to drop Stanley. The temperature is already 36’C at 8.30am.

8.45am – After dropping Stanley into his classroom, I head for a meeting in the school hall for parents of children moving up to Year 1 in September. We have the chance to wander around the classrooms, see current Year 1’s taking part in activities, and then listen to a chat about the transition in the school hall. The children look so much older and taller than Stanley and I ponder that for a while, imagining him amongst them in a year’s time. It definitely all goes too quickly, this parenting malarkey.

9.45am – I head back to the car and wince as I climb in, with 40’C hitting me in the face. I crank the AC up to high and head onto Sheikh Zayed Road.

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10.15am – I’d usually work in a café near to school if I was working out for the morning, but it’s Ramadan so most cafes are closed. Instead, I drive a bit further to the Lakes to work in a restaurant called Reform (who are serving food behind frosted windows). I order poached eggs on toast, a cappuccino and an apple juice. I check my emails, respond to a few messages from companies here in Dubai, and start preparing a Facebook and Instagram post for Small & Mighty Babies. This support group are putting together memory boxes for parents going through neonatal death, stillbirth, or miscarriage – and need people to crochet hoods to go inside the boxes. After saving and editing the image to size, I write the text and press enter to upload. An email pings into my inbox within minutes from the founder of the organisation thanking me and saying that she’s already had two messages from families in need, which is great to hear.

10.45am – It’s now time to turn my attention to my freelance writing (‘The Day Job’ as I like to call it). Today I’m working on a beauty feature for an online magazine here in Dubai – and I need a botanical expert to provide a quote. I fire off a few emails in the hope of someone coming back to me – and within a few minutes, one has responded. We discuss over email what I need and the deadline for her quotes. I get started on the copy, between sips of cappuccino. I get up to 800 words (of a 1,500 feature) before it’s time to head back to the car (yuck – it’s hot again) and drive to school for pick-up.

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12.45pm – Back to Stanley’s classroom in 39’C to collect him. I wait outside, urging him to be quick collecting his bags before I melt into a puddle on the floor. We head back to the car, then drive around the corner to nursery – and then we do it all over again. This time I have to get two boys in the car, both who have demands and requests that ensure their mother is a big hot mess by the time I manage to climb inside. Five minutes into the journey home, they both fall asleep.

1.30pm – We arrive home, with both boys still asleep in the back of the car. I pause for a few minutes in the drive to let them sleep for a little bit longer, enjoying a moment of peace. I check my email inbox, see that I have some important blog emails to respond to, and check all my social media account to see whether I need to respond to any comments or messages. After 10 minutes, I shut off the engine, wake up the boys, and head inside.

1.45pm – I make the boys a snack each and sit at my desk to reply to the emails. I manage to get 15 minutes of work done while the boys munch, before I hear Mabel waking up from her nap on the monitor.

2pm – I head upstairs to get Mabel – and as soon as she sees me at the door, she breaks into a ginormous grin. As we walk down the stairs, she shrieks – she always does this and I think it’s her way of saying ‘BROTHERS! I’M COMING! I’M ON MY WAY!” We spend the next few hours together in the lounge. Mabel crawls around investigating everything, the boys play with playdough, colour in their colouring books, and have scraps with pillows (of course). This is my time with the kids and I spend time on the floor playing with Mabel or helping the boys get toys. My nanny is done with childcare for the day, so she moves onto tidying, sorting laundry, or cleaning – this is something I will never take for granted, as it means I can dedicate my time entirely to the kids.

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4.30pm – The boys are full of energy and getting on my nerves, so I throw them outside to play as the sun starts to cool. We don’t spend every afternoon at home – we often head for play dates or go to soft play in the summer, but on a Sunday it tends to be a little more relaxed as they’re all tired from the weekend. As I’m putting their dinner on the table, my husband walks through the door. He’s arriving home earlier than usual as it’s Ramadan – he’d usually make it home just before the boys get to bed at 7pm.

5pm – It’s dinner time and the kids sit up at the table to eat sausages, mashed potato and peas. Mabel is having toast fingers, cheese slices, and strawberries, along with a shop-bought apple puree. They all sit together eating (interrupted by both boys needing the toilet, both boys saying they don’t want their dinner, and Mabel throwing most of her dinner on the floor).

5.30pm – I run a bath for the all the kids. My husband sits by the bath and washes all their hair, while I gather together all the pyjamas on our bed next door. I realise we have no nappies left – so jump in the car and pull up at our community supermarket to buy them. But when I get to the checkout, I realise my purse is still sat at home on the side. As I climb back into my boiling hot car, I want to cry – but I hold it together. 5 minutes later, I get home – and my husband offers to head back to the supermarket to pay for the shopping.

6.30pm – Mabel is asleep in her cot – and the boys are in their pyjamas. I throw down a bowl of pasta waiting in the fridge and kiss the boys goodnight. I am so busy with work at the moment that I am heading out to work for the evening. My husband will put the boys to bed – and I’ll sit in a coffee shop and write a blog post and make some serious headway on my freelance beauty feature. Despite being freelance, I definitely work full-time hours – but I choose to be with the kids in the afternoon, which means I have to sacrifice my evenings. I work at least 6 evenings a week, usually on the sofa – but when work is really intensive, heading out to work means I am less distracted. Tonight is one of those nights where I have to focus. So I climb back in the car.

7pm – I make it to Costa, order a coffee, and open my laptop. I start typing and the hours run away. Occasionally I check my emails or reply to a message on WhatsApp. I also regularly check my social media accounts for comments or messages to reply to.

9.45pm – I get a message from my husband to say Mabel is unsettled and he is heading upstairs with a bottle. It’s not like her to be so unsettled this early in the evening (she usually saves that for 3am) so I decide work is done for the night and head back to the car.

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9.53pm – I get home, check the calendar for tomorrow on the fridge, and realise Wilfred isn’t going to nursery tomorrow so I only need to get one packed lunch ready. Just as I’m about to start getting everything ready for his lunch, Mabel starts crying again. My husband takes over, as I run upstairs.

11pm – Mabel is still awake – and I’ve given up trying to get her back to sleep. We’re on the bed together, with the light on, playing with books and toys. It’s really unlike her so I think it must be teething. My eyes are bleary with tiredness – so when my husband comes to bed, he agrees to swap sides and try and settle her back in her cot as I get some sleep. I think she drops off around midnight – but I’m not entirely sure, because I’m asleep by that point, dreaming of packed lunch boxes, Year 1 classrooms, ethical beauty features, and future blog posts. And by 5.30am, the day will start all over again…



8th June 2017

Why we’ve finally taken out a RSA Home Insurance Policy…

10392193_304633675606_5994875_nIt was 2008 and I was living in Blackheath, London with my then-boyfriend and our dog, when he suddenly dropped the bombshell that he had been offered a position in Dubai. He told me that he was only going to stay 6 months, so I decided to move back into my parent’s house with the dog – and fly out to Dubai regularly for holidays. But 6 months turned into 18 months – and after getting married on a snowy day in Greenwich in December 2010, I thought I better commit to the Dubai thing (given we were married now and all).

So I flew out with a couple of suitcases in January 2011 – and our life as a married couple began in the desert. We rented a flat, bought the bare necessities in furniture from IKEA, and set up utility accounts and phone numbers. But the one thing we never did back then – nor for the 6 years afterwards – is think about taking out home insurance.

And we aren’t alone. Apparently only 6% of UAE residents are estimated to have home contents insurance (source here) – and whilst it’s shocking that the other 94% would have zero to fall back on if disaster struck at home, I am really not surprised.

Because just like us, they probably see Dubai as transient. Arriving with a suitcase, buying second-hand or very cheap furniture, renting places to live rather than buying, and never knowing when expat life will be over and it’ll be time to head back home.

So why did we take out a policy?

After I heard that statistic, it got me thinking. And I looked around our villa at the things we had accrued over the years. The pictures on the walls, the TV, the computers, the cameras, the iPads, the children’s toys, the stacks of books in the bookcase, the growing collection of furniture, rugs, and kitchen equipment. And then upstairs, the clothes in our wardrobes, the shoes, the jewellery, the accessories, the bed linen, the towels… The list went on in my mind – and if, god forbid, we had a theft, a flood or a fire, a lot of it may be gone.

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But RSA Home Insurance is about more than that too – it’s about being covered for emergency accommodation while you get things sorted, if belongings are damaged in transit when moving house, if your door keys are stolen and you need the locks changed, if your deep freezer breaks and you lose everything inside, and much more.

 The extras

You can also add things onto the policy – I added the replacement of lost documents, as I know how expensive it is to replace them (my husband accidently throwing away Mabel’s birth certificate is testament to that).

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And that’s not all, as you can also choose to add the belongings of your domestic staff or additional tenants to the policy too.

And it’s not just at home that your belongings are protected, but those you choose to take out of the house too. So if I took my laptop out with me one day and managed to lose it (even the thought gives me the chills), I would now be covered on our home insurance policy.

How much?

It’s really easy and quick to get a quote. Just head to www.rsadirect.ae/home-insurance and click on ‘Start your home insurance quote’. It took me a few minutes to get my quote, agree to the terms, and click through to pay for it. An email then quickly pinged into my inbox with our policy documents, where they can be filed away safely for if we ever need them.

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Our policy cost 1,035 AED for an annual policy, which I think is fantastic value for the level of cover we have – and really not much when you consider what a godsend it could be, if we had a disaster. Policies start at just a few hundred dirhams, making it really very affordable.

The funny thing is that after 6 years of not thinking we need home insurance, I feel really relieved that we have it sorted!

Head over to www.rsadirect.ae/home-insurance now to get your quote.

In collaboration with RSA Insurance

 



6th June 2017

ORDER YOUR KIDORE FUN FLIGHT PACKS BEFORE YOU TRAVEL THIS SUMMER!

graphic with text inside-finalThere aren’t many areas of parenting where I’d claim to be an expert – but travelling with kids is probably one I’d put my hand up to… After all, since becoming a Mum just five years ago, I have travelled back and forth from the UK to Dubai (and the odd far-flung trip in between) with a frequency that would probably bring most non-expat mums out in a cold sweat. In fact, when we fly back to the UK for our summer holiday in July, it will be Stanley’s 31st long-haul flight, Wilfred’s 16th, and Mabel’s 5th.

I’m quite relaxed about flying in general – but over the years, I have done one thing to prepare – and that is put together activity packs to keep the children entertained when we buckle up in our airplane seats. I’ve spent hours trawling the malls for the perfect additions for these kits in the past – and it’s not only been expensive, but hugely time consuming too.

So when the brilliant online kid’s store Kidore.com asked if I’d like to help collate a selection of Flight Packs for different ages – all at the amazing price of 100 AED all in – I jumped at the chance.

After all, they’d save me time and money as Mum – and they’d save all of you time and money too. So that’s a parenting win in my book…

Each item has been picked for being small and lightweight, meaning the packs are easy to transport in hand luggage – and they are also individually packaged, so Mummy can pull them out one-by-one throughout the journey.

So without further ado, here are the 7 different Fun Flight Packs you can buy for your kids at Kidore.com from today – at just 100 AED. There is a link below each set to click through and order.

Happy flying!

The Baby (0-15 months) – Travel Pack

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Contains: Hard Back “Who Am I?” Book, Pixie Rattle, Mini Wire Beads, Wooden ‘My First Book’, and Small Wooden Car.

100 AED

Click here to order

The Active Baby (15 months – 2 years) – Travel Pack

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Contains: Hard Back “Who Am I?” Book, Mini Wire Beads, Wooden ‘My First Book’, and Small Wooden Car, Handy Block Puzzle.

100 AED

Click here to order

The Toddler – Travel Pack

 The Toddler

Contains: Hard Board Book about a Pilot, Small Magnetic Bead Trace, Crayola Jumbo Crayons, Wooden Maze, Eye Spy, and Small Wooden Car.

100 AED

Click here to order

The Kid – Travel Pack

The Kid

Contains: Crayola Colour by Numbers Book, “The Elves And The Shoemaker” Story Book, Eye Spy, Minions Pairs & Donkey Game, Bendy Pencil and Mega Activities Assorted Puzzles & Colouring Book.

100 AED

Click here to order

The Arty Princess – Travel Pack

The Arty Princess

Contains: How’s it different ‘Spot the difference’ game, Disney Happy Families Card Game, Princess Craft Egg (contains 4 markers, 4 crayons, 2 ink pads, 2 finger pots and 10 colouring sheets), Bendy Pencil, and Magnetic Scribbler.

100 AED

Click here to order

The Arty Superhero – Travel Pack

 Arty Superhero

Contains: How’s it different ‘Spot the difference’ game, Minions Happy Families Card Game, Finding Dory Craft Egg (contains 4 markers, 4 crayons, 2 ink pads, 2 finger pots and 10 colouring sheets), Bendy Pencil, and Magnetic Scribbler.

100 AED

Click here to order

The Tween Swag

Tween Swag

Contains: ‘Wonders of the World’ Book, Origami Paper Folding Book, Hugga A6 Notebook, Bendy Pencil, and Shuffle Pictureka.

100 AED

Click here to order

  

To view the full range, click here

 

 



1st June 2017

When two become three…

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 21.17.04Mabel was sat on the living room rug today, surrounded by her toys.

She can crawl now.

Slowly, unsteadily.

But she can crawl.

And her brothers are suddenly fascinated by it. They laugh hysterically from the sofa, jumping down to copy her, hand her toys, or (in Stanley’s case) cuddle her until she flops down on her tummy.

I watch them – and I am suddenly struck by the fact that I have three proper children.

Not two brothers and a baby.

Three actual children.

But it’s more than that. Because as I stand back and watch them, ready to pounce if she’s in danger of getting squashed or she approaches a toy that definitely isn’t baby friendly, I am suddenly struck by the fact that the boys have a sibling.

Not a little baby, to tickle or coo at in her cot.

But a sister.

To play with, to laugh with, to argue with over toys, and to bond with.  And as I watch them together, playing on that rug with sunlight dappled in their hair, my mind skips forward.

And I think about the future.

I think about three children together on the beach, playing together in the sand, fighting over who gets the orange spade. I think about three teenagers in the house – two older brothers, keeping an eye on a younger sister, no doubt arguing over who gets to go in the bathroom first. I think about weddings, I think about big family gatherings, I think about a troup of cousins, I think about family holidays on mass, I think about Christmases years in the future. I think about the fact there are five of us now – and these flashes forward all seem very real.

And I know it won’t always be harmonious as they grow up together – but they will have one another.

When I was heavily pregnant last year, I worried a lot about how a new baby was going to change the dynamic of our family. I couldn’t wait to meet our baby – but I didn’t want her to change the relationship between the boys. I was pleased when I found out she was a girl, as the boys could still be brothers and nothing would touch their bond.

But watching them play together today, with the sunlight dancing in their hair, it suddenly became very clear.

I didn’t need to worry

Because they are working it all out for themselves.

And how beautiful – totally, gobsmackingly, tear-inducing, wonderfully beautiful – it is to watch it all happen.

Right there on the living room rug.



31st May 2017

10 things to expect when your baby learns to crawl…

18902645_10158801528805607_1012090826_n1. Coffee shops will not be your friend for a while. Coffee is still wonderful – but learning to enjoy it at home / at other people’s houses is recommended. Remember; practice makes perfect – and if your now-moving baby still isn’t a fan of sleeping (yawn), you will have plenty of opportunity to nail the perfect cup at home.

2. Baby toys will no longer be interesting. The best things ever will now be the remote control, your mobile phone, the cat, the dog, anything that belongs to an older sibling, glasses of water, glasses for your face, and old raisins / biscuits that fell down the back of the sofa a few months ago. Hide everything. Or consider investing in a baby cage.

3. Any feelings of broodiness for another baby will now disappear for a while. Consider a crawling / walking baby as Mother Nature’s natural contraceptive. If you are already pregnant, it is very normal to have nightmarish visions about being stuck on the sofa feeding a newborn, while an older sibling wreaks havoc on the house. And nine months later, that is exactly what will happen.

4. The toilet will no longer be your ‘safe place’. They will follow you.

5. If you ever make the mistake of handing your crawling baby a snack, be prepared to still be finding crumbs weeks later. Alternatively, trail behind with a dustpan and brush / mini hoover. Or just trap them in the high chair – every. single. time.

6. Consider filling a kitchen cupboard with unbreakable objects for your baby to quietly empty on the kitchen floor. And then watch as they ignore it completely and make a start on unpacking your fine china instead.

7. You will seriously consider designing a baby outfit made from bubble wrap. Or covering the floor of your entire home in soft padding. And maybe the walls too. But just as you sit down to start designing a prototype, your baby will take their first big tumble and you’ll realise you missed the boat.

8. You will find yourself shouting ‘Noooo!’, ‘Come back!’, “Stay there!”, and ‘‘Wait!’ more than you’d like to. And if you’ve ever owned a dog, the similarities won’t be lost on you.

9. Kiss goodbye to long baby cuddles in bed in the morning. Finding their way to the end of the bed, in order to ‘base jump’ to the floor will be the single most important mission of the day.

10. If a friend suggests a play date in a park, you will laugh hysterically, ask her if she’s mad, and then promptly suggest an alternative venue with four walls, super safe baby gates, and strong coffee on tap instead. And that is the very point when a wild love affair / absolute hatred with soft play areas begins. And you will stay there for the next 10 years.