Monday, 21 May 2018

5 Hidden Gems To Cash In On During A Clear Out


When finances are tight, you can often feel like they’re always going to be that way. Whether you always seem to be hit with a bunch of unexpected bills or your monthly income just doesn’t quite stretch, life can get tough. My current (as in right now this very minute) challenge is that Aaron's dance class performance got chosen to go through to the Gala, so now I have to shout 2 unexpected tickets for me and Lottie to go see it (Daddy will be at work) so that is BOOM £24 I hadn't budgeted for, but of course there is no way I would miss it. Mummy needs to be in the audience.

Money not growing on trees doesn’t always have to mean that your family finances always seem strapped. In fact, this can be a great motivation for you to turn things around. Even if right now you feel like you don’t have any options, you do. And, you’ve guessed it, the first involves having a bit of a clear out. Wow I am a clutter bug and always have been so a clear out is actually much needed even if I have missed the start of Spring. Because you may not realize it, but there could be a range of options around the home that you have to cash in on. If you have any of these items lying around, it’s time to see how much you can get for them.

1. Books


First of all, if you have any books lying around the house, there’s a lot that you can do with them. You may not realize it, but used books can often make a lot of money. It’s often tempting to take them to the local charity shop when you’re done with them, but you could get a little bit back for each that you sell. And if you’ve got hundreds of books lying around the house, putting them online to sell is a great way to get yourself hundreds back! So cash in on this area first of all. Yes, there are books where sites will only give you a penny for them and you only make money on the postage you charge BUT there are books for whatever reason, i.e. limited supply, out of stock, limited edition or completely out of print, that you can make a tidy sum on so it is worth checking.

2. Toys & Games


From here, you’ve then got toys and games. First off, if your kids have far too many toys that they don’t use or get tired of regularly and they’re not sentimental, then you can sell them to get a bit of money back too. But that’s not all. If you have any 90s kids toys lying around, cash in on those too. They could be worth significantly more than they were then! Think collector's items. Maybe you have a room full of Sylvanian Families? Alas we don't. There are certain things that really hold their value and bidding sees their price go up and up, like for example the Fisherprice (baby sitter - quite literally) Jumperoo we all own until they grow out of it that is. Thankfully, given it cost £90, I kept Aaron's for Lottie to use! I know Bumbo seats really hold a good resale value too (we've never owned one but both mine loved sitting in them at baby groups and other people's houses). If you get talking to other Mums you'll soon find out what they've done well selling (everyone is at it except me it seems, I really need to make a start). Buying and selling pre-loved stuff has never been so popular as it is now. All the shame seems to have gone out of it too.

3. Clothing


Another key area to cash in on is your clothing. If you know that you have bags and bags worth of old clothes that you just don’t wear anymore, don’t leave them hanging in your closet. Instead, think about listing them up for sale. Selling old clothes for cash can be quite simple. And as long as you aim to sell them in their best light, you will often get a good amount back for them in total too.

4. Antiques


If you do have any antiques, then these are the next to sell. Maybe you don’t have anything overly worth a lot of money, but any kind of trinket, crockery, and even artwork could be worth something. You won’t know until you try to sell it!

5. Jewellery


Finally, there’s jewellery too. Whether you have fine jewellery or costume jewellery, you’ll often get a good amount back by selling these bits and pieces to jewellers, online, or at sales. So think about items that you don’t wear and no longer want and see how much you could get for them.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

B-Sensible Breathable and Waterproof Fitted Sheets Review

In March we were sent B-Sensible fitted sheets: a white "high" (for 25 cm to 40 cm thick mattresses) double fitted sheet for our bed, two blue singles for the bunk beds and one pink one for Lottie's cot. I finally got the fitted sheet onto our bed on 3rd April so am definitely now in a position to speak from experience regarding what these new sheets are like. I don't really get much from unboxing type reviews where people haven't really experienced the product much before claiming to have a voice of authority on it. As of 3rd May the breathable and waterproof B-Sensible fitted sheets are now also on the bunk beds and Lottie's cot too. It wasn't on purpose that we enjoyed them for longer than the kids. I've just been in a bit of a funk so was a little tardy with getting it sorted BUT my bed invaders as you see below HAVE enjoyed the new bedding after all.
As you can see above I often end up co-sleeping with my two, so these B-Sensible sheets, also referred to as mattress protectors and waterproof sheets are perfect for any accidents that may occur. It is a big job to unzip the cover on our IKEA mattress to wash and dry it, so I do like it being saved from soiling wherever possible, especially as not all stains wash out. Lottie's arrival kind of set Aaron back with regards to being in his bunkbed as he likes to be equal to her and didn't like that she was in my room when he wasn't. The ideal scenario would be for him to be in the top bunk and Lottie in the bottom. Once I night wean her that is something to aim for. Or there is always the possibility that I get organised and decorate the 3rd bedroom for her, after all if I was to have done it text book style (which I never seem to do in my version of motherhood) she'd have only been in our room for 6 months.

We actually treated ourselves to a new much needed duvet cover to go with the new bottom sheets from B-Sensible. Our duvet and duvet cover is King Size but our bed is double. A while back I treated us to a hypoallergenic expensive King Size duvet (larger than the bed for maximum coverage LOL) but at the time only bought one cover. As all of our spares are doubles it means when our King Size goes in the wash it has to be washed dried and back on the bed same day which is a headache so it was about time we got a new one. As it is Summer I couldn't get anything quilted, so managed to find something that recreates that 3D look but in a cotton way - I love it.

I laugh everytime I refer to these fitted sheets as bottom sheets due to their ability to deal with leaks from little bottoms. There's actually a youtube video which shows how effective the sheets are at preventing liquid going through. I need to try that in real life.
I was a bit apprehensive about sleeping on what I thought would be rubbery waterproof sheets but I really needn't have worried, as there is so much more to this brand than the concept first belies. The sheet is thin, smooth, lightweight and papery, literally "paperweight" and not at all rubbery. Yes the side that faces the mattress does feel like plastic to the touch but the side that touches your body is cool and refreshing. They refer to that as a "cosmetic effect" and describe their sheets as "smooth" and "technical textile that acts like a second skin". All 4 of us have now slept on the product for a month and we all wholeheartedly loved them. We have tested the water proof aspect and to keep modesty intact I won't mention any names but suffice to say it wasn't me, Daddy or Lottie. I'm not a person to limit drinks after a certain time as I believe hydration is important and it sometimes means the odd accident is inevitable. But the sheet coped with it and saved anymore stains on my mattress. What the brand says about "odour-reducing" I can also certainly attest to. I LOVE that they can be washed at high temperatures (the white even up to 90 degrees) and even tumble dried.
Aaron had eczema as a baby and grew out of it. Daddy still has it. Aaron has twice had bad rashes as a result of spider bites and Lottie has dry skin from her African side, so the fact that these sheets form a dust-mite barrier is really appreciated. With the onset of good weather and the fact I may have hot flushes soon we also really appreciate that the sheets do not cause heat. They are thermoregulatory fabric so therefore keep you warm in Winter and cool in Summer. The extensible elasticated skirt makes bed making easy, but despite that we got a deeper one for our bed as we have a particularly deep IKEA mattress. It means you have to choose the sheet in mattress thickness "high" and it only comes in white but that was perfect for us: Fitted Sheet Protector Double White The high width also comes in Single, King and Super King. So the standard depth fitted sheet is for mattresses 12-25cm thickness and the high is for 25-40cm. It's certainly been the easiest fitted sheet to put on my bed. And no adjusting it daily when it pops off either, that is a thing of the past, pre B-Sensible.

There are so many reasons to get your beds kitted out in B-Sensible. BE SENSIBLE indeed

  1. Say hello to quick turnarounds, reduce laundry costs and time as B-Sensible sheets are machine washable and tumble dryable with no ironing required!
  2. B-Sensible bedding is made with a 100% natural fibre called TENCEL® which absorbs 50% faster than cotton and dries 14 times faster.
  3. It is the only bedding available in the UK with TENCEL® and cosmetic grade zinc oxide.
  4. TENCEL® is also a lot smoother and softer on the skin than cotton and it is made from eucalyptus and beech tree pulp.
  5. Each B-Sensible creation is waterproof, so each product prevents sweat and dust-mites penetrating in to the pillow and mattress and helps to reduce odour.
  6. The range is thermo-regulating; to keep you cool in summer and warm in winter.
  7. No matter how many times you wash, the fibres of our unique combination will remain unchanged so long as you follow B-Sensible's simple care guide.
  8. From pink and sky blue to pistachio, no matter what colour the theme of a child’s room, B-Sensible waterproof sheets co-ordinate:

https://www.bsensible.co.uk/for-your-mattress.html

Click 'em to big 'em: zoom in on my pic of the back of the packet below - this is a really good summary of what's great about these sheets.

B-Sensible have a 30 day no hassle returns policy and free delivery on orders over £49.

I used to breastfeed Lottie to sleep and then pop her into her cot but in recent months the cot had become a dumping ground and we've been co-sleeping all night, but the day she saw me set up her cot with the new sheet she couldn't get in there quick enough and she slept for 5 hours very comfortably, on a familiar surface as we've had the sheets on our bed for weeks. Alas she then woke for the breast as I haven't night weaned her yet. I know I know, she turned 2 in January and I'm still breastfeeding. It seems B-Sensible can protect my mattress from spills of the human kind but it can't prevent me from having night visitors. Don't get me started on Aaron, he needs to start loving his bunkbed again.
For the purposes of this review we were sent fitted sheet protectors for our bed, the bunk bed and Lottie's cot. I wholeheartedly endorse this product and have been blown away by it - I haven't been told what to say at all. As you know we only agree to review products we know we might love, but these really exceeded my expectations, I'll  be recommending them far and wide. As you can see in the pic below they have a B-Sensible Baby range which includes sheets for cots and cot beds.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Keeping Your Sanity on a Family Road Trip

Collaboration
Have you ever seen the Robin Williams film RV? It encapsulates the sense of family adventure and magical moments to be had in a family road trip - this can be an attractive option for families wanting to explore nearby countries, yet road trips are often punctuated with a little chaos and family arguments, which is why this blog post looks at ways to keep your sanity on a family road trip.

There are some great family holidays to be had in the UK, although many people only feel like they have truly had a break if they've flown overseas from our island off to the sun. With normal British weather it's totally understandable but we're currently having an unseasonably warm April and a heatwave. 25 degrees today and possibly 27 tomorrow. Anyway a flight with children comes with a whole host of other problems, but that's another blog post altogether. Let's enjoy our British sun while it lasts - alas I got sunburned today though.

Nowadays, yes flying can certainly be cheap, speedy, tempting and convenient… but as us parents know too well flying as a family can be a headache and there’s a certain independence that comes with taking a road trip.  The trick is to be prepared; whether that’s by visiting https://mylittleduckling.co.uk/ in advance to get your baby hats or https://mothercare.com to get your car seat.

A long journey can be tiring enough, for adults, but when you throw having to be responsible for the constant entertainment of children in a confined space with very little to do long family journey’s can be fraught with frustration.

Here’s a few tips on how to keep your sanity...


1. STOP OFF ALONG THE WAY


The days of arguing over a huge map are mostly over - as now, at least, there is a common enemy to get mad at; when the SatNav gets it wrong.  However, it is good to plan out a route that allows for some interesting stop-offs along the way. Agreed, driving straight down the motorway for five hours might be the most fuel and time efficient way to travel... but think of all the things you are missing out on along the way. I think stopping off somewhere fun or exciting is beneficial for everyone. Even the driver needs to stretch their legs and get fresh air. Plus the car journey really can be the start of the holiday rather than simply a means to an end.



2. KEEP YOUR CHILDREN ENTERTAINED

The trick here is to ensure your kids have plenty of engaging activities that don’t require adult participation - whether that’s watching a film on a mobile device or something more ‘old school’ like a colouring book and some crayons. When Aaron and I went on a long road and boat trip with Granddad to Ireland, he was only 2 years old. I was worried about the journey so we bought a portable DVD player especially. He had that with Kung Fu Panda on it and a large A4 Spiderman Sticker Book and was a pleasure to travel with :-)




3. KEEP THE ADULTS ENTERTAINED TOO

It’s important the adults have something to keep them entertained too; often this can be as simple as a great soundtrack for the journey, a good book, or some people like to choose a topic that needs to be discussed strategically. Home renovation is particularly effective at keeping the driver engaged but probably best advised to keep these talks to ‘low level’ stuff that is child friendly and not too stressful. Not really possible to phone up to ask the bank for a home improvements loan whilst driving so this should possibly be limited to budget constraints and dreams of "what if". Releasing equity can be a winner, with lots of my friends having gone down this "route" lately forgive the pun.




4. EAT OFTEN

There are plenty of pharmaceutical and alternative remedies that help travellers with motion sickness but one of the best tips is to eat little and often throughout the journey with an adequate supply of fresh air.  Ideally, eating outside of the car is best for people that suffer with motion sickness and ensure a decent supply of mints or boiled sweets are available for this appears to satiate the symptoms of motion sickness surprisingly effectively. My Grandma swore my 7up or lemonade for this problem and apparently it can work wonders if flat. She literally wouldn't go on a long car journey without it. That and her packet of mints in her cardigan pocket.


5. HAVE A GREAT SOUNDTRACK


A great game to play with your family, particularly if you have a Spotify account or similar, is to create a playlist before you go on your trip that includes the favourite songs of each person in the car; presuming you have access to the internet, an even better way to go about this is to pass the device around the car in turn so that each person selects a song. The brilliant thing about this idea is if you ever play these songs again, it brings back lovely memories of the holiday providing you did make that car journey stress free.

This post is a collaboration

Monday, 16 April 2018

Unexpected Life Events that Can Blow a Hole in Family Finances

Collaboration
Photo by CafeCredit under CC 2.0
When it comes to unexpected life events, it’s not so much if they will happen but when. Yes they can be big or small but their arrival is more or less guaranteed. Hence the much used expression "saving for a rainy day"! Most of us will experience more than one unexpected event in our adult lives, which if not prepared for, could see us struggle financially, leaving a hole in our finances that takes many years to recover from, all the while accruing interest.

That’s why it’s important that we all, especially those of us who have children and dependants, are ready and prepared for those life events that can blow a hole in our finances. Of course, the first step to being prepared for those unexpected life events that can knock us for six is knowing what they are, or might be. So, without further ado, here are the life events that are most likely to damage our finances if unprepared:

Divorce


When you’re happily married, you don’t really stop to think that you could end up divorced one day, but as the divorce solicitors at  Austin Kemp Solicitors could tell you only too well, hundreds of people get divorced every day, and many of them end up in a sticky financial situation and more stress than you can imagine. The best way to mitigate against this particular life event is by having an emergency fund that is equal to around six months’ worth of income. That way, if the worst does happen and you and your partner split, you will be able to set up a new life and not have to worry for a little while.

Life-Changing Injuries


None of us want to think that we’ll ever be seriously injured, but it happens to lots of people every day, and although we are lucky to have free healthcare in the UK, should it happen to us and we not be able to work, it could significantly reduce our income and make it difficult for us to maintain our current standard of living. Having some form of personal injury insurance or insurance to cover periods of illness and injury is a good way to mitigate against this risk if you can afford it. However, simply putting away a few pounds each month to build an emergency fund will also be useful.

Unemployment


So many people start struggling the day they are let go from work because they have been living payday to payday and they no longer have any money coming in - not until they find a new position or benefits kick in anyway. This can leave one unable to pay the rent/mortgage, heating or even to buy basics such as food. This is another good reason to have as big an emergency fund as you can manage to save for.

Household Repairs

Leaking roofs, subsidence or even a broken washing machine are all things that need to be paid for pretty much as soon as they are spotted, which can leave you in a pickle if you’re unprepared. Having buildings and contents insurance, then, is a pretty good idea that will ensure you can stay afloat even if the worst does happen.

Death


If you or your partner were to pass away, how would the rest of your family cope? Your kids and the remaining spouse could be plunged into debt at what is sure to be a terrible time already. The solution? Life insurance and savings. There are even companies that allow you to pay into your own funeral costs before it is your time to go. I find that thought quite morbid though, so have personally never considered it, but then again I have never written a will and that is another thing that is advisable...... and the list goes on.

Prepare for the worst and the worst will not be as bad as it could be!

This is a collaborative post.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Top Family Holiday Destinations in the UK


Taking the family on holiday abroad has become even more expensive in recent years and Brexit seems to have made it even more expensive, partly due to the poor exchange rates. But it is still important to try and spend some quality time as a family, even if it means staying in a tent in the middle of nowhere! You don’t have to head off into the wilderness with nothing but you and a piece of tent canvas separating you from the elements but you can still make a holiday in the UK a fun family holiday.

There are plenty of different ways to make a family holiday a bit more affordable as well, from staying in an Airbnbto residential park homes. You don’t have to spend a fortune on accommodation unless you prefer to stay somewhere expensive. If you are more interested in having a holiday filled with healthy family fun and adventures then you might want to look into some of these destinations:

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Scotland’s beautiful capital city has all kinds of entertainment on offer all year round but the Fringe Festival commonly known as "Edinburgh Festival" in August is a great place to take the whole family. Brimming with circus acts, both original and well loved classic theatre, comedy shows and music events, there is so much to keep the family entertained for days or even weeks. The entertainment goes on at all times of the day and even on into the night so there's something for early risers and night owls alike. Edinburgh is also a lovely city to experience the charm of Scotland, with Haggis to try and bagpipe tunes to listen to. You can also visit the biggest attraction in the city: Edinburgh Castle for a taste of Scottish history. One of the great things about Scotland is the picturesque Highlands, which are only a short trip away from Edinburgh and you can go out for walks in the gorgeous countryside.

Pre-kids we've been to the Edinburgh Festival. We stayed in affordable University campus accommodation and saw so many shows. We did fit in a visit to the castle too of course and were very impressed. I only wish I took photos back then as I would love to share them. Edinburgh has a unique special atmosphere that has to be experienced to be believed. A guided walking tour of the Royal Mile, hosted by a very talented Actor was the highlight of my time in Edinburgh. He brought the history of the place totally to life and when I think of it I can still hear his voice telling us all about the Edinburgh tenements. I remember all too well him saying "when they could no longer go down they built UP". The high rise multi occupancy tenements were the result of the city turning its back on the underground city.

Lake District

The Lake District is home to many beautiful places including Lake Windermere, Keswick and Scafell Pike. If your family loves to get outdoors or you simply want to enjoy a healthier, happy type of holiday, the Lakes are a great place to stay. You can have fun doing various water sports on the many lakes, like windsurfing or canoeing. If you are not looking for water-related activities then you also have the amazing countryside to explore for long walks and great views. Throughout the Lake District and the surrounding areas are historic towns and villages, where you can visit a multitude of museums and interesting buildings. The Brockhole visitor centre has plenty of exciting entertainment and you can hire bikes to go for scenic rides around the lakes or through the countryside.

London

A trip to the capital city is sure to be filled with fantastic experiences and wonderful family memories. You can go to see a show like The Lion King, visit the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace and take a ride on an open top London bus. You can also take a boat trip along the Thames River to see some of London’s great landmarks from a different angle. We got the boat to Greenwich and went to the fabulous National Maritime Museum. We Vlogged our river cruise here:


There is such a wide range of activities to choose from in London – you can visit the Tower of London, go on the London Eye, have a walk through Hyde Park, the list of fun opportunities is endless. I wouldn't go to London for the first time without going to the Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens - it is a must do if you are visiting with children. We once took in We're Going on a Bear Hunt and the Diana Memorial Playground all in the same day!

There are also numerous galleries and museums that will make sure your visit to London is a wonderful cultural experience for the whole family. A trip to the top of the Shard will give you a breathtaking view of London, at 244 meters high you will see the city like never before. The London Dungeons is another great day out for the family, providing you don’t mind a bit of gory detail!

Friday, 9 March 2018

Fearne Cotton you Were Worth It | My Stressful Day in London

It was no ordinary Tuesday

... for a start I met Fearne Cotton and second we got up at 03:30 a.m. We went to London, Somerset House no less, for the launch of Fearne's 2nd kids clothing collection, Spring Summer 2018 FEARNE for Boots Mini Club, having attended the launch of FEARNE Autumn Winter 2017 too. Except this wasn't even the first or second times I met her. Multiple Mummy (God rest her beautiful soul) and I had that pleasure all the way back in July 2011: Boots Christmas Press Show.

...resorted to my fail safe breastfeeding

So I'll rewind to the start of the day. We got up at 03:30 so that we could get the 5 am Snap Travel coach from Bristol to London return. I knew an early start would mean that Lottie would sleep the whole way, except the coach was so luxurious with bright neon lights everywhere and a microwave and toaster, so all she wanted to do was explore. After battling to keep her on my knee for ages, I resorted to my fail safe breastfeeding, and just like that, out like a light. She then slept for hours, which had there not been accidents on the motorway would have seen me arrive in London stress free. Except I was never ever going to arrive stress free was I, as it was the driver's 1st day and he'd asked me for directions and then 100% used sat nav to navigate his way from Bristol city centre to the motorway, when I said I wasn't a driver) which didn't fill me with any sense of security. I was also the only passenger, well Lottie and I, so no wonder I spent the journey with my eyes wide open, however strong the temptation to sleep was. Alas despite our expected time of arrival being 08:17 I think it was closer to 9:30 or 09:45 when we did arrive at Kings Cross. Lottie was awake for the last 25 minutes of the journey and as the driver didn't know the Wifi password (he was new) so I could put on Ben & Holly or Peppa Pig, that was interesting to say the least. Suffice to say I posted an Instagram story of her LITERALLY climbing on my head. It was like if I can't move horizontal passed you to get into the aisle and explore I'll go UP! Wow my poor neck. Luckily snacks and chat, once the excitement of waking up to being on a bus wore off, kept her seat-bound till we arrived.

... without our ordinary London entourage of cousins

Except that was the beginning of my anxiety and not the end of it as Lottie all out point blank physically refused to get in the buggy but the driver had dropped us literally on the side of the road (it was his 1st day, or did I say that already?) on busy Euston Road right outside a small pedestrian entrance to Kings Cross station so her being on foot was really not an option. I protested profusely saying umpteen times that this is a main road but he kept stating it was a "bus stop" - mate I think that is for buses not coaches.... le sigh... I banked my feelings on this journey and turned my sights to London except London was so very big which made my big girl seem SO very very small. The nerves of being in London with Lottie, with no Aaron to help, no Daddy to help and not our ordinary London entourage of cousins to help, hit me like a brick. I managed to get her in the buggy but the crying broke my heart. 

...going to anxiety levels 1,001%

Then I got all disorientated in the station. I didn't just want the Underground and not Kings Cross International, but I also specifically wanted the Circle and District Lines so I could get to Liverpool Street. I eventually found a step free access lovely lift and hit the call button on the lift and simultaneously on the phone to call Ruth RocknRollerBaby to let her know we'd meet her there except the minute the doors went to shut, the reception on my phone went so I jumped back out. I then tried again to ring Ruth, wanting to make sure she wouldn't have already left Liverpool Street when I would get there. Lottie took my distraction dealing with this as a chance to jump out of the buggy. By this time a really judgemental lady walked up and saw that I was (1) trying to be on the phone (2) get a baby in a buggy and (3) get in the lift all simultaneously. Her disdain with me just lead to me going to anxiety levels 1,001%. With hindsight there are so many things I could have done to avoid this situation (namely sending a message to Ruth whilst I was still "safely" on the coach to say I am so delayed can I meet you at Liverpool Street instead of the original plan?). Anyway we got to Liverpool Street easily as I knew we would, which is why I came up with the idea in the first place. Only trouble is, because Ruth said they'd arrive in 30 minutes I saw a Super Cuts upstairs and couldn't resist going up to have my fringe cut being that it was down at my waist. They fitted me in immediately and I came downstairs feeling great. Lottie was in high spirits too because she'd loved watching the pigeons. Except then I went to platform 16 and was having a great laugh with the chaps on duty asking when the next Norwich train would be in. I went on my phone to see the time of the text saying they'd be here in 30 minutes only to find there were by this time further texts saying that they'd already arrived. I was at platform 16 and they were at 10. Not a world away........ but.... Cue me, shouting Lottie in a shrill voice :-( .... bless her she'd been beautifully toddling around me while I chatted to the platform train staff and was actually being no bother but here I was shouting at her as I felt awful that I wasn't AT the right platform WHEN they arrived and God forbid they were now waiting for ME> anxiety went through the roof again, so I was a dishevelled mess when I went over to say hello. A hello that was meant to be full of joy and had been looked forward to SO MUCH. Meeting me must have been a rude awakening and no doubt Ruth and Cookie must have wanted to run in the other direction. Somehow we made our way to the Central Line and order was restored (I think), even if my dignity wasn't. I focused on Cookie's quirky fun self and videoed all of her fun goings on, except always hitting the record button after something brilliant had happened. Anyway Lottie ADORED Cookie, which provided the distraction I needed to start breathing  again and getting my heart back to its normal rhythms. Cookie has already blogged about the day at 100% Fearne Cotton.

... here come the Mums

First we went to a coffee shop and got much needed coffee and cake. It was only a chain, but as you can see above had a certain charm about it. As we entered a chap departing said "here come the Mums" as we had 3 buggies with us. Our time in there was a riot as Lottie and Cookie played Star Wars with coffee stirrer sticks. When Cookie wasn't doing a great party trick with them that is. You'll see it in my video vlog of the day - I think the link is in the tweet below. Boots now want to emulate ha ha! After this though Lottie started to run around and as the door was open it was no longer funny. There were only so many times we could bring her back to her seat on repeat.

... much needed chance to let off steam

At this point, for my ails, I suggested a prescription of a trip to the park Ruth had mentioned earlier, with no idea if we really still had time for it. It turned out to be Drury Lane Gardens Park which gave us a much needed chance to let off steam. So spooky though as I had a feeling I would know it and I did, having been there  with Kate from I am Wit Wit Woo many years before: Covent Garden for Boys. I remember that time Aaron was only 1.5 years and I was in worried awe about how easily he could navigate the steps and slide. You can just about make out Lottie below at the telescope, recreating Aaron's steps all these many years later. We had a laugh in the park as you'll also see in the vlog.

...knowing she'd follow, except she didn't

We finally left the park, oh except Lottie point blank refused to get off the slide and cleverly moved her body so I couldn't even reach her to carry her down. The steps are steps and easy to navigate with railings each side as you see above, so I felt fully confident to walk out of the park knowing she'd follow, except she didn't. Cue Cookie coming to the rescue AGAIN (which you can also see in the vlog). I promise I can normally parent my child without assistance LOL. Luckily the venue, the magnificent Somerset House, was within walking distance which was heaven sent as I no longer had the wherewithal or faculties to navigate trains, lifts or escalators. Joyful meetings were had and we made our way to the Spring room, which was very glitzy indeed, with both Boots and Red providing a hospitable and warm welcome for us all. They were thrilled to see that Lottie of course was fully on brand, not just in Boots Mini Club but FEARNE Autumn Winter 2017 too, which thankfully still fitted, also being seasonal too given that Spring has not yet actually SPRUNG....... Cookie meeting Harriet from Toby and Roo below

You'll actually feel like you were there...

What immediately hit me after refreshments was that this wasn't just a showroom of FEARNE's range but they'd also done a mock shop of the whole of Spring Summer 2018 Mini Club too, so it was a real treat to see ALL of this having it all explained to us, by Boots heads of department. All of the talks are in my videos. You'll actually feel like you were there if you watch it. It's uncut too, no fancy editing. It's not called virtual REALITY for nothing, this whole social media world. The Boots team and the Red PR team were all amazing with Lottie which was JUST what the Doctor ordered and I didn't even need to go to their Pharmacy with a prescription to get just what I was looking for at that moment.
Thank God for balloons eh. Apart from that Lottie let go of two and there was a very high ceiling ooooops.

... that was bliss!

By this point I had put a bottle of Aveeno on the end of the string to stop her balloons flying. It was the only "weight" I had in a brand new handbag (not having transferred anything other than essentials the day before). It seemed like the grandest of ideas and it worked except I wanted to film the whole of Fearne's talk and all the way through it Lottie was squeezing the moisturiser all over her hands in plentiful amounts. Thank you Essex Kate for all of the many tissues you provided that I somehow managed to pass to Lottie without breaking the continuity of filming - wow Motherhood is a juggle and it wasn't like I had something sensible like a tripod with me. My footage of Fearne talking doesn't look too wobbly so I am thrilled. Glad I got her on camera saying she remembered us from last time as THAT made my DAY especially with how low I have been feeling lately, that was bliss! Considering I was meant to bring bubbles for Lottie to blow I am actually DELIGHTED she came up with the idea of squeezing the moisturiser out, because as messy as it indeed was, it kept her in one place AND relatively quiet. You'll see in my vlog though that she DID explore the room and was quite free reign but luckily she didn't cause any havoc. I'm actually glad I brought her and didn't insist that Daddy had her for the day. He stayed home doing both school runs as well as gifting us a lift to the city centre and collecting us, saying "you need to take Lottie as she's breastfeeding" yeah right he wanted a deserved day off and minus the taxi service and school runs he got one.
Let me give you a photo tour of the room












 This was Essex Kate waiting for me as we decided to go get something to eat:

We ended up in a pub to get a delicious inexpensive warming much needed meal. It was upstairs and posed a problem for the buggy but as rain by this time was starting, I couldn't get in there quick enough. It was a lovely opportunity for some heartfelt convo and so busy was I with that and a Lottie that still kept running off I actually did no Instagram stories and took no food pics or anything during this time. We went off grid and just connected in real time which was LOVELY! Thank you Kate. Kate blogs at Counting to Ten and has already blogged about the day Highlihts from the SS18 Boots Mini Club Collection.

Three things gave up the will to live simultaneously...

It was a wonderful day but I only realised how tired I was, only after leaving Kate. I walked for about 30 minutes with Lottie taking up the rear. I was looking for Farringdon Street from which my Snap Travel coach would depart for home. Thankfully Kate gave me directions before she left me so there was no cause for anxiety or at least there should not have been. You see Snap provides a link which shows you a PHOTO of the bus stop. Had I fully digested this I wouldn't have walked up and down Farringdon Street four times, each time with it turning into Farringdon Road. But I was focused on looking for the door numbers they'd given. Anyway when I finally spotted the bus stop I also spotted a Pret a Manger opposite it. Three things gave up the will to live simultaneously. Lottie fell asleep, as I'd earlier enroute bought her a McDonald's to bribe her into the buggy and as soon as it was consumed she was sparko. No wonder after a long day and all the London walking shown below. Always falls asleep after a full tummy if tired. My phone also died and I, when Pret gave me a complimentary FREE latte coffee burst into tears. I literally asked for a Turmeric Latte (yeah who knew?!?!?) and a chocolate croissant and he said the coffee is in the house. I said "won't you get in trouble" and he was like "no this is our way of marketing" well he said lots of lovely others things first but that is the summary. So in exchange I am featuring him and his lovely colleague below as wow it blew me away. After I had a good cry I sat down at a table with a plug socket and recharged myself and my phone whilst I awaited my coach.

Thank you Pret a Manger for your random act of kindness


I can't go without saying what a lovely afternoon I had chatting with Lilinha. She is very pregnant and due soon - we had SUCH a giggle discussing C sections.

Emma from the Cheshire Wife was also with us but we didn't get chance to chat.

I'll leave you with my video memories of the day