Post in association with On the Beach

I’ve got this thing with my nose.

When it gets cold, it goes red – a shiny, bright red, Rudolph style. I would like to say it’s kind of sexy and adorable, but it’s not, it’s just RED. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time, now Grannyhood is looming, before I start walking around with drips on the end of it. I may also grow warts on my chin.

What I really need is to be out of this cold, miserable weather and lying on a warm beach somewhere, living my best body-confident bikini life. Any nose redness then can be passed off as me being ‘sun-kissed’, which is a much better look.

family beach holidays

Perfect timing then for a 2019 Family Beach Index from holiday experts On the Beach.
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Feeling hungry? I’m back today with more inspiration as part of my partnership with the ‘Lamb. Try It, Love It‘ campaign, so if you need a bit of meaty inspiration read on…

One of the things I desperately wanted to do this year was find myself some new office space. When I moved back to Taunton, (five years ago this June, can you believe??), I started sharing a lovely room with a couple of guys in the centre of town. Last spring I moved with one of them to share with new people, but then there was a change of circumstances, and as the summer holidays rolled around I found myself back at my kitchen table, between the fridge freezer and the cat litter tray.

I was not really living the aspirational freelance life.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy working at home, it’s just that when it’s just you and a teenager and three cats in the house, you really do need to leave it from time to time, for everyone’s sake. Also when I’m at home I get easily distracted watching old episodes of First Dates and roasting random vegetables I find in the bottom of the fridge*, so it’s good to have somewhere to go where you can’t do this.

This week then I started a bit of casual office sharing somewhere new, away from the lure of the limp cauliflower. Starting a new office, a bit like the first day back at school, is an excellent excuse to buy a new lunchbox, so I bought this cat bento box:

cat bento box office lunch ideas

Honestly, I am LIVING for it. View Post

Since discovering I’m going to become a GRANNY this summer – read all about it here – I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want my Granny name to be.

In terms of the more traditional options, Granny is my favourite. I’m not particularly keen on Nan or Nanny. I don’t know why, but when I think of Nan I imagine a woman in one of those cleaning tabards, leaning against a back door, smoking a cigarette and looking cross. No offence to all the Nans out there. Nanny is just Nanny McPhee, and I don’t have any hairy moles (yet).

My mum and her mum are/were both Gran, and my Dad’s mum was Grandma, so I want something a bit different from those, and Granny has an air of mischief about it that I like. I imagine a Granny would do thinks like hide miniature bottles of prosecco in her handbag when she took her grandchildren to soft play. Although come to think of it, my Gran used to take a thermos of gin and tonic when she took me to the beach, so perhaps that’s more genetic than name based.

Me as a Granny emptying my vast handbag, Mary Poppins/portable gin bar style

So what should I be called?  View Post

While I don’t really have to think about structured childcare anymore, lots of families with young children do. I still remember the nightmare of trying to fill a seemingly never-ending six weeks of the summer holidays with a carefully compromised combination of family and friends helping out, ‘fun’ football summer camps, time off work and days and days of activities that needed to suit a teenager who didn’t want to do anything and a small hyperactive child. There’s only so much money you can spend on Tango Ice Blasts at the cinema before you go a little bit crazy.

I was lucky enough that despite being a single parent, I’ve spent a lot of my children’s school lives working from home which made it so much easier on a day to day basis, not having to think about long term childcare or after school clubs. But lots of families don’t have that luxury, with both parents needing to work full time. It can be really daunting leaving your child in the hands of a childcare professional for a large part of the day, and you might not know which sort of childcare is right for you. What’s the difference between a nanny and an au pair? How do I know they can be trusted and have the right references? Will I need someone every day or just for a few hours a week? All these questions can have you second guessing your choices while deciding which childcare is right for you.

how to choose a nanny View Post

I’ve always wanted the chance to stay in a vintage VW camper. In fact, it’s on my list of 50 things to do before 50 – the new, vaguely anxiety-inducing list I’ve created since turning 40. (50? I will surely never be 50 years old?)

I’ve done a couple of longer road trips in big, modern motorhomes and absolutely loved them – the simplification of life, minimal stuff, and that feeling of being away from the real world is magical. There’s something very relaxing about it taking half an hour and a trip to an outdoors tap to make a cup of tea.

I’ve always wondered though how I’d get on in something a little less luxurious. It hardly counts as roughing it in a van if your double bed comes down from the ceiling at the press of a button does it?

Cue Happy Days Campervan Hire.

Happy Days is a family run business near Falmouth. They’ve been doing campervan hire in Cornwall for less than a year, but their two 1970s Volkswagen Westfalia Campervans are already proving very popular for weekend breaks and longer holidays. Both vans feature beautiful vintage interiors and are small but perfectly formed. They have full width double beds, space in the roof for a small one, and in good weather you could sleep another couple of people in a drive-away awning.

Now what I probably should have said when Happy Days got in touch, asking if I wanted to have a play with one of their vans for the weekend, is ‘that sounds amazing! How about doing something in the spring?’

What actually happened was that I was so over-excited that I looked at the calendar to find the nearest possible date I could feasibly do and said ‘Yes please! How about December 15th?’

I don’t know if you remember, but the weekend of December 15th was the one with the incredibly high winds and torrential rain. Couple this with a remote campsite on the most southerly coastline in the UK and it would be fair to say that it wasn’t exactly what you’d call optimal camping conditions.

Pah!

The sound of rain on a camper van while you’re tucked up inside is ace isn’t it? We packed our blankets, downloaded some films onto the laptop, filled a bag with ginger biscuits, hot chocolate and jumbo salted peanuts, and off we went.

We picked up Olive, the aptly named green VW campervan of the pair at Happy Days, at teatime on Friday. At a sensible time of the year it would have been still light of course, but we managed a pretty smooth handover by torchlight, and I took the wheel confidently, putting Belle in charge of directions to our campsite, half an hour away.

VW campervan hire UK

The ‘taking the wheel confidently’ bit is important. I’ve found over the years in these sort of situations that with Belle, the best thing to do is not let any nerves show at all, but to just assume the role of ‘person in charge who absolutely knows what they’re doing and definitely doesn’t have any doubts at all about how to change gear.’ View Post

The feeling of having a newborn baby can be overwhelming. You may be overwhelmed by the feeling that you forgot some of the most important items you should have before your new baby comes. That is why most people start to shop a few months before the baby comes, and use guides like this one from Mommyhood101 – https://mommyhood101.com/best-baby-products-overall – just to make sure that they have enough time to get everything that they will need. With the many things you need to have for your newborn, there are a few items that should not be missing from your list.

The following are three items that you should have even before you receive your new baby:

Infant Car Seat

It cannot be stressed enough how important a car seat is for your newborn baby. An infant car seat is an undebatable item to buy when waiting for your newborn baby. You need to ensure safety for your young one and you cannot afford to take the chances by leaving out an infant car seat from your checklist. There are a lot of car seat designs to choose from and you will never run out of stores, both online and offline where you can get durable ones. Once you get your seat, ensure that it is properly secured in your car to wait for the new addition to the family.

Diapers

Oftentimes, when an infant is mentioned, the first baby item you are likely to mention is diapers. It is also the first item on your checklist for items for your new baby. Diapers are one of the most obvious items that you should pack first in your hospital bag. You cannot survive a day without diapers and if you do, you will probably have to DIY your own to get through it. Even when new, a baby will need to go for both number 1 and 2 so if you don’t want to go through the stress of changing his/her clothes several times during the day then diaper up!

Burp Cloths

This is one of the items that are easily forgotten when waiting for a new baby. Just as the name suggests, burp cloths come in handy when your baby is done feeding. The burps are usually wet and you don’t want to mess your clothes or those of your baby every time you feed them. In addition to that, burp cloths also play another useful role. Using a burp cloth help to prevent contraction of germs from your clothes to your baby, and that is why you need to have a few before your new baby comes.

Final Thoughts

These items should be at the top of your newborn baby checklist because their importance is incomparable. Ensure that they are on standby and ready for the newborn to avoid last minute rushes. You don’t want the first people to hold your baby to end up walking out of the hospital embarrassed with burp contents spilled on their clothes.