Summer Holidays

This year I don’t have a summer holiday organised… with all the stuff going on at the house, I’ve decided that we will stay at home.

Anyway, I realised that I hadn’t written about my holiday last summer! The kids and I went to Normandy, France with my sister, her fiancé and his two kids for a week. Ali had organised a traditional Airbnb villa for us to stay in, and it was beautiful. I mean, just look at these surroundings…

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The villa was remote, which meant that there was no eating out of an evening unless we had driven somewhere, which we chose not to do. I love to eat out, so I feel that I missed out in that respect – that’s one of the pleasures in visiting another country is to try all the local food.

A villa holiday has it’s pros, but I felt at times that it wasn’t a ‘proper’ holiday because it was the same routine in a different house. For my next holiday abroad with the kids I’d be keen to go all inclusive, that way the whole family gets a break. I’ve subsequently been at Crieff Hydro for a weekend, and it was fantastic – we did the Freedom dining which meant the kids had breakfast, lunch & high tea included in the package and we also made use of the Big Country kids club.

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Loving all the cakes & pastries in France!

I think if the weather had been better whilst we were in France we’d have been more inclined to just hang at the villa by the pool but we had a few days of rain. Which we’re used to living in Glasgow! Despite the pool being pretty cold at times, the kids were still keen to get in it and my son had great fun creating underwater videos using my GoPro. They are just hilarious!! Watching them back now makes me realise just how much he has grown up in this last year.

We also did a few day trips… Monet’s garden was beautiful, we visited a bouncy castle play park by the sea and ate mussels in a waterfront cafe, visited a small town (I forget the names of all the places we went, sorry!), had proper hot chocolate, and had a shot on a luge (which was pretty fast and bumpy!). Ali & Robin had done all the research and planned an itinerary for us which was great as I’d been so busy with work, kids etc!

It was travelling home that was the nightmare… as you know I’ve got Crohn’s Disease and I tend to find that I have a more sensitive tummy as a result of this. The night before we left, Ali had cooked some pasta and had thrown in some leftover sausages from the BBQ the day before. However I don’t think it had been reheated properly, and as a result made me feel terrible. At 4am we had to get up to drive to the airport, and I vomited out the car window… there was literally nowhere to stop. (I wasn’t driving I should add!). I thought I was ok, so I ate something at the airport. Which I then proceeded to throw up all over myself on our descent back into Glasgow. I wasn’t allowed to leave my seat! It was a horrific experience, one that I hopefully won’t have to repeat! The kids still talk about this incident… I had one on either side on the plane!

Back on Track

This morning I woke up determined to get back on track with my restricted diet… regular readers will remember that in December for health reasons I cut out wheat, dairy, refined sugar, alcohol and caffeine from my diet. It’s Monday… a great day to start fresh!

I’m not going to go all out this time around (as I will no doubt fail)… I will probably still drink alcohol and I may also have the odd cup of tea with cows milk in it (until I find an alternative that tastes good). However, I’m doing to do my best with the wheat, dairy, refined sugar and caffeine!

For breakfast I’ve had an oat, raspberry and banana almond milk smoothie which was actually pretty tasty and kept me full for most of the morning. I then had some sushi for lunch followed by some chicken and veggies for dinner (after a run I might add… well a 4 mile walk / jog!). I did have some gluten-free oat biscuit things with a cuppa at work, and I may have had a couple of chocolate cornflake crispy things (they were tiny!)… so I don’t think I deserve a gold star yet but I’m headed back in the right direction. Having the new kitchen certainly helps as trying to meal prep out of a temporary kitchen that was in the corner of my living room was just really difficult!

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Interiors – Bathroom Inspiration

When we moved into our forever home, I had one main bathroom on the turn of the stairs (which has now been renovated and is one of my favourite rooms in the house!), and then also a WC at the back of the house on the ground level. It was very dingy, damp and mouldy. The boiler was located in this WC, and the room basically didn’t get used because it was so gross. The ceiling was the same height as my head, which meant the space was very cramped too. All in all it was a very uninspired second toilet that just desperately needed ripping out.

Fast forward a year, and the disgusting WC is gone and has been replaced with a larger room with a much higher ceiling (instead of a sloping room extension that was there previously, the new extension is flat roof). Now the ceiling is higher and the space is bigger, it’s meant that the room is suitable for a shower as well as a toilet. Have a look on Instagram at the hashtag #ethelrenovates to see the progress photos.

I’m not such a fan of modern bathrooms, and wanted to go for a more traditional suite. I’ve chosen to have a toilet with a cistern that is located high up on the wall… I love it! (Although my builder hasn’t put the brackets on very well; they are squint and need fixed… on my snagging list!). With a budget that is becoming very tight as we near the end of the project, I actually just bought the bathroom suite from Amazon! It possibly does look a bit cheap, but I think once the room is accessorised it should be ok.

I really like the use of vintage pieces of furniture in a bathroom, however unfortunately the room isn’t big enough for a freestanding unit like these:

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Instead, I’m now on the look out for a smaller antique unit that I can mount on the wall to store toiletries and other paraphernalia. If you see anything, please let me know!

 

House Update

The extension is dragging……urgh!

The work started at the end of March, and we’re now in July. It was supposed to be finished by 12th May, a 7 week build, and yet we’re now nearly at the 12th July!! Don’t get me wrong… the end is now definitely in sight… but it’s been so frustrating.

When I bought this house, I hadn’t anticipated doing this all on my own. I had thought Rick and I would be living here together. We broke up the week I got the keys, and so I’ve been riding solo, until now. Kevin has been fantastic – helping me deal with the pesky builder and his tradesmen. Unfortunately it seems to be that tradesmen think they can pull the wool over the eyes of a single woman and just generally take the piss. In steps the boyfriend, and things have certainly changed direction.

Perhaps I’ll have some photographs of the finished article to share with you before the end of the summer!

From top left, clockwise: painting woodwork is so dull; the new Camaro floor which is being installed this week by Glenlith Interiors; my fantastic SunSquare window above my kitchen; and finally the new breakfast bar!

Podcasts

I seem to be spending quite a bit of time in my car lately, whether its my commute to work or travelling to the farm. Rather than listening to the inane chat on local radio stations, I’ve been choosing instead to listen to podcasts. There are a couple that I’ve really been enjoying:

At Home With

I’ve been following beauty and lifestyle vloggers Lily Pebbles and Anna Gardner of The Anna Edit on YouTube for a number of years now, and I really enjoy the content that they produce. Just recently they’ve launched a podcast series called ‘At Home With’, and in each episode they visit the home of their guest for an informal chat. Quite a few of the episodes have a beauty & skincare slant, which is to be expected given that the girls were originally beauty bloggers, with guests such as Lisa Eldridge, Liz Earle and Georgie Cleeve (founder of Oskia skincare). However other guests have included Giovanna Fletcher, Madeleine Shaw and Glasgow’s Kate Johnson (from Kate La Vie). Each episode is around 30 minutes, and listeners are taken on a tour round the guest’s home whilst they chat. I’ve been listening on iTunes where there are no accompanying photos (head to Acast if you want to see the pics), but Lily and Anna make an effort to describe their surroundings. The podcasts are very different to the YouTube videos I am used to, to me the podcasts seem to be more grown-up. Lily and Anna are good at steering the conversation, and each episode has been interesting to listen to. The podcasts provide some easy listening for my commute, and I’ve come away with some recommendations of products to buy. I’m yet to give the Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel a whirl, but after hearing the background to the brand I’m keen to try it out. I’ve also put Giovanna’s new book ‘Happy Mum, Happy Baby’ onto my list of things to read.

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Dirty Mother Pukka

Another podcast series that I’ve been following is Dirty Mother Pukka. The podcast features two panels, Anna (Mother Pukka) and two of her friends, and then Anna’s husband Matt (Papa Pukka) with two of his mates… during each episode the panels discuss a topic surrounding parenting. The girls typically go first, followed by the gents. Episode 1 starts with B.C. (before child) and then listeners are taken on a journey from trying to get pregnant, pregnancy, the birth (Episode 5 has the hilarious title of Splashdown!) and then when the new baby arrives. Each episode is chaired to an extent by Anna and Matt with their respective panels, but it isn’t forced and the conversation is just like listening to a group of friends chatting honestly about ‘making and raising a human’. The podcasts are really amusing; I’m sure that other cars that pass me by must be wondering why I’m laughing out loud! As a parent myself, I can totally relate to a lot of the content.

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The Scummy Mummies Podcast

There are over a hundred episodes of this podcast… 101 as I write this post! So I’ve got plenty of listening to do. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get onto the podcast bandwagon… they’re great! Lots of guests in this series that I recognise from social media… Mother of Daughters, Hurrah for Gin, Slummy Single Mummy to name a few. Lots of giggles to be had with these episodes too!

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I’ve also been listening to some audiobooks, currently I’m mid-way through Raising Boys – trying to get some advice for parenting my nearly 8 year old son who is hard work right now. Perhaps I’ll post separately on this another time…

Interiors: Accessorising with Plants

I’m not brilliant at keeping plants alive, however the Mother-in-law’s Tongue that I have in my bathroom seems to be doing well. The success at keeping this alive (although I think it is a plant that’s difficult to kill), has encouraged me to bring more plants into my house. I’ve been scouring Pinterest for ideas, and here’s what I’ve come up with for inspiration.

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Adding detail to a window ledge

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Using plant stands

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Hanging pots

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Large plant adds colour to a blank wall

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Succulent display

Making friends & the MeetUp app

My kids are able to make friends instantly with fellow little people. Whereas, for grown-ups the process of making, and keeping, friends is tough. I’ve got lots of friends, some of whom I see regularly, others less so. However despite having lots of friends, I sometimes still feel lonely. I desperately miss one of my best friends Ailsa, who emigrated to Australia a number of years ago. There is also my little sister, who is another best friend, but she lives in Aberdeen and I really wish we lived closer together.  I find that a lot of my friends are busy with their families, work etc and get togethers have to be planned weeks in advance rather than being spontaneous. Don’t get me wrong, being organised and planning ahead suits my personality… I just need to make more of an effort, and I’m sure that I’ll be able to do so when the house is complete.

Before meeting Kevin, I had decided that rather than looking for a boyfriend I would instead look to widen my social circle. If I spent my time doing things that I enjoyed, I would meet more like minded individuals. I joined MeetUp, an app that you can download to your phone on the recommendation of Ailsa who used it when she moved to Australia, and I was amazed at the number of groups there are available to join locally… so many different categories, events, gatherings etc. A few are targeted towards singles, but in essence the app is for meeting people (as the name suggests!). 

The first event I attended though put me off slightly. I had put my name down to go the cinema, which perhaps isn’t the most social of outings, but we were to meet in the pub beforehand for an hour. I was the first to arrive (which apparently isn’t normal, as there should have been a host there), and I was joined by a couple of men who were perhaps a little socially awkward. It was ok though and we made polite conversation for half an hour before going to the cinema.

However, it was in the cinema that I made a total fool of myself and I’m sure they all left thinking I was a bit strange.

The movie of choice was Kong: Skull Island, which perhaps wasn’t a movie I would have chosen to see but it was on a night that I was free so I decided to go anyway. When we got to our seats, there were a number of people from the group, and we were all sat in neighbouring seats/rows. The movie was all about King Kong who was the protector of Skull Island and basically the good guy. The baddies were these prehistoric looking alien creature things who came out from under the ground. There were also a host of other weird and wonderful creatures… like a gigantic spider… yuck!

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So unlike other cinema trips, where I might be chatting quietly to the person I’m with (offering popcorn, making comment about the film) I was quiet, and super engrossed, as I didn’t know the people I was with. Can you see where this is going?…

Cue a scary scene where one of these creatures literally jumps out at you… and what did I do? I screamed (out loud) and jumped out of my seat.

I have never screamed out loud like that at the cinema (I was the only cinema goer that seemed to scream at that bit too, which makes it worse!) and combined with the fact that my bum left the chair… it was all just a bit embarrassing. I proceeded to then spend the rest of the movie trying to discreetly hide behind my hands and not make any further noises!

Since the cinema trip I’ve been to one other MeetUp event, this time a hill walking group. It was a totally different experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I went on an 8 mile hike along part of the West Highland Way, with about 40 others. There were lots of friendly faces, and people to chat to. It really was a nice day out, and some of us stayed for coffee & cake in the cafe at the end of the walk too.

Morale of the story… if you fancy trying something and perhaps your friends aren’t up for it (hill walking, climbing, yoga, a new restaurant, book club, gig or whatever), or if you want to widen your social circle… have a look at MeetUp. I’m pretty sure there will be a group out there for you. As well as social groups, there are also career & business groups. There really is something for everyone. It may be a little daunting attending your first event but I say go for it…you’ve nothing to lose.