Our first week on Tour: Manchester

Well this week certainly has been challenging… It’s been a lot of fun but I wasn’t anywhere near prepared for what being on tour with a baby would really be like. Trying to stick to some sort of nap schedule while still fitting in activities around Barney’s work schedule has been tricky but we managed quite a few mornings or days out!

We rented a great flat in the centre of town, which meant walking everywhere was no problem but I struggled to find many ‘baby-friendly’ activities for Isla. Certainly very few places where I could just let her run around. We visited Waterstones’ a few times as they had an amazing children’s section, fully equipped with a Wendy house that Isla was just thrilled with!

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She waited very patiently for some friends but the big kids didn’t want to play with her!! Haha!

Our new SmarTrike (full review coming soon!) was a saviour as Isla loved it so much she was perfectly happy to be pushed around Town & not get out… She didn’t want to get out when we got back to the flat either… Haha!

One of the best things we did was get the Combi Ticket for SeaLife & The Lego Discovery Centre, that we visited on two different days – it was £17.50 each (Isla went free!) if you book online in advance. They are both at the Intu Trafford CentreIntu Trafford Centre which is the biggest (and weirdest!) shopping centre I’ve ever been to. It’s almost modelled on the Venetian in Vegas but bigger & tackier… That said, it was easy to navigate, they have every shop, restaurant, and attraction you could want. The parking was easy & free and they even had a play beach, rides and carousel outside the SeaLife/Lego. We took Isla on the carousel which was so lovely!

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I can’t get enough of this gorgeous outfit!! All from Zara Baby, Top can be bought here & trousers here.

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The Lego Discovery Centre was brilliant even if Isla was a little too young to fully enjoy it. They recommend from 3years up but they do have a Duplo farm for the little ones too!

We loved the ride that she could go on, Barney definitely had to most fun out of all of us! There was plenty to see & do – you can even join in on a workshop with a master builder! The cafe is pricey, but what you’d expect & the baby duplo area was pretty dirty! Other than that a great afternoon with lots to discover and a special shout out to the incredible staff who couldn’t do enough to make sure our day was perfect!

Isla tried her first BBQ at Red’s True BBQ – as you can see… It’s a hit! Big thumbs up from us too – great food at an amazing price, absolutely brilliant service & so child friendly! Isla even got a balloon to take away! Plenty of high chairs & open floor space to bring a pram. (There are a few small steps on the way in!) The baby change is uni-sex but a little dingy! Overall a great place to grab lunch with the family! 

We visited SeaLife & it got off to a promising start with impressive projections & a great set up to introduce you to the Aquarium. Everything is very new & shiny, but a little underwhelming. We’ve been to London & Birmingham SeaLife so were expecting more for our money. It’s very small – but has a softplay in the middle that might make your visit last a little longer than ours did. It didn’t take us more than 30 minutes to walk through the whole thing as there are no sharks, penguins or otters in this one. Isla enjoyed herself & showed off her fishy ‘noise’ the whole way round as she pointed & laughed at them all – that made it more than worth the ticket price!

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We couldn’t resist the cheesy photo block as Isla actually ‘waved to the fishies’ when she was asked too! Haha! IMG_4538

Isla fell asleep just as we were leaving so we headed over to the adventure golf for a little almost adult fun!

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I also took Isla swimming to the Aquatics Centre which was great! They have a huge baby pool with different slides & water sprays! It was warm, pretty clean & had amazingly helpful staff. Make sure you call before you go to be sure that the baby pool is open as we tried a few times & it was broken. They run sessions so be sure to get there early to make the most of your hour in the pool and prepare for a busy changing room after as everyone gets kicked out at the same time!

Isla’s favourite part of Manchester was this rainbow art installation called ‘ Through No 3’ by Liz West! She ran through it at least 100 times & even stopped to take a selfie inside!

Not a bad start to the tour, home next week and then off to Birmingham – so please send any recommendations over to us or leave them in a comment below!

All of Isla’s outfits are from Zara Baby.

My worst day as a Mum…

Today was my worst day as a Mum and as I sit here eating my feelings (double chocolate cake from Patisserie Valerie no less…!) I am only just starting to let go of the stress & tension that I have carried with me all day. We are heading into a new adventure as a family, travelling the country on tour with a musical in a different venue every week. I didn’t go into this lightly; I knew it would be challenging to be away from home but I thought I might get a few more weeks in before the meltdowns began.

We started with a 6am wakeup call from a very excited Isla… we did our best to convince her to make it to her usual 7am but not quite… a short first nap and then we headed down to Manchester’s aquatics centre to check out the baby pool. A sweltering walk, baby wearing in the heat, all the way there only to discover the baby pool was closed but ‘the guy who updates the website isn’t in today…’. Good. Back we go. I got glass in my foot… And on it went…

Do you ever have those days where every little thing seems to go against you? Heavy doors slamming on you – making it impossible to get the pram inside, a screaming baby that keeps trying to pull your hair or pinch you no matter what you do to soothe them, a phone dying just as you need the maps the most – leaving you to ask strangers who all recommend you go in opposite directions… Yup. Now you see why I need the cake.

But what do you do when this tiny person relies on you to be an all knowing oasis of calm and comfort at every moment of the day? It’s taken me nearly a year to say, you know what… it’s ok. Sometimes you lose your temper in a public shopping centre when they bite you and make you bleed. Sometimes you just have to let them cry because you wouldn’t let them steal from the LEGO shop. Sometimes you can’t be the perfect mother. It’s taken me nearly a year to realise that’s just not a thing. But we survived. We made it back to the flat that I really can not find for the life of me no matter how many times I come here. We had dinner with no tantrums, a relatively calm bath & only a few tears at bedtime.

As she finally relaxed into my arms and gave up the fight she’d been battling all day, I told her how much I love her. Again and again. Almost as a, ‘Sorry I wasn’t good enough today’. But tomorrow is a new day & we’ll start again. I’ll try to be more patient, properly prepared, better organised… the list goes on.  For me that’s what being a Mother is; finding the strength when you thought you had no more to give.

For tonight I’m going to take a deep breath, which may well be my first of the day & keep telling myself ‘It’s ok’, while I resist the urge to google how many calories were in that giant piece of cake…

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Weaning the Mediterranean way with My Little Piccolo!

I am so excited to share this post with you – and I may have gone a little picture heavy but Isla was just too hilarious in these shots not to include them all so grab a cup of tea & get ready to dive in!

If you follow us on Instagram (go on, you know you want to!) you will know that we got a very special delivery this week, from Piccolo – a new organic baby food brand, inspired by the Mediterranean approach to health and wellbeing.

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Isla has always been very independent, especially when it comes to her food. We have mostly been trying Baby Led Weaning but with teething, it being so hot and travelling, I’ve been incorporating pouches to make sure Isla is getting what she needs!

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Piccolo’s founder, Cat Gazzoli, has spent her career campaigning for good, honest and natural food. As the CEO of the Slow Food Movement (in the UK) for 6 years, she certainly is an expert when it comes to food! Cat’s aim with Piccolo is to encourage healthy eating from 6 months and to introduce Mediterranean goodness in a delicious range of baby food. The range has been influenced by Cat’s Italian roots, her background in food education and passion for good, honest and natural food. The Mediterranean approach to nutrition and lifestyle is one that champions fresh ingredients and great flavours, lovingly prepared, shared with friends and family.

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They make six stage one blends (completely smooth, no lumps!), made with 100 percent natural, organic ingredients. With a range of adventurous and delicious flavours, each suitable for children from six months, little ones can discover new taste experiences such as Apple & Apricot with a pinch of cinnamon, Cherry & Yoghurt with wholegrain oats, and Spring Greens with a hint of mint.

The Cherry & Yoghurt is Isla’s favourite for breakfast & we usually have the spring greens to go along with her BLW lunch of cucumber, ham, tomatoes, & any cooked veg we can get our hands on!

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(Any excuse to get the light box out!)

This photo kills me… I think I might get it framed!

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She is just so thrilled that I finally let her play with the pouches! (If I let her play with them during meal times we both end up absolutely covered!!)

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‘Wanna share?’…

But the second you go to take it, she snatches it away and laughs in your face… I don’t know where she gets it from! Haha!

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Our combination of Piccolo pouches & chopped up… well… whatever I can find in the fridge… is working really well so Isla can explore textures, tastes and I know she’s eating well! I often mix it all together in a bowl and just let her grab what she wants which works perfectly but it does get seriously messy!

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Trying her very best to put it on the spoon herself… No help from Mummy please…

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Ok… maybe Mummy can help a little…

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The pouch was nearly empty so I thought she could handle holding it… 5 seconds later she squirted most of it up the wall… Rookie…

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All the flavours have been a huge success in our house, and will remain firmly on our shopping list! They are available from Waitrose, Ocado, Whole Foods & a range of other places that you can find here

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Oh and if you are feeling like Super Mum & have a spare second (apparently that happens once every few years…) you should check out their blog for some awesome recipes! I’m going to try the Courgette & feta fritters when I get a chance…

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A big thumbs up from us, good food with no added nasties & Isla absolutely loves them!

Have you tried Piccolo yet? Whats your LO’s favourite flavour? Send me your pictures of them enjoying on Instagram or Facebook and make sure you tag @MyLittlePiccolo too!

 

**This was a sponsored post but all the opinions are my own!

Isla’s First Trip to the Beach

I couldn’t resist sharing a few of these with you! We took the opportunity to head down to Omaha Beach while visiting some friends in France. It was Isla’s first time on the beach and it was such a beautiful thing to witness.

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Both Nanny & I forgot the towels so we were just going to let Isla have a little paddle and go. Isla had other ideas. She instantly fell in love & wanted to go for a swim!

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We played in the shallow waves for as long as I could convince her to stay, but she kept trying to make a break for deeper waters!

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Isla would have stayed all day if we had let her, but without a sunshade or towels we had to cut the visit short!

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Eventually we gave in and stripped off her jeans to go for a deeper paddle before giving in completely and putting her in her totsbots swim nappy & swimsuit!

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The difference a filter makes… Haha! It actually looked like the final picture but I couldn’t resist a moodier edit on the shots from my camera!

I can’t wait till next time & I’ve promised Isla that we will come prepared for a whole day of splashing & sandcastles!

 

11 Months

This month has been a whirlwind of amazing changes & experiences for Isla!

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She’s now a confident little walker, and is starting to give running a go! She’s the busiest baby I’ve ever seen & is constantly exploring. It’s been so lovely to see her style of play advance as she’s getting really into her duplo.

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We went to Hitchin Lavender Fields for these photos & it was an amazing experience. Such a beautiful place to visit & pick up a few bags of lavender while you’re at it! I thought I should actually get in a few photos for once! IMG_0284IMG_0302

Isla took her first trip on a ferry, went abroad to France and visited the beach which was just incredible! She couldn’t have loved it more – and refused to hold my hand after she realised I was holding her back from going for a swim! Our determined little lady kept making a break for it to try & go deeper into the water!

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Still the cheekiest madam, and even starting to say a few more words! She now says Hi, Hiya, Egg, Dog, Mum, Dad/Baba, Nanan (for Nanny!), Grrr (for Grumps!), Up, and puts ‘my’ in front of everything!

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Plans are well underway for her first birthday party & birthday photoshoot too! 🙂 I can’t wait to share it with you all!

The Body Confidence Programme Review & Results

The day I gave birth to Isla was the best day of my life & she continues to bring so much joy every day but as a new Mum I think it’s very easy to lose your sense of self. My life has changed in every way possible; new house, new life, new town, new baby… all wonderful things but all together, a lot to deal with. When you add to that a new body that you can’t recognise as your own anymore, it’s easy to forget that you can be anything other than a sick & dribble covered mess that probably hasn’t showered for a few days…

I have slowly learnt to embrace the stretch marks that cover my stomach and my ‘mum-tum’ but the complete lack of confidence is not me and I’m just not willing to stay like that for a second longer. It was time to make a change or two… or three!

I was very kindly invited to join The Body Confidence Programme by the brilliant Ru-Tee who has meticulously put it all together with the promise of reducing by 16 inches over 8 weeks, which is two jean sizes!!

When you start the programme you get a food list, menus, daily emails and weekly conference call with Ru-Tee and all the other brilliant people on the programme to discuss your triumphs & challenges of the week. In the first call I was asked about my energy levels and my confidence that I said were both around a 2/10. Not good enough. Certainly not to walk down the aisle & feel great about myself. I was asked to take some ‘Before’ photos which actually made me feel sick at just the thought of doing it let alone sharing them at the end of 8 weeks… but I took a deep breath and just did it!! I will share my results and those photos (AHH!) at the end of this post!

The food list has no sugar, dairy, gluten, chemicals or anything you can’t pronounce so you have to cook everything from scratch and use all organic produce. I’m not the world’s greatest cook and since having the baby I’ve barely had time to feed myself a good meal even once a week, so the biggest challenge for me was always going to be time-management. After the first week of juggling, it got much easier & fit easily into our daily routine! Part of me doing this programme was allowing myself to put ‘me’ first for once & not allow any ‘mum-guilt’ to seep in!!

The first week was incredibly hard, I’m not going to lie. I am a self-confessed sugar addict so going cold-turkey was always going to be difficult. The cravings were like a little devil sat on my shoulder saying ‘Go on, just a little won’t hurt!’… I pushed through, stayed strong and emerged through the fog to find more energy, and much more balanced emotions!

As the weeks went on I consistently lost the inches and started to feel better about myself bit by bit! You get one cheat day a week, that I basically binged on everything I wasn’t allowed so that I would stick to it 100% the rest of the week! Speaking of percentages – there are lots of lifestyle aspects to the programme and along with your measurements every week you assess how well you’ve stuck to these too! For example – ‘Went to bed by 10.30 every night – 80%…’ ‘Chewed your food 35 times – 20%…’ Err… must eat slower… must eat slo… Oh wait it’s gone. Still got to work on that one…

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The most important thing for me was the support that you get, as I found I doubted myself by Wednesday every week… Am I doing enough? Am I sure that’s on the food list? What if I’ve put on inches this week…? It’s so easy to do but those conference calls were a saving grace. To hear that 10(ish) other people were going through exactly the same thing, makes it so much easier to stay focused. You feel like you are part of an incredible team and that spirit is encouraged and fostered by Ru-Tee’s enthusiasm and genuine love for what she does!

Week 5 was one of the hardest for me but once the end was in sight and I started to fit into my old clothes again, the confidence I had once taken for granted was starting to emerge. I found myself running after Isla with ease & not needing to nap during the day at all. These changes happened slowly over the 8 weeks but by the end my energy was up to a 9/10, my skin was looking so much better and I hadn’t been sick once!! I’ve spent most of my life ill – constant colds, flus and being stuck in bed for weeks at a time. To not be ill for a whole 8 weeks in a row is a huge deal for me, and regardless of the weight loss that in itself is invaluable!!

The promise of the programme is to reduce by 16 inches which is 2 jean sizes…

I reduced by… Drum roll please…

40 INCHES!!!!

Yes… seriously! I have taken the crown for best ever results on the programme… I would like to thank Isla for her words of encouragement, Barney for his constant support & not offering me Baileys… No, I’m just kidding.

I promised you those before & after pictures… So here they are… *Gulp*

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I’ve never committed to anything like this before but the programme encourages lifestyle changes that you can implement after your 8 weeks is up! I’ve continued to follow 75% of the programme since I finished (I’ve gone back to drinking caffeine and alcohol!) and while my weight loss has slowed, I’ve continued on my journey in a way that is sustainable for me in the long term! I loved the food on the diet & there’s nothing faddy about it. All good food that never leaves you hungry as so many other diets I’ve tried in the past have!

I’m incredibly proud of the hard earned success but I honestly couldn’t have done it without Ru-Tee’s support. Dieting can be incredibly lonely & the temptations have always been too much for me – but that support just lifts you up and carries you through to the end of the 8 weeks! If you are feeling like you’ve lost yourself since having a baby and feel like finding your energy & confidence again I can’t recommend this enough! Commit to it and to yourself because you deserve to feel wonderful again!

If you want to join the next programme it costs £450 & starts on Saturday 13th August – you need to sign up by Monday the 8th at 2pm to secure your place and you can even use my special discount code to get £50 off: Poppy50off

To use the code just select the £450 payment option – add it to your basket and enter the code into the coupon code box.

More information can be found on the website here – if you have any questions, leave me a comment, drop me a message or get in touch with Ru-Tee!

I can’t wait to hear all about your journey & see your results so please send me your before & after photos so I can share in your success too!

 

Top 10 Tips to keep baby cool during the heatwave

Get your paddling pools at the ready… the heatwave is here & (apparently) set to stay! Last summer I was heavily pregnant & struggling to keep myself cool but this year is all about keeping Isla happy so here are the top ways to keep baby cool & happy in the heat…

  1. Keep baby out of direct sunlight as much as possible – find a shady spot to sit & make sure you get a sunshade or parasol for the pram while you’re out & about!
  2. Get your hands on the highest factor sunscreen that you can & COVER them in it! We have a sensitive skin Factor 50 for Isla & re-apply it regularly!
  3. Keep their fluid levels up – if they are over 6 months offering water regularly. You can make it fun by making your own fruity ice-lolly’s.
  4. Get the paddling pool out but make sure it’s in the shade! Set yourselves up for a day enjoying the garden & get out all the water toys to explore.
  5. Wide brim hats are a must – and if your little one is like Isla & keeps taking it off – try & get one with a fastening under the chin.
  6. At bed time try a cooler bath than usual but make it a quick one.
  7. Get a room thermometer and try to reduce the temperature well in advance of bed time.
  8. Remove any unnecessary bedding & keep clothes to a minimum. Check the thermometer to see what they should be in! I’ve included a helpful chart below…!
  9. Try to create a breeze in their room – we put a fan next to the window and put a bowl with ice packs in front of it which helped lower Isla’s room by 5 degrees!
  10. If they fall asleep in their pram keep it in the shade & make sure it is well ventilated – don’t cover it in a muslin or blanket as that can make the temperature soar dangerously high inside.

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We’re off to get in the paddling pool now – Leave me a comment & let me know your best tricks to keep your little one cool & how you are enjoying the sun…

 

Moving into Isla’s room with GroBag

Ever since Isla was born I have always been very careful to follow the Lullaby Trust’s safe sleep guidance & now that she’s ready to move into her own room it’s more important than ever!

Incase you haven’t read up on the safest way to put your baby to bed, these are the current guidelines…

THINGS YOU CAN DO:

 

  • Always place your baby on their back to sleep
  • Keep your baby smoke free during pregnancy and after birth
  • Place your baby to sleep in a separate cot or Moses basket in the same room as you for the first 6 months
  • Breastfeed your baby
  • Use a firm, flat, waterproof mattress in good condition
THINGS TO AVOID:

 

  • Never sleep on a sofa or in an armchair with your baby
  • Don’t sleep in the same bed as your baby if you smoke, drink or take drugs or are extremely tired, if your baby was born prematurely or was of low birth-weight
  • Avoid letting your baby get too hot
  • Don’t cover your baby’s face or head while sleeping or use loose bedding

 

To avoid accidents remove all pillows, soft bedding, cot bumpers and soft toys from the cot.

We swaddled Isla for the first few months as she constantly woke herself up with the startle reflex but now she’s done with swaddles we knew the best choice would be to put her in a GroBag to sleep! They work closely with the lullaby trust and are incredibly safe. Every GroBag comes with a thermometer and a guide to what your baby should be wearing when she sleeps which is useful for all us nervous first time Mum’s! 😉

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Moving Isla into her own room filled me with so much dread, and I really didn’t think it would! It’s hardly like she was moving far, only across the hallway, still I couldn’t help but be incredibly nervous! I even kept her cot in our room for the first few days just incase I chickened out and had to move her back. I even had the baby monitor on next to me so I could keep checking up on her! Luckily, there was nothing to worry about & we all loved it! No more waking every time she rolled over or coughed! I felt like I finally got a proper nights sleep for the first time in months and Isla slept beautifully in her GroBag.

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Just checking out her stylish new sleeping bag! 🙂

The GroCompany very kindly sent Isla this beautiful Kissing Rabbits GroBag to try out and we love it! An exclusive design collaboration, this Grobag features a funky Anorak print inspired by the great outdoors. Seeing as Isla is bunny obsessed I thought it would be the perfect choice for her!

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Isla’s nursery has come together really well & is exactly what I’d hoped it would be! I wanted it to be stylish but still fun for her to play in.

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This limited edition print is from the first Harry Potter film – and was art work in Harry’s nursery in Godrick Hollow! A little bit of my childhood that I’m hoping Isla will love just as much…

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The Cloud Mobile is from The Little White Company

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As you can see Isla is thrilled with her big girl room & her new GroBag! Almost two months have passed & she’s now finally sleeping through the night! (I can’t believe I just said that out loud… She’ll wake up 10 times tonight now I’m sure…!) 😉

We absolutely love the GroCompany and all their brilliant products! We also use their GroEgg Thermometer which is great for feeling confident that your little one is sleeping in the perfect temperature nursery.

Did you have the same worries when you moved your little one into their room? What were your main struggles? Join in the conversation on my Facebook or Tweet me @Poppy_Carter!

Mrs. Henderson Presents – Opening Night

The opening night of Mrs. Henderson presents was on Tuesday & seeing as it was Barney’s first time as Musical Director of a West End show (SO FREAKIN’ COOL!) we thought we’d celebrate properly!

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We decided to book a hotel & asked my lovely mum look after Isla so Barney could enjoy his big night without having to leave the party early to catch a train. Booking a hotel in London is always an interesting experience – you can pay hundreds for a tiny box or find a hidden gem (still hundreds!) and get a whole penthouse!

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I’ve walked past LIB-RARY so many times & thought, ‘That looks so cool,  I wonder whats in there!?’… seeing as it’s a private members club, I’d never managed to satisfy my curiosity. But we just couldn’t resist booking it when it sits perfectly between the theatre & the after party! And as you can see… we were not disappointed! Room4Room

Complete with it’s own balcony over looking St. Martins Lane – it had the ‘wow’ factor at every turn!

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#blessed

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With all my pregnancy hip problems I’ve had to ease myself very gently back into exercise and also be a lot more realistic with my goals – so when I had to find an outfit for an industry party I knew the thing I needed the most would be shapewear!! The wonderful people at BellyBandit kindly sent me their Mother Tucker Corset to try & I fell in love instantly!!

This wardrobe essential is comfortable enough to wear all day (no, seriously!) and thin enough to hide under your clothes. Created with 2 layers of SecureStretch™ material for double compression, this smart corset slims your waist and tummy while concealing bothersome back bulge. The soft boning ensures the corset will stay in place without rolling or digging, and the lightweight and breathable fabric provides maximum comfort. The 6-hook design allows for greater adjustability and compression.

Once I’d found a dress all I needed were some killer heels & I was ready to go!
These beauties are by Sophia Webster – they have been sitting in the box waiting to be worn since I bought them two days before I found out I was pregnant!

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The view from the balcony was beautiful & perfect for truly appreciating the glory of the Coliseum!

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I haven’t been out in such a long time, I actually forgot what I needed & didn’t bring anything to do my hair – so a pony tail would have to do!! Into my dressMother Tucker® Corset, & Marc Jacobs jacket (similar here) & ready to go!

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It was amazing to spend some time just being a double act again – even if I did cry on FaceTime to Isla… twice!!

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The show was as incredible as I’d remembered from it’s time playing the Theatre Royal in Bath & finished the night with a much deserved four tier standing ovation. I was bursting with pride for my wonderful best friend/partner in crime/fiance!

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Barney’s jacket is Ted Baker & my hand bag is a Boy Bag from Chanel.

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After a few glasses of champagne with some wonderful friends, we were well & truly partied out & stumbled the mere few steps from the National Gallery back to our penthouse to finish the night eating a cupcake with boobs on at 2am…

See the show & you’ll get it…

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Of course, I barely slept – thinking about Isla – seeing as it was my first time away from her that was to be expected! Even though I knew she would be having the best time being spoilt by her nanny with kisses and silly games!

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We had a quick breakfast on our balcony before I headed back to be reunited with our sweet girl!

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It was great to just be me for a few hours and not ‘mummy’ – but my goodness I missed her every second I was away!