a north-eastern holiday.

Forget the middle-east…Dubai can wait! The north-east is where it’s at for a family holiday these days!

Now, don’t get me wrong, put me on a plane to Dubai and face me with seven star service and uninterrupted sunshine for a week and I would probably choose that over Alnwick, Northumberland, BUT – we have just returned from a wonderful five days of family time and I can honestly say we would highly recommend it.

We booked a little house called Red Door via cottages.com – a website we use quite regularly, especially since having the children.

It wasn’t the best, being totally honest. But it was clean and a good base from which to travel around Northumberland. And since it took us almost a month to decide what we wanted to do and finally get round to booking something, we were lucky to find anything at all that didn’t cost us a month’s mortgage payment!

708544

Mr O’s family are from Northumberland, and he spent much of his childhood holidaying in the area – something that prompted him to want to take our children up there. So we tootled on up the A1 and found ourselves in Alnwick – a beautiful little market town on the South Bank of the River Aln.

If you’ve never been to Northumberland, you could probably be forgiven for wondering what the fuss is all about. Why would you head so close to Scotland and not cross the border? What is there up there but old coal mines? And you probably think it’s all just about Lindisfarne?

You would be wrong!

We spent the whole week cooing over scenery (OK, I spent the whole week cooing over scenery), enjoying miles of glorious beaches, walking through picturesque little fishing villages, eating the most amazing seafood and discovering history we never even knew existed – it was just fabulous.

The best day by far, in my opinion, was the day that we spent at Alnwick Castle and The Alnwick Garden.

Mr O would disagree – he would say it was the day spent on the beach at Seahouses…but since I HATE sand (see previous post here for more info!) I will not agree with him, even though I felt myself the most relaxed I’ve been in a while on that beach.

It was, actually, if I dare admit it, blissful.

The Alnwick Castle and Garden experience, whilst quite expensive, was a full day of brilliant family fun. We spent hours and hours outdoors (yep, the small ones slept well that night!!) exploring gardens, finding out names for plants, wading through fallen blossom with Ruby taking the opportunity to throw it at us at every turn of the path, and laughing our socks off at the silly court jester who threw fire and genuinely made Ruby fear for her safety – hilarious to see!!

I quite fancied the ‘On Location’ tour, which showed you all the bits of the castle that had been used in films such as Harry Potter and Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves – but since that took place at 3.30pm and Ruby had had all of her fun already, she deemed it “too boring” and so we hot footed it out of there before a huge wobbly/major embarrassment kicked in.

That evening we ate out at a place called The Jolly Fisherman in a teeny little village called Crastor. We tried Oysters for the very first time (and we weren’t sick!) and enjoyed gorgeous fresh fish and lobster in beautiful surroundings – with lashings of Alnwick Gin!

We saved money where we could by making sandwiches for lunch and we ate in the house a couple of evenings, which actually worked out quite well all in all.

If you’ve seen my Instagram feed you will know I’ve already said that I need another holiday to get over this one though.

Whilst my brain switched from overdrive to relax, my body is shattered. We didn’t sleep very well at all with Henry in our room – and not at all most nights as he decided that he couldn’t be without me and clung to me like a limpet (an after-effect of his operation?).

Still – it was a brilliant holiday, and we crammed in enough to make the memories last for some time, I hope.

Worn out but very happy.

IMG_0553

A good summary for a lovely time with the family.

Roll on the next staycation…Devon in July!

Speak soon,
K x

the days after.

Children are resilient, they said.

They bounce back so quickly, they said.

And…thank goodness, but it seems they were right!

Henry’s operation and subsequent time in recovery took all of 40 minutes. He was back in my arms before I’d even had a chance to finish my Costa Coffee hot chocolate in the strange little cafe at the entrance to Queen’s Hospital, Burton.

The hospital at which I’ve had (too) many a stay, at which Ruby was born, Henry was born, treated for meningitis and the hospital that I wished we’d never have to return to.

He cried so much when he woke from surgery that I could hear the theatre nurse bringing him to us from the other side of the hospital. I grabbed him and held him so close, and he clung to me so tightly I was certain I’d never let go.

After a mammoth sleep of 1.5 hours in my arms (if I’d known he was going to sleep that long I would have sat on the bed…my bum was so numb!) he woke up and demanded a biscuit. And that’s when I knew that everything would be alright!

After 10.5 hours without food or water, the bottomless pit then proceeded to consume the world’s biggest banana, an entire pack of Mini Cheddars, 2 x digestive biscuits and a ham sandwich along with about 4 Tippee cups of water!

Definitely alright.

After he’d finished his feast he grabbed his coat and made a run for it. Seriously. He was out of the door and saying goodbye to the nurses before we knew what was happening!

IMG_0410

We were exhausted. He was on cloud nine.

So we brought him home.

Our baby yelled for his sister the minute we pulled onto the drive, and she was thrilled to have him back.

He had a good night of sleep, only woken by Ruby who was crying so much after a bad dream where a cat was biting her bottom (no idea what that’s about!?) and seemed perfectly fine. Until we had to administer his drops.

The poor thing screamed and cried and desperately tried to wriggle away from me. 3-4 drops 3 times per day to try and help his ears heal and to get rid of the infection that the surgeon found whilst in there adding the grommets.

But, two hours later he was back on fighting form, hiding in the toy box, shouting at Ruby, running around the house and generally being a tinker…

It will take him time to fully recover. I know that.

He spent much of the first evening after the op cuddled into me, crying when I left the room and resisting sleep – almost scared to drift off, perhaps a hang up from the operation? Something isn’t quite right as he just will not let you leave him, when normally he would snuggle his monkey and drift off without issue (most of the time!!). 

I really hope that putting him through this procedure proves to be the right thing to have done.

We’ll see in three months time, I guess, as that’s the next time we need to see the consultant. 

Cross your fingers folks!

 Until then I’m taking every opportunity for extra snuggles and cuddling him in close. 

the waiting game.

Tomorrow our son, Henry, goes into hospital for an operation.

When he was just 3 months old Henry contracted Bacterial Meningitis (read about it and learn the signs & symptoms here…), which was horrific to put it mildly.

Thankfully, he came out of it the other side relatively unscathed.

However, at a routine post-Meningitis hearing check, the Audiology team discovered a hearing loss and, six tests later, that hearing loss isn’t getting any better.

So tomorrow, Henry heads into surgery to have grommets inserted.

Grommets are, for anyone that is wondering, very small tubes (like cotton reels) that help to drain away excess fluid building up in the middle ear.

Here’s a helpful handy diagram to show you exactly what I mean!*

grommet1

We’re hopeful that the grommets will drain away the fluid and that he will then pass his hearing tests – as the Audiology team believe that it’s the pressure of the fluid that is causing his hearing loss.

And, to be honest, that’s what I’m banking on – because otherwise, it’s likely that the Meningitis has damaged Henry’s hearing and so, if he doesn’t pass after the grommets have fallen out then we’ll need to consider hearing aids for him – and that, being completely honest, for some reason, makes me feel very uneasy.

Now, in my rational mind I know that this is a simple and straightforward procedure.

I know that he will be fine. That it’s routine and done hundreds of times a week. And that if, after it all he needs hearing aids then that is NOT a problem.

But yet I still feel like my world is spinning.

I feel sick. I’m worried. I’m nervous. I’m tired.

So, so tired.

Henry on the other hand, thankfully, is full of beans. He’s his usual belligerent self, shouting at his sister, raiding the fridge any chance he gets and stomping about the place wittering on to himself and anyone that will listen (and pretend to understand what he’s going on about!).

Tomorrow is unknown. I don’t have a clue what to expect. And I think that’s half of the problem.

I am, as you now know, a planner.

I’m strengthened by structure, and lists, and details.

Tomorrow makes me VERY nervous.

Once again, I’ll be on that ward.
The ward I had really hoped we’d never have to return to.

And once again, my baby will be handed off to someone else to take care of.

My control of the situation will be gone and, for a short time, so will my beautiful, smiley, happy son.

If you have any experience of this, or you can offer any pearls of wisdom to help me through then please feel free to comment.

Here’s to a quick and easy procedure, and to never having to go through this again!

But for now, we wait…

Speak soon,
K x

*Image supplied by afairgo.net

spring fling. 

Last Sunday I did something I’ve been very excited about for a very long time…

I visited the Fabulous Places Spring Home, Food & Gift Market. 

Child free. 

And with a lovely friend. 

It was awesome. 

I’ve followed Deb at Fabulous Places for quite a while now (on Instagram, not actually followed her, that would be beyond weird) and have always wanted to go to one of the markets she organises. 

So when my lovely friend Michelle (of delicious cake company Pea Bakes Cakes), who lives in Derby where the market is held, said she fancied coming along with me I was over the moon. 

We weren’t disappointed! 

The venue, The Roundhouse, was fantastic. It’s a glorious old building that used to be used as a turning house for choo choo’s (sorry, I can’t actually use the word train anymore. Henry won’t let me!) and is now the perfect place for events like this. 

I loved the atmosphere, it was bustling but not too busy, and everyone just seemed super pleased to be there. 
The stalls were laid out beautifully. 

All independent, owner/maker managed and all so friendly and nice. I could have chatted to each and every single one of them for days, they were all so passionate about their product. 

I fell in love with a few in particular:

The Thomas-Coles

Handmade in Lancashire (Darwen to be exact…the next town over from where I’m from!) by a lovely couple who are passionate about fragrance. 

I bought a Pomello candle. 

Can’t. Stop. Smelling. It. 

Florence & Bow 

I could have bought everything on this stall. They have a shop in Leicestershire as well as an online presence. Look them up for lovely wall hangings, toptastic telephones and awesome trinkets for your house! 

Little Paperie
I love stationery. I just do. Always have done. Always will. 

And this stationery is the best I think I have ever seen. Seriously gorgeous little shop based in Ashbourne selling the most quirky, beautiful stationery and cards. They also offer Annie Sloan Chalk Paint workshops and are so lovely. I have tried and failed a few times to get to their shop (my fault entirely!) so getting to meet the girls behind #flamingofridays at the market was fab! 

As well as the most lovely home and gift stalls there were so many good food stalls. Pies. Bread. Ice Cream. Artisanal Toasties. 

#nom 

I couldn’t get near any of the cakes to take good enough pics, but if weight was gained by just looking at cake I wouldn’t have fit back in the car at the end of the day that’s for sure! 

It was a great day, and I’m so glad that we found the time to get there. Life is often hectic and we usually put the children first, so it was nice to do something just for me for a change. 

There’s a Summer market on 2nd July, again at The Roundhouse. 

I will be going. 

Oh yes I will. 

Have you ever been to a Fabulous Places market? What did you think? Would you like to know more? 

Share your thoughts in the comments! 

oh happy day. 

Supposedly it’s #internationaldayofhappiness today. 

Yes, some person somewhere chose a Monday in what seems like the longest month ever, to declare a day of forced happiness. 

You really wouldn’t know it from the number of horns I heard blaring on the way to work this morning. Or the number of miserable faces I encountered as I trekked through the rain to get lunch. 

But still, in a bid to embrace this most marvellous of days…here are 21 very special things you may not already have known about me. 

21 things that make me HAPPY! 

1. My children…of course! When they aren’t making me want to pull my ears off, or hide in a cupboard that is

2. The husband. Kind of have to say that. Feel’s like it would be wrong to leave him off the list! 

3. Hendricks gin…most marvellous


4. Talking to my mum…last year they went away on a cruise for pretty much a month, and I couldn’t speak to her. I couldn’t even text her. It was awful. She makes me rage quite often, but she’s fabulous and I can’t be without her. 

5. Summer…mainly for the ice creams


6. Hot dogs. With ketchup AND mustard. Oh yes. 

7. Fireworks. No matter what time of year. But woe betide anyone who lets off fireworks that wake my children! 


8. Memories of our wedding day. Including dancing the night away, kissing before we were supposed to and time alone spent watching our guests…

9. Friendship. The most wonderful thing on the planet

10. Tulips

11. Milkshakes, especially super thick strawberry ice cream ones – Ed’s Diner seems to be the best place  for these at the moment 
12. New York. Or more like memories of New York and films/books/TV shows featuring this amazing city 

13. Harry Potter. Just that. Love it! 


14. Home. 

15. Parties. Big ones, small ones, discos, boozy…I just love a gathering. 

16. Seeing other people happy


17. Fearne Cotton’s cook book…not that I am super keen on all the different ingredients she uses, but for the Spag Bol alone it’s worth it #nom


18. Love

19. Typography. I just love seeing it, searching out new fonts, fiddling around with lettering, reading old quotes in new and interesting formats! 


20. Interior design. Not in a pretentious Kelly Hoppen, yas daaahling way, but Pinteresting the heck out of a Monday evening to get some inspiration for doing up the utility room type stuff…and spending money I don’t have building new kitchens in my head! 

21. Hot chocolate. For the win. Always. 


So there’s my list…

There’s plenty more (I missed chorizo, generally eating, sleep, hot baths and cuddles to name just a few) but why go whole hog on #internationalhappinessday?! Too much of a good thing is bad for you, right?! 

What makes you happy?! Share folks, share! 

toilet trouble. 

I was supposed to be back to blogging. 

Remember? I wrote that whole post about why I’d been away and how I was back and it felt great…?? 

Yup. 

And then, one night last month, my phone fell rather unceremoniously from my back pocket into the TOILET! 

‘It’s fine!!’ I thought. It’s totally fine because I saw that advert that says it can last for 30 minutes underwater and nothing will be wrong with it. 

Except it’s not a Galaxy S7. 

So no, it is not alright. 

Typical. 
Within 2 minutes the phone ended up in, yep you’ve guessed it, a bag of rice. 

For days. 

And on the scorching hot radiator for days. 

And in the oven (someone at work did it and it helped their phone). 

But mine still didn’t work. 

So…there started my accidental digital detox. 

And whilst I wasn’t thrilled at first, I didn’t have cold sweats and I didn’t feel like it was the end of the world…so when the most ridiculous of sales assistants at the EE shop told me that I could “upgrade early for just £218 or wait for the free upgrade in March 2018!” I didn’t rage at him like I really felt I could be justified for doing (at point of sale I was told none of this information and therefore believed that, like with phone deals of old, I would be due an upgrade at the 1 year mark). 

Instead I just walked out of the shop and gave up on Instagram! 

Easy peasy! 

And I have to say that, while I didn’t have a phone at all I really didn’t miss it. 

I missed my WhatsApp messages from my friends. 

I missed the photos and videos of my children that I have lost because I was lazy and didn’t back up my phone often enough. 

I missed writing this blog. 

But I didn’t miss social media. 

I didn’t miss the nasty, horrible comments that I read on some lovely people’s feeds. People that are just having a laugh at life. People that are just being themselves and getting slated for it. Didn’t miss that at all. 

And now I have it back? I am using it less and loving it more. 

Appreciating the real world and the photos and videos that I take much more, because I’m taking less of them. If that makes sense!? 


So, whilst I don’t encourage dropping your phone in the loo…I would encourage you to have a digital detox. 

Go on. Put your phone down a bit more. I think you’ll love it! 

But whilst you’re still here, here’s a few more from whilst I was on radio silence and enjoying the good things in life…

meal planning hell.

Once upon a time there was a girl.

That girl loved nothing more than shopping for food, flicking through recipe books and cooking up meals.

When she was little she used to spend hours creating paper menus (always detailing the same meal of pasta, chicken, garlic salt and dried mixed herbs) and sit everyone down at the table to eat, drink and be merry – with a pot of yoghurt for pudding!

As she grew older, her love of food dwindled a bit…noodles from a packet so she could afford extra shots of tequila at Alma de Cuba that week, southern fried chicken and 99p chicken burgers instead of a decent meal because eating is cheating, and cup a soup to “lose some weight”.

But then, one day, the love came back…living back at home after so long spent fending for herself meant that cooking became fun again. Meals out became more frequent as she earned her own money and enjoyed spending time with her parents again.

And then, as she moved away from home to join her boyfriend in The Midlands (that scary place down south where they talk funny and don’t eat gravy with their chips!), things got even better! Meals out were a big part of her life and she loved nothing more than hunting down the next best restaurant, eating things she’d never even heard of before, trying Michelin star tasting menus, cooking and cooking and cooking…

Even when the children came along, food was still a wonderful thing. Weaning the babies she’d had was so much fun. Thinking up concoctions and pureeing every vegetable under the sun, determined that her little ones would love food and be excited to taste new and different things…

But then, one day, along came meal planning.

weekly-menu-planner-template-1-638

And alongside meal planning came routine and budgeting and a complete and utter lack of time and energy.

Week after week after week of trying to think up new and interesting ways to feed a family of four, on a budget and with no time has sapped this girl of the love of food.

SEND HELP!!

Inspiration has gone.

I am even scoffing at my former best friend, the BBC Good Food website…and I can’t get out of this rut I find myself in.

So…any ideas for quick and easy meals, wonderful foods that will excite my tastebuds and fascinate my husband will be most welcome! Do you have any to share?

And what about some great ideas for the children? That can all be made whilst tackling homework for a four year old and with a 21 month old permanently attached to my leg and screaming at me of course!

Let me know in the comments below!

Speak soon, x