Author Archives: Californian Mum in London

About Californian Mum in London

Hey! I'm a California gal who moved to London in 2002 to be with my British bloke. Come read about my adventures living in London, being a Stay-At-Home-Mum, coping with a tea and cake addiction and trying to assimilate into British life. Don't know where I belong, but can't imagine living anywhere else.

When you tell young children that you'll be spending the day at a garden, you will see the terror in their eyes. Their lips may even quiver at the thought of looking at flowers and not spending the day at the playground. So when I told the kids that the four of us were spending the day at The Savill Garden, they were not enthused. Fast forward a few hours, when driving home, and both agreed that they had had loads of fun. So let me tell you why an ornamental garden can be such a fun family day out.

The Savill Garden is utterly beautiful. Located in Windsor Great Park, there are 35 acres of woodland in addition to the gardens. There are different areas, including the Summer Gardens, Autumn Wood and Winter Beds. Although we had a map, we just wandered around throughout the various interconnected garden areas. And I spent a lot of time smelling the roses, literally.

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Looking at me you might be surprised to learn that I experienced hair loss after both pregnancies. And while I naturally have a lot of hair, it never went back to my pre-pregnancy abundance. I noticed some shedding during and after my first pregnancy, but it wasn't too bad. It was after my second child that I really noticed a problem. I didn't realise that hair loss and motherhood can go hand in hand, so I wanted to share some insight.

A few months after Dubz was born, I noticed that loads of hair started breaking off. Apparently this can be due to a reduction in one's oestrogen levels. Normally, by your child's first birthday, your hair will return to its full glory. This was not the case for me. For a few years, I had these short, broken hairs sticking out of the top of my bed. I used to crop the top of my head in photos as it perturbed me greatly. I felt like I was the only one going through this and didn't really talk to my friends about my hair insecurities.

It wasn't until Dubz turned four that my hair started to get back to normal. It took years for the damaged hair to grow back. One reason for this may be due to my Vitamin D deficiency. This was another issue that began during my second pregnancy. Pregnancy is much more than just having a baby. There are so many physical changes that happens to one's body, and many of us are not prepared.

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When I think of a family meal, I think of lots of yummy food in the middle of the table and everyone helping themselves. But normally, when you go to a restaurant, everyone gets their own meal. Though sometimes I end up sharing my dessert (against my will, of course). But Prezzo have brought the family-style spirit from our homes to their restaurants with the new La Famiglia menu.

Simply, 'la famiglia' is Italian for 'family'. The name says it all. It is a meal fit for a family. When our generous plate of spaghetti bolognese arrived, the kids oohed. They were so excited by such a big dish. And when the waiter handed Dubz the tongs to serve the pasta, he was thrilled. Imagine being five years old and being in charge of the food. With some help from his daddy, Dubz served us our spaghetti.

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For the May half-term, we packed a week's worth of clothes, got into the car and drove to France. Okay, there might have been more to this. Like spending weeks looking at which Eurocamp holiday parc would best suit our family and then researching what one needs for a Eurocamp holiday as well as what you need for driving in France. And obviously you have to book the ferry. If you try driving straight to France, you will literally be swimming with the fishes.

I must note that this was our first holiday abroad as a family of four. Dubz, who has just turned five, has always been quite crazy a handful. But he has calmed down in the past year and we got him his first passport in May. We also thought that travelling by ferry would be a good way to ease into a holiday (I reckon we will be brave enough for plane travel in a few months).

So anyway, after much deliberation, we chose La Garangeoire in the Vendee (on the west coast of central France). I had read that there is better weather there than the northern parts of France, plus it requires much less driving to than the south of France. And we were not disappointed. While it did drizzle a couple of mornings, the weather was mostly sunny and warm. We had an amazing week at La Garangeoire, and I wanted to show you what a holiday looks like when every member of the family proclaims it to be 'the best holiday ever'.

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Did you know that I am rather sneaky? My children normally complain if Husband and I suggest going for walks. So sometimes we park farther away from our destination so the children have more walking to do. Moozles and Dubz don't realise that they are walking as they are focused on our destination.

Last weekend, we went for a meal in Kingston, so we parked by the river near Surbiton and walked on the Thames path. Moozles and Dubz had so much fun pointing out boats and ducks. And on our way home, they even held hands and chatted quietly. We all enjoyed our walk along the river, and there was no complaining. Hooray for being sneaky.

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My family and I love eating out. And the only thing better than going to a restaurant is going to a new restaurant. So we were quite excited to visit Poor Boys this weekend. Tucked along the side of the market, Poor Boys serves New Orleans street food to the people of Kingston-upon-Thames. Kingston is already known for its extensive array of dining (and shopping) venues, but I was thrilled to find out that there was a great new independent restaurant in my town.

Our first impression of Poor Boys was fab. There was a southern/bayou decor with Dixieland and country music playing. Dubz particularly enjoyed Dolly Parton and spent most of the meal dancing in his chair (like mother, like son). Rather than traditional colouring, the kids received mini backboards and chalk to keep themselves entertained. Moozles and Dubz spent ages drawing animals and then we moved on to the classic game of 'hangman'. It's such a relief when children are catered for, beyond food.

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While my family and I were in the Vendee on our family holiday at the May half-term, we decided to take a day trip to Nantes. To be honest, we had never heard of Nantes before the holiday but had read an interesting article in the Brittany Ferries magazine and wanted to visit Les Machines de L'ile. And yes, it was mainly because I wanted to ride on a giant mechanical elephant.

Les Machines is an art installation on a grand scale. You will see how sketches are brought to life with small models, which are then made on a large scale. The elephant is an amazing feature as it is 12m high (that's 40 feet!!), and made up of more than 48 tonnes of wood and steel. You can go for a walk along three different routes, which take about 30 minutes each. When you are at the top, you feel so high and it is such a strange sensation to be moving along. One of our favourite aspects of the elephant is that its trunk splashes water at people. So funny to see, whether you're near the elephant or riding on its back (have a look at my vlog below to see it in action).

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Summer is upon us. It has been so warm this past week, at least it has been in London and Surrey. I've finally packed away my winter coat and plan to wear summer dresses as much as I can. A few days ago I popped into the Woking Shopping Centre to purchase a new summer outfit for our holiday in France.

First stop was Debenhams. I love having a range of shops to choose from and Debenhams has some of my favourite brands, including Oasis and Warehouse. This brightly coloured midi dress is from the latter. Normally I choose looser dresses, but this dress was so pretty that I thought I'd be brave and get it. I'm so glad that I did. Yes, I have curves. At 41, I am finally not so embarrassed at my shape. I've teamed it with a cardi, as well as a t-shirt, making it perfect for those cooler summer days.

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Ah spring. One moment it is warm and sunny, and the next minute the sky is opening up and leaving you completely drenched. My children don't seem to mind getting wet, but I just feel better when they're warm and dry. This week, Dubz got a new rubber rain coat, just in time for the insane amount of rain we have had in the past few days.

If you follow me on Instagram, you will notice that I also have a yellow raincoat that I wear quite often. Dubz has been dying to get one like mine for ages. So he was thrilled when his new coat arrived from Lighthouse Clothing. Dubz is barely five, so is still very excited about twinning with his 'honey best friend' (that's what he calls me).

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Four months ago, one of my mummy friends emailed me to ask if I'd like to join her on the Moonwalk London. She suggested that we walk 26 miles in the middle of the night, in our bras. I don't know if I was more horrified at the prospect of wearing a bra in public, or walking 26 consecutive miles. Before I could reply back (telling her that she had probably emailed the wrong friend), she emailed to say that perhaps we could do the half marathon instead. Upon reflection, and after looking at the Moonwalk website, I hesitantly agreed.

If you're not familiar with Moonwalk London, it is a nightime walk to raise money for breast cancer. Wearing the bras is a way to show solidarity as well as to raise awareness and to just have some fun. Walk the Walk organise the Moonwalk challenges (in the UK and abroad) and this year was the 20th anniversary of Moonwalk London.

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