A new baby can be so consuming, and it is easy to forget the relationship you had before they came along. We try our best to get time together, either a day out, or going for a meal, but it can be quite hard when you don’t have a long list of babysitters to call on.
Rich was given tickets for the Red Bull Air Race at Ascot Racecourse. We were invited as ‘Friends of Red Bull’ (FORBS), which included complimentary food and drink all day, the best view of the race course, and all day entertainment. We packed Harry off to his Grandad’s for the weekend, and managed to squeeze in a visit to the cinema on the friday, two lie-ins, and our day out to the air race.
Red Bull, as usual put on a good show. The whole set-up was vintage / retro themed, with all the staff dressed up, the interior of the FORBS section was fantastic, the cocktails flowed (all Red Bull based of course), the food was never ending and we had a front row seat to the air race.
The whole day was great from start to finish, to relax with a morning cuppa in bed, take my time to wash and style my hair, do my make-up and have breakfast together. The day at Ascot was such a treat, and we managed to talk about a lot more than just Harry. We finished the day off with a visit to the local Chinese, just like old times. However I do think I had a little too much Red Bull, as the insomnia kicked in soon as I leapt in my bed.
After a whole weekend without my baby, on Sunday I was like a kid waiting for father christmas, I sat looking out the window, waiting for him to come back! I was so excited to have him back in my arms. I thought him going away would get easier, but I think it is getting worse!
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.
Living in London, I don’t think I will ever run out of new things to do or places to see. My downfall is I always think I am too busy to go do new things. My other half works in the drinks industry, and his patch is the city and Shoreditch, so he is constantly telling about cool new bars opening, or events happening. Before Harry, I would meet up with him after work, and check out a couple of his bars, or we would spend Saturdays trying out new places. Since Harry has arrived, I haven’t been able to make as many of these nights as I would like, in fact I think only once, but sometimes an opportunity comes along that you just can’t turn down. We were lucky enough to be offered a night in the most exclusive, and sought after room in London. Has anyone ever noticed there is a boat sitting on top of the Southbank centre, as i hadn’t and i have been there enough times! A room for London is a ‘boat’ perched on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre.
The boat is in fact a one bedroomed self catering space, where visitors are treated to an incredible view of London. With a two tiered deck, you have this fabulous panoramic view from Big Ben, to St Paul, to the more recently built Shard. We were offered a nights stay at very short notice, so we were desperate for an overnight babysitter. Thankfully my sister came to our rescue, and so we got ourselves ready for a night away from the little man, and prepared to embark on an adventure watching over London. On arrival, you sign a contract that you won’t breach any of the rules, such as taking guests back, no parties etc. You are then taken to a secret lift, that takes you up to the boat!! Unfortunately on our visit it was pouring with rain, I prayed for it to dry up so we could spend some time on the deck, but ultimately it poured even more.
I brought the champagne, and we decided to order takeaway from my favourite place, Wagamamas. This was just below the Royal Festival Hall, so just a short trip down the secret lift to collect our dinner. We opted to eat in, as we can eat out anytime in London, but we will never get our time back in this exclusive room. We sat down at the table, (which we never do at home), and had our meal. No TV, no iPads, just our own company and our food. It was slightly surreal, but great to just chat about our experience, and how lucky we were to be there.
The room comes with dishes, cutlery, glasses, tea, coffee, milk etc, the usual you would find in a self-catering room. The bedroom looked over the River Thames, you are provided binoculars to spy on the city, we had fun trying to guess all of the buildings, seeing if we could see inside the rooms of The Savoy opposite, and seeing what bars we could spot. The rain continued, and we made an attempt to go outside and get some photos, but it was too wet to risk taking our SLR camera outside. It seemed a real shame to spend all of our time inside looking out, but even after a last minute umbrella purchase, the rain finally beat us. I had assumed it would be freezing, so had packed jumpers and joggers, but the heating was quick, and within 20 minutes of whacking the radiator on, it was like a sauna!
We stayed up drinking, admiring the view, reading the books provided (there was a library of books about London’s history), and reading the log book, which all guests were recommended to detail their stay and sign (some people giving a little too much detail of their bedroom antics). We wanted to stay up, to not waste any of our time sleeping, but having been up with the little man at 6am, by the time midnight came, I couldn’t stay awake anymore, and gave in to my tired eyes.
Rich was awake at 6am like a kid at christmas, wanting to watch the morning hustle and bustle of London in our final hours. Due to work commitments, and our babysitters, we had to leave at 8am (you have the room till 11am), we quickly got showered (whilst admiring the The Shard from the porthole in the bathroom!), dressed, and wrote our notes in the log book, we stood at the doorway for ages, trying to hold on to our last moments of this amazing experience. It was over, and we were so sad to be leaving.
Living Architecture is the company behind ‘A room for London’. You have to enter a ballot to be in with a chance of staying in the room, and it is £300 for the night – but worth every penny. You are limited to one night, and can only stay there once, and the boat may possibly move location in the future. Living Architecture also have a number of other properties around the UK, and some more opening during the next 18 months. If you get the chance to stay, or even enter the ballot, then go for it!
This is one event I really wanted to capture on my blog,and share our experience with everyone. The pictures do most of the work!
This is something I hope to be able to tell my children, and grandchildren about.
As many men are, my other half (Rich) is a James Bond fan, and they’ve recently opened an exhibition in London of all the cars used in the films.
Before it even opened he was asking if we could go. As I am still on maternity leave, and I didn’t fancy pushing Harry around a London museum on a Saturday, I suggested rich take a days holiday and we go mid-week.
The exhibition is £14 a ticket and for an extra £5 each you get a small device that narrates each exhibit. Of course Rich booked both, but the other plus for going mid-week is the extra device was on buy one get one free.
Having only watched maybe 3 Bond films in my life , I wasn’t sure what to expect, but thought it would be a nice family day out!
I was pleasantly surprised! On entering you are able to look at some of the original storyboards for some of the action scenes. I found this really interesting, as when I first started in the world of advertising we would use storyboards, mainly collated using a Mac, but I would of loved to have worked in the industry when they had no technology, and they would spend weeks working up storyboards by hand to present at a pitch! This reminded me of MadMen (I am a huge fan and will be posting about this in the near future).
We then went on to look at the cars, this I thought could of been quite dull, but actually listening to our narrator tell us about how they shot the action scenes was really interesting, and seeing how damaged the vehicles actually get, watching short videos of each scene was great. They had clearly lit up each vehicle so it was perfect for photographing, I took on role of photographer whilst rich looked in detail at all the cards.
It took us about 1-2 hours to do it all, it was really quiet so really easy to push Harry around, and you could get your photo done to look like Bond. We thought this was a bit cheesy, but great for kids!
One thing I have realised being on maternity leave, is I really don’t make the most of living so close to central London. I have been here for 8 years and actually not seen a great deal in that time. This was one of the reasons I wanted to do this blog, so I would make more time for experiences and days out in London and generally around the UK with Harry and Rich and capture as much as I could of our trips to publish here.
Now to plan our next day family out!