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TRYING AGAIN, AFTER LOSS

(If this is your first time here on my blog, HELLO! I had a miscarriage in August 2017. It wasn’t ‘over’ until the ERPC in October 2017..  This is a lengthy post – as always, I am sharing our experience as a means to continue the conversation of trying again after loss).

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OK, I’ll start from the very beginning…

 

A year ago (January 2018), I stopped drinking. I started taking the recommended dose of Folic Acid and additionally, Vitamin B12.  (Just incase).  The “better” eating happened. Then when we moved to Manchester in May, I began the exercise – cycling to school and back twice a day was also helping my mood! I’d been on the pill for a few months post-miscarriage to get my periods back into a regular routine, but came off them at the start of 2018. Every single person you speak to regarding your miscarriage will tell you, “you’re most fertile after having a miscarriage… you’ll fall again quickly”. 

We decided that we weren’t going to look at fertile days, or take ‘trying’ too seriously. After my Miscarriage, I didn’t want ANY added stress or pressure. We wanted it to happen on our own terms… after all,  “you’ll be amazingly fertile after a miscarriage“.

But after our trip to Florida in June, I started to get a bit anxious about trying again and opened up my FLO app to begin tracking my periods, mood, health and everything in-between. From then on, we began trying on the most fertile days of the month.

September came and I still hadn’t fallen. Now, I understand that this really isn’t a long time, compared to other couples who try and try and try for years. But I’d fallen pregnant with my first two pregnancies within 3 months of trying. Granted, I was a lot older now – but I am only 32 still. Not exactly elderly! I lost a little weight and continued cycling and enjoying walks in the great outdoors (thanks to our new National Trust membership!). I knew fine well that out of every 100 couples trying for a baby, 80 to 90 will get pregnant within 1 year. The rest will take longer, or may need help to conceive. But at the back of my mind, the whole “shouldn’t you be mega fertile now?” voices were constantly trolling at me and  I couldn’t help but worry that something else was going on in my body, that:-

  • I had no control over (ie, my Endometriosis or something more sinister…
  • Something had ‘broken’ during my ERPC procedure that had left me with some kind of scarring…
  • Or worse, had everything actually ‘come away’ following the ERPC operation?

So, September onwards, we began tracking my ovulation and BBT (Basal Body Temperature). I bought a few packs of the ‘cheapie’ ovulation kits by One Step and the results were so interesting – see below:

 

I’d really recommend the One Step Ovulation tests (and pregnancy tests too). They’re cheap, they’re accurate,  they’re clear, they’re easy to use, they worked for us. 

 

The only problem with tracking your Ovulation is that, your day begins by thinking about your fertility… This meant, I couldn’t really escape my own pressures of falling pregnant. It was alllll I could think about.  To the extend that I began to distance myself from outside of this little bubble. You can clearly see where I began a minor social media hiatus!

I was tracking everything via the app. Every little niggle! You track so much and think about it so much, that your body eventually convinces you that you’re pregnant. (Hence the early testing in September and November).  But when you’re tracking everything, you’re reminded every month when you’re bloody period arrives that you’ve failed again this month. It’s the most heartbreaking few days – every time you go to the loo and get that little reminder that your body wasn’t up for fertilisation. To top it off, we had Eli listening to my tummy to check if a baby was in there… he’s been desperate for a sibling for as long as I can remember now.

 

 

On Thursday 15th November, I was making Eli an outfit for BBC Children in Need.  Looking back at my tracking, I’d had a few ‘off days’ . I’d had period type cramps and felt so light-headed. I wasn’t due on my period for another week but thought I could be coming on early.  Then on the evening as I was finishing sewing, I managed to stab my hand with a pair of exceptionally sharp fabric scissors. Normally, I’d be fine and get a plaster. Blood does not bother me, heck, once you’ve watched 24 Hours in A&E, you can muster pretty much all of the blood.  The DRAMATIC scenes that ensued are frankly, pure comedy. I was freaking out so much. I had to lay on the bathroom floor for fear of passing out. Never, have a I ever been like that.

The next day I went to the GP to see if I could get a Tetanus injection – just incase I was pregnant. I didn’t want to get an infection. Luckily, it turns out I was up to date. Phew.

Something still didn’t sit right with me about the way I had so ridiculously overreacted the night before. So at lunchtime, I went upstairs and did a quick One Step pregnancy test. I was 99% certain it would be negative as I’d had the cramping… it was also the very first time I’d ever done a test without James by my side.

I couldn’t believe my eyes as the second line appeared in 2 1/2 minutes. Again, I nearly passed out and laid on the sofa to compose myself. I thought I better ring James. I thought he’d go mad with me for doing the test without him…. I’d kind of played it cool on the phone. I’d convinced myself that the cheap test couldn’t POSSIBLY be correct. And 5 whole days before my period was due?!

I convinced myself it was a false positive. It HAD to be, right?

At school home-time I told Eli we needed to pop to the chemist to get something for my tummy… he immediately said “Why, is there a baby in there now?!”.  “I really hope so darling”, I responded.

I got 4 of the Superdrug own pregnancy tests – the same ones we’d bought when we fell with Eli. So I had some trust in them. I’d used a variety when I fell pregnant in 2017 and going back to the Superdrug own brand tests made me feel a bit safer, weirdly.

I waited on tenterhooks for James to get home from work – and with an evening urine sample, the results were… (see below)

 

A very faint, but very positive pregnant test!

 

The second line was so faint, I couldn’t see it and had to put the picture under all of the filters on photoshop to see it. But, as I said when I fell with Eli, you can’t be a little bit pregnant, can you!?

We told Eli our news immediately. We wanted to be open and honest with him – especially as he had seen me go through our miscarriage. We told him that we would tell all our family and friends at Christmastime as a present! (And you can’t tell anyone when its a present, can you!?) HOW Eli managed to not tell anyone before Christmas, I will never know. But that kid man, he is just a total boss.

Speaking of which, I went on Timehop and we realised that we’d done our first pregnancy test with Eli on the SAME weekend – 18th November 2011. Strange; we must have conceived this baba around the same time as we conceived Eli.

Over the next few days, POW, the pregnancy symptoms came in thick and fast.I felt so sick. I was so tired. And continued to track pregnancy tests and my symptoms – just incase.

 

 

I had every single pregnancy symptom going; and then-some.

  • My skin burst into the worst cystic acne ever. Mostly on my lower cheeks and jawline.
  • ‘Morning Sickness’ – except, it’s not just the morning, is it. It’s ALL DAY and ALL EVENING.
  • The Exhaustion – I was falling asleep after dropping Eli off at school and then again straight after tea.
  • Extreme bloating – by 7pm, I was looking mega preggo.
  • Food aversions – the smell of cooking is just the WORST. Couldn’t face meat. Couldn’t face big meals. Ended up surviving on plain boiled rice and rice cakes. Good job I was taking ALL of the pregnancy vitamins by this point.
  • Couldn’t face Tea or Coffee (still can’t do my beloved (now decaf) Coffee, even the smell is nauseating).
  • Brushing my teeth became the enemy – every single time I’d bork.
  • Sheer, unadulterated, brain fog – not being able to articulate what you want to talk about or not being able to remember why you entered a room; or even why the kettle is in the fridge is somewhat frustrating and also kinda scary.
  • Increased thirst – which is quite something for me as I’m always guzzling water as it is!
  • Extreme Overheating – I had repeated ‘hot flashes’ that made me feel so faint. Luckily, touch wood, I’ve not fainted.
  • A weird one now – an version to LEGO. ACTUAL LEGO. It wasn’t that I had a want to eat it or anything, but the sight of Lego made me so, so nauseous! I had to have Eli pack it all away and not play with it in front of me. SO WEIRD. I have no idea what caused it or why. But 5 weeks on, I’m finally becoming ok with the Lego being around again.

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By 10th December, we were being seen at the Early Pregnancy Unit in Stepping Hill Hospital for an early Scan. By my app, I was exactly 7 weeks pregnant. I felt anxious but the full-on symptoms gave me hope that we would perhaps see a pregnancy sac.

And low and behold, as soon as the scan went on, the heartbeat was found. The tears of relief rolled down my cheeks. We were so bloody happy.

 

It’s difficult to put into words how you feel when the Sonographer say’s… “and there is your baby with a strong heartbeat fleeting away”. The scan looked more like 6 weeks than 7, but we were reassured that the baby would likely catch up, or the conception date could be a little out – did you know that sperm can travel for 7 days before fertilisation?

 

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Fast forward to Christmas Day and I’m 9 weeks pregnant. I’m mainly surviving on:-

  • Orange ice lollies
  • Jamaican Ginger cake
  • Ginger beer (not ginger ale, ginger beer)
  • Raw carrots – in abundance.
  • Apples – but must be cut up
  • Bananas on rice cakes with a dash of honey
  • Plain boiled rice and soy sauce
  • Yoghurts with peach compote
  • Orange drinks – Fanta or Capri sun
  • Chewy sweets – Haribo, Randoms etc
  • I can only drive if I have original Tic Tac’s
  • McDonalds Cheeseburger
  • Pickled Beetroot
  • Chips & curry
  • Chips & gravy
  • Chips with salt & vinegar
  • Salt and vinegar crisps – (preferably, Disco’s)

We also got to finally let our parents know we were with child. Which again, was another big relief. We spent the rest of the festive period SO relaxed. Which is just what I needed. This was mostly my view:-

 

Never spent so much time in bed, in my life. We decided ‘bed rest’ was for the best. This baby is so precious and I just didn’t want to overdo it by rushing about at my normal pace, lifting loads at will – up & down the stairs with laundry or the Dyson. I had also stopped cycling for fear of falling off etc. By week 11 I was just so tired, that being in bed was definitely the only place for me to be honest!

 

Also, is there a better way to spend your pregnant-life than in pyjama’s?! These ones are still my favourite, from NEXT. They also still fit, at the minute, hurrah!

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Almost up to date now. We had our 12 dating week scan on Friday 18th January, again at our local hospital of Stepping Hill. I felt sick with nerves and worry and anxiety – what if there was nothing there like our last 12 week scan? I couldn’t speak. James and I spent the 10 minute car journey in silence, him asking if I was ok… then muttering “you’re scarily quiet… “.

As is rather usual, scans were running a little late,  which is totally reasonable given the detail they require. I forbid anyone to get frustrated with this – even with a full bladder!

We were called into the scan room and soon as the sonographer addressed us I broke down in tears. She had asked a question about my previous pregnancy and what happened at my 12 week scan. To which I blubbered through the details of my miscarriage – she looked perplexed. Then we ‘clicked’ that she was in-fact  referring to the issues that came up when we had the 12 week scan with Eli – his NT measurement was high, so we were referred to the Fetal Medicine Unit at University College London Hospital (UCLH) . Because of the sensitivity of time, the referral was organised for the very next day. The appointment at UCLH would include a detailed scan, counselling and the invasive Chronic Villus Sampling (CVS) procedure based on the results of the scan and our consent. CVS would be able to tell us if there were any genetic/chromosomal abnormalities.

Once we’d explained everything, I was asked to get myself comfortable on the bed. I couldn’t. I was on the verge of an anxiety attack, I felt like I was about to pass out. I was sobbing and shaking and sweating. I was so scared of being scanned. It seems ridiculous and all I could do was apologise. The worry I’d been bottling up the last 12 weeks had come to the surface. The constant anxiety at every niggle – the worry that my symptoms suppressing. Was I losing the baby? The constant anxiety of every, single, toilet visit – inspecting the tissue incase theres any trace of blood. Apologies if this is *too much information*, but I’m just giving an honest insight to the daily struggles.

Eventually, I came round and shakily got onto the bed. The warm gel was applied to my tummy and the Sonographer went to work. Within seconds (felt like YONKS) she showed us our babe on the screen. Firstly, I was so SHOCKED at how large the baba was. It never, ever, ever, becomes less amazing. I was sobbing again and clenching James’ hand so tightly. The relief of seeing that baby, an actual child, on the screen, is unbelievable.  Secondly, the baba was bouncing about and flailing it’s arms so much – which was brilliant to see – but made it difficult for the Sonographer to get the measurements she needed.

 

 

The Sonographer managed to get the length measurements and gave us a due date of 27th July. The EXACT due date we were given with Eli. I mean, what are the odds of that?! The dates made my pregnancy 12 weeks & 6 days. A little further along than we thought!

The baby flipped the wrong way, then FELL ASLEEP, meaning the Sonographer couldn’t get the crucial NT measurement. She asked me to go for a walk and to drink some more cold water to try and get the baba moving about again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So cold water was had and I waddled up and down this flight of stair no less than 50 times. We were called back in and I felt giddy this time – excited to get a second viewing of this wonderful babe. Except, the baby had moved into another awkward position. The Sonographer made me dance, tilted my body at odd angles, inserted a ‘soft play’ cushion under my knees and finally, made the bed go so far backwards I was slipped off, head first. Baby eventually played ball and it was confirmed that the NT measurement was low-risk, being 1.5m. Again, relief flooded my veins and I felt dizzy. (Although, that could have been due to the blood-rush from the bed being tipped up!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So here I am. Week 14. Already with huge bump – yes there definitely is one in there – and feeling slightly less queasy, but still a lot tired.

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By sharing this (ridic long) blog post, it has been cathartic for me and if it gives hope to those who have been through loss, then that would make me really happy too. A new pregnancy, does not replace the one you lost. To have a million worries is normal and expected. Just look after yourself Mama, because I certainly am!

C
✖️✖️✖️

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NEVER KNOWINGLY CONCISE // LEGO: BUILD TO GIVE

LEGO // BUILD TO GIVE

Help make this festive period brighter for 500,000 children around the world.

 

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know, we’re a LEGO family.  Like, not just a family who has a son who LIVES FOR LEGO (which we are)… but a family who all love to join in with the brick-making too. Just this weekend I completed four LEGO builds – and refused to let Eli play with any of them until I had managed to fully complete the set of four. Yep, I’m THAT Mum.  For me, I find LEGO therapeutic. It works as cathartically as writing or reading does. I find solace in LEGO.  Perhaps this is also why it has the power to hold Eli’s concentration for so long too.

Eli lives for LEGO.

Take today for example, its Children in Need (BBC Appeal Day, 2018), and the theme at Eli’s school was “Do Your Thing” (dress as someone you aspire to be/something you’d like to be). Eli chose to be a LEGO MASTER BUILDER. OF COURSE HE DID! There ain’t no costume for that, I so engineered this one myself (if you want a DIY post on this, do let me know).

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Eli builds the most interesting, engineeringly brilliant and clever creations. Just like  how I am with cooking; Eli rarely likes to stick to the instructions… he prefers for his own imagination to take full focus. It’s been a real education for him – especially as he was born with several conditions; LEGO has potentially helped with his fine & gross motor skills, as well as encouraging role play and story telling. We’ve seen first hand how powerful a “toy” LEGO really can be for a child. With this in mind, I wanted to share with you an AMAZING initiative that LEGO have set up.

This festive season, the most awesome gift you can give is the gift of play.  Visit a LEGO Store between now  and 9th December or use your LEGO Bricks at home to build a holiday ornament. Display it in-store, in LEGO Life (on the app) or share online with #BuildToGive. For every ornament built and shared, LEGO will donate a LEGO set to a child in need of play. Now how good is that? And so simple too. I know a lot of you will have LEGO at home, so lets get building and sharing!

LEGO Life

If you have budding builders at home, they can join #BuildToGive in LEGO Life by building a Christmas decoration at home, uploading and sharing it in the app

Help LEGO reach THEIR goal!

By participating in #BuildToGive you can help LEGO reach their goal of giving 500,000 children the chance to play this Christmas.

 

HERE IS A QUICK EXAMPLE OF A SIMPLE FESTIVE HEART ORNAMENT that I MADE

 

FIND OUT MORE

Find out more about the Build To Give initiative, including  building instructions to give you a quick-start, by heading to LEGO.com or click here.

 

 


Legal disclaimer: *In connection with the #BuildToGive 2018 Holiday Campaign, the LEGO® Group will donate one LEGO set to charity for every #BuildToGive ornament that is built either at home with LEGO Bricks and shared on social media with #BuildToGive or in a LEGO Retail Store. Children under the age of 13 must obtain parent’s permission to post to social media. Total donation not to exceed 500,000 LEGO sets with a total value of 5,000,000 USD. No purchase necessary.

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Brand in Focus | Nor-Folk.

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I have a natural affinity for Norfolk, with my long, long, long, long, long (etc) lost ancestor’s naming their own land in Norfolk with our very own family surname – Briston. But it was Nor-Folk, the brand, who I fell in love with on Instagram last year (@Nor_Folk). Not only is this a brand that is founded by a Husband-and-Wife design team, but its an effortlessly cool brand to boot. Fiona and Bobby, along with their super-stylish (and super-cute) son Stanley, live in the most incredible of homes;and together they are The Nor-Folk. They’re a design-led lifestyle brand, who design and print their own clothing range, collaborate on Homeware & Gifts and feature local Norfolk contributors on the Journal.

As someone who has a very definite WORK HARD attitude, in all things in life, I thought that the  ‘Work Hard’  Adult Tee was a proper piece of me. Of course, I found the #Twinning combination of ‘Play Hard’ Kids’ Tee completely irresistible and ordered both as soon as we were finally moved in Berlin. (Play Hard, a perfect slogan for my little one who cannot wait for play time!).

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Eli was given the ‘Hello’ Tee as a gift from our lovely friends at Christmas (lucky boy!). Sadly, it wasn’t quite the right size. So I got in touch with Fiona (who I didn’t expect to be working over the festive period) and she replied at lightening speed. As the tee was purchased in the UK, but we’re now in Berlin, it made sense to send the new size of this wicked tee directly to me. After just a few emails all was arranged and a few days later the replacement tee was on my desk in Prenzlauer Berg. A really small team, but a team that fundamentally strives for customer care.

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Both of these Tee’s are available in Black or White options, for the ultimate in minimal monochrome styling. I love that all the designs are unisex too. With my Mama-head on, I might also add that these cotton tee’s wash exceptionally well and are just so wonderfully soft. The three styles we own are all made in the U.K. and are finished with the hand printing in Norfolk itself. Which is just ace of base.

There’s something a little bit special about buying products from a family-run business; whether that be a Husband-and-Wife team or a Mum/Dad-preneur. You’re not funding a corporate machine – you’re supporting real people. A real family. And that feels really good.

Wishing Fiona, Bobby and the Nor-Folk team lots of luck and adventures for the exciting year a head. We look forward to seeing the brand grow from strength to strength!

Check out more from Nor-Folk here.

MM.

 

ABOUT NOR-FOLK:

We are the Nor-Folk

Nor-Folk is a graphic design-led lifestyle brand founded by husband-and-wife graphic designers who reside in Norfolk, UK.

“Together, we design and curate apparel and products for the whole family with a timeless minimalist design aesthetic.

“We create and sell products we love and want in our own lives. We passionately adhere to the sentiment ‘less is more’ and ‘quality over quantity’ in our product creation.

“Our family and adventures are our canvas and muse – we invite you to share in our journey and that of our contributors via our Journal.

“Together, we are the Nor-Folk.”

*NB: This is in no way a sponsored post. I just wanted to big up a brand whom I think is frikkin amazing*.

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The Big Feastival 2014.

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Well, I’ve been meaning to write up this post for a long while now! But, the usual happened… Lots going on with work, Eli running riot, holiday shopping, going on holiday (INCREDIBLE HOLIDAY – post to most certainly follow), more work and family time.

SO! Where do I begin?

We had the most amazing weekend at The Big Feastival and we were so sad when it came to an end! From start to finish – from the delicious food and drink we had the pleasure of tasting, actually watching and meeting our favourite Chef’s and of course, the absolutely incredible activities and performers for the kids. (I *even* loved the camping part too!). Quite literally, our perfect festival! We cannot wait until next year!

This post is most likely to be quite photo-heavy.

So here it goes!

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Our journey there (and back) was brilliant. No traffic and beautiful country roads as we travelled from our Essex-home to the Cotswolds. Eli slept a lot which was also great. We’d been up since 5am, so we hoped he’d sleep in the car to catch up. (We also could have done with sleeping en route too – we barely slept a wink for the excitement!)

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Our car was brilliant going across the fields – finally, proper off-roading in our off-roading car! It was raining and really quite chilly when we arrived on site, at Alex James’ farm.  We decided it best to hire a Mr Trolley, because as you can see, we did not travel light! I don’t know how we would have managed without it to be honest, lots and lots and lots of trips back and forth to the car I guess! Which, frankly, isn’t ideal with a toddler and drizzle! We hired the trolley when we arrived and again when we were packing up on the Sunday. We hired the trolley for the minimum time of 30 minutes. We weren’t far from the car so filling and emptying the trolley and returning it back to the Mr Trolley stand took no time at all! We located some flat land within the Family Campsite and set to work…

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Our wicked tent cost just £50 from Halfords! I honestly cannot recommend this tent enough. I’m not a camper, by any stretch of the imagination, (although after this trip, I might be a camper now!), but this tent was perfect! It took about 15 minutes to put up and about 10 minutes to take back down again (thanks to the help from Mr Eli of course!). It was sturdy and roomy inside; and it felt like really good quality. We’ve had a ‘pop-up’ tent previously (unfortunately, this tent is lost somewhere between France and Newcastle due to friends not returning it back to us, post-2008 Surf trip . They know we’re not happy about it…) and the new tent is by far a better product! I look forward to camping with this tent again.

We decided that we didn’t want to sleep on the floor of the tent – let’s be honest, we’re too old to be sleeping on the floor now. I also refused to sleep on a blow-up bed or with a sleeping bag. We purchased two very, very comfortable camp bed’s for a tenner each from eBay (brand new, inc postage!) and we took a long our Winter duvet as it tends to get very cold on a night, even in August. I suppose you could call us Glampers in respect of this. Eli also equally had his Glamping cap on with his Little Bird by Jools Oliver sheets and blankets in his travel cot.

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Never before have we been to a festival where there are food stalls on the camp site. The main ‘arena’ didn’t open until after 10, so the stalls were much-needed for our breakfast before you head into the main area. Of course, this isn’t any old food van on a campsite! This is a “Le Swine” van by Bruno Loubet! Also wanted to mention that on each campsite there are an amazing amount of loo’s, showers and an area to use a cooking stove should you wish. There were no camp fires allowed on the site, at all. I thought this was brilliant. I was of course worried about other people using gas around out tent due to there being several tragedies in the past few years, so this set me at ease. And how nice is it waking up and not smelling of fire?! Definitely made for a lovely camping experience.

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And… we’re in!

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We watched DJ BBQ for a wee while and then decided to head for some late-lunch!

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Mr Memoirs headed straight to the DJ BBQ stall where he ordered this incredible pulled pork burger! YUM!

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Me, being me, opted for Risotto… because that’s what you have when you arrive at a festival, right?

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We then spent some time at Adam Henson’s farm. Eli is a massive animal-lover so he was in his element being able to get up close and personal with all the lovely animals!

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We then caught Mr Levi Roots and his Reggae band.

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The Doom Bar tent by Sharps Brewery was particularly awesome, with its beach and secret tasting rooms! I had a lovely pint of IPA which tasted like honey.

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We’ve been going to festivals for over ten years now. But this festival was special. We had our beautiful, and well-behaved, little boy in tow – it literally could not have been any better!

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Dancing at the main stage!

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Having a drink with one of our favourite people, Mr Gennaro Contaldo. Last time we caught up with Gennaro, Eli was fast asleep and we were sat they didn’t meet properly. This time, Eli was more than awake!

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Time for the Hello Apparel to come out! This lovely sweater is available in store and online at Southwood Stores.

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Want to also do a massive shout-out to the ever-so-brilliant ladies from the Up All Hours tent. They provided a cosy, home-from-home environment in which you could change and feed your little one’s. I loved chatting to you both over the weekend! Thank you for making our festival experience a fresh and clean one! (And cheers for all the goodies you send us home with too!).  Up All Hours is a new parenting platform that connects, entertains and most importantly supports parents who are ‘Up All Hours’. sign up, here> Up All Hours.

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The Katsu curry from Yu Kyu was so good I had it TWICE over the course of the weekend.
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Crepes from Crêpe Lucette to satisfy my sweet tooth.

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It went A LOT higher and faster than I expected… and seemed to be never-ending!

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Only bumped into our favourite off of Countryfile! Mr Adam Henson!

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We went for ‘Number 5′ from Alex James’ Cheese Hub – and what a choice! It was so delicious and creamy – and went really well with our red wine back at the tent.

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I will have to do a blog post on everything Little Bird by Jools Oliver related – too much to talk about!

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One of our festival highlights was watching the lovely Justin Fletcher from CBeebies.

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I can’t bare these… but Mr Memoirs do love a Bloody Mary! He thoroughly enjoyed this one from Little Devil. It didn’t half have a kick to it!

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Well, this was dreamy! Amazing smoked short rib in a brioche bun with salsa and a fried egg. RIDICULOUSLY GOOD! It was the salsa that really did it for me. This was from the stunning Barbecoa van.

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Oh heck, it’s only David Loftus and Bruno Loubet!

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Chatting to David Loftus while we wait for Jamie and Jools to come from round the van!

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These two people, right there, are my favourite people. I adore Jamie and Jools (I know you’re all so sick of hearing this now!) but I do. We’re huge Jamie Oliver fans – every recipe we’ve ever cooked and in every Jamie restaurant we’ve ever dined, we’ve always eaten the most tasty food our tummies could muster. And Jools, well, Jools has given me the chance to dress my son in beautiful clothes that suit US as a family. Our son wears clothes that reflect him as a person and he looks so damn cool it’s untrue (not even being biased).  Oh, and while we’re on it…

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Speaking with Jools Oliver is probably the most star-struck I’ve ever been! (Even after meeting all those rockstars… and indeed the actual Queen!). She’s just beautiful, isn’t she?!

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We had a lovely Gin and Tonic while the boy slept, from the great guys over at Fever Tree. We love their soft drinks (mixers), they go amazingly well with Sipsmith Gin and Chase Vodka too!

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Watching Daisy Lowe bake (who knew she was doing that now?!) with her Mum Pearl Lowe and Danny Goffey standing infront of us.

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Seeing Jamie and Gennaro cook together in real life was an absolute pleasure. The relationship they both have is wonderful. They were so funny, informative and so full of passion.

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My path recently crossed with Alex James’ via work. I would have loved a chat and a proper photo with him but unfortunately his P.A wouldn’t let me. Such a shame! I took a #selfie irregardless, ha!

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We waited for what felt like hours for our pizza’s from Rossopomodoro – but when they arrived, my goodness, they were goooood! Worth the wait!

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Fat Boy Slim was incredible! We hadn’t intended on staying for the set from Norman Cook, but we got sucked in! Eli was fast asleep and the crowd was just so happy – the atmosphere was amazing!

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The next morning was our final day (booooooo). Mr Eli helped us pack up the tent so we could then go into the main arena and enjoy the rest of our last day at the festival.

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Eli and I had lovely bacon rolls and Mr Memoirs opted for Kedgeree from What The Dickens!

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Our first stop (and possibly my actual highlight of the festival!) was seeing the delightful Mr Bloom swoon. Eli was in absolute awe – he was so mesmerised, it was beautiful to watch him!

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Then we went to see Jamie and Adam Henson…

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…followed by Monica Galetti (who was surprisingly lovely in real life!)

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Then we spotted Mr Nathan Outlaw.

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After a final mooch around the site and a spot of lunch (yes, we went and had a Katsu Curry again) it was time to get the car packed up and drive home. We literally had the BEST weekend – we had the time of our lives, all of us. This is the perfect festival for a family – and of course, a foodie.

I must also take this opportunity to thank the brilliant folk over at Jamie’s Italian without whom we would not have had tickets The Big Feastival! We sadly missed out on the Early Bird tickets for the 2015 Big Feastival as it was while we were on holiday (we didn’t time that well did we!) but we will certainly be booking up when they’re available for general release.

MANY THANKS AGAIN BIG FEASTIVAL – YOU WERE EPIC!

MM.

 

 

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Recipe | Banana Loaf? Banana Bread? Banana Cake? … whatever you like to call it!

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One of my favourite things to do is cook and cooking/baking with Eli is double the fun! Eli has Wednesday’s off from nursery, so Wednesday is OUR day. We usually do fun things like go to the local play group, paint or bake. Or as last Wednesday would have it, all three – and more!

I had 2 very over ripe banana’s – which is often the case. So one of my favourite things to do with those banana’s that are well ‘past it’, is to make this delicious Banana Loaf. I call it Banana Loaf, but I know people who fondly refer to it as Banana Cake or Banana Bread. Whatever your preference, this is a fail safe, incredibly yummy recipe! I have adapted the recipe, from Mary Berry’s “Baking Bible” and added a little secret ingredient at the end, which I know goes down very, very well with my family! There’s usually very little left after it’s been freshly baked… but it does have a good shelf life if you can resist the temptation of eating it all in one go!

Happy baking!

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BANANA LOAF*

Ingredients.
100g Softened Butter
175g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs (I used Medium, but Large is the preferred if you have them in!)
2 Ripe Bananas (mashed)
225g Self Raising Flour
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
2 Tbsp. Milk

Optional.
Sea Salt (I use Maldon Sea Salt Flakes).

Method.
1) Preheat the oven to 180C / Fan 160C / Gas 4.
2) Lightly grease a 2lb loaf tin, then line the base and sides with baking parchment.
3) Measure all ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat for about 2 minutes, until well blended.
4) Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface.
5) Here comes my secret ingredient! I love to sprinkle sea salt flakes over the top before popping the tin into the oven. It adds texture and has such a nice contrasting taste to the crust. It’s very well received by those who have eaten this finished product!
6) Bake in the pre-heated over for about 1 hour, until well risen and golden brown. A fine skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean if the loaf is ready.
7) Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out, peel of the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.

*Recipe adapted from “The Baking Bible”, by Mary Berry.

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Honestly, one of the easiest recipes to bake. Always tasted. Always works! Perfect for using up those miserable looking banana’s to boot! You can of course always add sultana’s or even chocolate chips to the cake batter. It’s a very adaptable recipe!

Let me know how your’s works out!

MM.

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Belle & Boo | Very Merry Christmas (book).

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This week I received the most wonderful book in the post – “Belle & boo, and the Very Merry Christmas.

We’re mad on Christmas, always have been – always will be. I think most people are surprised our tree and decorations aren’t up yet to be honest… but we’re traditionalists since Mr Eli arrived, getting a real tree again this year, on 1st December.

Anyway, I digress. We had decided last year, that we would buy Mr Eli a Christmas book every year; that we would sit and read on Christmas Eve. Last year we went classic with  The Night Before Christmas, by Clement. C. Moore. This Christmas Eve, we’ll be reading our amazingly beautiful “and the Very Merry Christmas” book by Belle & Boo creator, Mandy Sutcliffe.

I’d had this book on my ‘wish list’ since it was announced on pre-order. I was TOO excited. So imagine my absolute joy at opening the book and seeing the below specially signed copy from Mandy herself.

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I’ve had a very quick flick through the first few pages, but do not want to look further – I don’t want to spoil our Christmas Eve read!

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But from what I’ve seen, I can assure you, this is a very pretty book that will make just the perfect Christmas present for any little one! We really cannot wait to read this one.

Do you have any Christmas traditions you and your family create year-on-year?

MM.

 

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Mr Eli’s Quarters | Lion Print by Ingela P Arrhenius.

INGELA P ARRHENIUS - LION PRINT, £20.00. Archie's Boutique.
INGELA P ARRHENIUS – LION PRINT, £20.00; Archie’s Boutique.

We’re still yet to properly decorate and sort out Mr Eli’s stomping ground, otherwise known as his quarters bedroom. But that doesn’t stop me trawling the internet for neat finds like this one!

I just LOVE this 50’s inspired print by Ingela P Arrhenius. Mr Eli is a Leo the Lion himself, so I thought this would be quite fitting for his bedroom. (Not that we’re a family of the zodiac I might add!).

I found this print on Archie’s Boutique and here is what they say about it:

This lovely chap has so much character and personality!

Ingela P Arrhenius’ Lion poster is full of vibrant colours that are guaranteed to brighten up any room, whether it be a child’s or adults.

Stockholm based artist Ingela Arrhenius designs the most wonderful cartoon-like illustrations that are inspired by work from the 50s and 60s.

50 x 70 cm

There are several other prints available online too – such as a Tiger print and Alphabet print. Just so cool.

MM.

 

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BRAND IN FOCUS | Little Bird, by Jools Oliver at Mothercare.

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We’re HUGE fan’s of the Oliver’s in our house. Most food I cook, on a daily basis, is a recipe derived from one of our many Jamie Oliver cookbooks.

When I heard about Jools, Jamie’s better  other half, designing the Little Bird collection for Mothercare I just KNEW it was going to be amazing. (I’ve been meaning to write this one for a while!) I’ve always loved the quirky, cool and relaxed way Jools dresses her beautiful 3 girls and little boy. The Little Bird collection is reminiscent of just that – the fun, but trendy, way Jools dresses her own children – plus some harping back to the 1970’s and her own childhood memories for good measure too.

I thought I’d share my favourite Boy’s pieces from the latest collection for A/W 13.  Albeit, Jools has cleverly made some of the pieces unisex – so great if you do have more than one child, the clothing can be passed on and around.

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Little Bird by Jools, Long Sleeved Graphic Print T-Shirt, £7.00 – £8.00
We do have a penchant for 70’s design and interiors. Have to say, we’ve not yet really dressed Mr Eli is anything 70’s related as yet. Aside from his Converse, Fred Perry, dinosaur print tee’s,  oxford shirts and skinny jeans. Things like that just look like modern-day as fashion’s are always revived like that. But I LOVE this 1974 long sleeve tee. Lovely and bright and will go with everything.

 

Click here to purchase
Little Bird by Jools, Desert Boots, £16.00.
These mock suede boots are just amazing – such a classic style. Just like what Daddy wears! You can choose between the red or yellow laces – which is great for outfit matching. Wear these boots with chino’s or jeans for a comfortable, smart or casual look.

 

Click here to purchase
Little Bird by Jools, Dark Wash Jeans, £10.00 – £11.00.
A lovely pair of unisex jeans in a nice dark denim colourway. I’ve seen Buddy Oliver sporting these and he looks super cool. These dark wash jeans feature a classic design which can be worn in many seasons to come. They have a mock leather back pocket patch and contrasting stitching inside. Team with colourful tees and shirts for a cool and casual look.

 

Click here to purchase
Little Bird By Jools Brown Cord Trousers, £10.00
A MUST for the 70’s wardrobe – the humble brown corduroy trouser. These soft cord trousers have a straight leg, so perfect for Mr Eli keeping that skinny-fit silhouette going. These trousers will look incredible with Eli’s classic Converse Low-Tops and a bright print top – or with a smart shirt tucked in!

 

Click here to purchase
Little Bird by Jools Socks- 5 Pack, £6.00 – £6.50.
How cute are these socks? Love the way they’ve been displayed in the campaign imagery too. You can’t go wrong with a bright and playful pair to jazz up an outfit. They’re great value in a pack of 5, to be washed and worn during the week. Each pair has contrasting toe and heel colours and ‘Little Bird’ stitched onto the bottom.

 

Click here to purchase
Little Bird by Jools Cool Pyjamas, £12.00.
Saving the best till last… I love, love, LOVE these pyjama’s. They’re so, well, COOL! With Eli wearing his Boots & Bar on a nighttime, we have to cut holes into his baby grow’s so that we can fit the bar through. It makes it a little easier for us if we need to remove the bar – and I think it makes it a little bit more comfortable for him too. I’m thinking now might be the time to switch baby grow’s for PJ’s! No more messing about with cutting holes into lovely baby grow’s, that can’t be used again. But my oh my, how adorable does the little chap in the campaign shot look here? Love the styling!

MM.

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Want To Know More?
The Little Bird clothing range from Jools Oliver has been developed to reflect the unique and modern approach to motherhood that Jools enjoys with her wonderful family. From gorgeous newborn baby clothes to stylish and fun boys and girls clothes, this exciting clothing range is easily mixed and matched, the Little Bird range really is great value for money.

Inspired by Jools’ own childhood memories of growing up in the Seventies, this boutique collection is not about short-lived trends, but an eclectic mix of iconic, timeless pieces, that every child between six months to five years will want to wear.

You pick, they mix!

Loved by Jools, designed to be mixed and matched by you and your brood.

Don’t Forget…
Take a look at the rest of the fantastic Little Bird by Jools collection, exclusive to Mothercare.

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What Eli Wore | The #MrandMrsSpinks wedding.

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What Eli Wore:
Heritage waistcoat, shirt and tie set – £21, Next.
Heritage formal trouser – £13, Next.
Classic Converse Low-Tops in Black – £24.99, Office KIDS.

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Our very dear friends, Camilla and Tom, got married last month. It was an honour for OH and I to be their witnesses. So it was only right that Mr Eli got dressed up smart-as-a-carrot for the very special event! We went to a few shops for his outfit – but this one from Next was just perfect. In fact, it was ridiculously perfect! <Scroll down>
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For half of the day Eli didn’t wear his waistcoat. It was a massive struggle to get any clothes on him – he’s such a wriggler (and SO strong now!). We did eventually get the waistcoat on him for the meal however. I did look for a smashing pair of brogues for Eli to go with his Heritage suit – again to match his Daddy. But alas, I could not find any in his size. He’s the first size in infant Converse now, so this was their first outing! He looked wicked!

The shirt that comes with this set is great – it has a stiffened button-down collar, like an adult size! I particularly liked the grown up grid print. The Heritage suit is a cotton blend with fine tweed effect print. The trousers are adjustable which is really handy. The suit is quite hardwearing; something you always need to think about with toddlers, especially as Eli spent a lot of his time crawling around! The waistcoat has a lovely pocket square detail – good job it was stitched in, Eli would have had it straight out!
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Mr Eli and his Daddy’s had matching tie’s!

These two ties were purchased almost a year apart – AND in two (very) different shops! Eli’s mini-me tie comes as part of the Heritage set from Next, while OH’s tie was from AllSaints; which he purchased for a wedding last year at River Cottage.
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Mr Eli was such a good boy during the ceremony and meal; and had a wonderful time playing with the other children in the creche.

This Heritage suit from Next is perfect for weddings, christenings, birthday’s – any special occasion you can think of really! Mr Eli received lots of compliments about how smart he looked. A definite must-buy!

The Heritage set from Next is available to purchase online, here. This suit is available as separates, 3 months – 6 years. Prices do vary depending on the size.

MM.

 

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Mr Eli’s 1st Birthday!

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This weekend we celebrated Mr Eli’s first birthday with party at our (newly moved into!) home. All his friends came and the sun even made an appearance too! Here are some snaps from the day 🙂

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Dj Boy!

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Eli’s AMAZING cake! Made by Lady H Bakes, Essex.

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Eli wearing his amazing cake!

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I ADORE Belle & Boo, I used their party pieces as a kind of theme for the party.

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Ball pool fun!

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Eli and some of his buddies.

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A worn out birthday boy, ready for bed!

We had a wonderful day, with wonderful company and wonderful food. Thank you to everyone who came and celebrated Eli’s very first birthday with us!

MM.

xx

WHATELIWORE: Ralph Lauren Oxford Shirt, Ralph Lauren Shorts, Red Converse Hi-Top Trainers. Blog post coming soon.