Life: Life in Lockdown

Hello! I wanted to write a post to document this strange world that we're currently living in. I started writing this quite a few weeks ago, after coming back from a supermarket shop - it was my first proper shop since lockdown began (going out in the car was amazing!) and so my first time experiencing the trolleys being wiped down before using them, the in-store markings to show the 2m distance rule and the screens around the tills. As I waited in the queue I just thought about how surreal everything feels and how it's like we're in a film. Imagine if someone had told us a year ago that 2020 would be mostly spent battling a horrid virus, that we'd be told to keep away from loved ones and that all schools would be shut - you just wouldn't believe it.

Queuing for the supermarket

So what has lockdown been like for us? Well, Chris' office closed earlier than most and so he has been at home since mid March - a big change for us as usually he's away in London for 3 days a week. Florence's nursery closed the following week (she only does one day) and then we went into full lockdown mode. The day we went into lockdown Florence came down with a temperature and a strange cough so we had to self-isolate completely for two weeks with no food shopping or venturing out apart from a walk. Not sure whether it was Covid as she had just started at a new nursery (nursery germs!) but who knows...I also didn't feel great and had a cough for a while but if it was the virus then we had it very mildly.

I am a freelance social media manager and have one main client and another just coming onboard. My main client (very understandably) has cut my hours down and my new client is on hold until everything settles down, which although is not ideal, it's quite helpful as means that I can spend most of my time focusing on the Flo bear - mainly keeping her out of Chris' office. We have had numerous occasions where I've had to burst into his office to take her out, occasionally in my dressing gown. Awkward!

So much exploring on one of our many daily walks
On the whole though, I feel like we're very lucky and although I have the odd day where I have anxious flutters, most of the time I feel fine. Missing family has been the hardest part, and being sad for our families for missing out on Florence time. But we have a garden, the weather has been mostly lovely and we are not having to go out to work every day like many people. We've got into a nice daily routine where Chris wakes up with Florence and I have some time to either get ready or do half an hour of cleaning. The day will then be spent with Florence and we don't see Chris much as he's in a lot of conference calls. I have been loving our daily walks and it's always nice to chat to neighbours (from afar!). We'll do the evening bedtime routine and then make dinner and watch something on TV - we're currently enjoying Curb Your Enthusiasm.

It's been an adjustment going from having one day a week to myself, plus times when I have help with parenting from my parents or Chris' to it all being on Chris and I. The first day of lockdown I cried at the realisation but we've got used to it and when she returns to nursery (we've delayed it a little to July if all is OK) I know I'll find it hard being away from her.

The local park all taped off
As I write this post today, the rules have been relaxed slightly and from Monday we can have gatherings with up to 6 people in a garden. I think it's going to be tricky with Florence as all the family want to do is cuddle her but it will be lovely to be together again.

I am going to share a post soon with 10 of the silver linings that have come out of lockdown for me but I think I've written enough for this post today. I hope everyone is doing well and can see a light at the end of the tunnel. Obviously life isn't going to be  'normal' for a long time but hopefully the easing of everything will help and of course, my heart goes out to anyone who is struggling or has lost loved ones during this strange and sad time.

Daisy x

Baby: My breastfeeding story

When I was pregnant I was often asked if I was going to breastfeed and my response was always - if I can. It was the part of having a baby that I felt most unprepared for and something I don't think you can read too much about as every experience (and body) is so different. I exclusively breastfed Florence until she was 15 months so thought I would share our story. Sorry it's so long - there's a lot more to breastfeeding than you could imagine! 

When Florence was born we put her on to my left boob straight away and you could see her trying to latch but she couldn't do it. We had a little break and then tried her on my right side and with that boob she latched straight away - good old right boob. The feeling when she started feeding was just amazing, I felt so relieved and hopeful that I would be able to do it. We spent the next two days in hospital for a couple of reasons - one being that the midwives were keen for me to be confident in feeding from both sides. There was no pressure for me to go home and although I wanted to get back to my home comforts, I am so glad I stayed and had that initial support.

Feeding from my right side seemed to be OK once I'd got her in the correct position etc, but we did struggle with the left side! The midwives helped me try different positions but I definitely found the standard cradle hold the most comfortable. I was desperate for her to feed from the left hand side as had visions of me forever feeding from one side and having lopsided boobs! We had a comedy moment when Chris and my Mum were both trying to help her to latch on - a situation I never thought I would be in, but it worked and we all cheered as she fed from my left boob and we rushed to get a midwife to see.

Breastfeeding in the early days is intense. Each feed (of which there were many!) I would have to get set up with a cushion behind my back, have a big bottle of water to hand, my phone and Chris would have to pass her to me in the right position to help her latch. Sometimes it would take a few tries and it was the real learning of a skill for all of us. It's amazing how different it is once they get bigger and it becomes more established, as they obviously become bigger, stronger and know exactly what they're doing - she would latch herself on in seconds. Chris was basically my waiter in those early days and was amazing - he took care of everything so I could focus on feeding and even though the feeds were long (some were an hour) it was nice to just sit on the sofa watching TV or messaging friends on my phone. Can't say the same for the night feeds when you're exhausted and have to try to stay awake whilst they cluster feed.

The worst part for me by far was the sore nipples. I used to hear that if they were sore there was something wrong with the latch but surely your nipples need to toughen up a bit first! The initial soreness as she latched on was not pleasant - I would grit my teeth and fists to get through the first few moments. My left nipple became cracked and bled too. Luckily I have lots of friends who have babies and they reassured me that it would stop being painful and if I could persevere through the first few weeks it would become so much easier. And they were totally right! I found piling on the lansinoh and using the Multi-Mam compresses and the Medela hydrogel pads a godsend (wish I'd discovered these earlier) and really helped to heal them. 

Once we'd got through the initial soreness, I found myself loving breastfeeding - more than I thought I would. It was so easy and convenient, especially as my confidence at feeding in public increased. It was pretty smooth sailing although I did have quite a few blocked milk ducts which are really not fun - I found lots of massage, feeding and expressing, and an electric toothbrush on the lump always helped to dislodge it. 

Another thing I wanted to mention was getting Florence to take a bottle of expressed milk as this only happened when she was around 5 months. We tried her with the Medela Calma bottles, and Tommy Tippee in the early weeks and she would initially take it and then refuse -it was pretty heartbreaking seeing Chris trying to feed her and her screaming. The turning point for us was trying the amazing Mam bottles and making sure the milk was really warm. It gave me a new found freedom.

As we started weaning, her feeds naturally dropped down and by a year we were only on two a day in the morning and night. I always thought I'd stop at a year but I felt so emotional about stopping and I also liked how her morning feed gave me more time to snooze in bed! She was still really enjoying her feeds and it didn't feel quite right to stop. By 15 months she was down to just the morning feed and was hardly taking anything so when we stopped it felt completely right and I didn't feel emotional at all, which was a nice surprise! I loved our breastfeeding journey and feel very lucky that we were able to do it for so long.

Daisy x

Baby: 10 reasons why Center Parcs is great for toddlers

We have just returned from a 5 day break to the Center Parcs in Sherwood Forest. We went with my family - 8 of us plus two toddlers (18m and 20m). I have been many times before but it's a whole new experience with a toddler and I thought I'd share 10 reasons why it's such a great holiday with toddlers.

1. The safe environment. Once you've unloaded your cars, and put them back in the car park there are minimal cars around (only Center Parcs vehicles are really allowed) which means it's so safe and you feel far more relaxed letting your tiny one roam around.

2. Everywhere is extremely child friendly and totally catered for children. From always having high chairs available to soft play in most of the venues and restaurants that you visit. Whilst my family had a game of Badminton, I could take Florence to soft play before swapping around and having a game myself.

3. The villa that you stay in is great for creating a home from home. They have high chairs and cots, plus stair gates and fire guards, so you can just unpack and go straight to enjoying your break. 

4. You can bring your own bikes, or hire them there and they have two options for bikes with toddlers - a buggy trailer or you can hire a bike with a kids seat. Florence loved being on the back of the bike and it made getting around so easy.

5. The kids swimming pool area is fantastic. It's been recently renovated at Sherwood Forest and is full of fun and slides. They also have cots dotted around the seating area of the pool which I noticed a lot of families using for younger babies.

They have a supermarket (Parc Market) in the village square so if you forget anything or wanted to buy everything there, you can. It also has mini trolleys which Florence loved, although enjoyed putting some questionable items in there!

7. Nature is right on your doorstep. The villas have big french doors which back onto the woodland, so Florence enjoyed watching the wildlife as they pottered about - there were lots of pheasants, squirrels and ducks (her favourites!). It's also so easy to just go out for a quick walk and get a dose of fresh air and some stimulation.

8. There are so many activities to keep them entertained. You can pay extra for special activities like a balance bike session or messy play but if you want to keep costs down there's so much for them (swimming, walks, soft play) to do without spending extra.

9. When they are in bed you can enjoy your evening in the villa. We liked to cook a nice meal, play games and our villa also had a sauna which was fun!

10. Happy Mum (or Dad), Happy Baby. 
The spa is amazing. Obviously not one for the toddlers but one for the parents - and there is a creche so even if you don't have extra help to look after them whilst you're there, you can use that and go and enjoy three hours of bliss in the Aqua Sana. Trust me, it's fab.

Daisy x

Life: TV Shows I've enjoyed recently

Although I hate how dark, wet and cold winter can be, I also love how it gives you an excuse to curl up on the sofa and watch lots of TV. Here are a few programmes that I've been enjoying recently and would recommend. I think all of them can be found on Netflix, although Succession may be on Amazon Prime.

I watched the first couple of episodes halfheartedly but by episode 3 I was hooked! It's a 6 part documentary following the Navarro Cheer team in their quest to win another state championship, but what makes it is the kids and their stories. I cried at the last episode and now follow all of them on Instagram.

Succession follows a family who run a huge global media business. It's a comedy/drama and the characters absolutely make it. Their wealth is fascinating and it sounds like it's been very much based on real life global family businesses. 

This show is quite slow and you have to stick with it a little bit, but it's a really great watch. It follows two FBI detectives who start interviewing serial killers to try and find out why they did it, with most of the criminals based on ones in real life. There are two series and I think I preferred series two. Unfortunately there are no plans for a third!
Love is Blind
This seems to be constantly trending on Netflix at the moment and it's definitely a guilty pleasure. If you like Married at First Sight you'll love this as the couples start their relationships by chatting to each other without seeing each other, and only once they get engaged can they properly meet. It's cheesy but very addictive.

The Stranger
Another show that everyone seems to talk about. I can't say much about it as it's one that you just have to watch to see it all unfold - it's one that you have to binge watch and is a bit crazy but very enjoyable too.

What shows have you been enjoying recently?

Daisy x

Travel: Our holiday to South Africa

Hello! It's been a while hasn't it?! Trying to get back on the blogging wagon and wanted to finally share more about our holiday to South Africa which was back in April 2018. Our good friends were getting married in Franschhoek so we decided to make it into a big holiday with a group of friends and oh, it was wonderful. We spent time in Cape Town, Camps Bay and Franschhoek before heading to Johannesburg for a safari. Here's the lowdown on what we did, where we stayed and what our must-sees were - sadly I don't have an amazing memory and used my Instagram posts as a reminder of what we did each day!

Day 1: Cape Town

One of the great things about Cape Town is that there is only a small time difference so you don't have to deal with jet lag. On the first morning we arrived and went to our hotel - the Belmond Mount Nelson (totally dreamy) to check in and relax around the pool. We then went for dinner at Signal which is a restaurant in the Cape Grace Hotel on the V&A. Our first tasting menu of the holiday and it didn't disappoint!

Day 2: Cape Town

Belmond Mount Nelson high tea

Day two was spent doing some shopping at the V&A Waterfront before heading back to our hotel for their famous High Tea - it was indulgent and delicious, and well worth doing. We spent the evening at Harrington's Cocktail Bar for the first of the wedding celebrations.

Day 3: Cape Town - Franschhoek

Franschhoek Country House and Villas

There were a few sore heads the morning after (I also felt mega rough but mine was pregnancy related!) but no rest as we checked out of the Belmond, picked up a hire car and drove about an hour to Franschhoek which is a beautiful area in the winelands. We were staying at the Franschhoek Country House and Villas and so ditched our bags before meeting our friends to experience the wine tram; a tram which takes you to different vineyards for wine tastings. I only got to see one of the vineyards as I wasn't feel well at all and so went back to the hotel to sleep!

Day 4: Franschhoek

We celebrated our friends wedding at the Rickety Bridge Winery. It had the most perfect backdrop and was a gorgeous hot and sunny day with lots of laughter and fun.

Day 5: Franschhoek

After spending the morning by the pool at our hotel, everyone went for a post wedding BBQ at the wedding venue but I had to give it a miss as still felt unwell (was definitely pregnancy related!) although managed to make it out for dinner in the evening at a lovely restaurant called Reuben's.

Day 6: Franschhoek - Camps Bay

Grande Provence Winery Franschhoek

We had another morning by the pool before checking out and having lunch at the Grande Provence wine estate and then heading to our villa in Camps Bay which would be home for the next few days. Dinner was spent at Gold Restaurant which was very entertaining and we even joined in with a drum workshop.

Day 7: Camps Bay

V&A Cape Town

We had more of a relaxing day, starting with a lovely breakfast at The Bay Hotel and then a couple of hours on the beach. We then attempted to go to Robben Island to find it was cancelled so enjoyed a drink in the V&A and then went back to the villa for an evening BBQ.

Day 8: Camps Bay

Most of the gang climbed Table Mountain in the morning whilst I chilled in the villa sunshine. We had some lunch on the beachfront and then in the evening we went to The Roundhouse for their 5 course tasting menu which was delicious and in the most beautiful setting.

Day 9: Camps Bay

Boulders Beach Penguins
La Colombe Silvermist Wine Estate Cape Town
La Colombe Silvermist Wine Estate Cape Town

It was our last day in Cape Town so we got up early and drove to Boulders Beach to see the penguins! It was slightly surreal walking along the beach next to a penguin - I loved it. We had brunch at the Twelve Apostles hotel (which has great views but was sadly overcast for us) and then relaxed in the villa until dinner. Dinner was incredible. We went to La Colombe in the Silvermist wine estate and it was honestly the best meal and dining experience of my life; a great atmosphere, setting, service and the food was just amazing. We returned to the villa 4.5 hours later very full and happy.

Day 10: Cape Town - Johannesburg

We said goodbye to Cape Town and flew the two hours to Jo'burg before a 3 hour drive to Ivory Tree Game Lodge in Pilanesberg National Park to start our safari adventure.

Day 11-13: Johannasberg

Rhinos Safari Pilansberg National Park
Elephant Safari Pilansberg National Park
Cheetahs Safari Pilansberg National Park

The rest of the holiday was spent enjoying the safari. I didn't think I'd love it as much as I did - it was one of the best experiences of my life and I recommend it to everyone! We saw so many animals from lions to cheetahs, and I loved the safari 'routine' of an early morning drive before coming back for breakfast and chilling by the pool and napping, and then heading out for an evening drive.

Phew, that was a long one! I can't recommend South Africa as a holiday enough and I can't wait to take Florence one day.

Daisy x