Friday, 30 January 2015

January favourites

Can you believe we're at the end of January already? I'm not one of those people that hates this month - although possibly not doing anything silly like 'dry January' helps with that - but it's really flown by. I actually quite like the cold - so long as I'm properly dressed. I know we probably have worse weather to get through (I seem to recall snow in either February or March last year - could be wrong) but I find myself looking forward to spring and summer already. 

So, favourite things of the month? Let's get to it:

This month has been particularly harsh on my skin - the variations in temperature, mixed with commuting on the tube and central heating are definitely taking their toll. (And, yes, I'm not getting any younger, which doesn't help either.) My rediscovery of Liz Earle's Cleanse and Polish has been a lifesaver - and the eucalyptus helps sooth any signs of the seemingly endless cold that has taken residence at Martini Towers.

I've also been using La Prairie's Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Dry Oil. Not for the faint-hearted (or faint-walleted) - it costs £213 for 30ml - I was lucky enough to get hold of a sample to try out and I've used every drop this month. An award winning product, it claims to fill gaps in the skin's moisture barrier function, preventing water loss and helping retain a youthful, line-free look. Sadly for my wallet, I have to say this product definitely works - you need very little and it sinks straight into the skin so there's no oily residue or that slightly slick feeling you can get with other oils. My skin has been very dehydrated this month, and this oil has worked wonders. If only they sold it in Boots, so I could at least pretend to justify the spend with all the Advantage Card points I'd rack up... oh well. 

My hair has also taken a bit of a beating, and Dove's Pure Care Dry Oil treatment mask has been putting in resilient efforts to bring some life back to it. I first used this back in September last year, but this month I've been using it religiously at least twice a week. It's such a bargain, too, that it reminds me not everything that works has to cost an obscene amount of money (see paragraph above...)

I'm making more of an effort to embrace the bold lip - and I've been using Mac's Russian Red lipstick to do it. This isn't in my comfort zone, but I am slowly getting used to it - and this colour is fantastic. I wouldn't exactly say it's hydrating, but it's not drying either - and on me, it lasts around 4-5 hours before it needs topping up. 

I have also been loving the Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow. Hands down, this is the best contouring kit I've ever used. Suitable for any skintone, the bronzer can be used to both contour and give that 'sun-kissed' look that's so distant in these winter months. The highlighter gives skin a luminosity without being overly shimmery or glittery, which is difficult to find with a lot of highlighters. If you only buy one CT makeup product, make it this. It's £49, so not cheap, but I've used mine everyday this month and it's barely scratched the surface. It's an investment worth making.  

I've also been using SEVENTEEN Falsifeye HD mascara this month. Increasingly I'm of the opinion that mascara is a product you definitely don't need to spend lots of money on - the high street ones are often as good, if not better, that the luxury ones. I did a full review earlier this month - if you haven't tried it before, now's as good a time as any; it's currently on offer. 

Finally, a non-beauty favourite: Scandal. My latest box-set addiction. If you haven't heard about this, where have you been? It's a US political thriller and it's literally addictive. It's not quite the West Wing, and this time, there are Republicans running the show rather than Democrats, but we have stayed up way too late, promising 'just one more episode'. We watch it on Amazon Prime (which, by the way is genius), but it's available on the US Netflix too. We're half way through season two, and it's currently standing at season four, with no signs of slowing. Phew. So, that's February sorted too. 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

SEVENTEEN Falsifeye HD Mascara

I have to admit: there are products I love more than mascara. I fully appreciate the difference that mascara makes, but it just doesn't get me excited the way eyeshadow or eyeliner does. 

I wonder if that has some deeper meaning, like dreaming about your teeth falling out means you're worried about money? I hope not.

I needed to make an emergency mascara purchase, and I saw this one in Boots at Waterloo - for £6.99, if it really wasn't any good, no harm done.

Strange how sometimes an emergency purchase can actually turn out to be one of the best buys you make (the same was true of a bag I once bought, because tea had leaked all over the inside of my bag and I was going to a meeting, and couldn't turn up with a soaking wet bag with everything inside completely drenched. I only noticed that the tea was leaking when it began dripping out of the bottom of my bag all over my leg. Lovely. But, the bag I replaced it with - let's all be grateful for the Canary Wharf shops - is still going strong today and I always get compliments when I use it. I almost feel like I cheated). 

Obviously, the packaging is fairly basic but the most deceiving thing was the brush. It looks, upon first inspection, utterly rubbish. There is no way, I thought, that is going to deliver more definition and more volume, as per the claims. Wrong. I'm not quite sure why it works - although it does look similar to the Tarte Lights, Camera, Flashes brush, albeit slightly smaller. Perhaps that's why it works.  

Well, according to SEVENTEEN, the brush actually is what makes all the difference:

• This unique all-in-one brush has two different application zones, which means mascara can be loaded easily onto the lashes and combed through.
• The shorter bristles on the flat side of the brush hold more of the mascara bulk, ready to apply to the lashes
• The longer bristles of the brush comb through the mascara from root to tip, making the lashes appear more defined, volumised and longer.
• The conical shaped tip of the brush helps with the application of mascara to the tiny, hard to catch lashes at the corners of the eyes.
You need two coats to achieve longer, more voluminous lashes, but at this price, who cares if you need three or four? Yes, the packaging isn't as luxurious, but the point is, it works. It comes in two colours: blackest black, or black/brown. Mine is blackest black. It lasts the whole day - you'll be safe for eight hours for sure - and it needs proper removal at night, so you know it's got staying power, without being super difficult to remove.  

Have you used it already? And if not, give it a whirl. What are you waiting for?

Monday, 26 January 2015

Charlotte Tilbury: The Supermodel

I have been lusting after Charlotte Tilbury products since they were launched in September 2013. For some reason, most probably linked to my bank balance, I just hadn't got round to buying any. But, fortunately, Mr. M. had been paying attention to my (not so subtle) hints and this year, I didn't just get one or two products for Christmas - oh no. I only got the luxury box set - 'The Supermodel' - complete with a video from Charlotte herself demonstrating how to create the look with the products in the box. Gimmicky? Yes. But does it make the whole experience just a little bit more special? Absolutely. 

So, this was my chance to find out if all the hype was justified. 

Some background: the look is inspired by iconic '90s supermodels. Created to suit everyone, the kit enables you to create a smoky eye (I'll be the judge of that) and a nude lip - and it can be pared down for a day look, or ramped up for a night out. One kit that does it all? It would be rude not to. 

There's a fair few products in the kit (but to be fair, for £200, I would expect that):
  • Luxury colour-coded eyeshadow palette in Fallen Angel
  • K.I.S.S.I.N.G. lipstick in Confession
  • Lip lustre lip lacquer in Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
  • Rock 'n' Kohl liquid eye pencil in Bedroom Black
  • Full Fat Lashes 5 Star Mascara: Curl-Separation-Length-Volume-Drama in Glossy Black
  • Lip Cheat Re-Shape and Re-Size lip liner in Pillowtalk
  • Cheek To Cheek Swish & Pop blusher in Sex on Fire
If you can be bothered to buy them all separately, the total value is £171.50 - but where's the fun in that? Plus, the video is great - and it's rechargeable via micro-USB. 

The standout product for me is the Fallen Angel palette - it has exactly the right mix of colours to make it appropriate for every occasion. As you'd expect, the colour payoff is outstanding and the staying power is brilliant. Plus, the limited edition 1000 stars packing is absolutely gorgeous. The powders can be used wet or dry, depending on the look you're going for. I also really like the fact she hasn't bothered with a pathetic applicator within the packaging - they never get used anyway - fingers or a decent brush are what's needed here. And, let's just be honest, I love a bit of embossing on my eyeshadows. Definitely worth the £45 price tag. 

That said, all of the products are worth the money - the hype really is justified. Sadly for my bank manager, this might have been my first foray into the world of Charlotte Tilbury, but it definitely won't be my last. Mr. M - you made my Christmas. 

Friday, 23 January 2015

My top five beauty bloggers

Hooray! It's Friday. I thought we'd never get here. 

If you're looking for something to fill some downtime over the weekend, look no further than these genius beauty bloggers - but be warned, once you start, you won't stop. Just don't blame me...

Essie Button - this lady is all kinds of cool. She mixes professionalism with a sense of the 'real' - I definitely feel like I could share a bottle of wine with her in no time at all. And, she's Canadian, so even Mr. M. is a fan of this one (he's from Montreal don't you know). Her YouTube channels (one beauty and one lifestyle) are must watch too. 

Vivianna Does Makeup / Lily Pebbles - technically cheating, because these are two separate bloggers, but they are besties and work together all the time, so I'm counting them as one. Both have great YouTube channels (here and here) - it won't be Christmas again without vlogmas. Lily is the queen of the bold lip and Anna is the master of 'au naturel' - both are living the dream. They are just about to take their regular feature #beautychat live (at Space NK stores, natch) - check out this link for more details. 

Get the Gloss - set up by beauty journalists Sarah Vine and Susannah Taylor, this online magazine has you covered no matter what you're looking for. As well as makeup and skincare, there's also a kick-arse 5:2 section, complete with inspiration for meals and snacks to fill up fast days. There's quite a bit of lifestyle-type advice as well - what more could you want?

XOVain - revealing trade secrets one beauty step at a time, this blog helps you feel good, even if you're aren't the master of all things beauty related. If you don't know how to do the cat-eye flick - fear not, because this site will help. No questions asked. I love it. 

Buy Now, Blog Later - first, the name is fantastic. But if that doesn't get you, then the description should: 'I write a blog about shopping. That's about as deep as it gets.' Quite honestly, what else do you need to know? A visit to this site is guaranteed to make you smile - and coupled with smart, informative insights about makeup, skincare and fashion alike, that's enough for me.

What do you think? Who are your top beauty bloggers?

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Review: COLAB dry shampoo

Let's be honest: we don't wash our hair everyday. Well, I don't. Who on earth has the time? The chances of being able to blow dry my hair on top of everything else in the morning, are slim to none. 

And, anyway, it's not good to wash your everyday. I'm told. And that's good enough for me. Not so, though, for my hair, which does tend to go a bit land at the two-day stage. Enter my morning saviour: dry shampoo. Until now, my staple has been Batiste XXL volume dry shampoo which does work a treat, but tends to leave quite a powder residue in my hair. As a dark brunette, this isn't ideal, because it then takes a short while to sort that out. (But it's still quicker than a full on blow dry. Obviously). 

I'd heard much about Ruth Crilly's brainchild COLAB - it claims to be a 'revolutionary sheer and invisible dry shampoo' and the majority of reviews seemed to support that. If you don't know who Ruth Crilly is, where have you been? She's a model with a brilliant blog, A Model Recommends, and she's also a YouTube queen. Seriously, you need to add her to your lists. Most importantly, her reviews and insights are usually spot on, so when I finally got round to trying it, I had high expectations.

The range comes in five scents: London, New York, Paris, Rio and Tokyo. (You see what they've done there.) The ones pictured above are London (black) and New York (orange) - my favourite is London, but the New York is also lovely - London is more musky and New York is more fruity. All five come in a compact (50ml) and large (200ml) sizes.

I absolutely love this shampoo. There is very little residue, but it gives great texture and gets rid of any greasiness at the same time. It is genius. It has become my new staple and knocked Batiste off my shopping list. And - even better - it's a bargain price of just £3.50 for the 200ml version (although it's sometimes on offer at Superdrug for just £2.12). It's available at Superdrug, Feel Unique and Beauty Mart - but it can sometimes be tricky to find in store at Superdrug as it's not carried in all stores. 

Monday, 19 January 2015

My Little Box: My Little Energy Box January 2015

I've tried quite a few beauty boxes over the years, but to be honest, I've always been a little disappointed by the subscription ones (not so for the one-off Selfridges boxes). But, I've heard good things about My Little Box - well, of course I had; it's from Paris - and so I thought I'd give it a go this month. It costs £11 per month plus P&P (so it's £15 per month) but you can cancel your subscription at any time, so if I really didn't like it, there wasn't that much lost.

Some quick info on the company / brand: it's a 'Parisian beauty, fashion and lifestyle box with a different theme every month'. It's the brain child of five friends who are also behind the popular 'My Little Paris Newsletter'. They aim to provide 'a little post-box sized haven of beauty, fashion and lifestyle surprises'. There are fashion accessories designed exclusively for My Little Box, and they have their own cosmetic range but they do also do collaborations with other beauty and fashion brands. Basically, they are cashing in on being French - can't blame them really. 

So, yesterday, by box arrived. I know everyone else is on a health kick in the new year, but unfortunately the whole 'energy' theme didn't go down so well with me (I'm not doing dry January - I've spent the last six years not drinking, pretty much - I'm not taking out a gym membership and I'm certainly not running around in the cold). However, it also focuses on good vibes and positive energy and I'm all for that. So long as I'm in the warm.

I do already have a calendar for 2015 and I'm not sure their version is worth the £10 they allegedly charge on their French website, but as a freebie, it's perfectly serviceable. Naturally, it is filled with suitably 'inspirational' quotes, should you be looking for that.

Also included is a gym bag. Obviously, I won't be taking it to the gym (see above) but with four kids, I'm sure it will come in handy. It's fine, but there's not a chance I'd pay the £20 the little booklet tells you it costs. 

Now, on to the good stuff. 

Nails Inc nail varnish in Tate red (£11) A classic red shade that means the box has already paid for inself. It's full size and you know the brand is good quality - it's a definite winner. 

My Little Beauty Energising Mist (£7.50) Apparently full of antioxidants, vitamin C and green tea, this mist claims to 'give your skin the inner glow it's been lacking'. I used it last night and this morning instead of toner - the best use for these energising mists I've found - and it certainly smells lovely. The jury's out on my inner glow - but, to be completely fair, even the most talented product might struggle with that. 

Talika Photo-Hydra Day (£43.50) I have seen the Talika brand at Space NK but I've never tried anything from the range before. After using this cream, I would definitely consider it. The cream is light and doesn't really smell of anything. It's very hydrating and sinks into my skin in double-quick time - so far so good. 

Overall, this is a great box and I definitely won't be cancelling my subscription. I can't wait to see what I get in February. Although, I won't be impressed if it's a detox special! 

Friday, 16 January 2015

Five signs you've watched too much Cbeebies...

It struck me today that my knowledge about the Cbeebies schedule, and the programmes themselves, is far too detailed to be healthy. Of course, we all start out with the 'I won't rely on the television to entertain my child' theory but, let's be honest, we all know that goes straight out of the window when certain things need to be done. 


If you do any (or all - there's no shame here) of these, it's a sign that it's at least time to switch channels, if not switch off completely. If you're anything like me, you're in danger of committing a murder (link presenters - I'm looking at you). I do think, though, that you'd get off on humanitarian grounds. Any judge that has children would understand.

1. Tell the time by the programme is currently playing 
(NOTE this won't work if you've paused the live programming to dress/argue/reason with your child)
If all the kids are dressed by the time Dinopaws starts, I know I'm on schedule. If, however, we're nearing the end of Dinopaws, I know it's likely I'm missing my train. That irritating character that continually repeats 'I know, I know, I know' only to reveal he/she (who knows?) does not, in fact, 'know' is a surefire sign of a bad day that's only getting worse.

2. Argue with Postman Pat
First off, what on earth happened to this programme? Since when did Pat have a wife and child? When did it all get so ridiculously politically correct? Why does everybody think he's the best postman ever when, in fact, he cocks up the one delivery he has to do and is always late? Why does he only ever have one thing to deliver? Clearly, Amazon has not yet reached Greendale. And what the bloody hell is Special Delivery Service? Ben needs to be a bit more organised with his mail sorting. Don't start me on Jess. 

3. Start using catchphrases from programmes with adults - especially ones that don't have children
This is particularly true in the workplace. Apparently, most adults are already aware that 'scissors are sharp'. Thank you, Mr. Maker. Also, while we're at it, do not refer to glue as gloopy glue. People will look at you like you're mad. The sad fact is, you are. But we can maintain an impenetrable facade if we try hard enough. 

4. You can answer questions about the plot lines of the programmes. And you know if you've seen said episode before.
Mr. M. is particularly good at tuning out these programmes - and to be honest, he doesn't know one programme from another. I, however, inwardly sigh when I realise I've already seen this episode of the Octonauts 14 times. Not actually one of the worst offenders, I've found that Shellington really does start to grate after a while. Probably his 'know all' scientist status while not quite being in the real world that does it. And PS Kwazii - you're not a pirate. Deal with it. 

5. You spot actors from the programmes in normal grown-up programmes - and can name them
Just to take a random example, plucked completely out of the air: what the bloody hell is Topsy and Tim's mum doing in Eastenders? Surely this is not appropriate. Not content ruining my days with the over-the-top perfectness, now she has to intrude on evening television too? And, by the way, I don't even watch Eastenders - so that's even worse. There literally is no escape. 

Who knows what delights await on CBBC? But I bet if Ed the Duck is on there, it's a politically correct, way more irritating version. I look forward to it. 

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Review: Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish Hot Cloth Cleaner

I know, I know, I know. 

This is not a new product. You've probably already used this product. You probably already love this product. BUT. I haven't used this for a while, and then the lovely Father Christmas decided I'd been good enough to get a treat. 

I used it immediately and I was instantly reminded just how bloody good this cleanser is. So, I thought I should remind you too. The smell is fantastic - that will be the rosemary and eucalyptus - and it leaves my skin feeling squeaky clean, without any trace of harshness. 

And it reintroduced me to my muslin cloth - which has been gathering dust in the bathroom for a while now. 'Remember me?' it cried out. Well, yes I do. The cloth - to be honest, I'm sure a flannel would be just as good, but it doesn't look as posh - takes away all the dead cells (lovely) as you remove the cleanser. And the cocoa butter leaves your face feeling moisturised and ready to face the world.

What more can I say? Oh yes - and this is a recent discovery - you can even use this little wonder on your eyes. This, I didn't know. But it's true - I'm quite careful about products around my eyes, but this cleanser doesn't upset them one little bit. It's a marvel.

I like to use the pump version, but there's a whole range of sizes in pump and tube format to suit every need and budget. Thank you Father Christmas; you've reunited me with an old friend. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Review: Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush

Never one to miss an opportunity, the last time the in-laws visited from the States last year, I put in a fairly large Sephora order. Yes, I know they ship to the UK now, but (a) it's still far cheaper to post within the US and then get someone to bring it to you and (b) half the stuff in the store won't ship internationally so it defeats the purpose. 

Bloggers all over the internet rave about this product, and Tarte sets the barre pretty high with claims of 'a long-wearing, supremely soft blush infused with Amazonian clay harvested from the banks of the Amazon River and naturally baked in the sun'. I'll be honest: I'm somewhat skeptical that the blusher on my dressing table actually has been naturally baked in the sun - and if it has, I've got some concerns about that. But, back to the point.

The texture isn't very creamy, but it's not really that powdery either - it's somewhere in-between. It's fairly easy to work with; once applied, you've got a few minutes to blend it before it 'stains' put. And it definitely stays put for the whole day. In terms of colour, it's very natural - it basically just makes me look healthier. Any product that can achieve that gets the thumbs up from me.

Overall, this blusher is fantastic and is my go-to every morning. The colour range is broad - there are 14 - so you'll definitely find something to suit you. Mine is 'Exposed' - a fairly neutral pink, that's more brown than pink. It's perfect for me. 

It's $26 (plus whatever the shipping is) if you do get it from Sephora, but it's also sometimes available from QVC - although it's currently sold out.  You could, of course, use this as an excuse for a shopping trip to NYC. Just a thought. 

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Saturday brunch - poached egg and spicy potatoes

It's Saturday morning, it's cold and rainy and it's blowing a gale outside. Knock yourself up this little treat to beat those winter blues - and P.S. it's pretty good at fixing a hangover too (or so I've heard). 

For one serving you'll need:

1 large or 2 small potatoes - I used Maris Piper
1 tbsp oil - I used garlic and chilli, but any you've got in the cupboard will do
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder (amend quantity according to taste)
Sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/4 teaspoon nigella seeds
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 egg

Peel and dice the potatoes into smallish chunks (technical term). Heat your oil and then fry the potatoes - initially on a high heat, then turn it down. Cover and leave for around 10 minutes - until the potatoes are at least half done. 

Add the tumeric, chilli powder and salt. Mix.

Then add the rest of the spices. Mix again. Recover and leave to finish cooking. Don't let them get too soft, or it will turn into a big moosh (another technical term).

Meanwhile, poach your egg (around 3 minutes depending how runny you like your yolk). I use this fantastic invention to get mine right. Serve the egg on top of the potatoes. 

Goes very nicely with a Bloody Mary. Just saying. Enjoy!

Friday, 9 January 2015

#FashionFriday - bag yourself a bargain

As the sales hit their final stretch, with the third (or sometimes even fourth) round of mark downs being made - which makes me wonder why we ever pay full price for anything, but don't get me started on that - there are definitely some bargains to be had if you're prepared to root around. Even online, I find this tiresome. It seems like every time I spy something truly bargainous, it's either already sold out, or it's not in my size. However, persevere and thrifty shopping can be achieved - I promise.

I'm a new convert to Crew Clothing - in fact, my brother introduced me to them with his Christmas wish list. When I popped in store to collect his present, I fell in love with the quality, casual knitwear and other weekend staples. I almost bought the jumper below (ahh, take that 'Click and Collect' - I didn't fall for your tricks) but resisted. And this angelic behaviour was rewarded. Willing to pay £48, I snapped it up for £23. £23. That's half price, people. 

Obviously, this meant I could also buy this shirt for £18 - think of the savings.  

So, in my mind, I'm still £7 better off. That's enough for another lunch at Pod on a fast day. Mr. M. doesn't seem to view it in quite the same way - can't think why. He won't be moaning when I get him a jumper via the 'Click and Collect' ruse - well, I didn't say there would be angelic behaviour twice...

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Review: Rituals Hammam Range

Rituals wasn't a brand I know particularly well - I became aware of it when I moved out of town and there was a shop in the local shopping centre. The products always look and smell really good, and while more expensive than shower gel from your local boots, they are not so expensive to be prohibitive. 

I'm also nostalgic about a trip to Morocco Mr. M and I made back in the early days when we were footloose and fancy-free (aka childless). While we were there, we went to a hammam and it was fantastic - completely different from anything I'd experienced before. So, when I saw the Hammam range in the store, I was keen to try it out. 

I got the Hammam Collection, which contains four products from the range. 

Hammam Olive Secret is a shower 'paste' that claims to prepare the skin for exfoliation. Basically, while you're in the shower, you cover yourself in the paste and then rinse it off, to prepare the skin for exfoliation. It smells lovely - it contains olive oil and eucalyptus - but I'm not sure how much of a difference it really makes. That could be because I use the salts straight afterward and I attribute the cleansed feeling to that. It's been good to use, but I'm not sure this is a repurchase product from the range.  

Hamma Hot Scrub is my favourite  - as per the instructions, I use it after the olive secret to really scrub the skin. As well as the eucalyptus, it also has ginger in it which really wakes up the senses. It's not the quickest shower routine (I do this once a week at the weekend, when I have a little bit more time) but it leaves me feeling really scrubbed clean - exactly how I felt when I left the hammam in Morocco. As I say, I attribute this to the hot scrub salt, rather than the paste, but I'll reserve final judgement until I stop using the paste and continue just with the salt. 

Hammam Delight is the shower gel for everyday use. You only need a tiny amount - a little goes a long way - and it's brilliant to use first thing in the morning, because the smell is fantastic - very uplifting! According to Rituals, it's the combination of eucalyptus and rosemary that makes it so revitalising. I can't testify to that, but I can say that it works - and I love using it. 

Also included in the pack was a small room scent diffuser. It is really quite small, but it smells fresh and is very pleasant to have. That said, I wouldn't buy it separately - I'd just stick with the shower gel for the same scent. 

Overall, this is a really good range. Obviously, nothing beats being pampered by someone else in a spa setting, but this is a pretty good second if you can make the time to do it. The shower gel gives me a little lift every time I use it, but the scrub is a special treat I look forward to. If you want to recreate a little bit of Morocco in your own bathroom, without the plane fare, this is the range to do it. 

Monday, 5 January 2015

Newborn memories...

My sister is due to have her second baby at the end of the month and our recent conversations have reminded me what those first few weeks are like. Now, it goes without saying that a newborn is a wonderful, marvellous thing and it truly is an amazing thing to go through. But. There's no doubt that there are moments of extreme difficulty and these are some of the things I definitely won't miss:

1. Lack of sleep. It's an obvious one, but the perpetual jet-lag feeling goes on for what seems like forever. I really wish someone had told me (the first time) that it does end somewhere around three months - but getting to that point seems to take a lot longer. A bit like the nine months of pregnancy the first time. 

2. Not finishing a cup of tea. Or a meal. Or a conversation. Or actually, finish anything without the interruption of a nappy change / crying / need for food. And you might as well get used to it - I'm six years in, and whilst there's been an improvement, my needs are still very much second to the kids. 

3. An inability to leave the house within a 30 minute time frame. And you can guarantee that once you've finally got everything ready to go, darling newborn will require a nappy change. It is the law. 

4. Total strangers cooing over the baby - and then delving into your personal life. Don't get me wrong, it's lovely when people want to compliment you on your beautiful offspring (well, sometimes), but when they start asking you about the birth, it's just a step too far. And, following on from that... strangers telling you why your baby is crying. 'He's hungry' was a personal favourite. At best just irritating, it can - especially if point 1 has been particularly bad - get seriously out of hand - I had quite the set-to with someone on a bus once that didn't end well. Don't mess with a new mother that's had no sleep would be my advice.

6. Ridiculously impractical clothes. It is a baby, not some kind of doll to be dressed as a miniature adult. And anyone that buys clothes that are handwash-only should be immediately de-friended. More difficult with family, but still achievable. 

7. Newborn fetishers. This will be someone you only tenuously know that has a sudden, desperate need to visit you during this most precious time. We all know someone that does this - it could be someone you've only met a couple of times, or it could be a very remote family connection. If you can't think of anyone, then it may well be you - and if so, stop it. It's annoying.

8. Smug mothers who have everything under complete control. You know who you are - don't rub it in.

9. Anyone who wants to suggest that reusable nappies are not only possible, but entirely practical. These people tend not to have had children yet. Rest assured, as soon as their own bundle of joy arrives, it will only be a matter of days before they are picking up their own supply of pampers. 

10. The breast-feeding nazis. The reality is: it's not always easy and it can't always be done. Yes, in an ideal world, we'd all breast feed - but don't let anyone pressure you into thinking you're a failure if it doesn't work for you. Formula feeding is absolutely fine.

All of that said, having a newborn is one of the best experiences you'll ever have. If you're about to do it - first time or not - enjoy it. You'll be fantastic - and don't let anyone tell you differently!