Summer holiday thanks…

Summer holiday thanks…

I haven’t blogged much this year, but one thing I did want to document was how fab the summer holidays were this year… in more ways than one. Continue reading

Half term – a birthday and trip to London

Apologies, but here’s a belated mini round-up of our adventures during MasterB’s birthday and half-term.

We celebrated young B’s 11th birthday in the morning with presents and croissants – Kipster had to help too!  Although it has to be said she was a little disappointed that none of these were for her.  She’s too used to receiving her own birthday and Christmas presents (spoilt pooch or what).

Kipster and the birthday presents

Once presents had been opened and the last bits popped in the suitcase we hot-footed it up to London for a three day break – although MrD hadn’t planned the timing too well, bearing in mind it was the Rugby World Cup semi-finals!!!  We were subsequently held up in traffic and diverted, but we arrived in London as excited as ever.  MasterB has been known to stand on the platform of the tube station and sigh ‘Ahhhh I’m home‘ – how scary is that – I just know my baby is gonna move to London the first chance he gets.

MasterB on the train

Oh my heart… my gorgeous 11 year old

It’s sort of become a bit of a tradition that during the October half term we head to London where we stay at The Grange Hotel, Holburn.  For us this is perfect because it’s so central to everything and you can even walk to Covent Garden from there.  The hotel is very nice and pleasant without being over the top and has the advantage of a swimming pool and spa.  The boys can go swimming first thing, whilst I enjoy a nice massage – – – everyone’s a winner!

We had planned to go to the London Film Museum in the afternoon where they were showcasing the Bond in Motion Exhibition with actual vehicles used in past and present films.

London Film Museum

I have to say it was really interesting seeing real life relics from the Bond films (including Bond’s passport) and MrD being a bit of a 007 fan was in heaven and enjoyed explaining things to MasterB.

James Bond car

We all enjoyed it very much and it’s definitely worth a visit if you have a chance.

We had a VIP tour of the Houses of Parliament.  A dear friend of mine (who mixes in high circles) arranged this for us and was conducted by a friend of hers, Stephen Benn.  Stephen took precious time out of his schedule to give us an amazing insight into what goes on and we were all fascinated by the ins and outs of parliament.  We really were very lucky indeed (Stephen  is a wealth of knowledge with dates, names and places at the tip of his tongue when recalling stories to us) but did you know you can arrange for your local MP to give you a tour of the HofP?

Houses of Parliament

We normally try to fit a show in whilst we are up in the big smoke and this time we were lucky enough to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  I have to say, it’s not my favourite show we’ve been to see, but it was enjoyable and the sets were amazing and the young boy who played Charlie the night we were there was brilliant – well done him!

We had meals out, including the Rain Forest Cafe, Piccadilly on MasterB’s birthday evening as his chosen restaurant where we enjoyed huuuge burgers and ribs.  They also made the poor boy stand on his chair whilst the whole restaurant sang happy birthday to him (embarrassed doesn’t come close!!).

We had cake…

cake

and enjoyed drinks in the hotel lobby after long days on our feet…

The Grange Hotel lobby

I popped in to Liberty of London (my fave store) with a couple of friends whilst the boys did Hamleys.  Again everyone was a winner!  I made a small purchase in Liberty, which I will share with you in a separate post – so look out for that one.

MasterB also attended a comic workshop at the Cartoon Museum where he was helped by a professional cartoonist to create his own character and a comic-strip.  He had great fun for a couple of hours, whilst MrD and I headed to the British Museum.

Look out for the Cartoon Museum’s workshops during school holidays, because it’s incredibly cheap and great fun for them to take part in if you happen to be in London.

On the Wednesday before we headed home, we met up with some other friends for frozen yoghurt (as you do when you’re in London) at fro-go and then headed over to the Shard.

frozen yoghurt

Having promised MasterB we’d take him up the Shard, but hadn’t had time before, we suggested a little trip up to Aqua, one of the bars on the 32nd floor.

This is a shot looking up at the Shard – it really is an amazing glass building.  And look at that sky for a November day too!

The Shard

Unfortunately, we just missed out on the last table (as children aren’t allowed to stand at the bar) and as we hadn’t booked, grrrrr, we weren’t able to stay.  But I did manage to get this shot before we left…

view from the Shard

How spectacular is that!  It’s fabulous up there and next time we will definitely be booking a table.

We crammed so much into this visit, we all came home exhausted.  Happy but exhausted.

London really is an amazing place – there’s just so much to see and do all of the time.  Every time we go we experience new things.

China Town London

It certainly was a birthday to remember for MasterB!

Do you like visiting London?  What’s your favourite place to go?

Carpe Diem x

A daycation to Sandbanks in Poole

This is going to be a slightly picture top-heavy post.

Mostly because MrD and I had the chance for a wonderful walk down at Sandbanks beach yesterday and the weather was soooo kind to us, I took over 40 photos on my phone.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to share 40 with you.  Just a few, because I’d be selfish keeping them to myself if I didn’t!!

view of the Purbecks

This is at the top of the zig zag at Branksome Chine looking towards the Purbecks in the distance.

Branksome beach

That’s Old Harry Rocks right at the end.  You can actually walk there by going over to Studland on the old fashioned chain ferry at Sandbanks and walking right the way along.  Yesterday wasn’t a day for that though *phew*.

the beach at Sandbanks

Looking back towards Bournemouth with the Isle of Wight in the distance.

that sky

I just love the sky in these pictures – it’s quite dramatic.

that sky again

It really was quite hot on our walk – such a gorgeous early October day.

shells on the beach

beach huts

a fisherman

There was a lone fisherman on the beach.

We walked along holding hands (in between throwing the ball for Kipster) enjoying every moment of the sunshine on our faces.

Of course we had to reward ourselves with a spot of lunch at The Jazz Cafe at Sandbanks.  It was nice to just sit outside in the sun watching the world (and his dog) go by.

hot chocolate

Lifeguards on the beach

No walk would be complete without me snapping some pics of the happy pooch…

Kipster in the sea

Kipster on the sand

She was a very happy girlie indeed.

Kipster rolling in the sand

This is the life … aaaahhhhh bliss.

Kipster

Aren’t we lucky?  And what a bonus for an October day.

two people walking on the beach

I love this picture too.  I have no idea who those two people are, but thank you for being in the right place at the right time  (right in the middle of my shot as I took it) – perfect!

Do you have a special place you like to go for a walk?

Carpe Diem x

Welcome back lovely sunshine…

This is a specific ‘This week I’ve loved’ post because it’s such an easy one…

This week I have totally and utterly loved the fact that the sunshine has come back.

Welcome back lovely sunshine…

Sat in the sunshine

Relaxing in the garden

Hooray!!

We’ve had the cushions back out on the garden furniture, been sitting out at all different times of the day enjoying the warmth of the lovely sun, enjoying the garden, having a drink or two and even eating lunch outside.  The windows and doors have all be open again and even though it’s cooled off in the evenings it’s been wonderful.

glass of Blush in the garden

Fantastic!  Except why did the sun have to wait until the children went back to school to make an appearance?

Never the less, it’s made me happy to be back out in the garden enjoying as much of the sun as I can.

Thank you lovely sunshine.

What have you loved this week?

Carpe Diem x


So because of that I’m linking up with Ali over at My Life My Love and Steph at Diary of a midlife mummy for their great linky #ThisWeekIveLoved…

MyLifeMyLove

When your tween decides to join in with the conversation…

Last night we went out to eat as a family, mostly due to the fact that our kitchen is currently being reinvented (a post about that will be coming soon once it’s finished *squeals*), but also as it’s the holidays it’s nice to go out as a treat every now and again.

Lovely… you’d think.

But that moment when you all sit down at the table and your tween folds his arms and has that face on.

You know the one?

The ‘I’m completely totally and utterly bored with this (already) and to be honest with you feel embarrassed to even been seen with you both.  The meal will no doubt completely and utterly under-whelm me and I can’t wait to get back home to my computer’.

Yep that one.

Oh great I thought to myself, I’ll have to make conversation with MrD whilst MasterB sits there sinking further into a tweenism – Oooh I just made that word up and rather like it.

But it all changed once the conversation turned to what we would be doing in the October half term – this includes his birthday.

Suddenly, MasterB came to life and I’d go so far as to say joined in rather excitedly.

It doesn’t really matter what the conversation was about, it was just sooo nice to see him animated, chatty, even smiley.  Hooray!  It made the whole dining experience so much more pleasant and I felt we all bonded as a family a bit more too.  It was like we were out with the younger B when he used to love going out to eat and would chat away the whole time.  Our happy lovely boy.  These days we’re lucky to get a nod in acknowledgement and a grunt here and there.

It seems that these tweenisms are inevitable and we just have to accept them for what they are … try to think back to when we were that age and have plenty of Blush on hand.

All joking aside, it was lovely to see my darling boy happy and chatty – yay!

My fun loving boy

My fun loving boy…

Are you having to deal with tweenisms?  How do you get through them… chocolate? wine? deep breaths?

I’d love to hear from you.

Carpe Diem x

A trip to IKEA but I’m not talking about our purchases…

iPod

Now I would have written a post about this anyway, but knowing that the very lovely Ali and Steph who blog over at My Life My Love and Diary of a midlife mummy respectively host the most gorgeous linky each week … ‘This week I’ve loved‘ … made me think about this moment even more.

So to put you in the picture… a trip to IKEA was on the cards.  Having not been for some time I had a few items on my list that I knew IKEA was the place for.  So off we headed – that’s me, MasterB, a friend and her son who is one of B’s best friends.

It was actually quite a jolly start to the day.

Of course the first stop, after my friend having returned an item, was the cafe – everyone knows you can’t go to IKEA without a trip to the restaurant for … yep you go it … meatballs!

Once fueled, we were ready to do our tour of the store making a note of the pieces we wanted and would need to pick up on the way out, as well as picking up tea-lights (who goes to IKEA without stocking up on tea-lights?), picture frames etc.

We were about five minutes out of the restaurant when MasterB stopped mid-step yelling in panic – oh my goodness, he didn’t have his iPod with him – he’d lost it!!!!

Now don’t ask me why he had it with him in the first place as this should have stayed safely at home, but no he had decided to put it in his very un-deep (not sure that’s a word but you get my gist) pockets of his shorts.

Absolute devastation hit the poor boy at the thought that he had lost his beloved iPod – you have no idea – well if you have a tween/tweenager you probably do, but suffice to say the bottom of his world had just fallen out.

Trying to stay calm, we did the retracing of steps, back to the restaurant, checked the toilets, asked the cleaners in the restaurant, but all to no avail.

It was gone.  Lost.  Forever.

As a last attempt, we found someone to report the loss to and to double check that it hadn’t been handed in.

After a couple of calls, we were told that ‘yes, someone had handed in something that resembled what we were describing‘.

The lovely young man, called Ross by the way, went off to collect the said item and returned with, yes you’ve got it, MasterB’s iPod!

We all literally cried with relief.  A tad over the top I know, but we really did think the worse and that it would be gone… forever.

The point of this all is that there REALLY STILL ARE NICE, LOVELY AND KIND PEOPLE out there.

You’d like to think that anyone finding an item like this would hand it in, but unfortunately we all know that doesn’t always happen these days, but on this occasion whoever it was did and for that we are all so grateful.

It restores your faith in the kindness of people and for that this is my ‘What I’ve loved this week‘ post – loved the fact that some kind person, who we will never know, found an iPod that they knew someone somewhere would be absolutely gutted about losing and handed it in.

To that person – thank you.  Thank you so much for being a decent and kind person, I cannot tell you how much that made us all happy.  MasterB because he had his iPod back in one piece and my friend and I so that we could continue on our journey around the store happily picking up our purchases.

Have you ever been in a situation like this?

Or been on the other foot and found something that you know someone somewhere would be so upset about losing and handed it in?  I’d love to hear your stories.

Carpe Diem x

Awww since writing this post, I heard that Steph’s daughter has broken her leg (again) and she’s had a bit of a tough week… but followed by a much needed holiday.  So lovely Ali is hosting on her own this week, but we send our best wishes to Steph’s daughter and hope they have a wonderful hols xxx

MyLifeMyLove

The Vintage Emporium

I’m not a vintage queen, but I do have a rather eclectic taste.

I’m a lover of old and new.

I love vintage stuff, I adore shabby chic but I’m also a huge fan of ultra modern pieces.  So not surprisingly I have a very mixed taste and love blending old and new.  MrD doesn’t quite get this, but luckily he trusts my interior design eye and goes along with it (mostly!).

It has to be said that if I lived on my own, I think I would be embracing the shabby chic.  I even have a board on Pinterest dedicated to it.

A friend and I recently had a little trip out to the Bournemouth Vintage Emporium – I came across it on my Twitter feed and it looked fab so I suggested a little moochette.  Off we toddled.

One of things that had appealed to me on their website, was their tea rooms . . . well one has to have tea and cake when out and about with a friend.

Gorgeous doesn’t even come close.

Their eccentrically styled tea rooms are inspired by a number of historical decor ideas –

The femininity of Victorian parlours – these parlours were designed to act as a ‘little world’ in which the ‘idealised’ home was created.  Everything in its place, where dramas could be discussed and new fashions showcased.

Mix this with the more masculine notion of a ‘smoking room’, introduced in the 1850’s, in which men would retreat and gather to discuss matters of money, business and other such manly topics.

Combine these elements with some 1950’s – 1960’s retro kitchenalia and you have the emporium tea rooms – Ta da!

Vintage tea rooms

Vintage tea rooms

Vintage tea rooms

Before having a little wander, we decided tea and cake were called for.

Sugar the old fashioned way – love it.

sugar

Funny isn’t it, how nowadays when you go somewhere that uses bone china they give you a mix of patterns, rather than all matching like your granny would have – in fact that’s reminded me my gorgeous granny and grandad had a set similar to one of these.

Even the tea pots were a mis-match.

If my mum’s reading this, she’ll be tutting.

bone china

tea and cake

The lemon cake was yummy.

lemon cake

tea and cake

Once we’d drunk enough tea for ten, it was time for a wander around the Emporium… and so the oooohs and ahhhhhs began.

Like stepping back in time.

Wow, this 1950’s dress stall was a fabulous riot of colour – I’m a lover of colour so it immediately appeals to me.

1950's dress

1950's dress

I came across a whole hoard of old cameras, slides and cinema equipment.  Imagine the stories behind these.

vintage cameras

There was the most amazing, huge tie display case, housing glorious tie upon tie.  If MrD still wore a tie I might have been tempted.

Tie case

tie display case

mans vanity set

vintage radio

I found a basketful of knobs – all shapes, colours and sizes.  Like a pick and mix.

assorted knobs

Things then became more Bohemian…

Bohemian

I fell in love with this umbrella – definitely my colour – but it was a little pricey and I don’t have much luck with umbrellas to be honest.  So I decided not to purchase.

Stupidly, I’m now wishing I had; after all I could use it as a parasol instead.

Next time I’m that way, I’ll be popping in in the hope it might still be there.  After all, we’re off to a festival at the end of July and this would be perfect!

Umbrella

Another piece I would love in my home – this coloured chandelier.  Very Bohemian/eclectic don’t you think?

coloured chandelier

Bohemian

It was an absolute feast for the eyes, passing through all sorts of different eras that made you reminisce about those times gone by.

scooter

It was a lovely, if somewhat dusty, wander that we both enjoyed and although we didn’t make any purchases on that day it’s somewhere different to visit now and again.  I mean you just never know when something is going to jump out at you and shout ‘buy me‘.

After all I’ll probably be going that way again soonish to see if the umbrella and even possibly the chandelier are still there (perfect for our study/my craft room).

Do you have a specific style/taste or are you like me and have an eclectic mis-match taste?

Carpe Diem x

A free ‘date night’ #1

I was lucky enough earlier this week to WIN a meal for two at West Beach Restaurant in Bournemouth.  I rarely win anything, so was very excited to find out I was THE winner (for those of you who know me when I say ‘I was excited’ you will know that I was jumping up and down!!).

All I had to do was ‘RT’ (that’s re-tweet for those not in the know; you really need to pop over and have a look at Twitter) a tweet that West Beach had tweeted which went something like …. ‘RT to be in with a chance of winning a meal for two at our lobster and burger night for this Thursday‘.

Low and behold I received a tweet from West Beach later that day to say that I had won the meal.  Yay, how exciting (oooops forgetting about my healthy eating plan!).  With it being rather short notice and MrD regularly (that’s always) attending his squash club on a Thursday evening, I decided it would be ‘date night‘ for MasterB and myself instead.

MasterB now being a fairly mature (well in some ways anyway) young man, quite enjoys dining out and we thought ‘hey we’re going to make the most of this and enjoy ourselves; mummy and Barnaby date night‘.

I managed to persuade young sir to dress for the occasion and he donned his new skinnies (Next), new tee (H&M) and new denim jacket (Gap) in the sale no-less *delighted about that little scoop I can tell you* – a recent shopping expedition having taken place as young MasterB is growing at a ridiculous rate of knots!  Currently buying age 12-13 years, but that’s a whole other story…..

Anyway, off we toddle not really knowing what to expect but determined to make the most of it.  It was a rather nice evening and I took this picture (on my phone) which came out quite well as we walked down the prom towards the restaurant.  I should point out, although living in Dorset all my life, I have to admit to never before eating out at West Beach; so it was a first for both of us.

Gorgeous sunset at Bournemouth beach with the Purbecks beyond...

Gorgeous sunset at Bournemouth beach with the Purbecks beyond…

We were warmly welcomed and shown to a lovely table overlooking the sea in a rather nice setting … candles are definitely one of my things; love them for creating a gorgeous ambience/mood lighting and of course (at home) their wonderful scent (sooo many to choose from) … and I was rather pleased that there were candles strategically placed throughout the restaurant – lovely.  We were told that we were entitled to a drink each which included wine (ooooh thank you) a starter, main (which for that evening was either a burger or lobster) and a sweet.  Woweeee how fab was that!

west beach collage

I can honestly say that the whole experience was fantastic!  We could not fault the food (portion size unbelievable), all of the staff were so friendly and polite, the setting was gorgeous and even on a visit to the ladies, thankfully I wasn’t disappointed.  And it was all FREE!

Young MasterB and I had an enjoyable evening of chit chat about school (in fact this meal was quite timely as he had earlier that day taken part in the Poole Schools swimming gala and so we celebrated his achievements), friends, and the whole dining experience.  In fact after much chatting we made a decision that this was something we should do on a regular basis.

So we hatched our plan – we decided that we (that’s MasterB and I) would have our ‘date night‘ once a month (probably the last Thursday of each month) and would take it in turns to choose the venue.  We would then review the said restaurant and up-date it to my blog.  MasterB was very adamant that he should contribute to the blog, so how I could possibly refuse him (and anyway, it would be good for his writing and computer skills).

So look out for our future ‘date nights‘ with reviews on the blog…

To sum up our experience at West Beach we both gave it 10/10 – we simply could not fault anything (except perhaps the slippery tiled floor) and taking into account the fact it was free made it even better.  In young B’s words ‘if you like big food… this is the place for you!‘.  Oh, I should say we were so full after our burgers (neither of us ate it all) we turned down a sweet (and anyway, I had my weight to think of, lol).  Oh yea and I chose a burger as opposed to lobster (which I would definitely have liked to try) as MasterB found it rather off putting looking at a whole lobster on the plate and I didn’t want to spoil our lovely meal out.

… and in my partner in crime’s own words:

‘So yeah if you like big burgers or lobsters Thursday night at west beach would be the place to go!! Like I say 10 out of 10 the staff were amazingly polite, food was excellent, and the set up of the restaurant was amazing too you would like it if you were really into candles! I am just thinking as well you should go when there is a beautiful sunset (eating your Dinner and watching the sunset slowly drift away!)’    

Photo taken by MasterB - hmmm think he might be a better photographer than me too!

Photo taken by MasterB – hmmm think he might be a better photographer than me too!

MasterB wrote his review without reading what I had written above and I’m amazed!  I think he’s taking this whole ‘review thing’ quite seriously.

Our next restaurant has a lot to live up to.  Any ideas where we should go?

Carpe Diem x