Huxley’s 2nd birthday!

Huxley turned 2 yesterday! Crazy I know! We had a party for him on Sunday at our house and Nick & I took him to Marwell Zoo for the day yesterday. We became members of Marwell too which is cool because we can go whenever we want now without that pressure of having to rush around to make sure you see everything to get your money’s worth. You’ve got to visit 4 times to make it worth becoming a member and we’ve already been twice so I’m sure we’ll get value for money out of it!

Huxley’s cake on Sunday was a little bit of a fail. He’d asked for chocolate cake so that’s what I made and it turned out really well, nice and soft and the icing was YUM. But, I’d bought some icing and was going to attempt to cover it and make it look like Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc but not having practised it and with the clock ticking away, the pressure was just too much for me and I chickened out. Nick suggested that I make a little Mike to stick on but I was too worried about how dreadful it would look so Nick made it instead. Although it could totally appear on cake wrecks, I’m glad Nick did it because Huxley LOVED it and kept calling it his ‘Mike cake’ so at least he recognised what it was meant to be!

Huxley's birthday partyHuxley-birthday3Huxley-party

We got Huxley a Duktig Ikea kitchen for his birthday and his little face was so sweet when he came downstairs and saw it! He went all shy and bashful but quickly got over that once he started ripping open the rest of his presents! I’ve been gorging on Pinterest looking for ideas to give his little kitchen a makeover! I’ve saved some of my favourites to my new Duktig kitchen hack board!

Hux-birthday2Giraffe at Marwell ZooHux-at-Marwell-ZooMarwell Zoo houseMe-&-Hux-at-Marwell-ZooWe finished the day off with pizza and ice-cream at Pizza Express in Southampton.

Huxley at Pizza Express


Weekend Snapshots

Just a quick photo-laden post from me today with a little update from the weekend. On Saturday morning I went to the local garden centre with my sister as they had their Christmas display out and I wanted to have a look. This is quite unusual for me as I’m not usually overly into Christmas (don’t lynch me!) but I’m feeling extra festive this year. (I think it’s thanks to the new house!) Huxley spent about 10 minutes chasing Thomas the tank engine round and round the main display and got nice and dizzy!

In the afternoon we made the stupid mistake of attempting a ‘quick’ trip to Southampton at about 3pm to exchange our faulty tent and to buy Huxley a play kitchen from Ikea for his birthday. Unfortunately there was nothing quick about it. The traffic was insane. We ended up rushing around like crazy people and didn’t get home until 8pm! And Ikea were sold out of kitchens – what a nightmare!

Sunday was a very different affair. We had a lovely chilled walk through the woods to my mum’s house where we played football in the garden with Huxley and ate an enormous roast dinner. On the way home we made a quick detour into the countryside to say hello to the sheep and cows.

Autumn oak treeWoods2WoodsHuxleyME-&-HUXHux-with-footballFootball-with-nannyFootball-in-the-gardenHux-footballBritish Blackberries

In other exciting news, we’ve now had the office plastered so that should be painted and carpeted by the weekend and the outside of the house has been rendered and painted so hooray! It finally looks loved on the outside now! House-wise we’re like 99% finished now. We’ve just got to fix the back of the house as half the render is hanging off, we need to get the driveway sorted out and the garage roof needs rebuilding at some point in the future. I’m not too worried about the garden as that’s kind of an ongoing work-in-progress that will evolve and develop as and when we have the time.

Also, I’ve started recording a weekly vlog (inspired by amazing #girlboss Brogan – she’s up to 23k subscribers now! Woop! Go girl!). I’ve got no idea how it will turn out but last week I said I wanted to try and blog a bit more and that just hasn’t happened. I’m quite good at remembering to take the camera out and about with me to snap photos but I’m just rubbish at finding the time to turn them into blog posts so I thought I’d give vlogging a go again but it’s very strange to get used to! It’s a bit weird walking along talking to a camera so I keep having to find quiet little alleyways to nip into for updates. I also have no idea what to talk about!

Also in #girlboss news, my other amazing friend Louise (Pauper to Princess) has just launched her very own website to help inspire you for the upcoming festive period called Impossible To Buy For. Seriously such a genius idea. Go check it out!


Marwell Zoo

We’ve wanted to go to Marwell Zoo for AGES. Huxley is actually obsessed with animals and will watch Madagascar and Lion King on repeat. He’s got a load of little plastic animals and he’ll just sit for hours lining them up around the house or sliding them down a plank of wood in the garden. Also, with Nick breaking his leg and being so busy working on the house all summer, we hadn’t really spent any proper time with our best friends Lauren and Ben and our goddaughter Lexi. All our get-togethers had been last-minute spare afternoons grabbing a quick cup of tea somewhere. We were well overdue a proper day out with kids.

It was a really fun day but also a bit stressful! Huxley has been a bit under-the-weather and I think the excitement of all the animals and being with Lexi just overwhelmed him and we spent most of the day wrestling him away from each enclosure as he kicked and screamed. To say we were exhausted by the end of the day is a massive understatement!

But, watching him grin from ear to ear as the penguins darted in front of his eyes under the water and hearing him and Lexi giggling their heads off as they held hands and ran around made it all worthwhile.

We’re thinking about becoming annual members so that we can go more often and then it’s not as stressful because you can just take your time and if Huxley wants to spend a whole hour watching the owls then he can because we wouldn’t be rushing around trying to fit it all in and get our money’s worth.

Boden Fairisle Cardigan Abercrombie Flared jeansBoden Fairisle cardigan flared jeans converseMarwell ZooPenguin at Marwell ZooIndoor penguins at MarwellHuxley & Lexi at Marwell ZooGiraffe at Marwell ZooHux & LexiHux-driving-a-truckHuxley-on-the-train



Autumn in the New Forest

Saturday morning started nice and early with a knock on the door from my sister, who is currently suffering from pregnancy insomnia. It was 7.45am. I was still in bed. It was about time for me to get up anyway though so I made my way downstairs, brewed a cup of tea and started getting things ready for breakfast. Sarah was pretty chuffed to have stumbled into our weekly ritual of pancake Saturday, especially having never had thick American-style pancakes before (I know, right?!?). We also whipped up a batch for the guy rendering the outside of the house and the guy fitting our new bathroom door – they were pretty chuffed too!

Nick had to stay in all morning due to the workmen being there and so as we were eating she talked me into a quick shopping trip to Bournemouth. To be honest, I think Nick was happy to have some alone time playing with Huxley as he’s been so busy recently he feels like he’s hardly seen him. We hunted for a blanket cape in Primark that wasn’t a L or XL, picked up a new MAC concealer and grabbed a Lush Comforter bubble bar because they’re the best thing ever. Now I’ve just got to find time to have a long luxurious bath without Huxley!

Once I’d come home, had a cup of tea and a sandwich we jumped in the car and drove out to Rhinefield Ornamental Drive. Personally I think it’s the best place to see the New Forest trees in Autumn as it’s full of massive redwoods and makes me feel like I’m back in California again. (I’ve written about it previously here, here and here)

New Forest TreesNew Forest in Autumn with toddlersRope swing in the New ForestNew Forest Trees in AutumnHuxley eating banana cake in the New ForestNew Forest in AutumnCattle grid New ForestToddler

A sunny September Saturday at Moors Valley

One of the things we were most excited about this summer was going to Moors Valley a lot. Then Nick broke his leg. So we haven’t been since June. But, the stars aligned at the weekend and we had no plans (as the renderer had let us down) and the weather was beautiful so we decided there was no better way to spend it than playing in the forest.

(You can see our previous trips to Moors Valley here, here and here!)

We parked at the local park and stomped our way through the puddles, holding onto bread for the ducks and got on our way.

PuddlesWalking to Moors ValleyNick & Hux

It’s so much fun now that Huxley can run around properly and really enjoy it. He was SO happy when he spotted the Gruffalo statue. He ran up and held his hand for ages. Bless him. He kept asking where mouse was too.

Gruffalo at Moors Valley

Nearby, there’s a hollowed out log and he spent ages exploring all the different tunnels and entrances and sliding around inside.

Huxley in log at Moors Valley

We set off around the play trail which consists of lots of different ‘mini’ playgrounds hidden in the forest. It’s great fun and well and truly wears the whole family out! Huxley’s memory has suddenly gotten really good too. When we turned up at the second play bit, he started asking for his tractor as when we’d gone there in June he’d had his tractor with him and pushed it down the slopes. I have no idea how he remembers things like that!

Hux at Moors Valley in SeptemberTrees at Moors Valley

Flowers for Grandparents Day

I love my nan & granddad (obviously). I know some people who see their grandparents once or twice a year but I’m lucky enough to live right around the corner from them now so we see each other at least once a week. When I was at school, I’d walk home to my nan’s house and she’d make me salmon and cucumber sandwiches while I sat and watched CBBC and/or CITV on her sofa.

Since I’ve had Huxley I’ve been round much more frequently. Seeing the look of complete and utter joy on their faces as they chase him round the lounge or sit patiently drawing zoo animal after zoo animal for him makes me so happy. So when Appleyard London got in touch asking if I’d like to try their flower delivery service for Grandparent’s Day on 4th October I jumped at the chance to brighten up their day.

Appleyard Harmony Flower Bouquet

My lucky grandparents have been in Sardinia for two weeks so I had the flowers delivered to my house on Monday morning and took them round later that evening. The postman knocked briskly on my door and handed me an enormous, very swanky looking cardboard box. After carefully unpacking it I was greeted with the most beautiful bunch of flowers. I’d chosen the ‘Harmony’ bouquet which is a scented bouquet of white freesia, lilac roses, purple trachelium with ornithogalum and avalanche roses. This bouquet comes in at £46 and has a free box of chocolates included. Personally, I think it’s a great choice if you want to send flowers to someone for a special occasion. You can also order next day flowers if you’re one of those last-minute, forgetful types ;)

Grandparents Day Harmony Bouquet from Appleyard LondonNanThe lovely people at Appleyard have given me discount code to share with you all too. Just type ‘BLOG33′ at the checkout to receive 33% off your bouquet (excludes the flowers-by-post range)

*The flowers were sent to me to review by Appleyard London but all opinions remain my own

End of the Road Festival 2015

Last weekend we went to End of the Road festival and literally had the best time ever. I’d only ever been to Leeds (2005) & Reading (2006) festivals (see embarrassing photos here) and End of the Road was a WORLD away from my experiences there. Reading & Leeds were scary. Enormous, very music-focused and to be quite honest, downright dangerous at times. End of the Road was completely chilled, with loads to see and do and it all felt a little bit magical.

I’ve tried my very best to keep my photos at a minimum! And I’ve tried not to include the other guys we went with too much as I know not everyone wants their life plastered over my blog but I still wanted to try and capture the feel of the time we had.

Although I knew a couple of bands playing the festival, there weren’t really that many that I was super excited about (except Future Islands!) and this made it quite nice because we weren’t constantly stressed out and rushing around trying not to miss anything. Which was just as well because you just can’t do that with kids!

We camped in family camping which was so chilled and during the day we could still hear the music from the main stage perfectly which was cool. Our mornings were spent drinking tea, eating bacon & egg sandwiches and chatting. (Massive thanks to the other guys who are seasoned campers/festival goers and had remembered to bring things like stoves, kettles and bacon).

Huxley with ladybird

We’d meander over to the main festival area around midday and mooch around between stages eating ice-cream and browsing the shops. Then we’d head back to camp around 5pm to make some food before heading back for some more music with the kids in their pyjamas, tucked up in the pushchairs with their ear defenders on.


On Friday we watched King Khan and the BBQ Show during the day and Tame Impala in the evening who were so much better live than I was expecting. Huxley fell asleep in the pushchair holding my hand at around 10pm and slept perfectly in the tent all night. Dream!

Woods stage End of the Road Festival 2015Sunset over family camping End of the Road Festival 2015Huxley

Saturday night was my absolute favourite. There was nobody playing that any of us were really fussed about so we spent the evening walking around the forest and came across the disco floor. With two 2-year-olds, you can imagine how much fun we had! We were there for hours and the kids were exhausted afterwards and fell asleep just in time for Sufjan Stevens. As it turned out, Sufjan was dreadful. Well, I say dreadful, I’m sure musically it was brilliant but it was just a bit too slow and dreary for a Saturday night and we were all in the mood for dancing.

Me-&-HuxLeaves at End of the Road Festival 2015EOTR festival bearRecording studio at End of the Road Festival 2015Lets Be Brave on a leaf End of the Road festival 2015Forest disco floor End of the Road festivalHuxley-on-disco-floor

The weather was totally glorious on Sunday. I kicked off the day with a cup of tea watching the sunrise over the camp while I waited for everyone else to stir. Nick & James had stayed out until 4am so they were a bit bleary-eyed when they eventually emerged from their tents. We packed up our tent and put all our stuff into the car as we weren’t staying that evening as we had to be in London the next day for an awards ceremony that we knew would also be a late night (2.30am we got home on Monday night!) Sunday saw Future Islands take the stage which was great fun. Huxley & Kip were running around all over the place kicking a giant inflatable balloon around (which I’m sure everyone around us LOVED). Unfortunately Future Islands clashed a bit with Mac Demarco who we also really wanted to see so we walked over to the Garden stage to catch the last bit of his set before grabbing some noodles and heading back to watch War on Drugs. By this point of the weekend we were all knackered from broken sleep in the tent and Huxley was just way over-tired so we ended up leaving the festival and heading home after a couple of songs because we just didn’t have the energy anymore! (One of the benefits of only living 20 minutes away!)

Sunrise over camping End of the Road festivalKids at End of the Road festivalTaking kids to End of the Road festivalHuxley festival Cawston Press juice boxNick-&-HuxMusical instruments in the forest End of the Road FestivalCircus tent end of the road festivalSunset at End of the Road festival 2015Jim-&-Nick2Sunset festivalHuxley at End of the Road FestivalSunset at End of the Road festival with kidsMac DeMarco Garden Stage End of the Road FestivalAnother great thing about End of the Road, and something we definitely didn’t make the most of this time around, was that they had SO much stuff for kids to do. There was a circus tent, clay modelling, family yoga, a little musical area, forest games and a cinema. If we go again next year we’ll definitely get our butts in gear a bit more and make the most of everything on offer.

All in all, it’s a festival I’d highly recommend, especially if you have kids, even if you’re not that fussed about the music. I’d love to go to Camp Bestival one year to see how it compares.

Breakfast at Bluegrass BBQ, High Wycombe

Gosh I’m so behind with all my blog posts! A couple of weeks ago we went to High Wycombe for the day to visit Nick’s brother and his wife. We got up early specifically to go for breakfast at Bluegrass BBQ in town. (Nick’s just featured them in an article he wrote for the Financial Times too). It was well worth it!

I’m not usually a sweet and savoury together girl but for some reason I was really craving bacon so I went for the baconana pancakes. They were delicious. Nick & Ant went for the Smokehouse plate and both said how amazing it was. Nick was particularly impressed with the hash browns.

Mandy-&-Huxley-at-breakfastBaconana pancakes at Bluegrass BBQ in High WycombeSmokehouse plate breakfast at Bluegrass BBQ in High Wycombe

It just so happened to be one of the hottest days of the year so Nick & Ant went off to the pub while Mandy and I went to the park with Huxley for ice-cream. The park there is called The Rye and it’s so lovely. It’s got a lido, a canal that you can row boats down, a metal kids play-park and a wooden adventure playground too. Huxley particularly enjoyed the trampoline and spent ages running around the wooden playground screaming his head off while I chased him.


Huxley is not good at sharing ice-cream. That look on his face is because I’d just taken a lick from the bottom to try and stop it dripping all over him. His little finger is out because he tries to stick it in my mouth so he can claim back the ice-cream I’ve just taken from him. Needless to say he ended up in a very sticky mess!

After that we walked to the cricket club to meet up with Nick & Ant again. It’s lovely being there while there’s a cricket match on as I love the quietness of it with people clapping softly to cheer their team on. It all seems frightfully British to me.

High Wycombe cricket club

That evening we had an enormous Chinese takeaway which was delicious and then hopped in the car and drove home to be greeted by the pouring rain!

This next bit is completely unrelated but I didn’t feel it warranted it’s own post so you’re getting two for the price of one here folks!

Zoe Karssen bat t-shirt & ripped boyfriend jeans

Tee: Zoe Karssen | Jeans: River Island (similar) | Shoes: Havaianas

On Sunday our local garden centre was doing breakfast for £2.47 so clearly we couldn’t miss out on that! It’s the amazing garden centre I wrote about a few weeks ago that has a play park and animals so it’s a really great place to take kids. We met up with Nick’s sister Neile and our nephew Hadley and our friends Lauren and Ben with our god-daughter Lexi.

HadleyHuxley-and-LexiThe kids had great fun looking at the pigs. But it didn’t take long for the wet, muddy ground to get the better of Huxley as he fell straight into a great big puddle. I couldn’t stop laughing at Lexi’s little face! She looked disgusted haha! Luckily, I’m well trained enough to know now that I need to take spare clothes EVERYWHERE at all times!

Packing for our first family festival

At the weekend we are taking the plunge and attending our first ever festival as a family. As much as I am a little daunted by this prospect, I’m also pretty excited. I haven’t been to a festival for nearly 10 years (my last was Reading festival back in 2006 – hello Pearl Jam!) so I’m looking forward to experiencing that festival ‘vibe’ again.

This time we’re going to End of the Road festival. It will be nice to experience one of the more low-key festivals as Reading was a bit too rowdy for me and we ended up leaving on the Sunday night as people were setting fire to tents and it was getting a bit scary.

Our original plan was to buy a tent at the start of summer and then do a couple of test runs in the garden and maybe venture for a night out in the New Forest or something just to get Huxley used to the idea of sleeping outside. However, with Nick breaking his leg and the weather this year being pretty poo, it hasn’t happened. Luckily for us, End of the Road is only about 20 minutes away so if the weather turns out to be horrendous or Huxley really isn’t getting on in the tent, we can at least drive home and sleep in our beds each night without it being the end of the world.

So, to tie in with our trip, I thought I’d do a little post about what we’ll be taking with us this year and if any of you seasoned campers/festival goers have any last minute advice about extra things I might need then please do let me know!

Festival essentials

1. Bin bags - Totally unglamorous I know but definitely the kind of essential item that I’m bound to forget!

2. Favourite toy - With no prior experience of camping, it’s going to be important that Huxley feels as safe and comfortable as possible. We used to send him to nursery with his favourite Gruffalo mouse and he’d walk around holding it all day.

3. Suncream – Because you can get burnt even when it’s cloudy. Suncream is especially important for kids as they burn much faster than adults.

4. Waterproof jacket – Because we live in England! And even if the weatherman said it was going to be sunny I wouldn’t trust them!

5. Inflatable bed – We got Huxley this inflatable Gruffalo bed at Christmas so that he had somewhere to sleep when we stayed round people’s houses or went on holiday as he had outgrown the travel cot that we previously had. Hopefully this way he’ll be a bit warmer as he’ll be raised off the ground and I know he’ll be excited to sleep in it again.

6. Ear defenders - Because little ears can get damaged by loud music.

7. Wellies – I’ll be rocking my pink chicken-print Joules wellies all weekend. A decent pair of wellies* are essential because again, England.

8. Antibac gel – Because toddlers touch EVERYTHING. And festival loos are proper rank.

So, there’s my list. It’s clearly not definitive of everything we’ll be taking along with us, but it’s the things that are high on my priority list. Seriously, please let me know if there’s something I’ve forgotten or haven’t considered. I’m going to be such an obvious newbie! (And if you’re attending End of the Road Festival and happen to spot us then please say hello! We’ll be the couple arguing and wrestling a toddler!)

*This post contains a collaborative link

Ellingham Show

At the weekend we went to the Ellingham Show again. (You can read last year’s Ellingham Show blog post here) I took a lot more photos of the show ground last year as it was much easier getting around then with Huxley not being able to walk and Nick not having a broken leg! It was much more hard work this year! Not to mention that it was about 30 degrees!

We had a really lovely day. My mum’s company sponsor the event so there’s a private tent with a bar, hog roast & ice-cream all day which makes it much more relaxing. My favourite part of the day was definitely getting to hold a chick & a duckling. We’re seriously considering getting ducks now.

Holding a chick at Ellingham ShowHolding a duckling at Ellingham ShowDuckling at Ellingham ShowBalloonsMinion balloon at Ellingham ShowEllingham Show horseSistersMy (half) sisters Charlotte & Ellie came along too because unfortunately their Gran died on Saturday morning & my dad is up in Kent looking after his mum and my stepmum had to go to the hospital to sort a load of stuff out.

Pigs at Ellingham ShowEllingham Show pigsOn Sunday we went to Barford Farm (again! See my last post on Barford Farm for more!) for more awesome ice-cream with our friends Lauren & Ben and our god-daughter Lexi. I love how well Lexi & Huxley play together despite being a year apart. We also went to a garden centre in Holt which has animals and a play park.

Barford Farm ice-creamHuxley-&-LexiStewarts Garden Centre Holt

They wanted to go and see the animals together and Lexi kept turning round and saying ‘no, don’t follow. You’re not coming’ haha but I couldn’t resist talking loads of photos while they were holding hands!

Pigs at Stewards Garden Centre Holt DorsetHolt garden centre pigsHux-&-LexiLexi-&-Huxley