Girl, Where Do You Think You’re Going?

Now that is something I’m never going to try and figure out again. The other day I was re-reading the post I wrote at the beginning of this year with my goals for 2017 Here and realised quite a few had been reached against all odds! And the odds are the 2 D words (so you know not just any odd hurdle…), no need to spell them out.

I might not know where I’m going (seriously after this year, I have no idea!) but I’ve been to some amazing places this year and as the sun slowly starts to set on 2017, I can confirm the following (this is probably going to sound like an empty list of platitudes and cliches but here goes…) :

  • Resilience is a force to be reckoned with
  • The worst of times can be linked to the best of times in mysterious ways. For example the weather on the day of my dad’s funeral was absolutely amazing, perfect, unseasonably warm and sunny. 2017 was destined to be the worse year ever but I have survived and actually had some amazing moments, there is always light and hope.
  • Music is more powerful than I ever thought, listening to Lemonade by Beyoncé has got me through some dark times and seeing Adele live was pretty special
  • Even though sunsets represent the end of the day, I have a bit of “a thing” for them and see them in a very positive light, not just because they are beautiful (3 of my favourite ones from this year are below, I am very grateful I got to see such amazing ones this year…) but also because, as with 2017, I have learnt that sometimes the end is actually the beginning

This is a bit of a random post, I will definitely write one at the end of the year to go over how many of those goals I reached!

As for 2018, come to mama…

PS: yes there are a few Lady Gaga “Joanne” references in this post…

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A Mummy’s Guide To Ibiza – Part 1

A few years ago a colleague of mine told me that his original opinion of me that I was ” not fun, stuck up and a bit of a princess” but he had realised he was wrong. He probably didn’t know about Gav The Chav at the time or what the Armstrongs can be like. I am full of surprises (she writes as she listens to Kanye West) however I agreed to go to Ibiza anxiously as I have been feeling like a boring mum, how my colleague originally saw me recently, couldn’t even remember the last time I had been clubbing let alone seen the sun rise…

About 2 months ago, on my way to work, during a particularly tough week I started day dreaming about getting on the train to Gatwick and on a flight to Ibiza so it was fate when shortly after my colleague asked me if I wanted to go on a girls’ trip to Ibiza, it was meant to be! If anybody ever asks you if you want to go to Ibiza, SAY YES! You owe it to yourself , you owe to the world!

Vegas rules apply in Ibiza but there is plenty to blog about…

BEACHES

I had no idea how beautiful Ibiza was, on the first day we actually took a boat to Formentera,

which was a great way to start the holiday, it was pretty empty and super chilled, we were switched off from real life in hours. We could have hired bikes but ended up using taxis and one bus, most expensive bus ride of my life actually, 4 bloody euros for a 10 mins ride and with the exchange rate crashing whilst I was there it seemed ridiculous. The first beach we went to was Playa Migjorn, a bit windy but lovely.

We had lunch by the beach at http://www.arenals.com/, food was nice and the view was just great, obviously we had sangria, I think we had sangria with every meal!

We then went over to Playa Illetes, now this is a seriously beautiful beach, one of the nicest I have ever seen in the world. I’m not great taking pictures, the colour of the water and the clarity was 10 times better than it seems on these. I’ve added some filters to try to give you a better idea.

I could have sat there all day, unfortunately we had a boat to catch, actually we didn’t! We got the boat times wrong and ended up waiting around, such is life….

We went to Las Salinas on Ibiza the next day, this was my favourite beach, because it was SO MUCH FUN! I’ve rarely been as relaxed as whilst having lunch and drinking sangria (of course) at Sa Trinxa. We laughed and laughed and were aghast at the show the 2 nudists were putting on next to us on the beach, I can’t go into details but this must have been rehearsed, they had a whole routine going…

The whole vibe of the beach is just heavenly: everyone is happy, relaxed, friendly and living life to the full. I definitely don’t do enough of this. The beach bar plays great music and I will definitely be going back, cheers to Las Salinas!

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The other really notable beach we went to was Cala Conta, again super relaxed, beautiful water and the perfect place for a sundowner at Sunset Ashram. No entertainment this time except some particularly beautiful bodies to admire…

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Here are a few more pictures to give you an idea:

And this video basically sums the Ibiza vibe up:

That’s it for now, in the next post I will tell you about my new favourite place in the world Destino and why a trip to Ibiza is not complete without going to DC10

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Why The Four Seasons Hampshire is Perfect For a Weekend Away With a Toddler

Last weekend, A and I escaped London for 24 hours at the Four Seasons in Hampshire and it was glorious!

It’s only 40 mins on the train from Waterloo, the best part of this was that a couple and their slightly older toddler for on next to us and basically the 2 toddlers entertained each other and then the dad started singing nursery rhymes! Travelling alone with a toddler isn’t easy, with 2 bags and a buggy, I felt like a mule!

Yep A is wearing pearls a la Theresa May…

This was the easiest train ride with A ever. We then took a 10 mins taxi ride from the station, of course A fell asleep en route and woke the min we got there!
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I booked the stay via my American Express Platinum card that has a great program for certain hotels, this is one of them and so we got early check-in, late checkout (4pm), a room upgrade and £85 towards food and drink. These extras really made the stay very enjoyable, you don’t want to be hanging around with a toddler for ever!

The room had everything we needed (including Childs Farm products that we adore!)


After dropping our bags in the really spacious room that looked out onto the massive grounds, the first thing we did was have a great lunch outside, it was so nice to eat outside, doesn’t happen often in late September!


Then it was time for a nap, I thought she was asleep in her cot (this is a real cot, not a travel cot, which makes a big difference comfort wise) but she woke after 2 mins! I will be sad the day naps end!

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Took her another 30 mins to finally fall asleep on “mummy’s bed”, I actually fell asleep next to her, that bed was so comfortable!!!


We went to the playground, to see the chickens and finally we went swimming in the very warm pool. We tried to go cycling but the only helmet left didn’t fit 😦


I had a lovely margarita whilst she had dinner then it was time for milk in the very big bed whilst watching telly. One of the best parts about the hotel is you can go to the bar and give your toddler dinner and nobody bats an eye lid, there were other families around so I felt totally comfortable with A. The staff were very sweet to both of us and are clearly experienced with dealing with children! I have to say it feels very indulgent to order warm milk for your toddler and have it arrive on a silver tray! The milk came really quickly so credit to room service!

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I then came up with the genius plan to put the cot in the bathroom for the night (clearly this only works with a big bathroom!) so I could order room service and watch X Factor without disturbing her. I highly recommend doing this!


The next day, we went down for breakfast after more room service milk in bed! Now this is where travelling with a toddler is a real pain in my opinion, you can’t (well I never can) have a long leisurely breakfast with a toddler. It’s always rushed and a bit of a pain really! Such a waste, I need to work on this! The continental breakfast was included in our room rate but I was dying to eat some sausages and bacon!

We finally managed to go cycling after breakfast and it was one of my favourite things I have ever done with A, it was the perfect morning but man cycling up a hill with a 12 kg toddler behind you is not easy! I stopped for a min to take it all in, we were in such beautiful peaceful surroundings and I felt very grateful for being there.


Before leaving, A made a friend in the free kids club, where she had a great time and they both ran to a helicopter that had been hired by guests and were keen to climb in!

It was then time for some last delicious food before falling asleep in the taxi again!

Thank you to all the staff, who looked after us, I hope to come back soon!
In the meantime, here’s a summary of why it’s a great place to go with children:
-Child’s Farm products in the bathroom
-free nappies, swimming nappies and a pack of wipes (less to carry!)
-free food and drink for under 5s
-free kids club (you have to stay with under 3s)
-a massive estate to run around on
-a proper cot not an uncomfortable travel one
-a toy box at reception where they can pick a gift
-very friendly staff who never make you feel like you’re child isn’t welcome
-children’s cutlery and plastic bowls, plates etc
-small bikes or seats for them on the back that are free to hire

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A Quick Note From The Four Seasons in Hampshire

Hello everyone!

A and I are staying at the Four Seasons in Hampshire this weekend and I just wanted to write a quick blog post about how life can change.

I came here the first time in May 2014 to celebrate mine and 2 of my best girlfriend’s birthdays. I announced I was pregnant that weekend. Next week my best friend is giving birth to her second child and this weekend I’m having a mother/daughter weekend away back here in this amazing hotel.

Neither of us had any idea what becoming a mum would be like that’s for sure. There is so much to write about on the topic but this evening as A ate spaghetti bolognese (risky business in a posh hotel I know), I sat next to her having a margarita because a day travelling and then discovering a hotel with a toddler is tiring and can be stressful. I simply had no idea when I was pregnant what it means to be “tired”, I also didn’t know how much I pleasure the following could bring:

– falling asleep next to your toddler on a great big bed

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-eating a massive lunch outside at the end of September with your toddler, who is on her best behaviour and saying “hello” to everyone

-coming up with the amazing plan to put the cot in the (big!) bathroom so you can eat room service and drink camomile tea in front of X Factor without worrying about waking her up!

A genius end to a lovely but long day!

 

 

My Usual Post Girl’s Weekend in France Soul-Searching…

I grew up in France and left when I was 18 in the summer of 2000 after passing the infamous “Baccalaureat”, Bac S nonetheless… At “lycee” from 1997 to 2000 I became great friends with E and P and spent this weekend with them. The same thing happened 3 years ago last time we met up, the minute I step on the plane to go back to London, I question EVERYTHING! These are the thoughts that go through my head (some rational, some not, some philosophy 101, some ridiculous but none a reflexion of my friends’ lives…):

  • Could I ever live in the same place for ever?
  • Could I live in a small town?
  • Will I ever be happy?
  • Is London the right place for me?
  • Why don’t I live in France and have 40 days holiday?
  • Why do I feel the need for so many “things”?
  • Why don’t I do more cultural things?
  • Why don’t I make the most of living in London?
  • Isn’t it incredible how much your life can change in a few years?
  • Is my life how I imagined it to be when we were at school together?
  • Should I not do a job I am more passionate about?
  • What else do I want in life?
  • What is wrong with me? Maybe I just need a holiday?
  • Why didn’t I bet more money on Brexit and Iceland to beat England then I bet I wouldn’t be feeling like this, would I?!
  • Why am I listening to sad music on the train home, this is only making things worse…

I guess seeing them makes me think about my childhood and the different paths people take but every time it really disturbs me, it’s really weird. I miss my friends and I am super happy we are still friends nearly 20 years later and I hope our daughters all get to meet one day. In the meantime, it’s back to reality and enough with the questions!

Out of interest, anybody else ask themselves these questions?

Days Out in London Maps by East Midland Trains

This is not a sponsored post.

I’ve lived in London for 16 years so I’m pretty familiar with most landmarks, museums etc. but what if you’re not and are just coming down for the day? Well East Midland Trains have put together some very handy and fun maps in conjunction with A Mummy Too that you can print off and download before you come down to London. They cover lots of different options such as the Tate Modern and also boat journeys (which reminds me I really must take A on one of those!). There are 3 different ones: Seeing London for Less, Rainy Day in the Capital and First Time Tourist. I think the rainy day one is probably a good one to print off as lets be honest there is always a chance of rain! Here is a preview of it:

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You can find them here: http://www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk/summer

London deserves its own blog post, there are so many great places to go including ones I appreciate more now I’m a mum and also new places I have discovered since becoming a parent such as the V&A Childhood Museum in Bethnal Green. You also realise how great the parks are once you have kids and quickly figure out which tube stations are buggy friendly!

However, you still have to get to London (and travelling can be “fun” with children) so the page also includes a cute children’s activity sheet you can download and print off to keep them occupied on the train:http://www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk/Global/Documents/EMT%20London%20Activity%20Sheet.pdf

Enjoy London!

 

 

Our Holiday at The Almyra Hotel in Cyprus

Earlier in the year, I decided to go on holiday before it got too hot and before the whole of Europe goes on holiday basically.

The criteria were:

  • guaranteed sun
  • no longer than 5 hours on a plane
  • no jetlag or hardly any
  • a kids club that accepts children under 2
  • somewhere I had never been
  • good local food

This year was my  mum’s 60th so I decided to take her along so ideally I was looking for somewhere she would like too. After much researching (I get a bit obsessed with these things), Kuoni  came up with The Almyra hotel in Cyprus on a half board package that ticked all the boxes! I have never used a travel agent but it was actually a great experience as they organized transfers with car seat, got us free half board and were there to answer my questions.

So what was great about it and why is it REALLY family friendly ?

The four pictures sum it up pretty well:

A COVERED pool so little ones don’t get burnt, genius idea! There is another smaller pool very close for babies that is very calm and where we spent a lot of time, A’s favourite thing to do was to “empty” the pool, this went on for days…

If they get  bored of the pool, there is quite a good playground that is 100% in the shade where we spent a lot of time too.

They are tons of highchairs and they have a children’s tea from 6 to 7pm where the kids can eat and mummy can have an Aperol Spritz! The staff are super friendly and happy to move high chairs around and don’t make you feel bad about the mess!

They have this service called “baby go lightly’, where you can order EVERYTHING you might need before arriving so not only was there a cot ready prepared in the room (the mattress was quite thick, which is not always the case in hotel rooms) but the nappies I had ordered (this is not free) and the puzzles (this was free) and books I had requested were already there. The list of stuff available is very long, they have thought of everything!

Now it isn’t perfect and there are some things that could be improved, for example:

  • no children’s cutlery is provided
  • some of the high chairs didn’t have harnesses
  • you have to go down steep steps to the toilet by the pool
  • some of the playground equipment, despite being quite new was showing signs or wear and tear.
  • if your child is scared of cats then be prepared because there are quite a few hanging around

A spent 3 mornings and one whole day at the kids club run by Scott Dunn, this was really well organised and the staff were enthusiastic and caring, so whilst she was there , mum and I went to the adults only pool at the spa, utter bliss…

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We found a small but clean beach nearby where we rented 2 sunbeds and an umbrella for 7 euros a day and it was a nice change from the pool. As A decided to go to bed early and get up early (not what you want on holiday!), we were often the first on the beach!

And what happens to a toddler, who goes to bed at 9PM but wakes up at 6.30AM? They nap (never for very long but still it was a nice break!):

One thing that wasn’t so great was the effect the plane and the air conditioning had on A, she coughed like mad the whole time and this kept waking her up 😦

Talking of the plane, what do you do for nearly 5 hours with an 18 month old on a plane?

  • Mummy thanks the man who was kind enough to move seats on the way out (on the way back, the person wouldn’t move…) so your toddler has their own seat (made such a difference!)
  • You spend a lot of time playing with the children in the row behind us (3 under 3, don’t know how the parents managed!)
  • You spend a lot of time cleaning things with wipes
  • iPad, iPad, iPad
  • Snacks, snacks and more snacks (houmous pot to dip stuff in worked very well)
  • you open new toys and get very excited
  • read books
  • walk around
  • don’t sleep

When we got off the plane, she stole a little boy’s Trunki, this entertained her whilst we waited for the bags.

All in all, it was a lovely holiday, the weather was perfect, I got to meet up with my colleague and his family, enjoyed drinks in the sun. I really recommend The Almyra, it’s so family friendly that a couple told my mum at breakfast “We didn’t realise it was half term and we didn’t realise it was that kind of hotel”. They would probably have been better off at the hotel next door where we had a great “traditional Cyprus” evening and where A danced her little heart away:

The food was really good, we really like the little restaurant by the water and Café Pinguino near the harbor.

It was really nice and even made me a bit philosophical (Some End of Holiday Reflexions).

Cyprus we will be back!