Monday, 2 December 2013

Books, books, books!

I've read quite a lot this year. Reading is something that's pretty difficult to do with a baby around, so in the evenings I try to read as much as I can. Travel is another thing it's harder to do with a baby, so I seem to have been reading books set in places I like to visit. Mainly, the US, it seems! Looking at my Kindle – much preferred way of reading these days, espesh with synching iPhone app! – I seem to have read lots of debut novels set in Brooklyn.

The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman sees a female author painting a pleasingly barbed portrait of a twenty something male author struggling to do the right thing in a postfeminist world. Note my use of sarcastic italics. This whole book should have been written in sarcastic italics. I loved it.

A more austere but absorbing Brooklyn-based novel, The Affairs of Others: A Novel by Amy Grace Loyd. A young widow tries to lock her grief away in the apartment building she owns, but slowly she starts to enmesh with the lives of her tenants.

From debuts to a much awaited new release, Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch landed a couple of months ago, so everything else was summarily dropped. Her writing is so intense I found it almost stressful to read, finding myself flicking forward through the pages to see what happened next...within the first chapter! Powerful writing. Also set in two familiar favourites, Manhattan and dirty Las Vegas, the plot (and some characters, actually) seemed implausible in parts but enough to keep you holding your breath and second guessing.

Summer's top read for me was Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter – an epic love story set across decades and continents, also in some of my favourite places; Los Angeles, Rome, tiny windswept Italian coastal towns. Craving the scented summer heat of southern France, I also read Bonjour Tristesse for the first time – major literary oversight on my part, yo! Languid summer teenage plotting with a sting in the tail.


I like pulling this book out at this time of the year, and having it around to dip into. Dickens has got Christmas on lockdown, and makes the grey London December days a bit more cosy and romantic.

Another cosy winter read that I pull out at this time of year is The Andy Warhol Diaries. This is an old favourite that I've been dipping into for nigh on, ooh, six years? And a welcome break from fiction post Goldfinch. Mr Warhol feels like an old friend. There's something so comforting about entering his dual world of daily mundanity, gossip and glamour. His work ethic and success are so inspiring and impressive to nosey at, too. I'm getting worryingly close to the end though, March 1985...


On my Christmas list is Eminent Hipsters, the memoirs of Steely Dan's Donald Fagen. I can't wait for tales of  1980s east and west coast hedonism, supplied with a shot of muso geekery. One reviewer described reading it as 'blissful'. I can't wait.

What have you all been reading? Help me be a bit more adventurous and venture away from North America and Mediterranean Europe? My resolution for 2014. (Eek!)

Top photo by sfgirlbybay

Friday, 11 October 2013

Heal's Challenge

heals composite flat2
This post is part of the Heal's Challenge, to put together a living room using only the Heal's product range. Basically, an absolute dream. My perfect living room would be a happy and cosy mix of styles, shapes and colours; like Julie Delpy's apartment in Beyond Sunrise, or Vanessa Bruno's gorgeous Parisian apartment. (You can see some inspiration pictures on this Pinterest board.) This would be the ideal dream version of it, straight from the Heal's showroom.

1. Love this sculptural pendant light shade; perfect to punctuate the room. (Most of my favourite rooms seem to have huge, interesting shades.) 

2. Walnut Round Mirror – to add light and a feeling of airiness.

3. Love the elegant line of this Danish designed chrome floor lamp. (Copied from one of my inspiration pictures here.)

4. I picked a walnut frame sofa in a classic leaf green to add a bit of structure and elegance to my room. But it was a difficult choice as there was a huge range of gorgeous sofas, each of which would completely change the look of your room.

5. The coffee table is a focal point of any living room and this Calligaris Element piece throws a great shape. Unusual but completely practical.

6. I'd cover every spare surface with bowls and vases if I could. But I'll stick to this one Finnsdottir piece. Beautiful handcrafted Danish porcelain.

7. At least one blanket or throw is absolutely essential in my living room. I'm going matchy with the sofa with this bold graphic green print, a gorgeous Eleanor Pritchard wool throw.

8. Ok, I can't stick to just one vase. These Pols Potten colourful glass bottles will brighten any dusty corners and the bubble tops neatly match my circle mirror. See what I'm doing here?

9. Throwing matchy matchy out of the window, this is a big ol' happy grin of a rug, painstakingly cross-stitched rug in brightest pink.

10. My parents got Heal's bookcases for a wedding present, so an elegant bookcase is a must. Plus a living room that's not full of books is all wrong.

Post in partnership with Heal's

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Arthur is one!


It was this little niblet's first birthday today. Hard to believe it was one year ago that I caught the tube to the hospital first thing in the morning, with Arthur born at 11.26am. By caesarian section, I'm not that bad-ass. We've had a lovely day – balloons, lego, a trip on the Docklands Light Railway to the city farm, cake and candle. Looking back at the pictures from today we may possibly have overdone it; Arthur looks exhausted!

Happy birthday Arthur. You're the best baby in the world. (This is him last weekend, out for a walk in our local park.)

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Autumn earworms

Apparently I've got a thing for blowsy baritones at the moment. This chirpy little ditty is keeping me cheerful as we say goodbye to summer. Ghouls, by H. Hawkline – perfect for Halloween. Who couldn't love a silly song sung by a cute Welsh boy?


I heard Jake Thackray played on the radio recently and stopped in my tracks. How silly and lovely is this song? He was very well known apparently, something of a TV and radio personality back in the day. Sentimentally sung in a daft Yorkshire accent – perfect. 


And let's round it up to three with a song written by my other favourite baritone Fred Neil, sung here by the divinely gorgeous Tim Buckley. (This is one of my favourite musical moments ever. Tim Buckley looking saucy plus beautiful song  ? WIN.


Autumnal folk music surely goes hand-in-hand with cider drinking. So I'm going to this Apple Day fair at the weekend to get into the spirit of things. Can't wait!

Monday, 23 September 2013

hush

collage3
So, did you guys already all know about hush? Finally I have discovered where people shop that expensive-looking but slouchy, luxurious but dressed-down look that I can't ever seem to achieve. (See: all Hollywood superstars on their day off.) hush is like a huge, overstuffed chest of cosy cashmere, bedtime cottons, stylish silks, interesting knits and winter brights. They stock both day and nightwear, with a lot of pieces comfortably crossing over. The price range is totally accessible, too. Here are a few of my favourite autumnal reds and winter blues, to keep you warm until spring.

1 –  I would live in this jumper straight through to spring. Berry red cashmere to keep you cheerful over the cold season, but with the reverse-out detail on the sleeve to keep it real on a February day, i.e. grey. Love!

2 – Twenty years post Nirvana, and Cara Delevingne somehow deemed the beanie to be essential winter headwear. Needs must, and it definitely must be cashmere. And shocking scarlet, to ward off the weather nasties.

3 – Cotton red star pyjamas. These are really cute. I wish I'd known about these when I lived in my jim jams for three months after having a baby. (It was winter, OK.)

4 – Love the textured knit of this heart stitch jumper. A great short 'n' swingy length, too.

5 – Egg cosy! Needs no explanation. Essential.

6 – Stripy hand knitted bed socks. Because 83% of us can't knit and you shouldn't rely on your mum to buy your socks for you.

7 – A case of good red wine. For when an egg cosy and cute jim jams just aren't enough. This just sneaked in, sorry.

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Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Autumn wishlist.

cobra-rock-boot-co-

1 – John Lewis digital radio. What is autumn for if not cosying up and listening to the radio? Gilles, Cerys and Jarvis on BBC 6 Music, plus I'm thinking about getting into the Archers. I spied these radios dotted around my friend's house at the weekend.

2 – Tatty Devine avant garde robot bib necklace. I've never been that into Tatty Devine before, but there just seems something so right about having a giant slab of abstract laser cut perspex around one's neck at the moment. I like these giant lobsters, too.

3 – APC Orange Floral Print Dress. The dress equivalent of kicking leaves in the park then repairing red-cheeked to a mahogany panelled pub on a Sunday afternoon to share a bottle of red wine. Long sleeves and tied up tightly at the neck to keep out any draughty autumnal chills.

4 – Blue Jasmine. Woody Allen's latest fall project. (Love how he apparently calls all new films Fall Project number whatever, until he works out their name.) Cate Blanchett as his latest beautiful muse, set in San Francisco – can't wait to see how he frames San Fran. Out in the UK on September 27.

5 – New Look parka. Parkas are always in aren't they? Or am I stuck in the 1990s? (sponsored)

6 – The pumpkin. Baked in a pie, chopped into a risotto, or roasted til gooey with gorgonzola. I've even got some pumpkin jam. Let's go, giant orange globefruit!

7 – Cobra Rock boots. These boots are handmade in Texas, so perfect for the urban prairie that is, er, Leytonstone. Unfortunately the waiting list is 8 months long so maybe for next autumn, yeah?

8 – John Lewis Voyage Garden Bird cylinder shade – pretty birds to remind you of spring. And to remind you to feed the birds. John Lewis have lots of pretty light shades to keep your house aglow as the evenings get shorter. (sponsored)

Monday, 2 September 2013

Summer.

I remember feeling slightly glum at the end of spring – we still had to finalise buying the house and it was all domestic drudgery with no time to think about summer plans. But luckily it all came together and, thanks as well to some EXCELLENT weather, we've ended up having a really nice summer. Yeah!
First stop was a trip to East Sussex. I've never been to a festival in my life, showers and hair drying having previously been a priority for me. But as I've got older – and having a baby is a great leveller – I've felt a bit more able to go hang out in a field. And of course, festivals are basically luxury events now. Anyway, we booked a room at the really lovely Barnfield Farm B & B (okay, we still didn't camp) and went along to the Love Supreme festival near Glynde.

The B & B was gorgeous, really baby-friendly, with a super cosy made-up cot waiting for us after our sunny drive down from London. The converted barn looked onto the rolling South Downs, with a friendly sheepdog for company, so evenings were spent on a blanket enjoying the view, drinking local cider and throwing the ball for the dog while the baby slept upstairs. Heaven!


The festival itself was really nice – a short walk from the B & B through gloriously sunny country lanes. We set up our parasol and sat in one spot all day drinking cider and listening to the music. Chic played, as they did seemingly every other festival this summer – just brilliant party tunes that you know every note of, one after another. (I think it is essential to dance in a field as the sun goes down at least once every summer.)

This is the view from the waltzers at the back whilst Chic played. I had a little detour on the way back from the loo
 

We made the most of being by the coast and went to the beach. This beach was called Cuckmere Haven, in the Seven Sisters country park next to the famous white cliffs, where the River Cuckmere reaches the sea – we sat in the river with Arthur and basked.

 


































We also went to the beach at Seaford, which was crystal clear, deserted, but a bit chilly. Arthur loved the sea, he'd do a little sharp intake of breath at first and look quite serious, but then relax into splashy funtimes. So cute. 


We did a quick two hour pop to Brighton on the way back, the best way to enjoy it in my opinion; it was packed even though it was just a random Monday afternoon. We wandered the North Laines, got some delicious icecream from Gelato Gusto, and drove back to London. I'm not really into Brighton but it is nice to pop to every few years. Ha!




For our proper holiday we went to San Sebastian, in the basque region of Spain. We'd booked flights to Biarritz intending to go to Cap Ferret but had left it last minute and all of the available accomodation was out of our price range. So, with friends in San Sebastian and it having been on our visit list for a while, we changed our plans. We booked an apartment in a modernist block high on Mont Igeldo with gardens and a pool. It was absolutely heavenly. 





The apartment was all windows along the side, with a fir tree almost touching the balcony, looking out over the valley. There were owls twit-twooing, birds of prey shrieking and donkeys honking away. It was so nice we stocked up on cheese, ham, fresh fruit and bread, nutella and pink wine, and hardly left our little spot in the shade of a lilac bush near the pool.

Arthur loved long holiday lunches

OK, we did make it to the nearby town of Getaria for a spot of grilled fish for lunch and a trip to the beach. (It turns out beaches are a bit of a pain in the arse with a baby - sand and pebbles everywhere. The pool was much easier.) I'd intended to go to the Cristobal Balenciaga museum (it is his hometown) but was too much in lazy holiday mode and didn't make it.



We also managed to get up to some London fun. The Canary Wharf jazz festival is essential for me every year. I absolutely love catching the DLR there, it's like the robot space train weaving through the city. It was VERY exciting for a certain 10 month old boy. Having a picnic among the skyscrapers and listening to some live music is awesome too. Troyka were particularly good to zone in and out to. 


We went to a few of our favourite haunts - like a stroll around Blackheath, where we used to live.


Lunch at Banners in Crouch End. I absolutely love it there, it has a really buzzy diner feel and piled high brunch plates of ackee and saltfish with spoon bread. It's another very child friendly place. (Here's Arthur summoning the waitress.)

 

An afternoon wandering around Greenwich, with a trip to favourite pub next to the river, The Trafalgar.


Just a couple of trips to the lido at Parliament Hill - one day I went and it was so crowded with yoots that the police were on duty with a metal detector outside. Bad vibes. So I went to the swimming ponds and got bad-vibed there as well by a witchy old local lady who pushed past Arthur's pram and hissed that children weren't allowed. Unfriendly, London!



So I guess that might be the end of my silvery sandshoes and the jeans I cut off at the beginning of the summer. Although it's September, the sun is still shining, but there's a definite nip in the air. Thank goodness for a warm summer at last; installed in our new house and with an ever more inquisitive little boy to show everything to, it has been a vintage one. I'm a bit scared of the winter now though - being able to stop off in parks to feed and play has been invaluable!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Summer inspiration.

So, as I wrote in my last post, the shopping bug seems to have bitten me badly. My eyes are popping at all kinds of things – mainly bits for the new house and accessories. Because I'm still nowhere near my pre-preg shape so it's just easier to accessorize than diet. Sigh.

Here's what I've got my eye on at the moment.

1 – I love these string bulb lights from Swedish company Granit. We're biding our time to see if any big work needs doing before splashing out on the house but these will be high on my list.

2Still loving Swedish Hasbeens after all this time. These are the Peeptoe Super High and are apparently the most comfortable style. Currently on sale at 30% off from the Sweden Calling shop in The Old Truman Brewery, E1.

3Love this book by Cerys Matthews, Hook, Line and Singer– songs she's collected on her travels from Tennessee to Truro. Songs you know, songs you'd forgotten you know, and old shanties to sing to your little one. Lovely to read, too.

4This one's on the dream list. Gorgeous slivers of silk and lace from Myla. Just need to shed those few (!) pregnancy pounds first. (sponsored)

5No need to diet for these. Satomi Kawakita tiny gold bar earrings with diamonds. I'm obsessed with New York Adorned and the delicate piercings by J Colby Smith. These would just do the trick.

6Essie's Clambake is still doing it for me. The colour and texture of orange jelly, it's perfect with golden summer skin.

7We have got so much still to unpack. There is...stuff...everywhere. At least Ikea has these amazing boxes for us to put it all in. 

8 My friend posted these badass Nike x Liberty Virtual Light pixel print Air Max 1s on her Instagram. Just lusty.

What have you got your eye on at the moment? 

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Loving Leytonstone.

Kind of blue – a shopfront in the 'hood
We moved to Leytonstone a month ago yesterday. And I have to say, I am really loving living around here! In part because it feels so central after having previously lived at the very end of the Northern Line – transport here is great with both the tube and Overground nearby – but I also love it because it is so quiet!  It is the quietest street I've ever lived on, and the friendliest. Having had nightmare neighbours several times before (ah, London!) I am absolutely cherishing the quiet and calm. The streets nearby are leafy and have a real family feel.
1953coronationstreetparty
Coronation party on my street, 1953
We became interested in moving here after visiting some friends who live in the area, and I'm already getting emails from other friends who are interested in moving here, so I thought I'd post about it.

Our terraced house feels huge to us after having dealt with the usual cramped London flats, and our last place, which was a tiny cottage. Property is still relatively affordable here (ah, London!) but that will probably change, as it is an area that is being regenerated as I type. There are lots of terraced Victorian homes, lots with original period features, some with unfortunate 1970s remodelling, some that have been done up and neutralised by developers.

Wanstead Flats

There is plenty of greenery. Wanstead Flats is five minutes walk from my house, a huge green space with a big pond and marked walking trails. Connected to it is Wanstead Park, the grounds of the long-gone Wanstead House, built to rival Versailles and complete with ornamental lakes and grottoes. Beyond that is Epping Forest. There's so much, we've not even made it beyond the Flats yet!
Wanstead Park


Nightlife-wise, there is a great jazz night in a pub, East Side Jazz. I saw Bobby Wellins play here a couple of weeks ago in a proper old Victorian tiled boozer. Good local pubs include The Red Lion (I love the burger there and the Hornsea Pottery coffee cups); The North Star, where friends run a monthly Sunday afternoon social, and The Birkbeck Tavern, which has a really nice beer garden and jazz in the garden on sundays.

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is opening in a couple of weeks, promising a vibrant new park and venue for music and events. It's kicking off with the Barbican Open East Festival featuring Seun Kuti, DJs, lots of Malian music, the Art Car Boot Fair, plus a food festival.

Char siu pork bunnnnsss...


Food-wise, we had great dim-sum at the Dim-Sum Cafe in Leyton at the weekend; the chef stretched the noodles in front of us. There's a good Thai and a mediterranean meze type place, The Olive – the basics of what you need in your 'hood! And there are interesting local shops, from a polish bakery to a Viennese style coffee and cakes cafe,  plus an organic food stall by OrganicLea every saturday outside St John's church selling food grown locally in the Lea Valley. They also do a delivery box scheme. (My daydream to open a health food shop continues apace!) Theres also a branch of the Turkish Food Centre – a huge supermarket that stocks foods from all around the world including a huge selection of fresh breads.

Tasty bread at the TFC

For those who have children, like me, there are good schools and nurseries in the borough. (Our local school has a Good Ofsted rating). There's plenty of green space and lots of mum and baby groups. Plus the local leisure centre has a creche! On our street kids play outside their houses. My neighbour told me this and I though, ooooh, no. But it has such a neighbourhood feel – kids riding their bikes up and down, (polite kids!) and playing pat-a-cake. Old school. Like all London boroughs there are local crime and social problems but so far so good. (I'm on the lookout for something I can do to get involved in the local community – particularly something for the bored older kids.)

1919-peaceparty
Peace tea on my street, 1919
All of this and I haven't even mentioned that Westfield Stratford City is 20 minutes walk away! wahaca, Pinkberry, Franco Manca ... COS, Zara, Whistles ... not to mention John Lewis. I had a moment in the haberdashery section earlier this week when I realised how close it was to my house. The downside is that the shopping bug has bitten me. I may need to do a fashion post later in the week to get it out of my system... 

Photo of Wanstead Park by Brian Hopson.
Dim-sum photo by Mrs Lister

Friday, 7 June 2013

Room for improvement.


Well…we're in! After 3 months of camping with a long-suffering friend (thank you George!) we moved into our new house last week. We've moved to Leytonstone in east London, seemingly the last area of town where we could afford to buy an Actual House. 

The houses around here are lovely old terraces, on quiet streets that have a real feel of old east-end London about them. Our neighbours are absolutely lovely – a hippy couple next door who immediately invited us over for tea on moving day ('We're having barley?') and families who've lived down the street for 30 or 40 years who have been really welcoming. 

The area is supposedly 'coming up', which I suppose means opening up to younger generations priced out of more central parts of town. The Red Lion pub is really lively and awesome (it won the CAMRA East End pub of the year in 2012!) and sells completely delicious burgers. Plus a Costa Coffee opened recently. Now, can someone open an independent coffee shop soon please? *daydreams about opening a coffee shop* 

Ours is an old period terraced house, similar to the ones both Tom and I grew up in and exactly what we were looking for. There are some interesting looking cracks on the walls but our buildings surveyor, who was perhaps suspiciously chilled-out, told us all was OK. Fingers crossed! Now just comes the job of getting boring essential jobs done and then working out how much money we have left for FUN STUFF.

In the meantime, when moneysupermarket offered me £50 to buy something for the house and spruce up a room as part of their Room for Improvement challenge, I was more than happy to take them up on it! The kitchen is probably the room in the house that needs the most work – it's quite dark, and needs a lick of paint (although I'm also thinking silver striped wallpaper?). In the meantime, I thought I'd buy what every household needs – a kitchen clock. Mine's from John Lewis. A bit of a difference already, non?

I'm so happy and feeling so lucky to have a new home - leaving our last place with nowhere to go and gambling on finding a place was kind of crazy, especially with a young baby! I wouldn't particularly recommend it as a course of action (STRESSFUL) but now, I'm so glad we did. 

Monday, 29 April 2013

musicMagpie

I first heard about musicMagpie from a friend who was about to move house. She'd decided to sell all of her CDs and DVDs so she spent a couple of hours scanning them in with her iPhone (I love technology!) and had made enough money to cover her removal costs.

Knowing I was about to move I made a massive mental note: moving stuff you know you don't even need is just soul-destroying. And then came the good news: you can now use them to sell clothes online as well!

I'm not too proud to admit that I have bags and bags of clothes that live in the attic. I've been through the stuff that is charity-shopable and still have tonnes of stuff I think friends might like, or can't bear to just give away as they were expensive. (Kurt Geiger boots worn once? A Reiss bag that was a lunch hour impulse purchase but was too expensive to just give away?)

We've been staying with a friend until our house purchase (hopefully!) goes through. We filled a small van with things to bring with us and put the rest into storage. Babies need lots of stuff, so we limited ourselves to one laundry bag of clothes each. Working out what to bring was easier than I'd imagined; what they say in those magazine articles about only wearing about 10% of your actual wardrobe is true. I grabbed the things that I constantly rotate, a few things that suit me but I don't wear enough, and my new Whistles dress, for special occasions.

A couple of bags (one everyday, one for more dressy things), a couple of pairs of heels as well as my Converse and APC Nikes and I was, as they stay in yon' United States, good to go.

I can safely say I haven't missed a thing. And when we move, I'm vowing to get rid of the lot and operate a strict one in, one out policy. Needless to say, the picture above is NOT a picture of my wardrobe.

image courtesy of finelittleday

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Sunday, 24 March 2013

March madness.


Whoa! That was a long break between posts. As you might imagine, I've been busy. Baby-wise, Arthur is a total joy. He's becoming more and more alert and interactive, he cries when Daddy leaves the room, likes sitting and banging in a high chair, and just has the best, bravest, calmest nature. He doesn't cry at bedtime he giggles. Seriously, he's the best baby, which has made my whole experience really lovely and pretty stress-free. I've been so lucky on that front.

Home-wise, we've had a bit of a crazy time. We are looking to buy a house, now that Arthur really needs a room of his own. We were renting a house in Barnet which we really liked, but our landlord wanted to sign us up to another long contract, which didn't work for us as we are hoping to buy soon. After much deliberating, and trying and failing to buy the house next door, we decided to get out and throw ourselves into buying a place. We're now staying at a friend's, have found a place and had our offer accepted. We just need to see if it sticks now! (And what the survey says.) Fingers crossed. It has been quite stressful, but also feels really good to be proactive. (And avoiding having to listen to the lovely house next door we wanted to buy being gutted and done up for the next two months. Observation: property makes even the nicest people go insane and greedy, amirite?)

Other-wise, when I get a second to think about anything other than babies and houses, I keep straying to the Zara website and filling up my basket, am obsessed with Lena Dunham, (LOVED the Girls finale!), and hoping to do some baking from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.Chocolate chip brioche pretzels, anyone? (The friend we're staying with, George, has the most space-age kitchen. Perfect for baking!)

Back to London today after a week up in Yorkshire stuffing myself with chocolate and naps. Keep your fingers crossed for the house, please!

(The South Wind print from The Old Try. Just because I like it and want it in my new hallway.)

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Going mumderground.

It's such a cliche but really, nothing prepares you for the arrival of your first baby. You can read all of the books and do all of the shopping but nothing can prepare you for how much your life will change. Completely.

Aside from the whole emotional journey of becoming a parent, practically there is an incredible change of pace. From rushing around for work, running to meet friends, cycling busy streets, pounding the gym – sometimes all in one day – you find yourself on the sofa, literally unable to move for hours on end while the baby is on you, feeding. It's nice, it's just completely different. 

At first I felt as though I was in a non-stop chain of chores – nursing for hours at a time, expressing milk, sterilising bottles, all day every day. I despaired at the constant changing of tiny clothes. I read someone compare it to perpetual motion, which is exactly right. But then the feeding calms down, you become more organised, more relaxed, and settle into a routine.

It took us about six and a half weeks to find our routine, which made all the difference and made it feel less like a never-ending mill of baby admin. And topping up the baby's feeds with formula really helped: he is a hungry baby and I'd feed him for hours and he'd still be hungry. Demoralising and, for me, not worth the stress of trying to stick solely to breastfeeding. (Breastfeeding is surprisingly tricky. If you're struggling, the website kellymom has great, in-depth advice. I'd advise trying not to worry about giving them formula if you have to. They need to eat, you need to stay sane.)

Another breakthrough was realising you can just put them down. At first, I felt as though I had to constantly be in the same room as him, talking to him and keeping an eye on him. It was highly boring and stressful: I couldn't work out when to wash my hair or eat my lunch. Realising that I could leave him having a nap or bring him along with me in his bouncy chair was a breakthrough. I can eat! Tidy up the kitchen! Have a shower! It felt like freedom again.

So, nearly four months in, I find myself settled into the routine and adapting to the new way of life. I miss having the time and energy to exercise like I used to, but take him for a long walk up and down the hill, do a bit of yoga, and am going to try the local gym's crèche. I make lunch whenever I want and take my time getting ready to go out while he bounces away on his chair, playing with his toys. I missed going to the cinema, so tried a baby screening and it was great. And it can be a pain having to haul the baby with you everywhere you go, but I find my friends are loving hanging out with little Artie as well. It's a new experience for us all.

It's hard and crazy at first when your whole world changes but I found that with time you adapt and it gets easier. A friend told me she spent the first month perched anxiously on the edge of the sofa and I can totally relate. I couldn't even concentrate on Strictly. But gradually, you relax into it. I'm trying to appreciate having time to do the things I never used to have time to do. 

So, today I'm listening to Tales of The City, making a huge pot of daal and enjoying the little moments, like singing West End Girls to the baby and him loving it. When the smiles and giggles come it feels like the pay-off for all the hard work and you can't wait for the next milestone. This little human you made sitting up? Crawling? It's just the beginning of one long, crazy trip...