2016 has been wonderful and awful all at once. For us as a family, the beginning of 2016 was really just spent thanking our lucky stars that Mr E finally got a job after quite a few months of being unemployed, and was also the year we finally started to get things finished around the house. We’ve had the usual teenage ups and downs: a (minor) car accident, drunken evenings, arguments and girl troubles… but nothing too terrible, thank goodness. In the big wide world, however, and outside of my lovely family, 2016 has been a year of tragedy, sadness and some shocking moments, culminating in the death of the voice of my teenage years, George Michael, and the fabulous Carrie Fisher, making us all pretty keen to wave it goodbye. It has, though, as this fabulous article in The Pool recently pointed out, had the strange side effect of making us all care a little more; it made us a bit more aware of the suffering of others and increased our capacity for empathy. And for that, I guess, we have to be grateful.
What. A. Year. I’ve got plenty more to say about the joy and sadness that was 2016 in my first piece of 2017 (for us, as well as everyone else, it seems, it was a year of huge highs and massive lows), and my plans for 2017. But for now, I want to stay with the joy and take a look back at the highlights of a year of travel and adventure. Here’s my 2016 roundup.
Being the proud owner of a teeny, springy whippet means that you really get to immerse yourself in the changing seasons. We walk twice a day, every day come rain or shine and I think it’s one of the nicest things about having a dog: they get you out in the fresh air to have a good old therapeutic stomp about, whether you feel like it or not. I thought I’d bring you a little ‘snuggly roundup’ and tell you all about the products I’m loving at the moment that are keeping me lovely and warm.
It’s been absolutely lovely to be home after spending the last six weeks travelling! I feel compelled to do loads of ‘nesting’ to make everything extra cosy. Yesterday I spent the day shopping, cleaning and tidying, and it makes me so happy to have cupboards full of food, freshly baked pumpkin spice cookies in the kitchen (recipe coming soon!) and fresh linen on the beds. Can you believe it’s only a week until the clocks go back? I’m so delighted to have been asked to team up with Elizabeth Shaw for a fab, feel-good project to celebrate the extra hour and use it for truly thoughtful gestures. I’ve also got yummy Elizabeth Shaw goodies to give away!
Ahh it’s October again. Along with all the mists and mellow fruitfulness, it’s time for all the planning and panicking that comes with sending your teenagers off to uni. Charlie hasn’t quite got enough points to do the course he wants at university, so we have a year’s reprieve as he’s studying for one more year at a local college, but having already experienced it with Sam (who has also gone back to college after deciding that Uni isn’t for him), I know it’s both an exciting and stressful time. Here are my top 5 tips for preparing your kids for university.
So you know if you’ve put on a few pounds (I refer you back to my earlier ‘cruise baby’ remarks), and you say ‘oh, if only I was a celeb and I had someone to cook me delicious, healthy meals, it would be soooo easy to be healthy…’. Well, I’ve kind of been doing that with Mindful Chef – and do you know what? It’s fab.
So a while back, I wrote about having a positive life plan and one of the things I mentioned was trying to take up some regular exercise. I’ve been tempted by cycling for a while (especially after Erica and I enjoyed our cycling tour of Guernsey so much), so when Halfords got in touch and offered very sweetly to team up, I practically bit their arm off. So what sort of bike do you choose? Well, I didn’t want anything too high-tech or sporty and I wanted something easy to ride and pretty – you know, like Instagrammable (sorry). Lucky, Halfords didn’t think I was mental and guided me straight towards a range designed by one of my favourite designers, Orla Kiely, who has created Olive and Orange by Orla Kiely – a cycling and accessories range exclusive to Halfords.
I love, love, love being blonde. I’m naturally kind of mousey and… well, a bit dull, but with highlights in my hair, I feel brighter and happier and I feel it suits my colouring really well. I started off with just a few highlights (me, but after a couple of weeks in the sun), and swiftly became blonder and blonder. I love it, but sadly, it doesn’t love me. My hair is naturally very fine and every time I have highlights, it breaks and goes fluffy and difficult to manage. Ugh.
A while ago I shared a taxi with my fab friend, Katy, on the way to an awards ceremony. She has AMAZING hair, and I was interested to find out from her that she goes to London to a salon called Karine Jackson. I left a comment on her blog post about how Karine has transformed her hair, and Karine’s team got in touch asking if I would like to come along to meet Karine and experience her organic colouring expertise for myself.
So you know a while back when I was giving you the recipe for the spiced banana loaf, I started to tell you about Mr Tails leaving home and me making a new friend? Quick recap: Mr Tails, our Maine Coon cat, fell in love with Justine, from round the corner, and her cat Fluffy, and decided he wanted to move in. He was at home less and less, and eventually just didn’t really come home at all. Justine felt terrible and came round to tell us that despite chucking him out a gazillion times, he just kept coming back. Long story short, we decided that it was better that Mr T became Justine’s so someone had proper responsibility for him and we made it official and swapped paperwork, etc. We’re a bit sad, but y’know, Tails just doesn’t like being here and loves being there. You know what cats are like, you can’t force them. Lyra is a big part of this, I think, and she jumps all over him and chases him. Not her fault, but y’know…
I like my face. No, I genuinely do. I look in the mirror and I still quite like myself, even though, post 40, selfies take a bit more ingenuity (and a good filter) before I’m quite happy with them. I work from home, but I still like to be groomed (I actually think there’s nothing more ageing than a face with no make up) and I always make sure my eyebrows are neat (more of this later). One of the things that does slightly annoy me, though, is that my upper eyelids aren’t as smooth any more, and I’ve started to avoid eyeshadow as it seems to accentuate the crinkly skin. I’ve moved on to just using eyeliner near my upper lash line, but this mini annoyance has sent me on a hunt for the best eye cream for crinkly upper eyelids, and I think I may just have found it.
Do you ever have those long, rambly ‘what if?’ conversations? They’re our favourite kind, especially when we’re dog walking or (if the summer ever comes) out in the garden with a nice glass of rosé. We talk about our family, whether we’ll ever have grandchildren (not right now, please), our plans for the house (especially if we win the lottery), our future travel plans: bucket list destinations, places we still want to explore, ships we want to sail on, that kind of thing. Another thing that features heavily is where we’ll end up when we both retire. I know, I know, it’s a long way in the future, but we both want to retire to somewhere different – a smaller place, maybe by the sea.
So in the spirit of my positive life plan, I thought I’d have a few words about the dreaded b-word, and why we ALL should be wearing one if we want to. I’m no expert, but here’s my 40-something guide to feeling fab in a bikini, and why I won’t be rolling out the swimming costumes any time soon!
I’ve just spent a gorgeous week on board P & O Cruises’ beautiful ship, Britannia with my friend Erica. We spent the week discovering all the dining options on board, as well as exploring bits of France and Spain and doing some baking with Eric Lanlard too – I know! Anyhoo, more of that later – for now, I wanted to tell you about a fantastic conversation we had one night in The Glass House over a couple of drinkies. We started off just chatting about life, the future, family, etc as you do, and a bit of a plan started to form. We split our thoughts into topics and added the rule that everything had to be positive – no beating ourselves up – and this positive life plan was born. I’m excited to share it with you!
- Halloumi, olive and mint pizzas September 21, 2017
- Jamaican jerk chicken with caramelised pineapple salsa September 19, 2017
- Weekend wishlist: new season beauty recommendations September 16, 2017
- Apple, plum and blackberry crumble September 14, 2017
- New Attraction Tickets Direct Disney hotel, ticket and dining packages September 12, 2017