I find it hard to believe, that it was ten years today that you left this world behind, and a trail of grief in your wake, for all of those whom loved you. I was one of those. I wonder if you knew?
The last time I saw you, was in a pub in Salisbury, where we were all celebrating getting our A-level results. We were all happy and looking forward to University, even though we were all going separate ways. That’s the only reason you and I didn’t pursue a relationship – neither of us wanted to ruin the other’s experience of Uni. But we had something special, you and me, that we didn’t talk to others about. We all left that pub reluctantly, knowing we would all miss each other.
Most of my college memories, are of you, me and Caroline hanging out together. Oh how I loved college. I’d love to relive those days. Sneaky drink in the pub on our lunchbreak, even though we were underage. Counting our “conquests” on the walk back. Talking about where we’d be in the future. You texting me from a few seats away. Sometimes naughty, sometimes sweet, sometimes just a wonderful friend.
I have so many memories, and a few secrets, from our time together, that I cherish so much. But as each year goes on, I regret the memories that have faded over time.
I still think of you most days, if not every day.
It sounds silly, because unlike you, I have very little faith in religion, but sometimes, when I’m frightened, I ask you to keep me safe. I have no idea if there’s an afterlife, if you can hear me or see me, but sometimes when I ask for you, I feel less alone.
I’m married with three beautiful children now, whom I love with all my heart, but sometimes I still feel like the lost teenager you knew. I graduated – but just for the letters, I didn’t use my degree. I want to be a published author instead. I think you’d be proud of where my blog has taken me.
I often wonder what you’d be doing now, if you were still here. What you would say to me, or think of my life choices.
I sometimes go down that dark and lonely path where I wonder, if we’d had a relationship, would you have been in that car? Or would I have been in it with you? And I know those are thoughts I should banish, but occasionally they creep back in.
I visit your grave, even though it’s a long way away, and I find grave yards the most terrifying places on earth. I take a yellow rose every time – to symbolise eternal friendship. The same yellow rose I got tattooed on me, to remind me of you forever, just a year after you died. Last time I visited the cemetery, I took my children with me and they played in the park next door. I got upset all the way there and all the way home, yet whilst I was by your grave, I just felt silent. I can’t work out if you are there, or not.
A decade I’ve been missing you.
And I will continue to remember you fondly, for all the decades to come.
You will always be in my heart Jay.
And in Caroline’s too.
Whilst attending the Britmums Live Conference, My husband, two of our children and I, stayed in the luxurious five star Montcalm Hotel. The conference was being held at The Brewery Conference rooms, which are part of the same building, so nothing could beat it in terms of proximity.
Check in at The Montcalm was smooth and welcoming. I was greeted with a hot towel and a member of management came down to greet me personally, before the bell boy took our luggage and escorted us to our room.
The building is very old, steeped in history and fascinating architecture. This holds the drawback of lots of corridors and many steps, however I found this to be a rather charming quirk. I was concerned about accessibility with a double side-by-side pushchair. I needn’t have been. We were led through The Jugged Hare pub and into the lift. One floor up and two doors along, was our room. I would recommend though, that wheelchair or pushchair users, state their accessibility needs at the time of booking, after hearing of a friend who could not access her room due to the amount of steps.
Our room was very modern and exceptionally clean. Having worked in all aspects of the hotel industry myself, I know how difficult it is to get mirrors so clean that they look as though they’ve never been touched. This was the case here. I did a bit of Alex Polizzi and couldn’t find any dust or dirt anywhere!
The room was a reasonable size, although my inner snob was disappointed that the bed was only a double. I’d recently stayed in a four star London hotel, which offered Super King sized beds as standard. For the price at The Montcalm, I was surprised there wasn’t at least a King. However, the bed was exceptionally comfortable and there were plenty of pillows.
The room contained a few WOW factors:
There was free unlimited WIFI in the hotel and a range of technology in the room, including an ipod dock and a large flatscreen TV.
I’m pretty sure the floor tiles in the bathroom were heated. If not – they were constantly very warm, which was lovely. There was also a rainfall shower.
The biggest WOW factor for me had to be the bathroom though. There was a remote control next to the bath. If you pressed it, the wall disappeared. That’s right… the wall… moved! It would retract up into the ceiling, leaving a spotlessly clean, full length window in it’s place. What for? Well the main idea is so you can watch the bedroom television, from the bath! I also found it great though for being able to see the twins asleep in their cots. If they woke up, I’d be able to see them and know they were alright. But what about hearing the sound from the TV? Well there was another dial next to the bath… one for the bathroom speakers! You could turn them off (for example when your husband puts Top Gear on for the millionth time this year), or you can turn them up (when Eastenders comes on)!
Or if you are my husband, you can stand in the bath and press the remote control so that the wall moves up to show just his legs. Then on entertaining us in the bedroom for a few moments with strange leg antics… he proceeded to do a mime act across the window. I’m not sure that was it’s main design feature though!
Two baby cots were put in our room for the twins. Fully made up and with REAL mattresses. proper, thick, supportive mattresses. That’s a hotel first for us. Most hotels just offer the usual flimsy travel cot mattress. I was impressed, and so were the twins, who enjoyed a lay in both mornings.
The range of toiletries were great, as were the tea & coffee making facilities; and no… I’m not the kind of girl that fills my suitcase with them! I left what I didn’t use, for the next guest! There were warm white fluffy bathrobes and slippers, as well as decent sized towels, an ironing board and iron, hairdryer, shoe shine products etc.
The room also contains a fragrancer – which you can turn on or off or change the fragrance of your bedroom! What a funky novelty.
Being in a Club Room, we had 24 hour access to the club lounge, although we didn’t really make use of this. It was a grand room with a giant wall art and beautiful chandeliers. A very pretty and inspiring room, I should imagine, if you are trying to work or even just relax with a brandy in the evening.
I loved the ambience of the hotel. I loved the design, the quirks, the feel of luxury. The location was a winning factor for me too and I popped back to my room numerous times during the two day Britmums Live event.
Spa / Wellness Centre
The only let down for me, was the Wellness Centre. I had gotten quite excited about it, especially as it is open 24/7. It’s down in the basement, but there is only one male and one female changing room and the lock was broken on the female one. So whilst the changing room was lovely, I wouldn’t be showering in there and I had to get changed inside my towel. I enjoyed the Sauna and Steam room, although the lights weren’t working in either so I had to sit in the dark. I reported this to reception an hour later and they reassured me they would send maintenance down immediately. I spoke to a man who had used the spa only an hour before me, and it had all been working fine then, so I doubt this is a usual problem. I didn’t book a treatment, so I cannot comment on this. There was a small state of the art gym, which was great, and I’d have used, if I’d had more time.
The breakfast… OH the breakfast. Just brilliant! There’s a decent time window which covers the late risers as well as the early birds, which is a good start. Breakfast consisted of a hot buffet, as well as a menu to order from if you fancied something a little more special. There was a cold buffet too, of cereals, fresh fruit, yoghurts, croissants and pastries and even a granola, yoghurt and coulis type medley arranged all pretty in a glass. There were fresh fruit juices, smoothies in tall shot glasses and tea and coffee a plenty. We thoroughly enjoyed breakfast both mornings.
The Jugged Hare
We also went down to The Jugged Hare in the evening for Dinner. We both ordered a traditional pie and mash. It was utterly delicious. I also sampled one of their desserts and my husband and I shared a bottle of wine. We found the menu to be rather pricey, but then again, we were in central London, and we’d only had to go down in the lift to get there! What’s more, we felt that we were perfectly welcome in there with our twins in their pushchair, even in the late evening. We also had drinks and snacks at the bar, which was lively and friendly.
The main thing that struck me as five star throughout the hotel, the bar and the restaurant, was the service. There are a LOT of staff around to help you. Service in everything is polite, professional and not just fast, but instantaneous. Literally second to none.
Would I stay again?
The Montcalm wasn’t faultless, but it was very good and we have already booked to stay there again for the same conference next year!
This is a post written by a different author, about furnishing an infant nursery
Designing a nursery can be a daunting task, especially for first time parents. A nursery will be your little one’s haven, so it has to be functional and attractive. You will need plan toys, furniture and proper children’s storage solutions, so that arranging the room does not involve maximum time and effort. Below are a few fundamental furniture items, which can make your room attractive without taking huge time and effort.
- Cots: A cot is undeniably the pride and joy of any nursery. All nursery furniture manufacturers outline varied patterns and offer a vast range to its customers. The elementary purpose of a cot is to make sure that baby is protected. The elevated sides firstly thwart baby from rolling off while sleeping. Secondly, they also guarantee that babies stay all right inside when they are awake and try to scramble out. Cot beds can be changed into junior beds, making them handy for several more months to come, or they can also be converted into a fashionable sofa.
- Bassinets: Moses baskets or Bassinets, as they are known, are comfortable hooded baskets. A bassinet coupled with stand is an ideal solution for baby’s sleep requirements while travelling and also whilst babies are young are sleeping in their parents room. Though, these are only appropriate for very young babies. Please remember that babies must never be left to nap in a bassinet unobserved and should move to a cot as soon as they are able to sit up.
3. Storage Spaces: Childrens storage solutions come mostly in the form of changing units, under-cot drawers, wardrobes and toy boxes. A baby changing unit is designed to make nappy changes easier as its highest surface comes equipped with soft padding and is mounted at the precise height for the job. Below are cabinets or drawers for storage. One can expediently store all the changing accessories here.
- Chairs: These are extremely useful, but ignored pieces of furniture. They are ergonomically fashioned for nursing mothers. If you’re pampering your baby or humming a lullaby, a glider chair is completely designed for the job. The silent and mild gliding motion assists to soothe the baby and permit you to feed him or her contentedly. These usually come with a gliding foot stool for additional comfort.
- Mattresses: It’s no secret that babies require a lot of sleep. Therefore, the mattress is the thing they require most of the time. A perfect mattress comes up with a very soft and cushy outer cover that will appear soft and gentle on baby’s sensitive skin. Though, the mattress itself requires to be reasonably firm to give support to babys back. Cot mattresses have to be adequately waterproof to prevent leakage into the interior. Proper ventilation will assist with heat regulation and help prevent cot death. Choosing a mattress is the most important part of a babies nursery.
6. Toys- Toys are the fundamental piece of your nursery. But you have to be careful that the toys which you have purchased so far must not hurt the baby or hinder his physiological or psychological development. Toys should always be age appropriate.
To go through the best collection of nursery furniture, Born to Toddle is one name where you can get the entire range online, at very reasonable prices.
Luck. It’s a funny thing isn’t it. My family seem to get hit by a ton of bad luck, all at once, and when we get a little bit of good luck – that all comes at once too.
People think odd things are lucky too… like having a bird poo on you… that’s meant to be lucky? On holiday in Devon recently, a bird missed me by about a foot. Personally, I’d call THAT lucky!
Or a lucky rabbits foot? Well that’s not very lucky for the poor rabbit now is it?
The number thirteen… how is that lucky for some, but an omen to others?
I’ve lost count of the number of times a black cat has crossed my path, or I’ve let a money spider walk across my hand. I’m not entirely convinced that brought me either luck or fortune.
And the number of hours I sat there as a child, counting the leaves on clovers is ridiculous. I am convinced that four leaf clovers do not exist!
Whilst I remain skeptical and think that luck is purely… luck, and not caused by anything we do as humans, I will still always get excited when something superstitiously lucky happens!
Paddy Power recently launched a new tv advert about luck… featuring the paddy power pigeon, pooping pink goo on lucky ladies! You can see it here:
I’ve been brought back to my childhood recently, through numerous trips to the park with my girls, because all the kids, still play all the same games that they did twenty years ago. Most commonly, that neverending game, “let’s pretend…” .
There is so much on social media at the moment about how the youth of today don’t get out in the fresh air and rely on their minds alone for entertainment. That we had better upbringings before smart phones and interactive gaming. It’s all doom and gloom, but in the summer time, I think you can really appreciate that that analogy is not entirely true. That children can still appreciate walks, beaches, parks, sports and making games up out of thin air. Despite all the computer games and technology kids have these days, make-believe is still rife. And that makes me smile.
Games start with “let’s pretend” and the entire game (which can last hours) consists of every sentence starting with the word “pretend…”. Each child acts out their own little daydreams and tells the other children what they are thinking, doing and seeing, until they are united in one big game.
The most common of these (in girls at least) still seems to be “mums and dads”. I remember nobody ever wanted to be the baby, because all you had to do was sit in an imaginary cot and say “goo goo” or pretend to be asleep.
Playground objects become pirate ships, fairy castles, war zones, ponies and shops. Everything you could ever want, is a hands reach away – invisible of course, but if you can imagine it, you can touch it.
It’s funny as an adult, seeing these same games played through different eyes. As a child I could imagine endless scenarios and everything around me became a part of that pretend world. As an adult… You can see nothing there, but what is really there.
Children have incredible imaginations and its so lovely to see how they develop them through play.
It’s lovely also, to be jolted back to my own awesome childhood, every now and then.
What would holidays be like if our children chose EVERYTHING that we did?
Pretty crazy I would think. At first anyway. Actually it turns out, that kids want a lot of the same things we do. Whilst as responsible parents we can’t say yes to EVERYTHING, it’s great to allow our children to have an input on what we do on holiday.
So no… my darling cherubs, you’re not staying up past midnight every night, or eating ice cream for every meal, but I will make sure our holidays are always fun!
Parkdean Holidays wanted to know exactly what it is that children want from their holidays, so they asked the kids and then produced a guide, by kids, for kids, on how to have an amazing holiday! It’s called “The UK our way” and features everything from beaches and how to make the best sandcastles, to the tastiest regional Ice cream and Fish and chips.
The interactive guide pairs the best locations for each activity and even features maps and local holiday resorts.
Many of the UK’s top tourist attractions are showcased in this guide, from zoos and theme parks, to tank museums, adventure piers and shops. Crabbing, swimming, bike rides, picnics and taking stunning photos that will capture precious family moments in beautiful locations.
The kids have thought of everything and you can see it all here…
In association with Parkdean Holidays