8 months with Bea…

Whoa. Where is the time going? I went back to work days before Bea was 8 months and as I write, we are approaching 9 months. Fast. I want to just hit pause sometimes!

Somewhere around 7 months it seems like we entered a whole new phase with Bea. The one where she never. stays. still. The big news this month was the beginning of crawling… but even before that she was rolling, spinning and wriggling anywhere she wanted to go within one room. We were on the edge of crawling for so long and still I was always convinced she was about to do it, but we weren’t really sure when to say she had. So many developmental things she has done were instant, sudden smiles one day, suddenly sitting on another. Crawling has been much more of a gradual progression from rolling around, to spinning on her belly, all the yoga moves of getting some air and lifting herself up, commando crawling around, then suddenly she used her hands too and was off… she was 34 weeks or just short of 8 months.

It’s been another really rubbish month of sleep too. For the first time, the developmental leap surrounding her learning to crawl wreaked havoc and when she turned over at night she got straight up onto her knees then seemed to wake up disorientated and crying. Only feeding settled her back down. Bea came down with another horrible cold on Mothers day – by far her worst yet, she actually had her first temperature and was thick with snot for the best part of 2 weeks. That meant after 2 nights of sleeping through again after the crawling settled, we were back to being up several times a night. After having moved her out in to the nursery we set up the travel cot in our room again as I couldn’t cope with getting up so many times to the nursery and we fell into co-sleeping habits to allow for soothing feeding back to sleep and a bit more shut eye for me. At the end of month 8 and unfortunately with me now back at work, things were better but not massively and we’re still up 2-3 times a night. :/

Since then, Bea has got a whole lot busier. She is speeding around the room, following me out of the rooms and into other rooms, like a little shadow. She’s interested in everything except the toys you place in front of her, particularly wires, dirty shoes, ornaments and every hazardous item I fail to remove in advance of her roving crawl!

So how are things with you mama’s out there? Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Love,
Rebecca

PS
7 months, 6 months, 5 months, 4 months, 3 months, 2 months and the first month with Bea.

My (old) house garden…

Right now I am totally immersed in garden planning and I’ll be chatting about that soon, but first it occurred to me that I don’t think I ever shared my old garden, before we moved house. The new garden is a pretty decent size and unusually large for where we live. It’s nothing compared to some country dwellers, but for urban Manchester suburbs, its big. (London readers will relate!) The old house was a 3 up, 3 down, typical mid-terrace and had a yard at the back when we moved in. It was 4 metres square but we had patio doors going out onto it from the kitchen and it was South West facing. We had never had our own outdoor space before, so I was determined to make somewhere we could relax.


Image by Lawson Photography

It ended up being a relatively cheap and easy project. When we moved in the ‘yard’ was concreted over entirely and the developer we bought the house from had added a square deck kit over the top, directly out from the kitchen patio doors, which happened to be the shadiest part of the garden.) There were also some decking material planters with cheap bedding plants in them and it couldn’t have looked more hasty, ill considered or ugly. The pictures don’t give a great overall view (they were taken for the Good Homes magazine feature on my old home by Laura and Peter Lawson.) but you can get the gist here that we created a courtyard garden that still had room for growing plants and greenery.

Here is one of my own photos from above showing the layout:


Image by Rebecca @ FlorenceFinds.com

What we did:

  • Paid someone to come and remove the decking and drill up the concrete yard.
  • Marked off an L shaped border at the back left and to the right of the gate for plants, edged with Victorian style terracotta rope edging.
  • Built two steps down from the back door with indian stone slabs and a simple brick layer to create the steps. (I’ve linked to B&Q but check your local builders yard for the best prices on garden hard landscaping.)
  • Laid an Indian stone patio in the sunniest corner of the garden, with stepping stones of indian stone straight out of the back door to the back gate and from the patio to the back gate.


Image by Lawson Photography

  • Laid weed supressing membrane and put golden gravel down over it.
  • Put in a trellis panel to hide the side return where our bins were stored.
  • Planted climbing plants to cover the walls (Left wall – shade loving Clibing hydrangea, Pyracantha for berries and where it got sunnier a Ceanothus for the stunning blue flowers; On the right side we had climbing roses and a Clematis Montana.)
  • Planted the borders and some pots for an overflowing look. These were cheap plants bought mostly in the supermarkets with a couple of David roses too


Image by Lawson Photography

It ended up being a kind of cottage garden meets Mediterranean garden, with the overflowing relaxed style of the cottage garden but with plants that withstood the dry heat microclimate that the walled courtyard created. We had an olive tree by the back door! The pictures here show it about 6 years after completion so it was maturing and the hard landscaping was blending in to look like it had always been there (along with some weeds creeping in, but hey, that’s life!)


Image by Lawson Photography

It really was like my personal oasis and because the walls held the heat we were able to eat out there most dry nights in the summer. I can’t wait to create something equally cosy and inviting but on a grander scale in this house!


Image by Lawson Photography

It seemed timely to talk about Gardens now as everyone is thinking about getting outside… have you got any garden plans this year?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Must have, er… Wednesday?

Apologies readers! I know I have been AWOL of late. Work is ok, but hey, it really eats into your time going to work doesn’t it?! ;)

Right now, between spending time with Bea and work, I’m trying to sandwich in doing the washing and clearing the ever growing pile of ironing, starting to pull tradesmen and plans together for another 2 rooms and the garden, and sort out my spring/summer wardrobe. I’m failing miserably in all departments but desperation whilst dodging grabbing little hands has led me to think a lot about stud earrings, particularly when Bea is up in the sling, so I thought I’d share a few I’ve found here.

Rose gold wire studs // Druzy earrings // Hoop studs // Honeycomb mismatched studs // Gold and labradorite studs // Silver constellation studs // Tiny brushed triangles // Dot Rose Gold and Topaz studs // Gold prism earrings // Gold nugget earrings

All of these are gold plated or vermeil (apart from the silver stars) and range from £12 to £40ish. I never change my jewellery so I don’t mind spending a little bit more – I’m likely to wear whatever I buy 5 or more days a week. (I’m likely to have forgotten altogether to wear earrings on the other 2 days, rather than have swapped them for something else.) ;)

So many pretty choices though… It’s a good job it’s my birthday month!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS I also love these too, and these and of course, these.

Fash Flash: Denim dresses

It has been oh such a long time since I looked at dresses thanks to feeding Bea (my style just doesn’t lean towards wrap dress or button fronts,) but summer is coming, my capsule wardrobe won’t build itself and feeds are lessening, so I’m on the hunt.


Shirt dress // Patch pocket shirt dress // T’shirt dress // Tie waist dress

I’ve always been a massive denim fan so I’m ready to jump on board the denim trend (Erin says it’s fashionable, so it must be!) so I thought I’d look for a few dresses. I found one (this swingy Komodo tencel dress) in one of the local independents where I live, but I’d spotted a few online too and thought I’d share them here.

Could you get on board with the denim trend?

Would you…: Keep Breastfeeding at work?

*Warning, if you’re not a mother or not Breastfeeding, you may not enjoy this post! But it’s a normal thing to do, so I’m not holding back on talking about it here.

A few people have asked what I’m doing about feeding now I’m back at work. I’ll share my situation here but each situation when it comes to breastfeeding is as unique as the mother and child combination, so I would love if you would share your experiences and solutions in the comments if you can add to the conversation – I know many readers will be interested and grateful.

Bea is exclusively breastfed and has been since birth. She’s never had any formula as we have been lucky enough not to need it. I’ve not spent a lot of time apart from her and expressing doesn’t bother me that much, apart from it being a bit of faff. We have only infrequently given her bottles, (the bulk of my expressing here and there went in the freezer to bolster my back to work supplies,) mainly when I went to evening practice meetings each month for work. Apart from a brief period around the 4 month mark when she wouldn’t take a bottle, she has taken it when she wants milk, but not in the same enthusiastic way she would breastfeed. We initially started with a Medela calma teat (which is supposed to require the latch a baby needs to breastfeed, to get any milk out of it,) but switched to a slow flow normal teat when she was a bit fussier with a bottle, as I felt if she could taste the milk she might then take the bottle. It worked, but I don’t know if that was just the passage of time rather than the change of teat.

So back to my back to work plan… I’ve kept a close eye on Bea’s feeds since she was born, but continued to track them well after BF was established, mainly to see what I would need to provide for her once back at work. I’ve been asked how I tried to reduce her feeds and I didn’t really try, but two things probably had the greatest impact. Firstly, I didn’t push her to feed generally as she got older and so noticed that she went longer between feeds. That might sound like straight forward demand feeding, but I noticed myself that even though she was fed on demand, you do get into a routine of feeding when you expect they will need feeding rather than waiting for them to be hungry or cry. On occasions where it went a bit longer and I realised she didn’t need a feed until 2.5 or 3 hours after the last one, I tried to adjust things going forwards. Secondly, as she got older and consolidated her three short naps into 2 longer ones (around 6-7 months) that stretched out the feeds again (as she went down for a nap not long before she would normally feed and then I fed her on waking, after more time had elapsed.) Weaning also stretched things out a little more, but it hasn’t made a massive difference really, the meals have just had to be shoehorned in between the feeds.

On the expressing front, as I said, I have stockpiled quite a bit in the freezer (as you can see from my photo’s!) which should also give you an idea of how much milk varies – even on frozen portions you can see how the milk changes in consistency and amount day to day, which I thought might be useful to show if its something that worried you. I was very worried about expressing at work as I have always got the most milk, quickest, by expressing on one side when Bea feeds from the other, I think the let-down is stronger that way. When I have occasionally tried when Bea isn’t even around, its been much slower going and less productive, so I was worried if it would work when I was away from her and back at work. Having done it for the first time yesterday (I didn’t get time on my first day back!) I’m happy to report it was easy! I managed a full bottle easily which is great as I can then use that on friday when I’m back in work again. I’m also lucky that I have my own room at work so I have simply let the staff and my colleagues know I am still feeding Bea and will need to express at some point when I’m at work (so they know why there’s a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door,) and lock the door for privacy.

At the moment, Bea is having 4 feeds a day; Morning, after morning nap, after afternoon nap and before bed. (She’s 8 months but has done this since about 7 months.) Although when she is with me that varies – if she’s distracted at one feed and doesn’t have much she might have one or two more smaller feeds throughout the day, as and when she needs it. So I’m feeding her before work and before bed, and leaving 2 bottles. The only thing that is a bit hit and miss is how much she takes, or what I should be leaving her. Obviously I have no idea how much she takes from me, but I leave 2 full bottles and so far, it’s varied how much she has taken and how often. Sometimes she wolfs a whole bottle (we use the small 150ml ones) and other times she’ll have only a bit and want more later when she wouldn’t normally have a bottle. And there’s always more in the freezer, but obviously at this point, she is having 3 meals a day too.

I did a lot of asking around before getting to this point because feeding her back at work really worried me – mainly that I could get her feeds down to a level that I could keep up with to express enough for her. A lot of mums suggested just going to formula, and although I didn’t want to do that*, I knew if it was coming down to her nutritional needs and me not being able to meet them, then I’d have to do it. Others said their babies just didn’t take a bottle and some moved to giving small amounts in a sippy cup or doidy cup if the baby would take it. Other still said the baby jut waited for them to get back and fed more in the evening (and sometimes at night :/ ) and had just water in the day. So I guess there’s a solution for everyone.

And that’s it, our story. I’ll post a little update when I share more about being back to work, and see what Bea is doing then. I’m hoping as my freezer supply dwindles she may drop another feed and the expressing will take even less effort!

Please do chip in with your experiences readers!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

*Just to clarify, I have NOTHING against formula, I just haven’t felt we’ve needed it so far and because BF is all about supply and demand, especially at this time when supply is naturally decreasing due to reduced feeds, I didn’t want to affect it further. I hope to keep feeding Bea at least until she is one and beyond if she wants it, so I don’t want to do anything to reduce the chances of that happening at this early stage.

Nursery Update: Open wardrobe storage

When I shared Bea’s Nursery I mentioned that there were a few more things we needed in there, including some hanging storage for Bea’s clothes. We have a chest of drawers but I hadn’t anticipated the need for hanging up her dresses and decided to create some open storage so I could also admire them ;)

The walls are very thick in our house and so the chimney breast alcoves aren’t that deep. We had a funny sized alcove in Bea’s room, only 66cms wide and about 30cm deep, so a wardrobe was difficult and shelves seemed to work better. I wanted rails, with a shelf above to add boxes or folded items, but wasn’t sure how to get a rail attached to the wall. Eventually IKEA came good with a typical cheap as chips solution, pimped up with a bit of Wilko’s gold spray paint!

Requirements:
Ikea BYGEL rail £1.50
EKBY HEMNES shelf £12
EKBY VALTER bracket £2

The rails are screwed in under the shelves (after spray painting) so I can hang her clothes from them. I decided the leave the brackets untreated as the wood fits in with the wood blinds and floor in an otherwise very white room. The hangers are from Dunhelm in case you’re interested. I was intending to spray paint them white too but decided to leave them coloured for now (too lazy!)

The whole thing cost about £37 and I’m so pleased with how it looks. I hope you like it too and it inspires you to get creative! ;)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Back to work Blues…

I’ve put off writing this post for weeks, in a classic example of head in the sand denial. Tomorrow, I’m going back to work.

A bit of context first. I’m going back 3 days a week and doing a phased return, so only Tuesday this week and then 2 days a week for the following 2 weeks before doing the full three days after the Easter weekend. Bea isn’t yet 8 months – she will be on the 21st. Why am I going back now? Financial reasons. I’m technically self employed and have to employ someone to do my job while I’m on Mat leave. The funding for that is only for a set period which ran out some weeks ago and the cost of paying for a locum is prohibitive to do for any longer than I have done. Because I’m going back earlier than I would like, I’ve managed to arrange that Pete will do one day of childcare, and my Mum is doing the other two, then Bea will start in Nursery for at least 1 day a week from being 12 months. That may be more difficult than starting her now on reflection, but thats a topic for another post.

Housekeeping out of the way, how am I feeling? Well thats one of the reasons for not writing the post. I’m not sure I can adequately express how much I don’t want to leave her. Until now, I’ve left her for 4 and a half hours max, and a total of about 5 times in those 7 and a half months since she was born. I haven’t wanted to leave her, I love being with her so much.

I can hear the former me and the judgements I made pre-baby ringing in my ears. Having no understanding of how I would feel, I thought women who didn’t want to go back to work just didn’t want to work. Work doesn’t really feature in my thoughts, except that it will be the cause of me leaving Bea. I thought women who never left their babies (like I haven’t) were… I don’t know, like a shadow of their former selves. Why didn’t they want to go out and do the things they did before? Because it doesn’t compare to spending the day with your little love. Why did they suddenly lose interest in their careers or job? I never expected to be desperate to get back to work, but I didn’t think I would feel so strongly that I didn’t want to go. I suppose it’s an evolutionary thing. After all, if it were easy to leave our babies, mothers would have left them in years gone by and helpless offspring would have come to all kinds of harm.

I’ve heard so many friends and acquaintances tell me the reality is much worse than the anticipation. And I know that in months to come I will probably welcome some time to myself, when she’s a full on toddler and every moment is exhausting and full of ‘why’s’. Or maybe I won’t. Right now, every bone in my body feels that leaving her is wrong and I don’t know how I’m going to do it.

I’m terrified I’m going to miss out. I’m terrified she will miss me and feel abandoned. All I can think is that she might need her Mummy and I won’t be there. That I should be there.

So I may or may not be around for the next week or two. I can see I will want to spend time with Bea instead of blogging, but if I do find myself at a loose end there me be a post or two on these pages. Bear with me, and I’ll be back once I’m on an even keel again.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Babywearing 101

*Before reading on, please know I am not an expert on the subject my any means, but it can be confusing starting out ‘babywearing’ and having recently done a lot of research I simply wanted to share all my new found knowledge in one place here.

Before I had Bea, I had certain intentions – having a baby ‘wasn’t going to change my life’, where I went or what I did. I had decided I’d buy a baby carrier of sorts and our Ergo360 was an early purchase when she was 3 weeks old. Not long after I bought a stretchy wrap, so I could wear her around the house – keeping her close kept her happy and giving me my hands back. I heard a bit about ‘babywearing’ during my research into both of these but it’s become such a big part of our lives now and ignites so much curiosity among other parents and passers by when I have her wrapped that I thought I’d share a bit more of my experiences.

Firstly, what is ‘babywearing’? Well, it is what it says on the tin. Wearing your baby on your front, hip or back in a structured carrier, stretchy wrap or woven wrap (both sometimes called slings.) Why would you do it? Loads of reasons! I started wearing Bea in the stretchy at around 4-6 weeks (you can babywear from birth with the right carrier and knowledge,) when she went through a fussy phase and I needed to get my hands back to do things around the house. I found the Ergo too bulky around the house and couldn’t really sit in it, wheras the sling was just like hands free carrying. Fans of BW say wraps are ‘full of sleepy dust’ and mine rivals any other means of getting her to sleep, even the pram and car. I can also keep it on when we get back from a walk and she has just dropped off, or transfer her to the cot. Now she’s getting older and more mobile, it’s a lifesaver for that 5 o’clock meltdown period of tiredness pre-dinner. I can simply put her in the sling while I cook and she’s happy. Bea hasn’t got teeth yet but other babywearing mama’s say it’s a godsend for the fussy, clingy, teething baby or unwell child and you can even discreetly breastfeed in stretchy or woven wraps while you’re on the go. Going back even further, historically babies have been carried for thousands of years in many cultures, keeping them safe and secure and it’s now a big part of the attachment parenting movement to increase bonding between caregiver and child.

For me, going back to my original sentences in this post, it’s also given me a huge amount of freedom. I think few new parents think when they research that pram purchase endlessly that it can actually be really restrictive travelling anywhere with a pram. They’re huge, heavy, unweildy and often prevent you doing the most basic things like shopping between clothes rails or down jammed supermarket aisles, walking off pavemented paths, getting through doors and up steps, or on public transport. Even lugging our pram in and out of the boot is a hassle. With my wrap, I can take Bea anywhere my legs will carry me and keep her out of harms way in public places or give her a place to nap when we’re on the move. She’s interacting with me, seeing the world at my height and feels secure. I’m kind of evangelical about it. ;)

I’m focusing here on wrapping with a woven wrap – essentially a long piece of fabric that you can wrap in different ways to carry your baby in. You can carry your baby on your front, hip or back, from birth (when you know how,) for as long as you feel able, though most people stop around 2-3 years. If you think baby wearing might be for you, or like me, you want to keep wearing but are outgrowing your stretchy wrap, read on!

The essentials:
A great first port of call if you’re interested in baby wearing is your local sling library or sling meet – just google one in your area or look for one on the Sling Library site. They all stock a range of different types (not just woven wraps) of carrier that you can try and hire, along with friendly advice from experienced baby wearers.

What to look for in a wrap
There are MANY different wraps available and I’ll direct you to some stockists and highlight some brands in a moment, but first there are a few factors common to all wraps that you should consider.

  • Firstly, the blend, or what the wrap is made of. Wraps can be made from 100% cotton (the most common,) or a combination of fibres, like linen, wool, silk or even mohair, alpaca and baby camel! Different fibres give different qualities like softness, warmth or affect how easy it is to use, making it grippy, or adding some stretch.
  • Wraps also come in a variety of sizes. What size you need depends on your size and the size of your wrapee too, and affects what you can do with it – some of the many possible carries need more length whereas others are better with a short wrap. An average sized person usually starts with a 6, then as you learn you can decide if a shorter one is right for you but there’s nothing to stop you starting with a short wrap, you’re just a bit more limited with what you can do with it. This is a great blog post on choosing your wrap size. Oscha also has a sizing table showing what you can do with each wrap size according to your size.
  • Care. Baby wraps are first and foremost practical items. Your baby might soil the wrap in a myriad of ways, you might drag it on the floor or want to put it on in a muddy car park. Cotton and/or linen wraps can usually be machine washed and tumble dried. This doesn’t apply to silk or wool and other blends, which need hand washing and may be more delicate. The weave can also affect the wraps susceptibility to getting pulls from jewellery or velcro. Think about how careful you can realistically be when you’re choosing your wrap. Another great blog post on how to choose your first woven wrap.
  • Style. I was determined after months of wearing a hideous beige stretchy (that I bought because it was cheap and I didn’t know if we would like or use it) that I wanted a beautiful wrap this time and set about looking for one. I’ve always associated woven wraps with being a bit hippyish in rainbow weaves or faded dyes but there’s loads more designs and patterns out there in fact, from stripes to stars to intricate ethnic inspired designs right through to modern geometric ones. Just make sure you have a think about the points above before choosing style over substance. ;)
The most important thing is to buy something you love, as if you love it you will use it and that is what will make you get on well with BW – practise!

So where can you buy a woven wrap?
Obviously, online. Many of the brands are european and BW is big in the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia. UK stockists of several brands I sugesst as starters include Love to be Natural and Pour La Bebe (Yaro stockists.)
Great brands to look at for starting out include Didymos, Lenny Lamb, Elleville, Firespiral and Yaro – all well priced wraps. Other well known ones include Girasol, Kokadi, Hoppediz and many more!
Like anything, there’s also a high end market for woven wraps with stylish designs and luxury fabric blends. My favourites are Oscha, Woven Wings and Sling Studio, but there are also many more including Pavo, Uppymamma and one of the most highly sought after, Artipoppe. With all wraps, but more so the high end brands, many are limited edition. There is an obsessive baby wearing community and many releases are snapped up within seconds of them being stocked online so they can be very hard to come by. Yaro slings can be bought for around £40, average prices for middle market are around £70-100 and the high end wraps can cost from £120+ – of course, the blend also affects the price, 100% cotton is always cheapest.
Which leads me to the second way you can buy – preloved. Woven wraps if treated properly can last a very long time so are often sold on. Because wraps often sell out very quickly they can be very hard to get hold of and become highly sought after, priced way above retail value, which is a little bit crazy at times. If you do want to delve into this world, there are fan pages for many of the brands where people buy, sell and trade their used (or sometimes new) wraps. Look on ebay, Facebook fan pages, or there are a couple of dedicated marketplaces on Facebook – BabyWearing FSOT and High End Babywearing FSOT. As with any unregulated online transaction though, take care. Use paypal for some buyer protection and ask to see the wrap in the sellers hand to make sure they have it to sell. It pays to hang around the boards seeing how people do it for a while before taking the plunge. The upside of all this selling and trading means you can often sell a wrap on if you don’t get on with it and trade up or just try something else out.

Once you’ve got your wrap, what next?

First up, your wrap if it is new or has been washed before being sent to you preloved, will need breaking in. If you feel it’s stiff or difficult to wrap with, PERSIST! When I recieved my first woven wrap (a size 6 Oscha) I was completely overwhelmed by how much fabric there was. A lot of sweating and tugging fabric into place, fear I’d drop Bea or frustration that I couldn’t reach, drag it into place, or get it tight ensued. I’d say it only took a few attempts before I felt more more confident and I still get better every time I wrap her. The wrap was also fresh out of the wash and softened up brilliantly in a couple of weeks.

As I said above, sling libraries are great for advice although you won’t be able to get 1 to 1 wrapping demo’s as they’re often busy. You can often pay for a consultancy session 1 to 1 if you feel that would be good and I think if you plan to BW a lot it would be a worthwhile investment. However there are huge amounts of tutorials online and BW bloggers. Most people start with a FWCC (front wrap cross carry) and I’ve linked here to a tutorial on how to do that carry by my favourite three youtube baby wearers: Wrap You In Love (above), Baby Wearing Faith and Wrapping Rachel. These are just some of the very experienced baby wearing women out there and it’s worth watching lots of them as they all have little tricks that can help!

And practice! Practice at home, wear your baby round the house, use a mirror to see what you’re doing and pick a time when your baby isn’t grouchy or hungry. Giving them a toy to play with if they’re big enough helps distract them. I now have 3 wraps, a size 6, a 3 and a 4. An Oscha and 2 Woven Wings. 1 silk and cotton blend and 2 merino wool and cotton blend. I’m still getting to grips with different carries, putting Bea on my back and the different lengths and blends but it’s been liberating and fun and satisfying learning how to wrap and keeping her close. I’ll certainly be doing it for a long time yet :)

I hope if you were curious this has answered some of your questions – feel free to fire more at me and if you’ve thought of trying BW, don’t let anything stop you. I love it :)

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Dream Destination: Merlin Farm Eco Cottages

Before heading back to work in a couple of weeks, Pete and I decided to make the most of my maternity leave and squeeze in a little holiday. You might remember last Easter I did a round up of places that still had Easter availability for a short break. I included Merlin Farm in that, an Eco cottage in my favourite corner of Cornwall and shortly after the owners Lucy and Darryl invited us to experience it for ourselves. It’s taken us this long to get down there but boy was it worth the wait. We spent last week in Constantine Eco Cottage on Merlin Farm and I truly didn’t want to leave!

I’ll start off by saying we’ve stayed in the area twice before, amongst other stays in Cornwall, on both occasions at The Scarlet – an adults only eco hotel on the cliffs overlooking Mawgan Porth Beach. It was so lovely but obviously won’t be somewhere we’ll be staying in the near future now we’ve had Bea. Although we’ve already been to Florida with her, now she’s getting so much more mobile it definately means we have to give some thought to holiday destinations that will be fun for her and not leave us stressed by watching her 24/7!

There are 3 eco cottages, (alongside a couple of other accommodation options, all suitable for kids but Constantine is permanently baby proofed.) That means a (still stylish) fireguard, built in stairgates to the upstairs bedroom and lots of baby friendly equipment like a changemat, cot, highchair, plastic cutery and cups/plates, and a big bucket of toys. All these details are done so well too – the toys are new and varied, from sensory stuff to books and wooden puzzles and the stairgates are wooden rather than being an eyesore.

All the furniture is chunky solid wood and wipe clean leather sofas meant we didn’t feel we had to watch everywhere Bea was in case of inevitable accidents. There’s lots of floor space in the living area for playing (we bought our usual playmat for her but she rolled round the whole place safely due to the fireguard and plug socket covers.) The master bedroom is downstairs with a twin room (that can be converted to a double) upstairs with a toilet and sink ensuite, perfect for little ones and where we put Bea each night in the cot, which was ready and waiting for us. Both are a good size and the whole place is big enough for a couple with up to 2 children I’d say.

It doesn’t disappoint for adults either. The kitchen has lovely wood worktops, heated slate floors and stylish SMEG appliances, there’s a big freestanding bath and walk in shower with REN toiletries and lots of piping hot water, and champagne (and other!) glasses to enjoy some fizz in the cottage courtyard out front, with a patio heater on standby for cooler temperatures. The views are incredible and those lovely doors slide right back to completely open the living space to the countryside. You can also feel good as much of the daytime power is solar powered on site, recycling is encouraged and the eggs left in the fridge when you arrive are from the hens and ducks just over the fence at the farm – perfect for little kids to enjoy watching, along with the other resident animals.


The location is great too, in a sheltered valley, just over the hill from the bay. There’s an off road track through a forest and holiday park below which brings you out on a pavement lined road minutes from the beach, a 15 minute walk down and a little longer on the way up, on account of the hill! Mawgan Porth Beach is wide and flat – perfect for little ones and there are a few little cafe’s and shops on the beach front too. There are big supermarkets in Newquay or Padstow, around 15 minutes away.

We spent the days in our usual haunts locally, walking on the beach, a day out in Padstow, eating nice food and returned each night to feed Bea, bath her and then cook dinner for ourselves once she was asleep, flopping with a glass of wine in front of the fire after. There’s a selection of kids DVD’s and we found the True Detective box set (definitely worth watching by the way,) to while away the evenings.

Pete jokes that it’s always sunny in Cornwall, but we were blessed with amazing weather. It was fresh but I don’t mind getting wrapped up out of season as sunshine is a bonus. After what seems like months of grey days it was so restorative breathing the fresh air and basking a little in the spring sunshine. The patio heater was even so good that Bea joined us for cocktail hour on the patio, although it wasn’t quite as glamourous or relaxing with a baby trying to wrestle the champagne glass from my hand. ;)

All in all, we had an amazing time. I was so sad to leave and head back up north on Friday morning. On the positive side, we’ve found a new favourite place to stay in our favourite corner of Cornwall. Somewhere we can enjoy with Bea too!

I’ll be back soon with more details about our trip and things to do in the area. In the meantime if you’re looking for a baby friendly break in the UK, I can’t recommend Merlin Farm enough. It’s perfect for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers – make the most of those out of school holiday rates and the glorious peace and quiet in Cornwall out of school holidays too.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

*Disclaimer: Rebecca stayed as a guest of Merlin Farm but you can rest assured if she didn’t like it, you wouldn’t be reading about it here.

Found: Hannah Carding Prints

We went to visit friends in Bristol this weekend and my friend Caroline (who has excellent taste in art,) had just bought three prints which I was really taken with. The colours were so vibrant in real life and a little quirky.

It turned out they were by a friend of hers, Hannah Carding, and available on Etsy.

Fun fact of the day: The collective noun for a group of ladybirds is a ‘loveliness’.

How’s that for a lovely start to the week?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS I like the tea towels too…