Yes! I have discovered the cure for Verrucas!!! Nobel prize and all other accolades in the post please.
NB. If you have a weak stomach and have never come across a Verruca don’t read.
Not a lovely topic I know but along with nits, verrucas are definitely one of the plagues of childhood. My little girl goes swimming once a week and I’m pretty sure that she caught hers from walking around the edge of the pool. They aren’t harmful but they can spread really rapidly and they have really creepy looking back roots in the middle and they’re lumpy and ugly and they can be tender and I HATE THEM. Even though I was told they would eventually go away by themselves (takes up to a year!) I became obsessed with ridding my little girl’s formerly flawless feet from hers and it was a combination of advice and the need to cushion the verrucas during dance class that lead me to try Compede Blister stickers on them.
Niddle Noddle shop front tote with illustration by Belinda Chen
If you’re going to open a shop in this day and age of extortionate rents and internet undercutting you’d better get it right. Niddle Noddle, the new kids lifestyle store in North London’s Crouch End has got it right with bells on. The shop is light, bright and airy, the staff say hello and SMILE (Something that other kids stores in Crouch End should really take note of), the stock feels fresh and interesting and everything is displayed really beautifully so that everywhere you look there is something to make you smile. Oh, and there’s a big yellow chute slide at the back for the kids to while away on while their parents shop. Yes, this is a kids shop that actually likes kids. A mixture of beautiful children’s clothing, books, stocking fillers, more substantial gifts, quilts and vintage toys this shop is worth a journey. Santa take note.
Niddle Noddle has a limited selection of their stock on line at niddlenoddle.com
Niddle Noddle 5 Topsfield Parade (Middle Lane) Crouch End London N8 8PR
And your specialist subject is? The life and times of Victoria Beckham’s Hair.
For about a decade I wrote about the long and short, the bleaching the cropping, the lopping and the pobbing of Victoria Beckham’s hair. In minute detail. This wasn’t a hobby it was part of my job description (clause 18, paragraph 6) as Style Editor of Heat magazine. So, when I got an invitation to meet Ken Paves, VB’s hairdresser of choice for the past 6 years and coiffeur to J-Lo, Eva Longoria and Jessica Simpson (who I have also studied) I was just a tiny bit excited.
The night before I made a mental check list:
Make sure hair looks great: FAIL
Dress with the panache of Victoria Beckham: FAIL
Be cool: FAIL
On the morning of our meeting I overslept, had no time to style my hair, pulled on a un- ironed top and having dropped my daughter at nursery and leapt on the tube realised that I still had her life-size new born baby dolly wearing a slightly creepy vintage nightie in my bag.
On arrival at the swish hotel the PR standing over my bags clocked the baby and gave me a quizzical look. “What’s with the baby?” she asked. Cue high pitched laughter. Brain says: Don’t get creepy baby out of the bag. Do not show Ken the creepy baby in your bag…
Ken seemed quite unfazed by the creepy baby and even made a joke about it to set me at ease. In fact he turned out to be the nicest, most lovely man ever. Ken was seeing press to talk to them about Color Wow a new hair care range dedicated to colour treated hair including a special root touch up compact that can cover grey or blend in grown out colour. He showed me pictures of his mum using the product on her roots and waxed lyrical about the entire collection of products. By the time we had finished chatting I was making mental notes to enquire about buying shares in the company.
At one point Ken reached across, touched my hair and said “You know you have such great texture to your hair - I would love to just add some definition and it would look totally amazing.”
This is hairdresser code for: Dear God, I cannot be seen sitting next to a woman with hair that looks like an electrocuted bath mat - I must do something to rectify this situation immediately.
Simultaneously mortified that Ken is about to make contact with my crispy hair and elated that I am going to be transformed by a hair legend, I follow him into a walk-in cupboard where ironically the hotel keeps its crisps. Ken and the lovely Giles Robinson (John Frieda Senior Stylist and Colorwow hair ambassador) tong my hair until we are asked to leave by the hotel manager who points out that we are in a food storage area. No matter. My hair is already transformed and Ken is beaming at his handy work. I love him. Oh, and I even managed to ask him some questions.
Last week I went to the Boden Spring/Summer 14 (14!!!) press day and as usual oohed and ahhed over the fab kids clothes and the beautiful presentation. More unusually, I spent a lot longer in the grown-ups section of the press day than the kids section. I’m not sure if I’ve finally and whole heartedly acknowledged my shopping demographic or if Boden has really upped its game this season. Probably a bit of both. Add into the equation a distinct early 60’s Betty Draper vibe and I was caught hook, line and sinker. Vodka Gimlet on the terrace anyone?
Oh ASOS, you’ve done it again! What a fab Christmas Maternity collection this is. Hitting stores from right around now, anyone who’s dreading wearing a sack for the party season should feast their eyes on these gorgeous dresses and separates. LOVE the sequin dress and am hoping there will be a non pregnancy version too.
ASOS Maternity Embellished T-Shirt Dress £65, ASOS Yellow Peep Toe Shoes £40, ASOS Earring £35
ASOS Maternity Monoclash Print Shift Dress £55, ASOS Embellished Heel Shoe £45, ASOS Earrings £25
ASOS Maternity Daisy Embellished Shift Dress £75, ASOS Embellished Heel Shoes £45, ASOS Premium Earrings £25
ASOS Maternity Boyfriend T Shirt £10, ASOS Maternity Blazer in Blurred Spot £40, ASOS Maternity Trouser in Blurred Spot £30, ASOS Speckled Heeled Shoes £45, ASOS Metallic Bag £25, ASOS Necklace £85
ASOS Maternity Floral Bodycon Dress £30, ASOS Embellished Heeled Shoes £45, ASOS Premium Earrings £30
The heating is on and we don’t seem to have anything very warm in the chest of drawers. Here are a few cosy high street basics that I’ve got my eye on for my girls that can be mixed and matched and pepped up with brights. Ages aprox 2-10 yrs. Boys up next!
I once went camping with some friends to discover that they liked to chow down on tinned new potatoes and spam all doused in salad cream when out in the elements. Fortunately a weekend break away with newish friends this weekend revealed no such culinary clashes. In fact quite the opposite. The family all started snacking on sliced bananas dipped in cinnamon and sesame seeds and it turned out to be super tasty! The kids loved it and they didn’t even know that sesame seeds are full of calcium, magnesium, vitamin B1 and can even help lower cholesterol. I don’t even think they twigged they were eating fruit.
There’s something very satisfying about rolling your banana slice in seeds - healthy and therapeutic.
It’s distinctly chilly. I am desperately resisting turning on the heating. Could it be cheaper to buy a new jumper? Pretty sure it must be, especially if you opt for one of these cute John Lewis Weekend jumpers (£49) over these rather similar Chinti & Parker cashmere ones (£350). Then again, cashmere is very cosy so a C&P jumper could save on energy bills too…
The ludicrously productive in-laws (am thinking amphetamines) have got a fantastic allotment plot that produces mountains of fruit and veg. Flanked by a wood and a golf course, it really does feel like the countryside albeit with lots of rickety wooden shacks and a patchwork of old shag pile criss crossing the fields. I actually get quite misty thinking of my urban urchins running in and out of camps, climbing trees and eating fistfuls of blackberries off the bush. We’ve just visited the Allotment show which is a major deal in allotment land and always feels like a trip back to the 1970’s. There’s something so comforting in a having a steaming cup of tea poured from a jumbo metal teapot in a shack and who doesn’t love a knobbly carrot competition?
NB: These pics were taken two weeks ago when it was Summer. I type with a hot water bottle on my knee.
Worzel Gummidge would approve (of the nice cup of tea and slice of cake not the hat)
Terrific! (retro words compulsory on plot)
That 70’s Show
Don’t touch! Oops too late…
Glorious plants on George and Serge’s plot as featured on TV’s Gardener’s World - gasp!
Wow! H&M has excelled itself with its latest All for Children collection which donates 25% of its sales to support UNICEF’s work in Bangladesh to improve access to quality education for some of the most vulnerable children. Based on an 18th century masquerade ball ( the best kind, let’s be frank) there are mermaid costumes, bat capes and swash buckling pirate get ups galore as well as some fab, more wearable pieces if your children don’t actually want to look like extras from Les Mis, 24/7. The limited edition range will be available in store and on line from October 10th. The wig!
NB That’s a Beetlejuice suit not a Robin Thicke suit.
The new swish beach cafe where the waitress told us we couldn’t have tap water. Why? Too posh a place? Too snooty a waitress? No. “BECAUSE THERE’S BEEN A DEAD BODY FOUND IN THE RESERVOIR.” she tells us. Cue entire family clutching stomachs and recounting all the tap water drunk that day. Fortunately out of the 1500 homes affected in St Ives ours wasn’t one of them. No news of body in papers though just a boring old e coli report - locals like to keep things tight explains an ice-cream vendor… Thoughts Miss Marple?
Next time I throw a party I’m going straight to Petra Boase for my party bags and decs. SO cute and super reasonable. The party bags above (£5 for 25) are gorgeous and I’m thinking of getting a supply to wrap little presents for my adult friends in too. Petra Boase stocks loads of cheap but very cute goody bag fillers (although I swore I wouldn’t do them again) and pass the parcel prizes and their paper garlands and honeycomb balls are making me feel positively fetishistic. The ball garlands would look great decorating a bedroom - who needs a party?
When is it the Right Time to say Goodbye to the Buggy?
If my husband had his way the buggy would be out on its ear by now. I however, am stubbornly holding onto my licence to drive. My youngest is three now and perfectly capable of walking to the corner shop and down the hill to nursery but if I had to go cold turkey on the buggy now life would be tough. First of all I can’t drive a car (late bloomer) and any journey longer than 20 mins walk ends up with me giving my daughter a fireman’s lift while trying to juggle bags, ice lollies and my seven year old. Second of all, she still gets so sleepy after nursery so having a mobile snooze en route to her next appointment is ideal. And lastly, how on earth would I carry my shopping home if I didn’t have my buggy to hook bags too/ stuff shopping under/ insert ham into folds of hood?
This week, I have more in common with Jeremy Clarkson than just a perpetual bad hair day. I have been road-testing a Mamas and Papas Urbo buggy - I wasn’t about to turn down the opportunity of swapping in my crusty rust bucket for a shiny new chariot - and so far I am very impressed. I have owned a Bugaboo (now farmed out to Friend) and a Macalaren in my time so I have quite a lot of buggy experience. My crazily generous Mother in Law bought us the Bugaboo which we loved but having tested out the Urbo I can definitely say that if my husband and I had been doing the purchasing with our more limited budget we would have plumped for this handsome beast. The seat of the buggy can either face towards you or away from you and it has a single bar handle which is great if you want to push the buggy with one hand while you hold another child’s hand/umbrella/pasty. The best things about the Urbo are that the seat reclines totally flat and there is a leg flap that can be extended so that your child can sleep as though she’s flying business class. This also means that you can use the buggy from birth. The hood is also firmly attached to the buggy and is really deep and cocooning, providing loads of shade and keeping the elements out. This buggy feels really reassuringly robust and safe. The only negative I could find was that the wheels don’t mount curbs and steps as easily as with a Bugaboo but when you look at the stonking price difference I think this drawback becomes a minor irk.
True to form, the wee one fell asleep on the way to her big sister’s end of term picnic and slept parked under the trees in the park for just under an hour - refusing to stir even when I undid the buggy straps. This is unheard of! Normally when the buggy stops, she wakes up. She will be in this buggy until she is 17. I managed to stow loads of picnic under the buggy (good storage) and when it was time to go home I fitted a friend’s extra picnic rug that got left behind and a collection of very important twigs that the girls collected too.
If I lived in a house with a hallway wider than a birth canal I would consider trading the Urbo for my concertina folding Maclaren. My daughter is so smitten with it though that until I dislocate something from scissor kicking my way past it when I answer the door bell it is staying.
No, don’t worry, I’m not trying to keep you regular. I’ve only just discovered (thanks Emma) Tiffany Beveridge’s hilarious Pinterest Board devoted to her imaginary daughter Quinoa and her playmates Chevron, Fendi and Pantone (among others). I am definitely a latecomer because Quinoa’s highfalutin fashion escapades, accompanied by dry as a bone, witty captions have built up 40239 followers at time of press! Poking fun at the preposterously well dressed, junior blue steelers that Beveridge encountered when surfing the web for gorgeous, girly clothes, this board has garnered cult status in little over a year.
The mother of two boys told Mashable.com, “The only thing that ever made me pine for another child was little girl clothes. I started re-pinning cute things from people I followed on Pinterest, but when I started searching pictures on my own, that’s when I discovered the high fashion, over-the-top images. They were begging for some sarcasm, and it kind of just grew from there.”
So anyway, when I was at Band Camp, sorry, I mean Netflix HQ, one of the uber techies was showing us his recently viewed films on a huge projector board thing. And what should pop up on the screen? My worst nightmare. Come true. Literally. The film in question was Strippers Vs Werewolves. Not that spine chilling you may think, unless that is you happen to have inadvertently wandered onto the set of said film whilst in charge of four small children.
"Please can we go to the swings on the way home from school? Please mummy?’
"Oh alright then."
There we were playing merrily on the roundabouts and swings when out of the corner of my eye I saw something that curdled my blood. A man with matted hair and blood oozing down his face, a man with fangs and glazed bloodshot eyes. I let out a scream and pulled my brood toward me, desperately covering their eyes. Then I saw the film crew and Johnny Allen from Eastenders laughing and some heavy on the eyeliner women in raincoats…
This film is not for children
Right next to a playground!!! For Goodness Sake!!! The miracle is that this film, made on an estate in London actually made it onto the screen. People like this stuff.
Anyway, back to Band Camp. The great news is that children will never have to wander into such inappropriate territory again, at least metaphorically speaking. Netflix has just launched a dedicated Family section www.netflix.co.uk/families so that your kids can navigate through titles that don’t have strippers,werewolves or Johnny Allen in them. We just watched The Rescuers and jolly lovely it was too.
These films are for children
(Technically speaking this is a sponsored post - Netflix flew me to Silicon Valley and plied me with treats. Did I mention that already? Oh, sorry.)
How cute is this? Jools Oliver loved the bright yellow sandals in her Little Bird collection for Mothercare so much that Mothercare asked the factory to make her a one off, bespoke pair. I spotted the sandals when I was scrolling the sidebar of shame on The Daily Mail and realised they were exactly the same as the one’s I’d just bought Tilly. A quick e-mail to Mothercare and I got the scoop. Ol’ Hawk Eye’s still got it! Watch out Donal! etc, etc.
I’ve cropped the pic as Jools actually looks a bit harassed in it and I for one would die if anyone printed pics of me on the school run. The sandals cost £12 and come in sizes 2-8 but are sold out on-line.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is being read to my eldest daughter’s class at school and it has unleashed an enthusiasm for reading that I have never seen before! We are already onto book three at home and every time a chapter ends she wails for more. Best of all, she is even trying to read the books on her own. Thank you JK Rowling.
Coincidentally, I have just found this fantastic website theprintorium.com that sells original art-work from the Harry Potter films made into prints. Prices are from £49 but go up to a whopping £349 for signed limited editions - although I’m sure diehard HP fans wouldn’t blink at that. I love the Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans packaging. Apparently all orders are delivered by owl.
The Printorium also sells a selection of rather lovely Mina Lima prints, (also from £49) which would look lovely in a playroom or nursery.
This Boden smock dress £22, is one of my favourite buys for the spring. Looks great with sandals and can be made smart with party shoes and a sweet cardigan. I got this Rita Co Rita in the sale at Liberty but you can still get them in different colour ways from misterjonesandmisskatie.com for 46 Euros.
I got the call on Wednesday: Do you use Netflix? Yes! Would you like to go to Silicon Valley to visit Netflix HQ to discuss their children’s content and upcoming launches? Hmm, let me think about that… YES! Miraculously childcare fell into place, work fell into place and I was in San Francisco the following Monday!
First things first, I was immediately sucked into Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food restaurant at Heathrow and ordered one of his take-away picnics. My recommendation would be not to order the Caesar Salad as the yolk from the poached egg dribbled out of its case and all over the other cartons in my pack. The other downside of a Gordon Picnic is that it is very hard to eat it surreptitiously, when your neighbours on the plane all finished their inflight stodge two hours ago. Another practical point I forgot about was DVT socks. I didn’t have any. On arrival one of my feet looked like a balloon with toes. Weird how it was just one…
This is Netflix HQ - to my knowledge it is not a cult and offers no spa treatments
My first thoughts on arrival at Netflix HQ: Go away fat foot and surely there has been a mistake. I have a blog (Tumblr is like finger painting) but apart from that I am afraid of technology and technology is afraid of me. I have been known to shake iPads like Etch A Sketches, I get spooked by automatic toilet flushes and I fantasise about writing with a quill. The only reason I use Netflix is because my husband installed it on our TV or maybe it came with the TV? I am a fraud. I didn’t need to worry. All they wanted was my brain. Oh, god.
Fortunately I wasn’t alone. 17 other parent bloggers from around the world were also in attendance to hear about Netflix’s developments and to discuss how we as parents use the service to keep ourselves sane (Breaking Bad) and to keep our kids entertained (Dora the Explorer, The Rescuers, Timmy Time).
Over the two days I learned these things:
One of the Netflix staffers (a man) looks like a bald Christy Turlington and another is Tom Cruise’s exact voice twin (This has got to be better than Joey’s hand twin). * All the parent bloggers had broadly similar viewpoints about their kids ‘screen time’. We all want our kids to spend time running around outside in the sunshine but when they are watching TV programmes or films we want it to be quality viewing that is monitored by us. * Some parents even use TV as an educational tool, only letting their kids watch films in English if it is their second language or Spanish to help with bilingual studies. * The website Common Sense Media came up a lot in conversation. This is an independent, non profit organisation that provides film and TV reviews for parents, giving in-depth information regarding content i.e. what age it is appropriate for, how educational it is and exactly what elements of violence, scariness and sex it contains. It seems really useful. * One day the remote control will become obsolete and everyone will use their phones to point at screens. This worries me as I think I lose my phone more than my remote - is a close call. *The one thing that everyone seemed to be very passionate about was avoiding exposing their children to advertising. Streaming programmes through Netflix (this means it comes through the internet!) means you don’t have to watch any adverts.*
I try to discourage my kids from watching too much telly but we do love the ritual of watching a family film with popcorn. I let the kids watch TV three or four times a week when they’re tired after school, when they get up far too early on the weekend or when I really need to get some work done. I have the problem where my three year old still loves CBeebies but my 7 year old is getting bored of it ( I also think CBBC is a bit shouty and loud sometimes) so my solution is to find them something on Netflix that they both like. Peace restored.
I managed to find the time to track down a J Crew and buy this necklace I’ve been lusting over since the catalogue came through my door in London. DId I forget to tell you that under the T&C’s of my shopping ban I am allowed to buy things outside Europe?
Around The World in 16 Blogs
The best thing about the trip was meeting all the other bloggers. Some of them have an incredible following. One lady has 1.5 million twitter followers! One uber glamorous mummy and daddy blogging couple turned out to be Swedish celebrities who have appeared on Swedish Strictly Come Dancing! My inflatable foot and I were quite overwhelmed.
SpanglishBaby.com an online community and resource for parents raising bilingual and bicultural kids
sneglcille.dk Danish single mum Cecilie Rubini’s super stylish blog with humorous observations on everything from parenting to city life
HowToBeADad.com Not so much a how-to as a how not to site from two sleep deprived dads navigating fatherhood
I’ve always loved Lustreware - my grandmother collected it, having bought a crate of random pieces for $5 on the roadside in New Orleans in the 70’s. When I saw this set glinting at me in our local junk shop I jumped on it. Not as cheap as in Grandma’s day but it really has been worth every penny. It lives in a display cabinet in our front room and only comes out on very special occasions like birthdays or when Bea gets a golden certificate from school. I don’t know if they think it’s made of real gold but the girls get SO excited when it’s laid out for tea. I fill the teapot with hot chocolate and serve with cakes and sandwiches. Ok, I get very excited too. Anyway, this year we had another joint party with best friend Lottie (7 years old!) and they decided they would like to have a huge golden tea party. Apparently boys laugh at tea parties so they weren’t invited. They will be meeting up with the boys in the park for a picnic. Pic-nics aren’t funny.
(ps those are hollyhock seeds in the cups not giant fur balls)
The decorations. Parasol from Djeco and pom-poms from Talking Tables, bunting from Cox & Cox.
The favourite party game: jumping for sweets.
The cake! I have to confess that the entire tower was made from undercooked sponge held up by splints. Had to throw that bit away.
A puppet theatre made a great ice cream station. Leonardo di Caprio served.
This idea was stolen from Disco Loco, the kids disco in Bethnal Green where they serve take-away cupcakes in egg cartons. We decorated our cartons (took much longer than we thought!) and filled with home-made cakes and treats.
Have I ever mentioned that my two daughters are destined to become Olympic Ice skating champions? No? Well, if I haven’t it’s only because I can’t get a word in edgewise while my Father in Law jabbers on about what amazing little whirling Torvilles they are. He takes them skating twice a week and then makes them do stretching exercises in the kitchen like those insanely bendy Russian gymnast children you see. If he could, I think he’d make them wear leather belts and do bench presses. I just keep chopping the veg and wondering if I really should intervene.
Anyway, as a special treat for Gramps and to avoid going to see The Snowman for the 5th year in a row (I actually fell asleep and dribbled last year) I have just booked Christmas tickets to Disney On Ice Dare to Dream at the O2! And to think the only thing I’ve ordered on ice before was a G&T. Boom Tish.