29 June 2016

Being a EU-UK family post-referendum: How do I feel?


6AM on the day of the voting results we were lazying in bed, expecting it to be a close call for 'Remain'. After glancing at the count we were shocked. And stunned. And concerned.

You were more likely to vote to Leave if you were old, a northerner and/or educated to a GCSE level. You were more likely to vote Remain if you were young, based in the south and a graduate. Most of our friends are in the latter categories. Our social media bubbles loudly proclaimed the message of remaining and the benefits of belonging to something bigger than your national country. But 51.9% of the voters in United Kingdom thought differently.

The reasons for voting 'Leave' range from xenophobic knee-jerk reactions to hearing too much Polish in your neighbourhood to complex considerations of national identity and the ideology of sovereignty. It seems too easy to condemn the vote to leave just as a representation of xenophobia, and I don't really want to believe it can be that simplistic. But so many of the televised debates, the conversations overheard on the streets, the countless newspaper articles I've been ploughing through have arrived that ugly undertone. Let alone the racist and xenophobic incidents that have resurfaced in the immediate days after the vote. It feels like the question posed and answered at the referendum was primarily immigration. And as an immigrant that makes me feel unwelcome.

I am not welcomed in this country.

Our family is not welcomed in this country.

Not anymore, not after the vote to leave.

When I look around my European friends I see highly educated, highly paid, multilingual, multinational cosmopolitans. Who are free to really go anywhere they want, but choose to be in United Kingdom. When I see a Polish plumber, or a Romanian construction worker I don't see a drain on the British society. I see someone who upped their sticks, works hard and tries to improve their lot. I see people that give more than they take. The message I hear from my European friends is the same across the board. We are not welcome here. Maybe we should go. Is this really what United Kingdom voted for? Because if it is, it is hurtful. 

Oh I am not overly concerned for our personal situation. Yes, it might be more expensive for us now to visit my home country, and yes, at worst I might have to go through a time-consuming and expensive naturalisation process. Our children are entitled to both European Union and United Kingdom passports. It is not like we physically will need to go anywhere, unless we want to of course. But I am worried about what this will mean for United Kingdom, the British society and the children that will grow up in it. 

I am old enough to remember my country joining the European Union. Not that I had a vote on the matter, I was still a kid, but I grew up to feel European. My identity is first and foremost European. I travelled, studied, lived and loved in Europe. And I feel sad the Europe and the opportunities it offers have become smaller. We don't know yet what the future will bring, but it will be our children that will have to live with the consequences.

And I sincerely hope the adults of United Kingdom made the right choice. 

24 June 2016

Colourful kids fashion previews for spring and summer 2017 from Bubble London

Kids clothes usually divide into two broad camps - the preppy camp and the colourful camp. I love both really, but at a recent children's wear trade show I specifically checked on the colourful camp. I got to see and photograph (some) new bright and fun spring and summer 2017 children's wear collections hitting the shops in January. Last year I went to the same show and did an update on a few of my favourite up and coming  British children's fashion designers

Collectively, walking around and looking at the collections you could see that colour was going to be again a big thing. Unsurprisingly nautical motives, sea creatures, and all that you often associate with spring and summer were there. There was plenty of bright primary colours, however, it almost seemed like there was a bit of a muted edge to the primary colours with a bit of toning down. Pastels were also looking like they are again up and coming. Organic is again really popular, with many brands being certified by GOTS to be of the highest standards. 

So here are a few of my pictures from Bubble London. 

Olly & Arya - a totally NEW brand, launching in 2016. Stylised photographs digitally printed on bamboo, tencel and cotton fabrics, and some simple and homely knitwear. I thought this brand was lovely, they had some very unique clothing, and I especially loved the dinosaur jersey and I think any kid would go nuts for it. I seem to remember the original photograph is from the film Jurassic Park!

Olly & Arya t rex dinosaur shirt

Olly & Arya flower skirt

Olly & Arya knit wear

Småfolk - Danish brand that I have also associated with strong retro colours is going a lot more pastel this time around. They were especially proud of the fact that they are now certified by GOTS, as organic textiles is something they feel strongly about. Pastel and prints - I like it! 

småfolk ss17 pastel colour collection

småfolk ss17 spring summer 2017 collection

Lilly + Sid - such a huge favourite here in UK, they do just the cutest designs, for both girls and boys. Usually the stuff available for boys is a bit bland, but not at Lilly + Sid - they have really fun designs for both genders. I picked up that there were a fair bit of mermaids for girls and octopi for boys this coming summer. 

lilly + sid ss17 collection

lilly + sid mermaid girls collection spring summer 2017 ss17

lilly + sid octopus boys collection spring summer 2017 ss17

Tiny Trolls of Norway - I am a big fan of Scandinavian brands and they do the practical outer wear the best. Like they say in pretty much everywhere in Scnadinavia, there is no bad weather, just bad clothes. Tiny Trolls of Norway do lots of high-quality winter suits, overalls and rainwear, plus of course fleeces and proper outdoorsy gloves for kids, and are now moving to make it big here in UK too. I especially loved the dusty pink and dusty purple rain suits - gorgeous colours. 

tiny trolls of norway outdoor wear collection

tiny trolls of norway rain suits for girls

tiny trolls of norway outdoor accessories for girls

Toby tiger - I have to confess, I had never heard of this brand even if they are quite established, but I loved the colours so was drawn to their stand. Still bold primary colours, but also pastel edge to them. I loved the colourful elephant prints that remind me of Elmer the Elephant. 

toby tiger ss17 spring summer 2017 collection

toby tiger ss17 colourful spring summer 2017 collection

Unfortunately I didn't have time to pop by down all the stalls, and some stalls I did pop down didn't want any pictures of their closely guarded designs published ahead of embargo, but I can tell you, it is looking nice and colourful out there in spring! A few other nice colourful brands I saw were Kite, Hatley, Frugi and mini Melissa, but for one reason or another didn't have a chance to photograph their stuff. 

What did you think of the collections? Looking forward to the spring and summer fashion for kids?

13 June 2016

Funny things my 3 year old daughter has been saying lately

In the last month or so my daughter has been having lots of proper conversations with us. I am loving her chatty nature, and oh gosh, is she getting talkative! Every day it seems she learns some new words, and every day it seems she is getting better and better at expressing herself. She is quite humorous too, making little jokes. Sometimes, when we scold her for behaving naughty she gets quite cross too, and tells us to "leave me alone" or "stop behaving like that".

Here are a few of the priceless conversations we have had with our daughter recently.

While in town:
Hubby took our three year old daughter to town the other day. While there, she played with another little girl who had her baby sister with her. As they walked back, she started a conversation.
"Girl had a baby sister."
"Yes, she did, that was nice wasn't it?"
On the toilet:
"I did a daddy poo. 
Daddy poo is BIG and very stinky. Ha ha!
Daddy poo is so stinky it needs a shower.
It has three eyes. "

When daddy asked what she does with mummy:
"We go on the bus, we lick ice cream, we dance."

Talking about parental differences:
"Daddy has a little bottom. I have a little bottom. Mummy has a BIG bottom. Ha ha!"

(Yes, well, thank you. Suppose that's what taking the bus does to you. Like they say, out of the mouths of babes... )

What funny things have your kids said?

9 June 2016

Our magical day at the Moomin World, Finland

One of my favourite Finnish attractions for children is the Moomin World. If you love Moomins (and let's face it, who doesn't!) you will love the Moomin World. It is situated on a little island in Naantali, Finland, and it is one giant theme park dedicated wholly to the Moomins and their lifestyle. 

We visited Moomin World last summer and we would love to go back again. We had a short but magical day experiencing the Moomin life, meeting the characters, visiting their living quarters and playing outdoors.

moomin world finland map

moomin world finland street

moomin world finland muumilaaksontie

moomin world finland little my and snifkin

moomin world finland moomin watching the show

moomin world finland hugging moominmamma

My daughter absolutely loved it. She was two and a bit, and had been a Moomin fan pretty much since birth (it may have something to do with mummy being a Finn and all...). As soon as she saw Moominmamma she started shouting "Mamma, mamma, mamma!", ran up to her for a hug and just would not let go. Nevermind the other kids, she would not let go. She must have hugged Moominmamma for five to ten minutes, before she spotted another Snorkmaiden, and jumped over to cuddle her. And as she spotted more characters, she went over, grabbed their hands and pulled them over to her for another hug. She really loved it, and she was in her element. 

Moomin World is not really an amusement park, it doesn't have any rides or garish game halls. It is more like a lifestyle park, where you get to enjoy the Moomin lifestyle and meet the characters. 

The main attraction is probably the Moominhouse, which is really like a tower with lots of things and other artefacts Moomins own. You can visit the houses of other characters too, like Snufkin's campsite, Hemulen's house, or Sniff's summer cottage. There are other attractions like this too such as Moominpappa's boat, Moomintroll's house or Snork's work shop, and there are shows, short musical stories and proper theatre too.

moomin world finland moominhouse

moomin world finland moominhouse inside

moomin world finland moominhouse inside kitchen

moomin world finland moominhouse inside bedroom

moomin world finland

moomin world finland hugging moominpappa

moomin world finland hugging snork maiden

Mostly, there are lots of things to play with and many places to go explore outdoors. I loved the nature trail, where we could pop by the Hattivatten's cave and hear the Groke growl. There were also many places to play in, climb, and you could even doodle a bit with the characters sitting outside their cottages. I also loved the Whileaway park with lots of cushions and beanbags where you can have a nap, and the Barefoot Trail where you can kick off your shoes and let your feet explore the sensations. You can spend the whole day at the Moomin World, eat, go for a swim, have a chat with the characters, and just walk around and soak the atmosphere. 

At the end of the day we stopped by the Moominhouse for another hug with the characters and a few more pictures. What a wonderful day!

moomin world finland edvard the booble dragon

moomin world finland moominpappas boat

moomin world finland empty

Top tips

  • If you struggled to get good pictures of the Moomins or give them enough hugs, stay until the closing time. From 5:30PM onwards the Moomins are outside the Moomin House waving goodbyes, and most people have left. You get great photo/hug opportunities. 
  • The food is your average amusement park food. If that doesn't float your boat bring a picnic (plenty of beautiful places to eat out at the Moomin World), or pop in by Naantali Old Town.
  • Moomin World is situated on an island, so can get windy and cold - bring a light jacket! 
  • There is a beach to swim so if it is sweltering, don't forget your swimming costume (or pop in by the shop and get a Moomin one!)
  • Don't miss Old Town Naantali, and have a look around before or after the Moomin World adventure. Or maybe even stay for two days in Naantali, and pop in by Moomin World again or sail to the adventure island Väski (great for slightly older kids, 6-12 years old). 

moomin world finland moomin family waving good bye

Have you ever been to the Moomin World and what did you think?

3 June 2016

My Monthly Roundup - May 2016

As most months, the past May seems to have disappeared in a blur.Here are a few of my Instagram pictures to act as a reminder.

Like I mentioned in my last round-up for the month of April, we were guests at a wedding where my daughter was a flower girl. She managed to get a black eye right before the wedding and was sporting it right through the first week of May. It was a big'un. A real proper bruiser. 

She got the black eye soon after we had landed at Heathrow, after our trip to Finland. We were walking down the corridors, her pulling her Trunki bus suitcase after herself. She was calling her Trunki her "racing bus". She started running around and I was telling her off. She then spotted a middle-aged woman and started trying to catch her. As I shout "Stop running!" she shouts back "I race old lady!"

She then swoops in front of this "old lady", cutting her off and forcing the woman to stop dead in her tracks. Triumphantly she looks back to see if the woman is catching up to her, and as she is trying to run and look back over her shoulder she trips and hits her head smack bang on a big metal pole. She was wailing and asking me to get her a doctor. A woman doctor and a man doctor. I suppose the pain was so great one doctor just wouldn't do. Poor thing.  

I love her endless imagination though. She loves playing imaginary games. Our staircase is her yellow castle, and she sits on the steps wearing her fairy wings, princess skirt and a crown. She sometimes packs her girls (her dolls) on a bus (a blow-up mattress) and drives to the forest (our sofa). I am often a princess too, and she magic's me a white hair, a blue dress and a blue crown, just like Elsa. She likes to be Anna.

While May has had a lot of joy in it, is has had a lot of sorrow too. The first week of May I learned my grandmother passed away. I was glad that I had had a chance to spend some time with her just two weeks prior to her death and say good bye but it was still a shock. Well, it always is, isn't it, when a loved one dies. She was an important figure in my life. I had spent many a summer and a holiday at my grandparents. 

The funeral was beautiful. I have never been to a funeral service before so I didn't know what to expect. Many tears were shed, but also many laughs were shared. We grieved for her, but we also celebrated the life, the experiences and the joys we shared with her. We shared happy and funny memories at the wake. I shared my memories of some of the clothes she made for me, and how we used to bake together, making fat men out of buns sticking raisins as their eyes. She taught me the technique on how to make perfectly round buns, and the buns I make after nearly thirty years are still ever-so-round and perfectly shaped.

Walking in the bright sunshine outside the chapel felt strange. You sort of expect the day to be drizzly and rainy, almost as if crying with you, but it was beautiful and sunny. The weather was glorious. Looking at the bright blue sky and feeling the sun rays on your skin made it perhaps easier to remember that life continues. She will always be with us, carried in our hearts, and while it will always hurt, she goes on living in us. Looking at my daughter, who is named after my grandmother is a living, breathing, bouncing and loud reminder of that. 

So there, joy and sadness. That was my May. What happened during your May?

(Btw, I think I will be taking a little break from #mymonthlyroundup linky for now for various reasons. I have enjoyed writing these posts and sharing my Instagram pictures though so will keep sharing these little life update posts every once in a while!)

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