3 Sep 2013

A new leaf......

So I continue to be awful at updating my blog.  I feel so guilty, as it was meant to be something we could all look back on and reminisce about.  I have realised that the huuuuge backlog of posts I need to write covering the last 3 and a half months are just hanging over me and are putting me off blogging.....I feel that I have so much to catch up on that I don't know where to start and the whole prospect is becoming a chore.  

Some photos from this last weekend, when Pip, in her gorgeous 80's-esque romper suit, got adorned with a Chanel ribbon........that's sophostication, right there! Thank you Lulu at Berry Diaries for the amazing photography skills!

4 Aug 2013

Our first family holiday!

We went on holiday to South Wales, where we hired a holiday cottage with Grandma and Grumps for a week. The weather had been amazing all month and then the day before we left it turned.  Boo! It was still dry most of the time, we even managed a whole day on the beach (after much weather forecast browsing and wet weather planning!).  But luckily the cottage Grandma had chosen had really good living areas so it didn't matter if the rain forced us to stay inside on a couple of days. 

On a walk to a nearby headland.  Beautiful.

We're baaaaack!

Oh dear.  I seem to have not written a single post for 2 whole months.  I used to like to think of myself as relatively organised and efficient….pah!! I’ve certainly proved myself wrong on that one; I seem to have become utterly useless.  No excuses whatsoever I’m afraid  - we moved house a couple of days after my last post and I originally gave myself a week to get that out of the way before updating the blog. Well, that was one looooooong week!

31 Jul 2013

July 2013 - a photo update

July was another lovely sunny month (right up until we went on holiday, more about that later though!).  Pippa thoroughly enjoyed her paddling pool, Rufus thought it was amazing and torture all in one, I was shocked he didn't try and get in once.  He just stared longingly! 


30 Jun 2013

June 2013 - photo update

So! The new house.  I think it's the nicest of our Army quarters yet.  It's big!
This is our new back garden, completely with a herd of rabbits, which Rufus loves! 


31 May 2013

May 2013 - photo update

Enjoying some early summer sun, before the packing begins.

22 May 2013

Moving day!

So the day has come......we're off!!  Here are some photos of the momentous day.

Although I don't want to leave at all, once you know the move is inevitable you start almost wishing yourself into the new place.  Just to be able to start re-settling, unpacking and getting back into normality.  So I have been half dreading and half looking forward to this day.  I am fairly sure the more positive side of my feelings towards this process may wear off quite quickly!

17 May 2013

The dreaded move begins....

So, we are moving! We knew when we moved here that it would only be for a couple of years, but even still I have been dreading it and pretending it's not going to happen.  We have made so many wonderful Army and civvie friends here, had Pippy here, become a real little family here.  I love the town we're in (shhhhh, can't say where exactly.....high-security Husband at work!) and have  just been really happy here.

Nevertheless, off we go. The process of moving Army quarters involves a string of appointments with the housing people, deciding on whether we wish to fork out a silly sum of money to have the house cleaned for us (which then makes the cleaners responsible for getting it to the 'proper standard', rather than us), and deciding whether we are able to rehang the HIDEOUS Army curtains (which've been carefully stored away in a deep, deep cupboard where they can't offend anyone) ourselves or whether we need someone else to do it for us, at the cost of £35 per pair!!

When you leave a quarter you have a 'March Out', which is a meeting with your Housing Officer and other representatives from the myriad of housing related sub-contractors.  They inspect your house to check its' cleanliness, check that there's no damage, that you have returned all keys you were given initially (at a charge of £26 EACH if you're missing any) and to generally interrogate you. Last time we moved we decided to clean the house ourselves, as we were quite taken with the prospect of being able to spend the cleaning allowance on something more frivolous and far less practical.  Never. Again. The March Out was nerve wracking and we ended up spending nearly a week scrubbing our fingers raw.  So this time we will be able to just hand over the receipt from the cleaners and be on our way (as long as they don't discover the remnants of a massive red wine stain under the rug in the sitting room or a chewed skirting board - Rufus, not Husband by the way - then we'll be fine!).

The next step is the 'March In' (imaginatively named, no?) in the new house, where another Housing Officer shows you in, hands over keys, paper work etc etc. You're given 14 days to identify any problems with the house or pre-existing damage. We are particularly anal with this as we certainly don't plan on being charged for anything that is already broken.  I reckon they hate us back in the office, I literally note down every dent in the woodwork and every fingerprint on windows! Actually, in most cases you are Marched Into the new house a week or two before you're Marched Out of the old one, so to give you time to actually move and then be able to clean / sort out the old house once empty. 

So, Husband Marched Into the new house on Tuesday, our removals guys are coming on Wednesday to pack this place up and then we meet them at the new house to unpack on Thursday.  We then have a few days until next Tuesday before our March Out.  We have decided to clean the carpets ourselves (a saving of £80!) so will be staying with one of our lovely neighbours so we can attack the house with a super-dooper carpet shampooer the day before.

Now that it is imminent I am actually looking forward to getting to the new house.  I love re-nesting and finding new homes for all our treasures and trinkets (and heaving furniture around to work out which of the 6 possible arrangements looks best). As much as I don't want to go, I can no longer be in denial about the whole thing, so I had better embrace it! 

This is SO how moving house is going to be...in my head...

I have already signed up with the local Military Wives Choir in the area, found another Baby Sensory class Pippy can keep attending (she does really love all the songs now!), registered with doctors, dentists and vets.  I think we're all set.

Ah yes.....that's more like it!

So, here goes the next chapter of our little family tale. Bye, bye beloved home and friends. For you Army folk, let's hope we bump into each other again on another patch on the Army postings treadmill, you never know!

16 May 2013

What's in a bag? My first review!

I recently posted about what I lug about in my changing bag. I also said that whilst I love my current bag and all its practicalities it is rather boring to look at.  So I have been having a shop about for other options and thought I could turn this little mission into my very first review! BEWARE: there are lots of photos!

So the three bags are:

This was my original bad which we bought whilst I was pregnant. I apologise for the picture. It's rammed to the brim.  As you can tell!

I bought this as a present to myself as I liked the colour and the styling. 

I have been drooling over Mia Tui's website for ages (their demo videos just reel you in!) and felt like, out of all the bags I'd seen online, these seemed to have the perfect combination of practicality and style. So, I was thrilled to bits when the lovely Charlotte, who owns the company, offered to send me one to review. Errr YES PLEASE!!! 

So what do I think of each? 

Firstly the Mothercare bag.......

It has SO many compartments.  For anyone like me who like to organise their handbags to within an inch of their lives, will love this aspect. 

A huuuge mesh zip pocket.  I kept lunches, bibs, muslins
etc. in here. 
Another big zip pocket and two smaller pockets.
Bottle / water bottle pocket on the side

MORE pockets!
Insulated bottle pocket. Very useful and
worked well.
Zip on the back.  I kept the matching changing mat and
P's Red Book in here.
I particularly love the zip on the top of the flap to let you get quick access into the bag (essential when you've put the bag on the pram handle back-to-front and thus can't open the flap quickly). 

And also the zip on the front of the flap where I can keep all my bits and bobs with easy access. 

Yes, Rufus was helping!
I also liked the rubberised bottom (rahaha!).  It was great when you needed to put it down in a real rush and not worry about what you were putting it on / in!

However there are also a couple of things I am not a fan of. The main thing that consistently bugged me was that the closure mechanism is a small magnet concealed within the flap. This works absolutely fine if the bag is empty, or with very little in it, but as soon as the bag gets bulked out at all the magnet just isn't man enough to keep the flap closed. As they have been so clever with the top zip meaning you can actually access a lot in the bag without opening the flap, I think they could have used a sturdier clasp without having to worry about ease of opening too much. But to be fair to Mothercare this was really the only main problem I had with the bag. 

Case in point. 
The only other thing that did irritate me at times though was adjustment buckle on the shoulder strap. The strap would bunch up so that the buckle twisted 90 degrees.  This had absolutely no impact whatsoever on the day to day use of the bag, it just annoyed me that it didn't sit just so....I guess that's my OCD rearing its head?!

How the strap should be.....

How the strap misbehaved after 5 minutes.......I'm sure this
wouldn't bother any normal sane person. But it just grated
on me!

Secondly the Cath Kidston bag.....

This bag is gorgeous.  It's brilliant to look at, feels well made, came with lots of extras such as bottle warmers, changing mat, flannel and zip-up clutch bag thing. 

The front flap on the bag is actually the topo of the changing
mat.....sneaky....and clever!  I liked that, despite it not being
functionally of any use whatsoever! 

Zip pocket at the back. Nice and long zip but, again, too
tight to really be able to "delve" easily.  I like that word.

Maybe I carry too much stuff around but I just found it a bit too small. Also the zip that runs along the top of the bag only allowed for quite a narrow opening.  It could do with being sewn into a winder strip of fabric to make a bigger opening, as I like to be able to open the bag and really see what's in there without having to dig about. I don't have any other criticisms really, I just realised very quickly that I had bought the bag more for its looks and it just wasn't delivering on the practical side.

The opening.   I would have prefered it if it had really bagged
out more so you could  see inside without having to use one
hand to hold it open. Maybe this would have got softer with

Finally, the Mia Tui bag.....

I'll just make it clear that, even though Mia Tui have sent me this bag to review (which I am very grateful for!), I intend to be completely honest and unbiased. But, I shall say that Charlotte, if you read this, I am more than happy to review any of your other bags in the future!

I love this bag. I have had it for about 3 weeks or so now, I wanted to really get to use it properly in lots of different situations before I reviewed it.....to give it every fighting chance to surprise me with a hidden failing or fault. Nope.  It's brilliant! It's been used for quick trips into town, whole days out with various lunches, walks, suppers etc to cater for throughout the day, swimming trips and dog walks. It's survived and even excelled in all scenarios! 

I really love the look, it's imitation leather (for a real leather one you'd have to add a 1 or 2 onto the front of the price tag in the range of bags I'd been looking at), but it's good imitation...it feels very well made and not at all plastic-y. But the best bit is when you open it up! (incidentally the main zip on this bag is exactly what I was saying the Cath Kidston one could do with....nice and wiiide!) 


Well, the inside is VERY pink! And look at all those compartments! Even with each compartment filled there's still plenty and plenty of space in the main bag to shove changes of clothes, a blanket, a hat, or a scarf for me etc etc. 


The pockets have poppers so you can expand them to fit
more stuff in, or keep them closed to keep it all neat.
Pen holders, insulated and water proof
bottle pockets. And an elastic bungee
for your keys.  Genius.
I love the separate mini bags, especially the little clutch bag. It's exactly the same size as a pack of baby wipes, so is perfectly sized to fit in 2-3 nappies, a pack of wipes and a pack of nappy bags, so when you need to change the baby's nappy you can just take that with you, rather than hoiking the whole bag along.

Long shoulder strap for the bag (I use
this to put over the pram handle); clear
plastic bag which we use for toiletries
and medicines etc and; the mini clutch bag.
I would 100% recommend the Minnie Amelie (or any Mia Tui bag...they all look great!) and honestly I am really struggling to find any criticisms.....I think if I had to choose something I'd say I'm not mad keen on the white stitching, a matching brown would give it just a bit more of a luxurious look.  But that's just personal taste....and you could always whack on a bit of shoe polish and voila! The only other thing I'd suggest is to have a slightly larger zip pocket on the front for mummy's stuff.  I'd like to see the pen holders and phone slip on the inside of that pocket instead, then all your stuff would be well and truly separate.

The zip on the front.
So, in summary,  I would definitely say that the Mia Tui wins for me.  I still find myself hankering after a couple of the practical features of the Mothercare bag that would add even more to the Minnie Amelie, but it is just so lovely and more than makes up for it in every way.  Also, it doesn't necessarily look like a changing bag, whereas the Mothercare one could be nothing but. Post baby/ies I can totally see myself using the Amelie day-to-day.  So it wins on longevity too!

My only real quandary now is how I can persuade Husband to let me expand my range and buy up the rest of the Mia Tui collection.  Go on, have a look....they're soooo multi-functional and come in all shapes, sizes and colours! http://miatui.com/collections/our-complete-range.

Our first tastes of Summer.

So the summer arrived!....and then went....then arrived again!!......and has now gone again. Apparently there's even been snow in Cornwall this week.....in May!?  But in the odd spells of glorious weather that we have had I have been able to get the old pram out again. 

I know I posted here that I wasn't yet brave enough to perambulate down the street with it.....well that fear was quashed pronto! I am proud of our big beauty and it certainly proved to be a talking point.  Pippa seems to love sitting up in it so she can see over the sides and take in the view.  I must say that with the pram's oh-so-bouncy suspension it must be a pretty good core strength workout!

I just love it, somehow even if I haven't managed to tick off anything from my to-do list in the day, I still feel like I've been productive if the sun's shining!

We've been having lunch outside, play dates with Rufus outside and visits to friends in her sweeeeet little sunhat. 

In the garden at Claire and Pippa's house (and Keith's house
too, obviously!)