31 August 2016

Our first ever camping holiday as a family

I have never been a camper. I am more of a luxuriously soft pillows, breakfast in bed, and a five star hotel type of a girl. But then I married someone who was practically raised in a campervan. And there was no getting away from us having a family camping holiday.

For me camping pretty much equalled freezing cold nights, uncomfortable sleeping bags, and sore backs after several hours of interrupted sleep. And then my husband announced we were going on a camping holiday in Folkestone. With or without me.

You can imagine my enthusiasm.

camping and caravaning club folkestone toddler sitting on a bench

camping and caravaning club folkestone camp site overlooking the seafront

our 4 man tent at the camping and caravaning club folkestone site

camping and caravaning club folkestone wall mural with a brown bunny

camping and caravaning club folkestone scenery over the sea

toddler with a bike helmet

boy holding a black beetle bug

warren folkestone warning sign about falling rocks

warren folkestone concrete structures and white cliffs of dover

mummy kissing daughter at warren folkestone

concrete beach wave breakers and neon orange sneakers

warren folkestone rocky sand beach

We arrived to the campsite, and while it was not my type of a holiday (my type = hotel) the scenery was gorgeous, right by the seaside and I figured, well, it can't be all that bad. It could even be pleasant. Well...

The first night was a catastrophe. Our inflatable mattress failed, so we mostly slept as if in a hammock, slowly crushing each other awake. Not to mention that the summer blanket we brought from home was no match to the freezing breeze of English camping. I wore a jacket and two pairs of trousers and a onesie. I was still cold.

After several consequential upgrades to our equipment (camper beds, three extra sleeping bags, and warm socks) the last two nights were relatively comfortable...

That was thankfully just us adults though. My daughter had a new blow up mattress, a Pat Patrol branded camping bed, she wore her flimsy pajamas, and she has really never ever slept any better than what she did in the tent. She absolutely loved it. She was out the whole night, and very comfortable and warm. She repeatedly told me how she loves sleeping in a tent, and how she loves camping, awww.

What we really enjoyed about camping was the outdoors. We loved the sun, the sea and the sand. We swam several times in the freezing cold waves, and we walked along the sea front, enjoying the salty air. We ate freshly caught seafood at the harbour, and enjoyed fish and chips for dinner on a beach. We went to Dover Castle and we wandered around the Folkestone artisan shops. Mostly though, we were outside. In the sunshine, by the seaside, and loved it.

Our daughter loved riding her bike up and down the campsite road, and running around like a headless chicken. She loved swimming in the sea, bobbing along with mummy and daddy, pretending to be Zuma (from Paw Patrol) rescuing us from the water. She loved being at the beach and making sand castles. Most of all, she enjoyed spending time as a family, and with her extended family, chatting with nanny and gran dad, playing with her cousins, and spending time with her auntie and uncle.

folkestone sandy beach and people swimming in the sea

mummy and daughter cuddling while standing in the sea

toddler entering the sea at folkestone sandy beach

people swimming in the sea with a sail boat in the distance

toddler in a red bathing suit wading into the sea

toddler building a sand castle

two sand castles and folkestone sandy beach in the background

mother and daughter holding hand on a beach

toddler walking on a sandy beach

mum cuddling daughter in the water at the seaside

toddler testing the water with their toes

toddler smiling and wearing a zebra swim suit

father and daughter holding a toy camper van

two fish and chips portions

dad eating fish and chips with toddler at the beach in the evening

Would I go camping again?

Well, maybe. I can certainly see the appeal. Despite some awful nights, it was wonderful to fall asleep to the waves splashing in the distance. It was wonderful to finally see all the stars, even the tiny ones the light pollution in London hides away. We came back incredibly tanned and feeling like we really relaxed. Away from all the civilisation (ha ha, we were totally out of reach by phone and 4g) we didn't really get to do much anything other than be. And that felt good.

So we shall see what we get up to next summer - it might be camping again! 

27 August 2016

Happy 2 year blogiversary Wave to Mummy!

The first post I wrote for my blog Wave to Mummy was two and a bit years ago. It has been a great ride. I've met some fun people, worked with some interesting companies, and learned so so so much about social media, SEO, and other internet content creation strategy thingymagickies I feel I could do it for a career. I suppose it is always good to have an alternative skillset, even if you are well established in your career. You never know!  

If I am honest, I often feel like I just don't have enough the time to do all that blogging malarkey very well. I work fulltime, and commuting to work takes another couple of hours a day, Monday to Friday. At the end of the day I am spent and can't form legible sentences to save my life. In the morning I want nothing more than  those few more (tens of) minutes of snoozing. Weekends are pretty full on trying to catch up and have fun and meet friends and all. I do have a swanky new phone now though  which will be useful for blog post drafting whenever I am not pretending to be a sardine in a smelly shaking tin can (read that as commuting in the rush hour tube).

So, while I would love to blog more I find it difficult to find the time. And if you do blog, you know that it takes tons and tons of time. It all adds up. I have so many ideas, and so many things I want to write about.  And tons of video material I want to edit. I've tried my hand at vlogging and I loved it and I loved the creative side of editing and would love to learn more about it. 

I am not sure what I want the third year of my blog to bring. I am planning a proper refresh of this blog, so in the next couple of months I am hoping to have a prettier and more professional looking blog platform. Watch this space, I've already started my discussions with a designer!

I want to learn more about photography, improve both my skills and upgrade my equipment, perhaps get some new lenses. I have loads of photography books bought but still currently unread. I have, or would like to think I have a decent eye for composition, but I'd love to learn more about picture dynamics and design aspects like colour and movement. I'd like to finally start using my camera on a manual mode, as opposed to semi-manual, and I would love to get a new portrait lense. 

I also want to improve those pesky rankings I really haven't had much time to dedicate to - a bit more readers, a bit more social media followers and a bit higher rankings across the board. My current combined social media follower numbers are around 3,000, and my blog ranks usually somewhere amongst the top 250-500 parenting blogs as according to Tots100. Altogether I have published 209 posts, this being the 210th. 

Blogging has been fun. Some of the blogging highlights I've had last year have included being selected as one of Butlin's blogger ambassadors. I haven't gone on a holiday with them yet though! I was also selected as Trunki ambassador, a company I absolutely loved when I first saw them on Dragons Den. 

I have also developed some long term partnerships, such as with Tidy Books, and collaborated with Tidy Books twice and most likely soon a third time. Not to mention all the other great companies I have worked with like Huggies  (on potty training expert tips) or Wayfair (on decorating our daughters bedroom according to Montessori principles). There has been some great partnerships, but also fabulous events, like being treated to a performance by a prima ballerina  at an event for Boots No7 Lift & Luminate range launch, or hobnobbing with Towie stars (ha ha I know) while encountering animals

It has been a great ride and I have really enjoyed blogging. If only i could find time to do more of it! 

And P.S. the pictures are from my daughter's second birthday... Not a blog cake although I do feel my blog would deserve one!

What do you guys think of blogging?

23 August 2016

11 fun things to do with under 5's in summer London

We live in London and quite often go out as a family to explore our home town. Because of our daughter's age we tend to go for the toddler-friendly activities and places in London. This summer we have explored London and found lots of great, toddler-friendly places to have a summer family day out. I figured since we have so much experience (this is our home town after all) I would share my favourite picks for what to do in London with a toddler during the summer months of June, July, August and September. 

Enjoy the fresh air
There are loads of great parks in London and let's face it, toddlers love nothing more than running around outside. My absolute favourite park is Coram's Fields, which you can only enter accompanied by a child. This park is near Russell Square.

Another fun kids park located near Central London is the Diana Memorial Playground, where you can play in a giant pirate ship! The closes tube stop is Queensway.

Best thing - both are free!

toddler and sheep statue looking at each other at coram's fields park

a giant climbing frame and slide for children at coram's fields park

toddler walking up a slide at coram's fields park

Admire the gorgeous views
On a beautiful day, I absolutely love to take the boat on the Thames. It feels like a luxurious way to travel after having commuted all week long in the smelly tube... It is a fun way to travel for the kids as well, who wouldn't love being on a boat?

My favourite day out combination is to get a boat ride from Westminster to Greenwich. You get to see all the sights, from Westminster and London Eye, to the Tower and London Bridge, and Canary Wharf before arriving to Greenwich, where you can spend the day admiring the gorgeous Cutty Sark (a big boat) and having a picnic at the Greenwich park. You can check out all kinds of sights and the market over the weekends, but my favourite activity is just to chill at the park and enjoy the views. The historic buildings are gorgeous and the park is very popular amongst Londoners.

MBNA Thames Clippers are an easy choice, as all you need is your Oyster card and this is the cheapest option for a one-way ticket. City Cruises are probably better for the views as you can sit on the deck, but is more expensive and looks pretty packed most weekends.

view of the city from a boat on the thames

greenwich old historic buildings

See some wildlife
ZSL London Zoo is a great place for toddlers - all those animals are really exciting. We have been the the Zoo twice. I have written about my top tips for toddlers when visiting ZSL London Zoo after our first visit, and recently we also visited the Land of the Lions, a new attraction that opened in 2016. It is a brilliant addition by the way, and they put up interactive shows suitable for children throughout the day.

If it is raining, many of the animals withdraw indoors, so it might be a fun idea to go the the London Aquarium. They opened their Penguin enclosure in 2016 too, which is a lovely (albeit small) addition to the great big aquarium. You can see sharks and huge tortoise and manta rays amongst other fist, and it really is quite special.

Both are free for kids under three! (But adult tickets are quite pricey)

children watching monkeys from behind a glass in london zoo

mother and daughter in front of the london zoo land of the lions yellow mural

london zoo land of the lions decoration lion transport box and a toddler inside

land of the lions london zoo wall of posters and a toddler

father and daughter watching a bird on a walking path in london zoo

Have a blast indoors too
Natural History Museum is brilliant place to visit with kids (those dinosaur - wow!), and you can also pop by the Science Museum which is practically next door. Natural History Museum hosts a butterfly exhibition outside the museum during the summer. It is very tropical inside but is really exciting for the kids. The special exhibitions cost a little bit, but the museums are free.

Nearby you also have Harrods, that occasionally hosts free story time and face painting for kids, which can be fun addition to the day for calm and quiet toddlers. I haven't taken my daughter to any of these as she is a bit hyper and I worry she would ruin it for the other ones.

But, for the active and hyper toddlers there are other things to do! You can get your boogie on near South Bank at Monski Mouse disco! I had never heard of baby disco until this summer, and we visited Monski Mouse Baby Disco Dance Hall, and it was fabulous fun! It was a fun and booty-shaking mix of proper retro disco hits and nursery rhymes, and my daughter loved it. Absolutely loved it.

toddler looking at a fish at london aquarium

toddler standing in front of the shark tank in london aquarium

These are my favourite things to do in London with a toddler. A bit of outdoor activities, a bit of indoor activities, some sights, and some animals. To be honest, with toddlers it can be a bit difficult with all the travelling you have to do, so I tend to choose one activity and that is it. We go in, do it, and come back and that is enough. I also think it is worth choosing wisely - many of the activities in London are quite pricey, and quite frankly, with toddlers, they don't always appreciate the things you think they do.

11 fun things to do with kids in London during the summer - outdoors, indoors and events! Top tips from a Londoner: 11 fun things to do in London with toddlers and pre-schoolers during the summer. Includes the best attractions for under 5's and several tips for free activities too!

11 fun things to do with kids in London during the summer - outdoors, indoors and events! Top tips from a Londoner: 11 fun things to do in London with toddlers and pre-schoolers during the summer. Includes the best attractions for under 5's and several tips for free activities too!

Top tips from a Londoner: 11 fun things to do in London with toddlers and pre-schoolers during the summer. Includes the best attractions for under 5's and several tips for free activities in London too! Recommendations such as London Aquarium, Zoo, museums, shop events and best parks!

Do you have any other recommendations for toddler-friendly places and attractions in summer London? 

6 August 2016

I love maxi dresses: see my summer style

Contains a gifted dress from JD Williams

I pretty much live my summers in maxi dresses. They are just about the perfect summer outfit in my opinion. They are cool on and just float around you in the warm summer winds. The fits I go for are usually quite generous and floaty at the lower half, cinched in the waist and fitted around the bust, and flattering on plus sized women too.  

What I especially love about maxi dresses are that they are so practical and make my busy mum life just that little bit easier. Forgot to shave your legs? No problem, maxi dress! Need to sit down for a teddy bear picnic? No problem, maxi dress! You can even sit cross-legged and all is covered? Need to bend down to pick that umpteenth of stick your toddler dropped? No problem, maxi dress! Covers all flashing ha ha. So I thought it would be fun to show my ever-expanding collection of these super-dresses and a bit of my summer style. 

jd williams maxi dress plus sized for office

wearing my JD williams maxi dress at The O2

I recently received a gifted maxi dress from JD Williams. I usually wear this at work on casual Fridays, or at functions where I want to be that little bit smarter than I do at the beach front. It is a lovely fit around the tummy, comfortable and slightly ruched so you don't need wash-board abs to pull it off. 

buggy walk at hamsted heath

wearing my linea dress at hamsted heath

My favourite ever maxi dress is this number by Linea. Sadly the fabric was a bit poor quality, and it faded and bobbled quickly, but I still wear it as the fit is lovely, and it is long enough. I find it is difficult to get maxi dresses that are long enough and stay long enough through several washes. Many my maxi dresses are more like midi-dresses on me and at 5'7 I am not even that tall. 

wearing a nanso maxi dress

wearing a maxi dress when pregnant

Maxi dresses in my opinion are perfect for pregnancy. They hug that bump beautifully and really show it off. And when you are pregnant, I've always thought you should try and make a feature of your bump. It is there, everyone sees it, so there is no point in trying to hide it!

Most of the summer time, as long as it is reasonably warm, you can find me in a maxi dress. In fact, I am even wearing one right now as I am typing this post! It doesn't really matter what size I am but maxi dresses always feel like the right choice, and they are the ultimate summer outfit for me. I feel comfortable and they just feel like summer. And now, I feel like I should go off and find a few more to expand my selection!

Do you wear maxi dresses?

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