More than a Mum

More than a mum is the place I save everything that doesn’t fall into the Travel, Food and Lifestyle buckets. It’s all those little things that go into my life and make me the person I am. Expect to find, fashion, beauty, photography, hobbies and anything else that is another part of me that I thought you might be interested in.

I left BritMums back in October last year when I took up a part time job with James Villas working on the marketing team, specifically the social media team. It was a wise move as I would never have been able to run the two jobs together, there just isn’t enough time in the day plus we have some work days that are completely draining and I need to switch off of an evening. However, I had every intention of going to BritMums Live again. It’s the one blogging event that I know I will enjoy and get to catch up with some good friends too.

It’s a date I pencil in from one year to the next and as the date loomed up I started to think about childcare and organisation. That was when Coca Cola invited me to their symposium on the Friday afternoon. They had a brand new product they wanted to share with me.

Luck would have it that Friday is my day off so off I went for an afternoon tea get together in the Montcalm Hotel.

I learnt that Coca Cola has been going since the 1900’s in the UK and that Selfridges was their first point of sale. I learnt that Lilt, Schweppes, Kia Ora, Dr Pepper and Smart Water are all under the same umbrella and that they have 6 factories dotted around the United Kingdom to make their products, cutting their carbon footprint.

I remembered when in 1983 they launched Diet Coke which has no sugar in it. I have to say this is my favourite of all their Colas and I learnt that since then 27 of their drinks have since been launched with no sugar.

A total of at least 30% of their drinks are mid – low calorie.

We talked a bit about Coca Cola Life, the one in the green packaging, have you tried it? That drink has 45% less sugar in it.

Then we touched upon Coca Cola Zero, launched in 2006 and proven to be very popular only some fans complained the taste wasn’t right. So the scientists and the production team re visited the recipe, and they adopted Stevia to add a sweet taste.

Coca Cola Tasting

Coca cola tasting

Then came the fun part of our symposium; four glasses were placed in front of us each cup holding a different Coca Cola and assigned a letter. We were asked to taste and guess which one was Coca Cola, Diet Coke, Coca Cola Life and Coca Cola Zero. You’d think that was pretty easy right? Wrong. I got two out of four and some of the tasters didn’t get any right.

You see by altering the recipe and including Stevia they have brought the Coca Cola Zero taste incredibly close to the red tin Coca Cola. Go try it and see for yourself. They have a brand new packaging which is very swish and eye catching. you’ll also be seeing TV ads, billboards and lots of online marketing too so if you feel tempted, I dare you to try it and let me know what you think.

BritMums Live 16

I’m so glad I went, I caught up with Jen and Susanna, spoke with Nadine who took over my editor role, and bumped into some of my very special online friends, too many to mention here. But my highlight of 2016 must be a one to one with Amanda Jennings where we sat and spoke about writing, the tricks and tools of the trade but that will have to be another post… she’s working on her fourth book you know.

Disclosure: Coca Cola kindly paid for my attendance at BritMums Live this year, they invited me to their symposium but all of the above is what I learnt from that meeting and my own opinion on the products.

women turning 50

Not that I’m counting of course but as we entered 2016 I have been on my final countdown to 50 *gulp* and right now I’m on the very last stretch of being 49. As of the 29th April, I will be turning 50, a half a century and I find that thought quite daunting!

50 seems to have come around incredibly fast. Where have all those years gone? I swear it was only yesterday that we were celebrating my 40th. I have always associated 50 with being old and now I’m about to step into my very own version of 50 I don’t want to be ‘old’. Having always been a bit rebellious, I’m not going to do 50 as I ought to either.

Famous women turning 50

I decided way back to not be frightened by the number 50, to hit it straight on the head and to rock it but if the truth be known I am trembling in my boots a bit. Looking at others always calms my nerves a bit, if they can do it and look fabulous then there is hope for me. Sarah Jessica Parker, she has turned 50 and is looking very good. J.K Rowling born July 1965, wouldn’t I love to write a book half as good as hers? Brooke Shields – I still remember her for the Blue Lagoon film in the 80’s.

I turn 50 the same year as Halle Berry, Cindy Crawford, Helena Bonham Carter (who I LOVED in the recent Cinderella film) and Cynthia Nixon from Sex and the City. Guys include Gordon Ramsay and Mike Tyson – who I named our Rottweiler after.

eleanor roosevelt quote

Life at 30

I wasn’t at all afraid of 30, I embraced that stage with open arms. I had a fantastic party in Italy with my friends, I was living a happy life and had nothing to be afraid of. I felt ‘grown up’. My son Tommy was 8 and my daughter Megan was 6, they were out of the baby stage and we were able to go on nice holidays. We would ski together, go on day trips and have fun as a family. My 30’s were an era where I felt confident and secure in my decisions. I loved my children, I loved my life and even if I was aware that my marriage wasn’t the strongest around I was happy most of the time.

turning 50 buddah time quote

Life at 40

40 was also a number I embraced with open arms, having gone through a sad and bitter divorce in my late 30’s (proof you never know what is around the corner) I had met a new man and was the happiest I had ever been.

Again, we threw a party and invited friends and family, some of my closest friends travelled over from Italy. Some of my old school friends, who I hadn’t seen since I left St Johns, came along. It was a wonderful night and one I remember very clearly (I was pregnant!) My dad was there too. I really miss him, that was April 2006, he passed away in October 2007.

My 40’s represent a whole new chapter in my life. One where I tried once again for children. We weren’t successful at first and suffered a huge blow but we carried on and had the twins who are the light of our lives.

Weekes family

I have enjoyed being a mother again so much. I feel it is a very different experience having a man who loves me by my side and as interested in the parenting lark as much as me. This support has given me an incredible confidence and serenity to my life that wasn’t there in my first marriage. The twins have been an utter joy to bring up, they are gentle natured and very good girls. They make parenting so easy, it’s a joy to have them around.

I, myself, have taken a back seat during this decade dedicating my time and effort to the twins. I think it would be fair to say I’ve spent ten years with my hair piled on top of my head and held there with a clip. Make up has been used very occasionally for ‘going out’ and new clothes have consisted of jeans and boots (which are still my every day favourites).

turning 50 coco chanel quote

Talking of clothes I do feel as if I failed on what to wear and what suits me a lot of times this past decade. I feel I have made more buying mistakes than ever. I have come home with clothes I love the look of but don’t feel right on me, so my 40’s have been a learning curve in this respect, only I’m not ready to dress like an old woman just yet. There’s still a huge part of me that wants to look nice, feel nice.

I lost my dad in my 40’s and I nearly lost my mum too as she battled cancer three times over the past five years. I am so grateful to medicine and doctors and brain surgeons for curing her and allowing her to stay with us. My 40’s have shown me how fragile life is and they have taught me to enjoy every moment, walk away from the bad stuff and focus your energy on the good.

I spent the majority of my 40’s at home looking after the girls and my biggest achievement has been building my blog and social channels. A project that started as a hobby and grew to become a ‘job’ of sorts. I am not the greatest blogger out there but I have enjoyed this learning process and have taken so much on board that I still remain surprised at the journey I have travelled, the wonderful bloggers and social media experts I have met and chatted to. The people I am still in contact with on a daily basis, those I meet at blogging events that are always a pleasure to embrace again. I count myself very lucky for having these people in my life. They have opened my eyes to an entire new world out there and in turn helped me reach the place I am at today, social media exec for James Villa Holidays. I LOVE this job. It is so perfect for me and I cannot express how much I am enjoying it. It doesn’t feel like work at all but a place where I can go and get creative and put my ideas to good use.

laugh at the sky

Turning 50

We’re not throwing a big party this time around. At the beginning of the year we decided to spend any ‘party’ money on a family holiday, somewhere we hadn’t been before. So we’re off to Lanzarote for May half term and I am very excited about it.

We’ve invested in a static caravan in Thanet where I imagine we’ll be spending many happy times. This does mean we’ll be saying goodbye to our caravan in the summer, one last holiday first though in Woolacombe where I’d like to have a go at Stand Up Paddle.

Work has been the largest recent change and I cannot wait to see where this journey takes me.

Oh and my Instagram feed which I love playing at and trying to get better at, here’s a selection of my March favourites.

IG 9x9

Birthday wishes

If there is a fairy out there somewhere listening in on this conversation then the first thing I would wish for is good health. The second thing I would wish for is happiness and I’m pretty sure that will continue as it is something I actively seek out. I’ll save the third wish for later as who knows when I might need it?

january sunset Sky blanket

Happy New Year everyone! I know I’ve been really quiet and there has been no news from me for ages but all is good in the hood, I’m just adjusting to being a working mum and having less free time on my hands to do everything I used to do before as a SAHM.

It’s tough but I am getting there, a few tweaks to the daily routine and with Christmas out of the way I should have some free time now.

January will see my 3 months probation as Social Media Executive at James Villa Holidays complete and fingers crossed I have performed well enough so they keep me on. I must say I love the job and I’m working with a fantastic team, everyone is so inspiring. I’m really enjoying going to the office three times a week and getting creative on so many different levels, I really think it’s had a great influence on my personal life too.

My chosen word for 2016 is Embrace

‘Take it all in your stride girl.’

2016 will see me hit 50 years and I’m trembling A LOT about it. Funnily enough age has never bothered me until now. I guess that had to change at some point, whilst I turned my nose up at friends panicking at 30 and again at 40 now it’s their turn to point at me quivering in my slippers about approaching 50. How did that happen so quick? I worry about my health, I worry about not being here tomorrow, I worry about not having a job as I am too old! I really must stop worrying and just embrace the whole frigging lot.

sky blanket - wool

My project for the year will be a Sky Blanket. I love this idea, basically you look at the sky every day and interpret it by knitting or crocheting a square, I have a bag full of different colours, although this year has had very poor grey sunsets till now. For more information please visit the Sky Blanket Facebook page and of course watch out for my updates.

sky blanket Jan 1st

January 1st I have interpreted like this (above), it was a very grey day and it rained a lot, the only thing missing is some gold sequins which I need to sew on as my family came to visit and we opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate the new year.

sky blanket 2016 jan 2nd

Jan 2nd it rained even more, the sky was darker and so I pimped my patch with drops of water, I am showcasing my days as seen above on Instagram as it shows both a strip of sky and my completed interpretation.

sky blanket 2016 jan 3rd

January 3rd, it also rained all day but as the sun started to set a tiny slither of yellow sky appeared so that gave me something new to work with. The black wool with silver running through it is to represent the lights seen in the distance over the valley.

Find out more about Sky Blanket 2016 here 

What else?

I’m continuing with photography, which I love and my Instagram feed which is my favourite social channel right now.

So this age 50 business, I’ve decided to face head on and I’ve been drumming up a list of all the things I would love to do so I can tick them off as I go,

  1. Go on a cruise
  2. Visit the Caribbean
  3. Eat at the Tramshed in London
  4. Have a posh Afternoon Tea in London like the Sanderson’s Mad Hatter Tea Party
  5. Spend a weekend, no kids in a beautiful spa just relaxing and indulging.
  6. LOSE weight. 1 stone to be precise, I can’t bear my body as it is right now and it’s making me miserable.
  7. Book up another huge cottage for a fun family weekend like our recent Isle of Wight trip
  8. Treat myself to a designer handbag only I’m not sure which one just yet.
  9. Start tap classes! My Thursday evenings are about to become tip tap ones, I’m hoping this will keep me fit and be a lot of fun. You could be looking at the new Ginger Rogers…
  10. Find the work/family balance and enjoy my family as much as I can.

There will be more things I shall add to the list as they come to mind, but that’s plenty to be going on with for now.

Aveda Bluewater

When I was asked to go along to see the new Aveda store at Bluewater and have a mini facial I was very excited, a facial is a treat for me as I normally do my own skincare at home. I had been sent a few of their products to try out beforehand but I had no idea what was waiting in store for me.

You see Aveda is more than skin and hair products, it’s a concept, it’s a life choice and there is a wonderful wholeness to any treatment or lotion you have from Aveda. In fact Aveda means All life knowledge

Aveda mission

Horst Rechelbacher is the brains behind the company and got the idea in 1978 when he was on a trip to India and came across the wonders of Ayurveda, the Hindu holistic system of medicine and surgery. He fell in love with the whole idea, returned home and formulated his first product, a clove shampoo in his kitchen sink.

You get more than the kitchen sink when you visit the Aveda store though and my trip started with a Chakra journey

Chakra journey

aveda chakra journey

Chakras quite simply are energy points in your body and there are seven of them in a line from the base of your spine to the crown of your head. Each one is represented by a different colour and together they are Prana, the vital life force which keeps us vibrant, healthy and alive.

It is essential to our wellbeing that our chakras are open, aligned and fluid, if there is a blockage our energy cannot flow and we can become ill or feel down in certain areas of our life.

The Aveda chakra journey requires you to focus on the bottles and colours and see which one you are drawn to, in my case I chose yellow and Pami the assistant sat me down and sprayed the air above my head with the bottle allowing a wonderful smell to cascade around me. I filled my lungs and breathed out slowly savouring every moment. Pami expalined I had been drawn to the third chakra

The third chakra. The Manipura chakra means lustrous gem and it’s the area from the navel to the breastbone. The third chakra is our source of personal power. 

A cup of tea

aveda tea

My next treat was a cup of tea, a herbal infusion of licorice root and peppermint. It is said this combination calms your senses and promotes a sense of well-being. It was served warm and was delicious. I must admit I was starting to feel very relaxed and looked after by now.

Mini facial

aveda skincare products

Pami asked me a lot of skin questions filling in a purpose board as she went with my answers and with the results in front of her she decided on the Botanical Kinetics range for me. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the mini facial treatment which was a  pleasure. It took about 20 minutes and is a complimentary service offered by Aveda to anyone who wishes. Before you leave the store you are given a list of the products best suited to your skincare and there is no obligation to buy but I did, I treated myself to the Intense hydrating cream which doesn’t need taking off. I use it on the days I am at home and pottering about allowing the goodness to soak into my skin throughout the day.

Hand Massage

My treats weren’t over as before I left Pami gave me a hand massage using the Aveda Hand relief moisturising cream. I could live on the smell of this tube alone, it’s a real pick me up and whenever I use it I swear the smell is doing just as much work as the cream penetrating my poor dry hands.

Cost

All the treatments are free and they have some wonderful Christmas gift ideas for any family member who loves a special treat.

aveda gifts

Soaking salts – Stress Fix

I don’t often bath preferring to shower but the smell of these is divine bath a luxurious experience indeed. A fabulous gift for any bath lover indeed.

Botanical Kinetics Energising eye cream

Love, love, love this; not a strong smell but diminishes dark circles and puffiness.

Smooth Infusion – nourishing styling creme

For styling your hair, Aveda have a wonderful range of hair products.

Dry remedy – daily moisturising oil

This lotion promises to instantly moisturise your hair, the brittle hair and ends, place a couple of drops on your fingers and work through the ends. It’s wonderful. It’s one of those products you know are doing more than just treating your hair.

Disclosure: I was invited to the new Aveda salon at Bluewater and sent the above mentioned products for the purpose of this post, all words and opinions are my own.

 

 

berries on bushes

Did you know? According to ancient folklore if there are lots of berries on bushes in the autumn, it is likely to be a cold winter.

Have you seen how many berries are on the bushes this year? Hundreds of them, thousands even. Bushes are groaning under the weight of the super crop this year. We all need to wrap up warm this winter.

I walk the twins to school so, if it’s raining I want a coat that will keep me dry, if it’s cold I want a coat that will keep me warm and on top of that I want to look stylish too as now, three days a week, I hop into my car after dropping the kids off and go to work, so looks matter more these days.

Blacks, One of Britain’s best outdoor wear companies is collaborating with Sprayway, let me tell you a little bit about Sprayway because it’s really interesting and the kind of story that makes me proud to be British.

Sprayway history

sprayway postcards

Think 1974, think the Manchester area and think two competitive dinghy sailing enthusiasts. They quickly realise that the high quality performance clothing they want and need will have to be made by them as there is nothing on the market that is suitable.

In 1980 they supplied the kit for the pioneering expedition Everest attempt by Doug Scott, Pete Boardman and John Tasker

1982 saw the brand launch its first GORE-TEX jacket and a year later it became the first to machine tape non-GORE-TEX waterproof clothing, christened the Hydro-dry range.

1995 they supplied the kit to Alison Hargreaves who became the first woman to climb Everest along without oxygen tanks.

In 2001, they supplied the kit to Keiron Machenzie who climbed Everest via the North Ridge

Not just Everest

I told you it was a cool story didn’t I? Well now Sprayway have partnered with Blacks to create an exclusive range for this season, They asked me to review one from the range and give my honest opinion, I took a look at the Blacks Sprayway range online and decided on the navy blue parka to see me through the winter.

In fact I was able to wear it recently when the family came over from Italy and I nipped into the garden to pick the apples off the tree with Evan my grandson. Sadly the apples were very small this year and not the best crop but we had fun picking them and they tasted sweet too.

sprayway parka picking apples

Since they returned to Italy the weather has turned colder and I am now wearing my parka daily on the school run which then turns into walking the dog once the girls are through the gate. I can report that it is very comfortable and has lots of pockets, which is great as I no longer need to take a bag with me, I have phone and keys in one pocket, ‘pooh bags’ and ‘good Boy treats in another pocket.

So far it has kept me warm and dry and I’m looking forward to putting the Sprayway coat through it’s paces as the weather gets harsher.

Although a smart casual coat, I find it’s totally acceptable to wear into the office too.

This parka costs £130 and if you take a look at it online you might think, like I did before a closer look, that it’s Nicole Scherzinger modelling it. Mind you there’s something about the model that reminds me of her, what do you think?

Husband: Whilst you’re on Blacks, take a look at walking boots for me, I need a new pair.

sprayway parka hood

Disclosure: I was sent the Sprayway parka shown above for the purpose of this reveiw, all opinions are my own.