(Side note/Top note, whatever: If you are a true Manc, this should be pronounced ‘R Kid, in the voice of Noel Gallagher ideally. )

It’s no secret, I love a bit of Chorlton. I would go as far as to say, I’m openly jealous of all the lucky folks who get to live there. I keep being told little old Urmston is heading the same way as Chorlton. One can only hope.

20160715_104056

Now this place, with its cool name, chalk grey exterior and locally roasted coffee should by rights reside on Beech Road. However, perhaps that was just a little too clichéd for them, or maybe the extortionate rents persuaded them otherwise. Either way, sitting right opposite a primary school and a two minute walk from the library, I think they’re going to do just fine.

Lots of people on the South Manchester mummy scene are talking about this place at the moment, for all the right reasons. A one-stop shop, where you can feed and clothe the kids, grab a book for your sanity and buy a last-minute present and card for that toddler party happening that afternoon. In addition to ALL this you get great banter!

20160715_104020

I had to borrow a child for the outing now all mine have abandoned me, so my 13 month old niece came to the rescue. She always feels sorry for sad old Aunty Lianne. When we arrived and I saw all the niceties on the shelves, I thought oh man, she’s going to be in to all that before we’ve even sat down. But the lovely Laura, one third owner, came to the rescue, with a mahoosive box of toys. And there were a couple of these available, so no shortage of stock saving toys for your little ones to play with.

20160715_103948

A lot of the seating is outside, with kid-friendly astro laid down for your little ones to kick about on. As a constantly cold person, I opted to sit inside. The tables were industrial chic, made at the workshop, Reclaimed Bespoke, a couple of doors down. The guy who owned it came in for coffees whilst I was there and in all honesty was a bit fit, so that passed an easy five minutes.

20160715_101628

Once, I had ordered (homemade granola with yoghurt and berries, an almond croissant, phily on toast, an Americano and a babycino £10), I perused the merch and chatted with Laura. (Incidentally, if you’re reading sister, I did pay Sylv attention as well!) You can see from the pictures everything that you can get your hands on. From frilly tutus to night lights, teething necklaces and some honest words on parenting courtesy of The Unmumsy Mum book, there is a vast array of covetable stuff in this bijou coffee shop.

20160715_104026

20160715_104014

The food was good, the granola was so good, as was the coffee which is roasted and ground right there in Chorlton. But the really refreshing thing. That I could grab a Sylvie sized breakfast for £1! So many places fail to properly cater for children’s/babies miniscule appetites and consequently ‘please just eat a bit more’, ‘look at all that waste’ conversations ensue. Not good for the stress levels. I could see most of the kitchen from where I was sat and felt really reassured that the food was good quality, fresh and prepared in a spotless environment.

20160715_102449

You can tell the ladies who run this place, want your children to be treated in the same way they would like their children to be treated and have put thought and time into the little things that matter, like nappy sacks, blankets for cold legs, plastic cups and plates and much more. This results in a budget friendly, kid friendly, mum/dad friendly, stress free experience and I will definitely be back soon.

20160715_103925

 

 

 

 

It’s grey, drizzly and downright depressing outside. Its the great British summer! On days like these I find myself day-dreaming about holidays past and this is one I’ve been meaning to share for a while. It seemed like such a mammoth task to do our summer holiday 2015 justice, that I just kept putting it off.

But this place really is so amazingly fabulous that I couldn’t just bypass it altogether, save it only for ‘oh you really should try here’ convo’s in the hairdressers, it seems only fair to broadcast it to the world (always dreaming big!).

Last August, we got the once in a lifetime opportunity to spend ten out of this world days in Daios Cove, about ten minutes from the little town of Aghios Nikolaos in Crete.

As we were flying from Gatwick we spent three days exploring London, which we all totally loved, before seeing how many modes of transport we could go on in twenty four hours. We got to six!

We arrived at the hotel in the small hours and I suppose I was in a 3am stupor because it wasn’t until I went to the loo in the lobby that I noticed how amazing the hotel was. (I don’t know about anyone else, but I often judge a place by the loos).

We were treated like VIP’s and eventually crashed down in our two bed villa as the sun was starting to come up.

I could drone on and on for hours about Daios Cove, but I feel the pictures might better tell the story.

We had a two bed Villa with private saltwater pool. It was wasted on us at that time in the morning, but I do remember sinking into the comfiest bed I”ve ever slept in and waking up to this…

20150728_184937

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Mandatory mode of transport around the resort. Be prepared for funny looks and raised brows if you opt to go a pied.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

First morning exploration.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Not one for the pool, but who could resist this?

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

A child free afternoon, so drinks in the bar overlooking the med. The kids spent an inordinate amount of time in the fabulous FREE kids club, including dinner and evenings. It was their choice though and on a couple of occasions we had to beg them to spend some time with us.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Caviar for breakfast don’t you know! This was my eldest daughters breakfast. I swear she hated it, but insisted on having it every morning just because she knew it was ‘adult food’.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Pool bar. Claimed my two week old phone.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

Does he look like a pro? No, I don’t think so either. We did yoga and pilates almost every morning to this view.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

When I started to look for photos for this blog, I found over a hundred had been taken by my little photographer May. This one is hers, I really quite like it.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Private, secluded beach. No need for towels. The lovely guys that work there lay them all out for you, including a mattress, bottles of chilled water and a fruit platter….every time you go.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

With everything we could possibly want in the resort, we only ventured into the town of Agios Nikolaos once. It’s absolutely beautiful, quaint, rustic and swelteringly hot. If we ever came back to Crete, I would definitely opt for this area again and I think the kids would love the mix of tourist shops, architecture and old style tavernas. As for me, it was the diamond shops that did it. Sparkles on every corner.

20150802_19595820150802_163641

On foot on the way to dinner, risking the wrath of the rally drivers.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

All set for our afternoon on the catamaran. This was the highlight of the holiday for me. We had our own private catamaran, complete with fully stocked bar for the afternoon on the second to last day of the holiday.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

So proud of the girls for braving the big wide open sea. They had a ball jumping off the boat and we even went for a swim with no land for miles around. The shadows of the deep even spooked me.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Alas, all good things have to come to an end. And ten days, was no where near enough. I could happily go back year after year, but unfortunately, last time I checked, I was no millionaire.

(The sun setting on the holiday of a lifetime)

20150802_204203

Hope you enjoyed the brag show. I feel quite justified in doing this because, incase you’re wondering, we won this awesome holiday courtesy of Daios Cove and This Morning(!) and didn’t part with a penny. Ok. we did rack up a pretty substantial bar bill, but everything else was gratis. Thank you Daios Cove for having us. Thank you This Morning for picking us. Thank you wonderful husband to carry on entering these comps even in the face of my berating and full on negativity!

Next up….No one actually wins those things, do they?

 

I was lolling about in bed this morning like a right lazy arse, scrolling idly through my Instagram feed and I happened to notice @acorn_and_pip were at Altrincham market today.

In one insta-inspired-moment, Sunday had gone from a lazy, laid back nothing day to ‘get up the stairs now kids and get dressed’.

I haven’t been to Altrincham market for years. In all honestly, Altrincham town centre, despite the inflated house prices and affluent suburbs, is a bit of a dump. I have heard lately though that it’s on the up. Thanks in no small part to the resurgence of the old market.

We got the tram there, just to add a little excitement into the mix. I get that, ‘come on girls, lets go look round a market’ isn’t the most exciting prospect for a five year old. As expected, they loved it. I’m perpetually confused that the simplest things make them so happy, yet the grand, overblown days out, fall flat time and again.

20160626_113604

The metro station in Altrincham is really quite nice. Ultra modern mixed with original Victorian brickwork. I love that where possible they left original walls and features and it totally works. The girls didn’t give two hoots though so we didn’t stick around.

20160626_113551

As we walked through the centre towards the market, I thought, who the hell said this place was on the up. It was 11am. The shopping street was pretty much deserted. I was starting to think we had made a wasted journey.

20160626_124326

However! As we rounded the corner up to the market, the glum lacklustre façade of the half-inhabited high street crumbled away to reveal a vibrant buzzing scene ahead. And man, did it live up to my expectations. It had the usual array of market stalls; vintage clothes, prints, flowers, handmade baby clothes, pottery etc.

20160626_122156

(A basket of child-alluring frilliness)

But the real star of the show was the food side. It was a foodie/drinky heaven.

20160626_120125

We bought pastries for elevenses from the French boulangerie stall, the smell of freshly baked bread and buttery pastry was divine.

Attached to the main market hall is a huge food hall, selling everything from pies and coffee to delectable cakes and cocktails. I O’ so nearly treated myself to a Bloody Mary, then didn’t thinking it was a bit of a lush thing to do on my own in charge of kids. I wish I had though!

20160626_121727

20160626_121500

20160626_121752

We couldn’t get a seat in here amidst all the hipster families, so did a bit more browsing and had lunch in the main hall. May chose a chorizo baguette and Noa a Margarita pizza.

20160626_122050

20160626_121615

(Eco-friendly, green, brown cutlery. Useless. Totally)

20160626_121922

(Look at that face. I think it means, stop taking pictures of me and let me eat!)

We shared the food, and also a miniscule table (kids chose the only children’s table in the place, I rocked a bad look with my butt cheeks hanging over the sides of the baby chair) with a chatty two year old who was making a right meal out of a Jaffa cake inspired biscuit, that was easily the size of her head.

We had a lovely time, the kids were delightful for once and I felt pretty chuffed and proud that already at their ages they are beginning to appreciate places like Altrincham market for the eclecticism, culture and awesome food offerings.

And the last stop. The loos! The Neil Gaiman-esque original Victorian underground toilets. The kids were horrified…’eurgh they’re old’, ‘eurgh, there are cobwebs’, ‘eurgh they stink’. I forgot they never got the pleasure of the outdoor lavs in Urmston, and there I was reminiscing.

20160626_114838

 

Hub says this morning, ‘I think you better do a food shop today’.

Oh do you now? Well, I bloody well knew that without being told but thanks for the gentle nudge.

I cannot abide being told what to do. It makes me bristly and this can manifest itself in all sorts of ways. Today, I went spending.

If you can picture this, hub is lay up on the sofa with ‘cracked’, ahem bruised, ribs, the girls are refusing to do their teeth, put knickers on and generally play ball. When we eventually got to Asda, we were there less than thirty seconds before No.1 & 3 start fighting. I threw them all back in the car, drove home, left the engine running and dumped them without a word on the doorstep, rang the bell and pegged it back to the car and scarpered, knock-a-door-run style.

I went back to Asda with May, No. 2, three-quarters angel, one quarter devil-in-training. Treated us to a Starbucks. One, to calm my nerves and two, to show May that I’m out of scary bitch mode and then commenced the food shop.

We started upstairs. Bad move. My frame of mind was such, that anything that took my eye landed in the trolley. ‘Ah mum, Daddy’s gonna go mad.’ Never fear my sweet angel, Daddy will never know. (I posted, what, like, over a week ago about my missing wedding ring and he’s still yet to notice!)

We spent too long upstairs admittedly and by the time we hit the groceries, I’d lost interest and wanted to leave. Consequently, threw anything and everything into the trolley and let a few too many of those ‘can I haves’ pass my scrutiny than ordinarily.

I’ve been feeling secretly smug all day about my secret shopping – I even paid separately so it wouldn’t show up on the food receipt – sneaky huh! I haven’t had time/space though to get it all out and model it (for myself), I’m saving that for the first day of term tomorrow.

Tiny bit excited, but what’s the betting half of it goes back. That’s my usual trick. But for now, I’m going to bathe in my secret shopping triumph and dream about all my sub £20 purchases looking like a million dollars.

Secret Shopping Haul

Grey T-shirt £4 – starting off small

Sandals £16 – funky black/gold/white numbers – I have a total of zero ideas of what to wear them with.

Off the shoulder gypsy type of top £12 – really selling it to ya!  Returned. Ha! Me all over.

Tassel-y mono jacket £16 – now this, I heart.

JML straightening brush £39 – oh, Lord, if this does what is says on the tin, it’s a life-changer.

Cucumber Gin £12 – I’m sick of buying beer. Bought Gin instead. Oh dear, no beer to watch the football tonight? Boo hoo.

20160614_091649

Ok, I concede there are some serious posing issues going on here. I’m working on it. #babysteps

20160614_090954

Haha, strike a pose!

20160614_090857

Check out that price tag people!

20160614_090759

I know I shouldn’t have. I know its HIGHLY unlikely to live up to my expectations, but I couldn’t resist.

20160614_114144

And lastly but most importantly, mummy’s little helper. (Me & gin in bed)

20160614_214121

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m yet to find a product or brand that has any lasting effect on my fizzy unruly hair and combination/prone to outbreaks skin. It doesn’t stop me searching though and that’s how I stumbled across Natura Siberica an Organic, free-from haircare and skincare brand from Russia.

The prices were super reasonable so, after reading a few reviews, I gave it a go. If like me, you’re always looking for a deal, you might think you’ll be able to pick it up cheaper elsewhere, but save yourself the time, you can’t. I found that both Harrods and Amazon stock a limited range but both were more expensive than buying directly.

The only downside of buying direct was having to wait four days for delivery. Four days in this day and age, I ask you? I’m the typical last minute shopper and want to order at 11.59pm and have it delivered before I leave for the school run.

However, Patience is a virtue, so I’m told, so I patiently waited out the four days and actually it did feel kind of like my birthday when the big box arrived Saturday morning. Mr C wasn’t very happy. I asked him to take the kids swimming so I could clean the house. Instead, he came home to find me wrapped in a towel looking like this…

20160611_095232

20160614_205531

The shampoo, oh the shampoo. It has the most delectable bubblegum smell, and lathers up on the first go with silky bubbles. If like me, you are a scruffy mare and only wash your hair once a week, you will be used to shampooing maybe three times before the suds can cut through the grease. But not with this shampoo. It was a revelation!

Northern Cloudberry Shampoo – intensive repair and nutrition for deeply damaged and coloured hair  £6.69

20160614_170611

The conditioner, again smelt divine, and was very effective, leaving my hair feeling silky smooth but light and clean. I typically have to use a fairly heavy duty conditioner – did I mention my hair is a big curly frizz bomb – and often it feels weighed down with it.

Drying was also a dream. It was smooth and took noticelably less time than usual. I can tell from the first use that my hair loves these products. Long may the love affair continue.

Northern Cloudberry Conditioner – intensive repair and nutrition for deeply damaged and coloured hair £6.69

20160614_170620

(Uck, wrinkly hands!)

The shower gel. It was nice. I felt clean and refreshed and it smells lovely. But it is shower gel and there’s only so excited I can get about it. I will buy it again though, becaue did I mention, these organic, paraben-free, SLS-free products are also super reasonable. Ok, so it’s not a £1 shower gel from Quality Save but you can tell the difference, without a doubt.

Vitamins for skin shower gel £3.90

20160614_170553

 

This soap was a bit of a splurge for me. But I was drawn by the packaging and just had to have it. What I wasn’t expecting, is that it’s black! Proper black. It comes with a sponge akin to an oversized make up sponge and you simply wet the sponge, apply to a dry fair and rinse with clean water. Something about the blackness made it feel like I was giving my skin a real treat. And the big bonus is it smells like cherry bakewells, I almost want to eat it, but as for results, I’ve only used it once so time will tell I guess.

Northern Soap Detox for deep facial cleansing £10.80

20160614_205401

20160614_205438

I think I might have just found my go-to skincare/haircare brand, the packaging is not over the top exclusive but it looks nice in my bathroom and at those prices, I wont have to skit out on one of the kids washing her Barbie’s hair with it. (Though, they have been warned!)