My life


Like many people across the world, our lives are centred around our home. It’s where we laugh and love together as a family. Our safe haven, where we can relax and be truly ourselves.

And yet contrary to this, buying a house is one of the most stressful things you can do in your life. Just the words stamp duty, conveyancing fees and searches are sure to bring a wave of dread to the most hardened house buyer.

Mid thirties, I currently have a handful of friends that are house hunting for their dream family home. The list of requirements is normally long and finding a house that actually ticks all the boxes for both partners is pretty much like finding a needle in a haystack. The house has to work for the entire family, pleasing everyone and ultimately most people end up compromising on a few points. House hunting can take months, even years sometimes.

I thought I’d share with you the story of when we bought our dream house, what we were looking for and where we, ultimately had to compromise.

Buying our house

Rewinding the clock 2 years, we lived in my partners modern 4 bedroom house. It was a lovely house but personally I never quite felt at home there. I didn’t like the lack of character and feeling of space. On paper, we had enough space, everyone had a place to sleep, but the house proportions felt small, and the estate crammed. We started talking about moving to a house that was closer to our idea of our dream home. I don’t think at that point we actually thought we would find our dream house but rather “a stepping stone house”, on the way to “the one”.

I had a fixed list of wants, things that were non negotiable for me. The house needed 4 bedrooms, a big garden for the children to play in and enough space for us as a family. As a lover of architecture and design, it needed to work with my idea of an aesthetically pleasing house. I’d always loved period homes so ideally it would be an older house with some lovely period features. My other half had a different list of necessities he needed fulfilling. He needed a location that was practical for work and also the children’s schools as they grew. Preferring modern houses to period, he wanted minimal work and upkeep. He also required a garage to store his motorbike. (You can see our personalities right here can’t you, I’m all about the pretty and he’s about the practical).

We viewed a few houses, one the garden was too small and one didn’t have a garage. Both points were non negotiable on our lists, so we continued looking.

One day my partner sent me the details through of a house. It was old, beautiful but in a state of disrepair. I text him back confused “Babe, it’s old? And needs a ton of work? That sounds like your idea of hell surely?” He suggested we go and take a look anyway. I agreed, super excited to take a look at the property but fully prepared there was no way he would sign up for a renovation project.

As we were viewing the property I kept very quiet, as did my partner. Neither of us knew what the other one was thinking. Gazing around at the proportions of the house, there was a fabulous feeling of space both inside and outside. A tick. It had all the lovely period features I adored, high ceilings, fireplaces, old doors, stained glass, even a hidden tiled floor which we later discovered. Again a tick…

In fact the house ended up ticking all the boxes, it was spacious, had a large garden, 4 bedrooms, a garage. It was conveniently located for school and future high schools, for access to town and the journey to my partner’s work.

But, and it was a big but, there was no denying that the house was in a pretty bad state. It hadn’t been touched for more than 50 years. The garden was terribly overgrown, the house was dirty and the decor was extremely dated. Yet somehow we could see past all of that at the shining gem of a house. It just needed bringing back to life.

Renovating a large period house was a big job, one we perhaps, looking back now, even underestimated. Were we willing to compromise and take on the work required to make it our dream home?

Having kept quiet the whole viewing neither of us knew how the other one felt. Turning towards him as we pulled away from the house I said “So, what do you think?”. He threw it back to me ,”Well, what do you think?”. A huge smile crept across my face. I think it’s my dream home… and he smiled and said, I know, lovingly.

That was it. We had fallen in love with a house.

Luckily for us, the negotiations went pretty smoothly as a sale had just fallen through, so they sellers were keen to proceed quickly. Our offer of £20,000 less than the asking price was accepted immediately and we started the process of making the house our own.

Fast forward 2 years. We started with cleaning, lots of cleaning. Then there was stripping of carpets and curtains to reveal the bare carcass of the house which we could call our home. Since then we’ve rewired, re-rendered, replastered, ripped out, sanded floors, painted. We aren’t finished but we are well on our way.

I remember the first couple of mornings, waking up in the new house and being filled with joy and an indescribable feeling of being home. I can still conjure up that feeling, as I admire the blossom trees in our garden or get captivated by the light streaming through the stain glass on our front door. I’m home and it’s perfect. Tick.

This post is in collaboration with Slater Gordon, thank you for supporting Lish Concepts.

3ofus I don’t know if you’ve noticed but things have been a little quiet on here of late. I’ve been taking some much needed time for myself and my family.

Don’t worry we are all well and happy but it took me stepping back from the blog and a few other commitments to achieve some balance and peace in our lives.

You see adjusting to being a mum of two was much harder than I EVER imagined. I mean before the arrival of Babylish I definitely had the mum thing down. Littlelish and I were a well oiled team, we knew all the rules and each others boundaries and things worked.

Then the most beautiful little bundle of curls and cheeky smiles arrived to shake up the scene and boy does she have the personality to cause some havoc. Full of energy, feistiness and mischief by the bucket load. Adorable, totally flipping adorable but pretty hard work.

I spent months trying and failing to juggle my life and the roles I had created for myself. ‘The creative blogger’, ‘the devoted stay at home mum’, ‘the perfect wife’, ‘the renovating interior lover’, ‘the desperate (to have a clean) housewife’, ‘the interesting/sociable/smart/caring human’. It was ALL too much to bear. I was spread too thin and I couldn’t be any of these things.

Many days I felt like I was losing my mind. I so wanted to be me, the fun spontaneous, interesting me but I was tired, stressed and on edge. I felt like a failure in every one of my roles and it was making me totally miserable. Looking back I wasn’t failing at all but had put so much pressure on myself. After all I had a young baby, I was renovating a period property and planning a wedding. That’s like 3 major life milestones all at once. I hadn’t made things easy for myself had I?

The tipping point for me was the day  Littlelish found a little white feather.

I told her an angel had blessed her with a wish. She closed her eyes and wished, thinking long and hard, making sure she made the right choice.

She asked me if I wanted to know her wish, she often does this, as if the excitement of the wish is too much to keep to herself. Playfully I guessed she had wished for another pet dog, it’s her default wish. But that day she told me she had wished for something different. She wished her mummy wasn’t stressed and that she and her sister could be good girls so mummy could feel happy. My heart ached.

So for the sake of my sanity and those around me I decided to go into what I call survival mode, focusing only on my primary priorities. I selfishly became, just mum, and took off some of those heavy labels that were dragging me down.

These days I am not stressed. You will find me playing with the girls and tending to what I can in the house. I make good food and I make the time to go to the gym for some me time. I visit friends with small children, I play in the garden, I do the school run. It’s a very simple existence but it’s what I needed. I know I am blessed to be in the position to be able to do this and for this I am truly grateful.

All the things I used to take great pleasure in doing, blogging, reading, writing, drawing have had to take a back seat. I’m simply ‘being’ these days and it is doing us all good.

I’ve also deliberately taken a step back from social media, it helps me to drown out the noise of ambition, pressure, competition and expectation.

I’m keeping sane, peaceful and most importanly I’m smiling every day. It took a while to figure out but I’m there and embracing it.

There is plenty of time to be the business woman I want to become, for self discovery, growth and ambition. Conquering the world will have to wait.

I’ve learnt there is nothing wrong with just being mum. After all I’m the world to them.

 

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review-of-thaikhuns-kids-menu As a couple, our favourite type of food is Thai. If we get a chance to go out for dinner, it’s always going to be a toss up between Thai or Italian for us. If we are going out as a family it’s normally Italian that wins because we know Littlelish loves pasta and pizza.

So we were super excited to hear about the new kids menu at Thaikhun. We had already discovered Thaikhun as a couple at the beginning of the year when we took a trip to Oxford, so we knew Littlelish would love the fun, vibrant setting. The concept is street Thai food and the setting is so colourful and full of wonderful details very much like you would see on the streets of Thailand. It’s a sunny, happy place, perfect if you want to escape for an hour or two and pretend you are on holiday. Plus the food is delicious!!

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Littlelish eats quite a wide variety of food but she isn’t great at trying new ‘unknown’ food. Her only experience of eating Thai food is when we took her to a small Thai restaurant about a year ago and she only managed to eat some chips! Much to our frustration she wouldn’t even dare to take a mouthful of the cashew chicken we ordered for her. So she was excited but a little apprehensive about trying Thai food again…

When we arrived we were shown to our booth table situated just next to the open kitchen where you can watch the chefs at work. At this point all nerves about the food had evaporated and Littlelish was giddy with excitement. The waitress handed her an activity booklet created in conjunction with National Geographic Kids to explore and she enjoyed reading a little about Thailand. It’s a country we all would really like to visit one day so she shared some handy information and taught us some Thai words that were written on the menu.

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Drinks were ordered first. This is one thing we love about Thaikhun as you can order really exotic drinks like guava and tamarind juice and they are delicious! Littlelish opted for a lychee juice which I thought was pretty adventurous and she absolutely loved it (watch her describing it in her youtube video, it’s ever so funny!) We went for a round of grown up drinks which included a delicious ‘my thai’ – yum!

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The kids menu provides 3 courses for £5.95 and starts with crudites with the idea of getting something healthy and green into the children before they get to their mains. I think this is a great idea and very much how I do things at home too, luckily Littlelish is a big salad eater so was very happy with this. The crudites were freshly cut and not withered having been cut hours in advance (we have had this before at our local Italian chain. I never knew cucumber could look so unappealing!). My starter was vegetable and prawn rolls while the others shared some chicken satay. Both were fresh, juicy and full of flavour.

chicken-satay

On to the main course, for Littlelish there was a choice between Phad Thai a Mix and Match tray of either Chicken, Pork or vegetables with either noodles and rice or Fried Chicken and Jasmine rice. She selected the last choice and was presented with a fab colourful plate with sections for her food. In one section there was chicken cooked in panko crumbs which looked absolutely delicious (and tasted it, I did pinch some for a taste test obviously!) and a lovely mound of jasmine rice. This was a perfect meal for her, not too adventurous so as not to be eaten, delicious, fresh and presented in a fun way. She ate the lot with no complaints while we tucked into our thai curries and fish and mango salad which we all loved.

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As a family we love travel so we particularly liked the learning opportunity for Littlelish as we chatted about Thailand, what we knew of their culture and customs. At this point the super friendly waitress asked Littlelish if she would like some worms! We giggled and said yes, thinking it would probably be something that looked like worms, a little fun for the kids? On her return she had two small metal buckets with actual worms in them! Big fat buffalo worms (dried) and smaller silk worms, she explained, are eaten in Thailand as a snack. It was fascinating, but all the girls wimped out of trying this delicacy, even mummy couldn’t stomach it! Simon did try both options and said they tasted rather like… dirty walnuts! Having a good giggle at this, we agreed we were definitely curious and eager to explore this part of the world one day.

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We were all totally stuffed at the end of our meal but Littlelish did manage to squeeze in the icelolly from her childrens menu. I thought it was clever that if children wanted a pudding but you really wanted to leave (and let’s face it that does happen sometimes)  they can just take the lollies with them and eat them on the way. Another super well thought out detail from Thaikhun.

What I’d say is you can tell a lot of attention to detail has gone into delivering a children’s menu that really works for children, but also for parents. It’s healthy so you are happy and it’s delicious, simple and fun so the kids are happy. All in a super fun, relaxed environment. Winner, winner… Chicken and jasmine rice dinner!

Thank you for inviting us to try out new kids menu at Thaikhun, it’s fab and we will be back for more very soon!

 

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