First Swing

Can you even fathom how it must feel to be on a swing for the very first time? I guess this is why adults take drugs, because there is really not much else cool to look forward to after this.

Here we are in Henley – another stunning riverside town, perhaps even better than Marlow if that is legal to say! There was a beautiful children’s play park right next to the river. And here is where we spotted the baby swing!!

Jack adored it! You could see all his little teeth as he grinned hysterically. It really was the most delightful thing to witness. And I made a short video where you can hear him squeal in delight 🙂

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Marlow

If you live in England you need to visit Marlow. Not only is it home to spectacular culinary destinations (The Hand and Flowers, The Fat Duck, The Hinds Head, The Waterside Inn, The Compleat Angler, The Coach) it is a beautiful and very child friendly location for a day trip / weekend.

You can walk along the river side on a very civilised paved pathway, wide enough for prams to pass each other. There are swans and ducks in abundance and the most beautiful riverside houses to drool over.

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I simply have to share my review of The Coach. Not only because each dish was utterly delicious, but because they were extremely relaxed and informal despite it being pretty close to fine dining. We had the pram (huge Bugaboo Buffalow!) and a 9 month old baby and they didn’t blink at the door! They immediately moved an entire table to fit our pram and made sure we had a lovely booth seat so Jack could bounce around between us. (They don’t have baby chairs) We saw a few toddlers too which sets your mind at ease.
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Above we had fish and chips, pigs head croquette, lamb pie, ceaser salad and a stuffed quail. You don’t see the perspective here, these are small sharing portions – although we did over-order as we are greedy folk (and we even squeezed in a dessert and coffee!) I would recommend 3 dishes + dessert for two adults.

Jack was super well-behaved, here he is standing on the seat between us while we tag-teamed the eating. He is smashing his food pouch into our shopping bag 🙂

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Babies eat wrapping paper

Anyone with a child under 1 will empathise. Your child’s first Christmas is hugely exciting….for you.

You rush about buying awesome presents which you wrap up in sparkly paper tied with red ribbons. You buy extra-cute tree decorations with wobbly eyes. You order a custom stocking online and stuff it with robots and floating bath boats. You frantically rush about the house covering everything in gold tinsel and mini snowmen. You buy four portions of Ella’s Kitchen Roast Dinner.

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The bottom line is, they don’t get it, they don’t care, they don’t appreciate.

Children only reallllllly grasp Christmas at about age 5 or 6. And by that stage, Santa gets all the credit anyway.

Jack ate wrapping paper, chose old toys over new toys, threw-up Ella’s kitchen Christmas Dinner and refused to wear a Christmas hat or antlers. Oh, and managed to pull our tree over.

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That said, I enjoyed every single minute. Imagining it through his eyes; the lights, colours and piles of eager relatives fighting for his smiles. It was by far the best Christmas yet.

(below pic showing total rejection of new toys while playing with the handle on his chest of drawers *giggle*)

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Merry belated Christmas everyone 🙂

Country Life

I always said I was a city girl. I have worked and lived in Cape Town, Bangkok, Shanghai and London. And then came Jack….

After one year in Hampstead Heath we realised there was not enough balance between the fantastic buzz and energy of the city and the peaceful green space for long walks we so craved.

After a ton of research and spending precious Saturday’s driving to places like Tunbridge Wells, Cambridge, Oxford, Barnes…..we stumbled upon Windsor. Windsor has the incredible and rare combination of having everything you need (M&S, Zara, Boots, Reiss, hair salons, nail bars, snappy-snaps) without being a major city AND huge open green spaces, rolling hills, lush pastures and a village vibe. Not to mention A CASTLE and weekly visits from The Queen.

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We have gone ‘native‘ so to speak. We bought a baby carrier, referred to as ‘The Jack-Pack’, hiking shoes (baby blue Merrels) waterproof trousers (OMG!) and Splish-Splash booties for Jack.

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Most of Christmas was spent hiking and enjoying the countryside. I love building up an appetite for a big yummy pub lunch. Seeing Jack so engaged with the scenery was brilliant to see. I think past 6 months old the pram is quite restricting and he sleeps because of boredom, so this is the perfect solution.

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Beautiful scenery is food for the soul 🙂

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I think Jacks first word will be ‘Fin Fin’ – our dogs name! Happy New Year all! xoxox

Moving house with a baby

My advice?

Don’t do it.

Run for the hills, avoid eye contact, shove your fingers in your ears and sing lalalalalalalalalalalala

Ok, so we don’t always have the choice not to move house with a baby, but we can learn from the mistakes of others. Read: me (glad to help – said with sarcastic tone and grimace)

After a lot of debate we decided to move from London (Hampstead Heath) and my 23 minute bus ride to work, to Windsor, now a 1 hour train + tube journey. The reasons are unsurprising for anyone with a child (and dog); space, tranquility, woodlands, greenery, long walks, safe bike riding, farmers markets, free range everything, peace and quiet and no skanky chavs.

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  • Get professional movers. Do not attempt to do this with friends.
  • Get someone to take your baby out for a few hours. Babies cannot be put down, the environment is not safe (boxes, scissors, men with heavy shoes, nails and bits of stuff on the floor) and your arm will literally go numb from the constant holding.
  • Ask for a few boxes and some tape two weeks before – for precious things and knickers
  • Wake up super early on moving day – an hour before you think you need to because time is a hungry monster that eats itself
  • Corner off a section of the kitchen counter with crime tape (or equivalent) which protects the microwave, bottle steriliser, bottles, kettle, toys, formula, car seat and nappy bag. Protect with your life. Don’t even go to the toilet or turn your back while packers are present. They are vultures for scraps.
  • Stay calm (on the outside)
  • Talk to your baby constantly – explain to them what is happening and how you regret it
  • Go for a walk with the pram (if you can be spared) to give you a break and let baby nap (over-tired is not an option)
  • Clearly label all baby-related boxes – cot, clothes, toys, linen, food – so the first thing you do in the new house is get the nursery done. Trust me. You can sleep face-down in mud if your baby is settled.

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  • Try and keep a sense of humour and take care of yourself so your energy doesn’t wane. Have snacks and water in nappy bag for YOU! I totally neglected myself and felt like murdering someone (that man that packed my muslins… DIE)
  • Take the opportunity to capture cute baby pics – you will be surprised at the adorable scenes you can create. But be careful, Jack ate some cardboard box but (thankfully) spat it out later.
  • Keep your sling out – The vultures packed mine while I was on a call, hence the entire right side of my body is still in spasm from holding him for 5 hours straightIMG_0862
    Good luck, you are going to need it. And remember, my best advice of all is to get someone you trust to take your baby for the day or at least for a long pram walk in the park so you can get on with it.

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Keep Calm and Clean Up

Most new parents will know about this. The silent autopilot in cleaning up a dramatic situation. It’s like, the shock of the mess is so big and bad it can’t leave your body. Instead the horror transfers to your finger tips, legs and parts of your brain required to keep it all together.

Last night was a classic case of the silent autopilot clean up. We were all in bed, Jack had just fallen asleep. Utter bliss as we flipped through magazines and quietly chatted about Christmas plans.

Jack  rolled over onto his belly. Pushed himself upwards, threw up and then face planted into his fresh vom. Splat! Onto clean linen. Three layers of clean linen I might add. Coz babies need all sorts of comforters and stuff to make life even more like a cloud.

Now, the ‘early parents’ in us, which means 0-3 months, would have shrieked and flapped and yelled hysterically at each other both doing the same task, twice each. But now we are nearly 8 months in, this is what happened;

Splat! Amy sits up. Closes magazine and walks to cot. Robbie closes book, sits up and walks to bathroom. Amy picks up Jack, wipes Jacks face with muslin. Robbie returns with damp towel and re-wipes his face, hair and hands. Amy passes Jack to Robbie. Robbie puts Jack into our bed between the pillows. Amy removes soiled linen and throws into heap. Robbie grabs heap and takes downstairs and throws into washing machine. Amy gives Jack milk in bed. Robbie returns. Family asleep.

Job done.

And in the morning, as this photo shows, there is no evidence of the horror from earlier – except perhaps the little protruding knee – a result of mums sleepy popper-popping in the dark!

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Inner Child

One very powerful thing I have realised since having Jack is how a baby re-ignites your inner child.

Everything is ‘normal’ until you read a particular nursery rhyme, or smell one of your childhood books, or get a waft of play-dough. When you put on funny character voices or dance like a monkey from The Jungle Book to make him laugh. When you see his face light up over the discovery of a simple yellow leaf and you stop to make a huge fuss because you realise the gravity of this one single yellow leaf in his world.

It is as if this entire section of your placid adult brain explodes into rainbows and glitter balls.

When you watch your child eat a new flavour for the first time and giggle as his entire body wriggles in shock. Or when you place his tiny soft feet onto beach sand and see horror followed by glee in the same split second.

It forces you to think ‘imagine feeling the ocean washing over your feet for the first time?!’ Incredible! And you take this little journey with them which is utterly magical.

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