A lot of people, admittedly me being one of those prior to having my own baby, thought mums who stayed at home had loads of time on their hands. How wrong was I!
I am sure all mums would agree, taking care of a baby 24/7 is a lot harder than it seems, and one thing you never catch, is a break. What I mean by a break is your little one being the responsibility of someone else, be that your partner, a family member, so that you can relax, and know they aren’t going to wake-up just as you sit-down.
Yes the baby will go down for naps, sometimes a few times a day, so why don’t you get a break whilst they’re napping? Perhaps because you always find a million and one things to do round the house. There are always bottles to wash and sterilise, if you’re weaning, there is pureeing and cooking to do, cleaning the house, which seems to get messier now your on maternity leave as you are there all day! If like me, my hair started dropping out 4 months after giving birth, i was hoovering and sweeping everyday. You now have twice the amount of washing and ironing…. the list is endless.
Yes there are the nice things you get to do, like coffee with other mums, shopping, walks in the park, but you’re not relaxing, as you still thinking about the next item on the schedule, well when will the little one need a feed, and do I need to change his nappy, do I want him to fall asleep in the pram or in the car…it is mentally draining.
I have come to realise (only taken me 7 months), that mums need time off too, the same as other people do from their jobs. Sometimes just an hour away from the house, away from other responsibilities, a couple of drinks with a friend, go for a swim, pop round your mums for a cuppa. These are such simple things, that can be overlooked, and I confess I took having ‘me-time’ for granted before having Harry.
I’ve found my blog has been a great escapism. For example today – Saturday, I have been with Harry all week, and unfortunately my partner had a super busy schedule, and so he has been away most of the week. I think this really took its toll on me, being responsible for Harry all week, alone, especially after a 10 day holiday and having support on a daily basis. So today I have been in a funny mood, I had a lie-in which was great and I woke up feeling positive and ready for the day, but as the day progressed, and Harry decided not to have his nap, I’ve become anxious, and snappy, unfortunately taking it out on my partner. Both my baby and his daddy have now gone for a nap, and I have been able to just chill-out (opting to do no cleaning, no cooking, no washing), just me, my blog, and I am about to treat myself to a fresh juice! I feel so much better for just having this past hour, to collect and download my thoughts.
Don’t misinterpret this for me being ungrateful, I love my baby more than anything in the world, but I need to be Jen as well as mummy.
I am going to try and make sure each weekend, I take myself out for a coffee, get my nails done or see some friends, letting the boys have some ‘father and son’ time, and allowing me to have a bit of time to be Jen and not mummy or wife (to be).
It would be great to hear anyones thoughts on how they relax, or have created their own time away from being a mum?
It took us a long time to find a cottage / Gite to stay in. We had a huge list of things we wanted but the main things were a pool or close to a beach so we could take Harry swimming, a garden for us to spend our evenings in, and close to a bar, bakery or shop so we could walk each morning to get breakfast, and possibly somewhere for a drink in the evening.
I soon realised we were asking a lot for our small budget, so we eliminated the pool, and focused on having a garden and preferably not being to far from basic amenities Neither of us had really been to anywhere in France since we were children, with the exception of Paris, so trying to narrow even Brittany down to a good location was really difficult.
I ended up contacting the owner of a few gites, with questions about the local area, distances to shops etc, and also asked Katy and greggers for some recommendations. They said St-Malo was really pretty and lots to do, so this tipped our choice to our little Gite in Roz sur Couesnon.
I booked it via homeaway.com, it was two bedroomed with a garden, and was close to a couple of beaches and 30 mins from St Malo! Perfect.
When we arrived, we were really surprised with our Gite, it was much larger than the pictures showed. We LOVED it. The owners welcomed us, they didn’t speak much English so it was a brief show around. They left us with a lovely bottle of local cider and biscuits. I was totally taken back by how much history was on the walls in the garden, and that they trusted people with such treasures.
There was an open sitting / dining room. All the furniture was old, but so comfy, covered in thick throws and loads of cushions. It had the biggest open fire I have ever seen, and was surrounded by amazing collectables and antiques. The walls were covered in so many historic pieces, all with a fire or nautical theme.
The kitchen was modern, but again, with lots of wall features. They had all the essentials kettle, coffee maker (we got used to having fresh coffee every morning at Sylvies), microwave, dishwasher, washing machine and dryer (always handy when traveling with a sick baby). They provided the basics for staying, coffee, sugar, oils, herbs etc.
The garden, which was much larger than we imagined, had a big table, could easily fit 6 or more around it. The garden was so pretty, and the nautical theme was carried through, with fishing netting, lights, shells, baskets, it was amazing. They had a herb garden, which the owners gave us permission to use, a sweet little BBQ, and a shed full of games, badminton, hula hoops, football, it was fantastic. Plus it was enclosed so if you do have young children or pets running around, they are safe. The garden was also surrounded by farm land, to one side we had 2 sheep, and another 2 beautiful horses.
I imagine the cottage originally only had one level up, and the owners have created a second floor to create more bedroom space. The first floor had a large master bedroom, bathroom and separate toilet. The second floor had an open staircase up to it (no doorway), and contained 3 single beds. Its really catered for a family. The second floor was very spacious and airy, it felt huge. I think if they had closed this off with a wall and door it would of taken all that away.
Overall the space was a perfect size for us, Harry had the top floor all to himself, and we were able to have our own room. We really chilled out here, and spent each evenings having BBQs, and chatting, drinking, and playing some of the games. The only issue was not having a bath for Harry and he really didn’t like taking showers.
The gite is attached to another gite that sleep 4, there is an internal door, which i assume lets bigger parties stay, this would be ideal if you decided to go with family or friends, then you could just share the garden and kitchen etc.
The owners came to see us off on the final morning. unfortunately we had an accident and spilt red wine on their white curtains!! They were super about it, and we offered them Euros to cover the cost, which they accepted.
I would without a doubt book this again!! (if they’ll have us back).
They charge around £435 / 550 Euro for the week, we obviously paid less, as we only stayed for 4 nights, but this is a bargain compared to some others we looked at.
I will be the first to admit I am a sun worshiper, 99% of my holidays have been about sitting in the sun, reading a book with a glass of vino, working on my tan. I would possibly dedicate one day to either shopping or sightseeing…if the weather was bad. Well I can kiss those holidays goodbye for the next 10 years….at least!!
We decided for our first holiday with Harry we would drive to France. Contemplating having to get all of Harry’s stuff on a plane made me want to cry , whereas driving we could shove it all in the car, stop when we wanted, and do everything at our own pace.
We opted for Normandy / Brittany as the drive wasn’t to long, and my best friend lives in Normandy so we were able to stay with her for a few days for a real French experience. We had 5 days in Fecamp, a small coastal town about 2 hours south of Calais. We stayed in a typical French home, ate fresh croissants each morning, and stuffed ourselves with bread, cheese, meats and wine for lunch. Sylvie (whose house we stayed in, and she spoke very very little English) was an excellent cook and made us a homemade cheese tart, it was divine, and I think rich will definitely be trying it at home.
We spent our days relaxing, and catching up on some sleep, visiting an old Mill recently bought by Katy’s family, checking out the local markets, also we had a day trip to Rouen and a walk through Fecamp and along the promenade.
Rouen’s famous gold clock / our trip to the mill / Rouens beautiful architecture /date night!
Each evening we did something different, we attended a French birthday BBQ, where we were taught how to lasou, had meat fondue (not sure it was my cuppa tea, but glad I tried it), went to a steak restaurant where the meat was cooked in front of you on an open fire (this tasted AMAZING), had another BBQ, and our final night we ate so much at lunch we couldn’t face another meal, so had a lovely date night whilst Katy babysat Harry, and we went for a few drinks.
We decided to take the scenic route to our next stop in Roz sur Couesnon, until we saw it was a 7.5 hour drive. So we took the motorway to Caen (our half way point), and then took the scenic route, admiring lots of tiny French villages along the way. We had rented a cottage for 3 days / 4 nights, based in between Mont St-Michel and St-Malo. We spent a day at each of these locations, and then a day in the cottage when we had the best weather (make sure to read my blog post about the cottage we rented, it was wonderful and a reasonable price). We’d not had the best luck with the weather so far, but on our last day we had glorious sun, and were able to get the paddling pool out for Harry, and being typical Brits, soon as he was down for a nap, we were out trying to catch what we could of the sun, so at least we come back looking a little healthier.
All-in-all we had a great time, but I must admit going on a holiday with a small baby was much harder than I thought despite packing our car so it was bursting with all his stuff. Harry really missed his jumperoo, and I think just having playtime, as a lot of time was spent out and about so he was either in his buggy, his car seat or the sling.
I guess it also didn’t help that Harry had a stomach bug for the first week and projectile vomited multiple times over Sylvie’s sofa, which I might add is black. It rained for our first two days, Harry screamed for 2 hours on date night, so we nearly never made it out, and to finish it off, we spilt red wine down the cottage’s white curtains on our last night, and the owners didn’t speak English so trying to express how deeply sorry we were was very hard.
Would I do it all again? YES! Spending a week with my boys and a few days with my best friend was totally worth the hard work.
Despite our child being ill, and vomiting everywhere I would like to thank Katy, Greggers, Sylvie and Katy’s family for making us feel soooo welcome! We had a great time and a true French experience.
When allabouttink tagged me in this, my response was “but I don’t travel, what do I have to write about”, but then she kindly pointed out, so far this year I have been to Paris, Cornwall, and tomorrow I will be driving to and around France for 10 days! I stand corrected.
I guess as I haven’t done the typical ‘traveller’ journey to Asia, Thailand and Australia, I didn’t think I could answer the questions. I was wrong, I have been lucky to travel a lot from a young age, so here my answers….
1. You most treasured passport stamp?
Without a doubt New York, this is my dream destination, and I was lucky to be taken by my mum when I was 18. I haven’t been that many places that actually stamp your passport, but i think this will remain my most treasured.
2. Can you recite your passport # from memory?
Nope, ask me to recite my bank card, I think those numbers are ingrained in my brain…perhaps too much online shopping.
3. Preferred method of travel: Planes/Trains/Automobiles?
I have always been great with planes, but now having a baby I think automobile it is! Plus this way, we get to take the scenic route, and stop off at the cool secret places on the way!
4. Top three travel items?
Firstly my phone, I know this is a bit geeky, but combined in this one item is my banking, a camera, a phone, a notebook, my kindle, my boarding passes, currency convertors, translators, the list is endless, second my passport, as this is essentially my ticket to the rest of the world, and finally some cash. I am the worst for carrying cash, I just charge everything to my card, but when I am abroad, I don’t feel comfortable unless I have a little cash on me.
5. Hostel or hotel?
I have only stayed in a hostel once, it was a uni trip to Prague, fantastic, but I would always opt for a hotel if only the two options were available. I haven’t been traveling, and if I ever did i would opt for hostels, mainly due to cost, but also you meet people, and make friends so much quicker. I would probably choose neither, my preference is to rent an apartment, villa or house, this way you can eat out, or stay in and cook, and now having a child, having somewhere to prepare food is essential.
6. Are you a repeat visitor or do you explore new places?
I would say up until a couple of years ago, I was a repeat visitor, but I think that was because I didn’t have too many holidays, maybe one every couple of years, so if I was going away, I would want to know I was going somewhere I was definitely going to enjoy. As I have been able to afford more holidays, I definitely want to go to new places, and see more of the world. Even though we have Harry, I am hoping this doesn’t restrict us, and we can share our new experiences with him.
7. Do you read up on your destination (culture, history, safety) or do you wing it?
I read up places of interest at my destination, and when I have been places such as Marrakech, I did a fair bit of reading about what clothes we should wear, and what the rules are for women. This was so we didn’t get ourselves into any trouble, and so we were respectful of their culture. If i was going somewhere very touristy, such as Marbella, I wouldn’t do any background.
8. Favourite travel website?
The best flights site is Skyscanner.com, there is an app, and it is easy to use. I run everything I book by tripadvisor.com. I know you shouldn’t get bogged down in other peoples reviews, so I try to look mainly at the positives, and just read one or two of the negatives, if there are any.
9.Where would you recommend a friend to visit? Name a place and why?
Without a doubt New York, or Paris. I have always been a beach lover, and never one for trekking around cities, but these two are so dreamy! I was never fussed about seeing the Eiffel Tower, but when I walked up to it, it took my breath away. New York, what is not to love, the people are great, the food is fab, the whole city is just so chic and effortless.
10. You’re leaving tomorrow, money is no option. Where would you go?
The Maldives, to stay in one of those huts with the clear blue water below, and white beaches.
As I am so new to this blogging, I don’t have many bloggers to tag, but here goes
I was lucky enough to be given a ticket to see Elton John play a charity gig for Sports Aid at the amazing Stoke Park Golf Club over the weekend.
Having grown up listening to Elton John, I had always wanted to see him live, but never really thought I would have the opportunity. However my partner surprised me with a ticket to a charity gig at a spectacular venue only 15 minutes from our house, how could I say no.
On the day of the gig, after a glorious week of baking hot weather, we had a day of thunder and lightening, and constant down pours. I wasn’t so much looking forward to standing in the rain, but it was Elton John so i wasn’t prepared to give up my ticket.
The event started at 5pm, we arrived at 6pm, just as the sun comes out and all the clouds disappear. The venue was breathtaking, when walking past the ticket office it dawned on me, this was a small but prestige event. There could of been no more than 3000 guests (if that!), with a couple of (what i can only describe as) luxury food and drink stalls, serving Stone baked pizza, paella, fish and chips with Heineken, Pimms and Champagne.
I was gobsmacked when I saw how small the audience would be, even standing at the back of the seats you would have a clear view of Sir Elton John.
We made a beeline for the bar, and ordered a Pimms and Heineken, and it went down far to well. We indulged in fresh fish and chips with homemade tartar sauce, it was DIVINE. The fish fell apart! This was not your ordinary gig food. We found a spot on the grass and basked in the summers evening. However 30 minutes before the gig was due to start, the clouds came in, and our sun was no longer, we threw on our macs / ponchos and headed for cover before the music started.
Sir Elton John kicked off on time, and we took our seats in the rain, prepared with waterproofs, and ponchos, we sat for the first initial songs. It was just him and his piano, and was superb. He sang ‘Your Song’, i had goosbumps and it took me back to the days of watching Moulin Rouge with my sister (its her favourite film – or one of). About 4 songs in, I was drenched, not even two ponchos could keep me dry, so we decided to head for the trees at the back of the seating area. Surprisingly, it was completely dry under these bad boys , and the view was better than our seats.
We stayed under the trees for the rest of the gig, danced, sang, and adored this talented genius! He gave us Still Standing, Rocket Man, Daniel, and of course The Circle of Life. He had no band, just him and his piano! Outstanding! He played for 90 minutes and it seemed like 9. I was devastated when it finished, but it had been an experience I will never forget. What makes it even better, is he did this for free, and all the ticket sales go to Sports Aid.
We were lucky enough to meet two of the sports men being supported by Sports Aid, and they told us a little about the charity. It is fairly unknown, and had been running for 4 years, and last year the Duchess of Cambridge became patron. Sports Aid helps young athletes to make their dreams a reality, from funding travel to competitions to new equipment. You can find out more about this charity and how you can get involved, or support by attending an event at http://www.sportsaid.org.uk/
This was an experience i cant wait to tell Harry about.