On our recent trip to New York, we were lucky enough to travel back to the UK in Virgin’s Upper Class cabin. Having never turned left before, this was a completely new experience and we absolutely loved it. Here’s a sneaky peak at what to expect.
My baby boy is 16. How did that happen? I’ll save you the ‘it seems like only yesterday’ speech, mostly because it doesn’t seem like only yesterday, in fact, I can barely remember those first few weeks, to be honest, plus it’s a bit yawny when parents start getting all misty eyed. Suffice to say, we’re the proudest parents, we love him to bits and we’ll move on to the birthday cake of choice.
I’m a huge Disney Cruise Line fan, as you know. We were on the Disney Magic last year cruising around the Mediterranean and it was just absolutely magical. Of course, the Magic has now had an incredible revamp and is ready, all sparkly and new, to set sail along with the Fantasy and Wonder for new destinations in the summer of 2015.
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I’ve been having a bit of a moan about mobile data roaming when travelling abroad. Obviously, being online and staying in contact is really important when, like me, it’s your business, but just generally, most people want to be able to stay in touch when they’re abroad (although obviously tweeting when you’re on the beach is generally only the preserve of nutters like me).
Regular readers will know I’m a huge fan of Italy – we visited Rome on our fabulous Mediterranean Disney Cruise and I’ve recently written about Sorrento and Pompeii. I was delighted, then, when Inghams asked me if I’d like to contribute to their ‘Parents Guide to Italy’. Would I ever?
Inghams Italy are experts in Italian holidays. They’ve worked really hard to find tons of really unusual hotels, from vineyards to castles, with the flexibility of choosing to fly from over 20 UK airports on a day to suit you. They’re specialists in tailor-made holidays with tons of flexibility and are all about making your holiday perfect for you.
I love Easter. Firstly, it’s my birthday, then there’s all that chocolate, the chance of sunny days, gorgeous spring lamb, daffodils, more chocolate… it’s just a big combination of lots of things that I really love.
So did I mention I’m going to New York?
I’m going to New York for work (like a proper grow up) and then straight onto a fabulous cruise. I’m feeling like the luckiest girl in the world. I also have just discovered that I have NOTHING TO WEAR.
I’ve got several awesome things for you this month on the beauty front. I’m still loving my Clarins Double Serum. At the beginning, I was worried it was going to be too greasy, but actually the dewy finish is quite flattering and makes a good base for makeup, so I’m loving it more and more:
So in honour of this momentous number, I decided that I should have a birthday week (what? it’s a thing) of fun, celebrations, yummy food and seeing the people I love. 7 happy days to celebrate. Here are some of the things that have happened so far. My Disreputable Dad’s first ever selfie – at 78! (above)…
I’m a lucky girl. I know this because I’m fortunate enough not to have to share a bathroom with my offspring. I’d like to go all David Attenborough a minute and talk you, sotto voce, around the bathroom habitat of the male teenager ‘disgustingus teenagerus‘.
The Grand National is fast approaching, which means it will soon be Ladies Day: my favourite time of year to do some serious fashiony people watching and gaze (sometimes in wonder and – let’s face it – sometimes in horror) at the outfits on display. Sadly I won’t be attending but the lovely chaps at Bookmakers asked me how I would have styled my day and – anything for a bit of online window shopping – I was happy to oblige!
Mothers’ Day (or Mothering Sunday) is on 30th March, and I’ve found some absolutely wonderful products for you to treat your lovely Mum with. Go on, she deserves it:
So, amazingly, Charlie has stuck to his rash ‘I’m not eating chocolate any more’ decision with incredibly amounts of willpower, even as we’ve been tucking into all sorts of treats we’ve been sent. He’s not even been eating his previous post-school staple of chocolate brownies. He is, however, still eating other treats, so I’m not overly worried that this is one of those mad teenage diets.
So for a while now I’ve been working on a’ top secret hush hush I could tell you but I’ll have to kill you’ project with Ebay. FINALLY, I can now tell you all about it and it’s a doozy!
Something personalised always makes a gift extra special, which goes down well with Mums. Scarlett Jewellery is handmade in the UK and was founded by fellow mum, designer Sarah Fenton in 1998. I had a chat with Sarah and she listened really hard when I was telling her what I would love for Mothers’ Day (basically something featuring ALL my family). The result (with many of her suggestions) was this gorgeous necklace (above).
I’m generally more of a cake lover then chocolate (you had no idea, right?) but there’s something about Cadbury Creme Eggs (yes, it’s Cadbury, not Cadbury’s – y’know, like Cinderella Castle at Disneyworld) that makes me long for Easter every year (the season is actually quite short – they’ll be gone from the shelves again on April 20th). I think it’s a bit of a comfort thing in miserable January and February (plus March is my birthday month and I associate it with Creme Eggs!). I’m a ‘bit the top off and lick the goo out’ person, but recently we’ve become a bit addicted to popping them in the freezer. The filling doesn’t set solid, but becomes firm and fondanty. Delicious, and a bit easier to scoff on the sofa, admittedly.
Regular English Mum readers will know that Ireland means a lot to us all here at English Towers. In fact, it’s the reason why this little part of the interwebz even exists. Long, long ago (eight whole years to be precise) we set off on a new adventure to the Emerald Isle and spent many happy years living first in Dublin, then later Meath and finally beautiful county Cavan.
Mr English is of Irish descent and the boys are proud of their heritage. Charlie can even wow you with a bit of Gaeilge if you ask nicely (although it’s mostly swears) so when Paddy’s Day approaches, it instills in us all a mixture of nostalgia and longing for places and friends left behind.
Continuing with my new menu planning obsession (honestly, it’s saving me A FORTUNE – I’ve got my favourites saved on the online shopping app and I just tweak it every week, then buy the odd bit of fresh stuff from the farmer’s market or my fab local farm shop), I thought I’d share another of my staple ingredients: puff pastry. I do quite like making puff pastry (well, rough puff), but there’s certainly no shame in using ready made, and a pack of all butter puff pastry is the perfect thing to keep in the fridge to make tarts, pies and much more.
I’m really not a good photographer. I don’t own a decent camera and although I feel like my Instagram/food shots are improving, I’ve got quite a long way to go.
Recently, Panasonic launched a new campaign around their Lumix G range, called #whyDSLR. It’s all about the benefits of mirrorless cameras over more traditional DSLRs (I’m not technical so I’m afraid you’ll have to look at the website for the details, but as far as I can work out, mirrorless cameras are the more modern, lighter, smaller option). They sent me one of their Lumix GX7 cameras to try out and have a play with.
As you know, I’m big on building memories. My motto for this year (my hashtag, even – how New Media of me) is #snapshotsnotstuff (unfortunate, as it has the word ‘snot’ in the middle). As part of this, I want the boys to grab every opportunity, get out there and see the world, have wonderful new experiences and do new things. All this came very much into play recently when Sam and his study partner were planning their big A level Media project. For this, they basically have to produce a documentary. When throwing around ideas, one of them that kept recurring was a documentary about North Sea helicopter pilots (the job Mr English does). My reaction was why not? If we could get the company’s permission, persuade the school, sort out the insurance, etc, etc… At first, it seemed like it was never going to happen, but Mr English was brilliant, sorting things at his end, and the school were very supportive (imagine giving your very expensive camera to an 18 year old to take on a flight to Aberdeen) and very soon, the filming weekend was upon us.
It’s lovely to have a few perfect recipes that you can trust to work time and time again, and this is definitely one of those.
Once you’ve got the hang of shortbread, you can do so many different things with it – it’s perfect for cooking with kids (Mothers’ Day is on the way!) or it can be served as part of a dessert, say, with chocolate mousse or lemon creams.
Last year I visited Edinburgh, home of my fellow food-loving friend Erica. We toured some amazing restaurants and markets and decided to make our ‘Foodinburgh’ trip an annual occurrence. If you think Edinburgh is all haggis, neeps and tatties (not that there’s anything wrong with that – I had my first taste of haggis too, delicious!), then think again, it’s a serious destination for food lovers, with no less than five Michelin starred restaurants and a fabulous array of affordable restaurants and cafés. I’ve put together a list of my favourites so far, but I’ve got a feeling this could change – we’re already planning Foodinburgh 2014!
It’s Pancake Day! Pancake Day is a huge deal in this household, and it generally means eschewing dinner altogether for a major league pancake fest.
Pancakes generally come in two forms: what I would call the traditional, flat type of English pancake (a crêpe, if you’re of the French persuasion), and the fat, fluffy, American type (sometimes called drop scones – I think maybe more in Scotland). Whatever you call them, for us, Pancake Day means proper flat English pancakes, rolled up with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of crunchy sugar (or maybe a drizzle of golden syrup), but if you’d rather go fat and fluffy (our usual breakfast preference with bacon and maple syrup), I’m not a pancakeist (what? it’s a word), I’ve got a recipe for that too. You’re welcome.
- The Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Experience April 21, 2014
- Beautiful bedrooms: Frette April 21, 2014
- The Birthday Challenge: chocolate peanut butter cheesecake for Charlie April 17, 2014
- Edinburgh Festival – an insider’s guide April 16, 2014
- Disney Cruise Line’s amazing new ‘Frozen’ destinations for 2015 April 15, 2014