Archive of ‘Lifestyle’ category

Back to blogging

It’s been almost a year since I blogged – and easily a year since I blogged with any regularity. Suddenly though, it feels like the time to come back to it.

I never really set out to become a mummy blogger – or any kind of blogger for that matter- but having some time away has made me want to come back to it all.

I stopped writing here last year for a few reasons. Work felt increasingly busy and I was tired out by the evenings. I’d gone up to 4.5 days a week and didn’t feel like I also had the energy to put into my blog. More than anything, I had no desire to keep up with the competitiveness that seemed to have crept into blogging networks.

Instead, I thought I might spend my evenings finally getting that manuscript together for the book I secretly know I’ll never finish writing. I thought I might take up a more constructive hobby. But it seems the best part of a year has passed and there’s still more of the book in my mind than on paper. I’ve watched a lot of TV, drunk a lot of wine, and definitely not done anything constructive in the time I’ve gained by not blogging.

I’ve remained friends with the very brilliant and lovely group of women I met (years ago now), through my blog. I guess we started off as, largely, London mummy bloggers – now we’re doing all sorts of things. Those friendships aren’t based around blogging anymore, but there’s still something about blogging that I miss. It’s the wider connections, the community, the network, the being a part of something.

Whether we write for ourselves, for our children as a record, for our mental health for catharsis, for an income to support our families – whatever the reason, this year off has given me some perspective. It’s made me feel incredibly awed by what the blogging community is doing. I am amazed everyday by what the group of incredibly strong women around me who do this have achieved – be their successes very personal to them or wide-reaching.

For me – I’ve missed writing. I’ve missed adding my voice to the noise (because yes, even if it is noise, where else will it be heard if not here?), and I’ve missed recording the stories of my family’s life. Without my blog, I’m not very good at doing it.

I am, more than ever, determined that women’s voices aren’t drowned out. I spend every day at work trying to strengthen the power of our voices as a collective. And it feels like I’ve silenced myself in some way, by not writing, talking and publishing here.

I’m not quite sure whether this blog will stay the same as the children grow – they need their own space and this shouldn’t be it. But what I do know is that this was always my space for me to be me. It feels good to be back.

Kiran Chug back to blogging

Making someplace home

It is a year since we moved into our new home and we’ve all grown up so much in that time. I’ve changed jobs, Jasmin has started nursery, Milin is getting ready to finish nursery, Tony has been back to New Zealand for a month – and as well as all this we’ve just been getting on with things.

The children have moved into a shared bedroom, we have bought some furniture, done little in the garden, and put up some shelves inside but not much more. We have plans to convert the shed at the bottom of the garden into a studio, to convert the loft into two rooms, and a sandpit is half built on the edge of the lawn.

We’ve made new friends in our new street, Milin will go to school with them from September and Jasmin will go the following year. We’re regulars at the park at the end of the road, we’ve got our local hangouts – my favourite yoga studio, the children’s favourite bridge for Pooh sticks. This place is feeling like home.

I’m still searching for the right paintings for the walls, the children could do with shelves in their bedroom, and we need to put in a wall and open up another one to give us more space in the kitchen. But, this place is where we come at the end of the day to gather each other up and talk and hug and sigh and smile. It’s the place that we’re together, as each night falls and new day starts, it is where we can be us.

In this year, we’ve have made this our home. We’ve done it together. The children seem so much older than they did when we moved in. Jasmin now talks all the time and surprises me constantly with her smartness and fierceness. Milin, who found it so hard to settle in, is taking life very much in his stride.

Life has felt busy recently, and as we are on the home stretch to the summer holidays, it is perhaps feeling like more of a race to the finish than usual. But looking back on this year, I realise how much we have done, changed, grown, lived… And it makes me realise that taking a bit of time out just to be together and notice all we’ve done is a lovely way to look back on a year. A year that we made some place home.new house red door

When your husband goes away for a month

I spent nearly a decade away from the UK before returning home to London. I’d visit every year or so, savouring the days with old friends and family, walking down familiar streets, reminiscing over places that had changed, reliving happy memories. Those trips home made living so far from home manageable.

Now it’s Tony’s turn – and he is away for a month. He needs to see his family, to spend evenings laughing with old school friends, to walk along the shoreline in Wellington and look over the harbour to the valley where he grew up. I wish I was there for fish and chips on the beach, for swims in the too-cold sea, for walks up the hills and for days and nights with people I miss so much. I miss the big horizon, the big sky, the big weather. I miss the stars and the crashing seas. A month’s visit would barely be enough.

This is one of the hardest things for us. New Zealand – Tony’s home – became mine. When we left Tony’s home and family and friends, we left mine too. I’d come to love that land and I only knew once I’d left that I’d belonged. Now though, or rather, for now, we live so very far away. And as much as we want to be there, we can’t be. Not just now.

Maybe this will be what we do for the next few years and years. If Tony goes home every now and then, maybe he will manage the heart wrench of being away.

Falling in love with someone from the other side of the world has made our lives complicated. And this month apart will be hard. But Milin and Jasmin have amazed me with their resilience. I’m not sure we’d cope without Facetime, but they’re little troopers, doing ok. Milin tells me every day that daddy is his best friend and he misses him. Jasmin wants to see him on the phone whenever she can. Jasmin tells Milin that mummy can’t fix broken toys and he has to wait for daddy to come back. Milin gets out his Lego and pictures of what he wants to make and tells me to try my hardest to make things like daddy does. They’re sad and don’t understand how long he is away for – but really, they’re amazing because they’re also busy and distracted and just getting on with playing and being happy and doing all those things that four year olds and two year olds do.

And me? I miss him. It’s a long time to be without your best friend. But this is what it is to love someone from the other side of the world. We’ll find our way. Somehow, with Milin and Jasmin making sure we don’t dwell on the tough stuff, we’ll get there.story time reading books

Dresses for Spring and Summer

The children spent an hour just scooting up and down the street outside our house today. They didn’t have coats on, we left the front door open, and they only stopped because they got hungry and thirsty. For the first time in months, we were outside, without coats on, in full sunshine under a bright blue sky – and we were warm. Spring is finally here.

I can’t wait to update my wardrobe with a few bits for the warmer weather. I’m on a *very* tight budget though, and so when High Street Outlet got in touch and asked if I’d like to pick a few items to review, I felt very lucky – what perfect timing.

I’d not heard of High Street Outlet before, but they buy in factory surplus stock from high street stores – and then sell it for a fraction of the price. Often, the brand’s labels are cut out but since I don’t really care what the label on the inside of my clothes says or doesn’t say – this doesn’t bother me at all!

There’s so much choice on the site, but the first thing that caught my eyes was this lovely Monsoon Aztec shift kaftan dress. In sheer navy, this beautifully embroidered dress comes with an underslip and is super comfy and easy to wear. It’s classic Monsoon – something a bit different, a bit smart, a bit boho, and works in so many situations. So far, it’s a work dress, an evening dress, and a dress I’m definitely packing for our holiday in the sun later this month for warm evenings chilling at the hotel. I still can’t get over that such a stunning dress is only £22.50 – it really is something special!

 

Monsoon dressMy other favourite was this Boden Lupin maxi dress. At £24.99 it’s another fabulous bargain and something I know I’ll get lots of wear out of from now until at least September. I’m only five foot two, but I love a long dress because they’re so easy to wear all summer – and, like the Monsoon dress, this will get worn on lots of occasions and definitely be coming with me on holiday. (It’s also SO lovely to find a maxi dress that doesn’t need hemming. Hurrah!

The very pretty and extra comfy gold strappy flats from Monsoon/Accesorize were my final bargain from HighStreet Outlet. They were only £12.99 and I plan to wear them with everything!

 

Boden maxi dressIf you’re near Poole, Dorset, make sure to check out Highstreet Outlet ‘in real life’ as they open their doors once a month to the public. And if you’re not, enjoy having a browse online – there’s lots to choose from, and if it’s a bargain, you can justify getting something else as well… right?

*Disclosure: I was sent the above items for the purpose of this review. 

Why I will be hiding my grey hair

Kiran Chug

More and more grey hairs seem to be making themselves visible along my hairline. I’ve always had a few, but in the last few years I’ve become more and more conscious of them.

I’ve thought about hair dye on and off for ages. And, up until a few weeks ago, I was determined not to start using it. I didn’t care that greying gave away my age – I thought. I didn’t want to succumb to an expectation that women died their hair as they got older. I didn’t want to give in to a convention whereby we respond to the pressure to look younger – or so I thought. It isn’t that I’m confident about my appearance – I just didn’t really feel the need to make myself look younger.

Until a few weeks ago, when I changed my mind.

I have a birthday coming up, and I don’t particularly like birthdays. I find myself, every year, wallowing in a state of discontent for weeks. I feel like I’ve failed to achieve what I once thought I might have done by the time I reached this arbitrary count of days. I measure myself up against what my idyllic teenage self once thought I’d have done by this time, and I fail miserably and resoundingly. I take stock, and I don’t like it.

Once, before I knew really anything about life and people and myself, I had daft expectations of it all. This by this age, that by that age, etc, etc… I’ve known for a long, long time that life doesn’t turn out the way your teenage self thought it would, but I still can’t help, every birthday, feeling like I’ve failed. (For the rest of the year, I’m generally more able to see all the good in my world and feel mostly incredibly happy about it.)

But, given that the point in the year when I feel most rubbish about myself is nearly here, the grey hairs are taking up too much of my time. Not because I’m dying them, but because I’m thinking about them. All. The. Time. In fact, I’d probably spend less time on them if I was actually standing in front of the bathroom mirror and pasting them with chemicals every few weeks.

I know well the argument that women become invisible as they age. It makes me annoyed and generally disheartened by the values society places on women. But my reason for caring about my greys is pure vanity. When I see a salt and pepper hairline in the mirror, I don’t feel very pretty. Over the years, I’ve bought into what ‘pretty’ is and come to value it. Grey hair doesn’t fit in the image I’ve built.

Whether or not that’s because of a social construct of what prettiness is, isn’t my point. My point is that I’ve bought into the image, and I can’t stand up to it – even though I thought I would. I don’t mind being older, per se – so long as I don’t look like I’ve aged. I don’t feel confident enough in how I am and how I look, I suppose, to let the world see me in this natural state as it veers away the vision of non-greyness.

I’ve tried to quiz my husband on my greys. ‘Do you notice them? Do you think they make me look old?’ Of course he won’t answer because he doesn’t believe me that I won’t hold his answers against him during a future tiff. But, it’s not really about him or what he or anyone else sees.

This is about me and my mask and my armour. When you’re feeling down about who you are and what you’ve done, you need to pull strength from somewhere. That strength is a front, and my front is the layers of make-up, the heels on days when I don’t feel like I measure up, and – soon – a shade of hair colour bought in a bottle.

I wish I wasn’t so shallow. I didn’t think I would be at my age.

Slowing down, and listening to my tired children

mother and daughter hugging

So much of life seems to be about rushing around: from one place to the next, from one drop off point to one pick up point, from one appointment to another. We take the children with us. Through the week, it’s relentless. Over the weekend, it slows down – but not always as much as we need it to.

Our average week is nothing special. It’s probably similar to that of many of other families. In fact, it’s probably far easier than that of many families because we are so lucky with the support we have around us. But still, it’s relentless. It’s based around a very careful juggling act. The schedule must be followed by everyone involved. There’s no room for lateness, or for anyone to forget their rostered part.

The children have their daddy at home one day a week, their mummy at home one other day of the week, and they are with their grandparents the other three days. There are 14 different nursery runs to do – Milin goes five days a week, Jasmin goes two days a week – they go to nurseries on opposite ends of the borough. There are tubes to catch, offices to get to, offices to leave on time to get the children on time, from the right place, to the right place. On the days that we’re not home with the children, we leave home at seven, and often return around six.

The clothes must be laid out the night before, the lunches made, the library books found, the nursery letter signed and the spare kit bags by the door. There isn’t any room for anyone to forget.

Term recently restarted after the holidays. Our break had been spent lazing around the house in the mornings, not getting dressed until late. We’d watched Disney movies and gone for long walks in the woods. It was quiet, slow, bliss. Together, we made the most of the hours. But then we had to pick up the routine.

It wiped them out. They fell asleep in the car on the way home. On those first few days I barely saw them as they were just too tired in the hour at each end of my working day. It made me think about this busy life of ours. And how they are just little children, who we rush around from place to place, day after day, hour after hour.

I’m exhausted by it. It’s no wonder they are.

I love this life, but so much of it makes me exhausted. Watching the children sleep in the back of the car the other evening on the way home I thought back to our old life. Yes we were on the other side of the world, but in our smaller towns with shorter commutes, where life was simpler and less busy and it just was that you were outside more – would it be this way? I took every one of those eight years in New Zealand for granted.

I can’t compare life in these two places. But seeing how tired my children are these days makes me sad. And it also makes me more determined to listen to them on our days off. When it’s time to slow down, when they say they need a rest, when they don’t want to rush to the next place – I’ll be listening.

mother and daughter hugging

 

Time together, time for Christmas

I’ve been feeling excited about Christmas for weeks, for but a few little family outings over the weekend ramped the level up another notch. I took the children to see a phenomenal show – Land of Lights – at the Arts Depot in Finchley, and we also paid a special visit to see Santa at Springtime nurseries Christmas Wonderland at Crews Hill, Enfield. Both were such magical visits, and the weekend was bookended with Milin’s Christmas show at nursery and a family visit on Sunday complete with Prosecco and mince pies after trips to the park and the flower market.

With only a few days to go and the presents all wrapped, what has also been really lovely is the sense that we are enjoying each other. I still have half a day to work tomorrow – but Tony and the children are off now and I will be too very soon. It’s so nice to not have to rush them out of the door at 7am while they’re hardly awake. It’s so nice not to worry about packed lunches and spare clothes. And it’s so good for them to have a little rest. We rush them around during the weeks of term time and forget, I think, sometimes that they’re only little. They need a holiday as much as we do, and they also need to spend time with us.

But to go back to our pre-Christmas weekend – it really was special. It started with my day off work. I spent the morning with Jasmin on a cafe date which was a treat for us both, and we then went to Milin’s nursery for his Christmas show. They sang four songs to the parents and he knew every word. I couldn’t believe how grown up he was, he confident he was, and how much of a little character he was. Seeing him in his nursery environment was lovely and I was so ridiculously proud.

Saturday morning was spent at the amazing Christmas Wonderland that the Springtime nurseries garden centre creates every year. It truly was phenomenal. We saw live reindeer, went on a little train through Santa’s grotto, saw life-size polar bears and penguins, and the elves making the toys in Santa’s workshop. The children met Santa too – which was so exciting for them. It made me realise how much they’d grown up in a year as I took them to the same place last year and Milin really didn’t understand as much and Jasmin slept through it! This year though they are so excited it’s so sweet to see and listen in on.

The afternoon was spent at our favourite local arts venue – the Arts Depot. The children were lucky enough to see Room on the Broom there recently, and I felt very lucky to have been given tickets to review Land of Lights as well. It was such a brilliant performance – unlike anything I’ve seen before, and such a lovely family event for this time of year. It was perfect for their age, and probably great for any kids up to five, and I’d highly recommend it. It’s a beautiful little story about stars having fallen from the sky, a balloonist in search of them, and little people living in little houses waiting for the stars to return.

The children sit around the stage and are totally involved and immersed in the action. They get their hands grubby searching for stars, are encouraged to answer questions, and are even dressed up as little explorers. Milin in particular loved it and I really thought it was some of the best children’s theatre we’ve seen. I’ll be looking for more from Oily Cart who put the show on!

Our festive weekend also saw us wander around the stunning Columbia Road flower market in Hackney and the children loved picking out flowers with me and their aunty. I collected pussy willows, Christmas berries and eucalyptus and now I can’t wait for the big day. I’m wishing for more of what we’ve had – time to enjoy each other.  Life has been so busy lately that this is all we need.

Jasmin in Christmas hatNursery christmas show santa hatChristmas wonderland crews hillSanta's Grotto Crews Hill Enfield

land of lightsJasmin Columbia Road flower market tulips

Room on the Broom – a review

We haven’t taken the children to the theatre for a while, but at this time of year it’s such a lovely activity. Last week, my parents took them along to a show at our amazing local venue, the artsdepot in North London. They were lucky enough to be given review tickets for Room on the Broom – and even before they went I was jealous.

I had to work, but I left the children at my mum’s with their Sunday best outfits in their bags (it was a Wednesday, but, you know…) and kissed them goodbye knowing they were set to have a great day.

They both love Room on the Broom – Milin in particular is a big fan, just because he’s always been so besotted by books and stories. Jasmin is coming round to them, but likes one book repeatedly for months before she moves on. It means she’s not got through as many stories yet. Milin was a major fan of the Gruffalo for a while, and then Room on the Broom. He loves the animation and we’ve spent hours watching it on repeat, but above all he loves being read the story.

Unsurprisingly, he absolutely loved the show. Mum said he spent the entire performance completely enthralled, laughing out loud at all the jokes and comic moments, and captivated by the action as it unfolded on the stage. At almost four, he’s the perfect age for the show. I think knowing the story so well also helped him really get the most out of it.

The Room on the Broom is classic Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler – memorable characters, quirky story, enough repetition to draw in the kids but enough action and movement to keep the story moving… and all of this transferred really well on stage, I’ve been told.

Jasmin spent the entire show sitting on my mum’s lap and sucking her thumb, but she took the story all in and is still talking about it. She was a little afraid of the dragon – but other than that she was fine.

The artsdepot proved to us once again that it’s a superb venue for children’s theatre. It’s so handy to us, but they really do put on a wonderful selection of shows. The Room on the Broom is a perfect Christmas show and a lovely excuse for a day out withe your littles. I’d really recommend reading the book together first, but then, go have fun, enjoy, be carried away on the story, and laugh just like Milin – loudly, happily, and all the way through. Make sure to stop at the cafe afterwards too, and, if you have time, look in on the art exhibitions. The space here really is fantastic for little ones to take everything in. Room_On_The_Broom_Main

Racial tensions

Fear was straightforward once. Irrational maybe, but predictable nonetheless. I didn’t like heights or spiders. I was afraid of failing exams, of not getting jobs, of putting on weight. Once, those fears were neat and tidy and contained. I knew when I’d feel them, what the triggers were, and how I’d react. I didn’t conquer those fears, yet as they were largely present around the edges of life and lurking in corners, they rarely posed problems or had any significant impact on daily life.

And then Milin was born.

A new fear crept itself around me to become all-encompassing. From the moment he was placed on my chest, and I worried I would drop him as I was shaking so much from the drugs and more drugs I’d had, the fear set in.

I worried he was too cold, or over-heating, or starving, or over-fed, or about to be sick, or had I put him down before he had brought up all his wind. From the start, I was afraid I wasn’t doing enough of a good job. The fear was no longer about me – it was about the tiny brand new love of my life who needed me, really need me, not to mess up.

It didn’t go away, it was always still there, simmering, waiting to pounce on a moment of weakness. Because fear in the end, preys on vulnerability and our belief in it.

So I managed it, but every now and then, it would wake me. For weeks on end, I’d not be able to push the fear away at night. Fear over Milin’s health, fear over Jasmin’s hypermobility and another popped out elbow, fear over Jasmin settling into nursery. It would talk to me in the small hours, awful scenarios playing out, not letting me close my eyes to the worst possible outcomes of every set-piece.

But there are a newer set of fears too. And I can’t make them go away.

Safety.

We had an email from our local neighbourhood watch a few days ago, listing the vehicle crime and home burglaries committed over the last month in the streets surrounding us in our leafy suburb. It’s terrified me.

It would have scared me before having children, but now, suddenly, I feel we are vulnerable. I can’t push this worry away, or bury it in amongst level-headed facts about probabilities, locked doors and house alarms.

And tonight I’ve realised that my  newest fear feeds on the tension that seems to be building around us. On our streets, our news channels. A knife attack on the tube,  a tabloid inciting racial hatred through front page headlines, a call for a ban on Muslim immigrants by Donald Trump. I’m dumbfounded by the proposal – I expect most people in Britain will be. At least, I hope they will.

I’ve held back these last few weeks from writing about war, about refugee children, about the impending winter at the Calais Jungle camp. But it feels like the tension around us is rising. When powerful men, guaranteed to be given column inches, draw such divisive lines around ‘them’ and ‘us’, things are shifting and we are on dangerous, unsteady ground.

Around the world people people were and are persecuted for their beliefs. But how, with all this world has seen, can this still be? As those divisions on racial lines are perpetuated, we are seeing immense desperation. My fair-skinned children might escape the ugly experience of racism because they don’t look a certain way, but I refuse to be grateful of their skin tone. It is who they are. Nobody should be judged on their religion or the colour of their skin – regardless of what those are. This seems to me to be such a fundamental right that should belong to every member of the human race, why and how are we messing this up?

I’m heartbroken that my biggest fears today are driven by there being so much hatred in the world. It’s a hatred founded on fear of difference, on ignorance, and on myopia.

Look at my two beautiful children – they don’t know anything about the cruelty that exists in our world and they know nothing of the prejudices that are being played on. They understand good, they are coming to know bad, they don’t know evil.

playing in the park

When does this change? Because look where a knowledge of good and evil takes us: somewhere so incredibly dark that racial tensions are my greatest fears.

https://www.facebook.com/mummysaysmusingsonmotherhood

And then the fun began...

Planning Christmas in our new home

Christmas tree

This Christmas will be the first in our new home. We’ll have been here, amazingly, for almost six months, and I’ll be hosting a meal on Christmas day. It’ll be the first time the food has been my responsibility – and I can’t wait.Christmas tree

We put our tree up on December 1, and Milin and Jasmin are so excited about anything remotely related to Christmas. Jasmin of course has no idea what is going on – she’s tormented by the advent calendar being put away after one chocolate, she calls all lights everywhere ‘Christmas trees’ now, whether they are on them or not. But, still, she knows something exciting is happening. Milin is far more in the know and remembers last year. Safe to say, he’s got an idea he might get spoilt.

I’ll do another post on the other ways we’ve been getting the house ready – our wreath, festive place settings and table displays – because this one is largely about food! We’ll have had a roast turkey the day before at my parents’, so it’s up to me to do something different. I’ve been talking to all the family members who will be coming round to us, and I think we’ve settled on roast beef. I’m still working on all the trimmings, but one option is this – an apple and butternut squash bake. As you can see, I’ve given it a test run, and it’s yum!tesco Christmas #festivefoodswap

tesco #festivefoodswap apple and butternut squash bake

The the butternut squash and apple bake  was suggested by American Mum in England . Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients: 900g butternut squash, 85g soft brown sugar, 60g melted butter, 1/2 teaspoon ground mace, 1 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp flour, 2 large baking apples, raisins, walnuts, cranberries to taste.

Slice squash into 1/2 inch slices and apple into 1cm slices. Line a greased oven dish with the squash then the apple. Mix remaining ingredients in a small dish then spread over squash and apples. Cover with foil and bake at 180 deg for 45 mins. Remove foil and bake for another 5-10 mins until golden.

We tried out this meal as part of Tesco’s Festive Food Swap a campaign designed to encourage you to try meals from other countries at this time of year. It worked – apparently this bake is traditional American seasonal dish for this time of year.

As for the other sides, Tony has requested braised red cabbage with apples. I love this dish too and I’ll be giving it a test run this week to check it’s perfect on the day. Pudding is almost taken care of thanks to Tesco who sent us an amazing Christmas hamper which included a Christmas pudding which looks divine. This was again for their #FestiveFoodSwap which is a lovely idea – and prompted me to get very excited about trying out different foods from around the world. I’m yet to sample the Bucks Fizz and Mulled wine, but I’m sure they’ll go down a treat! I’ve never had Stollen bites, which I can’t wait for – but probably most exciting is the gingerbread house I’m going to do with the kids. Expect loads of Instagram photos as we eat our way around the world via ingredients and treats from Tesco!

tesco #festivefoodswap hamper Christmas treatsBut bake to pudding – and I am going to make something as well as serve up the amazing looking Christmas pudding from Tesco. Part of me wants to do a pavlova – it’s such a typical Kiwi Christmas sweet, but it doesn’t feel quite right in the winter. I think I will go with something very decadent and chocolate-y in the end as I know that will make everyone happy – but I’m still not sure what. There was a pavlova base included in our hamper though – so of course, this Saturday night… I had to do this!tesco #festivefoodswap pavlova

Over the next two weeks though I’m going to be practising the perfect roast beef and perfecting the rest of my meal plan. (Minus pavlova.) I want to get the timing planned out so I can work it around the children’s routines – but this might be wishful thinking. The closer I get, the more excited I am about hosting. I think I’ve got my table centre piece and decorations decided on and we’ve even got a new table which is extendable so hopefully we’ll all be comfy on the big day.

I’ve been thinking so much about how different Christmas is here compared to the Christmases in New Zealand. There, we’d be sitting in the sun on Christmas day – likely around a barbecue which we’d pile high with fresh seafood before going for a beach walk. Our menu of winter fare will be so different this year, but I’d still like to get some of those influences from our other home in.

The Tesco #FestiveFoodSwap has been a lovely way to explore the foods eaten around the world for Christmas. With our hamper, I’ll be sampling even more and I can’t wait. I’m just not sure I want to share them all!

Above all though, I can’t wait for this house, our home, to hold our first Christmas here. I hope we fill it with love and laughter.

*This is a sponsored post, written with Tesco as part of their #FestiveFoodSwap.

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