21 August 2017

Fearne Cotton: "Being authentic and really honest is the most valuable thing you can do for your own sanity"

I had the pleasure of interviewing Fearne Cotton the other day. She is an English TV and radio presenter, who has presented programmes such as Top of the Pops, Celebrity Juice and Red Nose Day telethons. She is a busy lady, and alongside her regular charity work she also has her fingers in many pies, such as clothing collections, cookbooks, self help books, and even homeware ranges.

I got to interview Fearne Cotton at the launch of her new children's clothing collection, in collaboration with Boots Mini Club. After checking out the clothes, of which there are plenty of pictures here, I got chatting with her on her life and parenting, how to keep a work-life balance, on being a working mum, even Celebrity Juice, and of course, her new kidswear collection. It was really interesting to hear from another working mum, albeit with a very different life to myself. I've interviewed other television presenters before too, and it certainly is a world of its own! 

Fearne Cotton with Wave to Mummy blogger

What is your average day like?

Oh my god, I'm not sure if I even have one really, but my days always start the same way, with my son shouting "Mum!", really early. He's usually the first up. I'll be up cooking breakfast, getting everyone fed and ready for the day, and trying to feed my self  and get showered when I can. 

My days vary. Some days I might be at home all day with the kids which I love. Going to the park in the summer holidays, or baking or seeing friends. Other days I might be doing something like this or writing or filming or any of my other projects. Some days I might be working in the morning and then not in the afternoon, so I  have no routine at all. And which is kind of lovely. I have never been a massive fan of routine, I quite like it spontaneous every day. It just takes a lot of organising to make sure that the kids are OK and that I can go do my things, so that's the only downside.

You are a very busy woman. How do you balance your parenting with such a fast-paced lifestyle?

It is hard. The biggest change was really from Radio 1 because I didn't want to be away everyday from the kids. Being a working parent has to work for you. Some people want to go back to work full on and other people would prefer to not work as much and be at home more. I am just trying to find my own balance for this. It works quite well now. I am at work quite a bit but also at home quite a lot so I'm just trying to juggle it as best as I can. Also, my husband is either away a lot or at home a lot as well so we try to make sure it all works diary wise and keep it all organised. It is definitely hard to balance and I think every working parent would say the same really. 

Do you have any tips for other working mums?

I think it would be just to not beat yourself up for not doing your best all the time. When you are at work you feel like you are not being the best mum, and when you are with your kids you worry you are falling behind with your work. Just go easy on yourself and don't put pressure on yourself. No one else is putting that pressure on you, it is all an internal battle. Just be kind to yourself really.

Fearne Cotton presenting her new kids clothing range with Boots

fearne cotton boots kids clothing range

black bobble beanie from fearne cotton boots clothing range

You seem to have a very organic and balanced lifestyle. How do you balance that with working in a really fast-paced industry like you do?

It is definitely strange as how I like to live my life is completely opposite from the way my industry works and operates. I definitely try to apply my own life mantras to work and try and keep it as calm as I can. But also, every now and again I really like embracing the madness of it all and diving in it, because I know when I get home it will be nice and simple there. We don't have a particularly bizarre lifestyle in any way. We like to do normal things, like go to the park, bake and cook. When you keep everything simple and very chilled out at home, all this other craziness seems more manageable. But yes, these are two very different worlds that coexist.

Has being in the entertainment industry changed the way you parent or the decisions you make for your children?

No, not at all. The only thing I've been conscious about has been not putting them out there in the media as well. If they want to do it one day off their own back that's absolutely fine, that's their own decision to make but it hasn't changed the way I parent in any way. I go to work and when I come home I'm just a mum doing my thing and I keep them very separate and I try not to mix it. My kids know I go to work and say "Have a great day, bye!" but when I come back I'm back to being a mum again. So I keep them very separate, these two worlds.

If your kids did want to go into the same line of work as you, what advice would you give them? 

I guess it would be just to keep being them. There is pressure to be a different version of yourself or try to emulate someone else in the industry, whereas I would say always just be you. The people that are writing about your life and people that like you will gravitate towards you because you are being real. Being authentic and really honest is the most valuable thing you can do for your own sanity but also for doing projects that are meaningful. So my advice would be just to be them and stick to what they believe is right, and not be influenced by everyone else around them.

white t shirt with sequin star from fearne cotton boots mini club range

clothing rack with sample clothes from boots mini club

birds motif t-shirt from fearne cotton kids collection

So, about your TV work. You are a host on the TV show Celebrity Juice. Has there ever been any game on the show where you have said "Nope, not doing that!"? 

Yeah, definitely there's been a few where Holly and I have both said "Absolutely not". They are usually something that involves us getting dressed up in a stupid outfit or something we just feel uncomfortable doing. We're game for most things and we throw ourselves in to most situations, and we don't take ourselves seriously at all, but there have been some games that felt just too far. It has happened maybe three times over the course of 17 series. One was where they wanted us to be in a hospital bed and pretend that we were giving birth to someone else and we would have fake legs up and a head would pop out. We were like "No thanks, been there and done that in real life!". So nothing particularly incriminating, just things that you are like "No, not happening!". 

Talking about your collaboration with Boots, how did you come about working with them?

It's kind of serendipitous because I've been wanting to do something like this for a while, since becoming a mum really. I've had a clothing range for women previously so doing something for kids was always a pipe dream. Boots Mini Club were also looking to work with someone else in a collaborative manner so we were both looking actively and had the same agenda. It has been really easy because of that. We were both on the same page and wanting the same thing out of it and we both had similar ideas to what we thought would work. It has been so lovely working with them. They have been so lovely and trusting but also giving and teaching me on the way. They have also been really happy to hear what I like and what influences I love, so it has been a real lovely easy-going relationship.

leopard print harem pants from fearne cotton kids clothing collection

What kind of practical input did you have in the collection?

I've been there since the conceptional stages and we have met up every couple of months. I've been through it, from the very first meeting of what we want to do here and how we want this to work to then colour palettes, shapes and sizes, to how affordable it would be, to looking at samples, changing the samples, to looking at new samples... I've been there for every bit. So it is something you do all year around, this collaboration relationship. I wouldn't want to do anything in any area of my career without feeling it had that authenticity and also being real. I don't want to put my name into things I don't believe in or be part of projects like that, so it is really important that I am there for every bit of the journey really.

If you had to choose one item from the collection, what would it be and why?

I would say probably the leopard print harem pants for girls, or they could be for boys too. They are just a dream pair of trousers, so comfortable and easy to put on kids. I love them as well, I've got an adult size pair and they're amazing. I love that print and they just go with everything, the cute little top, a jacket, a sweater. They are going to be worn to death. My daughter will wear them until they have holes in. For me they are at a great price point, great design, cute little yellow draw-sting tag, on-trend. They are everything that's going on in fashion world but they're accessible and easy to wear, and they encapsulate what I was trying to get the whole collection to be.

Fearne Cotton interview with Wave to Mummy


So, there you go. Fearne Cotton is a busy working mum with little routine, but who balances that out with keeping a simple and relaxed home life. She's game for most things, but Celebrity Juice has had her backing off a couple of times. She likes to keep it real and authentic, and loved getting properly involved in the design of the Boots Mini Club Fearne Cotton collection.

As I went to the launch where I also interviewed Fearne, I got a couple of preview items from the collection too. Great quality (as Boots Mini Club clothes always are), and I liked the little practical elements like a slightly longer back and good stitching on decorations. The collection over all was very trendy and now, but also wearable and practical. My daughter especially loved the T-shirt with a sequin star she received at the launch and I've got my eyes on a teal dress with a print motif, as soon as it comes in the shops!

What would you have asked Fearne Cotton?  What do you think of the collection?

18 August 2017

Our family visits lavender fields for the first time

A couple of years ago I spotted that summertime visits to lavender fields were a thing, especially if you are a blogger. Around late June my social media feeds would turn purple and flowery, with kids frolicking amongst lavender beds looking all serene and joyful. So naturally I wanted to drag my long-suffering husband and our most-definitely-not-serene fournado for a photo session to the nearest lavender fields to us. One hour drive away.

You can imagine how that conversation went, but suffice to say since I am here writing this post and sharing these pictures justice (or rather, me!) prevailed!

girl at lavender and wheat fields at hitchin

hitchin lavender wheat and lavender fields

dad and daughter at hitching lavender

dad and daughter smiling at lavender fields

beetle on a lavender flower

dad and daughter picking lavender

little girl cutting lavender

butterfly on a lavender flower bush

Some top tips for visiting lavender fields: Little girl holding a lavender bouquet

And to be honest, the trip was actually rather nice. We went to Hitchin Lavender Fields, which are the closest lavender fields to us in North London. It was gorgeously fragrant, and very very pretty and our daughter spent a long time speaking about how much she enjoyed picking lavender. My husband got quite into it too. At Hitchin you pay £5 per adult to get in and you get a paper bag and scissors and can take as much lavender as fits in the bag. We took loads… so much so that we made lavender bouquets as an end-of-year gifts for all 11 of nursery staff members, and we still had plenty to spare! We drank some lavender lemonade before retreating back home in a sleepy daze – the little one actually fell asleep in the car!

It was predictably busy over the weekend, and I had to try all my might to get those perfect shots of just our family in the picture. There was lots of cropping and strategic placing of heads in the frame, so the dreaded “other people” would be either cut out or blocked out. In the end I was rather pleased with what I got, considering how many people there actually were as you can see in some of these pictures…  

Picking lavender at Hitchin Lavender: some top tips

Picking lavender at Hitchin Lavender: some top tips

mum and daughter picking lavender at hitchin lavender

lavender field rows

mum and daughter picking lavender

mum and daughter at hitchin lavender, smiling

little girl standing on a lavender field

little girl walking on a lavender field

smiling little girl on a lavender field

If you are planning on visiting lavender fields yourself I would say be prepared. The bushes can be scratchy and there are lots of bees. Long trousers or jeans are likely to be most comfortable. There are lots and lots of bees, and the amount of them came as a bit of a surprise for me. Husband got stung once, but generally speaking they are quite OK if you just gently push past them. The photography can be gorgeous, but as everyone and their uncle loves lavender fields, you best get there either very very early or very very late for best photographic opportunities. Lunchtime is when the hordes descent.

It is nice just to walk amongst the flowers and breathe in the smell, but if you are allowed to pick them, go for the ones with fully formed buds which haven’t yet opened – those are the most fragrant. It takes about a week for them to dry after which you can use them in a variety of different crafts. Our lavender buds have now dried but we haven’t yet done anything with them. Would you have any ideas what to do with them?

mum dad and daughter smiling family portrait at lavender fields

Have you visited lavender fields yourself? What did you think?

9 August 2017

The brightest pink shirt: kids outfit of the day

This little lady loves her skirts and dresses. There have been so many times I have tried to persuade her to wear trousers, because it has been cold, or because it would just look better, or be more practical, and after a all-mighty paddy, I have relented. Once again. For she is a dressy frilly glittery girly girl, who loves her pink and hates trousers, and will not wear them. And if it is necessary to wear trousers when the mood is not right, you will certainly hear of it. The only time I've had her go to school crying was during a cold rainy day, when she was forced to wear her uniform trousers instead of her uniform dress. 

The brightest pink shirt: kids outfit of the day

girl in bright pink Joules shirt in park

It has been quite interesting seeing her express more and more of her opinions on her outfits. We have a very different style, her and me. While I would rather dress her up in preppy and adult-like clothing (think a slightly trendier version of what Princess Charlotte might wear), she would rather go for the most neon brightest and sparkliest version she can find. Sometimes, quite honestly, it is a bit ghastly. And there is no turning her head. On days when practical measures have demanded it, there have been a few shouting matches, and a few temper tantrums, and attempted reasoning, usually futile... 

When I had my baby, I admit, I was pretty excited about being able to doll her up in all these cute, adorable outfits, dresses, skirts, jeans, shorts, all kinds. I was picturing muted colours, lots of white, blue, some brown tweed, maybe a bit of sunshine yellow to pop the outfits. Knitted cardigans with fair isle prints. Tasteful flower motifs and embroidery. 

girl holding a leaf on her forehead

girl in a pink shirt in park with a leaf

Then, she grew up. And now it is on her terms only. So when I go shopping I try and pick the things I know she likes. I look at the cutesy little bows and trendy little jeans longingly and skip hop straight to the pink aisle and try and spot anything that has a bunny, a puppy, or perhaps Elsa or Anna on it. 

And of course, her outfit choices are pretty darn cute and I do love them even if it not quite to my taste, it's just not what I had pictured her wardrobe to be like. These baby pink shoes she picked herself from Clarks, because they have bunnies on them and as she put it at the store, "I love bunnies!". She matched them with her baby pink Little My socks because she likes Moomin too. The shirt-skirt combo is from Joules, one of her favourite outfits because well, it is bright pink, there is a flower, and even the skirt has some matching pink accents to it.  It is a cute outfit, even if her posing with a leaf on her forehead is a bit strange. She has taken to doing that recently - I believe it is meant to be some sort of a princess decoration...

girl in a pink shirt and blue skirt standing in a park

baby pink canvas shoes with bunnies on them

girl sitting on grass in park

girl holding a leaf on her forehead
Canvas shoes Clarks (Gracie Pip) / pink shirt by Joules / skirt Joules 

I do wonder how I will feel about her outfit choices in about ten years... Unfortunately I remember what I was like at that age. I went through some very strange style phases and I am sure my mother was shaking her head behind my back! 

What kind of outfits do your kids like?

31 July 2017

How did July 2017 go for our family?

As ever, at the end of the month I share a quick summary of what has been happening in our lives in the past month. July has been a rather active one, and we have been outdoors a lot. It has been lovely to go to a pick your own, and to lavender fields, and the beach, and it feels like nearly every weekend we have been out there somewhere. And I hope August will be as outdoorsy for us too!

We went to the lavender fields because it was one of those things I have wanted to do for ages, ever since seeing other bloggers share their stunning lavender field family shoots... With a fournado in tow I didn't manage to capture those visually amazing family shots many do, but they were quite funny nonetheless!  

family at a lavender field smelling flowers

This July I have loved:
  • Lavender fields! We took a trip down to Hitchin Lavender because well, my social media feeds have been purple whole of July and blogger see, blogger do. 
  • The beach! We went on a beach near to London at the beginning of July. I've probably said it so many times here but I just love the seaside and if there is anywhere I could live, it would be by a beach. 
  • Photography - the new locations have got me excited about photography again and I've taken a ridiculous amount of pictures I need to go through and edit. 
  • Sweet and savoury summer salads. When the heat wave was at its worst, I didn't feel like eating anything other than salads, so I made my old favourite - a strawberry-feta salad. It is amazing, seriously, and you should try it. I also tried a new version with raspberry and goat cheese, and am planning to test melon salads too.  
  • The end of nursery. It really is an end of an era and it feels like such a big step, and I loved to look back on the year and see how far my little girl has grown. 

Wave to Mummy family at lavender fields

My daughter Aili has loved:
  • Having a headteachers award for her good learning in phonics!
  • Drawing lots and lots and lots.
  • Going to the lavender fields and playing with lavender twigs.
  • Pretending to get married to daddy. 
  • Her new sand and water table, and burying her toys in the sand. 
  • Galloping with hew hobby horse and pretending to be a cow girl. She also likes to dress the hobby horse in a nice dress. 
  • Starting a swimming course and a theatre summer school!

Parents kissing and a child face-palming

My husband has loved:
  • Rugby. He has joined a rugby club so a night or two a week he is getting his mud on. There have been many many shopping trips to get appropriate gear now! 
  • Painting finishing touches in our house - it is nice to see the final bits and bobs being tidied up here!
  • Cooking with our daughter, and trying to get her to try new things. So far, she has had a half an orange and a small bite of a corn cob!
  • Completing a couple of bigger design projects, like building websites for his clients. 
  • And also going to the lavender fields, and pick your own farm!

What have you loved this month?

29 July 2017

The end of an era: the nursery year

I cannot believe my child is old enough to go to school now. Just a moment ago she was a little baby, learning to walk, learning to talk, babbling... And now she has been through nursery, and going to school. Gosh, it makes me feel really old. 

The first day she just skipped through the nursery doors without a backwards glance, leaving me feeling a bit distraught. In fact, the whole journey to school she was pulling us along saying she wanted to go there quicker, she wanted to get there already. She was so excited about starting at the nursery and finally making and playing with friends, rather than boring old mummy and daddy. 

The second day she banged her head and we had to fill an incident report. The school photos were taken on the third or the fourth day, with a little dent and a bruise in her forehead. We have a permanent reminder of the incident now, as it left a small scar in her hairline.  

School picture of a girl

After the first week I asked her what did they do at the nursery. She responded: "Playing and playing and painting and cooking". 

And so the weeks went by, playing, and painting, and cooking. We were told that she especially enjoyed dress-up and outdoors play. She also loved playing with the water and sand tables, but never have the nursery teachers seen a child that disliked getting her clothes mucky or wet as much as she did. She loved doing crafts as well, and we have a huge haul of paintings and drawings that have been given to us. 

This past year has been a a whirlwind of growth for her, both physical and emotional. She started as a little girl, excited to go to nursery. She went to the school nursery Monday to Friday mornings, and then to a Montessori nursery on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. She made many many new friends, and loved her time in both nurseries. At the end of the year, she was a big girl, as she likes to remind us constantly. "Do-a by myself! I'm a big girl" is a regular phrase we hear now.  

girl with a medal at school sports day

girl smiling to the camera

She has done so well this past year. She made many many friends, and was apparently quite the popular girl. She was particularly kind and gentle with younger children, and many times would try and comfort her friends if they were upset over something. 

She learned to write her name early on, and could identify all the letters. She learned her phonics so well she could sound out and write three-letter words, like dog or bag. This earned her a headteacher's award at the end of the year. We parents got a special invitation to attend the assembly, and at the assembly she got a golden certificate from the head. 

Her Montessori teachers were also very impressed with her learning and told us that there were things she had learned that wouldn't be learning goals until she would be in her first year in school. Her teacher told us she had learned about geometry too, understanding what cones, cylinders and rectangles were, something also quite advanced. 

The year went past so fast, and our little girl thankfully loved nursery and grew so much during the year. And now our intelligent big little girl, girl who loves learning, is waiting to start her big school. 

And she cannot wait to get there. 

How did the nursery years go for you?

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