A Much Needed Spa Afternoon at ESPA at The Corinthia

I got a voucher for some treatments at ESPA at The Corinthia from a very dear friend just after I gave birth to A back in November 2014, I had a great experience and today I went back for the 3rd time. There are times in life, especially in a working mum’s life, when you need to treat yourself and escape. For me, the ideal way is to go here:

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The spa is on the first floor of the beautiful hotel, just walking in to the impressive lobby puts a smile on my face:

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I was greeted very nicely and enthusiastically by the lady at the reception desk and offered a drink (chamomile and mint tea, it wasn’t very warm and I’m not sure if that’s how it’s supposed to be or not…))whilst I filled in a medical questionnaire (I should have asked why I was doing this as I had done this before). There is a café next to the reception area where all the products are shown, I didn’t use the café. There is complimentary water, fruit and nuts in the actual spa area in the floors below.

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You are then taken to the changing rooms, where everything you could ever need is provided (slippers, robes, hairdryers, magazines, all sorts of products, showers, sauna etc).

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I had about an hour and a half before my massage and mini facial, which I spent very happily sitting in the massive Jacuzzi, which is next to the pool on the thermal floor, which is 2 floors down from the ladies changing rooms:

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I also had a lie down in a “sleep pod” and then finally sat down to read on the heated beds by the fire in the changing rooms, despite the lack of privacy, this was my favourite bit as it was so warm and cozy. Honestly just reading Marie Claire in peace was such a treat, I’d pay just for that.

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I probably came across 10 other guests in total, it was really nice and quiet.

I was then taken to a really nice treatment room (one of 17) for my massage and express facial. The therapist was seriously good, she listened to me and gave me the exact massage I needed. She focused on my shoulders and upper back and told me at the end that indeed I had a LOT of tension and knots in that area and that I need to have massages more often, well if she says so 🙂

All the ESPA products they use are natural and ethically sourced and smell and feel lovely!

I actually enjoyed the facial a lot more than usual, I don’t know if its because the products smelt so nice or because I was already super relaxed but it was really enjoyable, apparently I need to drink more water, quelle surprise!

Anyway, here I am “glowing” afterwards:img_0109

It’s amazing what 4 hours in a Spa, far away from reality can do! It’s definitely a luxury spa with high quality treatements and facilities but if you want a treat, you can go wrong by choosing the Corinthia.

And guess who was very happy to see me when I got home?

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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?

Working Mum Life Hacks

2 months ago I went back to work (I can’t believe I just typed that!). I thought maternity leave went by quickly, well working weeks go by even faster!

I thought I would share a few “life hacks” or tips for mums about to go back to work as a few changes here and there can really make your new life as a working mum easier!

  • My main advice would be: do not combine your first day back at work with the first day of childcare because you’ll spend all day worrying about your baby and if you’re like me, you’ll probably cry so will turn up looking a mess on your first day back! The other reason to start childcare before work is to have some time when you are neither working nor looking after your child, this is your last chance for some well-deserved “me time” for a while. Family holidays are lovely but nothing beats spending a weekday afternoon at a spa whilst everyone is at work and somebody else is picking up your baby’s lunch from the floor…
  • I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again, it’s really important to have a plan for emergency childcare. Indeed s*** happens, case in point: I’m writing this from a plane on my way to my first overnight work trip and was called earlier today by the nursery to go and pick up A as she has a temperature. Thankfully Mister B is looking after her but let’s just say calls like that 2 hours before you’re about to leave for the airport add to the stress…(then your plane is delayed and that’s when you really have to take a deep breath!)
  • Get your clothes and your child’s clothes ready every night. You don’t really want to have to think much in the morning!
  • Talking of clothes, I underestimated the effect nursery can have on children’s clothes, basically they get wrecked! So buy second hand or cheap clothes that can get stained or lost, without you being bothered about it. I now separate “nursery” clothes from “nice” clothes one.
  • I was really struggling with the whole week-night cooking thing despite being quite an organised person and doing online shopping. I just couldn’t plan far ahead enough and would lack motivation after the whole “train-nursery-home-bedtime” thing that I decided to do something before our diets suffered too much (and I started spending all my money at M and S at the station!). People, there is a solution and it’s called Hello Fresh. Every Sunday evening they deliver 3 meals worth of delicious food with very clear and easy recipe cards. Each meal takes between 20 and 40 mins to prepare. I don’t have to go food shopping, I don’t have to think of what to eat and in exchange we try new foods (pearl barley anyone?), learn new techniques and eat delicious healthy food Monday to Wednesday (Thursday is Chipotle Burrito day and I’m off on Fridays so have time). I love it! The second delivery was 90 mins late but their customer service was great so I’m sticking with it for now.
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  • Stay on top of washing during the week (a washing machine with a timer helps), you don’t want to spend all weekend doing washing and those dirty nursery clothes need washing asap!
  • If you can, get a cleaner! I’d rather not buy coffee than spend Saturday morning cleaning. It’s the best 20 pounds I spend every week, I’m convinced cleaners provide one of the best value for money services around.
  • Try and negotiate some kind of flexible working arrangement, part time or at least a day working from home, I have Fridays off and it keeps me sane!

All in all, 2 months later I am happy I’m working but wouldn’t want to be doing 5 days a week, all the little things above make our lives run smoother, I also happen to have a very helpful and tidy husband, which makes a massive difference. Behind every great working woman, there is a man, who cleans the kitchen every night and never leaves his stuff lying around!

What are your tips?

A Week of Milestones: Becoming American and Crawling!

A already has her British passport but as her daddy is American, we needed to get her American one as well as a social security number ( so she can pay taxes to the US government on her worldwide income, lucky thing!). I imagined this was not going to be fun, hours queuing, endless forms etc. Well it wasn’t that complicated at all!

If you are in the same situation, here is how it works and some tips.

You download the forms and make an appointment online here: http://london.usembassy.gov/cons_new/acs/passports/

Tip 1: try and get as early an appointment as possible as the wait is shorter.

Tip 2: be very careful filling in the forms, everything goes so much quicker if there are no mistakes!

Our appointment was for 8AM, the most stressful part of the journey was getting on the tube with a buggy during rush hour.

Always carry a bottle of water with you in this hot weather!

Always carry a bottle of water with you in this hot weather!

We arrived at Grosvenor Square around 7.45AM, you then have to get in the right queue before going through security:

Make sure you are in this queue!

Make sure you are in this queue!

We ended up giving A breakfast in her buggy before it started to rain!

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You get asked what time your appointment is and then this is the process:

  • Go through airport style security. Tip 3: you have to take everything off and out of the buggy so be prepared for that or everybody will hate you for holding them up!
  • You then enter the embassy and hand in the forms along with supporting documents. Tip 4: bring the LONG COPY OF THE BABY’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE! this wasn’t clear to us but I had a feeling we would need it, not just the short original. the long one gives both parents names and lots more info than the short one. We also brought our passports and proof of my husband living in the US (old tax returns).
  • You pay for the delivery courier and they give you a number
  • You go upstairs to the waiting room that is very kid friendly:

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  • you get called to hand in the forms, you pay $205 for the passport and social security number. The you wait and then get called back again once they have checked the forms to swear on oath they are correct and sign the forms. DO NOT SIGN THE FORMS BEFORE THEN
  • We got there around 7.45 and left at 9.25AM, which was much earlier than I had anticipated. We should get the passport in about 3 weeks and the social security card in 2 months.

The next day, Arabella decided to live her to new American nationality and be an “awesome winner” and start crawling!

For the past 2 months she has been trying to crawl and mainly been going backwards so when they happened, I was super excited!

A few hours later, she was already getting better at it and now I can’t stop her! These mats really helped, I highly recommend them as you can customize them to spell their name, choose the colours etc… ( you can buy them here)

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Daddy has been away whiskey tasting for nearly a week, A can’t wait to show him her new skills and I can’t wait to go somewhere fabulous for a week next year in exchange!

I love my American girl!

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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!

 

What’s been driving me crazy and what I have been loving lately

This is the first time I missed blogging on a Monday but dinner and lots of chatting are a good excuse!

I need to have a rant about people who do not move to the back of the bus, it drives me INSANE! I want to scream at them to “move the fxxx down”, on a really bad morning I want to push them!

I just don’t understand how one can stand in the middle if the bus and watch people squeeze in to the front and not make room. I would like to know the following:

-are they totally unaware of the consequences of their actions and oblivious to the fact they are blocking everyone?

– do they just not care, I.e. Know they are getting off soon so don’t want the hassle of moving down the bus

-do they not realise there is room behind them?

It always amazes me when the “please move down the bus” message comes on, people look up and see the room, like they were blind until then, so bizarre and annoying! These are the kind of people who could fall of a cliff because they did not see the edge.

I put them in the same highly annoying category of people lean on the bell on the bus and keep ringing it!

So I get to work already worked up and then the weather can’t decide what it’s doing, is it spring or not?! I guess as the French say: “en avail me te decouvre pas d’un fil”.

What I do love are the longer days, the joy of coming up and it not begin dark is probably a typical British thing but it really makes me happy!

It really is the small things that can make you happy, for example I love “the Heist” by  Macklemore and Ryan Lewis”, listening to that in the morning nearly makes up for the idiots on the bus.

I’m also loving my new Tory Burch blue bag combined with my new yellow J Crew jumper puts a smile on my face, as it said the little things…

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And May is round the corner filled with so many great things, hen nights, birthdays, spa hotels, Katy Perry concerts all that after an Easter trip to Barcelona, it’s going to be great!

 

What January taught me…

I stuck to  The 4 Cs for about 99% of the time during January and here is what I learnt.  No chocolate was the hardest, I did not realise that I was basically addicted to chocolate and had a “post dinner habit” that was hard to give up. On February  the 1st, I had chocolate for breakfast, which tells you how excited I was to be done with the resolutions! I considered switching to dark chocolate going forward but I just love milk chocolate, I won’t be eating it every day anymore and have now decided to “invest” in expensive  chocolate so I eat less of it!

http://www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/london/dining/Scarfes-BarNot buying any clothes was the second hardest resolution to stick to, I was horrified to realise how much time (not so much the money) I spent in shops, on websites filling baskets with things I never intended on buying and yet I am not the most stylish or well dressed person. Again, like after dinner chocolate, it was more of a habit than anything. It also made me realise I need more hobbies to fill the time, the other thing I realised was how conducive loving in London is to consumerism. During a weekend in France I disconnected from London life and relished in not going to any shops, thinking about buying things etc.

No cocktails (or any other alcohol for that matter) was reassuringly not that hard except towars the end when I went to a girls dinner and missed out on champagne 😦 I never drink alone anyway so it wasn’t that hard but it really is a shame to go to a great bar ( such as my new favourite  Scarfes bar at the Rosewood hotel)image

Drinking diet coke somewhere that nice is just not RIGHT, nor is having a girlie dinner without wine or a being spoilt with Ottolenghi food and not being able to drink the accompanying champagne and wine.

so yes, I am a social drinker and intend on keeping it like that.

The last one was no cake, this was the easiest but the only one I failed at! Indeed I had some “galette des rois” on day 6 😦

January told me one last thing….the downside of having a blog…

Indeed when you have a blog and go for dinner with someone who reads your blog and you tell them something, they respond with “I know, I read that on your blog” so no, I’m going to write about what I did this weekend!