I would normally stay home on a foggy day (if there isn't any school or work). I mean, how can anyone have outdoor fun when you can barely see your hand in front of your face?! But I spent all of December feeling poorly, and spent an entire week in bed at Christmas. So on New Year's Eve Eve, I took the kids to Richmond Park. I was feeling guilty for not taking Moozles and Dubz out for fun holiday outings, plus I was desperate for some fresh air.
Regular readers will know that I take weekly walks in Richmond Park, so I am quite familiar with it. But it was so foggy that day that I took a wrong path and we ended up somewhere new. But there was no need to worry as we discovered an amazing tree trunk and a hollowed out tree. The kids had so much fun climbing around. And I didn't have to worry about us walking into a deer.
If you have an Instagram account, then you will have heard of the Best Nine of 2016. Basically, every year you can see what your nine most popular photos were. It is always nice to have a look through to see which photos received the most likes. But I don't really think those photos were that representative of my year. Instagram shows the pretty side to life. Even if I show a messy house or tantrum, they never receive the most likes. People love a pretty picture. That is just a fact of life.
So, if you're on Instagram, don't just like the beautiful photos. Don't scroll past the mundane pictures. No one has a perfect life. Even if you love the pretty, try and embrace the ordinary. And if you prefer looking at people's 'perfect' lives, then remember that no one is perfect. Enjoy the beauty, but remember that life is more complex. Don't feel bad about your cramped house, your screaming kids or your not-so-photogenic life.
One of the best things about Christmas is the festive days out. Everywhere you go, there are twinkly nights, big Christmas trees and general sparkliness. The week before Christmas, we went to the ice rink at the Natural History Museum for some of those holiday sparkles. If you've ever been to London, then no doubt that you've visited the Natural History Museum. It is iconic. Besides the great exhibitions, it is just the most beautiful building. So you can imagine that an ice rink next to it feels incredibly London-y (for the purpose of this post, we are pretending that this is an actual word).
It doesn't feel like Christmas until I have been to The Rose Theatre in Kingston. Every year they put on an amazing Christmas show, and they never let me down. I wasn't sure if they were going to be able to top last year's A Christmas Carol, especially as this year they chose a play you wouldn't expect to be on for Christmas. This winter sees the much-beloved book, The Wind in the Willows, brought to life.
I won't keep you in suspense - The Wind in the Willows was utterly mesmerising. Mole is lonely and abandons his life of cleaning and doing mole things. He goes in search of adventure, and meets Ratty, who gives Mole a boat ride and their adventure begins. The staging was simple but effectively conveyed the areas of the river and Toad Hall. They even manage a ride-able motorcar for Toad, who is fond of wild joyrides.
Daily tantrums. Over. Nothing. The wrong colour cup. They don't want to wear shoes. That dog looked at them funny. From the time my son was two, until a couple of months after his fourth birthday, our life was filled with constant tantrums. Sometimes they were small, and could be eased with a cuddle. Sometimes they were epic meltdowns that only subsided after mummy was bitten and whacked into submission. And by submission, I mean I would be curled up in a corner sobbing my eyes out.
But then things got easier. And I don't mean that I became better adept at dealing with the tantrums. Or that I became tougher at dealing with the public shamings and smackings. I probably did get better at handling them, but then the tantrums just eased. Considerably. My son no longer needed to fight about every decision. Dubz no longer needed to shout and scream whenever he disagreed with me. We could leave a park without floods of tears. All of a sudden, he seemed to gain some sense.
Last week, I had a night out at the Roof Garden at the John Lewis on Oxford Street in central London. I was invited to a Christmas party for bloggers, and I got to take one of my friends along too. If that wasn't enough of a treat, we were given the most amazing cocktails from Background Bars and delicious Scottish fare from Mac & Wild. We were then given ideas on how we could Make It Thoughtful this Christmas.
Christmas can be so stressful. Many children have lists of presents they want, which in a way makes life easier. But what do you get your other family and friends? People that you care about, but might not be too sure what they would like. John Lewis are encouraging shoppers to be more thoughtful when it comes to gift-giving. One way to do that is to add a bit of personalisation.
It's that time of the year, and if you have small children, then your thoughts are probably on Father Christmas. Maybe, like me, you have had a couple of bad experiences. Maybe FC was really young, or skinny, or else he looked like he was still drunk from the night before. Spare a thought for us when we had the Santa who was all three. *sob, sob* Anyway, it is such a relief when you find a good-quality Father Christmas. And it es even better when it turns into a fun family day out.
A couple of weekends ago, my family and I drove up to Willows Activity Farm for fun and Father Christmas. And we were not disappointed. First of all, there are loads of Christmassy activities. We started with the 3D Sleigh Ride film. which the kids loved. Then we went on to 'Create a Cuddle' where Moozles and Dubz each made a cuddly husky dog. Afterwards, they wrote letters to FC. Moozles is eight, so was able to write her own. Dubz needed help, but he was thrilled to be able to post the letter in the special red post box. We actually received replies from Father Christmas a week after our visit, which was a lovely touch.
Yes, I have been on another cooking day. Word is obviously out that my cooking skills need an update. Last week I attended an event at the HelloFresh HQ in East London, along with some other food and lifestyle bloggers/writers. We had an afternoon of cooking and eating. The latter of which happens to be something I excel in. HelloFresh made the cooking quite easy as their recipe cards are very detailed in explaining the steps to cooking each dish.
If you're not familiar with HelloFresh, they are a recipe box delivery service that offer healthy recipes made from fresh ingredients. Patrick Drake, the Head Chef and co-founder of HelloFresh, was at the event explaining how the business began in his home, in his kitchen. Now they have their own building, and an amazing kitchen where they can come up with new recipes.
I love living in London, for so many reasons. But one reason is that is makes travelling around the UK extremely easy. Although my family and I often drive to many of our British holiday destinations, we sometimes prefer the ease of the trains. I had been wanting to visit York for ages, and when I discovered that there was a direct train from London, I knew that we should head there for a mini-break.
In August, Husband and I packed the kids off to their grandparents' house and we headed to York for a mid-week break to celebrate my 41st birthday. We had a glorious time. We ate lots of lovely meals, drank plenty of delightful cocktails and saw so many beautiful sights. I thought three days would be adequate for seeing this city. But I was mistaken. Husband and I have already discussed returning to York - next time with Moozles and Dubz. There's still so much more to see. But I thought I would share my top five favourite reasons to visit York.
1. Beautiful Architecture
At the weekend, my family and I headed into central London for a Christmas party. The lovely people from Anki Overdrive wanted to share some Christmas frivolity with us. There was face/arm painting, yummy food, a DJ and a cool Santa. Best of all, there were several tracks where the little (and big) kids could race cars.
If you're not familiar with Anki Overdrive, it a racing car system like no other. The cars are actually robots who use their artificial intelligence. And they are doing more than just racing. They are battling it out to become the winner. And you help them along through an app on your smartphone. It feels like a world away from the usual toy cars that children play.