Friday, 3 July 2015

Shoes are a Girl's Best Friend: French Connection at Cloggs

French Connection Lattice Wedges

In the last year I feel like I have found a part of me that had been lost, forgotten...gone. My fitness journey has really opened my eyes and in achieving goals that I always thought were out of my reach, I have found a new love for fashion, for treating myself and making more of an effort in my appearance. 

I feel better in clothes, I feel happy in what I wear. I no longer feel frumpy and fat. I was so excited about jetting off to sunnier skies at the beginning of June, I had replaced my entire wardrobe and I was ready to wear everything that I had longed to wear for such a long time. I was going to look, and I was going to feel good.

Tunisia captured my heart, and our time there went by far to quickly. From lazy pool days to full on adventures, we certainly packed a lot into our 7 days. All of my new outfits got out of the suitcase and enjoyed one or two cocktails...

I relished wearing hot pants, and felt confident in my crop tops. I wore play suits and being able to wear anything and everything I had ever thought about wearing made my hard work feel worth it, really worth it.

Of course as any girl will tell you, a big part of any outfit is her shoes. I only took two pairs of shoes with me on holiday, one pair of flip flops and a pair of beautiful wedge shoes.

My French Connection Latrice Wedges from Cloggs.

French Connection Lattice Wedges

French Connection Lattice Wedges

I fell in love with this pair of wedges as soon as I saw them, they go with so many different outfits that I was more than happy to take them with me on holiday as a primary pair of shoes. In fact I practically lived in these shoes while I was away, and even now I am back again they are a staple item of my every day wardrobe.

They have made appearances on the beach, for trips into town and even to the office. The shoes can be dressed up or down and really add that 'wow' factor to complete an outfit. For an evening out you can pair them with a play suit as above, or you can dress down, but still look the part in a pair of denim shorts.
 French Connection Lattice Wedges

Wedges have always been my go to shoes for over all comfort satisfaction. If you could see me attempting to walk in heels you would undoubtedly giggle. Wedges on the other hand are so comfortable, I can keep my balance and get the heel height that I crave. Everyone likes to dress up every now and again, but heels aren't for everyone, especially on a day to day basis. I couldn't imagine having to wear heels day and day out.

These wedges are a statement in my shoe collection. I have worn them all day, I even traveled in them when we flew out to Tunisia in June. They didn't let my feet down once, and I secretly relished how long they made my legs look! You have to enjoy these optical illusions right? I mean at 5ft 5 I am not tall...

French Connection Lattice Wedges

French Connection Lattice Wedges

The French Connection Lattice Wedges retail at £90.00 and I am sure you will agree that they are just gorgeous! They have them in a selection of other styles and I am already eyeing up  the Lata style. You can never have to many pairs of shoes right?

Disclaimer: I was sent the French Connection Lattice Wedges for the purpose of this post. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.

5 Fun Things To Do On Family Summer Holidays

Family summer holidays in South Devon are packed with fun things to do. Here are 5 fun things you have to try when you visit this year.

Laughter, long days out in the sun and plenty of running around, these are the ingredients for great family summer holidays. Fortunately you’ll find them in spades in South Devon.

If you’re visiting this summer, here are five fun things to do with the family.

Get Your Sea Legs

Blackpool Sands is one of the most popular beaches in South Devon. This Blue Flag award-winner is a great place to pitch up and spend the whole day. You’ll find lots of people enjoying their family summer holidays here and for good reason. Not only does it have all the facilities you need for a day out, but there is also water sport instruction by an approved RYA training centre.

Get started with windsurfing and be up and skimming the waves in no time, or enjoy a kayaking tour around the sheltered bay. With expert tuition and lifeguards on duty this is a great opportunity for the whole family to enjoy a day at the beach with a difference.

Experience The Coast Like Never Before

The South Devon coastline is one of stunning beauty, and experiencing it from the sea shouldn’t be missed. Monty Halls’ Great Escapes in Dartmouth offer high-speed explorations of the coast, guaranteed to make family summer holidays stay in the memory long after the sun has faded.

Jump aboard a rigid inflatable boat and travel at up to 40 knots as you delve into remote coves and get up close to the region’s wildlife. Keep an eye out and you may spot seals and dolphins. And better yet, kids under 10 go free.

Travel Back In Time At Overbeck’s

Sat on the cliffs above Salcombe, this Edwardian house was the home of Victorian inventor and scientist Otto Overbeck. Now owned by the National Trust it is open as a beautifully maintained period property.

Inside there is a wonderful collection of curios and artefacts that tell the story of Otto Overbeck’s life and work. Outside the house sits in 7 acres of luscious sub-tropical gardens, which can be explored. Kids will love playing hide and seek among the banana plants and palm trees, while you sit and enjoy the views across the estuary. Who knew family summer holidays could be educational and fun at the same time?

Go Wild At Woodlands

Just a few miles from Dartmouth you’ll find Woodlands, an all-weather day out that is a must-visit during family summer holidays in South Devon. Not only do you have dozens and dozens of thrilling rides divided into themed lands like Ninja Zone and Cyclone Zone, there is also a zoo farm with rabbits, goats, pigs, meerkats, and even crocodiles.

Woodlands is a full day out, and great for letting the kids tear around and let off some steam.

See South Devon In Style

The Dartmouth Steam Railway and River Boat Company do lovely trips around the South Devon region using restored steam engines and riverboats.

The Round Robin is a spectacular day out that takes you by train, riverboat and bus to explore Dartmouth, Totnes and Paignton. During the trip you’ll get to see the countryside at a leisurely and relaxed pace with a guide highlighting points of interest throughout the trip.

Family summer holidays should be treasured memories, so make sure you try these and other exciting activities when you visit South Devon this summer.

Thinking of booking a family holiday to remember? Take a look at the South Devon holiday cottages that Coast and Country Cottages have available.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Life Unexpected: Top Travel Essentials

Tunisia Hammamet Mirage Beach

Travelling is a really exciting time, getting overseas and experiencing new cultures and ways of life. It's certainly not something that we should take for granted. Especially when we have it handed to us as easily as we do, while we were away in Tunisia I was shocked to discover just how difficult it is for Tunisian citizens to leave the country. Many of them have never left for one reason or another, and so many of them have dreams that involve visiting distant parts of the world, or even just to see what life is like in the United Kingdom.

For my family of 3 to travel we need to plan. Planning forms the basis of absolutely everything we do, and going on holiday requires planning, additional planning and then just another smidgen of planning for good measure.

How do you you decide what you need to take with you? I personally think it's wise to pack for every eventuality, you really don't know what you might need, what situations may arise, what excursions you may find yourself venturing off on.

Holiday Essentials

Sun Care & Essentials

I have traveled to a few places where I haven't felt to great, whether it's because of the food or because I have mistakenly drank some of the water in the past, I don't know. I didn't want to take any chances with Tunisia, it was to be the first time I have been abroad in a few years, and I was determined to enjoy every moment! I started taking Bio-Culture a few days before we flew out, it's a probiotic supplement that aims to protect you against tummy upsets that are particularly common when you travel. It basically works by helping to balance out the bacteria in your stomach, and it was really easy to take while I was away. It comes in the form of tablets that you just have to swallow with water, they didn't need refrigerating which made them really handy.

Tip: Great items to keep in your handbag:

- Migrastick is a natural solution to quickly relieve pain and headache in a chic and practical pocket format. 

Zap-It Mosquito Bite Relief - I usually get eaten alive if there are Mosquitoes about. Egypt was especially bad, they just loved me. Luke had nothing to show for it, but I had bites all over my legs. Of course being young, I had not packed for the occasion. This time I was ready for everything...And they left me alone!

- Gin Gin's are candies, candies made out of Ginger. Now I love Ginger and add it to absolutely everything. These were interesting and were great to keep in my bag,

Holiday Essentials

While were on the subject of tummy upsets, I would say it's always best to over prepared just in case. Luke always seems to go down with one, always. I had brought along Enterosgel Tummy Bug Gel which was a product I had never heard of before.

It was said to help with a number of different aspects:

- Helps to stop diarrhoea or shortens the duration of diarrhoea;
- Reduces or prevents toxic and allergic reactions;
- Relieves symptoms of indigestion;
- Helps to restore beneficial intestinal microflora;
- Protects gastrointestinal mucous membrane and promotes healing of its lesions;
- Reduces the toxic load on the liver and kidneys.

Luke can confirm that he was indeed poorly, and that this really did help. In fact he couldn't stop raving about it while we were away!

In terms of suncare we took so much with us, different varieties for Leo, myself and for Luke. We swore by Aldi's Kids cream for Leo, it was factor 50 and was absolutely amazing. I slathered Leo in it throughout the day and he didn't burn once. It really did the job, even on the day where we spent hours out off roading on quad bikes! I was so impressed with it, and for the small amount of money that it costs, it really is worth it.

Luke was all about the P20 Suncream, he has always been an avid user since I met him. I remember him insisting on us having to have this brand in our case before we jetted off to Egypt many years ago. We had two different factors with us and he monopolized them both.

For me my heart lay with Palmers, I have adored them ever since I was pregnant with Leo and my morning, and evening ritual for that matter was to smother myself in the cocoa butter. I had made it my personal mission to evade stretch marks, and this was how I was going to do it! I never did get any stretch marks, but whether it was down to my military routine, or because of genetics I will never how. Anyway I digress... I took away some Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula SPF 15 Body Lotion with Vitamin E, and it has the great smell that you associate with Palmers. It always reminds me of being on holiday. A great product that nourishes, moisturises and tones my skin, but also actively protects against UV rays

Travel bags

For Luke and I we always tend to borrow suitcases from relatives, but we were aware that now Leo was that little bit older and had substantially more things that he was going to have to take with him, it was going to be important to have a special suitcase to hold his worldly possessions. I fell in love with the Little Life Dinosaur Wheelie Duffle. It was just adorable, it has been designed at the right size and height for a preschooler to pull along with ease. Leo was so excited about the idea of taking it with him, it arrived after we had already left to go to the airport, but since we have got home Loe has been so excited about wheeling it around the house. I know that he is going to be looking forward to using it when we return to Tunisia in the next few months (I am determined to go back!),

The Dinosaur Duffle retails at £39.99.

Holiday Essentials

I have always loved how fun and practical the Little Life brand is, when Leo was younger we had the Dinosaur Day Sack for him, and it proved a very trusty and handy addition as he grew and wanted to do more walking.


Keeping and feeling safe when you are out of your comfort zone is so important. Having just traveled to Tunisia, arriving back in the wake of the awful goings on that have been all over the news, the Easylock may provide additioal reassurance where it's needed.

The Easylock is a simple but incredibly strong temporary door lock. The core of the lock is manufactured from chromium plated steel, encased in strong ABS plastic with a soft plastic edge.  The latch plate is manufactured from high strength stainless steel as is the sliding mechanism, ensuring that the lock will never fail under attack.

Holiday Essentials

These are some of our essential items that we wouldn't want to travel without. When we do venture out overseas it is good to know that you have everything that you could need, just in case. Prepare a small first aid kit, take your basic paracetamol and ibuprofen. It may sound silly but you never know. I ended up dosing up on painkillers while we were away because my wisdom tooth decided to start moving around. Yes I am a 25 year old parent who is TEETHING! I really under estimated just how painful it could be, but being prepared meant that I could tackle it.

What are your top travel essentials?

Tunisia Mirage Beach Hotel

Disclaimer: I was sent the above products in exchange for my honest opinions.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Orange is the New Black Season 3 Launch Party

Orange is the New Black launch party

Orange is the New Black is back for a third season, and after only touching down in the UK hours earlier, I found myself whizzing across country to the series launch in London. Obviously it was an event that was to amazing to not make it back for, so I made it my purpose in life to get there...Someway...Somehow!

I arrived with the ever lovely Berice Baby who has become my #NetflixStreamTeam right arm, we always have a good giggle together (especially when there are cocktails or glasses of Champagne on hand) Of course luckily for us there was plenty of that to be had!
Orange is the New Black launch party

Orange is the New Black launch party
Berice Baby and I trying to get into character. We may have taken it a little to seriously...
I was to excited to see how season 3 kicked off after thhe action-packed finale episode of season 2 ends with Vee escaping the prison through Red’s contraband hole. Of course fans of the show know that she didn't get very far. Instead of tasting freedom that she had expected, Vee ends up with a mouthful of blood when Miss Rosa hits her with the vehicle she stole.

This was my second Orange is the New Black Premier (I know, I know! I am one very lucky lady!) and Netflix are always more than accommodating, a really great bunch of people who I look forward to seeing each time I visit with them. Of course they do spoil us, we were very privileged when we were directed into the screening rooms to watch the first 2 episodes of the brand new season BEFORE the release the following day, and they did that while feeding us tasty treats and slipping a few more cocktails into our hands! 

Orange is the New Black launch party

Orange is the New Black launch party

Season 3 has been out for a few weeks now, and I am yet to complete watching it! It's completely outrageous on my part, but I am no good at juggling box-sets. When I get my teeth firmly into something I have to watch it all the way through, and at this moment in time I am glued to Pretty Little Liars. That would explain the radio silence that sometimes sweeps over this here blog (I am probably watching Netflix!). 

Of course as soon as Pretty Little Liars wraps, Orange is the New Black is the very top of my list. I can't wait to see how this season plays out, the first 2 episodes have certainly implied that change is imminent, I won't go into to many details as I don't want to detract the surprses that you will discover along the way.

Just know that it's set to be a great season. Enjoy it and don't tell me any of the spoilers if you have already watched it!

A big thanks to Netflix for hosting such a fun filled evening, as always it was incredible.
Orange is the New Black launch party

Happy streaming!
Laura x  

Disclaimer: I was invited along to the Netflix Original Series Launch of Orange is the New Black as part of the Stream Team panel. All views and experiences shared are completely honest and my own.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Why I WILL go back to Tunisia

Tunisia Terror Attack

2 weeks ago I arrived home from Tunisia with sun kissed skin and so many beautiful memories. It was the kind of holiday where dreams just came true. We had loved it so much that we were in the process of looking to go back this year, because the idea of returning to Tunisia felt like going home.

I had planned to pop into the travel agents on Friday, pull off some prices and have a look at when was best to return. I had just dropped little man off at nursery when my phone beeped. It then beeped again, and again.

I glanced at the messages 'Have you heard about Tunisia!?' it read. In my rush to get Leo to nursery I hadn't heard anything at all. I pulled up Google and nervously typed 'Tunisia' into the search box, unsure what I was going to read. Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to discover...

'Massacre on the beach' read one, 'Terror attack in Sousse hotel' read another...My heart sank, it just sank. I felt deflated and sick. Really sick. I wasn't resonating that I had been in the country only weeks before, because I had been in Hammamet an hour away. I wasn't thinking 'that could have been us' because it couldn't. I just found myself lost in thoughts of  how and why? This was not the country I had fallen in love with, the people I had met, the beautiful white sand and clear blue waters were not the place for such evil. for such terror.

Of course the poor people staying at the Marhaba Hotel in Sousse have had a completely different experience. A nightmare that is being shared throughout the world, a nightmare that isn't going to end when they wake up. It's happened and there is no way back to Friday morning, to before they opened their eyes to a day that was going to change their lives beyond all recognition. 

I have been glued to the news, read everything, watched everything and I still feel the way I did when I first heard the awful events. But through it all there is one thing that has stayed with me, and that is my experience of this beautiful country and it's amazing people, and it is for those reasons right there, that I will be going back.

You might think that I am losing my marbles to even contemplate going back now, but I will not be scared to see the world through something that 'may' or 'may not happen' and I certainly don't want Leo to grow up being scared of the world we live in. If we lived our lives like this then we quite simply wouldn't leave the house. 

My head is telling me lightning doesn't strike twice, and that I was actually in more danger visiting before this atrocious act was committed.  This unfortunate, completely devastating series of events could have occurred absolutely anywhere in the world, and they have done. Cast your mind back to the London Bombings, do you still frequent the tube? It was just yesterday I took Leo on multiple underground trains to get around the city. He has absolutely no idea to what happened all those years ago, and although everyone who heads down into the depths below London is fully aware to what happened, they go down anyway. They carry on moving forward, because they have to.  

People won't forget what has happened in Tunisia, we won't forget the people who have lost their lives. We will remember them. But by not heading out into the world, we are letting them win, we are letting fear and terror strike just as they intended. Just like they want.

So when I do head back to Tunisia I will be thinking of the people who should still be here, of the nightmare that people are still living, of the family and friends that should have enjoyed the magical country just as I did, and traveled back home with stories of their adventures and sun kissed glow being a tell tale sign that they had been somewhere special, somewhere exotic. 

It takes something devastating, an evil person, an unforgivable act for the rest of the world to see jus how kind, and heroic the people who step in to help you are. Among the news of Seifeddine Rezgui being responsible for what can only be referred to as a terror attack, everyone else rallied together. Real life heroes shielded Westerners from the mad man, they took their lives in their hands and tried to help. They carried the injured, they chased the gunman. They helped pick up the pieces, because it was just as much a shock to them as it was to us.

Their country, their home, their honor and livelihood. 

This attack was the act of one man and whoever helped him, one sick man with a twisted view. It most certainly does not reflect on the people of Tunisia. What I really hope is that this is noted, that people cast their fear aside and still visit this beautiful part of the world. 

Tourism is such a massive part of these peoples lives and it's relied upon, for the moment their will be repercussions due to the nature of what has happened. I just hope one thing shines through, and that is the generosity, kindness and heroism of Tunisia. The diamonds who shone when the sky went dark and tourists fell.

That is why I will return to Tunisia.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

The one where you turn FOUR

4 years old

4 years have come to pass and life as we knew it has never been the same. It's been a series of firsts, lessons and spur of the moment decisions. Together we have mapped our movements, synced our routines and created a life together, as Mother and Son.

4 years old
I have made so many mistakes but you have no idea, of course my momentary lapses in judgement have always been the very best of intentions, but they were my mistakes all the same, but to you I can do no wrong. I am your go to confidant and you are my very best friend through it all. Our fun days out just the two of us cannot be matched, and I adore that one on one quality time with you. Day trips to London or just watching you run around the park, my day is made because it's with you.

I have watched you over the years become the little boy you are today, I have relished every single minute, and today as I watch you turn 4 years old, I am smiling. I'm smiling because I am so proud of you, everything you are, everything you have become, and everything that I know you are going to be.

Bikini Body Guide Mum

Your cheeky disposition that has all the right ingredients to have me collapse into fits of the giggles. The random things you say, the even more random things that you DO! Cast your mind back to walking through Covent Garden with me little man, where you announce that you have a wedgie. YES at the top of your voice. By now you have let go of my hand, and in seconds you have wrenched your jeans around your ankles. You are stood beside me with your pants in public view to ABSOLUTELY EVERYBODY! I suddenly realise and begin to help you pull them back up, and the reality is that you have now captured quite an audience. People are smiling and giggling at your mishap and they can't help seeing how endearing you are. After what feels like forever I manage to get you dressed and sort you out, and off we plod on our merry way.

The last few months have seen your personality just explode like fireworks against a nights sky. It was like one night you went to sleep and woke up a confident little boy. That for me was to amazing for words, watching you suddenly going out of your comfort zone and joining in with your peers was incredible. 

Of course with your new found confidence comes a whole host of new scenarios. Usually public scenarios where you initiate conversation with someone or where I run into someone I haven't see for a long time, and you wrap yourself around their legs... And it's only a minute or so later that they realise your with me! 

Mirage Beach Hotel Tunisia

Mirage Beach Hotel Tunisia

Mirage Beach Hotel Tunisia

A few comic sentances you have come out this month are:

'No Mummy! You can't sing this song, it's for BOYS! Not girls!'

*A lady at the train station walks over the bridge and Leo points *Mummy...I want to put her on the train tracks'.

'Mummy I don't like Daisy *points at Daisy...Face palm* She never talks to me anymore'.

'Mummy it's my birthday, I am four and go to big school in September!'

'Mummy you sleep in my bed and I sleep on your arm?'

'More kiss and more cuddles!'

'I big boy and I go to the gym with you!'

'When I go to bed I will get up and go downstairs!'

Mirage Beach Hotel Tunisia

Mirage Beach Hotel Tunisia

Mirage Beach Hotel Tunisia

Just hearing you get the things you want to say out, the way you say things and the over all confidence that you exude is the biggest change since you turned 3 last year. I can remember asking you some questions last year, and watching the video back it just highlights how far you have come.

As you turn Four things are changing in many senses of the word. You are due to start school this September, and I am in the process of returning full time to work, the days we had a week have decreased and we are finding a new sense of normality. 

You will be pleased to know little man that we have kept your weekly photos alive, although they are now monthly as your not changing as rapidly as you once were. It just goes to show how you have put the baby days behind you once and for all, and now you have thrown the toddler days to the wind too. You really are a little boy now, a little boy who is growing up so very quickly and navigating his own way through this crazy world we live in.

Happy birthday beautiful, 
I hope you have a magical day.


Leo's Week Photos

Growing Up...

Leo changes in new ways every day, every week.

 When Leo was born, Daddy and I wanted to capture these changes in way's of a weekly photograph.

That is what we did.

These photos show Leo's journey. His journey of growing up...

In June on Leo's first birthday, we shared Leo's very first year in photographs. 

You can see Leo's weekly changes and my baby boy growing up, right in front of your eyes.

Each year on Leo's birthday we will be sharing one more year of weekly photos.

Here is year One, Two and THREE!

Leo Matthew - June 27th 2011.