London With Kids: Kew Gardens

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Over the Easter holidays my Mum and I decided to to tick another one off our ‘places to visit’ checklist, and take the smalls from East to West with a day out at Kew Gardens. I’d always wanted to visit here, having seen it featured at various times on the telly, but it was actually only when doing a bit of research that I found out just how much there is to do here with (and without) children. Exciting stuff!

Getting here for us is relatively easy- we hop on a train for 10 minutes from East Croydon to Clapham Junction, then change to get one from here to Kew Bridge, where it is another 10 minutes trot across the aforementioned bridge. I’d printed out a map online (although you get given one on arrival), and worked out what we may or may not like to see whilst we were there, although the great thing about such a big place as Kew Gardens is that you can walk for hours and just go with the flow if you want- the landscape is so beautiful with many, many interesting areas to see. Tickets are £15 each per adult, and £3.50 for a child (free for under 4 are free). Mum and I saved some dollar by getting the National Rail 2-4-1 deal (for more info see HERE), which left us with more money to spend on ice creams! :-)

On arrival we decided to head to the ‘Treehouse Towers’ adventure playground, so Freddie and Sasha could stretch their legs, and, it turned out, overcome their fear of wobbly bridges- the screams and tears from child number 2 at first were something else! Once she had mastered this though, there was no stopping either of them, and we had an enjoyable half hour or so pre-lunch letting off some steam. 

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^^^The playground was pretty busy due to it being the holidays, but was still lots of fun for the children. I guess this is something we’re going to have to get used to once Freddie starts school in September and we can no longer go during the quiet times during the week! *sob*

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^^Conquering a fear of wobbly bridges right here!

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^^My little dare-devils loving the curly-wurly slide!

Post-playground and pre-lunch we decided to take a short stroll and look for the Shaun The Sheep tent (Shaun The Sheep was the children’s theme at the gardens over Easter, and there were lots of Shaun activities on as a result).

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^^Spring is such a beautiful time to visit Kew Gardens, what with all the flowers and trees starting to bloom and blossom. The Magnolia trees are truly breathtaking.

After a 20 minute yomp, we realised we had gone the wrong way (there was zero signposting for the tent from what we could see, which was not ideal), and Freddie was getting tired and hungry (Massive ‘Mum Fail’ not to bring the buggy board here!), so we headed back to the White Peaks cafe near the playground for some lunch. Now, I’d read on the website that this cafe was a really family-friendly one- as had every single other visitor by the looks of it! On arrival it was HEAVING. Which is fair enough, what with it being the Easter holidays. But what did boil my piss was the fact that loads of the tables were taken up by families eating their own packed lunches, despite it stating clearly that own food could not be eaten there, and not a single member of staff was doing anything about it, despite milling about and clearing tables. This meant that we had to wait about 20 minutes for a table, and with no clear organisation, people were grabbing anything they could even if they hadn’t been waiting as long, which led to stressed parents and me growling at anyone who dared approach a table we had earmarked for ourselves. Really not ideal at all, and would have been a nightmare if I’d been on my own without my Mum to watch the children whilst I went to get food. I reckon a system like they have at the Natural History Museum Cafe would work much better.

HOWEVER (rant over), the food is lovely if you do choose to buy and eat here, and the staff are quick to serve and friendly with it. There is also a good ‘make your own packed lunch’ stand for children if you don’t want a hot meal for them. Another bonus was bumping into my blogging pal Steph, although neither of us got to chat properly due the craziness of the cafe. Next time, I would either come here at 11.30 on the dot to ensure getting a table, or to be honest, if the weather was nicer, bring our own picnic and sit outside (Kew Gardens is pretty big, after all!). What I can recommend is the ice cream parlour next to White Peaks- lovely cones and a big thumbs up from both Freddie and Sasha here!

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^^After lunch we embarked on probably the highlight of our day (and especially Freddie’s!) which was the Land Train around the gardens. There are various stops, and with your ticket can hop on and off different parts of the garden all day (there is a train every half hour from each one). What’s great if you have small children is that you can put your buggy on the front too, before taking a seat in one of the many carriages. The land train was perfect for us, especially in light of that buggy-board fail, and gave Freddie’s little legs a bit of a rest, all whilst taking in the beautiful scenery.

Our driver was really knowledgeable, giving a fantastic commentary of the history gardens whilst the little ones quietly ish soaked up the sights- a rare chance for a bit of adult brain-fodder whilst having small children in tow! Tickets for the Land Train are £4.50 per adult and £1.50 for a child- worth every penny in my opinion. By taking the train we realised there really is so much to do here, and lots we still didn’t get round to doing (such as the log trail, Giant Badger Set, Bee Garden and the Treetop Walkway), and I’ve bookmarked these for next time we come with Daddy.

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^^My sweet boy, absolutely LOVING his land train ride!

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^^My lovely Mum and Small Person ‘Wing Woman’!

One of the places we did manage to actually hop off the train for half an hour, before hopping back on again, was the Palm House, the iconic building that you may associate most with Kew Gardens. Here we ventured down to the marine aquarium, which mainly focuses on aquatic plant life, but there are few fish thrown in for good measure, which will always please a preschooler! 

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^^The children were keen to explore the upper level of Palm House, which can only be accessed by quite steep, windy iron staircases. So whilst my Mum stayed with the buggy, I was forced to overcome my fear of heights (and the children falling through the wide side railings!), by walking my two up to the viewing gallery. Not for the faint-hearted, especially if you have to hold two children’s hands whilst doing so- just don’t look down through the gaps in the stairs! Well worth it though, as the above pic testifies :-)037 039

^^To round off our busy day, Sasha got her face painted (a zebra, natch), whilst Fred had one more run around the playground. Tired but happy, we then pootled off to get the train home for tea.

Kew Gardens, we will definitely be back for more!

Hints and tips for visiting Kew Gardens with young children:

  • When it comes to lunch, either bring a picnic (there is a Sainsburys Local right near Kew Bridge Station if you can’t be bothered to cart a big lunch around), or choose your eating time carefully. Look to get a table at White Peaks Cafe near the playground early-doors (like, 11.30am), or consider one of the other eateries in the Gardens, there are plenty, all serving similar dishes.
  • Plan your day pre-visit to get the most out of it.
  • Bring a travel potty. There are loads of clean, well-equipped toilets around the gardens, but if you’re taking a stroll they can be few and far between, so you are liable to get caught short with a little one!
  • Get the Land Train- probably the best, least-tiring way to see the whole of the Gardens and do a bit of a recce. Perfect for legs that are too big for a buggy now, but too small to walk long distances.
  • Take your camera- so many gorgeous photo opps!
  • Buggy access is generally good at Kew Gardens, although there is none at the Treetop Walkway (buggy park though), Palm House Aquarium and Gallery (we carried the buggy down the steps for the former, and Mum stayed with it for the latter), The Waterlily House and Queen Charlotte’s Cottage.
  • You can get a good idea of children’s walking times i.e. how long it takes for them to get from A-B looking at the Kew Gardens Map HERE.

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50 things that make me happy!

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A few days ago I was tagged by my lovely blogging pal, Renee, to list 50 things that make me happy. I don’t usually do blog ‘tags’ but I love the idea of this one, and anything that reminds me of all the lovely things, big or small, that can put a smile on me face is always good!

So without further adieu, here are 50 things that can make me a very happy lady…

  1. A full night’s sleep. Not broken by small people needing a wee (or worse!), but a deep, refreshing, undisturbed one.
  2. Meeting up with friends for a few hours on a sunny evening or afternoon to have coffee, or in a lovely pub garden, and putting the world to rights over a few drinks. Lovely!
  3. That first, strong coffee of the morning. I massively heart my Nespresso machine.
  4. A Sunday roast (beef or chicken for me), then lazing about on the sofa for the rest of the afternoon.
  5. When the children both come in to our bedroom in the morning, their big smiles at seeing us are the best thing ever, and then they climb in to bed for cuddles.
  6. When the children say “I love you Mummy” unexpectedly.
  7. The sound of the front door opening and Adam shouting “hello!” after he’s been at work.
  8. Attending a wedding. I love them, and they’re always such happy occasions, and chance to have a drink, a boogie, and a catch up with all your mates!
  9. Walking around the garden early doors, when the sun is shining, drinking my cup of tea or coffee and having a few minutes peace and breathing in the fresh morning air.
  10. Evenings out with my Mum and having a good catch up sans children over a bottle of wine.
  11. Which brings me on to decent wine- a nice chilled glass of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc will always make me happy!
  12. Bacon sandwiches.
  13. Seeing the children learn something new.
  14. When Freddie and Sasha are particularly kind to one another i.e. helping the other one to do something, or just having a cuddle with each other on the sofa.
  15. Walking through our local woods as a family.
  16. Holidays, and even packing up the car, or arriving and waiting at the airport make me happy- all part of the experience if you ask me!
  17. Mastering a new skill, whether it’s something ‘crafty’, baking, DIY, gives me a great sense of accomplishment.
  18. Watching a fantastic film.
  19. Blogging, and being lucky enough to earn money now from being creative in any way I want on this little space of mine!
  20. Our home. It’s been a labour of love but I love spending time here so much and coming home to it.
  21. A clean and tidy house- It helps me feel relaxed on an evening, sad but true!
  22. Poached eggs on toast- I could eat them every day!
  23. Looking through old photos, especially now with the children as they are fascinated with seeing how they were as babies, or what Mummy and Daddy got up to before they were born. Printing them all off and putting them in albums is next on my to-do list after our wedding. Will take forever though- we have thousands!
  24. Fresh flowers in the living room and on the kitchen table, especially daffodils, tulips and sunflowers.
  25. Cats- I really want to get a couple of kittens once all our building work is done.
  26. Pugs and sausage dogs- ditto above!
  27. The smell of horses and stables. Might sound weird to most of you, but I used to ride loads as a youngster, and I still really miss it and want to start again. The smell of the stables takes me back to this time and I love it.
  28. That feeling you get after exercising, and if you’ve had a great run. Makes it all worth it!
  29. Using felt tips. Makes me feel like a child again!
  30. Sitting in bed, throwing something to go in the bin- and it lands in there first time. Mini air punch moment here!
  31. Kissing my lovely husband-to-be. :-)
  32. Building train tracks with Freddie.
  33. Reading to both my babies.
  34. When you have a good outfit and/or hair day <shallow>
  35. Making birthdays special for my little family.
  36. Playing badminton in the garden with Adam in the evening (we’re very competitive), and the children running around trying to join in.
  37. Sasha pulling one of her many funny faces and making us laugh so hard- I still never know how we produced such a little comedienne!
  38. Feeling the fear and attending new events- blogging conferences, festivals, workshops- I love ’em, and also meeting new people.
  39. When my friends have babies- I get the cuddles and my ‘baby fix’ without all the hard work!
  40. Listening to BBC 6 Music early on a Sunday as they always have some good tunes on, whilst drinking good coffee.
  41. Pain Au Chocolats as a treat.
  42. A trip to the chippy for fish, chips and mushy peas- heaven!
  43. A good old British seaside and everything about it.
  44. Taking your bra off at the end of the day and having a good scratch and jiggle!
  45. Singing loudly (and badly) at the top of my voice.
  46. Walks along The Southbank and an early evening dinner in the sunshine before catching the train home.
  47. a 99er from the ice cream van.
  48. Jazz music, even though I know nothing about it, I always feel good when I hear some playing.
  49. Seeing an unusual bird in the garden, or even better, a robin at Christmas time.
  50. Christmas, full stop!

Wowsers, there are so many more I could add! This is such a great personal exercise to do to remind you of what to be grateful for- once I got started it was hard to stop!

Thanks so much to Renee for the meme- do check out her fab blog if you get a moment.

I tag anyone who reads this who wants to join in- what are the things that make you happy?!

 

Jazzing up your flooring this spring with Carpetright

Well, we’ve had a bit of a shocker on the loft conversion-front. The builders who we’d had booked in for September to carry it out, phoned up last week and asked if we’d like to bring it forward at all. Sure, we thought, thinking they meant to start in maybe July or August. Well, they actually meant THIS WEEK, meaning that as I sit and type I now have 3 guys breaking through the roof from the outside! We must be mad, what with the wedding still being organised, but we thought we might as well crack on.

Anyway, the ins-and-outs of the building work is for another post, but what I do have to start thinking about now fairly quickly, is the finer details of both our new loft room and the en-suite bathroom, and this will include of course include making decisions about carpet and bathroom flooring. Now, in the rest of the house our flooring choices have remained relatively neutral- certainly the choices of a couple who played it safe as we had a lot else going on, and were’nt sure what our final colour schemes would be in the various rooms. 

Well, as I think we’re pretty certain we’re going to go for white walls all round in our new bedroom, I’m quite excited to think about the possibility of some brighter, more exciting flooring, ala what Carpetright has to offer this spring! 

Camden Scarlet Stripe Carpet (1)

There is so much potential to jazz up your bedroom, or any other room for that matter. This fab stripey carpet (above) would make a great statement in any room, or even stairway.

Carousel Twist Raspberry Carpet (3)

^^^This bright red carpet looks great against a plainer wall, and compliments interesting artwork.

Casablanca Black (2)

^^If you’re looking for something a little more unusual, I really do love this ‘Casablanca’ carpet, which provides a modern twist to a North-African vibe. Be the one whose home people talk about!

True Colours Uni 557 Vinyl (1)

^^Of course, you don’t have to have carpet at all! This brilliantly bright yellow vinyl flooring would be a huge statement in your bathroom or kitchen, and a bright floor such as this is definitely something I’m now considering for our en-suite (especially if it matches an avocado bath-suite. Yes, I’m still feeling that, sorry!). 

What do you think?

What flooring do you currently have in your home? 

Do you prefer bright bright bright, or a more muted palate?

I’d love to hear!

A big thanks to Carpetright for partnering The Spirited Puddle Jumper.

 

 

 

Him and Her #6

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He really feels like he has grown up

these last few months,

and getting braver in the playground meant for bigger children

is just another sign that there has been a shift.

 

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 She can’t get enough of dressing up

and pretending to be someone/something else,

including having her face painted all different ways,

such as this time when she requested to be a zebra!

When your head is spinning

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Our ‘time-pressured-and-not-loving-it’ face!

 When I was about 18, I read the book ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’ by Allison Pearson. For those who have never read/heard of it (where were you in 2002?), it’s a ‘chick lit’ book, all about the pressures of modern motherhood. The lead character, Kate, juggles a million balls, including 2 small children, a high flying career, various challenging family members, friends she doesn’t see enough, and a to-do list as high as The Shard. When I first clamped eyes on the book, I thoroughly enjoyed it, yet those eyes of mine were still young, with few real commitments or responsibilities (unless you count being the one left in charge of nabbing a decent outside spot at our favourite uni local). 

Fast forward 12 years, and I am now Kate, (albeit without the high-flying lawyer gig). And I’m thinking I really should read this book again, so I can laugh mirthlessly at just how much I GET IT now. 

Currently, we have so much going on in our lives, and whilst I am coping, I certainly feel my head is spinning. In fact, as I type this, it’s certainly trickier than normal to concentrate on actually banging out a blog post, due to the sheer number of tasks needing to be done running through my mind. As well as the usual day-today routine that involves looking after small children, working part-time and running a household, we are also planning our wedding for the end of June, and the loft conversion that we thought would be taking place in September has been brought forward by our builders…with it starting today. Not much can keep me awake at night (oh the joys of early waking children!), but I must admit to not having totally restful sleep the last few nights.

For example, I looked at the various ‘to-do’ lists on my phone just now, and it occurred to me just how much ‘stuff’ urgent, non-urgent, soon, ideas etc that I have screaming at me from my phone, and subsequently wafting through my tiny tired (and wired) brain. 

Take a look at this:

  • Send out final evening invites- uni course friends addresses?
  • Sort builder Steve coming round to pick up consent forms- time?
  • Update blog: interiors posts, sidebar pics and links, popular posts, edit Kew pics.
  • Sort new blog giveaway.
  • Blog- sponsored posts. Deadlines!!!!
  • EMPTY ENTIRE LOFT!!! Where to put stuff?
  • Adam birthday cards.
  • Book wedding hotel.
  • Adam birthday dinner- book restaurant and babysitting
  • Bridesmaid dresses
  • Get wedding dress alteration money out of bank (cash only)
  • Book time with wedding ring lady.
  • Drinks with Stu the Photographer?
  • Find and book cheese cake.
  • Get passports photocopied re church.
  • Update wedding spreadsheet.
  • Thank you cards to hens and post.
  • Sainsbos to get food delivery man didn’t bring- avocados, floss, lemons, jacket potatoes.
  • Kids summer clothes- sunglasses x2, sunhat (Sasha), Summer trousers (Freddie), Summer coat (F), Tshirts (both), sandals (both), trainer socks (both), Toms (both).
  • Ebay kids old clothes and shoes.
  • Sasha- birthday presents?
  • Sasha- party invites out and order decorations and cake toppers.
  • RSVP re F and T  kid’s party invites.
  • Buy overhead pool towel thing for Freddie.
  • Sort Direct Debit re Sasha swimming lessons.
  • Sasha ballet class for September?
  • Horse riding for me? HA!!!!
  • Pick up Post Office ISA forms.
  • Blog- SEO old posts.
  • Can I attend Britmums? Check tickets and dates
  • Change kids’ saving accounts- book appointment to discuss
  • Freddie school induction dates

And it goes on…

I don’t mean this post to sound woe-is-me, or some sort of stealth-boast at how busy and wonderful our lives are (not always the case), but just to find out if anyone else has lists like this and feels like I do? I often can’t decide if we do have too much going on as per the ‘norm’ (although I realise the next few months are an exception), whether as someone who DOES like to be busy, is it something I bring on myself, or whether that’s just what happens once you ‘grow up’ and have a young family.

I’m fairly sure though that I’d always find ‘something’ to do.

I’ve always liked lists and being busy, you know, having little projects and things to look forward to. I do also know that I can definitely make things harder for myself in terms of doing ‘extra’, unnecessary stuff. For example, for Sasha’s 3rd birthday in a few weeks, and we’re having a little party for her at our house (and praying the weather is good so we can lob everyone outside!). She would really like a ‘Frozen’ theme. If I was making life easier for myself, I’d buy a ready-made ‘Frozen’ cake from Sainsbos, stick up a few purple and blue balloons and blast out the Frozen soundtrack so the kids can go WILD on Haribo. The latter will certainly happen…along with sourcing and ordering some Frozen-themed decorations, making a purple (possibly Ombre inside) frozen-themed birthday cake from scratch, some Frozen snowflake cookies, a pin-the-carrot-on-the-Olaf game, wrapping several layers of a pass-the-parcel (with carefully chosen prizes in the layers), baking some homemade sausage rolls for the adults, making party bags up, and possibly planning a couple more party games, just in case the kids are bored shitless of pinning carrots on Olaf and are running riot.

On paper I can see this looks faintly ridiculous (and makes me look like a bit of a dick).

But I’ll probably still do most of it.

And bizarrely I’ll still enjoy it.

Is this a curse of modern life, to want to excel ourselves in this way and keep busy, or am I a total freak? I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist but looking at all of this now, I’m not sure where this need to make an Olaf pinata has come from?! I know some bloggers out here might be able to resonate with me on being busy, and the need to get things ‘just so’. After all, I know full well how hard most of them work to build up their blogs, their brands, and not always with financial reward. In fact, I’ve never felt happier or more fulfilled since starting this little space of mine, being creative, despite the time and head space it can take up.

However, I often find it hard to switch off, and would like to be a little more ‘present’ sometimes with the children. Don’t get me wrong, I do a lot with them, but often it feels like me ticking something off (something crafty today? Done! Read X number of books? Hurrah!), rather than a go-with-the flow that I’d like a bit more. Hopefully this will happen once the summer comes, the wedding has happened and the loft is complete, and the pace of our life slows down a little. The one thing I do try and do is have ‘pottering’ days at home with them, so even if I’m spending a couple of hours total throughout the day doing jobs, they are having a nice, gentle, relaxing day, playing and unwinding.

And of course, I don’t go doolally in every aspect of my life despite appearances. That really would be mad, not to mention annoying for those who come into contact with me on a regular basis ;-), and I do definitely have small periods of procrastination (hello, hangovers), but otherwise, I like to grab life by the horns and give everything my best shot. Irritatingly for me, I’ve actually found I’ve become more driven and ambitious since having children, when time is squeezed the most. 

I rarely mention this in real-life, as there’s nothing more annoying than someone competitively bleating on how ‘Kerr-azy’ their lives are, especially when they bring it on themselves (Yes, YOU, real-life-irritating-family-member). So it might look like I’m gliding along, but underneath I’m paddling like mad to stay afloat and not always getting anywhere fast. 

As a family, we are really lucky, in that we have grandparents close by to help with the children, and I work part-time, leaving enough time to get things done, so I don’t have any reason to moan really. Adam works hard and is also really hands on, so it’s not like he’s not around to have input and ease the load.

My hats go off though to all the parents who work full time and have no help nearby, all whilst trying to juggle all the day-to-day stuff life brings- pleasurable, crap, or otherwise.

I don’t know how you do it.

I’m aware this is a bit of a rambling post but I hope you get the jist of what I’m getting at.

Please tell me I’m not alone?!

 

Linking up with ‘Let’s Talk Mommy’ and ‘Share With Me’ and Super Busy Mum’s Mad Mid Week Blog Hop!

World’s Best Pesto Recipe! (For Real)

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For those of you who don’t know, Adam and I are getting married at the end of June, and one of the main reasons I am marrying this rather marvellous man, is the fact that his pesto recipe is the best I have ever tried! It beats even the best jar pestos hands down, and is just so so flavoursome. The children also love it, and it delicious simply with pasta, or in a sandwich or salad. The man has many talents, but this bright green, party-for-the-palate pesto is definitely high up on the list!

World's Best Pesto Recipe
A delicious, bursting with flavour, green pesto recipe, great with pasta, or in salads and sandwiches.
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 chopped clove of garlic
  2. 4 decent handfuls of fresh basil, minus tougher stalks
  3. 1 handful lightly toasted pine nuts
  4. 1 large handful grated Parmesan cheese
  5. Extra virgin olive oil
  6. 1 small squeeze of lemon juice
  7. Sea salt
  8. Ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Whizz the chopped garlic, basil leaves and salt and pepper in a food processor.
  2. Add the pine nuts to the mixture and whizz again.
  3. Empty into a bowl and add half the parmesan, before stirring in enough olive oil to bind everything together (don't let it get too runny).
  4. Season again to taste, and then add the rest of the cheese, again, stirring in gently.
  5. Add more olive oil if necessary (consistency preference depending), and stir.
  6. Add a squeeze of lemon if you like (we find this gives it a nice 'twang'!).
Notes
  1. The pesto can be stored in air-tight tupperware in the fridge for up to a week.
The Spirited Puddle Jumper http://www.spiritedpuddlejumper.com/

My Home Style: Edition 5

Welcome regular readers to My Home Style: Edition 5, and also to any newcomers out there! This is the feature where the lovely Emma (of Life at the Little Wood) and I showcase our favourite housey/interiors/home lust-haves that loads of lovely people have been sharing with us on Instagram, using the #MyHomeStyle. 

It’s a mixed bag this week, but definitely veering towards the bright and cheery, which should make anyone smile on a Monday morning :-)

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I almost can’t explain why I like @Sussie_79’s picture, but I think it’s the fact I really love the visual effect and the contrast in colour /texture the dresser has against the white wooden wall. The vases on the dressers, plus the super-cool picture on the wall just add to the feel of a lived-on home that belongs to someone with a bit of edge!

 

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Now, because my current mismatched dinner set is cracked, chipped and god-knows-what-else, I had SERIOUS homeware envy when I saw Sian’s (@pottymouthedmummy) bold and blue, nautical inspired set. It’s made me sorta wish Adam and I had decided to have a gift list for our wedding in June- I definitely would’ve put a new set on the list!

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Jess’ (@wrymummy) pic warmed my cockles, as she has beautifully displayed and coordinated her nephew’s painting with her flowers. My kinda woman! We are drowning in artwork from Freddie and Sasha here, and Jess has made me realise that both homemade-family and grown up interiors can work really well together.

 

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Aaah, Emily’s (@brickdustandglitter) nursery wall is just darling, and I’m always jealous of someone who can write well on chalkboards, especially small ones! <glares at the scraggy written one above the kids’ play kitchen>

 

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I adore Chloe’s (@chloegraceb) black and white roll top bath- so unusual. I also love the detail that is the taps resting on the wooden ledge in front of the subway tiles- I’ve never seen a bath have it’s taps like this. Definitely the little details that make a room special!

 

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As a Mum of two small ones and all the paraphenalia that comes with them (artwork/preschool letters/ certificates), it’s always hard to find a way of housing and displaying them all well (ours is on the back of the kitchen door). This brilliant tree in @Little_green_tree_ ‘s playroom really made me smile, and is a great, themed way of doing so- the kids would love it!

 

 

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Now, I featured Gill’s (@gill_c) gorgeous rainbow pom pom garland the other week, and I had to feature it again as it’s been joined by the most perfect cushions for fans of colour! Gill has a tour of her little girl’s room currently on her blog- you should hop over and take a look HERE.

 

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I’ve said before that I’m a massive chalkboard wall fan, so had to finish off by featuring this one in Aimee’s (@missaimeefleur) house. I love how they get everyone in the family to be more creative, and they really do become the heart of the home-ours is used nearly every day three years after having it painted on our hall wall. I can’t recommend them highly enough!

Anything take your fancy here?

If you have children, how do you display their paintings (if at all!)? 

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*Giveaway* Win tickets to Grand Designs Live 2015!

header logo EXCEL

If there’s one programme on TV that Adam and I can unanimously agree to watch, it’s Grand Designs! We’re both fans of interiors and home design, and for several years now have absolutely loved seeing people be brave and bold enough to fulfill their dreams of a fabulously, innovative home. 

Well, for those of you who feel the same as us, I have a fantastic giveaway on the blog today: Your chance to win tickets to this year’s Grand Designs Live event at London’s Excel Centre (running 2nd-10th May)!

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You can choose which day you would like to attend, and will get the chance to catch some of the highlights of this fab event, including:

  • Ask An Expert, sponsored by Express Bi-folding Doors, promises to offer aspiring developers, and those undertaking a home improvement, build or renovation venture, specialist advice to assist with getting their own Grand Designs project underway.
  • For the eco-conscious visitor, Kevin McCloud’s Green Heroes will showcase show ambassador Kevin McCloud’s hand-picked selection of the most impressive eco-innovations and technologies; aiming to improve housing and our way of living.
  • ‘The Green House’ – Grand Technology, new for 2015, the Green House is an interactive walk through experience, showing the latest innovative gadgets and eco technology, as well as lighting designs and systems for the home.
  • The Grand Designs Eco Trail will feature highlights of those exhibitors that have eco or sustainable build products, making it easier for visitors with an interest in eco-friendly innovations to seamlessly navigate through the show to discover the products that matter to them.
  • The Grand Kitchens feature, sponsored by Miele, will boast a unique interactive cookery demonstration stage, a kitchen design seminar stage, a private consultation area for visitors to receive expert advice on their kitchen projects as well as a display of the winning kitchen design finalists. Visitor are also given the opportunity to see celebrity guests take on the ‘Celebrity Cook Along’.
  • A new Grand Kitchens feature this year is the Miele Live Kitchen Seminar Stage, which will host a busy schedule of kitchen design talks. These are set to include kitchen design, technology in the kitchen, trends and materials, colour and much more!
  • The Garden Design Competition – is set to run at the London show for the third time in the Grand Gardens section, sponsored by Hydropool. The competition will see entrants submit a garden design based on ‘Encouraging Wildlife in your garden’. The competition gives an opportunity for garden designers and landscapers who are interested in boosting their profile to showcase their skills and their designs at the show.
  • The Grand Village promises to showcase best-in-class innovation as seen on Channel 4: ‘Grand Designs’, featuring eco homes by Natural Building Live and Easy Domes, each demonstrating unique sustainable building techniques, and offering hands-on activities for visitors.
  • The Grand Theatre, sponsored by Airflow, will host a ‘Meet the Grand Designer’ seminar each day of the show, featuring a celebrity host alongside a couple or family from the recent Grand Designs series, talking through the challenges of their build project. The Theatre will also feature topical debates and talks as well as addressing local planning and building issues with a range of experts and guest speakers including: Kevin McCloud, George Clarke, Wayne Hemingway, Dan Hopwood, Sophie Robinson, Charlie Luxton, Lucy Hedges, Jo Hamilton and James Alexander Sinclair.
  • This year Grand Interiors will feature the Grand Designs Live Interiors Theatre, which will host a series of talks regarding home decorating, and interiors roomsets, for home inspiration.

PHEW! Sounds pretty awesome to me <faints at thought of all this good design stuff going on>

HOW TO ENTER:

I have 5 pairs of tickets to giveaway, and all you have to do to enter is follow me/the blog on Twitter and Facebook. So easy! Please make sure you fill in the Rafflecopter box below for your entry to count.

The closing date is Tuesday 21st April, and a winner will be picked at random via Rafflecopter. 

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Gratitude Express: Things that have made me happy this week

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Well hello there! I’ve had a rather lovely week or so off blogging- 1. Because of the children being on Easter holidays from preschool = pretty much nadda time to do anything bloggy, and 2. I had my hen do (whoop!) slap bang in the middle, which took up a fair few days (more on that later 😉 ) and it was quite a nice enforced break.

I can honestly say that these preschool holidays have been the most enjoyable yet- we’ve had a lovely mix of days out and days at home, the latter helped by the glorious spring weather we’ve had, which has meant both F&S have spent many hours playing and pottering in the garden. 

As I type I’ve dropped the children off at preschool, and am sitting in the kitchen with the back door wide open, drinking a cuppa, and trying to cram some work and wedding planning into a couple of hours. The sun shining sure does help lift the mood!

Here is what has made me happy this past week or so:

  • MY.HEN.DO. Honestly, it was quite simply one of the best friend-related weekends EVER! My pals surprised me with a trip to Amsterdam, and had thought of so much detail: from quizzes, to drag queen cabaret, from (pretty disgusting) fancy dress to places to eat and drink, they had put so much effort in and we all had a blast. I am a very, very lucky lady!
  • Watching close friends of ours get married on Friday. The weather was glorious, the location perfect, and again, it was the little details that really made the day an awesome one (hello, his and hers after dinner cocktails, and personalised wedding songs!).
  • Gardening with Freddie and Sasha. We spend last Wednesday helping out for a couple of hours at their preschool, tending to the beds in the park by weeding and putting some new ones in. My gardening knowledge is pretty limited to be honest, but I still enjoy the feeling of being outdoors and pretending that I am actually participating in the growing of ‘stuff’. The kids raked around and pulled out some weeds for a bit, before going off and playing on the playing fields surrounding preschool. This was lovely to see, as there were children of different ages, and watching them interact with older ones was how I would imagine it was ‘back in the day’, when children could play outside/go off and play for hours without adults being there. Fab.
  • Getting our daytime wedding guest invites out. Massive weight off my mind! 
  • Freddie and Sasha (mostly) playing so well together, and making up little games and scenarios with their Peppa figures. Great to watch, and has freed up loads of my time- I sometimes don’t know what to do with myself! (Note to self: WEDDING STUFF).
  • My little lady starting swimming lessons in the pool without me- I was worried she’d refuse to go in with just the teacher, but she handled it like a pro, all smiles and waves. I could have burst with pride!
  • It being light in the mornings. Okay, so it’s aiding the small, already early risers in our house, but tis so much easier to bounce out of bed when that sun is shining!

and finally…

  • Getting the old trotters out in my fugly Birkenstocks. My feet might be blinding people this side of the South Circular, but boy does getting air on them feel GOOD!

What has made you happy?

 

Potty Mouthed Mummy

 

Linking up with Sian and KA for ‘Count Your Lucky Stars’!

Ideal Home Show 2015 Uncovered!

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For interiors lovers, the yearly Pilgrimage to the house-and-home-Mecca that is The Ideal Home Show is a calendar highlight. I’m sure I remember my own Mum attending when I was small, and as I’ve developed my own passion for the latest in home design, it’s been an event that I’ve been super-keen to go to myself. So when the fab bods at Kinetico offered me a chance to go the London Olympia and sniff out the latest in home appliances, decoration, furniture, food and innovations, I totally jumped at the chance and I might well have squealed a tiny bit. 

The actual event is HUGE, much bigger than I was ever expecting (there are hundreds of stands, plus areas hosting informative talks and demonstrations). So, after grabbing a coffee, and gathering my thoughts, but not before getting sucked in by a very convincing chap from The Cats Protection League (I will now be paying 6 quid a month for my very own pen of cats somewhere up north), I was ready to rumble. I decided to mostly bypass the beauty section on this occasion, in the interests of interiors/home research, and after spending a day perusing some truly awesome stands, I can bring you my picks from the show:

Prettiest Frames:

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 The first stand to really catch my eye because I’m such a lover of photos, and because we’re looking to add a few photo walls to our home later this year, was ‘Ayers & Graces’. They are the No.1 supplier of reproduction antique mirrors and picture frames in the UK, and oh-so-very pretty. I would love a combination of these frames on the wall of our stairway, once our loft conversion is complete.

 Best of British:

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 Not everyone’s cup of tea I’m sure, but this fabulously lairy sofa by ‘Make Me A Sofa’ would be a real focal point in a muted living space. I loved it, and it felt pretty comfy too!

Most Innovative:

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One of the reasons I was so keen to come to The Ideal Home Show courtesy of Kinetico, was because I was genuinely keen to chat to the guys on the stand to find out more about the brand. Even before they’d got in touch with me, I’d seen a telly ad in my doctor’s surgery, and heard from other sources, that their water softeners really helped with eczema, a condition that Freddie in particular suffers from. We also live in a Hard-Water area (SE London), and our taps and appliances often become victims of that annoying affliction, limescale. Water softeners such as those from Kinetico protect your home from such limescale damage. 

After chatting to the tres-knowledgeable staff on the stand, they explained that their water softeners remove the impurities that cause limescale and that can also irritate sensitive skin such as Freddie’s. Anything that can relieve my boy of his itchy bod will always be something worth considering. 

I was also pretty impressed with Kinetico’s ‘Kube’ Advanced Water Filitration system, which provides you with filtered water straight from your existing tap. You can cook without chemicals, and your tea and coffee has a new-lease of life! A water ‘win’, and truly innovative product. 

Iconic Design:

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Like a wayward pigeon, I saw the homing beacon sign of ‘Smeg’ a mile off. I just can’t get enough of this iconic brand, and being a Smeg fridge owner myself (mint green here), I always have huge affection for it. Their 50s style range of kitchen appliances is to die for (I’m eyeing up a new kettle), and I’m sure no one minded me much stroking the beautiful products in a trance-like state.

Best Food-related Product:

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 These ‘polycarbonate vacumn’ (say what?) containers by ‘Nova UK’ were my pick of the food section. Whilst I’m not usually drawn in by food storage boxes masquerading as posh tupperware, the guy on the stand was so enthusiastic I couldn’t help but be won over. For as it happens, these are most certainly not posh tupperware, but a super hi-tech way storing and preserving the food in your fridge, by essentially vacuum-packing it. Ever wondered how those diet and fitness gurus on Instagram manage to prep a week’s worth of salads, without it going limp by day 5? Well, they’re probably using some of these. These babies keep things fresh for WEEKS.

If money were no object:

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 There were several massage chair stands at the show, and after pounding the isles for a couple of hours, I was in need of a well-earned rest. The guy from the Sasaki stand let me try one of these (for AGES I might add, I think I was in one of these for 20 minutes before he came back. Not complaining mind!). I got some amused looks from passers by, but they were worth it for the heaven that was a turn in one of these chairs. The downside? You’ll have to say buh-bye to the best part of 5K! Ouch!

Best Homeware:

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My head was immediately turned by the beautiful Burleigh pottery stand. Anyone who knows me, knows that as well as the mid-century homeware that I sell, I also adore anything with pretty florals. The English handcrafted tableware has been in production since 1851, with the stand showcasing the new Coronation Meadows Collection, produced in collaboration with Highgrove, and inspired by HRH Prince Charles’ Coronation Meadows project. 

To update your kitchen:

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 If you’re looking to update your boring kitchen with some funky tables and chairs, look no further than the cheerful, retro-inspired diner range by Cola Red. The black and white chequered table (complete with chrome trim) would make a fabulously bold statement. I love the baby blue stool too!

Super-cool lighting:

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Like a moth to a flame, I was fluttering around (arf, arf) the most amazing lighting stand, featuring some statement lighting concepts by ‘Jam Jar Lights’. I couldn’t get enough of the giant hanging bulbs (pictured), and have been wracking my brains ever since to find somewhere for these to go in our house.

 For your mini-mes this summer:

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 One things I was surprised about at the show was the apparent lack of Children’s design, especially furniture, beds etc, which I was rather disappointed about, especially since we are going to be giving Sasha a brand new room by the end of the year. What did cheer me up though, was coming across this adorable mini outdoor table, benches and chairs by Riverco Trading. The owner, Peter, handmakes everything to order, and at £199, the above set is something I’m seriously tempted to order for my little ones. Too cute!

 Awesome Artwork:

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 Browsing the stands, there were a few pieces of art that really stood out for me. I still can’t decide if I would give them house room or not (although I’m veering towards a ‘yes’), but each one would definitely be a talking point! I really, really do want the Oxo r2d2 (stocked by Generation Gallery Manchester) on my kitchen wall though!

and some more Awesome Artwork:

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With a resident stall already in East London’s Spitalfield’s Market, ‘A Book on One Page’ creates fascinating literary prints, made up of the entire works of a book. I fell in love with the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ one, and would love this print for Sasha’s room.

Beautiful Cards: 

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 As I was nearing the end of my day, my eye was caught by these beautifully intricate pop-up greetings cards by ‘Dragon Greetings Cards’– great to send to a special person in your life who appreciates the tiny details.

and finally…

My Bargain Buys:

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 I thought I was extremely restrained  throughout the show, especially when so many fabulous potential purchases were dangled before my greedy eyes (it also helped that I deliberately left my credit card at home), but I couldn’t leave without buying anything. The little purchases that quenched my spending thirst, and made me a happy lady, were these beautiful Easter decorations from the ‘Sass & Belle’ stand. Reduced from £6 to £2 each, they simply had to come home with me- I just need to find somewhere good to hang them now!

So that was my Ideal Home Show… I found it a brilliant experience and would definitely go again next year. There’s always something really satisfying about finding that dream home-buy, that little interiors gem, or clamping your eyes on that brand new product before anyone else does!

So What do you think of my picks? Have you been before? I’d love to hear!

BritMums

BritMums

 

The biggest thank you for Kinetico partnering with The Spirited Puddle Jumper and for sending me to the Ideal Home Show, and generally being awesome at their stand!