Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A Child Free Haven - of a fashion

Well, that was the weekend we've been looking forward to since 9 February this year. For the first time, we left junior with the grandparents and headed off into the hills, child free and care free. Apart from the very slight issue that I am currently with child, thus making me somewhat less care free. But, nevertheless, leaving our son for the first time was surely going to be magical? Lie-ins until 10am, perhaps a jaunt down to the spa, a romantic dinner without worrying about getting back for the babysitter? Surely, the world was our oyster. Or so I thought.

When we received the wedding invite, stating clearly that CHILDREN WERE NOT INVITED, I actually shouted out in joy. The first thing I did was book the hotel. Then, of course, I called the parents to ensure they'd be happy to help out - of course, we would have taken him if we could... (yeah, right. Trying to control a one year old while everyone else gets drunk - I think not).

And then, bring on the plans. Or, more realistically, the just bring on the idea of something to look forward to. Imagine my disappointment, then, when I discovered the hotel did not have a spa. No matter, I rallied, there is at least a swimming pool. Naturally, being preggers, I can't use the jacuzzi, but a few laps in the pool will set me up. Wrong. The pool was the size of a postage stamp. And the jacuzzi was broken. So even the husband was put out.

We carried on, going out for dinner in the delightful Watford (I didn't even know that it was appropriate to wear knickers out and pretend they are shorts - pure genius. I must put Vogue in touch with the residents). We both discussed how much we were looking forward to lie-ing in - no need to get up and no responsibilities. Imagine my horror when I woke up at 6.30 and could not get back to sleep. But 8am, I was waiting for the breakfast restaurant to open - what hotel doesn't start serving breakfast until 8.30am? Not exactly the leisurely morning I'd anticipated.

Saturday was, of course, a beautiful, hot sunny day. I was loving it. So were all the guests drinking copious amounts of champagne 'to quench their thirst - naturally'. By the time we sat down for dinner, most people were merrily on their way. I was becoming increasingly bored with lime and soda. (Of course, I did have a couple of glasses, but no where near enough to keep up with everyone else.)

By 10.30 I was exhausted - well, I had been up since 7 and I didn't have the wine coat on that always sees me through any tired lulls. By 11pm I decided to call it a night. After all, we'd have to be up early to make sure we got to my parents at a decent hour - it's not fair to leave the little guy with them all day.

On Sunday morning, we were up and had had breakfast before the majority of the wedding party surfaced. I hear that they partying went on long into the night - my first thought is that I'd have been knackered for the whole week if I'd stayed up until 3am.

An enjoyable experience? Absolutely. But the return to my young and care free days BC (before children)? I think not. It's official. I am a parent. And actually, I quite like it.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

What not to wear

It may just be me, but the current offering of maternity clothes is absolutely appalling. When I was pregnant first time round, I quite enjoyed the challenge of finding decent maternity clothes - this was back in the days that I could spend all of Saturday wandering round the shops in my own world. And unfortunately, this pregnancy is at a completely different time of year, so the last wardrobe mainly doesn't work.

So, when we returned from France, I decided to drop junior in nursery and then head to Oxford Street for a mega shop. Chance would be a fine thing. First stop, TopShop Maternity. What a joke. Either the designers think that summer pregnancies are for teenage hookers, or they think it's acceptable to simply take designs for teenagers from their summer offering and then make them a bit bigger. Plus, no matter how many denim shirts you make, they'll never be suitable for work. I moved on.

H&M - not quite the working girl image. In this case, they seem to assume you must be at least 50 if you're pregnant (although, obviously, this isn't actually very likely in reality). Just because I feel awful, doesn't mean I want to look it.

Next stop - Zara. They appear to have culled their maternity range to a single rail, which is disappointing, because last time, I had quite a lot of success there. Plus, it all seemed to be old winter stock. (In hindsight, this probably would have been an investment, given that we seem to have returned to March without any notice whatsoever.)

I was looking forward to checking out the new range from Gap - but alas, everything there seemed a bit tent-like and generally not very flattering.

All in all, it was a disastrous trip. I admit that my mood probably wasn't brilliant by the time I got to Zara but when I got home there was a treat in store. I had ordered a new pair of skinny jeans from Seraphine. I was determined to get a decent pair of jeans for this pregnancy - last time, the offerings from TopShop and H&M did not cut it and went straight in the bin after a couple of wears - they both fell apart. These jeans are, quite simply, the best investment yet. They seem to be cut higher at the back, so they don't feel ridiculous when you bend down, and they actually look great - very flattering.

What I learnt from this whole experience is that sometimes, online shopping really is a better experience. Or maybe I'm just getting old.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Home is where the heat is

I love going on holiday. I love the planning, I love the travelling (although this enjoyment has definitely waned since travelling with a young child) and I love the fact that I can lie on a beach all day and then feel tired at the end of it (again, not so much recently). I was really looking forward to our trip to France - a romantic farmhouse in rural Normandie - I had visions of country walks, pain au chocolat and drawn out dinners with good conversation and good glass of wine.

Wrong. Totally, utterly and disappointingly wrong. Why? Mainly because a farmhouse made of stone with no bloody central heating is absolutely freezing. I actually think it was warmer outside the house. H struggled - his lips were blue for most of the trip - and he tended to wake up at about 3am everyday because he was probably worried he was becoming an ice cube. That was my rest out of the window.

In my opinion, there is nothing worse than being cold. I can deal with hunger better, and that's saying something. Especially in my current condition. Yes, a bit of breeze is one thing. I draw the line at having to wear two pairs of socks to bed - especially in May. And when I've already cranked up the electric blanket setting to maximum. I ask you.

Arriving home was a relief. There may not be any pain au chocolat (well, actually there are, because in order to remain sane, I insisted on some shopping to escape the cold - even the shops were warmer) but there is heat and no requirement for bed socks whatsoever. And the next holiday? No thanks, you'll find me in my nice cosy house where my kids will be sleeping because it's not sub-zero temperatures!