Friday, 5 August 2016

On one of our very rare child free meals we recently went to Jamie's in St Slbsns and I had a fantastic fish stew, in fact all the food was predictably fantastic!

We were recently invited to try The addition to Jamie's in St Albans - Jamie's Pizzeria so we're very happy to agree and even took the smalls with us this time!

On arrival we weren't entirely sure where to go as the Pizzeria is directly next door to the existing restaurant but we were soon shown the way and shown to our seat



The restaurant had a great decor and felt really relaxed, it's attached to the main restaurant (with shared toilet facilities) so felt a little unusual but the welcome was warm.

Having young children, other than the menu there are two things I look for in a restaurant which I hope will make it possible for me to 1) actually eat my food while it's hot and 2) pretend that eating in a restaurant is a lovely stress free experience and we enjoy every second of it. The highchairs and the activity packs!
Thankfully Jamies Pizzeria uses Stokke highchairs which along with the ikea ones are pretty much the only two which Freya can't escape from (well they make it a little harder) this meant that there was at least a 50/50% chance she would stay sat down long enough for us to order and eat the starters. The activity packs were also good - colouring crayons etc, possible a little old for Freya but she's generally happy with some colouring. 



So the food...... The menu is fairly simple which I quite liked as it often means whats there is good quality and well cooked rather than a place trying to cover everything and not doing anything particularly well. We started with olives as both the girls could literally inhale them and some delicious garlic bread with rosemary.  
For mains we all ordered pizzas (there is a forno dish of the day for those wanting an alternative but we felt that as a pizza restaurant we wanted to try the pizzas on offer) The pizzas are really delicious, fresh and light with a definite homemade feel to them. The girls had the kids pizza which also came with a shaker salad which they loved. My cheese monster big girl complained about the lack of cheese on the pizza and to be fair she had a point but it's minor and I'm sure you could request extra if you wished.


We were probably too full for deserts but it felt rude not to try something so the girls had ice cream and we opted to share a chocolate brownie. This came with toffee popcorn and salted caramel ice cream and was seriously tasty! The girls ice creams were fine but they did come with an amaretto biscuit which they did't like and I thought was a bit of a grown up choice if I was being picky.



As an overview the food was great and I'd definitely recommend it, everything felt freshly made and we all loved our choices

Restaurant wise I did feel having the pizzeria as an attachment to the main restaurant left you feeling a bit forgotten. We booked at 4.30 on a Sunday so I appreciate it wasn't the busiest of times however during our meal we didn't have a member of staff within the pizzeria for the whole time instead they came and went from the main restaurant and there were times when we were entirely alone in the restaurant feeling a little bit like we were in the sitting room at a party while everyone else was in the kitchen.

As a result of this we felt a little flat when we left and both agreed that we'd definitely return for the food but we we didn't feel very well looked after and the dining experience itself was a little detached. I'd be interested to return at a busier time to see if the experience is different

We were invited to try the food at Jamie's Pizzeria but all words and opinions are my own

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Flying with Young Children, A Survival Guide

The one thing I was dreading most about our first holiday abroad as a family was the flight, it was only 4 hours but I literally had no idea how we would keep F the energetic, stubborn little mountain goat in one place for 4 minutes let alone 4 hours!

I planned, I researched and I purchased to try and ensure a smooth flight where I would at least emerge with my nerves intact and not have the rest of the plane wanting to shove my little darling into the overhead storage

As it turned out the flight was a breeze, the kids were impeccable and I couldn't have been more proud *smug* 

That said I know this wasn't without some careful planning and Im not going to be foolish enough to think it will be like this every time. So here are my top tips for preparing to fly with young kids and toddlers

1 - If your little one still naps, try and arrange it so they need to sleep during the flight, obviously you don't want to push them too far so that they scream the entire journey but we gave F a very early nap so that she would need another one later in the day and although it was only an hour it meant we had a little quiet time.

2 - We also used the airport time as a chance to let them run off some energy prior to boarding, there is usually plenty of walking opportunities and if you can, find a seating area where they can safely have a bit of freedom to stretch their legs as they will be sitting for a long time once you board

3 - Think about food - snacks can save a million situations so make sure you have plenty to hand. I took little boxes of raisons and things which would take a bit longer to eat to keep them occupied for longer. We also took a packed lunch with us as I knew there wasn't in flight food included and the stuff you can buy isn't exactly kid friendly. This meant that they also had a little plane picnic to keep them busy and kill some time.



4 - I was particularly worried about how the kids would react to take off, whether they would be scared, whether their ears would pop etc and again I worried far too much as they did brilliantly. we concentrated on looking after one child each and ensured they were occupied and positive during the take off and landing. We had sweets and dummies at the ready in case their ears popped and I bought them both a little soft dolly which I whipped out of my bag just as we were taking off and this acted as a great distraction. 

5 - Have plenty of activities ready to keep them occupied. I bought both the kids some new things which I kept hidden in my bag and bought out at intervals during the flight. My 4 year old had a new pencil case with an activity book, a small playmobile set and a new book. I also got my 19 month old a pencil case and drawing book, some toy cars and a book. F loves opening and closing things at the moment so this kept them both busy for a good part of the flight. 


6 - Finally whether you love them or loath them don't under estimate the power of electrical devices. We took both the Leap pad and iPad on the flight and had some of their favourite shows downloaded ready to go. Our return flight was at night and although my 19 months old slept the whole journey my 4 year old found it hard to drop off so watching a few episodes of her favourite shows while lying down helped her relax and they both slept right through landing and had to be woken up when we reached the airport. 

7 - Try to RELAX, I know that sounds easy but if your baby cries try not to be too bothered by those around you and just concentrate on ensuring you are both comfortable - rest assured yours won't be the only child making some noise on the flight and if you're lucky they won't be the worst! 

8 - If however they are - there's always GIN!

Thursday, 31 March 2016

I Bloody Love Spring!

Right now things are pretty much all over the place in our little lives, almost sold out house, have no where else to go after the gazumping dabacle, work/ study / life balance is well.....unbalanced and little legs has decided that rather than sleep she is going to cry every 20 minutes unless she has a dummy in her mouth and one in each hand. All in all this has left us stressed, fed up and knackered!

However I woke up this morning to blue skies and an undeniable feeling that Spring is on its way and it just made everything feel a little lighter.

Yes we may have to stay in our little 2 bed abode but D loves the idea of bunk beds and it really is an awesome house.

Yes I feel stressed by working, studying and looking after the kids but it's temporary and will hopefully pave the way for a big changes and a much more home focused future 

And yes we're knackered but I'm pretty sure most parents of 18 month olds are knackered as well. I've been here before, I know it will pass and I know in my heart that she's not doing this to deprive her poor parents of much needed sleep, she's having a hard time and needs us - its just a shame she needs us all night long ZZZzzzzzzz




Thank you spring sunshine, thank you new flowers, thank you ice creams as big as our heads and thank you for the prospect of summer! we all need a little perspective sometimes

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Little Pip is 18 Months old

Miss Freya Pearl

You're 18 months old today and I thought I'd take the chance to mark you officially becoming a mini person and sob quietly that you're not my tiny baby anymore

When i found out we were having another girl,I just presumed we'd have a mini version of D but I couldn't have been more wrong, you're Freya and although you couldn't be more different from your big sister together you're both pretty perfect!

you are so lucky have D as your big sister, she loves you so so much and she's going to no doubt bail you out of trouble for the rest of your life, she'll be the one holding the window open for you to sneak through when you come home late, she'll be getting you out of trouble, covering up for you - She'll have you're back no matter what. D loves being your big sister, she's flourished in the role and you've given her so much confidence watching how she plays with and looks after you is the best thing in the world


You on the other hand are cheekiness personified, you have a huge, fearless, funny character. You drive D crazy sometimes, you want everything she has, won't cuddle when she wants to, will definitely cuddle when she doesn't! But its so clear you simply adore her and I hope you'll be best friends forever.


I'm so proud of you every single day and I love watching the little person you are becoming.

You are funny, love attention and can be a stubborn, independent little lady when you want to

Your favourite place is the swings and you will sing and dance until you fall asleep (literally)

You love books and drawing and baby Jake and Igglepiggle are your current heroes

You LOVE cake especially chocolate cake and will eat spaghetti Bol every day of the week!

You stand on everything, climb on the unclimbable and it is an absolute miracle we haven't had any visits to A&E yet!

You're becoming so so clever, you can say so much and I know you understand so much more. I was going to list your words but you can say so much now it would go on forever!

You're amazing, you make me laugh constantly and I really do love you more than chocolate!

Happy 1.5 birthday Baby Pip



Thursday, 17 March 2016

Boots Opticians Launch New Eye Test Storybook - Zookeeper Zoe

BootsUK have launched a brand new exciting eye check story book this week called "Zookeeper Zoe" 

Developed with the National Literacy Trust and in collaboration with Celebrity Dad Peter Andre, this is a story book with a difference. Throughout the book there are a number of interactive eye check activities which will help parents to identify if their children require an eye test. Aimed at Children aged 4-6 it tells the story of a little girl called Zoe who during a trip to the zoo ends up being a zookeeper for the day. For Animal crazy Zoe this is a dream come true and she has a fun filled day with the animals helping keep the zoo open. 



The eye checks are integrated within the story so children will enjoy taking part in the activities without even realising they are doing so, meaning parents can work through them in a fun and interactive way. 

Mr R wears glasses and has done since childhood do it's something I'm aware of for my little ones, this is a great way of keeping an eye on the children eyes while indulging our love for books!

As part of the Launch of Zookeeper Zoe Boots held a fantastic Animal themed party at the St Martins Lane Hotel in London and invited us along to join them. We had a brilliant morning and there was so much to keep the girls entertained, from facepainting (a particular favourite of Daisy's) a very popular balloon modeller, craft tables for mask making and colouring and not forgetting real life animals for the children to meet! Daisy loved saying hello to the snakes, parrot and Lemur and even at one point had a huge snake slithering over her as she lay on the ground!



There was also a wonderful comfy area where we could sit and read the book have our photo taken with some of the Characters - Freya was particularly keen on the Gorilla! I loved the green screen where the kids could have their photo taken and have it made into an identity badge for them to wear during the day - Daisy loved hers and it's a great memory of a fun morning. 





The entertainers on the day were truly brilliant, so friendly with the children and even had my normally shy girly dancing round like an elephant. The magic show even had us grown ups amazed and they ended with a lovely picnic together while the adults enjoyed a few glasses of  fizz and canap├ęs. 



All in all a brilliant morning and a suitably fun filled way to launch a great idea and great book. Ours has definitely become a bedtime favourite!




Zookeeper Zoe is available free from BootsUK and Boots Opticians stores while stocks last. It can also be found online at www.zookeeperzoe.co.uk


Sunday, 6 March 2016

5 Ways to Make your Mother's Day the Best Ever, with Champneys

We all hear the same things every year, people saying how they don't need a special day to enjoy motherhood, remind themselves their a good parent or be treated kindly by their family and yes this is all well and true but in reality it's just nice! As a busy mum it's lovely to have a day where we remember who we are, think about how much our families mean to us and be appreciated for how hard we work and if alongside that we get a bit of relaxation along the way whats there to complain about!

So when Champney's got in touch and asked if I would like to join their challenge to blog about 5 things which could make Mothers day the best ever I thought why not - it's good sometimes to remind ourselves we doing a good job of the hardest job in the world! 

So here's mine.........

1. A bit of peace and quiet. As mums we all have our own expectations of peace and quiet. For some it might be a weekend away or a spa day but for me, a lady of little pleasures just a wee alone without the toddler attempting to 'help' or a cup of hot tea sitting down without a four year old declaring 'mummy I'm princess Fiona - you be shrek!' is an absolute treat.

2. A meal out. Technically for me this is simply anything I haven't cooked and more importantly I won't have to wash up after. The fact someone else has the pleasure of picking up the toddler debris really does make it Mother's Day heaven!

3. A lie in. There aren't many parents (at least those telling the truth) who get enough sleep at night so the thought of a little child (and husband) free extra sleep in the morning is the perfect Mother's Day treat. And when I say lie in I really only mean till 7am I'm not greedy! 


4. A long hot bubble bath. Okay maybe a long hot shower, bugger I'll take a super quick Luke warm shower if I could only get away without shave my legs with little eyes peering at me, a toddler scaling the loo to eat the toilet roll and the foreboding knowledge that at any second your mobile phone/clothes/hairdryer/fully dressed toddler might join you

5. If none if the above are possible then you can always rely on the fail safe, always a winner, Mother's Day treat and bring me a large cold G&T - perfect



I'm pretty lucky and I'm happy with my lot in life but a little bit of time alone to relax would never go amiss. So when Champney's asked if I'd like to try their A little something special gift box it sounded like a lovely excuse to take a bit of time to myself. The set comes in a beautiful sunny yellow box with a real feeling of quality and the products smelt amazing as soon as I opened the box. The box contains:

  • Citrus Blush Enlivening Shower Cream
  • Citrus Blush Enlivening Daily Scrub
  • Citrus Blush Enlivening Body lotion
  • Summer Dream Rewarding Bubble Heaven
  • Summer Dream Rewarding Candle
All the products are full sized and it feels like a real treat to receive, I can't wait try out  them all out and give myself a little time to relax after a fun filled mother's day. 

I was sent the Champney's gift box for the purposes of this post but all words and opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

So, we got gazumped.... and the rest........

To the scumbag who committed to us buying your home and then went and exchanged with another buyer did you realise or care.......

We have 2 young children

We work bloody hard to make ends meet and have put everything we have financially into buying this house

We started to plan a future there for our children and shared our exciting plans with our equally as excited children.

We were looking forward to an exciting year building our forever home.

We've already spent thousands on fees, surveys and solicitor costs

I used to see the positive in people and believed most people were essentially good but now I'll forever be wary and sadly consider everyone's greed and self centredness before seeing the good 

And most importantly, you made my 4 year old cry - You're a dick

I'm no housing expert or indeed conveyancing solicitor but it's worth knowing that in England Gazumping is very much a thing and perfectly legal - in a sellers market its often used to put buyers up against each other to get the best deal. However what isn't ok is what happened to us - our seller's solicitor issued 2 contracts and placed us in a contract race without us being made aware. Contract races, where 2 buyers literally race to exchange first, (although clearly bonkers) are legal but each party needs to be aware and in agreement which wasn't the case for us. Don't worry it's being pursued by our solicitor.........