Thursday, 5 December 2013

Are you there, little Pocky?

Whilst I type this, I'm wrapped up in the warmth of the duvet with only the gentle rustling of bare branches beyond the window, trying to feel our little Pocky. I'm still not totally sure if the subtle rolls inside my tummy are my baby, and I still can't really get my head around it being in there. I feel a bit like I'm waiting for something to click into place in my mind.

There is so much going on at the moment that I feel like I haven't given myself enough chances to stop still and take it in. What with the house and work deadlines, sometimes I actually forget, and that's the last thing I want to do. I want to be able to bottle up every moment, as being pregnant and experiencing it with my best friend and love is like nothing else.

I've been going to bed too late, spending what little daylight there is in an airless office and battling my way home on two tubes, a train and a bus. Today it all got a little bit much. I feel silly saying that I felt exhausted, as I know I have yet to experience the true meaning of the word with what we have to come and my work's not really hard. But with sweet Jonny's persuasion and a little reminder that me and the baby need some rest, I've stayed at home with my Buddy-cat. I feel guilty. The guilt of taking the day off as a freelancer and the guilt of being a little bit pathetic. I have huge respect for any mummas to be who get on with physcially demanding or super stressful careers with other kids in tow, as in comparison to many, I have nothing on my plate.

We have our 20 week scan tomorrow (which, being the 'anomaly' scan, I am pretty nervous about). Perhaps seeing again will help me believe it though. Of course, it's also the time the gender could be revealed... I always swore I'd never want to know and Jon is sure of that too. However, just lately I've been waivering. I don't know if i'm 100 percent sure, as obviously there's no going back. I just wonder if it would make it feel more real. To help give those self-conscious whispers to my non-responsive belly button a bit more weight. To be able to imagine a bit better, the little mystery human being that's the focus of our thoughts and dreams.

I did this quiz last night. One question that perhaps summed up my changing school of thought was 'when you book a holiday, do you like to plan everything'. Perhaps my Google Drive full of spreadsheets is a good reflection of my psyche. I'm a little bit of a control freak. Yes, I like suprises. Yes, I used to save my Christmas presents till the end of the day so the fun wouldn't be over. But maybe that's because I was kidding myself - I'd always managed to do a little bit of sneaky detective work beforehand for reassurance.

If we found out, we'd get both an amazing suprise tomorrow, plus five months of dreaming and everything after that. Again, that's hoping and hoping that everything goes well. Little person, whoever you may be, we love you so much already. So I guess it shouldn't really matter, right?

Jon just took the quiz, and it said we should wait. I'm so confused! What would you do?

Sunday, 1 December 2013

And here it is...

It turns out that there are lots of decisions to be made when doing up a house. Lovely decisions. We feel incredibly lucky to be able to make a home pretty much how we want it (within budget of course).

When it came to finding a property to buy, we had an idea of what we were after. Light was of utmost importance. Having lived in basements during my student time in Bath made me extra appreciative of being able to wake up with sun bouncing off the walls. We needed a second bedroom, and somewhere to work. In our last flat, we turned the hallway cupboard into a decent workspace so we're pretty adaptable.

Over the six months we were looking, we watched as our budget allowed us a beautifully finished three bedroom period property, to it looking more likely we were going to have to bid farewell to our dream of a staircase and go for a much smaller flat. The market went crazy and prices jumped by about 60k on houses we'd seen. We made offers on all manor of 1960s, 1930s and Victorian properties and were outbid time and time again by cash buyers who would put down way over asking.

Whilst the panic set in, we appreciated that while we may not get what we envisaged, we were still incredibly lucky to be in this situation at all.

One day however, in the batch of estate agent emails, I noticed that one house we'd passed up months ago due to being waaaaaay overpriced was still being advertised. This was odd, as usually things were only lasting about two days on the market. Phoning the agent, he confirmed the unexpected, that nobody was interested in this little house.

We could kind of see why at the price they'd given it. It went against our dream of light filled ceilings, as somewhere in it's history the original Victorian windows had been replaced with led panelled peepers about half the size. It was dark. There were beer cans scattered across most rooms. There was damp. My mum even noticed a paw print in a left-over casserole dish  (this must sound very bitchy as these photos were taken on the first viewing when a perfect showhome effort had been made by the tenants. To be fair, we did tend to have our other viewings first thing on a saturday morning... We must have been pretty annoying).

Hopefully, though, we've managed to see what it can be. It's an ugly duckling but it's got bloody good spaces. A lovely garden with what one day can be a studio. It has stairs, and storage - two lofts!! No longer will we need to keep Henry the Hoover inside our bed. Whilst it may not be the coolest area of West London - far from it - the commute isn't too awful and our road is full of young families our age. There's a park and the river a short walk away. Plenty of places to push a little buggy.

We were pretty pleased with ourselves. Usually known for being meek and mild, I became a stubborn bargainer and we managed to get it at a price which allows us a bit of creativity in making it our own. Starting, of course, with those windows ;-)

So, everyone, this our new home. And tips and ideas would be much appreciated!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

A house, a house!

Last Friday we went camping. With a candlelit supper from tin foil, we slept on a thin matresses and got a bit spooked by unfamiliar noises. Albeit said supper was from the local curry house and our toes were kept toasty from the warmth of the radiator. Me and Jonny love an excuse to camp out, and what better than this. WE GOT OUR KEYS!

I left work early to pick them up with Jonny who carried me (seriously - without breaking his back) across our new threshold. We both had the biggest smiles. It's hard to believe that it is ours; it certainly didn't feel like it at first. The slightly studenty grubbiness and funny smells are disappearing though and it's becoming easier to imagine our new nest. Right now it isn't the prettiest of houses, so we've got our work cut out but boy do I love daydreaming about what sort of home it will become in the next few years. I can't wait to find out :)

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Sunny Day

Today was a good day. One of those Sundays, when the room was flooded with light and things felt possible. Sometimes I find the pressure of what's to be ticked off the list a little overwhelming and stupidly taint the day with a defeatist mood before it's begun. Sundays especially, it can go either way. I'm an idiot, I know. Is it just me?

This morning though, we woke reasonably early and took the opportunity of cyan skies and sunshine to escape for a walk in Richmond park.

Amongst the squelchy leaves, we avoided angry-sounding deer and talked the afternoon of work ahead, our lives ahead, everything really. There is nothing like a bit of fresh air to get some perspective. Why do I NEVER bloody remember that one?

It was nice. I think Buddy enjoyed today too...


Wednesday, 6 November 2013


So, October has gone by and again I have rather slack at posting. It's been a lovely month though. For one, our niece Evie had her very first birthday. The perfect excuse to make some 'beary' cakes. J was actually in charge of decoration to be honest - he has a special skill of being able to make the sweetest little faces every time.

Of course, October also saw the 12 week scan of our little bubba. It totally blew our minds and it meant we could finally tell people too!! Speaking of buns in ovens, we've enjoyed a bit of baking again since being back at my parent's house. The oven in our old flat used to get a BIG lot of abuse from me and I was seriously doubting my ability to make even the simplest of cakes. It was the most frustrating thing ever. Thank goodness it seems to have been the oven to blame after all as things have been back on track. We had our old university friends over for dinner one Saturday night (how did we get so grown up?) and subjected them to a humungous serving of s'mores pie (ok, maybe not so mature). It was a massive gooey mess of brownie, biscuit and marshmallow that was impossible to serve with any degree of elegance. But who needs elegance with those ingredients? Sadly I didn't get a photo...

Mostly though, socialising has given way to weekends of working hard on our new project (sneak preview below). It needs a lot of time but working as a creative team with my Jonny has been loads of fun and hopefully it will all come together before too long. We're trying to get as much done before the new house takes priority. Eek!

That takes us to November... Yesterday in fact, when we exchanged contracts on our new property. Hooray!! In two and a half weeks, we'll have the keys and be on our way to making a proper little nest :)

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Some things are hard to believe

I am having a baby.

I am having a baby.

I am having a baby! ME. Sarah. It's happening. Apparently, in six snappy nappiless months (here's of course hoping and hoping that all is well), I will be a mummy. It is totally impossible for me to comprehend. Only now, as my tummy is beginning to swell (not just with pizza), am I starting to believe it could perhaps be true.

14 Weeks
It's not as if we were a long time trying. We were incredibly lucky that it was quite the opposite. Which, I think is partly why I'm still in a state of shock after seeing that first blue line out of the corner of my eye (followed in disbelief by five more pee sticks) nine weeks ago. 

As a child, I was obsessed with babies. I mean obsessed. I used to await the release of a new Mothercare catalogue as others would anticipate the new Nintendo. I poured over those pages, absorbing every detail, copying the pictures and dreaming up a family of my own. I loved the 'preparing for baby' lists especially. That is, until they started charging two pounds for the privilege, which my Mum said was ridiculous. I was happy to see on a very excitable recent trip to Mothercare that they are once again free of charge and my obscure pleasure can recommence. Thank goodness for that.

The only reason I stopped playing with dolls was because I was massively ashamed. I actually used to set an alarm in the middle of the night to wake up and feed my plastic baby. Whilst spending my pocket money on Just Seventeen, I would sneak Mother and Baby into the trolley at Tesco. A whole seventeen years later, I'm just about ready to admit that to the world. It was a bizarre internal conflict that struggled to replace the love of my toy pushchair with a somewhat forced passion for Boyzone. Here's a diary entry from 1996 (aged 13) after a sleepover session of truth...

Inevitably I began babysitting as soon as I could. This even meant roping in my best friend Emily, who would reach the legal childminding age a whole nine months before me. Our little business, aptly titled 'Kid Crazy' (a nod to my other obsession of the Babysitters Club books) went from strength to strength and we soon had clients all over St Margaret's. At university I did some more, whilst in the holidays I worked at the best independent children's bookshop in the world, with a brief stint in Gap Kids and a summer as an au pair. It sometimes makes me wonder why I became a graphic designer at all.

Since meeting Jon over a decade ago at the tender age of 19, I have plagued the poor guy with the question of when we can have a baby. I always convinced myself that it might not happen. I figured that I've been so lucky in other parts of my life that the thing I wanted the very most, would of course not come true. I saw it as my deal that this is the thing I didn't deserve. I know that must sound ridiculous. 

So to actually see a little thing with a tiny nose and waving arms, jumping backwards on a screen and supposedly in my tummy just seems too impossible to be real. I've found it hard, particularly in the first 12 weeks to allow myself the absolute glee that I could be enjoying. I'm so paranoid that I'll wake up from the dream or something will go wrong. It must be a mixture of emotions felt by so many mothers to be.

It's true though! I saw it with my own eyes. Things are going to change and it's the best thing that's ever happened to us.


Wednesday, 2 October 2013


October! Nice to see you again.

I'm not sure how we got here. Maybe it's because I slept my way through a lot of September (I've been a little under the weather). But I'm very happy to see you.

You let me snuggle under the blanket, sharing chocolate with Jonny. You bring on the smoky smells of fireworks and chimmneys billowing into the night sky. Yep, it's a good time of year. Not to mention what it leads to. Eek!

I've been doing a lot of said snuggling under the blanket lately. We've also had an offer accepted on a little house (very exciting... trying to calmly play the waiting game now whilst solicitors go on holidays and things. Yes. I know they are allowed a break too. Now though? Really? We have a house to plan!). Anyway, this combination of hibernation and future nesting has led me to these beauties...

Clockwise: The incredible Eleanor Pritchard's Easterly Blanket/ The beautifully geometric Norwegian Gullfuglen Jacquard Blanket/ The perfect bear hug with Etsy Seller Roxy Marj's Heirloom Bear Blanket/ And, being half Welsh it's only appropriate to include a gorgeous Melin Tregwynt Welsh Knot Garden Throw

This lazy bones could use them all. Is it just me?

Saturday, 31 August 2013

A long summer

Thank you seasons for not shying away this year. You've given us snow days, trudging back home through Richmond after the wonderful 'don't bother coming in to work today' text. You've given us beautiful evening walks home, whilst the sun sets on the river and the ripples reflect on the underbelly of the bridge.

Summer seems to be sticking around too. We did have a little hiccup last weekend, scuppering our grand bank holiday camping trip with the Littles. Despite the buckets of water, often in the tent, we did have good times. Jumping in puddles in your pyjamas and wellies makes for a VERY happy two year old (not being allowed sweets before dinner, doesn't - see below).

But the blue skies are back. I know I should be pleased with this but that smell of shiny shoes, conkers and freshly organised pencils that hangs about the air these mornings has got me longing for a layered wardrobe of leather boots and big snuggly coats. Plus, my only pair of comfy sandals have been superglued back together one too many times. I do love the autumn.

Perhaps my longing to get to September this year is partly for the hope of a house. We've been getting a little bit panicked in the last month or so as the properties have dwindled and anything that has surfaced has been snapped up instantly, way above asking price. Be patient, people say. There will be lots more in September. We're nearly there and the signs have been beginning to trickle through. We're seeing a couple today but I don't want to get my hopes up too much. What will be will be and all that.

Why must I always be impatient for the next thing? Hang on, enjoy my mum's incredible cooking, a warm nose, and the ease of throwing on a summer dress (albeit with the upkeep of nice feet and legs to do so). Keep selling those eBay items to save pennies for the coat, shoes and wooly cardigan that lurks in my daydreams. Autumn will be here quick enough and I'm sure a new home will be too.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Steamed buns and the city

Whoop! This weekend is the first in a long, long time that we can have a lie in. BOTH DAYS! Of course we woke up at 6am this morning to the sound of the planes approaching Heathrow. But that's fine. There's nothing like that luxury of knowing you don't have to get out of the toasty cocoon.

Last night we went for an impromptu date in Chinatown as we had a little bit of celebrating to do. At Leong's Legends to be precise. Mmm mmm. That sticky rice and pork. And that Taiwanese kebab. That's one thing I need more of - steamed buns. Hence the next stop on our date night hit-list is going to be Flesh and Buns, a new Izakaya by Bone Daddies on Earlham Street... Delicious. That first friday of September really can't come quick enough.

So. It was far from East Asia in W1 but the buns and the windows wallpapered in cute packaging made us feel a teeny bit like we'd dipped back into our travels again (which are mostly documented here). It was nice, strolling hand in hand right across the Thames and back to Waterloo. Our bellies full and happy as can be, it was a pretty fine friday night.

I love London.

Happy weekend!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Burri and gelato

Whilst I play catch up, I may as well add a little post about our time in Italy a month ago.

In a medieval hill village of Northern Umbria, smack bang in the middle of the rolling hills and vast blue skies, I ate my body weight in pizza. Gelato too (at least one a day was mandatory). We swam in the most stylish yellow caps, got to know my niece Evie a bit more (perhaps steal her away sometimes too) and mostly spend a week people-watching in the shade of the town's cafes.

All with my favourite people (apart from the three family members who were ever so missed).

Anyway, Citta di Castello - our cobble alleyed home from home, introduced me to the work of Mr Alberto Burri. In an old tobacco factory, canvas after canvas of his brightly hued paintings were hung. I could have quite happily taken one back on the plane for a future wall. The vastness and almost enormous paper-cut quality had my chin up to the ceiling in awe. And the man was a scientist too.


The wedding was A-MAZING.

There was the warmest glow of love and rosiness the whole day (and not just because of the 30 degree heat and generously flowing champagne). The atmosphere was perfect, the details were exquisite and the venue was super cool. Chins quivered, speeches were aced and old friends reunited.

And the bride and groom; they looked absolutely stunning. It made us want to do it all again. Almost (I'm still not quite ready to go back to a life of spreadsheets yet).

Those flowers!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Wedding Bells

Today we are going to our first wedding as a married couple.

It feels nice.

Two of our friends from university are becoming husband and wife too. It's sure to be an amazing day in a super lovely venue (Bistroteque - all white, industrial and stacking chaired) and I think it might make us feel a bit wishful that we'd had a cool London wedding as well (not that we would change a thing).

I am excited to see the vows after being the on the other side last time. This is a couple so right for each other and who have been together almost as long as Jonny and I (these men take their time). I think a little tear or two may be making an appearance this afternoon.

Now I just hope my hair goes right this morning and I don't give my poor husband too much of a hard time. It will be the first time I will see him in his wedding suit again. Hubba hubba.

ps the photo above is from our 'legal' wedding day at Chelsea Old Town Hall :-)

Sunday, 14 July 2013


This past month or nearly two, has been a whirlwind. For so long I have meant to write but it's been tricky between all this:

• Selling, packing up and then moving out of our flat and in with my parents
• An epic road trip to help j's parents move over from Northern Ireland to Kent
• House hunting (not successfully)
• First anniversary camping trip
• A much needed holiday to Italy (although putting an offer on a house just as we were getting on the plane seemed to sum up the pace of events lately)

The end of a holiday always feels like the mark the of a new chapter. A clean slate to start afresh. Me and Jonny are a team and have plans and dreams that need to be focused on for our sake. Things that have been pushed aside until now. Perhaps it is time to pull our socks up and aim for the dreams that we always talk of. To stop dawdling.

This past year, which I had imagined to be our grand start in the world together as husband and wife, kind of got a little bit squashed. We've had a false start. A false start that makes me all kinds of frustrated and angry and slightly robbed of our first year of marriage. We mustn't dwell on that.

It certainly has not been all bad. Let me make that very clear! There have been many incredibly wonderful times too, amongst the emotional trips to Ireland. 

Back in a pool in Palm Springs last summer, between honeymoon kisses and margaritas, we vowed to make the first friday of every month a date night. No matter how big or small, forever more. It lasted a little while. But then our promise was quickly scuppered by the circumstances. The dates we did have though? I can't complain about them. I also can't complain about the incredible week spent with my best friends in New York. 

We will resurrect date night. And we will get our stuff together. 


Saturday, 13 July 2013

One Year!

It was our first anniversary. Hooray!

It's a bitter-sweet milestone given the time we've had. The past year has been the hardest of our lives, and I have fallen in love with my husband more than I thought possible. Seeing him deal with the toughest of situations has opened my eyes further to what a patient and generous, not to mention incredibly handsome man I have married.

Here are some photos of our celebration. We spent our anniversary weekend camped out in a field in East Sussex, with a campfire, some bourbon and Radio 2 at Glastonbury to keep us company.


Monday, 10 June 2013

Sundays with Sprinkles

Yesterday turned into a good day.

We didn't spring out of bed. We spent the day coughing through the dust whilst packing up our little home (a bigger task than we ever anticipated). We even fell out and stopped talking for ten minutes or so. And that NEVER happens.

But after that, and once we'd taken six bin bags to the charity shop, we snuggled on the sofa next to Buddy and J read me a chapter from my favourite childhood book. It's moments of total contentment like that which make me realise we should stop more often. 

It was especially good because whilst we were reading, my new ice cream machine was churning away in the kitchen. So that afterwards, we could eat sundaes with sprinkles.