Last year, 5 days after Buster was born we had some photos taken by the amazing Polly of Little Kin. It was a bit of a struggle to get everyone up and organised, clothes sorted and so forth, house tidied etc after only being home a couple of days and I could barely sit down, but my goodness it was worth it. Lying on the sofa feeding the baby in the weeks after that I was able to put together a book of the photos, make birth cards to send as thank you notes, each time I scrolled through the photos reminiscing how tiny he was (and he wasn’t really, he was 10lb 8oz…). I promised myself that each year around their birthdays (they celebrate a week apart, both born at 40+5) we would meet Polly and have some more photos taken. I managed to keep that promise to myself and we lucked out with a glorious spring day – we went back to the same places that I had my maternity photos taken but I will save those for another post. She took photos of the whole family and I will share those in due course but no-one want to scroll through hundreds of photos in any one post. For this one, I’ve chosen the ones of Pip and I having a lovely time playing in the camellias, in what felt like a place where fairies would live, whilst Polly did something magical with her camera.

Life has been pretty tricky since these were taken if I am honest. I’ve been struggling rather with feeling super low, unable to do much beyond get myself to work 5 times a week and look after the children, household and so on. Sadly blogging did have to take rather a break for a bit, but I’m hoping I might be recovering and coming up for air a little bit… We will see. Trying to be kind to myself and not endlessly berate myself for what I haven’t done, rather celebrating the little moments of joy and beauty. Like these camellias…

Fashion notes for those interested: Pip wears blouse by Elfie London and skirt by Pipkin Clothing, my dress by Teija.

All photos by Polly of Little Kin. (This is not a sponsored post!)

As part of my series on Things to do in the Summer Holidays, I thought I’d also share some of my tried and tested travel essentials. From a day trip to the park to taking on board a flight, these are the things I pack time and time again.

Travel with kids- The Little Pip essentials (1)

Some of them are quite obvious – a bag to carry things in is clearly essential. I like this Fjällräven Rucksack No. 21 for carrying all this stuff around in. It’s not a baby bag but it does have 2 good outside pockets for water bottles (not pictured, my favourite Klean Kanteen stainless steel bottle, as well as a laptop sleeve inside, and allows you to keep your hands free to deal with 2 kids. In it, I carry the Tiba + Marl Etta changing pouch with WaterWipes, nappies etc and several muslins.

I also always pack our Green People children’s sun cream which I love because I can use it on Pip’s skin even though she has eczema, and sun hats for everyone.

If we are going to be travelling in any car which is not ours, such as a taxi, I always pack our Bubblebum which is a portable, inflatable booster seat. It comes in a little travel pouch and is much easier to stow than a normal seat. It is also great if you travel by plane and plan to pick up a rental car as it means you can avoid the heavy hire costs on the other side. We were sent ours to review, and it is one of those products which I genuinely don’t know what we did before we got one, and am telling everyone how useful they are!

Lastly – two more random things but ones which I find incredibly useful. First, the Love Boo Sleep & Snuggle Room & Pillow spray. I am a big believer in scent and the positive associations which can be built using it. I spray this every night in the kid’s rooms before they go to bed (now that LB is 3 months, I spray it near his bed too) – it is calming, and soothing and smells of lavender and chamomile and particularly in hot weather makes the room seem cooler. As we use it at home, I also take it with us when we go away, so that their room or bed, whilst not actually familiar, at least smells more familiar.

Secondly, an enamel plate (& knife/fork/spoon) is something I use time and time again. Particularly in the car, although on foot as well, having a plate & cutlery to hand for impromptu picnics saves so much hassle. I usually carry the pasta plate type plate which doubles as a bowl (and on one memorable occasion a sick bowl – I was very proud of my reflexes to manage to lean round into the back seat having whipped this plate out of my bag in the front seat in time to catch all the vomit in it!)

And because no trip or bag is complete without a book for entertainment, this Peepo book is our current favourite reading for both kids together.

Not pictured – a first aid kit & hand sanitizer.

What have I missed? What is on your essentials list?

Photos courtesy of MillionEyez – a visual social engagement platform where you can easily create & use community-driven photo collections and curate photos according to your needs. You can also select from their ready-made photo boxes and invite your readers to become part of the story. 

I am working with MillionEyez to promote their competition to win an Olympus Pen camera by creating and embedding a photobox on a blog post of your choice. See more here.

London was looking so inviting in the May drizzle this morning but the longer evenings are definitely here. One of the things I love to do at lunchtime in the city is head out for a walk and eat lunch outside – seeking out secret spots and hidden gardens to perch in on a bench with my coffee and sandwich. The sun might not have been out today but it will will be back. (I have to keep reminding myself that, metaphorically too).

London is full of lovely places to sit for a while; little squares, tiny gardens and even a host of other not so tiny gardens which are probably unlikely ever to be used to their full potential because, deliberately or otherwise, they have been hidden in plain sight by the developers and planners. You have probably heard of the most famous one – the Sky Garden in the “walkie-talkie’ building which was created – primarily at least – to comply with a condition attached to the building’s planning permission pursuant to s.106 of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990. There are however lots more which are totally accessible only often marked with tiny little signs as public despite the railings and gates (or security systems) suggesting otherwise.

Other hidden gardens are equally hidden but aren’t the work of a developer complying with planning permission and are more welcoming to the public, if you know where to look. This infographic which Artificial Grass London sent me has some great suggestions for some lovely hidden gardens which would make a lovely walk at lunchtime. I can also recommend one of my favourite locations near my office which is Lincoln’s Inn (not the Fields which are obvious, but duck through one of the gateways into the Inn itself and there are beautiful lawns and sunny benches, just right for a lunch break).

Are they any more suggestions that I should try? Any other secret gardens out there?

Collaborative Post