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Take one look at my Instagram page and you'll probably think that my children are absolute angels who never have tantrums and love having their picture taken. Spoiler alert: you're wrong. My eldest, Ava, hates having her picture taken. She is a bit of a wild one who is always on the go and won't sit still for love nor money (ok, maybe for Peppa Pig). And my newborn? He loves vomiting mid-photo. So, rest assured my blooper reel is extensive (and hilarious). But I think I do manage to get some quite cute pics at the end of it so I thought I would share a couple of tips on how to take cute pictures of your kids - minus the tantrums.

Bribery
Bribery is one of those things that we all vowed we would never do pre-kids but now do pretty much every day. I mean, how many of you have already cracked out the classic 'Easter Bunny is watching' line - despite the fact we are only midway through January? And it works for taking photos too! If you look very closely, you will see a McDonald's chicken nugget clenched tightly in Ava's hand. Basically set up the camera (or place your Instagram Husband in the correct position), get yourself ready, then shout at the top of your lungs 'mummy has chocolate!!' and watch a stampede of children run towards you. Bonus points if your child grappling you for sweets ends up looking like a loving hug.

Make it fun for them
My next tip for taking cute pictures of your kids? Make it fun for them. My favourite pictures I take of Ava are the ones where she is so engrossed in an activity that she doesn't realise she is even be photographed. Whether that is her running along the sand at the beach or petting a goat at the farm. These candid photos are my favourite because they capture a memory. Often I don't even worry about her face being in them. Sometimes I love just having her running through a scene reeking havoc or the back of her head as she looks out to sea all whimsical-like (when she is probably just waiting for me to take my eyes off her for a second so she can nose dive into the water).

Don't set high expectations
We've all done it. We'll be scrolling through Pinterest and come across a picture of the cutest toddler ever having a milk bath full of flowers with their little baby brother in their arms. Then you'll try to recreate it. Your toddler will splash milk everywhere. And probably try to eat the fake flowers you bought from B&M for decoration. The baby will scream bloody murder before he even enters the bathroom and you will end up vetoing his involvement because a purple, wailing baby will deffo raise a few eyebrows on the gram. And you will feel so frazzled from the whole experience that you end up deleting Pinterest out of anger and maybe sob a bit. It has happened to us all (right? please don't say it is just me). So, yeah, go into the whole thing with low expectations. Basically just think, if we get a cute picture then cool but, if not, then at least we had fun.

Know when to quit
One thing I have learnt from trying to take pictures of Ava is that you have got to know when to quit. Sometimes they don't want to have their picture taken and you have got to respect their wishes in that. If you have to go without a picture for the gram for one day or your mum doesn't get her daily picture update on what the kids have been getting up to then so be it.

What is your top tip for taking pictures of your kids?

You may also enjoy:
Shooting With A Tripod: My Top Tips
How Introducing An Instagram Theme Revolutionised My Feed
Are Lightroom Presets Worth It?
My Top Tips For New Bloggers
How To Create Fashion Content Without A Photographer

How To Take Super Cute Pics Of Your Kids


Take one look at my Instagram page and you'll probably think that my children are absolute angels who never have tantrums and love having their picture taken. Spoiler alert: you're wrong. My eldest, Ava, hates having her picture taken. She is a bit of a wild one who is always on the go and won't sit still for love nor money (ok, maybe for Peppa Pig). And my newborn? He loves vomiting mid-photo. So, rest assured my blooper reel is extensive (and hilarious). But I think I do manage to get some quite cute pics at the end of it so I thought I would share a couple of tips on how to take cute pictures of your kids - minus the tantrums.

Bribery
Bribery is one of those things that we all vowed we would never do pre-kids but now do pretty much every day. I mean, how many of you have already cracked out the classic 'Easter Bunny is watching' line - despite the fact we are only midway through January? And it works for taking photos too! If you look very closely, you will see a McDonald's chicken nugget clenched tightly in Ava's hand. Basically set up the camera (or place your Instagram Husband in the correct position), get yourself ready, then shout at the top of your lungs 'mummy has chocolate!!' and watch a stampede of children run towards you. Bonus points if your child grappling you for sweets ends up looking like a loving hug.

Make it fun for them
My next tip for taking cute pictures of your kids? Make it fun for them. My favourite pictures I take of Ava are the ones where she is so engrossed in an activity that she doesn't realise she is even be photographed. Whether that is her running along the sand at the beach or petting a goat at the farm. These candid photos are my favourite because they capture a memory. Often I don't even worry about her face being in them. Sometimes I love just having her running through a scene reeking havoc or the back of her head as she looks out to sea all whimsical-like (when she is probably just waiting for me to take my eyes off her for a second so she can nose dive into the water).

Don't set high expectations
We've all done it. We'll be scrolling through Pinterest and come across a picture of the cutest toddler ever having a milk bath full of flowers with their little baby brother in their arms. Then you'll try to recreate it. Your toddler will splash milk everywhere. And probably try to eat the fake flowers you bought from B&M for decoration. The baby will scream bloody murder before he even enters the bathroom and you will end up vetoing his involvement because a purple, wailing baby will deffo raise a few eyebrows on the gram. And you will feel so frazzled from the whole experience that you end up deleting Pinterest out of anger and maybe sob a bit. It has happened to us all (right? please don't say it is just me). So, yeah, go into the whole thing with low expectations. Basically just think, if we get a cute picture then cool but, if not, then at least we had fun.

Know when to quit
One thing I have learnt from trying to take pictures of Ava is that you have got to know when to quit. Sometimes they don't want to have their picture taken and you have got to respect their wishes in that. If you have to go without a picture for the gram for one day or your mum doesn't get her daily picture update on what the kids have been getting up to then so be it.

What is your top tip for taking pictures of your kids?

You may also enjoy:
Shooting With A Tripod: My Top Tips
How Introducing An Instagram Theme Revolutionised My Feed
Are Lightroom Presets Worth It?
My Top Tips For New Bloggers
How To Create Fashion Content Without A Photographer

Everyone says the first two weeks are the hardest. They're not wrong. If you are a first time mum, it is a complete upheaval of everything you've known before. Suddenly your whole world becomes centred around another person. You are likely still sore from giving birth. And your hormones are going crazy. That's before we even start to mention The Dreaded Day Three when the milk comes in and you feel like your actual boobs could pop. And, if you're not a first time mum, it is likely you have another kid (or more than one - moment of silence for these absolute heroes) that needs taking care of too. It is hard. And we don't say it enough. It is really hard.

I know - I have now been through it twice. And I feel like I have picked up a few pearls of wisdom along the way. This time around has been so much easier and there were things I really wish I had been told way back when I was pregnant with Ava. So, I thought I would share them with you guys instead (since I haven't quite perfected my time travel device yet).

Pretend time doesn't exist
Time is a construct and babies just don't get it. They don't understand that 3am isn't partytime. So, one thing that I found really useful this time around was just pretending like time didn't exist too. Baby wants to be up in the middle of the night? Bring the Hobnobs, let's watch a film. Daytime is for sleeping? Hell, I'd better get a blanket then. For those first two weeks whilst you are still trying to adapt to the change that is having a new baby and get some kinda routine/sense of normalcy in place, try just to loosen up on what happens when. Granted, it is much more difficult if you have another child or other responsibilities during the day but I just watched a tonne of series on my phone through the night feeds or when Asaba just wanted to be up during the night then Isaac would let me have a bit of a lie in as Asaba would usually sleep well between about 7am and 10am.

Personally, I took this a step further and actually rearranged the sleeping situation so Isaac was in with Ava and I was sharing the bed with Asaba (in his Sleepyhead). This allowed me to put on the light and watch YouTube videos as loudly as I wanted rather than trying to quietly breastfeed by the light of my phone and just hope the baby goes back to sleep soon enough as not to disturb Isaac too much (especially when he returned to work). It gave me so much more freedom during those first two weeks and I know it is definitely not for everyone but it worked well for us.


Feel free to say no to hosting
When you have a new baby, suddenly your DMs are full of friends and extended family trying to book a slot to come and visit you. And, yes, the well-wishers can be lovely and it is nice to feel so loved but the first two weeks aren't really the right time to start playing host. First time around, I barely had time to shower as Ava was constantly trying to feed. I lived off of Pot Noodles. The place looked horrendous. And the prospect of visitors would have brought me out in cold sweats. So, only accept visitors if you are ready. You are well within your rights to ask extended family and not-so-close friends (basically anyone who you wouldn't want seeing you in baby puke stained tshirts with your hair tied back in a permanent mum bun) to wait for a few weeks until you are more settled. And make sure anyone who does visit brings you chocolates - thems the rules.

Try babywearing
One thing I wish I had done with Ava was babywearing. She was quite a clingy baby and I spent so much time just holding her - she could only sleep in my arms. Babywearing would have really helped me just to get more (read: anything) done without depriving her of the snuggles she so desperately needed.

Do what is best for you
When you have a new baby, every man and his dog will have an opinion on how you should be parenting. Everyone has a hack (seemingly, myself included) that you just have to try or some advice on how best to care for your baby. And they don't hold back from making these thoughts known. Whether it is how you feed your baby, how much your baby sleeps, or even the brand of laundry detergent you are using to wash baby's clothes, someone out there will have an opinion. Hell, I have even had someone stop me in the street, peer into my baby carrier, and literally push my boobs back to create more breathing room for the baby all whilst explaining to me (a horrified stranger) how baby can't breathe with my boobs pushed on his face like that. It is likely you will come across someone with no respect for boundaries as some point too.

My advice is: ignore them. Smile politely and just continue doing what is best for you. Be it co-sleeping, formula feeding, or letting them use a dummy. The only advice you should be taking is that of a healthcare professional.


Check in on yourself
My final tip but maybe the most important one: check in on yourself. The first few weeks can feel crazy. Your hormones are all over the place. You're still recovering from birth (both physically and mentally). And everyone keeps asking how the baby is. So, be the one to ask how you are. Check in on yourself and try, if possible, to carve out a little bit of time for yourself. Even if it is just 15 minutes a day to just breathe or scroll insta or just stand in the shower and relax for a minute. You are mum now but you are also a person whose wellbeing is very important. As the saying goes, you can't pour from an empty cup so make sure you focus on you a bit too.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you are a new parent then congrats and just know you're doing an amazing job. And for more honest parenting and an absolute bounty of cute baby pics, go check out my insta.

You may also enjoy:
I Love My Post-Partum Body But...
An Honest Chat About Breastfeeding
I'm Not A Cool Mum & That's OK
Second Time Mum Blues
Reclaiming My Identity Post-Partum
Things I Wish I'd Been Told About The Newborn Stage

How To Survive The First Two Weeks With A New Baby


Everyone says the first two weeks are the hardest. They're not wrong. If you are a first time mum, it is a complete upheaval of everything you've known before. Suddenly your whole world becomes centred around another person. You are likely still sore from giving birth. And your hormones are going crazy. That's before we even start to mention The Dreaded Day Three when the milk comes in and you feel like your actual boobs could pop. And, if you're not a first time mum, it is likely you have another kid (or more than one - moment of silence for these absolute heroes) that needs taking care of too. It is hard. And we don't say it enough. It is really hard.

I know - I have now been through it twice. And I feel like I have picked up a few pearls of wisdom along the way. This time around has been so much easier and there were things I really wish I had been told way back when I was pregnant with Ava. So, I thought I would share them with you guys instead (since I haven't quite perfected my time travel device yet).

Pretend time doesn't exist
Time is a construct and babies just don't get it. They don't understand that 3am isn't partytime. So, one thing that I found really useful this time around was just pretending like time didn't exist too. Baby wants to be up in the middle of the night? Bring the Hobnobs, let's watch a film. Daytime is for sleeping? Hell, I'd better get a blanket then. For those first two weeks whilst you are still trying to adapt to the change that is having a new baby and get some kinda routine/sense of normalcy in place, try just to loosen up on what happens when. Granted, it is much more difficult if you have another child or other responsibilities during the day but I just watched a tonne of series on my phone through the night feeds or when Asaba just wanted to be up during the night then Isaac would let me have a bit of a lie in as Asaba would usually sleep well between about 7am and 10am.

Personally, I took this a step further and actually rearranged the sleeping situation so Isaac was in with Ava and I was sharing the bed with Asaba (in his Sleepyhead). This allowed me to put on the light and watch YouTube videos as loudly as I wanted rather than trying to quietly breastfeed by the light of my phone and just hope the baby goes back to sleep soon enough as not to disturb Isaac too much (especially when he returned to work). It gave me so much more freedom during those first two weeks and I know it is definitely not for everyone but it worked well for us.


Feel free to say no to hosting
When you have a new baby, suddenly your DMs are full of friends and extended family trying to book a slot to come and visit you. And, yes, the well-wishers can be lovely and it is nice to feel so loved but the first two weeks aren't really the right time to start playing host. First time around, I barely had time to shower as Ava was constantly trying to feed. I lived off of Pot Noodles. The place looked horrendous. And the prospect of visitors would have brought me out in cold sweats. So, only accept visitors if you are ready. You are well within your rights to ask extended family and not-so-close friends (basically anyone who you wouldn't want seeing you in baby puke stained tshirts with your hair tied back in a permanent mum bun) to wait for a few weeks until you are more settled. And make sure anyone who does visit brings you chocolates - thems the rules.

Try babywearing
One thing I wish I had done with Ava was babywearing. She was quite a clingy baby and I spent so much time just holding her - she could only sleep in my arms. Babywearing would have really helped me just to get more (read: anything) done without depriving her of the snuggles she so desperately needed.

Do what is best for you
When you have a new baby, every man and his dog will have an opinion on how you should be parenting. Everyone has a hack (seemingly, myself included) that you just have to try or some advice on how best to care for your baby. And they don't hold back from making these thoughts known. Whether it is how you feed your baby, how much your baby sleeps, or even the brand of laundry detergent you are using to wash baby's clothes, someone out there will have an opinion. Hell, I have even had someone stop me in the street, peer into my baby carrier, and literally push my boobs back to create more breathing room for the baby all whilst explaining to me (a horrified stranger) how baby can't breathe with my boobs pushed on his face like that. It is likely you will come across someone with no respect for boundaries as some point too.

My advice is: ignore them. Smile politely and just continue doing what is best for you. Be it co-sleeping, formula feeding, or letting them use a dummy. The only advice you should be taking is that of a healthcare professional.


Check in on yourself
My final tip but maybe the most important one: check in on yourself. The first few weeks can feel crazy. Your hormones are all over the place. You're still recovering from birth (both physically and mentally). And everyone keeps asking how the baby is. So, be the one to ask how you are. Check in on yourself and try, if possible, to carve out a little bit of time for yourself. Even if it is just 15 minutes a day to just breathe or scroll insta or just stand in the shower and relax for a minute. You are mum now but you are also a person whose wellbeing is very important. As the saying goes, you can't pour from an empty cup so make sure you focus on you a bit too.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you are a new parent then congrats and just know you're doing an amazing job. And for more honest parenting and an absolute bounty of cute baby pics, go check out my insta.

You may also enjoy:
I Love My Post-Partum Body But...
An Honest Chat About Breastfeeding
I'm Not A Cool Mum & That's OK
Second Time Mum Blues
Reclaiming My Identity Post-Partum
Things I Wish I'd Been Told About The Newborn Stage

I am 100% a Type B personality. I am relaxed (some - especially my husband - may say lazy). I procrastinate (a lot). And I am so laid back, I'm practically vertical. But one thing I am very Type A about is setting goals. I love cracking open a new notebook and writing down a list of things I want to achieve. Hell, I even actually quite like Mondays. There is just something so liberating about starting afresh - whether it is a new day, a new week, or a new year (or decade!!) - and it something that I absolutely revel in.

Unfortunately - but also kinda fortunately - my goals for 2019 were kinda overridden by the surprise baby I found out about in February. I then spent the subsequent eight months cursing the name of said baby whilst I sobbed through the nausea, vomiting, discomfort, panicked trips to the hospital, and eventual birth of.  And then the two ultimate months of 2019 were spent fully immersing myself in all that new baby goodness - and learning to pee again without feeling like I was passing literal acid.

But, just for the fun of it, let's have a look at the goals I set myself this time last year and see, if by any miracle, I managed to achieve them.

My 2019 Goals

Travel to a new country
I kinda achieved this and then some! We had a holiday to Mallorca in May which was somewhere I had never visited (and my first hot country too!) and then we went whole hog on the international travel thing and decided to totally relocate to Germany. So, yeah, you could say that we travelled a bit in 2020.



Invest more time into my blog
I would give myself a score of maybe 6/10 on this. I started my Pregnancy Diaries segment in 2019 which I really enjoyed writing but I also found myself taking massive breaks from writing as I tried to pretty much stay alive through everything pregnancy was throwing at me. I did however work on my Instagram a lot and manage to build up my following there which I am quite proud of.



Have more adventures with Ava
This is another kinda did kinda didn't goal. I kinda did because we moved abroad together and she got experience lots of new things like Christmas markets and her mum gabbling away in broken German with a distinct look of fear in her eyes. But also we kinda didn't because she has just been put in front of the TV

Try to live a more environmentally-friendly life
I guess I kinda achieved this a bit without actually trying to. This year we have really felt the pinch so we have had to cut back on a lot of things so that I meant reducing our spend on food (which meant buying less meat and making more meals from scratch) and only buying things that were necessary so that meant less ASOS orders and less impulse purchases that would ultimately end up in landfill.


Have more fun with fashion
This one, I didn't really achieve. I couldn't afford to buy much new clothing this year and, the clothes I did buy, had to be things that were functional and would go with everything. Also pregnancy kinda usurped my visions of strutting through the street in two piece suits looking like a badass boss woman (more like waddling through the streets in leggings for nine months).


Get back into baking
If you follow me on insta, you may have seen some of my baking with a toddler disasters. Like the biscuit dough shoes Ava designed (don't ask). But yeah, I actually did kinda achieve this.

Start thinking about my career

This one made me laugh. I thought by this time I would be back working for some media firm making good money with Ava settled in a nursery she loved. Lol. But at least this year showed me what direction I want to go in career-wise. Coming to Germany has made me realise that I actually don't really want to go into language teaching (an idea I was toying with) and actually I would love to do content creation full time or work as a social media manager for a company.

Y'know what? I managed to achieve a few more on this list than I thought I would! Although maybe in a different way to what I imagined.

Now for my 2020 goals..

My 2020 Goals

Become a morning person
I am the worst at getting up in the morning and it is driving Isaac insane. And I constantly feel like I am in a rush (which I hate!). So, in 2020, I want to train myself to get out of bed earlier and really make the most of each day.

Reach 10K on Instagram and Twitter
I am currently around 3K on both sites and would love to get up to 10K by the end of the year.

Redecorate our house
I've recently gotten super into interiors and have big home design plans for this year. Think muted tones, whimsical and vintage vibes, and a whole lot of cuteness.

Start making good money from my blog
By the end of the year, I would love to be making good money consistently from my blog as this is something I would really love to do full-time. Especially so I can have a flexible job and be able to stay home with my babies.

Invest in some new kit
If by some miracle I do manage to grow my platforms a bit and start generating a bit more income then I would love to invest in some new kit - particularly, a tripod and a camera (especially as my camera is now a shocking 7 years old!).

What are your goals for 2020?

My Goals For 2020


I am 100% a Type B personality. I am relaxed (some - especially my husband - may say lazy). I procrastinate (a lot). And I am so laid back, I'm practically vertical. But one thing I am very Type A about is setting goals. I love cracking open a new notebook and writing down a list of things I want to achieve. Hell, I even actually quite like Mondays. There is just something so liberating about starting afresh - whether it is a new day, a new week, or a new year (or decade!!) - and it something that I absolutely revel in.

Unfortunately - but also kinda fortunately - my goals for 2019 were kinda overridden by the surprise baby I found out about in February. I then spent the subsequent eight months cursing the name of said baby whilst I sobbed through the nausea, vomiting, discomfort, panicked trips to the hospital, and eventual birth of.  And then the two ultimate months of 2019 were spent fully immersing myself in all that new baby goodness - and learning to pee again without feeling like I was passing literal acid.

But, just for the fun of it, let's have a look at the goals I set myself this time last year and see, if by any miracle, I managed to achieve them.

My 2019 Goals

Travel to a new country
I kinda achieved this and then some! We had a holiday to Mallorca in May which was somewhere I had never visited (and my first hot country too!) and then we went whole hog on the international travel thing and decided to totally relocate to Germany. So, yeah, you could say that we travelled a bit in 2020.



Invest more time into my blog
I would give myself a score of maybe 6/10 on this. I started my Pregnancy Diaries segment in 2019 which I really enjoyed writing but I also found myself taking massive breaks from writing as I tried to pretty much stay alive through everything pregnancy was throwing at me. I did however work on my Instagram a lot and manage to build up my following there which I am quite proud of.



Have more adventures with Ava
This is another kinda did kinda didn't goal. I kinda did because we moved abroad together and she got experience lots of new things like Christmas markets and her mum gabbling away in broken German with a distinct look of fear in her eyes. But also we kinda didn't because she has just been put in front of the TV

Try to live a more environmentally-friendly life
I guess I kinda achieved this a bit without actually trying to. This year we have really felt the pinch so we have had to cut back on a lot of things so that I meant reducing our spend on food (which meant buying less meat and making more meals from scratch) and only buying things that were necessary so that meant less ASOS orders and less impulse purchases that would ultimately end up in landfill.


Have more fun with fashion
This one, I didn't really achieve. I couldn't afford to buy much new clothing this year and, the clothes I did buy, had to be things that were functional and would go with everything. Also pregnancy kinda usurped my visions of strutting through the street in two piece suits looking like a badass boss woman (more like waddling through the streets in leggings for nine months).


Get back into baking
If you follow me on insta, you may have seen some of my baking with a toddler disasters. Like the biscuit dough shoes Ava designed (don't ask). But yeah, I actually did kinda achieve this.

Start thinking about my career

This one made me laugh. I thought by this time I would be back working for some media firm making good money with Ava settled in a nursery she loved. Lol. But at least this year showed me what direction I want to go in career-wise. Coming to Germany has made me realise that I actually don't really want to go into language teaching (an idea I was toying with) and actually I would love to do content creation full time or work as a social media manager for a company.

Y'know what? I managed to achieve a few more on this list than I thought I would! Although maybe in a different way to what I imagined.

Now for my 2020 goals..

My 2020 Goals

Become a morning person
I am the worst at getting up in the morning and it is driving Isaac insane. And I constantly feel like I am in a rush (which I hate!). So, in 2020, I want to train myself to get out of bed earlier and really make the most of each day.

Reach 10K on Instagram and Twitter
I am currently around 3K on both sites and would love to get up to 10K by the end of the year.

Redecorate our house
I've recently gotten super into interiors and have big home design plans for this year. Think muted tones, whimsical and vintage vibes, and a whole lot of cuteness.

Start making good money from my blog
By the end of the year, I would love to be making good money consistently from my blog as this is something I would really love to do full-time. Especially so I can have a flexible job and be able to stay home with my babies.

Invest in some new kit
If by some miracle I do manage to grow my platforms a bit and start generating a bit more income then I would love to invest in some new kit - particularly, a tripod and a camera (especially as my camera is now a shocking 7 years old!).

What are your goals for 2020?

This is a paid collaboration with Mister Spex however all opinions (as always) are very much my own.

It's that time of year again when I spend most of my time trying to put on as many layers of clothing as possible, chain drinking cups of tea from within the comfort of my clothing cacoon that I have formed around myself, and browsing travel sites wistfully hoping a fortnight in Mallorca will suddenly appear for the grand total of £20 per person.

I am so ready to grab my suncream off the bathroom shelf, dust it off, and head to somewhere warm. And, as I have earmarked 2020 as my year of travel, when is a better time than now to start planning for my perfect winter getaway? So, I thought I would put together a little post detailing all my travel planning hacks to make your life a little bit easier.

Update your look with Mister Spex
One thing I have learnt as I have gotten older is that accessories can make or break an outfit - especially when they are accessories that you wear on your face. Yes, I am talking about glasses. Nothing can take your look from airport chic to librarian geek in the blink of an eye like the wrong style of glasses can. Thankfully, Mister Spex has your back. Their site boasts hundreds of well known brands (and some hidden gems) that can be tailored to your prescription. What's more is that you can adapt your search to fit exactly what you are looking for by filtering by head width, frame style, face shape, and more. This will help you to find something super flattering and have you looking your very best for your trip in no time.

Personally, I love a good cat eye frame. I think they look so chic and Audrey Hepburn-esque (even if I do look more Bridget Jones on a mini break in them). But recently I have absolutely fallen for browline frames too. They are very much 'librarian but make it fashun' and that is a look that I am totally down with.

And, if you are planning on heading somewhere hot, Mister Spex has got you covered there too. Their site has a whole section dedicated to sunglasses - many of which can be catered to your prescription too. They stock everything from Ray Bans to Dior - something to fit every taste and have you looking like an A-List jetsetter in no time (even if you're only using them to disguise your jet lag induced eyebags).


Make use of the Instagram location tag
This is my first port of call whenever I am planning a trip. First of all, I do a generic search of the location. Usually that brings up a few key locations like famous beauty spots and, if you are lucky, cute restaurants or cafes. Try to click through to their own page and make note of the exact locations and company names. Then type into the location search the name of the hotel you are looking at. This will likely show more recent and realistic images of the hotel itself and give you an idea of whether the pictures on the website are misleading or not. Also, if you find someone who has posted their location in the destination you are wishing to visit, you can sometimes click through to their profile and find either other grid posts from their trip or, if you are really lucky, an entire stories highlight dedicated to everywhere they visited. Use this to get a feel for the place and get an idea of other places worth visiting on your trip.

Reach out to travel bloggers
Another way I plan for a trip is by reading blog posts people have written about the destination. We all know bloggers have a sixth sense for cute spots and cool cafes so they are your best bet for finding awesome stuff to fill up your itinerary. Just hop onto Twitter and ask if anyone has a blog post about your location. Use the #bloggerswanted or #bloggersrequired hashtags if you don't follow many bloggers and your replies will soon be full of links to everything from hotel reviews to which is the best place to go deep sea diving.

Research the culture of the place you plan to visit
One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to travel is people not being respectful of local culture and/or religions. Be sure you research the place you are looking to travel to. For example, if you are going to a strongly religious country then consider dressing a bit more modestly. A quick google will tell you everything you need to know. Just take a little bit of time to get to know where you are visiting and, whilst you're there, abide by their rules and way of life as you are a guest in their homeland.

Set up flight notifications
Some flight comparison sites can let you set up flight notifications for a certain flight (eg. Bristol to Mallorca) and will let you know when a good deal for this route comes up. If you are able to be flexible with dates, this is a great idea - and a good way to save money too.

What are your holiday planning tips?

You may also enjoy:
How to survive a mini break with a toddler
Camping with a baby: the survival guide
My top tips for travelling with a baby
Berlin travel guide
Cardiff travel guide
Edinburgh travel guide
A local's guide to visiting Devon
How to spend 24 hours in Bristol

Planning The Perfect Winter Getaway With Mister Spex (AD)


This is a paid collaboration with Mister Spex however all opinions (as always) are very much my own.

It's that time of year again when I spend most of my time trying to put on as many layers of clothing as possible, chain drinking cups of tea from within the comfort of my clothing cacoon that I have formed around myself, and browsing travel sites wistfully hoping a fortnight in Mallorca will suddenly appear for the grand total of £20 per person.

I am so ready to grab my suncream off the bathroom shelf, dust it off, and head to somewhere warm. And, as I have earmarked 2020 as my year of travel, when is a better time than now to start planning for my perfect winter getaway? So, I thought I would put together a little post detailing all my travel planning hacks to make your life a little bit easier.

Update your look with Mister Spex
One thing I have learnt as I have gotten older is that accessories can make or break an outfit - especially when they are accessories that you wear on your face. Yes, I am talking about glasses. Nothing can take your look from airport chic to librarian geek in the blink of an eye like the wrong style of glasses can. Thankfully, Mister Spex has your back. Their site boasts hundreds of well known brands (and some hidden gems) that can be tailored to your prescription. What's more is that you can adapt your search to fit exactly what you are looking for by filtering by head width, frame style, face shape, and more. This will help you to find something super flattering and have you looking your very best for your trip in no time.

Personally, I love a good cat eye frame. I think they look so chic and Audrey Hepburn-esque (even if I do look more Bridget Jones on a mini break in them). But recently I have absolutely fallen for browline frames too. They are very much 'librarian but make it fashun' and that is a look that I am totally down with.

And, if you are planning on heading somewhere hot, Mister Spex has got you covered there too. Their site has a whole section dedicated to sunglasses - many of which can be catered to your prescription too. They stock everything from Ray Bans to Dior - something to fit every taste and have you looking like an A-List jetsetter in no time (even if you're only using them to disguise your jet lag induced eyebags).


Make use of the Instagram location tag
This is my first port of call whenever I am planning a trip. First of all, I do a generic search of the location. Usually that brings up a few key locations like famous beauty spots and, if you are lucky, cute restaurants or cafes. Try to click through to their own page and make note of the exact locations and company names. Then type into the location search the name of the hotel you are looking at. This will likely show more recent and realistic images of the hotel itself and give you an idea of whether the pictures on the website are misleading or not. Also, if you find someone who has posted their location in the destination you are wishing to visit, you can sometimes click through to their profile and find either other grid posts from their trip or, if you are really lucky, an entire stories highlight dedicated to everywhere they visited. Use this to get a feel for the place and get an idea of other places worth visiting on your trip.

Reach out to travel bloggers
Another way I plan for a trip is by reading blog posts people have written about the destination. We all know bloggers have a sixth sense for cute spots and cool cafes so they are your best bet for finding awesome stuff to fill up your itinerary. Just hop onto Twitter and ask if anyone has a blog post about your location. Use the #bloggerswanted or #bloggersrequired hashtags if you don't follow many bloggers and your replies will soon be full of links to everything from hotel reviews to which is the best place to go deep sea diving.

Research the culture of the place you plan to visit
One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to travel is people not being respectful of local culture and/or religions. Be sure you research the place you are looking to travel to. For example, if you are going to a strongly religious country then consider dressing a bit more modestly. A quick google will tell you everything you need to know. Just take a little bit of time to get to know where you are visiting and, whilst you're there, abide by their rules and way of life as you are a guest in their homeland.

Set up flight notifications
Some flight comparison sites can let you set up flight notifications for a certain flight (eg. Bristol to Mallorca) and will let you know when a good deal for this route comes up. If you are able to be flexible with dates, this is a great idea - and a good way to save money too.

What are your holiday planning tips?

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Berlin travel guide
Cardiff travel guide
Edinburgh travel guide
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How to spend 24 hours in Bristol

In case you haven't heard, I now live in a German Christmas market. Ok, not quite but it often feels like it! I find myself aimlessly wandering into town most days under the pretence of running errands solely to soak up a bit of that festive goodness (and a mug of hot chocolate or two). And, I have to admit, nothing quite compares. Back home in the UK, we sure do put on a good show but Germany truly does remain the king of all things Christmas.

And, of course, all this festive cheer draws in thousands of tourists each year from across the globe. And the region I live in is no exception - especially since we boast some big cities like Cologne, Dortmund, and Dusseldorf. The streets are brimming with visitors (and people trying to sell Ava balloons - and people staring at Ava as she has a balloon-related tantrum) and my diet has been solely roasted chestnuts and mulled wine for at least a month now. So, what better time to put my newfound expertise to use and write up a little post detailing my German Christmas market hacks. Even if it is just so I can justify the amount of money I have spent this month on chocolate covered fruit.

Go early
Admittedly, the markets are the most beautiful during the evening when all the lights are on and everyone is eating, drinking, and being merry. But, if you actually want to do some shopping/walk without feeling like you are just being carried along by a wave of people/get them insta shots, then I suggest going just after the market opens. This is especially important if you have additional needs in terms of accessibility, get overwhelmed by crowds or noise, or are going with young children. During the evening, the market will be really quite busy and it is not unheard of to get an elbow to the ribs here and there. Ultimately, I would suggest going a bit earlier in the day to do the shopping and mooch around at your own pace then return later on for a shorter visit just to see the lights and have a glass of mulled wine (or three!).


Babywear
Similarly, if you have a baby or young child, consider babywearing rather than trying to use a pushchair. The markets can get quite crowded at peak time and aren't always mega accessible. Babywearing will free you up to go wherever you want (even on a ferris wheel if you so fancy) and not have to worry about traversing wires and mowing people down with your pushchair.

Learn some key German phrases
When we visited the Christmas markets in Berlin, we got by on my very limited German. But, even then, we struggled to communicate with some of the stall holders (which one time resulted in us purchasing the most colossal mountain of chips you will ever see). Outside of Berlin, don't expect anyone to know English past the very basics. And I have found in my city that many people dislike speaking English - even if they do know some. So, learning a few German phrases will help your trip go a lot smoother and minimise the risk of reaching a very awkward impasse with the stall holder where neither of you understand each other.


Pfand system
When you buy a drink at a German Christmas market, it is likely that you will be given it in ceramic or glass cup or mug which you have to pay a deposit for. You will also be given a token - this is so you can return the cup with the token and get your deposit back. You can also choose not to return it and keep the cup as a souvenir but make sure you double check with the stall holder first (the last thing you want is an angry German chasing you down the road as you pocket your mug).

Take cash
In Germany, cash is still super widely used. I mean, hardly anywhere takes card (unless maybe you're somewhere like Berlin or a bigger city). Markets especially don't accept card so be sure you go with a bit of cash. Preferably, exchange your money before you arrive in Germany because most ATMs will charge you up to five euros withdrawal fee (even from a German bank account if you aren't withdrawing from the bank itself!).

Things are closed on Sundays
One thing I am still getting used to about life here in Germany is that all the shops are closed on Sundays. Most cafes and restaurants (and the Christmas markets!) remain open but convenience shops are all closed. Trust me, I have been in the position of having to pay two euros for a pint of milk from the petrol station before. So, forward plan. If you know you need snacks or a bottle of water or nappies or anything - make sure you don't leave it so they run out on a Sunday.


Where is your dream destination to spend Christmas?

You may also enjoy:
Bochum Christmas Market
Berlin Travel Guide
Everything We Ate In Berlin
We've Moved To Germany
First Impressions Of Life In Germany

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Visit To A German Christmas Market


In case you haven't heard, I now live in a German Christmas market. Ok, not quite but it often feels like it! I find myself aimlessly wandering into town most days under the pretence of running errands solely to soak up a bit of that festive goodness (and a mug of hot chocolate or two). And, I have to admit, nothing quite compares. Back home in the UK, we sure do put on a good show but Germany truly does remain the king of all things Christmas.

And, of course, all this festive cheer draws in thousands of tourists each year from across the globe. And the region I live in is no exception - especially since we boast some big cities like Cologne, Dortmund, and Dusseldorf. The streets are brimming with visitors (and people trying to sell Ava balloons - and people staring at Ava as she has a balloon-related tantrum) and my diet has been solely roasted chestnuts and mulled wine for at least a month now. So, what better time to put my newfound expertise to use and write up a little post detailing my German Christmas market hacks. Even if it is just so I can justify the amount of money I have spent this month on chocolate covered fruit.

Go early
Admittedly, the markets are the most beautiful during the evening when all the lights are on and everyone is eating, drinking, and being merry. But, if you actually want to do some shopping/walk without feeling like you are just being carried along by a wave of people/get them insta shots, then I suggest going just after the market opens. This is especially important if you have additional needs in terms of accessibility, get overwhelmed by crowds or noise, or are going with young children. During the evening, the market will be really quite busy and it is not unheard of to get an elbow to the ribs here and there. Ultimately, I would suggest going a bit earlier in the day to do the shopping and mooch around at your own pace then return later on for a shorter visit just to see the lights and have a glass of mulled wine (or three!).


Babywear
Similarly, if you have a baby or young child, consider babywearing rather than trying to use a pushchair. The markets can get quite crowded at peak time and aren't always mega accessible. Babywearing will free you up to go wherever you want (even on a ferris wheel if you so fancy) and not have to worry about traversing wires and mowing people down with your pushchair.

Learn some key German phrases
When we visited the Christmas markets in Berlin, we got by on my very limited German. But, even then, we struggled to communicate with some of the stall holders (which one time resulted in us purchasing the most colossal mountain of chips you will ever see). Outside of Berlin, don't expect anyone to know English past the very basics. And I have found in my city that many people dislike speaking English - even if they do know some. So, learning a few German phrases will help your trip go a lot smoother and minimise the risk of reaching a very awkward impasse with the stall holder where neither of you understand each other.


Pfand system
When you buy a drink at a German Christmas market, it is likely that you will be given it in ceramic or glass cup or mug which you have to pay a deposit for. You will also be given a token - this is so you can return the cup with the token and get your deposit back. You can also choose not to return it and keep the cup as a souvenir but make sure you double check with the stall holder first (the last thing you want is an angry German chasing you down the road as you pocket your mug).

Take cash
In Germany, cash is still super widely used. I mean, hardly anywhere takes card (unless maybe you're somewhere like Berlin or a bigger city). Markets especially don't accept card so be sure you go with a bit of cash. Preferably, exchange your money before you arrive in Germany because most ATMs will charge you up to five euros withdrawal fee (even from a German bank account if you aren't withdrawing from the bank itself!).

Things are closed on Sundays
One thing I am still getting used to about life here in Germany is that all the shops are closed on Sundays. Most cafes and restaurants (and the Christmas markets!) remain open but convenience shops are all closed. Trust me, I have been in the position of having to pay two euros for a pint of milk from the petrol station before. So, forward plan. If you know you need snacks or a bottle of water or nappies or anything - make sure you don't leave it so they run out on a Sunday.


Where is your dream destination to spend Christmas?

You may also enjoy:
Bochum Christmas Market
Berlin Travel Guide
Everything We Ate In Berlin
We've Moved To Germany
First Impressions Of Life In Germany
Silver has long been a favoured metal for the making of jewellery, especially sterling silver, which has a purity of 92.5%. Pure silver is really too soft to be used in the making of jewellery, and the alloys in sterling silver gives it better strength and durability, which is necessary to ensure the items stand the test of time. Pure silver is actually 99% pure, and 1% made of other metals, usually nickel or copper. However, this is not practical for making jewellery, which is why sterling silver is preferred.


Buying From Established Silver Jewellers


This is the best way to ensure that the sterling silver jewellery you buy is genuine, as an established supplier would not tarnish their reputation by selling something inferior. If you would like to browse the extensive catalogue of sterling silver offered by online jewellers, a Google search is the best place to start your quest for the ideal items. 

The 925 Sterling Silver Stamp


All jewellery items that are made with sterling silver will have a 925 stamp, as you would find on all the sterling silver jewellery available at Silver by Mail, who are one of the UK’s leading silver jewellery online retailers. The stamp is a sign of quality and it can be in different formats, although the numbers 925 will be evident somewhere on the mark.

Silver Plating


When buying silver jewellery, be careful about plated items, which are not made from silver, rather they are plated with silver. Nickel and copper are usually the base metals for silver-plated items, and sadly, many people are not aware of this and end up buying a jewellery item that is not made from silver, but is plated with a thin coating of silver.

Caring For Sterling Silver


Sterling silver can oxidise over a period of time, so it is important to clean it from time to time, and this can be done with a mild soap and water mixture. When storing sterling silver jewellery items, each should be wrapped in a small piece of soft cloth, which prevents scratching. The best place to store your silver jewellery is somewhere cool and dry. In the event the silver becomes tarnished, clean it with some silver dip and this will restore its shine. If you happen to have silver items in your home that are not jewellery, there are guides available online on keeping silver household items in good condition.

As we near the festive season, many people look to sterling silver jewellery, as it makes for an ideal gift, and by shopping online with an established sterling silver jeweller, you can be sure that the items you purchase are of the finest quality. Prices are generally a little cheaper when you buy silver jewellery online, which is another good reason to shop with an online jewellery store.

By shopping with a jeweller that has a reputation for selling top quality sterling silver jewellery, you can be sure that your purchases are genuine. This post is published in partnership with Media Buzz

Essential Information To Help You Buy Sterling Silver Jewellery

Silver has long been a favoured metal for the making of jewellery, especially sterling silver, which has a purity of 92.5%. Pure silver is really too soft to be used in the making of jewellery, and the alloys in sterling silver gives it better strength and durability, which is necessary to ensure the items stand the test of time. Pure silver is actually 99% pure, and 1% made of other metals, usually nickel or copper. However, this is not practical for making jewellery, which is why sterling silver is preferred.


Buying From Established Silver Jewellers


This is the best way to ensure that the sterling silver jewellery you buy is genuine, as an established supplier would not tarnish their reputation by selling something inferior. If you would like to browse the extensive catalogue of sterling silver offered by online jewellers, a Google search is the best place to start your quest for the ideal items. 

The 925 Sterling Silver Stamp


All jewellery items that are made with sterling silver will have a 925 stamp, as you would find on all the sterling silver jewellery available at Silver by Mail, who are one of the UK’s leading silver jewellery online retailers. The stamp is a sign of quality and it can be in different formats, although the numbers 925 will be evident somewhere on the mark.

Silver Plating


When buying silver jewellery, be careful about plated items, which are not made from silver, rather they are plated with silver. Nickel and copper are usually the base metals for silver-plated items, and sadly, many people are not aware of this and end up buying a jewellery item that is not made from silver, but is plated with a thin coating of silver.

Caring For Sterling Silver


Sterling silver can oxidise over a period of time, so it is important to clean it from time to time, and this can be done with a mild soap and water mixture. When storing sterling silver jewellery items, each should be wrapped in a small piece of soft cloth, which prevents scratching. The best place to store your silver jewellery is somewhere cool and dry. In the event the silver becomes tarnished, clean it with some silver dip and this will restore its shine. If you happen to have silver items in your home that are not jewellery, there are guides available online on keeping silver household items in good condition.

As we near the festive season, many people look to sterling silver jewellery, as it makes for an ideal gift, and by shopping online with an established sterling silver jeweller, you can be sure that the items you purchase are of the finest quality. Prices are generally a little cheaper when you buy silver jewellery online, which is another good reason to shop with an online jewellery store.

By shopping with a jeweller that has a reputation for selling top quality sterling silver jewellery, you can be sure that your purchases are genuine. This post is published in partnership with Media Buzz

I get mum guilt over, well, everything! My current favourites are: how much my toddler eats, whether I am giving my toddler enough attention, the fact that I haven't had a full social media black out following the birth of my newborn like I did with the first. And, of course, the biggie: Christmas.

Festive mum guilt is kinda like regular mum guilt but on steroids. It consumes you. Where once was a woman who could just put up Christmas decorations without it having to be a thing now stands a woman (with bigger eye bags and slightly greyer hair) trying to put up Christmas decorations whilst also worrying about whether it is a special enough experience for the children. A woman worrying about whether we have enough Christmas traditions. Whether we are really cherishing this time enough. Whether our tree is as big as the other kids have at home. Whether she is doing enough. Whether she is enough.

This year I have felt this hard. I guess because this is our first Christmas as a family of four, there is a huge pressure to make the most of it. And it is the first Christmas that Ava can really get involved so I can't really use the excuse of her just being a baby anymore. I find myself scrolling through Instagram and comparing myself to other mums who are taking their kids to meet Father Christmas or going away on festive mini breaks as a family or just having a really nice house which is beautifully decorated. And it sucks. Especially as we aren't in the best financial position at the moment. And it does get to me sometimes. I do wish I had more money to buy the best gifts and fill every day with activities and have a really nice, comfortable home for us all to enjoy. And the whole pressure of the season really exacerbates these negative feelings. Where I should be just enjoying the festivities, I am instead worrying that the memories we are making as a family aren't good enough and feeling guilty that I can't provide a better life for my children.


And I can't say that these feelings have fully gone away. I still struggle with the whole Christmas mum guilt - especially over presents. But I have learnt that the root of this stress is two things: comparison and consumerism. I find myself comparing my bad days to the highlight reel of other people's lives. I mean, no one shows their toddler's tantrums on insta, do they? And that makes me feel bad. Sure, it is true, there are people that are better off than I am. And the majority of the people I follow on social media are in a far more comfortable financial position. But that doesn't mean that there is no value in what I have. It doesn't diminish how much Ava will enjoy the gifts she gets this year. And just because my house may not be 'insta-perfect', I should be grateful that I do have a home this Christmas.

The other cause of stress is consumerism. At this time of year, ever shop and brand and company wants your cash. So they give the hard sell. They align love with how much you are willing to spend. And it also makes you feel like what you already have isn't enough because they never want you to be content in what you have (else you won't need to buy more, right?). This feeling of gifts being somehow an indication of how much someone cares about you - an idea that is deeply imbedded in our culture and my mind - makes the mum guilt go crazy. You start to think that the love you have for your children has to be proven. And I felt so bad that I can't give Ava all of the things I know she will love because I simply can't afford to.


But then I realised that what is more important is time. Giving the gift of time is the most valuable gift I can give my children. Giving them attention. Sharing my everyday with them. And the memories that stay with you aren't always the fancy meals out or designer labels, it is in the small things. It is the dog stealing the Christmas turkey off the table. It is singing along to Christmas songs in the car. It is walking around the village at night looking at how everyone has decorated their houses. The small things make Christmas and make memories that last a lifetime.

So, this year, I am not going to let the devil on my shoulder make me feel inadequate. I am not going to overspend. I am going to take it easy and breathe. I am going to let myself enjoy the festivities. I am going to put my phone down and just be in the moment for a bit.

You may also enjoy:
I'm Not A Cool Mum & That's OK
I Love My Postpartum Body But...
An Honest Conversation About Being A Mum Of Two
Reclaiming My Identity Postpartum

Fighting The Festive Mum Guilt


I get mum guilt over, well, everything! My current favourites are: how much my toddler eats, whether I am giving my toddler enough attention, the fact that I haven't had a full social media black out following the birth of my newborn like I did with the first. And, of course, the biggie: Christmas.

Festive mum guilt is kinda like regular mum guilt but on steroids. It consumes you. Where once was a woman who could just put up Christmas decorations without it having to be a thing now stands a woman (with bigger eye bags and slightly greyer hair) trying to put up Christmas decorations whilst also worrying about whether it is a special enough experience for the children. A woman worrying about whether we have enough Christmas traditions. Whether we are really cherishing this time enough. Whether our tree is as big as the other kids have at home. Whether she is doing enough. Whether she is enough.

This year I have felt this hard. I guess because this is our first Christmas as a family of four, there is a huge pressure to make the most of it. And it is the first Christmas that Ava can really get involved so I can't really use the excuse of her just being a baby anymore. I find myself scrolling through Instagram and comparing myself to other mums who are taking their kids to meet Father Christmas or going away on festive mini breaks as a family or just having a really nice house which is beautifully decorated. And it sucks. Especially as we aren't in the best financial position at the moment. And it does get to me sometimes. I do wish I had more money to buy the best gifts and fill every day with activities and have a really nice, comfortable home for us all to enjoy. And the whole pressure of the season really exacerbates these negative feelings. Where I should be just enjoying the festivities, I am instead worrying that the memories we are making as a family aren't good enough and feeling guilty that I can't provide a better life for my children.


And I can't say that these feelings have fully gone away. I still struggle with the whole Christmas mum guilt - especially over presents. But I have learnt that the root of this stress is two things: comparison and consumerism. I find myself comparing my bad days to the highlight reel of other people's lives. I mean, no one shows their toddler's tantrums on insta, do they? And that makes me feel bad. Sure, it is true, there are people that are better off than I am. And the majority of the people I follow on social media are in a far more comfortable financial position. But that doesn't mean that there is no value in what I have. It doesn't diminish how much Ava will enjoy the gifts she gets this year. And just because my house may not be 'insta-perfect', I should be grateful that I do have a home this Christmas.

The other cause of stress is consumerism. At this time of year, ever shop and brand and company wants your cash. So they give the hard sell. They align love with how much you are willing to spend. And it also makes you feel like what you already have isn't enough because they never want you to be content in what you have (else you won't need to buy more, right?). This feeling of gifts being somehow an indication of how much someone cares about you - an idea that is deeply imbedded in our culture and my mind - makes the mum guilt go crazy. You start to think that the love you have for your children has to be proven. And I felt so bad that I can't give Ava all of the things I know she will love because I simply can't afford to.


But then I realised that what is more important is time. Giving the gift of time is the most valuable gift I can give my children. Giving them attention. Sharing my everyday with them. And the memories that stay with you aren't always the fancy meals out or designer labels, it is in the small things. It is the dog stealing the Christmas turkey off the table. It is singing along to Christmas songs in the car. It is walking around the village at night looking at how everyone has decorated their houses. The small things make Christmas and make memories that last a lifetime.

So, this year, I am not going to let the devil on my shoulder make me feel inadequate. I am not going to overspend. I am going to take it easy and breathe. I am going to let myself enjoy the festivities. I am going to put my phone down and just be in the moment for a bit.

You may also enjoy:
I'm Not A Cool Mum & That's OK
I Love My Postpartum Body But...
An Honest Conversation About Being A Mum Of Two
Reclaiming My Identity Postpartum

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