How To Book The Perfect Family Air B n B

Great news – you’ve sorted your dates, chosen a destination and booked your flights. But unless you’re heading to a resort, you’re still left with the hardest decision yet when it comes to a holiday …Where the heck are you and your brood going to rest your – and if yours are anything like ours, they really will be – weary heads at the end of a long day? View Post

Slow and Simple Things To Do With Kids

As much as I absolutely love travelling with the kids and cannot imagine a day when I won’t say YES to an adventure, there is also something undeniably lovely about just enjoying the normal, everyday, entirely simple, often free and even-kind-of-boring-sounding pleasures of life together (Anyway – boring is good!). Dawdling in the aisles of our local supermarket and leaving the house with nowhere to go are two of my absolute favourite things to do with the kids. Below are some other ideas beyond just the normal park visits and baby groups (both of which I actually *dislike* which I’ll explain in another post!) Some are specifically London based but many of course can be done all over the world:

Farm life – aside from Whipsnade Zoo which holds a special place in my heart, zoos aren’t really my thing. Farms however, especially small, free range ones absolutely are. We love Kentish Town City Farm which is a real slice of urban nature where goats perch high above the train life and hens roam free at your feet. It’s free to enter and when combined with a visit to the gorgeous Arbour Cafe down the road, makes for the perfect simple day out. 

Flower or fruit picking – is there anything better than watching your little one tear through fields when said fields are full of juicy strawberries or stunning dahlias? Not really, in my humble opinion, if only because you’ll return with a basket full of the most beautiful, freshly cut goodies at far lower prices than anything you’ll find in a shop. Just don’t let them out of your sight… In the Summer we love to go dahlia picking here where there is also a lovely farm shop and a super cute cafe where you can grab a coffee and piece of cake at afterwards. Prices start from 25p!

Hanging out in allotments – so long as you don’t let your kids trample over someone’s courgettes, this has to be one of the nicest way to spend an afternoon not to mention free and educative as kids can learn that no, carrots do not grow in the supermarket. Just stay away from any over zealous allotment folk – we once got a hefty telling off and had to pretend we owned an allotment (which would actually be amazing!) Just keep a low profile, and you’ll be fine.

Climbing – as soon as Jack turns 5, this is our first stop. Climbing is an amazing way to grow your kids’ self-confidence, trust and strength and when it’s all taking place in an epic Victorian former water pumping station that looks like a castle with the most gorgeous garden and cafe, you cannot go wrong. Londoners, this is where it’s at if you’re at all interested in reaching new heights with your little ones.

Supermarket shopping – one of my personal favourite as well as super useful things to do with the kids is the weekly food shop. Not only does it tick off one of the chores, it’s also educational – I’m sure Jack is learning a fair amount about the world as he helps me weigh the vegetables and talk to the man at the cheese counter about the fact that they still don’t sell enough vegan cheese.

Coffee shops – for better or for worse, hanging out in coffee shops has to probably be my all time favourite thing to do with the kids. I think it’s the combination of the caffeine hit for mama and the look on Jack’s face as he discovers that it’s possible for a croissant to contain chocolate that does it for me. Oh, and the overarching possibility of a kid going to sleep in the buggy and the site of a lone discarded Guardian newspaper just waiting to be picked up. Cafes with play areas for kids is basically the equivalent of an amazing club these days and if the owners are nice too, I’ll pretty much move in. Some of my favourites include Bear + Wolf Cafe, The Slate cafe, The Wilds Cafe (all these have play areas) and Bluebelles just ‘cos it’s my local and their pastries are BOOM.

Garden centre – our local garden centre is like a second home to us. We just seem to end up there time and time again wandering in and out of the greenhouses and resisting buying another mini cactus. It helps that it’s walking distance from our home but seriously, if you’ve not taken your little ones on a garden centre jaunt, you really must. They are especially magical at Christmas time when all the trees are displayed and you might find Santa hanging out there too.

Library – this one is of course perfect for a rainy day when you need to get out the house but you still want to be indoors. Bring a flask of coffee, have a good exit strategy if someone starts making too much noise, stay off your phone and you’re all set. It’s also super to support your local community and introduce your child to the idea that you don’t have to own a book to enjoy it.

And here’s what we tend to do when we just want to stay in our PJs all day.,.

Yoga – I try to practice yoga with and without the children a few times a week. Here’s some tips on how I (attempt to) make that work!

Gardening – even just getting Jack to water the plants is a fun way to fill 20 minutes. We inevitably always also end up doodling on the patio

Cooking – Jack can now help me measure out some flour etc to make a super simple cake, in fact he helped me make this one which is a family favourite

Loading the dishwasher – babies and toddlers seem to LOVE dishwashers so why not make them work and get them helping to unload and pass you the plates too. Just maybe keep them away from your best Anthropologie bowl..

Sorting clothes washing – despite being distinctly unhelpful, Jack loves sorting the clothes into different piles of colours

Rearranging my cupboards – when I get in the mood to sort my cupboards – whether food or clothes – Jack always manages to entertain himself with an oxo cube or old scarf and it’s a great way to while away an hour or so and end up with a (just about) tidier home in the process

Playing… in the bath – you know when 5pm hits but it feels like bedtime is a lifetime away? Often we switch things up and have a long bath before bed and sometimes I even jump in too.

I hope you enjoyed this article describing some of the simple, slow things in life that I love doing with our kids. What’s your favourite “ordinary” thing to do with your little one, and why ? I’d love to hear some more ideas..

As ever, thanks so much for reading and have an awesome day.

Emma xxx

 

P.S Spend More Time Doing Less and A Three Year Old’s Sleep Regression

 

Return To Work Post Maternity Leave – The Fear

I wish I were sitting here writing about my favourite zero waste products as a continuation of this post or sharing a delicious new recipe (I am VERY into black beans right now) but I am totally and utterly consumed by something else right now and I can’t get it out of my mind. I think about it all day, every day and I am really, really confused. What I’m referring to is Post Maternity Leave Fear, otherwise known as PMLF, doh. I know this is not exactly a banging acronym, but the feelings are hard hitting, trust me. View Post

10 Ways To Reduce Waste And Live With Less

I want to talk about two ‘movements’ that have taken ahold of me over the past few months and arguably, changed my life. Interestingly they could be seen as contradictory: on one hand, minimalism tells us that we only need the very bare essentials whether that’s clothes or beauty products or food items whilst zero waste tells us not to dispose of anything, not even the liquid brine from your can of beans which could go towards making a perfectly delicious meal. What they do both have in common though, and what talks to me on a profound level is consciously not buying shit I don’t need. This has led me down the path of waging a bit of a personal battle against ‘stuff’ with the following goals:

I want to know what I own.

I want to make a conscious decision to consume less.

I want to care for and enjoy what we do own much, much better.

I want to stop always reaching for more.

I want to simplify our lives.

smoothie jar, smoothie jar, reusable

Old jars make the best smoothie bowls

I’ve had enough of buying yet more kirby grips when I have two packs hiding at the back of my bathroom cabinet, enough of clothes piling up on top of each other but when I want to find that one black top, I cannot and enough of three wooden spoons on my kitchen counter when last time I checked, I only stir food using one hand? That sewing machine sat on the floor in Sonny’s bedroom brings me no joy so why don’t I give it to charity or sell it on ebay so someone who really needs and wants it can have it? Why do I need to keep using disposable coffee cups when I can just have one cup I use again and again? In essence, I have generally just had enough of STUFF.

It’s a goal that has taken me on an interesting and at times, quite comical journey – from not buying a single thing beyond bare essentials (food + toilet paper…) for 6 months to becoming “no-poo” (ditching commercial shampoo and conditioner) and at times finding myself with such greasy hair I could pretty much cook off it. So, when the wonderful Unpackaged, a business focused on refills, invited me to attend a talk by Bea Johnson, author of Zero Waste Home I jumped at the opportunity. Last year Bea and her family generated one single jar of waste – I find that idea incredible. Just being at the talk, I left feeling ‘lighter’ and less bogged down so I thought I’d share with you some of my highlights from the evening and some personal learnings I’ve had through my own journey.

Instead of loads of plastic bottles of shampoo and conditioner, I just use one single soapnut bar that lasts me for months

 

1.First up, this is not about recycling, it’s about not letting it enter your home in the first place. We all get offered things all the time. A free pen when you sign up to a new bank account? A blogger’s goody bag? A paper napkin tucked in with your cake? If you try to be discerning about what enters your house in the first place, this job gets a whole lot easier. Consequently…

minimalism

This is my tea cupboard – I can see everything I own 🙂

2.You can’t be too British. By this I mean, you need to learn to be forthright and say no. People try to give you stuff THE WHOLE TIME and you need to learn to politely decline.

3. Follow the Marie Kondo mantra – let go of what doesn’t bring you joy. I recently noticed a candle which had been sitting on my kitchen table for months. I’d probably lit it about twice since I’d had it (since our wedding – so four years), it’s kinda grubby, part broken and do you know what, I don’t actually like it. On just removing it from my room, I immediately felt a little happier. Tune in to what brings you joy, people.

4. Buy in bulk – this is an amazing way to reduce unneeded packaging and to save money. (and no I’m not talking about buying 72 mars bars – in my case, I’m talking cous cous, nuts, and Weetabix) I really recommend Suma – it’s all organic, vegetarian and fairtrade.

5. Catch yourself in the right mood to reduce your belongings – I find there are days when I can’t bring myself to throw out an unused paper clip and other days where I get rid of a binbag of stuff. When you’re in the right mood, go go go!

6. Trial it – before getting rid of something, I will often put it away for a few weeks to trial if I miss it or need it. For example, I took a whole load of kitchen utensils and put them away in a bag out of sight. Have I needed them or wanted them once ? Nope.

7. Rotate things – sometimes you don’t need to get rid of things, you just need to give them a bit of a break. I often collect up the kids’ toys and books that are getting lost amongst their other toys and put them away – a few weeks later I bring them out again and they’re like new in their eyes.

Bruised apples? Make them into apple rings – delicious and perfect for teething babies

8. Make use of charity shops and the second hand market place – you know those golf clubs gathering dust at the back of your shed? Sell them on ebay, make some dosh and let someone who loves golf and will genuinely use them have them. I have found so many gems for the children in charity shops – for any North London mums, check out Farah in Primrose hill.

9. Make what you do own visible so that, as silly as this sound, you *know that you own it*. When I started on this journey I ordered a load of Le Parfait jars – every single one is full with dried good and being used so much more than when all the produce was stuck at the back of the cupboard. The amount of half empty packs of cous cous and half finshed packs of dried fruit – I’ve sorted and amalgamated everything and am enjoying it so much more.

10. Always consider reusable – from napkins to nappies, coffee cups to clingfilm, there are so many alternatives to the plastic, throw away version that are equally effective not to mention super lovely and cost – efficient. I’ll be doing a post soon all about my top zero waste products…

******

So where am I at with it now? Although I’ve got a lot more focused on reducing the amount ‘stuff’ in our house, as with every ‘movement’ or particular lifestyle, for me it’s about being obsessive. I’m not going to not have a coffee if I forget my reusable cup one day or carry all the grocery shopping (although I do have a good go at stuffing most of it into my nappy bag) home if I forget my totes at the supermarket.Who knows where this will all take me but I do know that since starting my ‘mission’, I’ve found that I consume in an entirely different and far more conscious way. I no longer browse shops just to see what might be nice; I’m satisfied with what I already have. One of the things Bea Johnson talked about is the concept that “buying is voting” and I could not agree more – so I try now to make the stuff we do own really count, one way or another.

Have you tried reducing your consumption or waste. What do you make of it all? Leave me a comment below…

Emma xx

P.S Why And How To Buy In Bulk and 10 Essentials for Family Travel

 

 

A Perfect Weekend In Whitstable

I love discovering places far afield (our recent trip took us to Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam) but I also have a serious thing for seeking out gems in the UK, and Whitstable has to be one of my new absolute favourite towns. No more than about a two hour drive (or around 60 miles) from London, Whitstable is an absolutely gorgeous seaside town packed with restaurants, plenty of art and culture and of course, a plethora of beautiful beaches. 

Apart from its decidedly sweet name – Salt Marsh Cottage – the first thing I loved about our cottage for the weekend was its location: a stone’s throw away from the beach and slap bank in the middle of town, it could not have been any better.To this end, as soon as we arrived, there was no option but to dump our bags, throw on some woolly hats and scarves and head straight to the beach to catch one of the most beautiful beach sunsets I’d possibly ever seen. From the word go, Whitstable wowed me and I already knew we’d be returning. In terms of evening beach spots, you can’t do any better than the Old Neptune to watch the world go by and frolick in the pebbles whilst enjoying a cheeky little tipple. Once back at the house we started exploring inside; aside from its positioning, the cottage itself was absolutely beautiful. It’s grade 2 listed so had some amazing features from original wooden floorboards to fire places but it had also recently been renovated so felt super clean with a load of handy amenities such as a microwave and DVD player. We made full use of the space – Jack slept in the room at the top of the house which with its low double bed was perfect and Sonny was in the single bedroom next door to us (although unfortunately he was a little poorly during the night and slept AWFULLY which was a shame given how comfortable his room was). Indeed, it’s the perfect size for a family with two or more children. The owner also provided us with a travel cot and a high chair and a stairgate was available on request too (the stairs are quite steep so you might want to keep little ones safely enclosed).

That evening after eeking out the last moments of that unforgettable sunset, we bathed the kids and took a drive to Margate (about 30 minutes away) to sample some of the restaurants in the area. Super reasonably priced, right on the seafront and serving up some of the best pizza we’ve ever had, Great British Pizza Co is a must for any pizza fans. Or really any food fans. Apart from my hair setting on fire (see my vlog for more), it was the perfect first evening. Margate is undergoing a real renaissance – a Turner Contemporary gallery opened not long ago – and it is full of trendy eateries and cool bars and shops. Whilst Whitstable is quaint and everything about it is quality, Margate is a bit more hipster and cutting edge. In fact, it has acquired the nickname “Shoreditch on Sea” and I can see why. And as much as I’d have loved to have checked out Morgan’s bar next door, we are finally facing the fact that going out for cocktails with an 8 month old and toddler just ain’t really the done thing. But we’d be back in Margate soon enough…

We spent the next day wandering around Whitstable which is brimming with lovely coffee shops and restaurants, as well as decent supermarkets and pharmacies. And fish and chip shops – so many epic fish and chips shops. It basically has everything you need. Highlights for us were the cafe Tea and Times where they have a big rail of magazines, delicious home made cakes and super friendly staff. This is a must for anyone who enjoys a good read with their cuppa (I’m looking at you people without minis) plus they have children’s magazines too so we were able to entertain Jack with a new Paw Patrol magazine for at least 8 minutes whilst we enjoyed some apple cake.Whitstable Produce store is a great place to pick up some delicious provisions (they also do super yummy sausage rolls and coffee!) if you’re cooking at home and Samphire is an all round absolute winner for food and ambience.

Back in Margate, go to Roost for super yummy chicken and chips and great kids meals (it’s right on the seafront so also a great place to watch the world go by) and if Indian food is your thing, I’ve also heard Ambrette is something special. Always one to spend as much time as possible by the sea, I was keen to do some more beach frolicking. In fact, Kent holds a special place in our hearts as it’s where we came on our babymoon when I was pregnant with Jack. I take my beaches seriously and I’d done a fair bit of research in to sandy one in the area and Botany Bay seemed by far the best option. Flanked by beautiful white cliffs, it is enclosed and small and beautiful. It was so special going back there with both children and we had a lovely time kicking about a football and just hanging out on the beach. It was quiet due to the cold weather but I imagine in the Summer it is packed, especially as the sea is flagged as being safe for swimming in. That said, there is something kinda nice about a beach in the Winter…

There was just about time to scoot to the Turner gallery which actually had some family fun on as well as a free exhibition before we dashed home to make it back before the hugest storm hit. That evening we stayed firmly indoors, put the kids to bed, got some take away Fish n chips in and watched a movie. Perfection. 

Our stay at Salt Marsh Cottage was brief but wonderful and I know we’ll be back. I’d love to return in the Summer and spend more time exploring the town and the coastline. In terms of other things to do whilst in Whitstable, the website Things to do in Whitstable has you covered. A big thanks to Places to stay in Whitstable who put us up for the weekend and if you want to check out their selection of Whitstable holiday cottages or book the actual cottage we stayed in (which honestly I cannot recommend highly enough) you can find it here.

Finally you can watch a little vlog of our time here.

Thanks for reading as ever. Have you been to Kent? Or have you got any other UK gems you can share with me? I always love getting recommendations of where to next visit….

Big love and have a beautiful day,

Emma xxx

 

Hanging out in Hoi An

And so it was that with absolutely zero idea of the time let alone the day, and a “night” that consisted mainly of Paw Patrol on a loop and ritz crackers we found ourselves waking up at 5.30am (only we would fly half way across the world and then have to set an alarm to get us and the kids out of bed at some unearthly hour), grabbing pastries, coffee and bananas (thank the Lord for bananas) and piling onto a buggy cart and heading back to Kuala Lumpur airport. I don’t remember anything of the flight but it felt great to land somewhere new and not have fitting two kids car seats be our first experience of a new country (we have lost hours of our lives trying to fit these things with grumpy looking staff just looking on). Instead we were greeted by a smiling man and led to our car which we all promptly collapsed in to, soaking up the air conditioning whilst Jack immediately noticed the bobbing Buddha’s head on the dashboard, before all the boys passed out for the rest of the journey.

We soon arrived at our hotel, the beautiful Hoi An Ancient House resort* and were taken to our room. The first thing I noticed and loved was the outdoors shower – my absolute dream. The hard marble-like floor, not so much. Jack has just transitioned to a bed at home so he was sleeping in beds/ sofa beds on this trip and luckily a friend tipped me off about Shrunks inflatable bed rail which has been invaluable. The grounds of the hotel are stunning and we spent a gorgeous few hours hanging out (I hesitate to use the word ‘relaxing’ because whenever there is a toddler involved and he is awake, things are never truly 100% relaxing). That said, we are fortunate in that Jack is extremely content playing alone, especially if he has a few of his wooden trains which thankfully we brought along.

A bath and sugary coffee later, that evening we somehow found ourselves and our 2858 other items (we have since realised the importance of a GOOD and LARGE day bag) hauling ourselves onto the hotel shuttle to go and explore the old town of Hoi An. I’m not sure what we expected but what we were hit with far exceeded any pre conceived ideas. There was the most amazing atmosphere; a maze of narrow, bustling lanes with hand made lanterns of every colour strung up across the roads with tailors shops, restaurants and street food stalls spilling out. The roads mainly all converged at the main Thu Bon river packed with people and children selling lanterns to people to set afloat with wishes. To say Hoi An has charm is an understatement; I was walking around with my jaw wide open most of the evening. The main goal of the whole night though? To avoid getting lost and to make it back to the meeting point to catch the shuttle back. As luck / horrific  jetlag would have it, both boys fell fast asleep (Jack in the buggy and Sonny in the carrier on Sam) and with no time to mess around once we realised dinner might be kid-free, we dived into Mango Mango across the bridge which was delicious. (I’ve also heard great things about Morning Glory – the queue was too long though and the priority here was peaceful dining not necessary high dining). There was just time for a quick browse in the shops and coffee at Hoi An Roastery before the boys woke in time for some dinner (care of Ellas pouches) and a shuttle ride home. Several hours of bed jumping later, we all finally fell asleep….

The next day, eager to see the sea as soon as possible and never really that good at sitting still for long, we headed to An Bang beach in the afternoon where we mainly hung out in the huge sofa beds at the very chilled out Soul Kitchen and ate noodles and let the boys sleep more before going for wander in the back streets. That night, there was only one way to spend the evening; room service, dressing gowns and a big glass of wine.

The following day we had one of the few things that we had planned pre arriving in Asia; a cookery class at Gioan Cookery School. As is often the way with us, we say yes and worry about ‘how’ later; in this case, about 60 seconds before we walked into the class. And so it was that we found ourselves in the middle of a bustling food market with a baby hanging off me, Sam wheeling another, having herbs and spices and amazing coloured and shaped fruits thrust in our faces by women with not a huge amount of teeth, and a super sweet Vietnamese teacher who I was sharing birth stories with within 5 minutes of meeting. Back at the cookery school, thanks to plastic tricycles and children- loving Vietnamese – we seemed to somehow be taught and just about make a four course meal from scratch: the most delicious spring rolls, veggie pho, aubergine clay pot and lemongrass chicken. All the while with the most animated friendly teacher who kept calling Sam ‘daddy boy’ and singing Beatles songs as she twirled brandishing some chopsticks and a huge knife. It was an unforgettable morning.

After the class, doggy bags in hand, we took a stroll to the old town to see it by day. Vietnam is famed for its coffee, and Hoi An did not disappoint. We crossed the Japanese bridge and found ourselves at Reaching Out Tea House –  a social enterprise cafe run by speech and hearing impaired individuals where the coffee and snacks are amazing, only whispering is permitted and there is a paper based ordering system. Literally, it wa the perfect place for a slightly frazzled couple, sleeping toddler and baby (being cared for by friendly staff) looking for a peaceful place to while away the afternoon. The coffee was strong and the home made coconut biscuits bang on. We left feeling rested, arriving back at the hotel for a “quiet” night in feasting on left overs and a cheeky Diet Coke from the mini fridge. Eatery wise, I’d also heard good things about The Field but unfortunately it was closed when we were there.

Our final morning was spent scoffing passion fruit and pastries before jumping on bikes and cycling out into the countryside. To clarify, Sam was carrying Sonny in the connecta baby carrier with Jack sat in a little seat at the back – given I could hardly reach the pedals there was no way I was risking anyone else’s’ life. That said – and there’s been a few – it was one of those experiences where I spent most of it looking anywhere other than at Sam and the kids for the entirety of the time. Put it this way, I’m not sure it would have passed UK road safety standards. Mini heart palpitations aside, exploring the dusty back roads and idyllic fishing villages was potentially my favourite part of our whole time in Hoi An.  Jack and I got a ride on a buffalo and I watched/hovered over whilst he ran around the villages darting in and out the brightly coloured houses on stilts. The kind of places where washing strung up looks pretty. We managed to stay on land and upright and make it back to our hotel before heading to the airport for the next chapter of our travels. We had a seamless flight to Siem Reap with Vietnam Airlines but once we arrived to Cambodia we had to endure an extremely long wait for our visa. All I’ll say is thank the lord for the hordes of Korean and Chinese tourists who took it upon themselves to entertain / help me carry / play racing cars / photograph the kids so that whilst Sam was dealing with the mammoth three hour visa situation, I was somehow jugging the kids. We didn’t end up getting out of the airport until around 8pm but our night was only just getting started…Thanks for reading this far….more coming soon!

*we were fortunate to receive some nice Press perks during our stay.

 

17 learnings about travelling with two kids under 3

Half way through our South East Asia trip with the two sproglets in tow, from the bleary eyed tiredness to the tears of pure joy, I thought I’d share what I’ve learnt so far along this journey.

1. Getting enough sleep – adults and kids – is EVERYTHING. Absolutely everything. Equally, overtiredness is the enemy.  It is the difference between tantruming toddlers and bickering adults; it is the difference between a broken nights sleep and a beautiful 8 hours.

2. By extension, we all seem to have mastered the art of sleeping when and where we can. On a tuk tuk, a boat, on a makeshift bed in the middle of a fishing village….getting that shut eye is becoming easier and easier (except at night when kids are actually supposed to sleep…)

3. Traveling to Asia means bedtime for Jack (Sonny has settled well into the new time zone) is super late. He doesn’t stop bounding about til about midnight which is exhausting for us and is sort of turning me into an alcoholic (a glass of wine or Angkor beer helps ease the jumping)

4. If the two kids nap at the same time, this is literally the absolute f*cking holy grail. It’s happened to us, twice, both times for about ten minutes and I was so excited I didn’t know what to do with myself. I went to the toilet in peace and it was amazing.

5. When travelling with two small kids they have to share everything – nappies, toys, bottles, clothes…heck, I’ve even considered putting Jacks shorts on. Washing clothes and buying things is a lot of effort.

6. Cambodians / Vietnamese love kids – especially women but men as well. They’ll often offer to take Sonny from us or sometimes just take him… I particularly appreciate how adept they are at putting on baby carriers – they always help. But yes, if you’re clingy with your kids, don’t come to Asia; if you appreciate all the help you can get (our camp), it’s great. Seriously, these kids are on a lot of camera phones..

7. Everything becomes a toy (especially on a plane) and yes, I’ve been known to give Sonny a shoe to play with…

8. You will get to know your kids better than ever before; you’ll learn the exact moment they need to go to sleep before melt downs occur; the foods that will win them round; the precise face or words that will make them laugh then and there.

9. Get a big breakfast down yourselves and your kids – it’s hard to find the right time/ place / to feed everyone during day. It’s also easy to forget to…

10. When you get to a new place, unless its just a one night stop over as we had in Kuala Lumpur, unpack your bags. A not so messy room as opposed to a ransacked looking room will make all the difference when you get back from a meal out and just want to find toddler’s toothbrush and get everyone to bed asap.

11. Prioritise the practical stuff – then embrace it. The other day we were down to one nappy just because we’d been putting off a trip to the supermarket. In actual fact, supermarkets in foreign places are kinda fun. Just don’t get me started on their baby food or my experience trying to find sanitary towels.

12. The learning curve – on everything – is steep. And it’s exhausting. And it’s very, very beautiful.

13. Bananas are everything when traveling: zero prep, with a skin so zero dirt, high energy, cheap and healthy.

14. The jury’s still out as to whether sand is a good or bad thing; perfect terrain for wobbly sitting babies and energetic fall-prone toddlers but obviously it gets absolutely friggin’ everywhere, mainly in Sonny’s mouth and Jack’s crotch.

15. Airport travel is actually the easy part – it’s the whiling away time by the sea that can be toughest. Rushing around on a tuk tuk at least keeps everyone entertained as opposed to attempting to lounge around like all those childless people do.

16. Don’t stress about kids eating well; there’s enough to worry about. Pasta, rice, ice cream… whatever works.

17. Never before will you experience so many highs and so many lows; such a huge range of emotions; such intensely happt smiles that make your face hurt and sighs so deep you want to throw the towel in and come home.

We’ve just arrived at a ridiculously beautiful island called Koh Rung so I’m off to cchase after a toddler and find some bananas. I’ll  be doing another post soon about all the essentials and the dudd items we brought away with us…

Thanks for reading – Emma xxx

24 hours in Malaysia and a Magical Moment
I-don’t-know-how-many but I think about 2 days in, “hold my finger” and “close your eyes” are the two phrases I’ve probably uttered the most so far. The former because there never quite seems enough hands to hold bags and buggy and small people and the five trains your toddler must travel with (the small wooden magnetic ones which he attaches together than walks along with them hanging vertically ás they dangle off each other; a recipe for loss / upset but makes him happy all the meanwhile so, #itsallgood) and the latter because sleep – heck, even closing your eyes, for the little ones and for us adults, is the number one priority. It is the difference between toddler melt downs and pointless adult bickering; the difference between achey adult knees and overtired children’s bloodshot watery eyes. Even as I write this I have one eye half closed.
We left our home at 3pm on Tuesday and I could not have been more excited to close the door on the weetabix encrusted highchair and load of laundry stuffed behind the cupboard door. Piling into our car having finally realised that the best way to get our bags and us to an airport is just to drive there ourselves. There’s been too many moody taxi drivers, hassle with car seats and frazzled public transport journeys to go any other way. It’s kind of annoying that holidays abroad often start with airports because, much like shopping centres, kids seem to really hate them. Just as Jack was mid meltdown (and we bumped into some of my colleagues –  great timing), Sam made a discovery that turned our lives (in that moment of course – when travelling, you really can only be in that very precise moment) upside down: Heathrow has soft play. Next door to a Pret. Now I am not a fan of soft play but in this scenario, it was slap bang amazing. The next thirty minutes were pretty magical (cannot believe our first magic moment on this trip was soft play but hey).
The plane journey – all 12 and a half hours of it – was, overall, mixed. Jack ate and slept, Sonny ate and slept and cried and ate and slept and cried and cried and cried and…. you get the picture. The British Airways staff were brilliant (free Ella’s pouches? Yes please) but it’s true to say, Sonny is not a fan of their bassinet. We made it to Kuala Lumpur and the rest is a bit of a blur but next thing, we were on a golf buggy, Jack is laughing his heart out and we’re whizzing along a glass corridor to our airport hotel. The next 12 hours were just what we needed; the boys cooled off by the pool, we took a long bubble bath and we tucked into a buffet dinner which INCLUDED SUSHI 🙌🙌🙌
We managed to keep the kids up and all flopped into bed before the inevitable middle of the night jet lag hit us. Cue a 2am Thomas the tank Engine session before we all finally fell back into a slumber just in time for our alarm clocks to go off, a mad scramble to pack everything up (how can we make so much mess in so short a time and why do dummies just disappear?) and swing by the breakfast buffet / surreptitiously nick a few things (thank gosh for continental breakfasts because noodles and congee do not transfer so well)
Bring on three nights in one place, Vietnamese coffee, seeing the sea and a cookery course. I’ll keep you posted.