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Happy (post) Halloween!

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As previously mentioned, at Halloween Mr Eli is ALWAYS going to be a Mr Skellington (complete with Converse!). Here he is in his second year of skellyton-ness! This year his outfit is actually pyjama’s from Gap KIDS: Glow in the dark skeleton sleep set. It’s sold out at the minute, but always comes back in stock.

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We love this little Skeleton Boy SO MUCH! 

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Flying Mr Skellington!

After Mr Skellington Eli had his bath, Daddy asked if Eli could indeed go to bed in his skeleton outfit pyjamas. Who are we to decline a skeleton of his threads? So Mr Skellington did indeed go to bed suited and booted! He was a little confused at his outfit when he woke up I think…

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Please do share what your little ones dressed as this Halloween!

 

MM.

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Whoever said, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch!”, are WRONG!

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Do you enjoy dining out but don’t enjoy the price tag that comes with it?

Becoming a Mystery Diner may be the perfect solution.

Mystery Diners are volunteers who give up their time to visit a range of restaurants, hotels and pubs and complete a report about their experience. In exchange you are reimbursed for your invaluable feedback.

Becoming a Mystery Diner is a great way to enjoy eating out at different restaurants, whilst saving money.

Being a Mystery Diner means you are able to say what you really feel about the service and the food in a productive and professional way to get your voice heard. You know that your feedback is appreciated and valued and often visiting somewhere a second time means you can see your feedback put into action with improvements made specifically as a result of your report.

You are able to socialise for free, as well as treat family and friends. Many Mystery Diners have said it encourages them to eat out regularly with their partners, friends and family who often enjoy the “secret assignment” nature of the meal. This is also a great way to give your children their first insights into dining out and trying different foods.

It also allows you to discover some real gems of places to eat that you never knew existed!

Mystery Dining is the ideal role for anyone who enjoys good food and appreciates good customer service and of course their bill paid for at the end.

The Mystery Dining Company is now recruiting over 1,000 Mystery Diners this summer, across the UK, for a variety of clients they work with such as Prezzo, Fire and Stone, Flaming Grill, as well as family favourites such as Giraffe and Wacky Warehouse.

So treat your family this summer and eat out for free at some great restaurants.

To sign up, click this link! And follow @mysterydining on Twitter for lots of updates!

Enjoy!

MM.

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Oh hello, it’s been a while…

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I know, I know. It’s been a canny while. Life has been pretty hectic to say the very least.

SO MUCH has happened since I last properly updated.

– Mr Eli has been in and out of plaster casts for his Talipes treatment. He’s currently in full time B & B (Boots and Bars). I’ll do a proper update on this too.

– We’ve had our first Christmas together, which was AMAZING.

– New Year came and went without a hitch.

– Started feeding Eli proper, actual, proper food! Which he LOVES.

– We’ve been here, there and everywhere visiting friends and family.

– I finally overcome some very difficult decisions and feel a ton has been lifted from my shoulders… albeit, it has been replaced with a wee bit of stress. But I’ll reveal all later! It’s all a bit hush hush right now.

– I’ve FINALLY started driving lessons! It’s only taken me 10 years.

Think that’s all for now. Will catch up again VERY soon!

MM.

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Surprises from my best friends!

Table at Babylon restaurant, Kensington Roof Gardens.

On Saturday of last week (9th June), I was whisked off to Kensington for lunch with my best friends at Babylon, Kensington Roof Gardens. The restaurant and garden’s were absolutely amazing… there were real-life flamingo’s in the gardens! On the ROOF, in Kensington! Crazy!

When I arrived at the restaurant I called my friends and they came and met me at the reception and lead me to our table. They’d decked the table out with ‘Baby Shower’ banners and presents! What a lovely surprise!

I thought I’d share the lovely gifts that they got us 😀

Scrummy cupcakes from Whole Foods.
Scrummy cupcakes from Whole Foods.

 

We're massive fans of "The Very Hungry Caterpillar", so this amazing box has taken pride of place in the nursery!

 

Lots of presents! Lots of essentials 🙂

 

Beautiful gifts from The Little White Company.

 

Absolutely adore this super-soft bunny rabbit and elephant rattle from The Little White Company!

MM.

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Thoughts on the Silver Cross ‘Balmoral’ pram? As seen with Lily Allen.

After seeing this picture of Lily Allen with the Silver Cross “Balmoral” pram I just had to write a blog post to see what you all thought!

First things first, it’s an eerily old fashioned pram – one of which I had a miniature version when I was growing up for my own dolls, and loved dearly! I always said “When I grow up I want a pram like this in real life”. Now real life is happening and I can’t think of a pram worse!

Obviously, this is my own opinion, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

But this pram is clunky, it’s too old-fashioned for dare I say it; modern times…. and this is coming from someone who’s house looks like a throw-back to the 70’s. It just isn’t practical. How on earth would I get on a bus with this pram? It certainly wouldn’t fit into the boot or even the back seat of our modest family car either! Which just makes me think – is this simply a pram for the celebrities? Also, the only time I’ve seen this style of pram recently is on that “Gypsy Wedding” programme (of which I’ve only seen the one episode and was appalled with the explicit dance moves and provocative clothing of FIVE YEAR OLDS, so couldn’t watch it again).

Another thing is, this pram does not come cheap. It’s £1250. I know our iCandy Strawberry did not come cheap, but we chose it on it’s practical-ness, it can fit in all cars, its perfect for public transport, it can rotate to front/rear facing and converts to accomodate a car seat, carry cot and seat unit. The iCandy Strawberry will also cater a child up to 3-4 years old. I can’t see how this Balmoral pram will accomodate a child from 6 months upwards really!?

Also, looking at the gallery of the Balmoral style on the Silver Cross website I couldn’t help but notice that the model looks ‘too tall’ for the pram. Just look how low down that handle bar is! OH certainly wouldn’t be able to push this pram that’s for sure.

So what do you think then? Am I being unreasonable here?! Do you have the Balmoral pram?

MM.

 

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Our iCandy Strawberry: Seat unit/Stroller and Carrycot.

**Quick warning, this post is quite photograph heavy**

We had looked at lots and lots and lots of reviews of travel systems, push chairs, strollers, joggers, car seats – everything! We came to the conclusion that we *needed* the iCandy Apple. No, not because we’re massive Apple fans… but because iCandy products are the most innovative, easy-on-the-eye and well received. Also, it’s quite important to us that iCandy is a British brand – we’re massive supporters of all things heritage, so this was also a key selling point for us!

Upon further investigation, we found that the iCandy Strawberry was due to be released – after much anticipation. We watched a ton of videos from trade fairs and Which, along with reviews, and decided that we now *needed* the iCandy Strawberry. We called up John Lewis dozens of times awaiting the delivery of it to the shop floor so we could look at it in real life. FINALLY, it had arrived at the Oxford Street store, so we dashed down after work to have a butchers.

We were not disappointed – but knew there was a waiting list and all products that were being delivered, were going straight to customers who had pre-ordered, months and months and months previous.

We looked at a handful of forums and spoke to iCandy stockists and found that we were likely to have a 3 month wait. So we thought, ‘sod it, let’s get it ordered’. So at just 12 weeks pregnant, we ordered the entire package from John Lewis in Stratford. We just wanted to keep it simple colour-wise, black goes with everything – and is unisex. So we ordered the seat unit (£450) and seat unit flavour pack in Assam (£75) along with carry cot (£95) and carry cot flavour pack in Assam (£75).

We were told that we’d get a phone call when everything was in stock, ready for dispatch. Personally, I thought it would be longer than the 3 month wait… judging by conversations around the amount of pre-orders and the length of time it takes to dispatch to the stockist – for the stockist to then dispatch to the customer directly. Just 3 weeks later we got a phone call saying that all items would be delivered in a further 3 days time! We couldn’t believe it.

But hey, I did say we were organised, didn’t I? 😉

So, obviously, at just 24+1 weeks pregnant, we haven’t given it a proper test drive yet. But check out the pictures. We’re chuffed with it! Will have to follow up on this post when Baby Boy actually arrives! From driving it around the house, I can confirm that it is smooth, easy to manoeuvre and quite light. The iCandy Strawberry comes with ‘memory’, meaning that it can be folded with the seat unit attached still – it will then unfold back into the same position before it was folded.

What’s in the box? iCandy Strawberry Chassis, Stroller seat unit, bumper bar, wheels, rain cover and instructions/warranty.

What’s in the box? iCandy carrycot, bumper bar, rain cover, instructions/warranty.

Carry cot attached, with bumper bar. The carry cot features the Assam flavour pack – hood and cover.

Stroller, rear facing. The stroller features the Assam flavour pack – hood and seat cover.

Stroller, front facing.

Folded, free standing, with stroller still attached.

Folded, laid flat with stroller still attached.

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We’ve also ordered the Maxi Cosi Cabriofix car seat from Amazon, which attaches to the iCandy Strawberry chassis. You need to purchase the Maxi Cosi Cabriofix adapters (£30) however!

The complete iCandy Strawberry Travel System that we purchased above came to a total of £725 from John Lewis. We still need to purchase a the Parasol (£25), which can now be purchased online at JohnLewis.com

MM.

 

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Lifehouse Country Spa Resort – long weekend away…

 

So, Lifehouse Spa!

We had booked this little break away after having all the scans and tests a few weeks ago. We’d decided that we would need a relax after such a rollercoaster couple of weeks…

Being 19 weeks pregnant, we jut wanted to go somewhere where we could relax and chill out for a few days. Get away from it all. A spa was perfect. I literally spent 3 days alternating between the swimming pool and jacuzzi (Hydrotherapy Pool). Unfortunately, all of the treatments were too expensive for our budget… in fact, they were just overpriced in general.

I’m well aware that this review is just going to sound like a right moan! It was our first trip to a Spa though, so we would have expected a bit more in some areas. Albeit, we had a wonderful time and would return tomorrow! But with hindsight of course ;o

Pro’s

– Drinks were relatively cheap.

– Comfortable bed.

– Contemporary room with lovely bathroom and great views of the gardens. Usual coffee and tea making facilities.

– Lovely staff – all very polite and always had a smile.

– Easy place to relax.

– Food was great, restaurant quality.

– Great swimming pool and hydrotherapy pool. Can’t review the Steam, Sauna or Salt Inhalations rooms as I can’t use them being pregnant… but DP absolutely loved all three. So they kept him quiet! 😀

– Loved the Orchids Bar area too… must recommend the bread and olives. Best olives I’ve ever eaten! Amazing! Just £2.00 too!

– Very very nice gardens… it was absolutely blowing a gale outside and raining but this did not deter us! We borrowed some Hunter wellies from reception and had a great walk right around the gardens.

 

Con’s

– We weren’t given a ‘welcome’ note or shown around the complex. So didn’t know what facilities we could and couldn’t use.

– Because of the above, we didn’t know we had a safe in the room, until we were messing on with a rather ambiguous looking drawer underneath the TV!

– Again, because we weren’t given a ‘welcome’ note, we didn’t know that you could order Room Service.

– Couldn’t lock the door to the room.

– No bath in the room – albeit, the shower was incredible. I still could have done with a soak before bed!

– Treatments are expensive and need to be booked well in advance. Many people were left disappointment upon arrival when all appointments were booked up.

– Pregnant ladies cannot use Sauna, Steam room or Salt Inhalation rooms as they raise the body temperature too much.

– Packages that exclude food are very expensive. A lunchtime meal (main and starter) will be around £45 for a couple with one wine and one soft drink. An evening meal is per the set menu, £35 for 3 courses or £28.50 for 2 courses.

– Menu’s left a lot to be desired for someone who is both pregnant and doesn’t eat fish or mushrooms! I ended up having the same evening meal on both nights of our stay because the menu didn’t change… and the Duck dish was the only one that didn’t contain fish or mushrooms! There was also a £3 additional supplement on this.

– There were no decaff teabags! I also wasn’t given an alternative… would have definitely thought there would be decaffeinated everything with it being a health spa!

– No soft drinks menu! Just Wine and Cocktail lists… which isn’t great when you can’t drink! Imagine if you’re an alcoholic visiting for a detox!

– Restaurant was basic-looking; for such an ambitious menu, it was a shame that the restaurant was more like a canteen in a Sainsbury’s with cheap chairs and tables. The chairs of which offered zero support for a pregnant lady.

– There were no bottles of water for free, or even for sale! So it was a case of having to get up every 5 minutes to go to the water fountain in the corner of the ‘Wet Area’. Which is quite annoying when you’re pregnant and just want to lay down, but of course, you need to keep hydrated.

– Although this spa is relatively new, (about a year old), we did notice lots of signs of wear and tear. I actually stood on a piece of broken glass in the Hydrotherapy Pool! Turns out, upon further inspection, lots of the mosaic tiles were cracked and broken, but glued back together. Again, when looking up from the jacuzzi, the ceiling paint was peeling…

It was such a shame there were these little niggles – we really did enjoy ourselves though! Honestly! And we would go back… just hopefully when they have a different menu! 🙂

 

MM.

 

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Christmas Party Woes!

It’s that time of year when there are LOTS of invitations to festive drinks and meals. I’ve had TWO important ‘festive drinks’ and a ‘festive meal’ with external companies through work this week… AND I’ve just got back from my office Christmas Party.

I’ve documented my previous struggles with excuses for not drinking in the below blog posts:

TTC: Excuses for not drinking!
TTC: Excuses for not drinking, PART DEUX.

It’s been a struggle again, but because of my recent trips to the hospital I have just been saying that I’m on strict orders not to drink until my “blood test results come back”. I’m pretty certain that people are not convinced – but I have had quite a lot of sympathy! 🙂

So at tonight’s office Christmas party there was the usual free-flowing booze from the onset. I’m usually the one guzzling the freebie’s and dancing the night away… but things are obviously quite different this year! Upon arrival there were ready-made cocktails, with jugs of the same cocktails ready for people who wanted a refill. I obviously couldn’t drink them so politely asked the barmaid for a ‘soft drink’. To my dismay she REFUSED and said that it was the ready made cocktails for the first hour and ‘custom drinks’ could be prepared thereafter. So I said, “I don’t wish to drink a customised drink, I’d just like a lemonade or a tonic water please?”. I actually could not understand!! To my further dismay, she pulled over her manager, who reiterated to me that there were no additional drinks until after 8pm….and that I could have a glass of water if I was “desperate”. Seriously, how rude?!! Nevermind being pregnant – I could be allergic to alcohol, or alcohol may even be against my religion! (Neither of these are true, but they don’t know that!). Has anyone else had trouble with mardy waiting staff?!

Despite being post-8pm I still struggled throughout the evening to obtain non-alcoholic drinks. The music was so loud that most bar staff thought I was asking for Vodka and Lemonade when I was simply asking for ‘JUST LEMONADE PLEASE!’. By 10pm I was absolutely exhausted and frankly, sick of the people behind the bar so left ready for home! Several colleagues did question whether I was pregnant… Most of whom were pretty much beyond drunk and wouldn’t have remembered my answer the next day anyway. But I did shrug all awkward questions off with “Maybe next year”.

Because of the amount of appointments and phone calls I’ve been making during working hours (and the CONSTANT not drinking anxiety!), I feel that the time has come to tell my boss what is really happening. I’m kind of looking forward to finally getting it off my chest – albeit, I know it’s still really early doors. I’d just hate to have people thinking I’m taking advantage…

Wish me luck!

MM.