The End

This blog is now closed. The story continues over on Flip Flops and Flying Carpets.

Thank you for reading.

Farewell to a Dear Friend

Today is a bittersweet day. One of the very first friends I made in London, who also happens to be Maltese, is moving back to Malta. She is in almost every memory of life in London I can think of, she was our companion on almost every road trip, she was with us when we began househunting and she helped us measure up the house we eventually bought. She is also Emily's godmother.

I won't deny that I've shed tears over her move, but I'm happy for her because it is something she really wants to do and she has big, exciting plans. And I know we'll get to see her every time we visit.

So, good luck and much love to you, dear Danielle. Thank you for being there along the way x



France, 2008 - with matching scarves

Freezing in Belgium, 2009

Lucky Emily with both her godparents, last weekend

Disillusioned Med Girl, Meet Sand

Yesterday I decided that as it was sunny, we should head to the seaside. Emily has never been to the seaside - even in Malta, we've kept to pools so far. And as I don't want her only experience of sea to be in Malta (although it is by far the ideal sea experience, more on this later), I wanted to take her to the seaside here too, and in the process introduce her to sand.

Why exactly I wanted to do this when I hate sand so passionately
(even Maltese sand, that doesn't fly all over the place), I will never fully comprehend.

So we got our things together and headed out. We decided to go to Camber Sands as Nataliya had recently mentioned it as being very beautiful. The drive there itself was beautiful, Emily slept part of the way and David and I could have a relaxed chat while enjoying the scenery.

Twenty minutes away, it started raining. I remained optimistic. Here in England, you could technically drive through four different seasons in twenty minutes (ok, I exaggerate, but you get the idea), and the rain had in fact stopped when we got to Camber Sands but the wind... oh, the wind. Now I know that it is probably rare for it not to be windy in Camber, or in fact on British beaches in general. But there wasn't much that could have prepared me for that amount of wind.

Upon reaching the beach, we decided within seconds to rent a wind breaker. We settled down, comfortably protected from the wind and watched Emily walk around in fascination. She hated the feel of the sand (not only me then) but was happy simply walking around on it.





Camber Sands truly is beautiful. Vast lengths of beach, as far as the eye can see.


No more than fifteen minutes later, the wind got even worse and within seconds, it was in Emily's sandwich, her drink, our bags, my belly button, slapping us across the face. Still, we stood brave.

...Until David and I looked at each other and somewhere in that look we realised we were both thinking the same thing: "I hate this."

We packed up and left.


Those of you who know me well will know there are many things that annoy me about Malta, but in this case, I can't think of anything better than a hot, rocky, Maltese beach. The Mediterranean in me doesn't comprehend going to the beach to cower behind a wind breaker. Or needing to cover a baby up lest she get stung by vicious, flying sand. The Mediterranean in me certainly doesn't understand sea not being crystal clear, or needing to rinse the mud splatter off my legs after wading through shallow water.

I guess we'll be saving visits to the seaside for Malta from now on. But boy did I get teased by David for being the one to insist on going to the seaside yesterday! ;)

Maltese Heat

I'll be lying if I said I hadn't hoped to come back to a rainy England after hot Malta. As high as the temperatures were - Maltese heat isn't impossible to deal with when most houses have air-conditioning and when you can jump into a pool or the sea if you feel too hot. Here, the houses just aren't equipped for the heat (Emily's had to move into the spare room this week) and my hayfever rages on, making it all very frustrating.

But then, when you can wash and dry four loads of laundry in a day, outdoors, and let the little ones splash around in paddling pools to cool down, have windows open all day (and night) long, and not need to do anything else in particular... well then's it's quite alright really.


I had 466 pictures to sort through after our holiday in Malta. And there were more to start with, but when with 3 days still to go, my memory card was full, I had to painstakingly go through them all and delete doubles or pictures that didn't seem great. I do take a lot of pictures of the same thing!

(And after doing that, I went online and ordered a larger memory card to be waiting for me when I got home.)

Here are my favourites from the holiday. Enjoy!





We did spend most of our time by the pool. There were no other motives behind this holiday: we wanted to chill. And that we did.




We had small gatherings of friends and family over, and some mornings we ventured out to the (air-conditioned) shopping centre for a change of scene.




David had a couple of boys nights out and I had a cinema and cocktails night with my girls (we watched Magic Mike - perfect girl's night out movie!). David and I had two date nights - more than we've had in months!




Emily loved all the attention, and she loved the water. But by day 2 or 3, when she realised we weren't going to let her "swim" alone (because she doesn't know how), she refused to get into the pool and took to having refreshing showers instead.



Best holiday in years!

Holidays!

We're just back from our holidays in Malta with beautiful, golden tans and big smiles on our faces. It was an excellent visit, mostly spent in the water with family and close friends. David and I even got two date nights (no, we didn't spend those in the water)! But more on the whole trip later - for now, here's little missy strutting her stuff.


Hope you're all enjoying the good weather if you're lucky enough to have it!

Messy Play

After months of talking about it and meaning to do it, I finally took Emily to a Messy Play session last week. Dressed almost entirely in "Primani" and with a change of clothes ready just in case, she seemed to love that she could wander around and make a mess freely. There were tubs of shaving foam, rice, water, soil and a table for painting. She seemed happy to play with the rice and water - which if I'm honest, I was more than okay with!!

However a part of me was slightly disappointed. When I thought of Messy Play, I somehow had this idea of massive tubs of whatever messiness on offer, that the kids could actually get into and roll around in. A bath of mess, if you will. So to find tubs that were significantly smaller than the picture I had in my head was a little bit disappointing.

Still, she seemed to have a blast. I'm sure those little tubs looked huge to her!




Emily's Favourite Dinner

My mum made a delicious tuna noodle bake when we were young. I never inherited the recipe (and have since heard it was very calorific!) and then one day, years ago, I decided I wanted to make it so I looked online for something similar. I found a recipe which I have since tweaked to a point where it looks almost nothing like that original recipe.

David and I love this dish. It's quick, easy and a satisfying favourite. Emily, ever since she begun eating what we eat, has also had a soft spot for this dinner - she likes it enough to inform me that it is "ummy". It's easy for her to eat, and tasty too. When she starts to be fussy about eating dinner, I cook this and it's problem solved.

So, if you want to try it, here is the recipe for this Tuna-Cheese Bake:

You will need (for 3-4 persons):
1 large can of tuna, drained
2 cups of shredded cheddar
1 pot of Elmlea single cream (or any brand, approx 280ml)
a handful of frozen sweetcorn
(I sometimes also add a handful of frozen peas)
6-8 mushrooms, roughly chopped
a stick of celery, chopped
400g conchiglie (this is my favourite pasta for this recipe, but anything will work)
any other chopped veg you want to include

1. Cook the pasta and pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees C / 350 degrees F.

2. In a large saucepan, cook the celery for a few minutes until soft. Combine the mushrooms, sweetcorn, cream and tuna (medium heat). Add half the cheddar and mix.

3. Fold the pasta into the cream mixture and pour into a baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

4. Bake for approx 25 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Ta-da!

And to quote my Mum, "U ara x'inti tiekol!" ;)

Pushing Boundaries

I have a recent history of nasty anxiety attacks, which got bad enough a few months ago for me to decide something had to be done. Amongst other things, I've made the decision to try and think myself through them instead of letting myself simply fall victim to the insanity. I'm happy to say things have been going very well so far, and I think I can even say it now gets easier to overcome every time.

David was in Germany over the weekend. A boys' football tournament organised by work. His usual trips are business trips and weekdays, so I'd normally book a taxi to meet him at the airport. But since he was landing at a decent time and at the weekend, I thought that maybe I could go and meet him at Gatwick myself.

I'd never driven to Gatwick before. And big, new things like this (well, big to me) will usually set off an anxiety attack, and I'd then chicken out. But it's all about pushing boundaries now, forcing myself out of my restrictive comfort zone.

So I drove to Gatwick.

10 minutes in, Emily started moaning.
Then the rain picked up.
And there was fog.
The wipers were going so fast they looked like they might fly off.
Traffic was going 20mph on the motorway.
I couldn't see the car in front of me, or the one behind me.
I couldn't see lanes, I couldn't see exits.
And on top of it all, my eyes were itching because of my blasted hayfever.

More than enough to trigger an anxiety attack, you'd think. True - but it didn't. Emily finally fell asleep. And it may simply have been that most of my energy was going into not rubbing my eyes, but I didn't panic at any point.

I got to Gatwick half an hour before David's plane landed, which gave Emily about 20 minutes to melt the hearts of an entire group of Irish teenagers and then have a little wander around the terminal.

I didn't want to push my luck, I asked David to drive on the way back and of course there wasn't a drop of rain all the way. It certainly was a baptism by fire for me and my next drive to the airport won't be anything as scary as this one was, which made me all the more proud to have done it - and to have calmly survived!

[image cred: Viv King]

Last Week in Pictures

Running a bit late with this one, but here goes :)

Discovered sharon fruit. The jury is still out on them -
I think they might actually be too sweet for my taste!

I found the Laugh & Learn Teapot set in the second hand shop for £3.50 and bought it for Emily.
Everyone and everything has pretty much had to drink imaginary tea ever since.
Yes, even the monkey.

We discovered she can correctly point out all these animals when asked where each one is.
She is also trying to say koala and giraffe, and can say bear and hippo clearly.

I discovered this little gem!

We watched her clothes get washed. Fascinating stuff.

And we watched rain fall.

New specs... at last!

Toddler-Teenager (The Wonder Weeks)

I'm not big on parenting books. I initially owned a Gina Ford book as well as the Baby Whisperer. Both were donated to the local library pretty early on. My instinct, along with genuine advice from friends who have been there, has never let me down.

However when Emily was four or five months old, someone mentioned The Wonder Weeks to me. This isn't a book about how to bring up a child. It merely outlines the typical mental development of a child (based on 30 years of research) and helps you understand why, at certain times, children are unpredictably clingy, grumpy, and all those other fine qualities mothers dread waking up to.

The book spans the first 20 months of a child's life and Emily is nearing the end of that. We are currently going through the final wonder week. Thus my bloggy silence.

I could sit here and moan (oh boy could I moan) about the nightmare child that Emily has suddenly turned into. Not to mention that our blissful full night's sleep has turned into patchy "catch an hour of sleep if you can" and has both David and myself feeling like homicidal zombies by morning.

Today - day two of Nightmare Emily this time round - it occurred to me that it might be a wonder week, so I checked my book. Sure enough, outlined in almost eery detail, was a description of Emily, and how a child's behaviour will probably change around week 74 of their life.

It didn't make today any easier. I shouted at Emily, I shut my ears to the endless moaning, I may even have turned off the baby monitor for the latter few hours of last night. I'm not proud of any of it, but she wasn't going to come to any harm and you do what you have to to cope.

But reading about the mental development that's ongoing at the moment helps. It helps to look out for new abilities and sometimes even helps patience last a little bit longer. Not much, but it does.

She's just gone to bed, and despite the pretty awful day, it ended with cuddles and - finally - a laugh or two from her. Most beautiful sound I heard all day.

It'll be an early night for me and David tonight!



(This post is not sponsored, but if you'd like to buy a copy of the book it'd be really nice if you used the link I provided *wink*)

Our Week in Pictures

Goodbyes...

Project "Get Her Used To Wearing Reigns"

Playground break at Bluewater
(where a little boy poured sand over her head...)

Playdate with Joshua and James

Cooling down

Dinner Al Fresco!
(Annabel Karmel's Fusilli with Chipolatas and Sweet Pepper)