Last month I did something pretty unusual. I said goodbye to Husband and the kids, and I went off to Italy for three days. I hadn't traveled on my own for almost 20 years. I was a bit anxious beforehand, but it felt quite liberating to do something on my own. It was like 'Eat, Pray, Love' with just the eating. And it turns out that Catania is a great city if you love food.
If you've never heard of Catania, it is located in Sicily by the sea. This means that you will find the most amazing fish and seafood. And with the growing popularity of wine being grown near Mt Etna, your meal will be complemented by some terrific wines. And because it is Italy, it is beautiful and the people are absolutely lovely.
Do you ever get a new pair of shoes that fill you with utter happiness? Well, this happened last week when my new leopard sandals arrived. I had been eyeing them up on the Hotter website for over a month. Umming and ahhing. Do I really need new sandals? It turns out that I really did. After all, my wardrobe was severely lacking in leopard ones (meaning I had none).
I almost never wear heels, so I try and find flat shoes that look stylish and not frumpy. And for summer, these leopard sandals are ideal. They ooze elegance but never make you feel like a nana (sorry nana). But it's true, I love being comfortable and refuse to suffer for style. Yes, I would love to wear some three-inch heels, but I know it would kill my back and give me a leg ache.
It can be so tough going on dates when you have young children. Besides getting a babysitter, you have to deal with the fatigue that comes with the evening. So sometimes Husband takes the day off and we have a day date. And this is what we did this week. After a lazy morning, we went to see the Han Solo film and then went to Cau to try out their new summertime menu.
We're very lucky to have a huge array of wonderful restaurants in Kingston, and Cau is especially nice as it's right on the river. As it was a sunny day, we sat outside, and of course we drank cocktails. One of my favourite cocktails ever is the Passionfruit Mojito, which they happen to serve at Cau. It is so delicious and refreshing that I can never just have one. Thankfully we ate lots of yummy food, so I wasn't stumbling home.
Last week was spent visiting The Netherlands and Belgium for the half-term break. And while I will put together a proper post about it another time, I wanted to write about my boy. For years we only had UK holidays. He was such a handful from the ages of 18 months to about 4 1/4. He would throw a tantrum about everything. He didn't want to leave the house. He didn't want to come home. He didn't like the colour of his cup of water.
My father-in-law turned 70 this year and he wanted to commemorate this special birthday with a family trip. So a few weeks ago we drove to Normandy to spend four days with Husband's extended family. I wouldn't think to spend a long weekend in France, as it seems to far away, but it was actually an easy trip.
The drive from south west London to Folkestone was about 1 1/2 hours, and then we drove onto the Eurotunnel train which only took 30 minutes to get to Calais. It was cool driving right onto the train. People mostly just sat in their cars, but there were toilets if needed. We drove swiftly off the train and then two hours later and we reached Luneray.
This journey was about the same as when we went to North Cornwall last month, but this time we were in France which naturally feels more exciting. Luneray is in Haute-Normandy. Not only does this mean that it's closer to the UK, but it means you're not far from the sea.
Hey girl, how's it going? Congratulations on your soon-to-be wedding. I've seen one or two (millions of) articles on the matter. And I can imagine it's quite overwhelming. Getting married is quite a big deal, but then it's even more intimidating when you add moving to a new country to the mix. As a fellow Californian gal who fell in love with a British guy, I thought I would offer some tips to help with your transition into British life. Hope this helps!
1. Pretend you understand what they're saying - For the first six months living in the UK, I only caught half of the conversations. Some accents are tougher than others. Some people don't even open their mouths when they speak. Anyway, they get annoyed if you keep saying 'pardon?'. So sometimes you just have to nod and pretend you've understood everything they've said.
My family and I have been to many dinosaur experiences. Many. And although Dubz isn't obsessed with dinosaurs anymore, he still adores them. And to be honest, the rest of the family quite like them. I mean, what's not to like?! Cool creatures that we'd normally be afraid of but are extinct so we can be fascinated without fear. And one of the newest attractions in London showcasing them is Dinosaurs in the Wild.
When we first arrived at the giant warehouse that housed Dinosaurs in the Wild, I wasn't sure what to expect. I thought it was going to be an exhibit of animatronic dinosaurs. But I was wrong. I don't want to give too much away (the element of surprise helps to make this such a cool experience).
I have spent about a month searching for the perfect summer jumpsuit. I had tried on about 20, and I was about to give up when I popped into Sainsbury's last week. I went in to buy pyjamas, and ended up with this navy jumpsuit instead. Jumpsuits are such a versatile piece of clothing. One item can easily be made more casual, ready for drinks with the girls and then even be used as workwear. But not all jumpsuits work with everyone.
I am a pear-shape (such an old-fashioned term, but we all understand it). I normally wear a larger size for trousers than for tops. This makes jumpsuit-buying a bit tricky. Some jumpsuits are tight on my legs but fit my upper half. Then there are the insecurities I have towards my body. I don't like anything too tight. I don't show my arms. The jumpsuit is actually sleeveless, but I thought my denim kimono would look nice without screaming 'I'm wearing a cardigan because I hate my flabby arms'.
Regular readers will know that we underwent home renovations last autumn/winter. Now that the work is mostly done, and I've bought 90% of the furniture needed, I can now think about accessories. Last month, I was invited to an interiors event hosted by the lovely folks from Amara. And I was beyond excited to get some styling tips from the pros so that I could update my home. So of course I had to share my new found knowledge with you (as well as show you how I've styled a few products from Amara).
Our day began with a talk and Q&A with Sam Hood. Sam co-founded Amara with her husband Andrew in 2005. While it began as an interior design business, Amara then added a shop filled with amazing home accessories before becoming an online marketplace for amazing interiors. Amara now offers a wide array of beautiful pieces on their site, from home accessories to furniture to clothing. And they even offer design inspiration on their site for amateurs such as myself.
Cornwall has always been in the top five of my UK destination wishlist. It is known for its beautiful beaches, great seafood and many attractions. Really, who wouldn't want to visit?! So I was thrilled when the lovely folks from Baby Friendly Boltholes invited us to stay at one of their North Cornwall properties for two nights over the Easter holiday.
My family and I have stayed in a few cottages in the UK, but this was our first time with Baby Friendly Boltholes. And although we don't have a baby (my youngest is almost six), a family-friendly property really does make all the difference. As a parent, you're already packing a ridiculous amount of things when you go on holiday with your children, and it helps to stay somewhere that has some of the things you need. At Red Barn, there were games, DVDs and toys (Dubz was partial to the transformers and the army men, which I had to make sure didn't end up in his suitcase).