High School Transition

Year 6 children were recieving their high school decisions last week and everyone of them and their nervous parents were in my thoughts.

This time last year we were in that position. Waiting desperately to find out if we had been given a place at our first choice.

When we received the email informing us both twins had been offered a place at Oxted School, the school we were hoping for, I thought that was the end of our stress.

A bottle of champagne and a nice dinner out marked the end of a stressful couple of years of reseach, opinions, school tours and Ofsted reports.

About three weeks after we found out the boys had got into Oxted, a Facebook post appeared on my thead.

Latest Ofsted Report shows school is failing its pupils’.
Our first choice school had recieved a ‘Requires Improvement ‘ grading from Ofsted.

I looked through the report and managed to rationalise most of it.
In fact, the report didn’t concern me half as much as some of the comments being made by parents and people from the community about the school on the facebook post.

Comments were being made about ‘teachers turning a blind eye to bullying, knife threats, picturing a school that worries more about uniform that its student welfare.

Pupils being assaulted and nothing being done’ it just sounded like every mums worst nightmare.

It was too late to apply for another school so I turned for a brief moment to the thought of private education….for all of 10 minutes.

I worked out it would cost about £850,000 to send all our children and that is before University costs!

Everytime I popped into town and met someone with a child at the school I spent 15 minutes quizzing them.
I spoke to ex pupils and current pupils and everyone gave me the same feedback.
It is a large school (over 3000 pupils) and there will always be bad stories, unfortunately the good stories never tend to make it to social media, but overall the feedback was positive.

I emailed the head teacher with my concerns and ten minutes later I recieved a reply inviting me to pop in and see her.

She explained exactly where she felt the school was lacking and how she planned to tackle the issues Ofsted had raised. She assured me that the door was always open if we ever had any more concerns.

Right. I was reassured. I could start looking forward to my twin sons new life adventure.

September arrived but, unexpectedly, that first week was probably the hardest of my whole ‘mum life’.

We were so excited, the boys had all their uniform, pe kit and lesson equipment ready and off they went.

I had spent the previous two days watching all my other mum friends from primary school post what a great first day their kids had and I couldn’t wait to do the same.

I spent all day with an excited knot in my stomach, waiting to pick them up and find out how their first day at high school had been.

I couldn’t wait to hear about all the friends they had made and wonderful teachers that they had met.

It was nothing like what I had expected.

They hated it.

They told me they had made no friends and they wanted to move to the school that all their old pals had gone to (they were the only ones from their primary school to go to Oxted).

They were so upset, both of them, they were crying and begging us not to send them back.
I was devestated, and even though Mike is much more laid back when it comes to schooling than me, he couldn’t hid his dissapointment too.

I completly and irrationally thought back to the Facebook comments earlier in the year and decided, despite spending two years researching secondary schools, I had screwed up.

My boys were not happy, and that was the one thing I wanted for them.

I posted my feelings on Instagram. Negative posts is not something I usually share but a friend had told me, as a parent blogger, it is important to share the sad times of parenthood aswell as the funny.

It really helped me and acted more as reach out for some support. I was shocked at how many other parents said their children were experiencing the exact same feelings.

Even though I felt like crap, I didn’t let the boys know, I adopted my usual positive manner.

‘It is your first day, you didnt have any friends on your first day at primary school, look at you now.’

‘It seems hard and strange now but give it a couple of weeks and you will feel differently’

‘I felt exactly the same on my first day at High School’

They were not convinced so I made a deal with them.

I told them if they threw everything into this half term, if they joined extra curricular activities (enrichment) as the school calls it, and If they tried their best with school and homework and by the October half term they still felt the same I would look into different options.

I had no intention of moving them unless it was really effecting them but it was important for them and our relationship that they understood I was listening to them.

After that I became a ‘pushy mum’.

I found the list of the enrichment activities and went through all the various clubs with them.

They offered everything from science, art, drama, dance, table tennis and all sorts of sports. We agreed on a few each and I insisted they try, even if it was just once.

Harrison went to Football and Rugby after school, Mikey went to drama, trampolining and hockey.

Mikey put himself forward for the Christmas play and had a great time at the school roller disco.

Harrison joined cross country and was invited to a inter-school meet within his first three weeks at school.

I honestly believe that the enrichment activities they have put thselves forward for has helped their transition in secondary school.

Needless to say, by October they had completely changed their mind about leaving Oxted.

I am hoping this might help other parents struggling with children moving into secondary school.

Extra curricular activities not only helps new pupils create friendships with people with similar interests but representing your school also embeds a sense of pride in your child and their school.

Within two weeks the boys were happy at school, within two months they were really enjoying going into school.

Now, half way through their second term, they love school. They have made incredible friends, represented the school in various sports and drama. They enjoy their lessons and learning and respect their school and teachers.
Their parents evening was fantastic and I am so complementary and over the moon with the school.

The parent – teacher communication is spot on, the oppertunities are in abundance and the standards and expectations are high.

The school is also wonderful at sharing and celebrating students achievements, whether they in school or out of school.

So here is what I have taken from my first experience as a mum moving from Primary to Secondary school.

– Don’t stress to much about other peoples opinions. What suits others may not suit your children, just go with your gut instict.

– Encourage them to embrace all the oppertunities that the school offer. If they resist, push them. It is nerve racking for them, but it is well worth it and a good life lesson for them to push outside their comfort zone.

– Keep an eye out for newsletters and emails. My boys are not always great at relaying information from school and gone are the days a letter is popped in their book bag.

– When you hear about kids fighting at a school, don’t panic straight away. The boys have witnessed a few fights in their seven months and I worried at first. Untill they explain that the ‘fights’ are basically a couple of pupils pushing eachother and getting their handbags out.

– If you have any questions or concerns go straight to the school. Headship teams understand parents concerns and should be on hand to put your mind at rest.

– Become part of the school community. I dont mean you have to join the PTA (everyone who knows me knows that is not me). However, offering to help at school events means you are helping support and becoming part of the schools community.

– Speak to your children. The boys and I have a very open relationship. I ask about their day at school, friendships, teachers, schoolwork, social media and general life. When they speak to me I try to never judge. I dont want them to ever worry about telling me something.

– Keep in touch with friends from primary school. It is important for them to still have the familiarity and safety their old friendships bring.

– Have realistic expectations of teachers and the school. Educational bodies are under a huge amount of pressure and need your support.

Oxted School has been, so far, the best decision we have ever made for our boys and I hope it continues.
I absolutly thrive on watching them grow, the friendships they are making and the experiences they are having.

I am not suggesting it is a perfect school, but after a year of analysing I have come to the conclusion that no school is.

Please share or tag any friends you have that are going through this transition.

I would love to hear what tips you have for making the transtion smoother for year seven pupils and parents.

Prehaps my other post on choosing a high school might help

Choosing the right Secondary School

I asked aome of my wonderful blogging community for their top tips on starting Secondary School and here is what they had to say.

Sarah at www.kippersandcurtains.com

If they are walking to school – do a few practise walks over the summer hols so that they get used to the time it takes and the route. Find out if the school has a club on during the hols so they can familiarise themselves with the building and won’t feel so daunted.

Debbie at www.myboysclub.co.uk

Practice the journey to school and getting ready including full uniform, packing a bag and leaving the house at a certain time – especially as if it is different. Our morning routine totally changed. Also keep giving them more responsibility for their own routine.

https://www.myboysclub.co.uk/2018/08/preparing-your-child-for-secondary-school.html

Claire at www.mymoneycottage.com

My son started high school last September. Take every opportunity you can to visit the high school with them before they start so that they know their way round as much as possible before they start.

Cherry at www.thenewbytribe.com

There are a number of things that will really help! Firstly, make sure you accept any open days/evenings/holiday dates etc that the secondary school offers your child – they’ll often put on several things for up coming Year 7’s and if you can get your child to them all then it’s a great way for them to get to know the school and other children. Also, spend some time going through the new school’s website – look at the photos, check out the newsletter and the comings and goings a the school – it’ll help your child get to know what the school is up to, and will also give them a chance to know names and faces of teachers before they start. If they are starting somewhere they will have to walk to or bus to, do that trip a good few times before they start so that’s one less thing to worry about on the first morning. Also, most Primary schools will do lots and lots of transition – they’ll learn how to read timetables, how to read maps etc which always helps!

My Mumcation

Psychologists have suggested that mothers should take holidays with friends, not family – and this includes leaving the children behind.
Experts are urging tired mothers to go on “mum-cations”, holidays without their offspring, to take a proper break.

With this in mind, me and three of my closest girlfriends booked a ‘mumcation’ to Vilamoura for a few days in October.

A few people asked me if the weather was going to be any good in Portugal that time if year, as if we were crazy not to follow the blazing sun.
These people had totally missed the point of a mumcation.
Of corse good weather would be preferable, but honestly, if i could go to the toilet on my own, sleep without someones foot digging in my boobs and sit down by a pool without worrying who is going to drown/get abducted or piss off fellow vacationers, I would be a happy girl.

This weekend was more than a girls weekend, It was therapy and It gave me a chance to really relax and unwind.
When you become a mum your life revolves around these little people (rightly so), but we all need to keep our individual identity and take time out for ourselves, it is a huge factor to how I cope as a mum.

Whether it is a night out with Mike, drinks with the girls or a shopping trip entirely on my own, it is my time out.
It is my chance to clear my head of football training, horse riding, boxing, school pick up, kids parties, laundry, dinner etc and focus on me.

The morning we left I felt a complete mixture of emotions. I have been away on my own before, but not abroad since our two youngest have been born.
Let me picture the morning I left for Portugal for you…..

‘George, Arthur, come here, give me a kiss, I am going to miss you so much’

*GEORGE EMPTIES BUCKET OF LEGO ON MY BEDROOM CARPET*

‘FFS George!!! This is why i need a break’

‘George I am sorry, come here and give me a kiss’

*ARTHUR POURS THE CONTENTS OF MY COLD COFFEE OVER MY BED*

……..’Rosie, how long are you going to be? I know the flight is in 8 hours but we dont want to risk missing it’

From the moment Rosie picked me up to when she dropped me back to my door four days later, I did not stop laughing!

We talked about everything, nothing was off the table.
We talked about our kids, our partners and our friends, we discussed designer vaginas, sex and how to make a Wood pigeon call with your tounge.
We did eachothers make up and hair and shared eachothers clothes.

We people watched and ate great food (without a high chair or childrens menu in sight!)

We shared secrets and drank, we drank lots!

We danced every night until the early hours and the one day the weather was bit ‘meh’ we found a great shopping mall and we shopped. I picked up a couple of treats for the kids snd a little something for me…. (do you like my new boots?)

I managed to read a whole book! From start to finish, in one weekend. If you don’t have kids, this may seem ridiculous, if you do you kids, well, you know.

Guess what else I did? And I haven’t done this since I was about 21….. I had an afternoon nap! A siesta if you will.
Not because I had just given birth or because I dozed off breast feeding a baby, but because I consciously chose to!

Another thing. I have never enjoyed a hangover so much.

Knowing you can eat, drink and sleep your way through it without having to make food for little ones, read stories and change nappies makes a hangover so much easier to bear.

I can only describe the weekend as Bad Moms meets The Hangover with a drizzle of bridesmaids.

It was bliss…utter bliss and I owe my girls so much for being the perfect friends.

Their laid back natures ment there were no tantrums, no arguments and by the time we were due to come home I felt so ready to see Mike and the kids and be ‘mum’ again.

I urge you to try it! Book something up! It doesnt have to expensive, it doesnt have to be abroad.

A weekend in Portugal cost us £250 each (plus spending money). Easyjet flights were £150 return from Gatwick to Faro and our apartment at The Dom Pedro Portobelo was right on the marina where all the bars and restaurants are.

It comfortably accomodated the four of us and cost £100 each for the four nights.

I asked some fellow mum blogger what their opinionon ‘Mumcations’ is, here is what they had to say:

Rebecca at www.beccablogsitout.com

I haven’t had one and I’m.not sure I could. I’d love to, in theory. I could definitely use a break. But I think I’d feel too guilty if I went away for more than a day without the twins. I think I’d miss them.

Jenna at www.thentherewerethree.uk

‘I’ve had some! I met an amazing bunch of ladies on a birth group on Facebook and we arrange a couple of weekend breaks a year. We’ve booked a farmhouse in north wales, various city stays and are going to see the Spice Girls next year. I definitely think they’re needed.’

Francessca at https://frompenniestopounds.com

‘I’ve been on hen do’s and also my honeymoon without my daughter. With the honeymoon we went to Mexico which you can’t just pop over for, but I said I would not go for longer than 10 days.
I missed her but she had a great time with her grandparents. I was never close to my grandparents so I’m happy for her to spend time with them.
I think it’s healthy for both you and the kids.
I always take my daughter away every year now though since splitting up with my ex-husband.’

Gail at www.yammymommy.co.uk

‘Still can’t do more than a night away from my 4 year old. I think we would both struggle after 24 hours!’

Victoria at www.travelvixta.com

‘I haven’t yet, but I think in a couple of years once my youngest is at school then I’d love to go on a yoga retreat by myself! They look like bliss and even now with a 6 year old and 3 year old I feel like I could really do with some time to myself and a break for a few days to a retreat!’

Life with an eleven year old ‘gamer’

I really didn’t expect to have to deal with my children being influenced from an outside source as young as eleven years old.

We haven’t even started high school. Yet, here I am, trying to tackle my son, who, up until five moths ago was a polite, calm, laid back kid who’s biggest problem was finding matching sock in the morning and throwing the odd strop bcause I hadn’t stockedthe cupboards up with enough chocolate biscuits.
Then, like an unwelcome guest who moved in and took over our lounge (and wifi)…. Fortnitearrived!
Before then he would take or leave the computer. He would play ten minutes here, half an hour there and then lose interest.
H originally ‘sold’ Fortnite to me as a free game that he can play with his school friends, I agreed that he could download it.

Since then, parenting my Fortnite obsessed son has turned me into an skilled negotiator, lowered my mental age to 11 to try to understand/sympathise with him and brought out my inner ‘Mrs Trunchball’.

I get it. I remember being obsessed with Mario Kart and Sonic the hedgehog when I was his age. My brother and I would play for hours and hours if we were allowed (which we weren’t).
The big difference is that I wasn’t accessible to anyone online and once the game was purchased, no further expenses were incurred.

Fortnite is ingenious, they have created a game with an online community which creates a constant link to friends (and strangers) as well as offering a so called ‘free’ game but that you have to constantly buy bolt ons for.

I have moaned about the game, I have had screaming matches with my son, I have tried to reason with him, it has been an exhausting few months and I know I am not alone.
H would get back from school and put his headphones straight on.
He sulked when I ask him to switch it off.
He threw tantrums if the internet was slow because it made the game ‘lag’.
His general attitude was shameful and I was not ready for this ‘Kevin’ stage, (certainly not until he is at least 13!
Apart from the change in his attitude, I was concerned about the dangers. My husband has friends that play this game! Without realising it H has been playing in online groups that adults have been in.
It was Piers Morgan of all people who I felt gave me the kick up the arse I needed.
There was a section on Good Morning Britain about Fortnite and it’s effects on children.
We heard about children who were wetting themselves rather than stopping the game (you can not pause Fortnite). They also announced that Fortnite is the first game that has resulted with a child being referred for counseling on the NHS.
So Piers, rather than just object to the game, put the blame firmly at the parents feet.
My first reaction was anger. This game has been expressly designed to hook and addict my child and I was trying my hardest to keep my preen in line.
The family counsellor who was a guest on the show said ‘Parents are trying to hard to be liked by their children, they are too scared to upset them’
That sounded so familiar and then I realised, I had become the mum I never thought I would be…..the mum that puts being her child’s friend in front of discipline, safety and respect.
I made H watch the segment. He saw for himself what the majority of parents were thinking.

All the children are telling their parents,

‘Jonnys mum lets him play when he wants’

‘Billys mum lets him play longer than you let me’
When actually, that’s all rubbish! We are trying to enforce rules and the kids are (embarrassingly) manipulating us.
I asked him what he thought was a reasonable amount of screen time each day. We agreed on 45 minutes on a week day (after chores and homework is done) and 1.5 hours at the weekends.
So far this has been working brilliantly.
We have also sat down together and watched the story of Breck Brednar, a school boy that lived near to us.
He was groomed for over a year by a lad in his gaming community. Despite his parents concerns and warnings, he was tragically murdered at 14 years old by the 17 year old boy.
Watching the documentary was a big turning point.
Listening to Brecks mum recall how she tried so hard to reason, explain, sanction Breck because she knew the dangers there could be online, was heart breaking. To then watch Breck ignore his parents concerns, just like H had been doing to us, and to seewhat tragedy has resulted was a wake up call for me, my husband, H and his brothers.

So much so that my husband ran the London Marathon this year for The Breck Foundation.

http://www.breckfoundation.org

H has a new attitude to the computer now, and I still know it is an on going battle, but for now it is one we are winning!

I would love to know about your experience with your child and gaming.

I asked a few fellow bloggers how they deal with this and limit screen time with their children:
My son has an hour per day. And if he starts shouting at the screen, it gets turned off straight away.
My son had his first Xbox for his 9th birthday in December. Honestly? We just let him monitor his own screen time and after hammering it for a few months, he’s got bored of it. He will have the odd hour here and there but as a whole it’s fizzled out.
I allow our daughter some screen time on the iPad as some down time before dinner or on long car journeys. She knows she’s limited to 30minutes and is only allowed on certain apps. We make sure she’s not shut away in her room so we are aware of what she’s doing/watching.If she’s not behaved well then she doesn’t have it at all. It’s definitely a privilege.
We use an app that blocks the children’s devices after 2 hours of use. Its brilliant as I can set bed times, school hours, outdoor time etc and can also select which apps are blocked at different times. The kids can also earn more screentime by doing extrajobs and since the app manages it all, mum cant be blamed for it running out of time!
We allow an hour after school, it must go off before dinner time and they seem happy with that, it’s letting them know that you are in charge and your rules stand, my son doesn’t play fortnite but does play mine craft with his sister occasionally and I alwaysmake sure to time them and they seem pretty happy coming off when asked.
I allow our daughter some screen time on the iPad as some down time before dinner or on long car journeys. She knows she’s limited to 30minutes and is only allowed on certain apps. We make sure she’s not shut away in her room so we are aware of what she’s doing/watching.If she’s not behaved well then she doesn’t have it at all. It’s definitely a privilege.
I’ve been talking a lot about this today after posting a news article about another 9 yr old having issues.
Despite attempts to demonise one videogame or another, this is really an issue of parents being involved and setting limits. Make an effort to understand the games your children are playing and you’ll be better informed about their suitability.
Many games are rated for content but only parents will know if a child is emotionally mature enough to remain calm whilst playing a competitive game. Parents should set clear time limits and stick to them so that children learn what those boundaries are.
If a child is getting angry or upset while playing, it’s time to turn the game off and come back with a calmer state of mind. If the child can’t stay calm, they are not yet mature enough to be playing it at all.
Use it as a reward. We have daily tasks that she can work towards and if she does well she has an extra ten minutes. Giving them a time limit helps and if she starts to cry or grumpy when I take it away she doesn’t get it the next.
Our two have screen time but I limit them to 60mins maximum a day then they must turn it off and go do a activity away from the screens/ consoles
We don’t have any set times as such for games as such but we do have break rules. After playing a game for half an hour she will come off for a snack or a drink and then go back on if she wants and more often than not she chooses to do something else. We havenever had set restrictions and it works for us. She spends more time drawing and reading than playing games. I think gaming gets really bad stick when in most cases it’s down to parents not understanding the games their children are playing. If parents lookedinto the games their children are playing and supervised them then half of the news stories wouldn’t make the papers because they wouldn’t exist.
We don’t have set screen time they are allowed on when they like but having seven children they don’t get long anyway!! They all know they are not allowed to play any game over their age limit but most of them prefer going to the beach or playing in the paddlingpool at the moment.
Until about 6 weeks ago, we had screen times at set times during the day – 12-1:30 for my eldest (when youngest naps) and then 4pm-5pm while I cook dinner. The TV/screens simply don’t go on outside those times, so my kids are used to it. The last few weeks,however, I’ve also scrapped the late afternoon session because the weathers been so lush they’ve been playing outside anyway! We have a lot of music on during the day.
I don’t give my son limits although he has to come down for all meals and I do every now and then insist he does something else. He has special needs and struggles to go out much so his social life is playing online with his friends and chatting school andstuff at the same time.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Supporting other parents

**WARNING – I have wrote this post with a ten month old on my lap and my two year old bouncing on my legs playing horsey so please excuse any typos, bad grammar or spelling mistakes!******

I have only just started enjoying our lunch dates with the kids again.

As soon as George turned fifteen months my usual calm, civilized diners started to resemble a scene out of Jurassic Park.
The one where the T-Rex is flipping cars and tearing down fences while the humans watch on, horried, from behind a tree!

I would get flustered and embaressed while George flung himself out of the high chair (those wooden ones are beyond pointless!).
He would chew food up and then let it spill out of his mouth onto the table while telling me
‘Don’t like it’.
Instead of the pasta Arribiata infront of him, he would have his eyes on my moules mariniere (and happily eat every one!).

The floor around his seat would have a mixture of food, snapped crayons and napkins scattered everywhere. It was so messy that I would leave the servers a 40% tip out of embarrassment and guilt.

If I tried to discipline him at the table, he would scream louder and then would come the disapproving glances from around the restaurant.

Considering I took my first four children out all the time, and we would be complimented on how well behaved they were…this was new territory for me.

Add a new baby Arthur, who had a healthy set of lungs on him into the mix and eating out became nothing but an anxiety inducing stress-fest!

Since November, thankfully things have changed. For a start, George has developed a love for YouTube (yep…and I WILL give him his tablet if It means I can drink my coffee while it is hot!)
Also, now he can talk and communicate more his behaviour has taken a huge turn. I would even say eating out with him is enjoyable!
The most important thing I learnt about my number five is that ‘No one puts baby in the corner. ‘
He is happier sitting in an adults seat with the older kids rather than a high chair next to mum!

Last week we took the younger boys out to our local Italian for some lunch.
It is one of our favourites because it is no only child friendly but seriously delicious too.
It was a Friday lunchtime and the restaurant was full of mums with toddlers and older ladies and gents enjoying a retirement lunch.

We were sat between a couple in their 70’s (I am guessing) and a lady with a baby having lunch with her parents.

The baby next to us must have been about seven month and was crying…and crying…and crying.
Her mum was trying desperatly to sooth her but the baby wasnt having it and the mum looked tired and stressed.

Mike was trying to have a conversation with me but I couldn’t concentrate on what he was saying.
I was so distracted.

It wasn’t the baby that was bothering me…it was her mum.
She was flustered and panicking and I could feel every inch of her uncomfort.

I glanced around and realised the older couple had asked to be moved and the mothers with toddlers were rolling their eyes and tutting!

I felt like crying for her!

I walked over and knelt down to the mum with her baby.
‘Most the people in the room are parents and we have all been where you are. Don’t worry about anyone else, you are doing a great job.’
I offered to take the baby while she finished her lunch as ours hadnt arrived yet.

She burst into tears and gave me a big hug.

The mum felt instantly more relaxed and in turn, her little baby calmed down.

George and Arthur were a joy that day and unlike the mum next to me, we were getting nods of approval. Usually I would feel proud that out kids good behaviour is being aknowledged, but when the praise is coming from the same judgemental dicks that are rolling their eyes at a crying baby I just felt annoyed.
Rewind just a few weeks and it was me that was sitting their being talked about and feeling shamed.

George didnt let us down though. As the bill was placed on the table he kicked his shoes off and ran through the restaurant. He ran around tables, giggling and screaming as I chased him like a overweight hurdler after a bottle of prosecco.

As I passed the mums who had been rolling their eyes i laughed
‘It was all going so well! That will teach me for being smug!’ hoping they might find the hint and advice in my comment.
George ran behind the bar, hi-fiving the waiters and I finally rugby tackled him at kitchen door!

A couple of days after this I read in a paper that a lady with a crying baby was asked to leave a cafe because it was upsetting the customers.
I wonder how many of those people offered some help or advice to the mum, who may well have been struggling herself, before they complained to the owner?
Or whether the owner of the cafe thought to ask if there was anything he/she could do to help before they showed her to the pavement.

I do have sympathy for everyone who wants to have a quiet meal without ‘naughty’ children or screaming babies around them. My point is simply, before you roll your eyes, ask to be moved or tut at the parents, take a second to think.
Could this parent be struggling? Could that child throwing a tantrum have a disability that you can not see? Could this parent benifit from a gentle hand of reassurance? Or more to the point…..were your children always perfect?

Anyway, im off out for lunch with all the kids….wish me luck 😜

My Last Week of November

Its been a while since I wrote a totally self centred blog post with no point to it at all.  A post that is completly unhelpful, except to let me use it as a diary…so that when I look back one day will be able to remember that week in November 2017.

Lets start with George.  This kid is growing into the most charismatic, gorgeous  pain in the arse I have ever come across.

I dont call him a pain in the arse lightly.  I am a mum of six, i feel like i have a patience level to rival a reception class teacher. But George is a whole new type of toddler. 

He will scream to get what he wants, yet remember to thank you with total sincerity if you give in to him.

He will push and push and push me until I shout at him, and then will put his arm around me and ask if I am ok.

So, as a little xmas presie to myself…and George, I have booked him into nursery a couple of mornings a week.

I’m not going to lie, my intention was two FULL days.  But the nursery teacher suggested it might be a little much to start with so we agreed on the morings… until January!

If I doubted whether I was doing the right thing, the wink, high five and about-turn we both participated in when I left him on his first morning, made me certain he needed it as much as me.

He has loved it! I have loved it! and it has given me a chance to spend more time with Arthur and appriciate my time with George more.

The nursery teachers loved him. He had played nicely with the other children, joined in with the activities and was so polite. They even told me he is a credit to me….a credit! It felt amazing when she said that.

Then he went home and ripped my £100 roll of Sanderson wallpaper off the wall!

Charlie has started a new school two weeks ago.  I have been conscious of how i will cope with school run logistics when the twins start high school for a while.  I started some tentitive research last month and was surprised when our school of choice happened to have a space availible for Charlie to start straight away and Libby in January.

The new school is everything charlies old school is not.
It is a small village school with a one class intake and strong christian values.  So far, Charlie has settled in like a dream and it is as though he has always been there. 

The twins turned eleven!!! I honestly can not believe how quickly time passes by.  

Having children is like a constant reminder of this.  No huge celebrations this year.  I did offer them a big party as it will be their last year at primary school but they werent interested.  

I actually think they are worried I might show them up on the dance floor….which I would.  The problem is, I actually think I am the coolest mum ever and the kids are proud to show me off.  

The reality is that they think I am a total embarrassment and actually mc-ing to DJ Luck and MC Neat is not quite the crowd pleaser it used to be!? Note: @indenialmum!

Instead Harri had some friends over for a sleepover (I still tried to play cool mum….I even let the watch ‘Swearing Peppa Pig’). Mikey is off to Kidzania in a couple of week to continue his quest to become the next Richard Branson.

My Christmas decorations are up, they have been for two weeks…standard.  I am the biggest fool for Christmas that ever there was!  My ultimate aim is to recreate National Lampoons decore extravagance with Home Alones class….you see the look I am going for?!

My News: 

I turned to the dark side.  It is amazing what looks you can create when you trust your hairdresser!  When she suggested a dark balleage i wasn’t convinced…but i let her work her magic……..

I am so pleased with my new look.  If you are local to London, check out Laura at Lalo….she is even a stylist to the Stars!

https://www.lalohairandmakeup.com 

My Modern Mum Event went Live this week….there will be a blog about this over the weekend. 
In short, I have organised a night out for local-ish ladies to come and meet local businesses ran by hard working women and hear what they have to offer. It is a chance to network, socialise and have a great night There will be chances to meet lots of beauty industry pros who will be ready to pamper us aswell.

Today I am suppose to be out beating on a shoot with the kids and hounds. After my nightmare night with Arthur and a whole two hours of sleep….I bailed!

Instead, I put an xmas movie on for the kids, put George and Arthur down for a nap and I have a Blissful Bath waiting for me.

I also made a kick-ass pate this week.
I have a freezer full of offal from our pigs, lambs and cow.  We like liver and bacon, but not even a family my size can consume that much! This is the recipe I used.  I used pig liver instead (by accident) but it was lush with a crusty bread, chutney and a Baileys.

http://allrecipes.co.uk/recipe/27125/beef-liver-pate.aspx

How has your week been…..are you ready for a Merry December?

Love Kate

Xxxx

As always, if you have enjoyed my self regarding post, please share

The Alternative Christmas Dinner

Every year I say I will buy a few Turkeys to rear on the farm for Christmas dinner and every October I realise I have left it too late!

So then, every October /November I spend loads of time researching the best place to buy one.
Marks and Spencers? Sainsburys? The local butcher or farm shop?
Then I spend my monthly mortgage payment on a premium, amazing bird to feed my fifteen guests.

Now, here is the crazy bit….every year we all have the same conversation just after Christmas…
‘I am not a lover of Turkey’
‘It is a very dry meat’
‘It’s tradition though..’
‘I prefer chicken all day long’

In fact, the only thing that Turkey offers our house at Christmas, which we can not sacrifice is Turkey sandwiches in the evening (which a medium crown will suffice).

I have made an executive decision and will NOT be cooking a turkey for our Christmas dinner.

We have taken a few animals to slaughter over the last few weeks so we have a freezer full of beef, lamb and pork.

The cuts of meat we have would be worth a fortune if we had to buy them at a butchers.  


So this year I am going to cook a Beef Wellington and a leg of lamb for our lunch.

This got me thinking about alternative Christmas Dinners and what other things families serve up for their grub.

I asked a few fellow bloggers and it seems quite a few people are not too fussed on our traditional Turkey.
Here are some suggestions for something different.

Sophie:

‘We go for Ham. There is no waste and we actually enjoy it. Noone in our family really likes turkey so always a bit of a waste!’

www.sophobsessed.com

Ayse:

‘We don’t eat meat so last year I made salmon. I wasn’t too fussed about it and this year we’re just having everything but the meat!’ 

www.arepops.com

Kelly:

‘We are having the Lamb stack from Lidl, as none of us are too fond of Turkey. I will be making stuffed butternut squash for the vegetarian quest and getting a small Turkey crown for my Grandparents, as that would be dangerous grounds if I didn’t !’

Www.reducedgrub.com

Louise:

‘We’re vegetarian and my Mum has always made a mushroom strudel and we’ve carried on the tradition! With all the usual trimmings of course.’

www.pinkpearbear.com

Victoria:

‘I find turkey quite bland so we usually have lamb or salmon.’

www.thegrowingmum.com

Emma:

‘A lovely plump goose and all that tasty skin 😍😍 ‘

www.readyfreddiego.com

Jessica:

‘We are eating out at a restaurant this year so my parents have chosen to have a Chateaubriand. As they said by the time
Christmas comes your normally board of turkey ! ‘

Www.beautiesandthebibs.co.uk

Lauren:

‘We are vegetarian so we normally have a mushroom wellington or nut roast 😊’ 

www.sophiesnursery.com

Elizabeth:

‘My partner doesn’t enjoy Turkey so always has a lamb shank for his Christmas dinner. ‘

www.whererootsandwingsentwine.com

Eva:

‘Nut roast – as I’m vegetarian Husband isn’t but it became now our family tradition at Christmas.’

www.captainbobcat.com

Stevie:

‘My stepdad is Indian, one year we had a curry!’

 

www.thismummaneedstea.com

Georgina:

‘Quorn family roast and spinach and feta tart is what my family had growing up! ‘

www.geegardner.co.uk

Victoria:

‘Hubby and kids will have chicken breasts (hubby’s choice), but I’m veggie so I’ll just have extra stuffing or a nut roast.  We never cook a turkey here! ‘

www.lyliarose.com

Sarah:

‘If we was in charge of Christmas dinner I imagine I would cook chicken, I can’t stand turkey but everyone seems to enjoy a nice roast chicken! ‘

www.mummycatnotes.com

Siobhan:

‘A lot of our family don’t like traditional roasts, so our tradition is to have a big Irish cooked breakfast on Xmas morning, then party food and snacky bits during the day as everyone pops in and out, then in the evening, a couple of different joints of meat in warm rolls – yum!’ www.passthewineplease.blog

Samantha:

‘We’re not really into turkey so we always have our fave roast dinner meat – a chicken! We also get a big ham or beef joint too. 😊’

www.stressymama.com

Cat:

‘We do normally have turkey but on a couple of occasions we have gone for a rib of beef instead. One of our guests this year hates turkey so I think I will cook a rib of beef again.’ 

www.pushingthemoon.com

Kimberly:

‘We have a ham every year as hardly any of us like turkey. This year there are lots of us so there will be a goose too ‘

www.oddhogg.com

Wendy:

‘One year I did – IKEA meatballs, sticky chipolatas, fries, loganberry jam, sautéed red cabbage and Daim bar cake – all from the IKEA food shop for less than £20  – it was everyones favourite Christmas! 🙂 ‘

www.daisiesandpie.co.uk

Kati:

‘If I make a Christmas dinner it has to be apple-stuffed duck roast! I find turkey too bland and lean and if I’m going to go all-out, I might as well make it a cardiac arrest on a plate’

www.howtorockatparenting.wordpress.com

Clare:

‘My husband hates turkey he thinks it’s too bland so we compromise with a 3 bird roast normally. We had goose one year and it was so fatty and a pain in the bum to cook we just stick to a 3 bird.  I’m not telling him your having beef Wellington though that would be his preference!!’

www.freddiesmummyuk.wordpress.com 

Michelle:

‘For a few years, we did a Mexican Xmas Day.  Sombreros, Mexican decorations, games and Mexican food/Drink obv. Easier to get food from the supermarket in the rush and loads of fun! ‘

www.seeingRainbows.co.uk

Helen:

‘We have had steak, chips & peppercorn sauce for the past 5 years and love it! So chilled out and no peeling veg! ‘

www.casacostello.com

Jo:

‘I’m a vegetarian, so we don’t have turkey 😉 I make a savoury crumble instead, with loads of veg and cheesy crumble topping, and serve it with roast potatoes. Even my meat eating husband enjoys it!’

www.cupoftoast.co.uk

Liberty:

‘We always do something different. We are half south African and it sounds crazy but last year was brilliant, the lads went out to do the meat – a side of beef stuffed and rolled in foil on the fire (BBQ or braai as we’d call it) in the middle of a UK winter. They loved it and the kids too especially afterwards when we turned it in to bonfire. We added roasted vegetables and potatoes dauphinois to the meal which we’d done in the oven. All in all very little fuss and plenty of fun. ‘

www.libertyonthelighterside.com

Lynette:

‘We will be having chicken or lamb. I haven’t had a turkey Christmas dinner for about 20 years. I don’t really like turkey and I definitely don’t trust myself to cook it well. I know it would end up like the one in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’

www.reclusivefox.com

Charlotte:

‘One year we decided to have Christmas dinner out and I had roast pigeon! It was actually amazing and a welcomed change!’

 Www.themummytoolbox.com

Kelly:

‘We often have beef and I have a friend who lets everyone choose and so the kids pick fish fingers!’

www.thebestversionofkelly.com

Victoria:

‘We have a buffet with lots of elements from Spanish cuisine to reflect the Other Half’s heritage. ‘

www.starlightandstories.com

Sally:

‘Goose, pheasant, duck we’ve had them all as my family have never been huge turkey fans’

Www.motherand3sons.com

Natalie:

‘My cousin does turkey pasta because none of her family like a turkey roast. Sounds grim but she roasts the turkey, takes the meat off & turns it into a delicious pasta bake!’

www.crummymummy.co.uk

Sarah:

‘We’re doing a joint of beef this year.i will miss the turkey sandwiches though!’😂

www.digitalmotherhood.com

Christy:

‘This year we are having a three bird game roast – partridge, pheasant and pigeon! You may think eating pigeon is a bit weird but it’s actually a really delicate meat with a lot of flavour.’

www.welshmum.co.uk

Helen:

‘We tend to alternate, one year might be a rib of beef and a ham, other it will be a turkey. I’m not a huge fan of turkey so it’s a nice change for me. Important as I tend to be the cook!’

www.welshmumwriting.com

Leeds Castle

Rosie and I took the kids (all eight of them!) to Leeds Castle in Kent during half term.


It was our first proper visit (we went along one, cold evening four years ago to watch Frozen on the castle lawn).

I absolutely love a mooch around a Castle or historical house and I love taking in the beautiful grounds.
I always picture what It might have been like to live there during the various periods of history.

Who owns it now? How do they keep it looking so beautiful? How many bottles of wine could you store in that wine celler!? (And Leeds Castle definatly has the BEST wine celler!)

It was a stunning Autumn afternoon and we had such a fantastic day that words can not do it justice.  

I am going to let our photos explain……



Leeds Castle has lots to do for the children, not least climbing trees and finding secret dens.  

It was Halloween when we visited and they had lots of spooky activities to enjoy.  

There is a wonderful playground area, maze and lots of activities from archery to dressing up as a knight.

The children loved exploring the castle and filling in all the activity sheets they had been given.

They have been learning about British History at school so they loved reading about how Leeds Castle related to Henry V111 and the Second World War.

While they were reading about how King Henry VIII did a ‘changing rooms’ on the castle to impress and gift his wife Catherine of Aragon, I listened eagerly to the stewards who explained to me that in more recent years part of the castle was converted into a cinema and areas to entertain friends (jelous much!?). 

I have asked Mike to take me back for a romantic ‘date day’.  The strolls, the atmosphere and the stunning architecture would make a beautuful day out with a loved one (or first date?).

I have never seen such beautiful gardens and the wildlife is everywhere.  

I am looking forward to visiting again in December and enjoying the Christmas  festivities with Mike and the children.

Please share my post for anyone who might enjoy a beautiful day out at this Kent treasure.

For more information on Leeds Castle and its wonderful, seasonal treats, take a look at their website 

https://www.leeds-castle.com

Tulley Farm – Pumpkin and Spookfest

​If you live in the South East and have not heard of Tulleys Farm and their Shocktoberfest you must be living under a rock.

I last went three years ago and have heard through the grapevine it has only got better. 

I could not wait to take the kids this half term.

As usual, nothing in our house goes to plan and after getting the household ready, I ran into a small problem on departure….a flat tyre.

But, living on a farm has its perks and we usually have a back up vehicle of some description.

On this occasion it was our trusty Landrover Defender that came to our rescue.

So, an hour later than planned, we were on our way.

Tulleys Farm is a seasonal family event venue in Sussex, between London and Brighton, close to Crawley and East Grinstead.  So much is put into each event that it never fails to excite throughout each season.

Drawing inspiration from the huge halloween industry in America, the Pick Your Own Farm began developing Tulleys Halloween events in around 2002.  It has since grown from visitors of 3,500 to the mega 60,000 it is welcoming now, over the Halloween period .

As a result of its phenomenal success, they have attracted some of the best Scare Experts in the business.

By day they run a fantastic family spooky experience and by night it becomes a terrifying fright fest that, quite franky, my bladder can no longer handle!

Last time I visited at night I spent most of the evening with my face burried in Mikes back!

For a fiesty lad #georgethemenace (my two year old) is scared of everything…  Spiders, clowns, masks, people dressed up and anything small that  moves.  

As much as I enjoy the cuddles his terror brings, I knew this year it was best to leave him behind.

Also, as much as Tulleys has catered well for buggies, as us parents know, mud and prams make hard work.

Luckily my mum and dad were around and agreed to watch the two smaller boys for me.

Tulleys Farm is made up of a few different rides/experiences.

My kids favourite everytime we visit is the Horrid Hayride.

This is a tractor ride through a creepy woods where the aim of the game is to make the kids scream (and laugh).  

I’m going to be careful not to give to much away because the element of suprise and unknown is half the fun.

I will say, unlike the evening experience, the actors are much tamer during the day so that it doesnt traumatise the children……too much 😜

During the day we visited all the main attractions.

We visitied Dirty Gerty and The Witches in The Woods.

We tried to find all the ghosts in the Cornmaze.  Which, FYI, is a perfect opportunity to loose the kids for half an hour.

The Twisted Fun House, which even tripped me out slightly when I realised six little faces were relying on me to escape. 

The more I tried to find the exit, the more we were faced with psychedelic clowns!

The Creepy Cottage was the ride that my older children found the scariest. Negotiating your way around a derelict cottage scattered with terrifying props

Inbetween all the rides are food stalls serving donuts, jacket potatoes, burgers, chicken, hogroasts and coffee….plenty of coffee everywhere!

The Pumkin Patch is really something to behold and you can buy them aswell as other great Halloween merchandise at the Farm Store.

As you walk around Tulleys there is plenty more entertainment scattered around.

Spooky theatre, street theatre, puppet shows and a pertrifying play area, there is so much to do we nearly ran out of time!
There really is nothing like this around.  It is such a brilliant concept and the planning that goes into it and the volume of visitors speaks for itself.

There are a few days left…….take a visit.  

Tulleys Farm is a seasonal attraction and I am definatly visiting at Christmas. 

Tulleys Farm have also introduced an attraction called Escape Rooms. I’ve been checking it out online and it seems a team of you are locked in a room and the only way to escape is by solving a series of puzzles.  I can’t wait to give that a go

I would love to hear your opinions if you have visited.

For more information on prices and opening times, take a look at

www.tulleysfarm.com


Tulleys Farm gave me entrance tickets in return for this review. However, all my opinions are entirely honest and without influence.

Our day at Godstone Farm

I have been visiting Godstone farm since I was Georges age.

Over the years it has just got better and better, whilst keeping hold of it orginal charm that makes me so nostalgic.

So last week, I made the brave decision to take ALL my children for a visit.

Even though we live on a farm, there is nothing like a day out at Godstone Farm.  We are so fortunate that it is just fifteen minutes from us.

Considering it was the middle of the summer holidays, it was relatively quiet, which helped me stay sane.

The farm is divided into areas that makes it easy to explore.

They have all the animals you would hope to see on a farm.  Horses, donkeys, pigs, goats, llama and cows. 

They have a wonderful selection of birds and smaller animals. Chickens, turkeys, geese and ducks, rabbits, ferrets and guinea pigs aswell as a few reptiles.

Activities are ran throughout the day such as animal talks and feedings.

Have you ever watched Pig and feret racing? 

The kids loved it!

I had to giggle when the boys announced, on seeing the piglets…

‘Look mum, this pig has more babies than you!’

-yep, she looks in better shape to!

Always a magical part of the day is the barn where you can hold the babies and small animals.  

They have baby chicks of different ages, rabbits and tortoises.

 Aswell as making sure no little darlings throw the chicks across the barn, Godstone farm employees are on hand to answer any questions the kids have.

My kids loved this area, particularly George.  

Lets talk about the outdoor play area that gets even the adult visitors excited.

The playground alone is worth the enterance fee.  

(How amazing is this swing!?)

It has everything from zip wires and large slides for the older kids (and adults), to a sand pit, climbing frames and ride-ons for the younger ones.

It is perfect to plot up and have a picnic, but, if like me you are not that organised, they have a sandwhich hut serving coffee, tea, cold drinks and ice cream.

We spent about two hours here, and I still had to drag the kids away kicking and screaming!

If the weather is bad, There are also two covered play areas.  

One is a huge soft play area set up in one of the large barns. 

The other area is smaller with a climbing area and slide, set up for younger children


After wearing George out in the play area we headed to the Dino Trail.

Dotted around a path, and looking over the llamas, at the bottom of the farm are large model dinosaurs.  Each one is accompanied with facts on the animal.

With a toddler and an eight year old obsessed with dinosaurs, this was a great suprise!

Who knew that a baby T-Rex could have been born with feathers?

We ended our day in the large sandpit for younger children with a portion of chips and an ice cream.

I spent most of my time here wrestling George as he tried to take every tractor toy in the sandpit away from the other tots. 

Always making time for a trip to the shop, the boys bought some water toys to play in the sun.

Apart from all the activities, I was impressed with the general appearence of the farm.

The landscaping is beautiful, the facilities were clean and there were plenty of hand washing points.

We had a great day at Godstone Farm.  As always, it provided a fun and educational day outdoors, enjoying the great British summer.

For more information, please visit

http://godstonefarm.co.uk/

*I recieved free tickets in return for this review.

However, as always, all my opinions are entirely honest and without biased.

CampBestival 2017

Well, what an experience this was!!

On paper, this weekend was my idea of absolute hell.
Six children (two babies), a tent, rain….lots of rain, mud….lots of mud and not a tiled roof in sight!

Somehow, amongst the damp and filth, we dug deep into our British souls and managed to have a fantastic weekend (great friends and the Gin also helped).

Due to my total lack of organisation we didnt manage to secure a motorhome this year.
Instead, we opted for CB Boutique camping with a company called PodPads.

It was a six man bell tent that included a groundsheet, carpet and six campbeds with sheets.

There was enough room in our tent for our travel cot, double buggy and festival trolly.  Although, with all the paraphernalia that comes with two children under two, it was a squash in there and not much room to move around.
If the weather had been better and we could have left our bits outside it would have been much roomier.

There is a fab ‘reception tent’ where they provided us with free tea and coffee facilities and you can charge your phone free of charge.

One of the best things about Boutique camping (beside avoiding divorce while trying to errect a 6 man tent) is having the car park at a reasonable distance from your tent and being a short walk from the actual festival.

Last year, at the campervan field, it felt like a Marine assult course getting us, the five kids and a buggy from the motorhome to the festival.
Thats not meant to discourage anyone, but for us, and the ages of our children, we prefered to be closer to everything.

Next year we will head for Boutique again.  I am going to start doing my research now into what we will stay in and ill post about that over the next couple of weeks.

I would be lying if i said the weather did not affect our weekend. 
Although we all enjoyed ourselves, we didnt get to make the most of what Camp Bestival has to offer.

We tried to do as much as we could when the rain stopped, but there is so much to to do, we missed out on alot.

Having a couple of art-mad youngsters in our crowd, we headed to The Art Tent first.
The kids had a great time making dreamcatchers out of old vinyl records and cds.

Once the main acts started we headed over to Castle Field.
We rumaged for a spot like crazed fans to watch Justin Flethcher AKA Mr Tumble and then pitched up for my personal Camp Bestival highlight of the weekend…..Dick and Dom.  You’ve never know true exhilaration until you have screamed ‘BOGIES’ in the rain, like your eight year old self.

One thing that did help keep my spirits up while my Hunters were getting abused was The Alchemy Bar by Schweppes.

A Gin and Tonic cocktail bar where Special ingridiants mixed with the G&T’s added something a bit special to my already favourite drink.

So with a couple of bevvies inside us, we soldiered on.

We danced (in the rain) to All Saints, Mark Ronson, Madness, Louisa Johnson and the other amazing acts that made up the 2017 line up. 

The kids raved with Bflf in the Bollywood tent and threw some shapes at Sara Cox DJ set.

Now lets talk about the food…..oh the food!
Ive mentioned in previous posts about how much I love the Camp Bestival grub.

On the first night we had an obligitory crepe…one of the kids favourite things! Not cheap at £5 each, especially when you have as many mouths to feed as we do, but its becoming a tradition we cant resist.

The paad thai noodles are a huge hit with my little lot.  I can guarentee they will put away a portion each, no problem!!
And obvs, anything that does get left, Mike and I are ready and waiting to swoop in like seagulls on Brighton Pier!

The corn is another essential whilst at CB! I can guarentee, my instagram is always cluttered over CB weekend with gorgeous kiddies sinking their teeth into a golden, buttered corn on the cob in The Lower Kids Garden. 

Then you have Mikes playground, The Feast Collective.
This is a tent/section of the festival dedicated to different cuisines and dishes from all over the place.  Whether you fancy fish and chips or a lamb curry, The Feast Collective will sell it.
Mainly with a street food vibe, This is where i know ill find Mike if we get split up.

We tried DJBBQ pulled pork burger, which was everything i had hoped for after salivating over his Instagram over the last few months.
We tried chips, cheese and gravy which i am convinced would make the best hangover food and was another winner with the kids .
The dish of the weekend for me had to be the Indonesian Coconut Curry and dumplings…..it was the BEST curry I have ever had!

Another great thing about Camp Bestival is that you can bring your own food and drink into the grounds. 
So, as tempting as it is to just keep browsing the stalls, trying a dish ever hour, bringing your own bits will save your pennies.

The rain finally eased off on Sunday afternoon so thats when we headed to The Dingly Dell.

This is an area in the woods with a childrens park, farm animals and outdoor activities like zip wires, childrens building sites and Lizzies Way.
Now, im not going to lie, I haven’t made it to Lizzies Way.
I have been told by my other blogging friends that this is a highlight of Camp Bestival.
All i needed to hear was, in the middle of the woods, she has a mud cafe and you can make potions!!…this is enough to make sure it is our first stop on the list for next year!

Over the next couple of weeks I will publish more posts on Camp Bestival. 
I will cover more about the accomodation options, what to see, saving money and travelling there etc.

For now, the purpose of my post is to say, despite the weather, Camp Bestival 2017 was brilliant weekend, making more unforgettable memories with the kids, which, afterall, is what its all about.

The tickets for 2018 have just been released and ticketline offer a paymentplan.

You can book your tickets and pay them off weekly which I have done for last two years and it works so well.

Boutique options are not available yet but if you secure your weekend tickets, they include standard camping pitches. 

If I have managed to convince any of you to go, please let me know and we can keep in touch over the next few months and maybe even hook up over a G&T  in the Magic Meadow next year 😉

If you have enjoyed this post, please share it on your social media.

Love Kate x 

A weekend in Liverpool

Another one of my best friends turned 40 this week and we celebrated by whisking her away on a suprise weekend to Liverpool. 


Rosie is from Ireland, and when her lovely sister (who still lives over there)  contacted me about doing something special I couldn’t have been more up for it. 

I cant take any of the credit for this weekend.   

I was pregnant while it was being organised and while my intention was to take on the organisation with Jennifer,  I let the side down. 

Luckily, Jenny did an amazing job,  dispite my total lack of cobtribution! 

I told Rosie that I was taking her away for a couple of nights, just me and her. 

I picked her up in an Uber (my first Uber experience, and it was amazing).  The cab dropped us to East Croydon where we jumped on the train to London Euston via Victoria.

I loved every minute of that train journey.   Watching her face, totally clueless and out of control.  

Rosie is the ‘ mum’ of our group,  always looking after us and making sure we are OK.   It was really strange seeing her reaction, having to rely completly on me (I’m not sure she enjoyed that part of the weekend! 😂) 

At every stop I would grab my bag and tell her ‘this is it ‘, I would watch her get up, get to the door and then tell her I was joking! 

She wasn’t impressed but I found it hilarious!  

Once we were at Euston I suggested we grab some breakie at All Bar One…little did she know…. 

Rosie was greeted by three more of our girlfriends, sitting there, ready with coffees and cocktails… shouting suprise!!!

Rosie was in tears, totally overwhelmed,  but it was amazing seeing her register just how much she is loved by us all. 
FYI All Bar One do some seriously yummy breakfasts! 

Over breakfast we gave her some clues to guess where we were taking her:

 

The biggest boy band ever were from there…… She had no idea 

There are lots of Irish people there…. Nope

It had an ‘e’ in it… Huh? 

Brookside was based there…. LIVERPOOL!!


We jumped on the train, opened a bottle of prosecco and had one of the best girls chats I’ve ever had. 

During that two hours we talked about everything from relationships, bladder control,  sex and laughed from start to finish. 

The poor fella sitting next to us was pre warned when he sat down that he was in for a special journey and if he embarrases easily he should probably think twice about sitting there.

I did offer him a drink to calm his nerves! 

When we got to Liverpool we headed straight to the hotel. 


#squadgoals

The Shankley Hotel was a great base for a girls weekend.  It is right in the middle of town.  A 5 minutes walk to the station and even less to the shops,  restaurants and bars.
The hotel is lovely,  decor is fabulous with glamour being at its heart and the rooms are great. 

The main room had six double beds in it and a kitchen area. 

I’m even thinking about going back with the kids as there are not many hotel rooms that can comfortably fit all of us in.

When we entered the room it was beautifully decorated (by the Irish girls who were hiding in the toilet).  They had left out champagne,  chocolates and strawberries. 

When Rosie walked into the room two of her sisters and her best friend from Ireland ran out of the bathroom! 

This triggered another flow of tears and a few ‘c u next Tuesdays’ muttered at us.

She was blown away,  she hasn’t made it home to see her family this year and I know she was missing them terribly.  
For them to fly over and organise this weekend was a perfect present. 

The package we booked worked out at £230 each for eight of us (that includes splitting Rosies costs between us).
That included the hotel, a cocktail making class, dinner on the Saturday night,  a choice of either make up or hair to be done and Afternoon Tea.

The train from Euston to Liverpool Line Street was £85 return.

On the Friday, after we had finished the introductions (this was the first time in 20 years that rosies London friends meet her Irish girls) we headed off for out cocktail making classat The Art House.

It was like going back to Playa de las Americas when I was 17,  downing dirty ouzo shots!

It was a real giggle though and the girl that took the class was lovely.  Also, nothing breaks the ice like slut dropping and making cocktails. 

From there we headed to Concert Square and enjoyed a few more drinks and  Shisha.

The next morning the sun was at full force and with the temperature soaring we were determined to enjoy brunch and an espresso martini by the water. 

We took a cab (£2.30!) to Albert Dock and had some coffee and cocktails at Panam.


We discovered during the weekend that Londons shopping experience had serious competition.   

Liverpool has all the shops you could possibly wish for,  all within an easy walk between eachother.
I would love to go back again just for a shopping weekend! 

While in John Lewis Katie had a Charlotte Tilbury make over which resulted in some yummy purchases.

We headed back to the hotel for about 5 to have our hair and make up done, ready for the night ahead. 

I opted to have my hair done.   I love doing my own make up and am very particular about how I have it.  Also, I am low maintainence with my hair so if someone else can glam it up then it is a no brainer!
Given the scorching weather we headed up to have a drink on the roof top bar before dinner (all at The Shankley Hotel).  Watching the half cut girls dancing in the sun kicked the night off perfectly!

Our first night was fun but fairly quiet given we were all mums, and away from the kids for the weekend. It was also quite ‘studenty’ at concert square. I’m not knocking that but we like a bit of sophistication in our older age (early night anyway) so we really wanted to find the area you could go to and have a cocktail made with proper spirits and not sugar and tequila!  😂 

I asked around during the day and it turned out our hotel was on the road  where all the best bars are! 

After our dinner at the hotel we headed to  The Alchemist Cocktail Bar on Brunswick Street.

The cocktails were out of this world and  the atmosphere was great but it was a bit of an arse-ache waiting around at the bar to order our next round.   That could be out fault for sinking each cocktail so quickly. 

We had cocktails there that bubbled, steamed and even ones that come with syringes of shots!

If you like Cocktails I would definatly recommend this bar. 

The night carried on in a bar down the road where we partied till the early hours.

The difference with partying in your 30’s is rather than passing out in bed with a full face of make up and glass of wine next to your bed, we got back,  made a coffee, took our make up off, and at 3am we were putting Philip Kingsley hair masks on! 

We kicked our last day off with a perfect post party breakfast at Barley and Beans.  I don’t know if it’s because we were so hungry but it was one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had! 

I went for their granola bowl and bacon and eggs.  The other girls had full English and eggs beniddict.  As you can see from the picture, we had an amazing pile of Nutella pancakes for dessert 🍰 

After a some more shopping we went back to the hotel for Afternoon Tea and a de briefing of the weekend before we said our goodbyes and headed to the station for our train back home. 


I had a great weekend! 

After having Arthur I really needed a bit of child free time to myself. I’m home, refreshed and ready to tackle (literally) the kids. 

I met lovely new friends, caught up with old friends,  partied, relaxed,  shopped and laughed.   

I laughed so much and realised how lucky I am to have such wonderful girlfriends who I love with all my heart 😘




Rosies Coffee Lounge, Lingfield

Today I found what might be one of my favourite places as a mum of a toddler and a baby! 
I have to share this little gem with you because I have been waiting over 10 years to find somewhere like this!  

Rosies Coffee Lounge in Lingfield is every parents Haven.
The front of the shop is set out like a usual coffee lounge with a lovely vintage theme and on arrival you wouldn’t necessarily expect much more than a great breakfast and cup of tea. 

It is the back of the shop that left my speechless, I can only describe It like a mums ‘speak easy’ coffee shop. 

At the side of the coffee Lounge is a babygate that leads into a lovely ‘play room’ full of dressing up clothes and toy boxes. 

On the other side of this lovely room is a fantastic, covered, outdoor area with tables and chairs and a contained soft play area for babies and toddlers.
Perfect for a rainy day, you can sit and catch up with friends or just enjoy some time indulging a coffee and slice of cake while the little ones crack on and play. 

Rosies offers even more to us parents on a sunny day with a gorgeous outdoor garden. 
Completly covered in fake grass it feels a little like being in teletubby land.

They have ride on toys, benches, bouncy castle and lots more to keep the children entertained.
I honestly couldnt find fault in this wonderful place. 
The decor is quaint, cosy and vintage which makes chilling in their garden all the more relaxing. 
Baby gates and fencing everywhere means there is no way of children escaping which takes the anxiety out of enjoying your cuppa.
When i normally take George out for coffee with the girls i’m forever having to wrestle him into staying in a high chair, chasing him round like a lunatic before he starts stealing food from an unassuming diners plate or running out the front door. 

If I am lucky enough for him to sit still he is usually screaming like something out of the exorcist for a biscuit, that once I give him, he chews and spits back out 😣 
The toys, grass and equipment at Rosies are spotless which I am completly in awe of as I have never found a kids space that I am happy to walk around without my shoes on. 
If there was a coffee themed Masterchef, my friend Rosie and I would be the Greg and John and with our vast experience I can tell you Rosies Coffee Lounge capuchinno is one of the best we’ve had. 

The jackets potatoes and breakfasts were great too. 

On top of all this, the staff were so wonderful, welcoming and patient with the children (and parents) it made the whole atmosphere even more enjoyable. 
Rosies also offer children’s party packages and events.   Take a look at their website for more information. 

https://www.rosiescoffeelounge.com
I should add,  don’t be put off of you have no children.  As I mentioned earlier,  the font of the shop is a great area and when I was there,  not a child in sight! 
It’s important,  given my glowing review that you know I did not recieve anything in return for this review.   In fact, I went ‘secret shopper’ style and didn’t even mention Modern Mum to them. 
So, if you want to find me between the hours of 9-2 this is probably where I will be plotted up with Rosie, my laptop, a copy of OK or If I’m feeling like a particularly good mum,  I might even be playing with my children 😉
Let me know if you take a trip down there and what you think and tell them I said hi 🤗

Peace Out