Posts in Life & Style
Stroll the Picturesque Backdrop of St James Park

Take a Stroll...

If you love the outdoors as much as we do, you will probably love exploring the gorgeous surroundings of this very regal and stunning London park.

The perfect mixture of manicured gardens, typically English looking but with a very clever touch of exotic plant choice in places and in other spots that feeling of untouched natural habitat for wildlife. It most definitely works, it seems to provide an ultimate sanctury for all sorts of animals. It's what makes it the perfect place to wander with the family. 

St James Park London
st james park london

Beautiful Ducks...

Take some bread, actually, take as much bread as you can, the ducks are gorgeous and it's such a pleasure to feed them. Such a large variety, you will be captured by their beauty.

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ducks st james park london
st james park london days out kids

Daisies for Days...

The fields of densely covered daisies are mesmerising for any child. There are clusters and clusters at this time of the year. It would be a shame to not make a daisy chain or two. Set up a picnic or treat yourself to an ice-cream and sit with the view of the lake. Take in the view, admire the ducks and unwind whilst the children collect their daisies.

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With pretty deep pink blossoms hanging over head, beautiful scenes in every direction, cafes tucked in each corner and the Queen's residence Buckingham Palace just moments away, St James Park is high up on the list of free family days out. A wonderful place to hang out with the family.

Location...

 

Nearest station: St Jame's Park (walk directly across the road into the park)


Gabriella Wears:

Dress - Cos

Sandals - Zara 

Lucia Wears:

Dress - The Brand (TK Maxx)

Shoes - Mini Melissa

 

 

 

Warwick Castle | Trainline App

London, we Love you, but, we need some time away. Just a day will do, which, i’m sure will make our hearts yearn for you once again.

They say a change is as good as a rest. With juggling working life and a family lately, it’s been draining everything we have both mentally and physically. So, we decided to escape the rat race for a day. Family time is so precious, it’s rare at the moment, but ironically it’s the very reason why we are working so hard, so that we can have more time together, time to create beautiful memories that we will all treasure forever. For a little time out we decided on an adventure to Warwick castle in Warwickshire. It’s surprisingly easy to get to from London. Just a train ride away.

Climbing out of bed a couple of hours earlier than usual on the weekend was completely worth it. We huddled into a taxi which dropped us off 5 minutes down the road to Marylebone station. With no need to buy tickets because we purchased ours a couple of days before using the trainline app we had some time to grab some coffees and croissants from Patisserie Valerie. Sipping on hot coffee whilst letting the train take the strain and watching the city pass us by as we entered the countryside was utter bliss. Just what we all needed.

Warwick station is a tiny little station with no ammenities other than a small taxi station. A little word of advice would be to come prepared. Bring snacks, food and drinks for the little ones and yourself. It’s not London, there’s no Pret or Starbucks on every corner. Sometimes I forget how lucky we are. However, some remoteness was just what we were looking for. A very pretty 10 minute walk will take you to the castle from the station and you may be as lucky as we were and stumble upon the most delightful English Tea room ever. Located on Castle Street, just a few steps before the castle entrance you will find Thomas Oken Tea Rooms. The perfect spot and so fitting for a pit stop to refuel and enjoy our surroundings. They served the best scones I’ve ever tasted. Amazing.

We spent a long lazy afternoon wandering around Warwick Castle, climbing towers, pretending to be princesses, spotting the gorgeous peacocks dotted around the grounds and we watched the great big eagles fly around the huge estate. The girls explored everywhere, holding hands along the way. It was wonderful, very cold, but wonderful. I can imagine in the summer that you could make even more of the day, think dreamy picnics with the regal castle as the backdrop and refreshing drinks on the lawns in front of the conservatory admiring the stunning view of the river.

The Trainline app made the day run so smoothly, I cannot recommend the app more. I’m definitely the woman who loses her tickets, forgets to print them or arrives at the station so late that I miss my train because I have to book my ticket. The one thing I always have is my phone, so being able to pass through the gates with just showing your purchased tickets on the app or scanning the app is so convenient. Once your on the train its just a matter of showing your activated tickets on your app. How easy. Not only is it convenient but booking through the Trainline is sure to save you money with average savings being around 43%. I’m completely converted.

Trainline – www.thetrainline.com

Download the Trainline App

*in collaboration with The Trainline

Daylesford, Notting Hill
Daylesford Notting Hill
Daylesford Notting Hill

I'm passionate about Notting Hill. Us locals are blessed to have the most amazing selection of restaurants. Just like it's residents Notting Hill has such an eclectic collection of restaurants, eateries and cafes. That includes the organic kind. It wasn't until I had my children that I became more aware about the benefits of organic food and products. Having said that we are definitely not 'organic only' type people, but, we do only give our girls organic milk and try to with most diary products.

If only organic goodness will do and you're looking for an organic feast, Daylesford is the place to go, particularly if you are in the Notting Hill area (although there are many more popping up all over the place). Combining the concept of a deli and restaurant under one very conveniently located roof has created the perfect hangout, pop-in and meeting point on Westbourne Grove. It's sort of become the focal point of the road. I love their coffee, pastries and, well, all their delicious offerings. I'm willing to walk past ten other coffee shops just to enjoy the taste of a Daylesfood coffee.

Daylesford Notting Hill
Daylesford Notting Hill

Whilst I enjoy my coffee I love nothing more than a little wonder around the seasonal veggies and fruits. An organic deli rarely get better than this, it has been cleverly designed to make you feel as though you have been transported to an urban farm shop. One of the four seasons can always be felt inside Daylesford. Now that the autumn is here, pumpkins can be found everywhere. All shapes, sizes and colours. The stunning centre table was topic of conversation as Gabriella questioned us about all the varieties of squashes.

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Daylesford

From time to time I indulge in a long alfresco brunch or lunch, the relaxed atmosphere leaves you feeling as though you are enjoying lunch at a friends farmhouse for the afternoon. I'm Usually with my mother on visits to Daylesford, who, is a keen organic foodie but I sometimes spend a little quality time with my eldest daughter and take her for lunch. A couple of weekends back, three generations of girls enjoy a beautiful autumn lunch together. I always know when autumn is truly here, as I get the urge to order soul warming soup. I may be enjoying comforting winter warmers but I'm not sure Gabriella is ready to move on from summer as she ordered ice-cream. Typical.

Daylesford Notting Hill
Daylesford Notting Hill
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Autumn in Hyde Park
London Lifestyle Blog - Hyde Park
London Lifestyle Blog - Hyde Park

Autumn is everything. To me at least. It's my favourite season as far as the contrast in weather, colour in the world around us and seasonal foods. And, this year, the beautiful extension of bright and sunny days makes it all the more perfect. As soon as September arrives things seem to go back to normal. Most are back from long summers away, I have the urge to structure proper working days once again and my work diary is busier than ever. I can't be the only one who feels that during the summer if we are not outside enjoying the very short British summer I feel like i'm missing out? My kitchen and I have been reunited. Autumn baking fills the house with so many delightful smells. Baked apples with sultanas, muscovado sugar, a little butter and cinnamon and a sprinkle of Demerara sugar are being received well, especially when served with ice cream. That soul warming aroma is just too good to describe, at least I can't seem to do it justice.

London Blog
London Blog
Mummy Blog
- Autumn leaves
Mummy Blog - Autumn leaves
London Family Blog
London Family Blog
UK Lifestyle Blog
- Autumn leaves
UK Lifestyle Blog - Autumn leaves

Isn't everything around us beautiful right now? Although it feels a little crisper outside, we are certainly experiencing an indian summer. I love the adventure that autumn sends our way. We have been layering up for long morning walks in Hyde Park. We kind of do this whatever the season. It must be my favourite place in London. Sometimes I can't quite believe we are in a city when wandering through the park. I've been taking full advantage of enjoying sipping my coffee on a bench between Bayswater and High Street Kensington, next to a very specific tree, watching the leaves fall in all shades of autumnal tones. I often find myself lost in thought, I remember how much I loved finding conkers and wading through piles of crispy leaves when I was a child. While I daydream and reminisce the girls leaf hunt around me. The last few weeks have been such a pleasure to relive moments of my childhood and create more memories with the girls. We have loved being able to embrace being amongst the falling leaves and conkers, searching  for the rare red leaves and occasionally getting caught in the rain. Ok, so that bit is not so fun for me anymore but the girls love it. And, that's what matters.

Fortnum and Mason Coffee
Fortnum and Mason Coffee
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autumn leaves
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This autumn is particularly special now that Lucia can be involved. She loves to pick up leaves and crunch around. Great big leaves, the ones as big as her face have become a hiding prop. Peeking and booing around the park has become her favourite game. My girls were opposite season babies which in many ways is so lovely. I'm experiencing autumn things with Lucia at 18 months which I never did with Gabriella. What does autumn mean to you?

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Gabriella Wore:

Long Sleeve top - Zara Gillet - Zara Boots - Zara Tights - Zara Skirt - Zara

Lucia Wore:

Gillet - Zara Long Sleeve top - Zara Leggings - H&M Shoes - Toms (red no longer available)

A Picnic
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Sitting here cozied up in a jumper and listening to the rain fall as I write this seems a little odd. It was only a few days ago, when we had no plans that we decided to pack up a last minute picnic and find ourselves a large shade providing tree to enjoy a very warm afternoon. That is the British weather for you. Looking at the weather today confirms that picnics will soon be something of last season. How nice that we had the chance to enjoy one of our last over the weekend.

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Are picnics about the food or the act of laying out a blanket in nature and relaxing with good company whilst enjoying a little food. It probably is a combination of both but I would say for the girls it seems to not matter what I pack in terms of food, they love the act of having a picnic. We didn't enjoy gourmet food on this occasion, just simple sandwiches and snacks. On the days where I plan in advance I do like to pack a 'proper' picnic with cold meats, salads, delicious pickles and a selection of breads with sweet patisseries and fruit for desert. But this, was not one of those days. It really didn't matter as the girls loved it anyway.

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Front Doors in Colour
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Sometimes we all need a little inspiration so I thought I would start to share the sorts of things that inspire me each day.

I would love to live in one of these candy coloured chocolate box houses. Until then I'm going to obsess over their vibrant front doors and contrasting painted render and distinctive door knockers. Anything goes and somehow any bright or pastel combinations work. It's all in experimenting with clashing colours. Naturally these houses work best with an adorable typically English garden to compliment, preferably with strongly scented roses for added effect.

Cute little roads with rows of coloured houses seem to attract me like a magnet. The atmosphere and backdrop they create adds depth and playfulness to a neighbourhood. Perhaps this is one of the many reasons I have come to adore Notting Hill. Even on the dullest of days a stroll down Portobello Road and the rest of the neighbourhood lifts my spirits. Portobello is the road I will casually stroll down if I'm having creative block or just want some added inspiration for a project or collection I'm working on.

I often wonder whether the colours the owners choose reflect their personality and confidence in life. What do you think? It doesn't stop at the colours. Knockers and various studding add to the personality and overall style of the door.

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 pretty purple house covered in white roses

pretty purple house covered in white roses

 Vibrant red front door with a contrasting choice of blue render. Strong and bold.

Vibrant red front door with a contrasting choice of blue render. Strong and bold.

 Delicate pastel pink front door with matching render. Soft and elegant.

Delicate pastel pink front door with matching render. Soft and elegant.

 Clashing colours. So wrong on paper but so eclectic on Portobello Road.

Clashing colours. So wrong on paper but so eclectic on Portobello Road.

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Personally, I'd love a candy coloured render, maybe a pink or peach with a coral or turquoise door. What colours would you choose?

Sunday Afternoon at Hyde Park
 

Hyde Park is my all time favourite place to be in London. I've lived in Bayswater my entire adult life, from my university days until 2 years ago, the park has always been at the end of my road. Almost like an extension of my home and basically my garden. Moving away is probably my biggest regret in life, I've realised that a bigger home and more space does not necessarily equal a happier existence. Gabriella has asked everyday if we can move back to Hyde Park, her soul is similar to mine, sensitive, creative and strong willed. Strange that a 3.5 year old is so attached to the place, but true.

We will be returning home. Notting Hill, particularly Bayswater will always be home for me. It's where i'm at my happiest, where i'm most content and at my most creative. I've never settled since moving to North London. Sorry North Londoners, no offence but I too laid back for your vibe on a daily basis! Don't misunderstand me, to look at, North London you are extremely pretty but my soul just doesn't belong there. So, the search is on. We are looking for a new home. Of course, there are sacrifices when moving back to Bayswater but living where we are all happy is absolutely worth having less space and smaller garden or perhaps no garden (ok, so no garden slightly worries me).

After checking out the location of a few roads in Bayswater on Sunday we took advantage of the beautiful weather and lived for a moment as if we were back home. Doing what we used to do most days just for a couple of hours refreshed my memory as to why we were so happy whilst we were there. Who would believe an ice cream in the park could be so precious.

Sunday artists on Bayswater Road along Hyde Park
Sunday artists on Bayswater Road along Hyde Park
Lucia stealing my ice cream
Lucia stealing my ice cream
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The round pond, Hyde park
The round pond, Hyde park
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Swan watching
Swan watching
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The National Trust's Heartwood Forest

IMG_7810 Oh the magic of the woods. How we have loved spring this year. It's so vibrant, pretty and full of life. We love a bit of adventure, exploration and going somewhere new. Disney have been celebrating their release of Into the Woods on DVD by hosting a magical forest trail in Heartwood Forest. The children could dress up as their favourite Disney character if they wanted to. Gabriella wanted to be a fairy, how appropriate. Fairies do live in the woods after all!

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What a way to spend a warm Sunday afternoon. Heartwood Forest is the place to go if you are close to London and would like to experience the great british outdoors at its finest. We really do have some of the most beautiful woods particularly in the Spring with all the bluebells. Luckily we had seen the bluebells out in full force at Ashridge Estate two weeks ago, the ones at Heartwood Forest were on their last legs and really dying off, the bluebell impact wasn't as magnificent but I could see if we had been only a few days earlier the display would have been spectacular. A tip, when you hear that the bluebells are out, act fast. They only have a life of 3-4 weeks. You know that saying 'all good things must come to an end'. That's bluebells.

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Bluebells or not, the forest area at Heartwood is beautiful. Pathways lead the way through, which for me I prefer and is very convenient when you have a buggy and 2 children in tow. Don't get me wrong, things got a bit muddy and rocky and awkward in places but nothing that couldn't be handled. Wandering deeper into the forest we stumbled across some stick dens. How amazing. The children loved it. Little houses for them to play in and run in and out of in the woods. Not sure who made them but they certainly left them for us all to enjoy. Stretching the girls imagination is my forte, I had such fun telling Gabriella stories and showing her the huge trees where all the forest fairies live and we played ring a ring a roses with the forest fairies dancing around us. Just enchanting.

Celebrating Disney's Into the Woods With a Spot of Baking With Maria

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I love my job or should I say jobs! They say you never work a day in your life if you love what you do. That's me. Don't get me wrong there are moments where things are trying but all in all I love what I do. One of the main things I love about my blog is that I get to meet the most amazing people and that more often than not they leave a very positive mark on my life. Running a blog presents many opportunities which usually fall outside the 'norm' for what you would find me doing on an average day. That's great, because I love to try new things, explore and learn new skills.

This Monday morning I was invited to bake with Maria Mayerhofer master baker, in St. John's Wood to celebrate the launch of Disneys Into the Woods movie. Maria is more than amazing, accommodating and very inspiring. There is such a warm family feel to her baking lab and it feels more like a home away from home kitchen which immediately puts you at ease. We were greeted by her lovely team who had prepared freshly baked homemade blueberry muffins, pastries, hots drinks and beanstalk juice. What a perfect way to start the day.

To many peoples surprise I love to cook but admittedly when it comes to baking I try my best, but, in my head I have ruled out certain things because of the fear that they are too time consuming and complicated for a busy mother like me.

We had the PERFECT selection of goodies to bake. Everything you expect to be eaten in a traditional fairy tale which went hand in hand with the Into the Woods movie.

We learnt to make overnight rye buns. One dish is all you need, this has to be most mothers dream recipe, there's not much washing up and fiddling around and you really do make the most delicious rustic rolls that go so well with the jam that we made. We also made enriched dough fruit bread which is a bit more time consuming but so worth it, I'm waiting to try this one weekend.

Since the masterclass I now prepared my mixture for the overnight rye bread once the girls are in bed or whilst Gabriella is at school in the afternoon and Lucia is having a nap and leave it to rise in the fridge over night. We bake them in the morning ready for lunch before Gabriella goes to school. It's all very exciting and captivating for Gabriella, watching the bread rise in the oven. And Jam. I mean Jam?! Really, I had no idea that jam could be made that quickly easily with easy to find ingredients. I love the idea of my children eating fresh homemade jam with homemade bread. Can you believe I'm now making fresh batches of jam each week.

Maria has totally inspired me and taught me that you can bake simply and quickly at home using conventional domestic ovens. Over the next week I'm going to post the recipes so that you too can become master home bakers!

Both Gabriella and Lucia lasted quite a way through the into the woods movie and loved the singing. It's going to be watched over and over during the half term.

I cannot recommend Maria and her classes enough, you must take a look at her website and book yourself a class, they are life changing.

www.bakewithmaria.com

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Outside Space at The Natural History Museum

IMG_7380 Somehow we have always overlooked the outside space at The Natural History Museum. How incredibly stupid, it's stunning, peaceful in places with the most fabulous architecture as the backdrop. Perhaps because so much of our weather encourages us to seek out shelter for the long months of gloomy miserable days we miss some perfect outdoor locations. But Saturday was just too beautiful to be inside. We do love the dinosaurs, but dinosaurs there are so many months we can enjoy you in the winter!

So after heading over to Maitre Choux in South Kensington on Saturday afternoon we wanted to find somewhere to sit outside with the girls and enjoy our eclairs. In the distance, we could see The Natural History Museum, I remembered how lovely the lawns were just in front. When we arrived and it was so busy, swarms of people clustered together, far too many people to relax, enjoy and hangout with the girls. In search of somewhere to hangout in peace we wandered to the far left where we found a secluded grassed area which was still in front of the museum but seemingly unknown to the rest of civilisation. Perfect for us. With only 2 other families in sight we were able to let loose, run around and have some relaxed fun. The grand architecture of the natural history museum made the perfect backdrop for our afternoon.

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Our newly discovered hangout area backed onto the wildlife garden at The natural History Museum. I didn't even know this existed so obviously I had never been there. Open from late Spring until November. Curious to explore, we wanted to see what it was all about. A peaceful haven in the centre of South Kensington, you absolutely wouldn't believe you were in London.

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Unfortunately there is no entrance to the wildlife garden from the lawns, the only access was through the museum. Who cares, a walk alongside the dinosaurs to get there keeps everyone amused! The wildlife garden is located next to a very modern outside space inside the museum, which is rather lovely.

Bank Holiday Weekend at Little Venice Canalway

IMG_6306 Bank holidays are made for over indulging in too much calories laden food which should of course be eaten in fabulous company, spending time with family and friends and generally staying out later than bedtime, well, in my case the children's bedtime. How nice to have an extra long weekend, but, doesn't it just leave us all wishing that bank holiday weekends are forever and that real life and their responsibilities don't exist? It has been wonderful to get carried away in the moment and have some work free time to create some lasting memories.

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In our true family style naturally we started the bank holiday weekend on Saturday with lunch, we tried somewhere new, hats always exciting for us. We made it down to West Thirty Six on Goldborne Road in Notting Hill. Set in a beautiful, higeldy pigeldy townhouse style building and spread over a number of floors there is just so much to explore, we didn't get the chance to explore everywhere but that's great, it means I need to go back and have a wander and hopefully make it up to the fire pit located on the roof terrace. We enjoyed a delicious lunch, burgers of course nothing else will do for a bank holiday lunch. We then stopped on the way back at Little Venice to join in the celebrations at their annual Canal Cavalcade. Gabriella loves boats and what a spectacular display of narrow boats for her to enjoy. All Dressed up with buntings and heritage flags and other sorts of knick knacks, every boat was at their best on show for us all to enjoy. What I love about narrow boats is they're all individual and usually reflect elements of the owners personality. Gabriella loved searching for her 'favourite' boats. The sense of community could really be felt, all the narrow boat owners were drinking and eating and chatting together, and the support from the locals was amazing. Gabriella tried two new things, face painting and candyfloss. I was so excited to see my little girls face painted for the first time. The verdict was...she loved the face painting and was not too sure about candy floss, the idea was clearly greater than the experience!

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Bank Holiday Monday at Sensational Butterflies Exhibition at The Natural History Museum

IMG_6391 More than we expected in every way and so deserving of it's title. Sensational Butterflies at The Natural History Museum was just that, Sensational! We'd had such a busy bank holiday that we wanted to do something short and sweet but worthy of that last bank holiday afternoon.

For as long as I can remember I've always been attracted to butterflies, I collect all sorts of beautiful things with butterflies on them. I'm not sure what the attraction is, perhaps its their pretty unique markings, the colours and their tranquil nature.

Anything to do with butterflies and i'm there to check it out. We've been to many butterfly houses and this is definitely the winner so far. Set in the lawns in front of The Natural History Museum it's so much quieter than the bustle inside the museum, there's plenty of space on the lawns for a picnic but do not fear there are snack vans on the lawns for those that are not prepared on this occasion that was me!

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There is such an array of butterflies, little ones, huge ones and so many exotic beauties to admire. The environment was just as stunning and well kept as the butterflies themselves which is just so reassuring to see. The staff are amazing, they are happy to show the little ones where the caterpillars hide out under the leaves and answer any questions they may have. Gabriella was given a card to stamp the process of caterpillars evolving into butterflies, she loved this as stamping is one of her favourite past times at the moment.

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We had a very special moment, one of the giant blue butterflies landed on Lucia to hang out for a few moments this really impressed Gabriella but she was so disappointed a butterfly didn't land on her! Wriggly three and a half year olds are not their prime target for landing on, but to save the tears I've promised to take her back to see if we can catch a kodak moment for her with a butterfly.

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We finished our afternoon by munching on crepes and ice-cream at Kensington Creperie just a 2 minute walk away, the long queue out of the door was worth the wait they were delicious!

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What I've been Wearing Lately
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The suns out and spring is delighting us almost every day. Don't you just love this season, it has to be my favourite of them all. The sun whom we have very rarely seen for too many months really is magic I've come alive and feel a new lease of life. Seeing the earth come alive with new life everywhere is just great for the soul. And well who doesn't love blossom against the bright blue skies doesn't it just make you so happy?!

The change in season has seen a change in my wardrobe and now that I'm no longer breastfeeding I can wear something a little more exciting than shirts and jersey vests!

Spring is all about transitional pieces, layering and the introduction of colourful hues. I found the perfect sheer printed long kimono, it's so versatile, I've been wearing it over leggings/jeggings and simple silk vests, jeans and shirts. As the weather warms up more I'm going to throw it on over simple summer dresses and shorts (legs and clean eating permitting!).

I've been on the lookout for a new bra, one that could restore my cleavage to something that resembles me pre-babies. The thing is now I'm a lot larger in the chest since having children so my usual go to brands are no longer for me (for now :-(). What I look for from a bra is support, comfort and style. For the past 3 weeks I have been trying out Playtex Contour Perfection. It's padded (perhaps more padding than I currently need) and underwired which gives support and even, youthful looking cleavage and it's very stylish quite refreshing after nearly 2 years of maternity bras!

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For my nails Essie's A Splash of Grenadine is my colour of the moment. It's a fresh, pastel tone, a pinkish purple but with some omph!

I've fallen head over heels in love with a British Tuesdays 4160 Centrepiece which I recently discovered in a goody bag gifted to me by Fortnum & Mason, If you like a musky, sensual unique fragrance then you probably need this in your life! The Centrepiece fragrance is a smooth, voluptuous 50s style fragrance, inspired by a visit to Fortnum & Mason’s ice cream parlour and perfume salon. The perfect daytime scent, with luxurious frangipani blossom, and notes of green tea and golden honey. Utterly delicious. Tuesdays 4160 handmake very small batches of 50-200 at a time of these gorgeous fragrances. The love that has gone into the making of each and every one of these fragrances can really be felt. At £120 is a little more expensive as some of the mass produced fragrances but remember it is hand made in the UK.

Long Printed Kimono - Warehouse Playtex Contour Perfection Bra - Debenhams (gifted) Tuesdays 4160 Centrepiece - Fortnum & Mason (gifted) Essie Splash of grenadine - Essie

A Peak around the Fortnum & Mason Beauty Hall

20150429-144258.jpg I was delighted to be invited to an early tour of Fortnum & Mason's new beauty hall. Known for inventing the scotch egg and delivering the best hamper in London I didn't quite know what to expect as far as a Fortnums beauty hall. The one thing I did know is I had great expectations.

Subtle, understated and oozing with Georgian glamour. It was unquestionably worth the wait. It's everything you would imagine and more. Refreshingly different than the hustle and bustle of all the other London department store beauty halls. I had an image in my head that it would be quite over the top but actually it's all in the simplicity. I loved that it feels light and airy but retains the Georgian feel. The over-sized, over-the-top chandelier centered in the middle elegantly ties the modern georgian look together very beautifully.

I don't know about you but I usually find beauty halls completely overwhelming, illuminated beyond necessity and far too loud not to mention busy. My family life is hectic and I have 2 very energetic toddlers who too often make far too much noise, on the occasions that I do shop in store I want a little serenity especially when I making my mind up about beauty purchases and this is what Fortnums offers. It's all in the details. We as customers matter. Plain, simple, old fashioned customer service goes a long way, it's a rarity in London these days, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it.

Since having children I'm far more picking about what products I use and what's in them, it's lovely to be able to talk to someone about the products you are going to buy without being rushed and with confidence that there extensive knowledge will give the comfort needed.

No, Fortnum's doesn't bombard you with vast selections of products, they have selected and very carefully hand picked the creme-de la-creme of their selected brands with many collaborations exclusive to Fortnums. Think of their beauty hall as an editors pick, everything is amazing, out of this world. You will only find THE finest selection of beauty products. Oh why oh why must you make shopping this easy Fortnums? There was nothing I didn't adore.

And that's not it, cult brand Cosmetics a la Carte now offers their colour matching service at Fortnum's, custom blended lipstick, I cannot tell you the number of times I have found 'the one' for my lips and they almost always seem to discontinue my new favourite.  No need to be disappointed anymore, I know where I'm going when my favourite lipstick gets discontinued. The same service can colour match your shoes and blend the identical lip colour. Genius.

The fragrance area will take you through three concepts. The Heritage Hall which celebrates the classic French and English perfume houses we all know and love. The Scent Room, and The Contemporary Gallery which is home to the next generation of perfumiers. The huge chandelier takes centre stage showcasing an outstanding edit for your senses. 

As simple as the layout may look there is so much to take in, I say that because you 'want' to take it ALL in, EVERYTHING, it's all so derserving.

I've already been back and will continue to do so for as long as the beauty hall is open. Now I know Fortnum's The Parlour ice cream restaurant is family-friendly I can so easily return with the children and sneak off upstairs whilst they indulge in ice cream!

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Old Spitalfields Market with the Family

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I'm ashamed to say that we haven't yet been to Spitalfields Market as a family. Partly because it's East London and partly because I have Portobello Road and Camden Market on my doorstep. Bad? I know. We fancied doing something relaxed and laidback so I thought where else to experience that than East London. Much of East London is not really forthcoming in promoting themselves as child-friendly. Shame, there's so many too-cool-for-children restaurants I would like to try. Spitalfields is one of the places I feel quite comfortable with the children in East London. The vibe is quite a mix, tourists Vs East London Cool along with quite a few local families. I'd forgotten what unique fashion finds can be found. Gabriella and I had a little girly time, time for just a wander and well of course she used it as the perfect opportunity to ask me so many questions about everything. 'Why do cars not drive on the pavement?' 'Why does there have to be cars?' 'Why is there night?' 'Why does Lucia sleep in the day?' 'Why are the birdies inside the market?' You get the picture?! Among the questions we managed to sneak into a few shops and stalls whilst Glenn and Lucia went to check out the food offerings.

There were so many tempting foodstalls it would have been rude not to indulge! We opted for delicious sugar-free strawberry and apricot tarts after trying Egyptian street food. Yum.

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A Day Out with Notonthehighstreet Celebrating Storytime Sounds Story Hub at Godstone Farm, Surrey

IMG_5745 We were very excited to be invited to celebrate the launch of the notonthehighstreet.com Storytime Sounds Hub at Godstone Farm in Surrey.

We have used the Story time Sounds App since last Summer when it was launched and Gabriella has loved it. She loves the sounds and pressing the buttons and she never gets bored as every story is different since i've been making them up off the top of my head. As much as I really like to use my imagination to make up stories there are just some days which it feels beyond me so the launch of the Storytime Sounds hub was the perfect accompaniment to the perfect bedtime app.

If you don't know much about this app then let me tell you a bit more. The Storytime app is made up of eight sound boards, there's a really good selection enough for both boys and girls. The idea is to help parents bring a little magic to bedtime stories on their iPhone or iPad. Notonthehighstreet have since launched a story time sounds hub which provides very entertaining stories for those days when using your imagination to please the little ones is just too taxing!

We arrived to a very stunning setting at Godstone Farm, the event had been set up to look effortless and in true notonthehighstreet style. Simply Gorgeous. The barn was beautifully decked out with hay stacks covered in blankets, confetti filled clear balloons and super stylish cushions dotted around for little bottoms.

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The girls were very excited to hear stories in the barn which was followed by a tour and a mooch around the farm. Storytelling was fun and would definitely give my storytelling a run for it's money! Good job to the notonthehighstreet team, they really engaged with the children and had them joining in and fighting for a chance to press the buttons on the app. I've got some great tips for future story reading with the app.

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After storytelling and a lunch break we headed off for a very bumpy tractor ride for a tour of the farm and a guided tour. How sweet for see days old baby lambs, we were so lucky. Gabriella stroked rabbits and touched some baby piglets.

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Storytime is a very special time each evening in our house. It's a time to relax, unwind and calm down. I find bedtime a great time to get their imaginations going and have some quality time.

The story time app is available to download from iTunes or click here. The Story Hub is available online www.notonthehighstreet.com/storytime-sounds

Lucia's 1st Birthday

image Happy Birthday to our dear Lucia!

"How is it that you are already a whole year old? I'm sure that it was only moments ago that I gave you your first kiss and cuddle and smelt your scent. I still get teary eyed remembering the moment your older sister met you for the first time and it melts my heart each and every day when I watch the two of you play. You have brought us more joy than anyone can ever imagine. We love you Lucia."

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It's been a whirlwind year. Full of emotions, many new and exciting memories and a huge change in the dynamic of our family now that we are four!

I just cannot believe a year can fly by so quickly, it was only last week that I looked at a photo I'd taken of Lucia and realised I'd taken a photo of a beautiful little girl not a baby. I'm not sure how I felt. I think it was a combination of feeling extremely proud of the baby I had nurtured and cared for over the past year and seeing how much she had grown and changed but on the other hand the realisation that baby Lucia who is now an amazingly beautiful and healthy was no longer baby Lucia! Life is about evolving and now it's time to move on to the next chapter. I officially no longer have a newborn but 2 toddlers! I'll have to get over it, the important thing is that they are happy.

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Since we've been through planning birthdays and events with Gabriella we know that for a 1st birthday it's pointless doing much more than an at home celebration with close family.

We kept it simple. We opted for yellow, had a beautiful cake, lots of balloons and some fun finger foods. It was perfect. I spent the morning organising balloons, picking up the cake and after Lucia's nap she woke up to a lovely little tea party.

Balloons are clearly the best form of entertainment for toddlers, especially the helium filled ones with very long ribbons. Gabriella enjoyed making faces through the clear balloons and Lucia entertained herself with pulling the balloons down as far as she could.

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Happy Birthday Lucia X

Gabriella wears:

T-shirt - Billieblush Skirt - Mamas and Papas Cake - Primrose Bakery

Late Afternoon Visit to The Museum of Childhood

Who could believe a seemingly blissful day on paper can so easily turn into something of a little chaos, a lot of whinging sprinkled with some teething. Although I didn't initially have a completely free day,  when my meeting with the seamstress needed to be rearranged I thought how wonderful to have an afternoon to potter around doing nothing much. Clearly it was turning into 'one of those days'! The lunch I made for Gabriella wasn't right, the sandwiches were not cheese pasta, the apples were apparently sour (as sweet as can be according to my tastebuds!) and the piles of Easter eggs was all that she wanted.

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A change of scene is the only cure for days like this. We spontaneously jumped into the car and drove to Bethnal Green to The Museum of Childhood for an hour. It's a wonderful space for the children to explore, no need to worry if they play up, it's The Museum of Childhood after all! Both Lucia and Gabriella enjoyed the afternoon. It's just as stimulating for the little ones, theres lots of sense and light activities and things for them to touch and feel. I had the chance to show Gabriella and Lucia the toys I played with and had at home in the 80's.

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I've been trying to postpone my visit until the Alice in Wonderland exhibition in May, but we shall return. It was for sure the perfect remedy and we ended the day on a positive note. What more can one ask for?!

Sketch: Afternoon Tea

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I've been waiting to introduce Gabriella to afternoon tea for some time, it's one of my favourite British traditions that I hope we can enjoy together over the years. What better place to have her first Afternoon tea! Sketch is one of my all time favourite places to dine and hang out in London. I probably spent way too much time here pre-children! At Sketch afternoon tea is served with a very Alice in wonderland feel. It's the combination of a very atmospheric, interesting, fun and colourful venue, waitresses in Alice in wonderland inspired uniforms and an eclectic array of to die for chinaware and most importantly beautifully presented afternoon tea.

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Fear not, Sketch is surprisingly child-friendly particularly at weekends. it's best to book, we didn't and waited for 10-15 mins for a table. We were sat in the parlour which if you booked you would have the option of choosing from some of their other rooms. All are stunning and totally unique which means visits do not get boring, just change rooms for a different backdrop. With children I would advise the Parlour or the Glade both rooms have more of a slightly informal feel which is just what you need when eating out with unpredictable ones! We sighed with relief when there was another family with 3 children of the same age group as ours already sat close-by. You know that feeling, for some reason it instantly takes the pressure off. Have you spotted the sleeping baby (Lucia) next to me on the sofa? Yes, that's right, Lucia practically slept through it all only waking near the end to sample a little of the tasty goodies. Couldn't have asked for more! I had a very enjoyable experience. It's always iffy taking a nearly 1 year old out to eat expecting them to keep still at a time when all they want to do is explore and learn new things.

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The variety of little sweet and savoury sandwiches, cakes and patisseries makes afternoon tea very enjoyable for Gabriella. There's not too much of any one thing, no opportunity for little ones to get bored of their meal. We literally had to fight to get a look in!

Oh and guess what was one of Gabriella's favourite parts of Sketch? Going to the toilet! Who can blame her, I've always loved making a trip to the amazing pod toilets. It's an experience in itself, and the perfect place to take a bathroom selfie!

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Celebrating Disney's Cinderella Movie #cinderellaexhibition

Cinderella exhibition cover We feel very lucky that we had the opportunity to go to the Cinderella Exhibition in Leicester Square today. One of the first things I want to tell you is that it's only on for 7 days, I highly recommend visiting, I'm sure you will not be disappointed. I certainly wasn't. Described as a modern day re-make of this classic movie we all grew up with, the exhibition was magical in every way. Perhaps it was because I didn't have any expectations, I don't like to do this as I have been a little disappointed in the past with events that have been surrounded with lots of hype and lets be honest it's hard to re-live that magical feeling we had as children watching Disney classics.

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Gabriella was super excited and loved the exhibition from start to finish(quite an achievement at 3 years old). What kept her entertained? It was interactive and very visually stimulating. We had no complaints from little Lucia either, she loved the pretty pumpkin carriage which was lit by stunning lights forming a walk-through to the ballroom which showcased the intricate ball gowns worn by all the princess from around the world. Seeing all the props and costumes in real life displays the vast amount of workmanship that has gone into creating the magic. Cinderella's dress was of course the star of the exhibition, dripping in sparkling Swarovski crystals. It's dazzling. Oh, and the glass slipper made from pure Swarovski crystal, there are no words to describe. It must be seen.

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At the end of the exhibition there is a very high-tech interative shoe fitting, the staff email a photo of your trying on the magic slipper which miraculously fits your foot perfectly. Princess Gabriella tried on the slipper and like magic it fitted her just right!

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The exhibition is free, no need to book but you can if want. There is a little bit of a queue but who cares, theres always great street entertainment to keep you entertained whilst you wait in Leicester Square.

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