Do I need a tech detox?

On Saturday my phone broke. Sob. At first I was just annoyed, it’s such an inconvenience. I was hoping to not buy one until after the wedding in March. What was really annoying was that I was trying to find the postcode for the Roman Baths Museum in Welwyn. We were already in the car and R ended up having to get his phone out of his pocket while he was driving so I could look on his instead. As the day went on I realised how much I rely on my phone. It made me wonder if I need a tech detox.

Here are just some of the ways I rely on my phone

Meal Planning

To do the meal plan  for each week I use google calendar as it’s syncs to R’s calendar so I know when he’s home or not. I also use the weather app to see what kind of food we might want to have. Especially as autumn hits and we are stuck between forecasts of 30 degree sunshine and days of solid rain. I don’t want to plan a casserole on a sunny day and a salad on a rainy day.


I use the weather app for deciding which load of washing to put in and whether I can put it out on the line. Some days I focus more on washing because I know it’s going to rain the next day.

Social life

I use the calendar to put things in the diary, so that R sees any important dates that crop up or appointments that he might need to be around for. I also plan things using whatsapp, there are group chats on there with different groups of friends and the school mums. I have quick checks on google to look for things to do. I check twitter and local parents groups on facebook to see if anything’s happening locally.


Blogging is obviously a huge part of my life, to be a part of the community I use instagram, facebook and twitter. I also get any blogs I have subscribed to straight to my inbox. I use my phone to comment on people’s blogs too and use apps to schedule posts on facebook and twitter. My phone camera is generally what I use to take photos of anything. I upload and view instagram on it too. I even have apps to edit photos on there.


I have an app on my phone that I need to use to log on to my online banking, even if I’m accessing my banking on the computer. So I have no access to my bank until I get a new phone.

Getting from A-to-B

Since moving down here I realised how bad my sense of direction really is. I use google maps to go everywhere except places I go on a regular basis. I can do the school run by myself. If the road is ever closed I literally have to follow the diversion though, I wouldn’t know if there was a better way to go. When we go somewhere that’s not local we use google maps to choose the best route. For me that’s the one without a motorway, for R it is usually the quickest route because google maps knows everything!


I use my phone to take a gazillion photos of Oliver. I really love the apps that bring up the photos from this time last year, 2 years ago etc. I love seeing how he’s grown. It’s so easy to forget that he was once a teeny tiny baby. Remembering the milestones exactly as they were then.

Do I need a tech detox?

I won’t lie I have panicked. Quite a lot. How will I ever cope? How am I going to survive without my smartphone for an ENTIRE week. It’s a good job there’s nowhere I need to go, nothing I need to do and nobody I desperately need to contact.

Mobile phones have long moved on from being something to use for calling and texting. They seem to control our whole lives. But does that mean we don’t live in the moment any more because we are too busy capturing it? I’m not sure how I will cope without my phone for a whole week. I’m currently using a really cheap phone – you know the ones with actual buttons, not just any buttons, but only the number buttons where you have to press the number 2 three times to get a letter C. The only benefit I see is that I won’t have to charge it at all before my new phone arrives.


How much do you rely on your phone? Do you think I rely on mine too much? Do I need a tech detox? Perhaps I’ll have a revelation and suddenly decide I don’t need it….unlikely!!

do I need a tech detox? photo of young woman using laptop with phone



Linking Up to:


Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Meal Planning Monday

During the summer holiday’s my sister-in-law (Aunty M) has been staying with us. Her parents are renovating their house and there isn’t a great deal of space for her, so we’ve had an extra mouth to feed. The extra mouth is also vegetarian! So while I’m normally meal planning like a pro it has taken me a little while to get used to thinking about what we can have that’s easily adaptable or a yummy vegetarian dish.



Venison shoulder steaks (picked up in the reduced bit in Tesco) served with roasted baby potatoes (extras from our potato salad from yesterdays BBQ), spinach, peas and broad beans combo and cauliflower cheese. Aunty M will have Mexican Bean Burgers instead of the Venison.


Lasagne, I picked up a veggie lasagne ready meal in tesco reduced section so Aunty M will have that. I’ll make the meat sauce on Monday so that I can just assemble and make the white sauce on Tuesday


Veggie curry with tarka dal, rice and poppadoms. Mango chutney on the side, I like Sharwoods, but R and M like Greta’s.


Sausages, Yorkshire pudding, veggies and mash. We have Cauldron Lincolnshire sausages for Aunty M.


Paella – I’ll make the rice veggie then throw some cooked chicken in at last minute.


Stir Fry with noodles – lots of veggies. Again, I can throw some chicken in at last minute.


We are off to see Uncle T to visit Cousin T and Cousin H; Cousin H’s birthday is next week (on the same day as mine!) so Oliver and I are going with my in laws as R is at work.


After this week we only have one more week of Aunty M staying with us until she goes off to Uni. We’ve absolutely loved having her here and I hope that her being here has pushed us to eat more vegetarian foods than we normally would.


Play Date Etiquette : A Beginner’s Guide

Since Oliver started preschool I’ve had to be a little bit more sociable myself. I’ve suffered with school gate anxiety since before he started. On the one hand I was excited that there would be a group of adults that I would be in regular contact with. On the other hand there would be a group of adults that I would be in regular contact with!! What if they hated me? I had no doubt Oliver would make friends and that play dates would soon feature. So that got me thinking about play date etiquette. For the socially anxious, sometimes a little guide can be helpful. So I asked other parents who blog, here are their top tips…

Firstly, it starts before you go. Be prepared.

“I always jokingly mention that my kids can be a handful prior to the playdate. It’s not false but I have this fear that one day everyone will see how badly behaved the kids can be and I’d rather prewarn them! This then leads to the ‘your kids are so well behaved’ comment if the kids haven’t managed to put each other in bad moods!!”
– Carla, Random Thoughts of a Twenty Something 


“Unless you are driving, take a hip flask. Take sneaky nips as the house is trashed around you. Mutter that’s your child isn’t like this at home, it must be because they get on so well. Stagger home 2 hours late.”
– Naomi, Tatooed Mummy

If drinking on the job isn’t your thing, at least prepare yourself mentally. And drown yourself in tea. But probably not too much if you’re a nervous pee-er.

Then there’s the protocol for arranging play dates with a parent of the opposite sex

“When you’re a dad arranging a playdate with a mum, it can feel awkward – like you’re asking them on a date! So if you’re arranging (or on) a playdate with a parent of opposite sex, mention your partner lots so you can be sure they don’t get the wrong idea. Unless you want them to get the wrong idea”
– Simon, Man Vs Pink

Food is a minefield. There are so many differing opinions.

The thing I always struggle with is “are you kids allowed to eat cake” or “mine only drink water” issues… and then the fall out from some kids having juice and others allowed only water. I once gave my kids squash at a house where the kids didn’t drink squash and it caused WW3! So my tip would be: never get enticing snacks out of your bag without checking with the other parents! No one wants to cause a snack related meltdown!”
– Amy, 2 Boys, 1 Mum


If your child is a fussy eater (like mine!) don’t stay for lunch or tea when going on a play date. The food will invariably be ‘different’ (even if it’s exactly the same as what you make at home) and you want to avoid your child telling the host that it’s ‘yucky’. Embarrassing”
– Amiee, Mum Amie


photo of chocolate cupcakes with a caraffe of milk and milk crate, wooden spoon and mason jar style glass to style the photo. Quote included as "Always bring cake to a playdate" from Natalie at Plutonium Sox . com


“I have a huge thing about bringing things eg cake. Loads of people do even when asked not to bring anything but I find it really annoying: if I’m hosting I have bought everything so it doesn’t get eaten and I just end up eating it later and feeling unhappy about my weight and secondly play dates should be a cheap way to meet up with people if both the host and visitors are spending money on things it’s cheaper to go out. When several people go round and I’m the only one not to bring anything I feel rude.”
– Kate, Counting To Ten


“Always take Cake or posh looking biscuits…”
– Rose


“Chocolate biscuits and cake!!”
– Lara


“Sometimes I take cake but I also don’t want them to feel that is necessary if they come to ours, so I make that clear! I just love cake 🙂 And I don’t do it if I know that person is trying to be healthy!
If I take snacks for my little one I make sure I take enough to go around as the others will naturally want some too! I try to make them as healthy as possible so as not to put any parents in awkward situations if they’re not comfortable with less healthy options (our snacks our generally healthy anyway but I do allow a biscuit if we are at someone else’s and it is offered.)”
– Rebecca, Taylor Made Ramblings


My suggestion – have something, but perhaps leave it in the car or your inevitably large handbag until you know the time is right. If the time isn’t right then just eat it when you get home.

Shoes off or shoes on?

“I never know if to take my shoes off in other people’s houses so I do anyway but always make sure to wear socks as I hate my feet out.”
– Jessica, Beauties and The Bibs

Shoes on or off is a huge thing for me, at home I wear enormous slippers and have carpets, if I go to a house with wooden or tiled floors my feet freeze because I have raynauds. So if you invite me over don’t be surprised if I’m wearing woolly socks and/or bring massive slippers. Or put the heating on ready for my arrival! Haha.

One thing is for sure, DO NOT TAKE A POORLY CHILD

“1) Taking a poorly toddler round someone’s house is like taking a dump on their doorstep. Don’t do it. 2) If they’re potty training get ready to grovel when they pee on their carpet. Yes this has happened to me.”
– Frances, Whinge Whinge Wine

“Oh yes, definitely agree with not taking a poorly child. In the past I was almost lynched for declining a toddler who had been puking for the entire morning but “had stopped now”.”
– Sophie, Sophie and Lily

But what about kids behaviour?

“The thing I find the hardest is their TV’s and DVD players etc – my son goes straight for them so I usually spend most of the time removing him from those areas….with that in mind always take a favourite toy with you as a ‘distraction’. Last time we had a big group play date Arthur bit another child when they tried to take a toy he was playing with….it was a really difficult situation and I ended up reprimanding him in a way that I wouldn’t usually do just for the benefit of the other parents….now whenever we go anywhere to play I am constantly watching him just in case he does it again…although since this incident we haven’t actually been invited back”
– Sarah, Arthur Wears

Sharing is a huge talking point…

“Try to relax with regards to sharing. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with your child if they don’t want to share! They go through phases and they will learn. I used to get so embarrassed and flustered when Ernie went through his phase of not sharing. I thought it was something I was doing as a parent but it really isn’t! They all learn eventually and will still have their moments even then!”
– Rebecca, Taylor Made Ramblings

Child looking at transformer toy on table quote saying to put away your kids favourite toys and put out toys that area easy to share

“People always expect children to be great at sharing, but they’re not! So if we’re having a play date at our house I put away any of the kids favourite toys (like the soft toy that they sleep with or a brand new Paw Patrol toy) and put out toys that are easy to share like the train set or Lego.”
– Niki, Play and Learn Every Day

Be aware of quietness

“My tip this: if you think your just turned three year old is being suspiciously quiet go and check she’s not been enticed to open every single drawer at her friends house and emptied out all her clothes. If this happens the next time she has a playdate at home she will repeat this new trick”
– Lauren, Belle Du Brighton

How would you feel if they did it at your house?

Be responsible for your child’s behaviour, it is not the host’s responsibility to discipline your child. If they wouldn’t do it at home, it’s in everyone’s interests if they don’t do it in someone else’s house, otherwise things can get awkward and you may find you don’t get invited back. I have had parents tell me that they think other people should be able to tell their child off if they do something wrong, as it teaches them social skills, or something, but no one actually wants that job, it’s yours!”
– Lucy, The Parent Game


“Don’t take a ride on toy for your toddler to play on, especially if your friend has real wooden floors; ESPECIALLY if her baby is only a few months old and sleeping in a basket which your toddler keeps bumping. Also don’t let your toddler use your friend’s sofa like a trampoline, particularly if your friend is breastfeeding her preemie on the same sofa. Most of all, don’t do these things on the same occasion. (We’re still friends, but I’ve never invited them back into my house.)”
– Kate, The Less Refined Mind

Last but not least, TIDY UP!

Nearly all of the parents who contributed to this blog post mentioned tidying up.

I always tidy up after ourselves, 9/10 the room was already untidy but we always leave it tidy”
– Jaymee, The Mum Diaries


“I always take my shoes off, always always always tidy up before we leave and I always being either cake or lunch (even a contribution towards) depending on when we are going to be there”
Katy Gibson


“I always take our shoes off immediately and I make sure we tidy up as best as possible before we leave.”
– Rebecca, Taylor Made Ramblings


” I heard a horror story of someone turning up at 10 and not leaving until 5. Don’t over stay your welcome and offer to tidy up even if they say no”
– Emma, Farmers Wife and Mummy

And if it all goes tits up? Try not to worry too much, you could still be friends

“First play date I took my son to, was a lady I had met through playgroup, older than me, walks into her house, cream sofas and so neat. She was fine letting my then 18month old run about and climb, as much as I pulled him off sofa. Knock on the door her mam, so I was introduced, my son took the whole of a few seconds to climb on the sofa, throw up and proceed to play in it. Never been so embarrassed!! Was really lucky she laughed and we’ve actually become best friends! ( the next time I went alone for a vodka, I ended up tipping my vodka and coke over the same sofa 😳) were still friends she just covers them now!”
– Jo, First Time Valley Mam

text only - play date etiquette - a beginners guide. From parents who blog


Do you have any play date etiquette tips? Or do you have any play date wins or horror stories. I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Overcoming School Gate Anxiety

One of the problems with being a parent is that you’re thrown in to this role as not yourself but your child’s mummy/daddy.  Nobody asks what your name is when they meet you, they ask your child’s name.  You become known as “Oliver’s mummy”, “Will’s Daddy” etc.  Eventually it reaches a point where it feels rude to ask the other person’s name because you have ‘known’ them for so long even though you’ve only said ‘Hi’, ‘Bye’ and spoken to them through your child because you’re terrified of rejection.

Do as I say not as I do…

Thinking back, I expected it to be easy once Oliver started pre-school.  I figured that because we were settled and seeing the same people every day I might feel a little more confident in talking to some of the other parents.  I was so wrong.  I was like a rabbit caught in headlights.  There were times at the door of the preschool when everyone would be standing in silence and it’s hard to break that.  Or you see a group of mums who have known each other for ages and you worry they don’t want another friend or tag-a-long.  Meanwhile, your child is making friends with their children by just going over to them and talking to them.  Introducing himself, the way YOU taught him to.  

oliver holding hands with henry

You are not alone

After talking to other parents online, it seems I’m not alone.  I recently shared a ‘social anxiety win’ on twitter and several people congratulated me.  It made me wonder if the majority of us are in the same boat.



‘Once you pop you just can’t stop’

After I had swapped numbers with Oliver’s friend’s mummy (who has an actual name, but is in my phone as ‘name – child) I felt slightly better.  I hadn’t been rejected, in fact she had basically invited me in to her entire group of mum friends.  A few days later I had another win with another preschool mum after one of the teachers encouraged me to swap numbers.  James, Oliver’s BFF from his first day at school was going on holiday then to ‘big school’. It was now or never.  I feared that rejection most because James and Oliver had got on so well.  He was basically the reason that Oliver settled in to the preschool and the reason he happily left us most days.


On the last day of preschool Oliver had been telling me about his new best friend, Ben.  “Ben’s going to big school” he had said, so I figured out who his parents were and spoke to his Dad at pick up.  Ben actually isn’t going to ‘big school’, he’s the same age as Oliver and has another year at the Montessori.  I mentioned the playdate in the aforementioned tweet at one of the local parks and gave him my phone number.


Winning the war on anxiety

I feel like I’ve managed to overcome the majority of my anxiety.  I’m not fearing the rejection quite as much.  I also felt like I had won when Oliver got an invitation to a birthday party over the holidays.  I know that technically Oliver got the invite and not me, but that’s totally a win, right?


I’m ignoring the fact that we have to do this all again in a few days when Oliver goes back to preschool and most of his best friends have gone to Primary.  Maybe I will be the mum to start conversations at the school gate…


Do you suffer school gate anxiety? Or do you have any tips to overcome it?


overcoming school gate anxiety written on chalkboard

How Accessible is Your Town? #FeneticChallenge

**This post contains some affiliate links**

I recently took on the #feneticchallenge for Fenetic Wellbeing* to see how accessible my local town centre was. Being friends with Martyn from ‘Inside Martyn’s Thoughts‘ who has Muscular Dystrophy and therefore limited mobility I have recently become more aware of the inaccessibility of a lot of places. In June we went to dinner after BML16 in London and the restaurant had originally allocated us a table upstairs, which was impossible with no lift!


I had high hopes for Welwyn Garden City,as it’s a ‘new town’ (designated in 1948) and was designed by Ebeneezer Howard in the 1920’s. It’s also in commuter-ville, being only 30 minutes to central London by train. We don’t have cobbled streets or narrow lanes and the buildings aren’t massively old so I figured we should therefore have a massively accessible town.

photograph of Welwyn Garden City Howard centre with flat walkways and waist height hedged gardens as well as large trees
Photo Credit : Paul Shreeve

The results

For the most part I was right. The streets are wide, there are lots of multi storey carparks with disabled spaces and a few on the road. However, when it came to the cinema there were only 3 spaces in the entire enormous car park and one of those I had to go searching for, it was quite well hidden! The cinema is also pretty small so disabled people only have the option of sitting in the front row which is really close to the screen. They do however, have autism friendly screenings, which I was really impressed with.

I was also quite picky with the shop – I chose John Lewis, having been in there a couple of times and always struggled to navigate my way around. It’s probably one of the oldest buildings in the town. Each floor has several levels with just a few steps between them. At almost every set of steps there is a lift. Occasionally a wheelchair or less abled shopper would have to go back and down to the previous floor then up in a different lift. This was especially noticeable when we went to see if they sell kids cycle helmets. Going from toys to sports a less abled shopper would have to go back down to the previous section and around to a different lift to get to sport, just because of a few steps.

disabled toilet logo from pizza express, welwyn garden city during the #feneticchallenge

One of the things we weren’t expecting was how accessible Pizza Express was. Having worked in hotels, restaurants and bars R and I both looked at each other and were like, “there’s no chance there’ll be enough space in there!”, but actually there was. The only time you’d have trouble is if you were a walk in at peak time and the only tables left were the ones you have to squeeze in to. The only criticism I would have was that the toilets were right at the back down a corridor, having to navigate past the kitchen and desk. The space looked quite narrow.


The little things…

I suppose the background in hospitality has given us a bit more experience than a lot of people in regards to accessibility. We have both been trained to think in certain ways. For example automatically offer the lower part of the desk for those wheelchair bound. For me, it’s normal to see those things because they were a part of my daily life when I was working. It’s easy to forget though and I had to really force myself to notice some of the smaller things. One in particular was accessible changing rooms in the shop.


What the locals say…

“John Lewis access lifts are too small for most motorised wheelchairs and unless you have arms like Inspector Gadget you wont beable to reach to press the buttons…The rails are too close together and the ability to move around the store is seriously hampered by the lifts to each area. The lack of baskets that can be used by wheelchair users is also interesting as you balance items on your lap and travers the crowded store.”

“Disabled access changing rooms are rare, with little space to do anything but look in the mirror in frustration”

“Places with good accessibility are the library, waterstones, starbucks and Sainsbury’s”

“Things you can’t do in a wheelchair in Welwyn Garden City…
1. Change a baby’s nappy
2. Catch a train after 7pm
3. Use a public toilet
4. Shop above the ground floor in Debenhams
5. Charge a motorised wheelchair”

– Wanda Armstrong-Bridges


“I operate a wheelchair accessible taxi in Welwyn Garden City and find that most of my customers love shopping and eating in the town centre”

– Dave Archer

A bit of a mixed bag, what’s clear is that even when you’re looking you don’t fully understand the challenges that disabled people face doing the things that we take for granted. In an aging population and one that is becoming more aware of disabilities in all forms there is really little excuse for town centres to not be accessible.


Kidloland App: Review

The lovely people over at Kidloland offered us a one year subscription to their app in response for a review. As it’s the holidays and Oliver will no doubt get bored on rainy days or in the car I figured it would be great. The app is aimed at age 0-5, so toddlers & pre-school age and perfect for Oliver at age 3.5.

In our house, we aren’t hugely precious about screen time. However, we do like knowing what he’s using and that it is of some benefit to him in some way, shape or form. Sometimes, that reason can be just for enjoyment and down time. Sometimes it’s for educational purposes. Oliver knows how to unlock my phone and actually has his own folder for apps and games for him. He can read his name, so he knows where to find them.


home screen with section named Oliver comprising of Youtube kids, iplayer kids, kidloland and star wars lego


The Kidloland app has lots of fun nursery rhymes and songs including the ‘ABC song’, which I was really impressed to hear Oliver knew most of it, we’ve sung it a few times now and he is getting even better at memorising the alphabet.

There are quite a few different sections with songs for numbers, letters, shapes, colours etc. As a British person, my only criticism of it is that it’s an American app, so that means spellings are different and the last letter of the alphabet is ‘zee’ rather than ‘zed’. I explained to Oliver that although American people speak English, they speak it differently to us. I actually likened it to how his Daddy and I speak differently (think grass and graaass). He accepted the explanation, but I can still see the confusion when he’s singing the alphabet and it sounds different, he definitely second guesses himself.




I love that there’s a Christmas songs section! Despite it being summer, we have had a little sing-a-long to some of the Christmas songs. You’d never guess I used to be a scrooge!



There are a couple of games on there too, they seem pretty easy for him to use and understand the concept. That means he gets less frustrated and can play it by himself, which he likes. It also means that I can leave him to it if I need a few minutes to get something done, or if we were in the car on a long journey and he was fed up.



Ease of Use

It’s really easy to use for Oliver, he chooses a section and just presses the first one. Once you’ve downloaded all of the songs in each section it auto plays from start to finish. Oliver doesn’t seem to mind that it goes through from start to finish. Each time you download a new section it asks for permission, so if you haven’t downloaded the yearly subscription (£29.99) there’s no worry of something being bought without your knowledge. It does mean that for every section there is a short wait if you haven’t downloaded yet. I think Oliver would have got the hang of this by age 2, but the waiting would have frustrated him.


Oliver does seem to enjoy it, and the best thing about it – there’s no “Daddy finger, daddy finger, where are you?” or random surprise egg, unboxing videos and grown men playing with toys or running around dressed as Spiderman. I know you all know what I’m talking about!



Kidloland gifted a yearly subscription for the purpose of this review, however all opinions, experiences and summery sing-a-longs of Christmas songs are my own


You can download Kidloland on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon App Store



Why I Love Yoga

I’ve always had an interest in yoga. I’m not sure what has drawn me to it, but it’s always been in the back of my mind. I’ve read a lot on how yoga benefits mental health, maybe that’s it. When Oliver started preschool I decided that now was my time so I had a look online and found a local class. My social anxiety nearly stopped me but I went and I loved it. That was just before Easter and I’ve been almost every week since.  I’ve also branched out and started practicing at home where possible.

Yoga Benefits – Mind

One of the things that stood out to me during my first session was how relaxed I was after the session. Although I was still a bit anxious, I relaxed enough to be dazed. It was a time to be me. Time for peacefulness. For quiet and focus. Being a mum there is rarely a time to stop and breathe. Focusing on my own well-being felt like a huge step to take.

One of the most unexpected benefits has been the sense of pride when I’m complimented on my form or reach a milestone. A couple of weeks ago my heels touched the mat in downward facing dog for the first time. I’ve also been complimented on my planks and my ‘twistiness’.

Yoga Quote "With nothing left to do you're finally forced to come face to face with yourself" by Edward Vilga - background image of silhouette tree pose in black and white

Yoga Benefits – Body

I’ve never been the ‘exercising’ type. I’m the one my friends hate because I eat and don’t get fat. The only problem is, I feel how unfit I am compared to them. My body aches, I get tired and if we had to run for a bus they’d be trying to convince the driver to wait for me! I tried the gym at uni, but it just didn’t interest me. I tried the 30 day shred but the high impact of it hurt my knees. Exercise was just not for me.

The gentleness of yoga is really great for me – there’s not too much pressure on my knees and I only get as deep in to a pose as I can. If a pose is too much I can go down to childs pose or relaxation, but each week I’m seeing myself get further and deeper in to the poses.

Despite it being gentle I’ve actually been sweating too and can feel the effects in my body. I’ve had that post workout ache and I feel like I’m generally more physically able.

I haven’t yet seen a change in my body shape, but I’ve no doubt if I were to really push myself and practice more often that I’d see the change.


Me Time

One of the hugest factors is that I get to do something that is just for me. Being at home with Oliver is amazing, but I never get any time to myself. I never get to just sit quietly with my own thoughts. If Oliver isn’t here I’m constantly thinking about what else I need to do and find it difficult to relax. When I’m doing yoga I am focusing on the poses. Focusing on balance and stretching. Focusing on what’s inside of me and feeling great. Feeling proud of my achievements. Feeling calm and relaxed and being alone in my thoughts.


New Friends

Since moving down to Hertfordshire to be with R in 2011 I have made a few friends through work. However since moving from Hemel to Welwyn Garden City I’ve finally felt settled enough to really think about ways to make friends. I’ve been trying much more to talk to preschool parents and my yoga class has been amazing. Every week we go to the local cafe for a tea/coffee and chat. I stay there until it’s time to collect Oliver from preschool.

Bespoke & Oak Wedding Hangers : Review

The lovely people over at Bespoke & Oak heard that I’m planning my wedding and asked if I’d like to review something from their range.  Obviously I said yes.  When I browsed their site there were so many things I wanted but quite a few were out of our price range.  Having splurged on our venue the rest of the wedding is on a bit of a budget. Eventually we decided on the wedding hangers.

I’ve seen some really lovely wedding photos of all of the dresses hung up while the Bride and her maids get ready.  As I have three bridesmaids I ordered 4 of the hangers which costs £36.  I know that you can get them cheaper in other places but the quality of these hangers is fantastic.  The personalised text is really elegant and is actually laser engraved instead of a sticker like a lot of the others on the market.

wedding hangers laser cut name Bride and date of wedding

Solid Wood

One of the concerns I had was that the wooden hangers might snag dresses, but they are incredibly smooth and I very much doubt there will be any snagging.  Because the hangers are solid wood (1.3cm thick) they are also really strong and will no doubt hold the weight of a wedding dress easily.  They’re also a good size (44.5cm wide) so hopefully there will be no slipping off of the sides either.  They do have the usual indents at the edges to prevent that too.



There are children’s hangers available and I did consider getting one for Oliver but in the end I just got one for each of the girls.  For the personalisation you just write the names you’d like on the hangers and you can also include a date if you wish.  I did – at least R can never forget our anniversary if there’s a hanger in our wardrobe with the date written on it!  The personalisation box is also on the sale page so there’s no forgetting to fill in a separate contact form (yes, I have totally done that).



You can get free delivery from Bespoke & Oak, but you are putting your faith in to the Royal Mail standard service, I fully recommend that you splurge on ‘tracked’. By doing so your package will arrive within a week – which is great if you are as disorganised as I can be.  These wedding hangers would be a great last minute purchase to add to those ‘finishing touches’ on your wedding day.


Disorganised Bride-to-be

I don’t have my dress yet and neither do the bridesmaids, but I am just so excited to see them all hanging up together on the day.  My two best friends live up North so it’s really nice to be able to send them photos and talk progress.  I have no idea where or when we will be going dress shopping for them, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m also feeling a little nervous because my theme is mismatched brights and we have no idea what we are looking for yet!  The wedding hangers will at least provide some uniformity to the pre-wedding photos!

bespoke and oak laser cut hangers Bride and Bridesmaids names and date of wedding


I may be a completely disorganised bride-to-be but at least Bespoke & Oak have helped me get one thing sorted.  It’s always the finer details that get forgotten too.  Being on a budget means that the finishing touches can often be overlooked, but I really love these personalised wedding hangers.  I also love that my bridesmaids are going to have a reminder hanging in their wardrobe forever.  No excuses for not sending a happy anniversary text!


I was sent the hangers for the purpose of an open honest review, all words and anniversary expectations are my own

Introducing : Ziva and Tali

I would like to introduce you to the newest members of the UEM family – Ziva and Tali!

Kittens Ziva the tortoiseshell and Tali the black and white hiding in a hole in the wall

When the kittens arrived they were very shy. We got them from somebody who had saved them from being kept in a tiny box in a shed. They hadn’t had a great deal of socialisation so were quite anxious, but they are settling in well.

ziva and tali sitting in a box

True to UEM form Ziva and Tali were quite an unexpected arrival. We knew we wanted to get a cat and had been casually looking around. When I saw these two the night before Oliver’s school trip I fell a little bit in love. One was described as being more affectionate and the other more playful, but the sisters needed a home together because they couldn’t bear to be apart.  I knew we could give them the home and love they needed together as a pair.

While we were at the farm on the trip the owner replied saying that we could see them that afternoon. When we left the farm we went home to collect R then straight out to meet them.

We completely weren’t expecting to walk away with two cats that day, but we did! With a quick pit stop at the Sainsbury’s petrol station to pick up some litter, we were on our way home with two kittens and all of their belongings.

Settling in

That was three weeks ago, since then we have bought them some extra toys and introduced our ‘crazy cat lady’ neighbour to them. Unfortunately one of her cats passed away last week after a long illness, so seeing our energetic kittens has really cheered her up. She has been really helpful and has even lent us some of her cat toys and enrichment devices to see how Ziva and Tali take to them.

ziva and tali playing and prowling in cat tunnel with fishing rod toy orange feather and jingly ball

Since arriving home they’ve gone from hiding in a hole in the wall to now coming and sitting with us on the sofa. We’ve played, given them space and stroked them to give them the chance to trust us. I’m so happy that we have given Oliver the chance to be a pet owner and seeing him with them is just amazing; it makes me feel proud that we have raised such a gentle boy.

Ziva, the tortoiseshell kitten has been hard to win over; I have a feeling she is going to be feisty, but she seems to adore Oliver and will roll over on to her back to let him stroke her tummy. Tali, the black and white kitten is much more eager to have affection and will be the first to come and sit with you. She even tries to get attention if you’re giving it to Ziva!

Ziva rolling on to her back for Oliver to stroke her with a sock on his hand


And the names? Well, some of you might be familiar with NCIS. We are huge fans, we even had Jethro on our list of boys names when Oliver was born. If you’re not familiar with NCIS, you should definitely watch it – you’ll love it and understand why Ziva’s name fits her personality so well!  If you watch it and haven’t seen the season 13 finale yet, watch it – but keep the tissues handy.


For more cat photos feel free to follow me on instagram as I go from cat lover to crazy cat lady!


When your cat looks like she’s smiling in her sleep

A photo posted by Natalie Streets (@diaryofuem) on

The Pre Wedding Fitness Plan

Since I started my Hey Workout sessions I realised that to motivate myself I needed a plan – a clear idea of what I wanted to achieve and how I am going to achieve it.  Part of setting my pre wedding fitness plan is measuring all those bits that you never want to measure and figuring out which workouts will help tackle the areas that I consider to be the biggest problems.  I may also have to admit to myself yet again that I sometimes eat a little bit too much of what I fancy.


  • Arms – 28.5cm
  • Thighs – 63.5cm
  • Waist – 76.5cm
  • Hips – 96cm
  • Bust – 88cm
  • Under Bust – 77cm

In simple terms, I’m sort of between a size 10 and 12.  My top is a size 10ish, I have fairly narrow shoulders, prominent collarbones and smallish boobies.  Then there’s my hips and waist.  They’re a little larger than a size 10 – typically, a whole size bigger.  I’m definitely pear shaped.  I also have proper bingo wing arms, I don’t really do anything that requires upper body strength apart from when I pick up Oliver.

Target Areas

From what I have written above you can probably tell what I’m going to say my target areas are – my middle/bum area and my arms!  I’d love to have toned arms; lets face it, every bride thinks about those side shots where her arms look three times bigger than you ever realised they were.  On top of that you want the nice silhouette, curvy but not rounded and a smooth line instead of lumps and bumps all over the place.  This is particularly important for people like me who refuse to wear shapewear or be uncomfortable and unable to eat on their wedding day.  If I’m spending a fortune on food I am damn well eating it!



The Pre Wedding Fitness Plan

To get in to shape I will be planning each day, I’m going to try to have a routine for each day of the week because I think that will help me be consistent and know where I am at.


Yoga because I’m sure that after the weekend I might need a little bit of calm, it will give me a good start to the week and get my energy flowing too.


Lower Body and Upper Body as the workouts are only 30 minutes long each it means that I will only need an hour to do two workouts.


Rest day I want to be rested to fully enjoy my yoga class and be able to fully participate without restricting myself from any aches and pains from the day before.


Yoga – The session is around 1 hour, 15minutes and is led by my fabulous yoga teacher Emily (for another 4 weeks at least).  The sessions are only on during term time, so I will have to keep myself going every Thursday during the holidays.  I can either do an extra Hey Workout session in that case or I can use my Daily Yoga app.

The focus of the sessions really depends on what Emily has planned, but she is focusing on the chakras in the head/mind at the moment until the end of term.

Occasional extra evening session depending on how I’m feeling and if Oliver is in bed at a sensible hour.  We are in the one-to-no-nap transition phase at the moment.


Friday is my mad cleaning frenzy day.  It’s not uncommon for us to have guests or visitors of a weekend so I therefore use Fridays to do my bathroom and getting my kitchen spotless for the possibility of entertaining (and vacuuming the entire house).  I totally feel like this is a workout in itself!


Cardio This could be a long walk, we often take Oliver out at weekends or take the in-laws dogs on walks over the weekends.


Cardio As above, weekend walks, or if we can’t get out I will do a bit of running up and down the stairs a ‘few’ times.


Hey Workout have kindly offered my readers a free 14 day trial, to get it just click here