My “Petite Madeleine”

A few days ago, as I was walking down the street, a little girl wearing a red and white checked summer school uniform walked past holding her mum’s hand and I was taken back, far far back. Suddenly I was a little girl again at Southwell school on Portland in Dorset in the late 80s and I was wearing that uniform and having lunch outside on a sunny day. I could hear the seagulls, feel the fresh air, taste the sandwiches from my lunchbox and hear children playing all around me. It was so strange and quite intense, the memories just hit me. I actually stopped pushing the buggy for a few seconds as it was such a strong feeling. All the memories came flooding back: assembly at school, playing with Tim, Anna, Daniel and Heidi, living in Osborne Hall (it’s now quite a nice Air BnB: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/863848) where slow worms used to live in the back wall, my Grandparents’ beach hut, The Cove Pub, the sculpture park in the quarry, the Beach Road, being very mean to the girl up the road and pouring oil on her head (sorry!) – my childhood on Portland before I moved to France basically.

Nearly 30 years later I would move to Walthamstow (via quite a few other places) and meet H through NCT, she happens to be friends with a girl who was in my class at Southwell school on Portland, it really is a small world.

The only other time I can remember being thrown back in time was a few years ago when I stayed at someone’s house and had forgotten my toothpaste. The only toothpaste in the bathroom was children’s toothpaste, the second it hit my taste buds, that particular banana flavour took me back to the South of France and my first “colonies de vacances” when I was 9 or 10 years old. I can remember that holiday camp like it was yesterday: feeling different because I didn’t have a “carnet de sante” like all the other French children and because I had some Stefanel clothes my Granny had bought so I was seen as “posh”, wearing my pink jumper (I can’t remember the brand name but I loved that jumper) in the morning to breakfast, the only time it wasn’t hot; falling in love with “Sebastien” and asking my mum when we got back if we could move to Argenteuil so I could see him (if you know anything about France and “les banlieues”, you will understand why this was a very naïve request…); plucking up the courage to ask a girl if she wanted to be friends on the first day; listening to lots of Michael Jackson and I randomly remember a girl rubbing her soap against the shower wall to make it looked like it had been used a lot because she didn’t want her mum to know she didn’t wash much once she got back – how do I remember that ???!!! I can still see her banging that soap against the wall… It’s strange how tiny weird details stick in your memory. It’s also amazing how when you are a child you don’t understand social differences, I now know that “Sebastien” and his friends most likely didn’t pay for their time there and it was probably their only holiday.

What will A remember from her childhood, what will stick in her mind, which memories will last and which ones will fade…. I just hope she likes to wash with soap.

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My Second Letter to My First Daughter

Two months ago I posted my first letter to A , a lot has changed in those 2 months and for the better!

Bella-Roo, you have turned into a very happy baby that smiles a lot and most importantly can smile on cue (I just need to make a clicking noise and voila!), that’s how I get lots of great pictures of you! See example below (yes mummy thinks you are very cute):
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I should really think of making you into a baby model as you are so good at posing!

Over the past 2 months, we went on our first trips together on a train and it went smoothly enough. A lady did have to put her earplugs in at one point on the train to Weymouth as you were tired and crying but except for that we survived! In one month exactly we are going on a plane for 4.5 hours to Tenerife, I’m a bit stressed about this as I’m not sure how getting you to nap on a plane is going to work (I’m counting on the Ergo) but it should be OK as you really don’t cry much anymore. Thank you for not being a difficult baby, we had a rough start but you are a joy to be with nowadays.

A few weeks ago you learnt to roll over from back to front, the first time you did this was at 9.30PM, we heard you screamed and ran in to your bedroom to find you stuck face down. Mummy and daddy were very excited about this! We were less excited when you did it again at 4AM and then 6AM, this is why you now sleep in a Grobag tucked into your mattress, sorry about this straight jacket style sleeping but gymnastics are for daytime.

These are some of the things you love doing:
-putting everything in your mouth especially mummy and daddy’s fingers
-screeching and making all sorts of (mostly) cute noises
-dancing and flying, you seem to really like moving and physical activity
-listening to mummy sing, which is surprising as I CANNOT sing
-the bath, you love the bath and can quite easily suck on a wet flannel for 30 mins (as I said you love putting things in your mouth!)
-having your nappy changed, you love having it taken off and start throwing your legs everywhere.
-putting “doudou” on your face for naps in the buggy:
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-you love looking around at everything and everybody, you are very nosy!

You have recently started sleeping through the night and mummy and daddy would like to thank you for this! Please don’t stop!

We love you Boo, we could imagine a better baby, you make us laugh a lot and bring a lot of joy into your lives, we are really looking forward to going on our holiday and putting you in a swimming pool, just be good on the plane!

Perfect 10 Mobile Beauty Is Pretty Perfect

A few weeks ago, I finally used the gift voucher my amazing friend bought me (mentioned here) and it was amazing!
Picture this: it’s 8PM on a Thursday night, your baby is in bed and at 7.55 on the dot (the fact she was bang on time was a big plus and really appreciated), a very friendly beautician turns up on your doorstep ready to give you an hour long MASSAGE and you don’t even have to LEAVE THE HOUSE!
She arrived with a fold up bed, pillows, oil and iPad speakers. I told her to set up in the bedroom, it took just a few minutes, she asked if the lighting was ok and then left me to get changed and onto the bed.
An hour of bliss followed, the massage was just what I needed! She checked the pressure was right and concentrated on my back, which I asked her to.
I was very impressed with the payment system (I had to top up the voucher a tiny bit), it was super easy, I just typed my card details into the IPad and an instant receipt was sent to me by email.
I then changed into my PYJAMAS and went straight to sleep!
The fact they come to your house, on time, up to 8PM at night makes it the ideal treat for tired mums. Especially when you are breastfeeding, it’s not 100% relaxing to leave your baby for a few hours, you know they will survive but cant fully switch off. On the other hand, at home, you can so treat yourselves girls! (please let them know I sent you 🙂 )
Thank you Coco and thanks Perfect10!

What I Love About Walthamstow

Just under a year ago, we moved from N1 to E17 and didn’t really know what to expect. We moved for the typical reason of “we can’t afford to buy in Islington so lets move up the Victoria Line” and have not regretted it and here’s why:
-We live AT the station, this means it takes 3 mins exactly to go from our front door to the platform for the train, I was so grateful for this when commuting whilst pregnant and am very grateful for this as my husband gets home really quickly in the evening
-We have an amazing view of London from our balcony, I have spent many hours sat on the sofa breastfeeding and admiring the view!
-There is a great Moroccan and many Turkish supermarkets within walking distance where you can find amazing and authentic products, merguez or ajvar anybody?

-I can get freshly cooked Gozleme in 3 mins

-I love wondering around the best Spar (it’s official!) in England and looking at all the interesting products they sell, it’s E17’s version De Beauvoir Deli in my opinion

-The East London Sausage Company makes amazing sausages!

-I love everything about Ravenswood Industrial Estate, the neon, the cakes next door and the brewery

-I’ve made great friends here and know more people in Walthamstow than I ever did in Islington, of course it’s because I have a baby now and they are all “baby related” but still it makes me feel part of the community (even if for now it’s part of the buggy brigade!), which I never did in Islington

-You can take the 97 bus and be at Westfield in 20 mins, where they sell FROZEN YOGURT and there is a WAITROSE!

-Walthamstow village in really pretty

-I love walking to Lloyd Park as it’s just the right distance to get A to sleep in the buggy and once there it’s lovely, even though it takes a lot of willpower not to buy a cake on the way in one of the MANY cake shops!

-I am addicted to Lidl’s pains au chocolat (I know this is not really Walthamstow related!)

-There are some great pubs around, yes I know a lot of them feel like creches on a Sunday but at the moment that suits me fine 🙂

-It’s super easy to get anywhere from here (the City, central London, Stansted etc.)

There is still so much to discover, we’ve never been to the Marches for example nor to Epping Forest (which we can walk to!), I’ve never been to the Mill nor to Hornbeam Cafe nor bought fish from Davies & Sons nor really made the most of the market etc. I will spend the next 6 months of my maternity leave doing a lot more exploring now the weather is better.

Finally to top it all off, apparently TK Maxx is opening this year, which is my world is VERY EXCITING. They don’t call it Awesomestow for nothing!

 

Great BBQ has landed in Walthamstow

Today I went for lunch at Grillstock as part of their soft opening with 50% off food and drink.
We were 7 mums, 1 dad, 7 babies and 6 buggies! Nevertheless our waitress Veronica did a great job of moving chairs around so all the buggies could fit. Had this been a normal busy day we would have struggled to all fit but the food was so good (more on that later) that I’m sure we would come back and just use slings.
It’s really easy to find with a big BBQ sign outside next door to the future Thai restaurant just before HSBC.
I’m married to an American and have being going to the U.S. regularly for the past 10 years so I’ve had my fair share of BBQ and this was up there.

The inside is nice and airy with just the right amount of tables and some comfy looking booths. The picnic benches are a nice touch and the music was just loud enough.
You have to order food at the bar which is fine and we were told this straight away. They made sure all the food came together by putting a “hold” on the first order until everyone at the table had ordered, which was appreciated.

The menu is divided into sections such as “BBQ plates” ( a full meal), “sandwiches”, “burgers”, “fixins”( sides) and “home style dishes”.
I had a pulled pork sandwich which came with fries and coleslaw and an extra side of Mac n Cheese. The sandwich was great, the bun was the perfect consistency and the meat really flavourful, I added some hot BBQ sauce, which was on the table and looked homemade. I’m definitely trying the ribs next time! They don’t have ketchup (yet!) which was a shame but they will soon. The coleslaw was nice and chunky and not drenched in mayonnaise. The chips were OK but not amazing, it’s the only thing I wasn’t that impressed with. Portions were good and with 50% off amazing value but even at full price, the value is good.

I really want to thank our waitress Veronica (love your hair by the way!) who was very sweet and helpful. Apparently it’s her first waitressing job and it didn’t show one bit!
I’ll definitely be back and I’m sure my American husband is going to love it! A great new addition to the Walthamstow “Scene”.

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My thoughts on maternity leave

Yes I know this blog has turned into a “mummy blog” as of late but to be honest being a mummy has become a massive part of my life, I am trying to not let it take over completely but when you are breastfeeding and your baby refuses to take a bottle you can’t really leave them for long. Every 2 weeks on a Saturday I religiously go and have my nails done and enjoy an hour of peace. Also the minute she is bed at night, I try not to think about her. Tonight a lady is coming to give me a massage, I am so excited and so grateful to my dear friend Coralie for giving me this gift! Talking of which Coralie has an amazing company http://www.macocobox.com/  that creates arts and crafts boxes for children on a monthly basis, they deliver to England so please have a look round her website (it’s in French but it’s amazing!)  And when she naps in the morning ( I could write a whole post about bloody naps!) I sometimes don’t know what to do with the free time! I tried not to waste those precious minutes doing boring household stuff, the gossip pages of dailymail.com are much exciting, as are writing blog posts!

Back to maternity leave…the first thing I have to say is I pity women who don’t get a choice to spend more than a few weeks or months on maternity leave. I know some women could take a year off and don’t out of choice but many women don’t have this choice either for job security reasons (US women for example) or financial women. We are very lucky in the UK to be able to have a year off and go back to your job, some women are lucky to get more than the statutory pay (if I worked for my husband’s company for example I would have 9 months off on full pay! Sadly I don’t work for the biggest asset manager in the world, not to name them…) I think it s a privilege to be able to spend the first year of your child’s life with them, many women dream of this. I thought I would be bored, I thought I would go back after less than a year but there is no way I would now (I know I might change my mind in a few months). I love being with her, I can’t imagine having to give her to somebody else all day every day, once in awhile would be nice though! She makes me laugh so much, she’s such a happy baby. I didn’t realize the pleasure you can get through them. For example she loves our baby sensory classes and it makes me so happy to see her so happy. I know how sad my husband is to not see her in the week and I could not cope with that, not yet anyway.

People said I would feel like this but I wasn’t sure.. Also one of the best things about being on maternity leave is being able to see your friends a lot more than usual and being able to spend time with family.I am really grateful for that. Not just having the weekends makes a massive difference. All this time doesn’t mean I have become a perfect housewife, I still have a cleaner and the fridge is still regularly empty!

These first few months are so precious and I would not have missed them for the world. I do have moments of “I can’t just eat cake and go for coffee for a year” and I really miss going out for dinner and impromptu trips etc.. And nothing really exciting happens, no trips to NYC, no nights out etc. I really need to organise some nights out (the one good thing is once she is asleep at night, she never wakes up before midnight so it’s safe to go out!). On the other hand I am really excited about our first holiday abroad, I cant wait to see her in a pool even though I am scared of the 4.5 hour flight! I can’t believe we might be “those people” with a screaming baby!

All in all I have adapted very well to not working! I have lost some freedom but gained some in other ways. I am grateful to live in a country that permits a long maternity leave and gives women the choice to be with their babies or not.