Life Lately | April & May 2022

Monday 30 May 2022

Way back in March 2021, I did my last Life Lately post. Over a year later, and here I am again. 

Most of these posts tend to start with me marvelling at how fast life seems to be passing by - especially since welcoming my kids. That hasn't changed. But I definitely have.

Bloom With No Regrets 

The last two years have taken it out of me in a big way - I’m guessing some of you will have had a similar experience. Not just the reality of building a career, working full time with two small children, which is always a juggle even at the best of times.

The pandemic has taken an extremely real toll on me and I'm not ashamed to admit I really struggled.

I lost myself for a while. I didn't feel inspired, or creative or very much like me. 

We're only just beginning to understand what some of the long-term effects of the Covid 19 saga might be. We all had slightly different experiences of the same thing, and we have to recognise that the ripples from it will be present in our lives for a while to come.

For a time, I skated very close to the edge. The trauma of losing my mum unexpectedly, struggling intensely with the demands of my job while home schooling and all of  life turning completely upside down almost overnight nearly pushed me into an abyss. 

Like so many others, I was hurt. I was furious. I was devastated. I was beyond burnt out. And I was deeply, utterly lost.

This changed my behaviour. I lost my love of life. I developed some dubious coping strategies. And I became a stranger to myself.

I didn't deal with any of this or even acknowledge there was an issue for a very long time. I was just in a blur of motion, desperately trying to keep going at all costs. That strategy can only work for so long.

Eventually I began to come apart at the seams. I wasn't caring for myself. I didn't love myself, like myself very much, or eventually even recognise myself.

You know what saved me? Being stubborn. Refusing to fully give in. Looking away from the black hole. Saying to myself: 'Not this time. Not today.' I had medication. I had therapy. And although I feel a long way from fixed, I'm in a better place now.

I know a lot of people out there might recognise themselves in these words. If you do, I want you to know you're not alone. Things can get better and brighter. And the one thing that is guaranteed in life is change, even if that feels impossible at points.

So keep going. Keep changing. And keep blooming like a flower, without any regrets.

Mama Life

Can you be too obsessed with your kids? Asking for a friend. 

The irony isn't lost on me that I spent years insisting I wasn't the maternal type but then as soon as these wonderful small humans came crashing into my life and turned it joyously, riotously upside down, I was smitten. 

My son and daughter are the only things that have kept me going on some days. There's no denying that having small children is exhausting, but they're also the biggest source of love in my life. Sometimes they break me, but much more than that, they make me. 

Theo is now six and in his second year of school. His personality hasn't changed at all from the earliest days it emerged. He's sensitive, brilliant and super kind. The way he looks after his sister breaks my heart in the best kind of way. He's really into the natural world, dinosaurs and fossils. He loves to build and engineer things and see how they work.


His reading is amazing and his maths is better than mine - not that it takes much! He likes to randomly quiz me on times tables because he thinks it's funny that I don't know the answer! But he's also very caring and will write me a little note if he knows I'm feeling sad. He's still a committed vegetarian by his own choice, which amazes me. 

Theo enjoys tennis, swimming and football. He can be a little shy sometimes and yet he also has an inner self belief that I'm trying to encourage. He's very conscientious and caring, but he can be incredibly hard on himself, which is tough to watch. My beautiful boy.

Romilly is three now and coming into her own. Most of her toddler years took place during the pandemic. When we first went into lockdown she was only one and just beginning to communicate. It's funny to think how many of the ordinary toddler things that were so much a part of Theo's preschool years, she's missed out on - like soft play or birthday parties. 

Romy is very funny and a good little actress. She knows her own mind loud and clear. She'll be the first to argue but she can also change her mind quickly. I call her my little ray of sunshine because she is so full of positivity and compliments, one of life's little cheerleaders. 

Her imagination and her vocabulary are wild. She said something wasn't 'in her character' the other day, and also told me 'grown ups don't know everything!'. She's a fierce little warrior princess and I want to keep her that way. She adores dressing up, dancing, colouring and animals. 

Romilly actually starts school this September, which is terrifying and she will only just have turned four then, but I know she'll more than hold her own. I'm madly in love with our little whirlwind.

And I couldn't neglect to mention the fur baby. The kids refer to our spaniel, Indy, as the 'third baby' and they're right. She certainly sees herself as one of the kids. She's a bundle of energy and super loving. The ideal pet to come on our family adventures.

New Beginnings

They say you're always one decision away from a totally different life. And I think that's true. So often it's easy to feel that we don't have that agency in our own existence, that life just happens to us. 

Change can also be very challenging and it takes a lot of courage to let go of the familiar. The fear of change can be paralysing. But change happens anyway. Sometimes it creeps up on you so slowly, you don’t realise.. Sometimes it drives a bulldozer through your life. The point is, whether we like it or not, It's always happening. 

After years of scrabbling away at my career, a couple of weeks ago I got offered my dream job. And the funny thing is it came to me - I literally got head hunted for it. After having a few terrible experiences coming back to work after maternity leaves, my confidence had taken a hit so this feels like a redemption. 

In a lot of ways, it didn’t feel like ideal timing. I only started my current job 11 months ago, and in that time there’s been a restructure of the team. We struggled to recruit to the new roles, and so since November last year we’ve been working away with only 50 per cent of the team, going at a hundred miles and hour and getting really exhausted. 

Over the last few weeks, we finally have really great people started in all the positions and things are on an upward swing, at long last. So it felt like an odd time to be on the way out the door.

And yet. Adventure is calling. I’m joining a fantastic organision who are really making a difference in the world of university research collaboration. I’ll get the opportunity to travel and to create strategies. It’s all that I wanted when I last had the time or mental space to dream! And I’m hoping it will give me the opportunity for a better work life balance.

Did I need another sign from the universe? Perhaps it came when my new boss - who lives in New Zealand -  just happened to be sitting at the next table in the last restaurant I walked into here at home in Nottingham. Not so much a sign from the universe, as a slap round the head!

So I’m going for it. After all, opportunity only dances with those already on the dancefloor…


On a more minor note, I also swapped my car the other week. I really loved my little BMW 1 Series. It was just fun to drive! However, it just didn't have enough room for us all anymore. 

At first, I wanted an X5 but it didn't make sense. We just don't drive that often. I work from home most of the time and we only live a couple of miles from supermarkets and the city centre. I just couldn't justify spending that much on something that would sit on the drive most of time. 

So, I opted for a new style Nissan Qashqai. Its hugely spoiled to admit, but I wasn't excited about it. It felt like a practical choice. My heart wasn't fully in it. And yet, now it's arrived I've fallen in love with it! 

It has so many lovely features that I haven't had before, like a sensor opening boot, a wireless charging pad for your phone and the panoramic sunroof, which really feels special when it's open. There's so much more headroom, leg room and boot space and yet it's not too huge. 

It's a self charging mild hybrid. I'm not ready for a full electric car yet so it felt like a good compromise. Plus it's so much nicer to drive than I thought, and really quite sleek looking. The kids love it and I can see why they are such popular family cars. Definitely one to consider if you need to size up.

Home Is Where The Heart Is

After almost five years of stop-and-start work, our renovation of No.80 is complete! I think renovating a house is a lot like giving birth - once it's over, you forget how painful it was! 

Although there were definitely tough moments along the way- battles over planning permission, huge unexpected costs, going into lockdown with no running water downstairs, not to mention the dust (oh, the dust!), dirt, chaos and general upheaval - it's been worth it. I've felt so privileged to see this house fulfill its potential and become the family home we dreamed of. 

When we bought this place, it was quite run down. Its a beautiful semi-detached Victorian house backing onto the waterfront, but it had been turned into three bedsit flats during the 90s and it was tired, grubby and unappealing. 

We've stripped it back to the bones and built it up again, redesigning the space into a traditional but modern family home. We've had new piping, a new roof and a new front door (the boring but necessary bits). We've plastered and painted. We've completely reconfigured the layout. 

And finally, we did a loft conversion to make a master suite on the third floor and added a large downstairs extension to create a new kitchen, family room and utility. 

Despite writing a few posts while we were mid-project, incredibly I've never done the 'big reveal'. I think that's mainly because for a while everything was complete but we were waiting on the carpets. We didn't want to change the tatty old brown nylon ones while there was still messy building work going on,  but flooring makes such a dramatic difference that I didn't want to take 'after' pictures until they were changed. 

So here are a few sneak peeks and I'll be planning a proper post soon!

Tasting The Night 

Something that has been really nice recently is rediscovering a bit of nightlife. My days of raving until dawn might be over, but I can still occasionally resist putting my PJs on by 9pm! And now that the kids are a little bit older and enjoy the occasional sleepover at Granny's, and we're no longer in lockdown, we finally have a little bit of freedom. 

Seb and I have had a few lovely date nights recently, and I've been enjoying dinner and drinks with friends too. Recent stand outs have been Nisha Katona's Mowgli, a modern take on Indian fare where the Green Rhubarb and Ginger Dahl and the Tamarind Treacle Fries were complete standouts.

Another weekend, we also visited ViDo by Lauren testing, which always feels like a well-kept secret. A chic basement tapas bar with some beautiful, innovative dishes, we really enjoyed a few relaxed glasses of wine and the Flamenquin De Pollo, Chroizos Picantes Salteados and Albondigas we had.

I also loved Gigi Bottega, a chic Italian antipasto place with a wine bar built into the caves below the building. The affogato was divine!

I've also discovered an unknown love of good quality tequila! I haven't touched the stuff since bad teenage experiences (everyone has that one spirit they can't smell without feeling vile, right?) but I decided to try it again recently when I headed to 400 Rabbits, a specialist tequila bar, with friends. I've discovered that a properly mixed verdita is a joy. Salud!

Postcards From Italy

Holiday fashion, mother daughter fashion, mummy blogger, travel with kids, Italian holiday, Sorrento with kids

It was the holiday that felt as if it might never come…. Finally we were able to take the kids abroad for a break. After two years of a lot of stress, disappointments and cancelled plans, I was beside myself with excitement. We headed to the Amalfi Coast for a week of sun and relaxation. I’m a huge fan of Italy (the food, the culture, the people, the history, the weather, the scenery….I mean, it's all a 10) but I had never visited this area before and it didn’t disappoint.

Holiday fashion, mother daughter fashion, mummy blogger, travel with kids, Italian holiday, Sorrento with kids

Holiday fashion, mother daughter fashion, mummy blogger, travel with kids, Italian holiday, Sorrento with kids

We based ourselves in a chi-chi little seaside village called Nerano, which was such a relaxing place. We visited Pompeii and soaked in all the history. We visited Positano, which has been on my bucket list for years and was just as stunning as I dreamed. We visited Sorrento, which absolutely charmed me with it's beautiful vistas and cafes. We visited Naples. 

And we chilled out in our villa, splashed in the pool, read books, ate our body weight in gelato, saltimbocca, pizza, lemon granita and other delicious foodstuffs, and played on the little beach ‘La Perla’ behind our holiday home.

Holiday fashion, mother daughter fashion, mummy blogger, travel with kids, Italian holiday, Sorrento with kids

Holiday fashion, mother daughter fashion, mummy blogger, travel with kids, Italian holiday, Sorrento with kids

Holiday fashion, mother daughter fashion, mummy blogger, travel with kids, Italian holiday, Sorrento with kids

Holiday fashion, mother daughter fashion, mummy blogger, travel with kids, Italian holiday, Sorrento with kids

Holiday fashion, mother daughter fashion, mummy blogger, travel with kids, Italian holiday, Sorrento with kids

Holiday fashion, mother daughter fashion, mummy blogger, travel with kids, Italian holiday, Sorrento with kids

Holiday fashion, mother daughter fashion, mummy blogger, travel with kids, Italian holiday, Sorrento with kids

Holiday fashion, mother daughter fashion, mummy blogger, travel with kids, Italian holiday, Sorrento with kids

It was so restorative to properly switch off (holidays in the UK are great, but I find they don’t hit the ‘off switch’ in the same way at all), spend some real time as a family and reintroduce ourself and the kids to the delights of discovering another country. We had a fantastic time which was much needed, and that I am so grateful for.

I’m Watching 

It’s been so long since my last update post, and I’ve watched quite a few great things since then. I’ve been getting into the Amazon epic Vikings Seb previously watched all the series on his own, and re-watched them with me. Not the kind of thing I would have said I’d enjoy, but the saga is really well done and drew me in from the first episode. It’s inspired me to learn more about that period of history. 

I’m also half way through Mr Robot, which I’m late to the party with it. It’s the tale of a brilliant but mentally ill hacker who attacks society while dealing with his own demons, and it's brilliantly down (plus, Rami Malek is such a fantastic actor). 

And we’re following Better Call Saul, the prequel to Breaking Bad. I find it very slow going but quite rewarding if you stick with it, and this season is the final one so all the threads are beginning to come together.

I’m Listening 

Continuing with more lo-fi electronica goodness. At the moment, I’m loving ‘The Bay’, the new track from Metronomy, and also enjoying Agoria (especially the track 3 Letters) and Bat For Lashes. 

I’ve also been really enjoying the ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’ podcast, which takes a look at pop culture events from the last few decades with a new lens, and ‘7 Good Minutes’, a bite size daily self-improvement podcast that rounds up teachings from everywhere and edits them down into a short and manageable blast that really challenges my thinking on the morning dog walk and sets me up for the day ahead!

I’m Reading 

My goodness, I’ve read so many books so far this year (26 so far) so I can only mention a few of the highlights. Reading is my solace and my escape, so I try to set aside an hour most evenings to just sit and chill with a book. I read a mix of fiction, self-improvement and history. My favourites this year so far:

Just F*cking Do It - Noor Hibbert - a ballsy, inspiring mix of practical and motivational life advice and a little of law of attraction (in a very non woo-woo way for us skeptics!). Something about this book really connected with me. I worked my way through the exercises and saw a return almost straight away and a lot of the advice really helped me to make some positive changes. I love the book so much I even bought a copy for someone else as a way to pay it forward. Highly recommend if you feel stuck in a rut.

The Favour - Laura Vaughn -  a really intriguing noir about an enigmatic group of art students on a gap year in Italy and an examination of privilege, passion and the roads they can lead us down. Definitely a good beach read if you like a twisty thriller!

Street Fight In Naples - Peter Robb - this book is a history of Naples, which I read knowing I was visiting there. It's done in a very interesting way, through the art and politics that shaped the city, so it's like a series of snapshots rather than a linear historical account. It’s very richly brought to life - you can taste the heat, grit and unique undertones of the city so well.

Daisy Jones and The Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid Okay, I’m late on this one, but I’m never usually the first in on things that are buzzed about anyway! To be honest, I had put of reading this because I’d read another of Jenkins Reid’s books and I really didn’t like it. But this one I adored! 

It’s the story of a band rising to prominence in the 70s and all the sex, drugs and rock and roll you’d imagine that entailed. It’s told in the form of an interview with different members of the band and those around them and so lovingly brought to life. Almost Famous is one of my favourite films, and this is very much in that vein and beautifully rendered. I’d go so far as to say this is now of my all time favourite books.

River Kings: The Vikings From Scandinavia to the Silk Road  - Cat Jarman After watching the TV series ‘Vikings’, I got quite interested in this period of time, which I’ve never learnt much about. This book is written by a bioarcheologist and traces the origins of a single carnelian bead found in a Viking grave at Repton in Derbyshire into an epic saga spanning continents and tracing the presence of the Vikings to the Far East. Fascinating stuff.

The Binding - Bridget Collins If you like historical sagas that are a little bit ‘magic’ then this will definitely be for you. It’s a beautiful love story, set in the context of the pre-Victorian past. 

It imagines that books are made by literally extracting memories, and that people go to be ‘bound’ when they have something painful they want to forget or if they’re so poor that they literally need to sell their
memories in order to eat. The book explores why we sometimes think it's better to forget and what the cost of choosing the remember can be.

Start With Why  - Simon Sinek More life transforming stuff if you’re into self-development. I’ve long admired the excellent Ted Talk Simon Sinek did on this subject, and here he expands on the theme to create a very inspiring manual for leadership and life. 

His central idea is that unless you start anything with absolute clarity of purpose, you’re going to fail. He points out that most people and organisations get consumed with ‘what’ and ‘how’ - which are necessary, but without ‘why’ will never end well. He takes lots of case studies in business, politics etc to bring this point to life. It’s a simple idea but brilliantly executed.

Never Saw Me Coming - Vera Kurlan -  Another noir beach read about a group of students in Washington DC recruited into a programme for psychopaths. When a series of killings start to occur at their university who is responsible and can they work together enough to uncover the killer before they become the next victim? Very easy to read and fun - I’ve never felt so much empathy for a psychopath before!

So here’s to grabbing life by the hand and asking it to dance. Wishing you all a wonderful summer ahead.

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