Travel

home safe homeLast summer, before we moved all of our things into our new home, we came to visit it one last time. I was taking my mum to proudly show her the house our family would be calling home. I was so excited to move into a period property that was in need of total restoration. As a child, I often dreamt of exploring abandoned houses and finding the treasures that belonged to them and this adventure certainly felt like a dream come true.

The house was special, we knew instantly that it felt like home to us. Embracing us with warm open arms, it welcomed us to make it our own. It definitely needed awakening after sleeping for 50 or more years, with dirty moth-eaten carpets and armies of spiders taking up residence in every corner of every room. But it was also spacious, light and beautiful and needed our love.

Walking to the back door, we noticed that the glass in the (then) conservatory lean to was smashed and the house had been burgled. Stopped in my tracks, I felt sick to my stomach, shocked and sad. Sad for my house even though none of our contents or possessions were even inside. For a home is so much more than a place to live or the material things inside it. It was our special place, a manifestation (to be) of our love, hopes and dreams for our family.

One great thing came out of being burgled that day. It meant the first thing we looked at when we moved in was the security of our new home. New doors, windows, locks and safety devices were added so that now the house we are living in, complete with all our possessions is safe and secure.

Having your house broken into does make you suddenly more aware of the do’s and don’ts for security, especially over the holiday period when you are leaving your house empty and unattended. So when Chill insurance got in touch with me to show me their new  study into home safety and tops tips on how to keep your home secure while you are away, I was pleased to see that we definitely did most of these things.

We often joke that anyone breaking into our house would take one look around our living room, strewn with abandoned debris and conclude that in fact the house had already been burgled. So we try to leave the house as messy as possible when we go away as a deterrent! I’m joking of course… But in all seriousness, what do you do to keep your house safe? Do you have any top tips to share when it comes to keeping your home safe while you are on holiday? Here are a few of ours…

We always draw our bedroom curtains. Because you may forget or choose not to undraw your curtains but you would never not draw them at night time, so we hope it looks like someone is in.

We always leave one car on the driveway. But then we have 2 cars… If you don’t you could always ask a neighbour to park on your drive.

We always make sure the side / back gate is locked. Make it harder to get in!

Move your valuables out of sight or even better, lock them away!

Let your neighbours know you are on holiday and get family or friends to look in on the house.

And last but not least don’t forget to get some good cover for your home and contents, check out Chill home insurance for peace of mind.

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Weekend mini-breaks, one of the little luxuries I enjoyed quite often before having children. Paris, Bruges, Amsterdam, Marrakech…. Isn’t there something exciting and glamorous about choosing your destination, packing your overnight bag, planning your cutest capsule wardrobe and heading off on an adventure? Just the change of scenery breathes fresh life into me, blowing away the cobwebs, offering me a new outlook and inspiration.

With a mini-break generally only being one or two nights away, I always like to go all out on a luxury hotel because you can’t beat an amazing mattress and indulgent room service that tempt you into never leaving the room, can you? Plus I didn’t get the name Exclusy Lucy for nothing!

Sadly I’ve been a little less ‘jet set’ and more ‘jet lag’ since having the little ones. We don’t get away that often, weekends are full of drama and singing lessons for our budding actress, lots of DIY in our new house and dog walks. What’s more the arrival of Baby Lish has left me pining for one night of decadent, uninterrupted, glorious sleep.

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So when I was invited to visit Oxford for the weekend with Tempur to try out a luxury hotel and a night on their king size memory foam mattress with a promise of an amazing night’s sleep, I let out a little squeal and said a big fat YES please. I’d never slept on a memory foam mattress before and was already dreaming of my illusive night of uninterrupted sleep… the big question was, would Baby Lish be up for it too?

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After carefully packing my weekend bag, complete with cutest of mum outfits (my new Boden blouse, jeans and flats) we set off for Hawkwell House, arriving just after lunch on Saturday. Hawkwell House is a large boutique hotel set in the village of Iffley in Oxfordshire, 1 mile from Oxford. Smart and clean, the hotel prides itself on being family friendly and offering top quality food at their restaurant Iffley Blue. We checked into our room and the first thing we did was obviously the obligatory mattress test… no, not that kind of test!  The kind where you lay flat on your back like a starfish, staring at the ceiling testing the quality of the mattress. Side by side, my partner and I turned to each other with a knowing look… no, not that kind! The look of ‘we could just stay here and sleep all afternoon couldn’t we?’ And boy was it tempting… the mattress felt a little bit like what I imagine it does to sleep in the clouds, you were floating, it was soft but firm, firm but soft and it really was heavenly zzzzz

But Baby Lish started wiggling and our tummies started rumbling so we went to check out Iffley Blue and their pizza menu. After a delicious lunch we ventured into Oxford, the sun was shining so we decided to walk into town which took about 30 mins from the hotel. I couldn’t wait to reach the city centre itself, I’d never been to Oxford and was very keen to see what was on offer.

Oxford is a very beautiful city, with grand architecture and quirky side streets. It is steeped with history and the perfect place for strolling around and soaking up the sights. We live near to Cambridge so we knew that the University colleges would be well worth exploring, camera in hand. If you like photography, like I do, you will be utterly spoilt in Oxford.

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After a couple of hours walking, the heavens opened on us and we decided to make a quick getaway back to the hotel in a taxi (Did you know they have London black taxi’s in Oxford?) for some more lounging and relaxation. I’m not ashamed to admit that as soon as our heads hit the memory foam pillows, we were well and truly glued to the bed. We didn’t make it out to dinner, choosing to order room service and enjoying some classic Saturday night tv from the comfort of our king size mattress! Rock and Roll lifestyle of a Mum and Dad.

My night’s sleep was sadly not uninterrupted and Baby Lish did stir a few times (perhaps the new surroundings) but it was made more than bearable by the fact that I was so deliciously comfortable. Perhaps next time I need to take the review opportunity on my own and leave Daddy to hold the fort!

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Having read rave reviews, Sunday’s plans were to spend a few hours in the The Natural History Museum and Pitt Rivers Museum. After a little bit or searching and walking the long way round (well we didn’t have a map!) we found the museums which are actually neighbours and joined onto each other.

On entering The Natural History Museum you can’t help but take a sharp breath of wonder! Filled with light, the stunning architecture provides a majestic backdrop for a magical exploration of all the creatures of the earth past and present as well as rocks, minerals and fossils. For children and grownups alike, the museum was a delight for the curious. There was a T Rex skeleton, a jaw bone belonging to a whale, a silky soft stuffed black bear and a cabinet full of every size and colour beetle you could imagine and we loved it all!

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Through an archway, you were transported from the light into the mysteriously dark Pitt Rivers Museum, housing a collection of weird and wonderful artefacts from around the world. It was crammed to the rafters with fascinating items collected over hundreds of years initially by Mr Pitt Rivers himself and later by the museum. From tiny Chinese shoes and ancient Samurai swords to a giant Totem pole and perfectly preserved Inuit clothing, this museum is not like any I’ve been to before. I honestly could have spent hours and hours reading the labels of each individual item but with the museum closing at 16:30 time was limited, which means I have the perfect excuse to go back. I would recommend these Museums as an absolutely must when visiting Oxford, they are free and a brilliant place to take your children (Sunday is family fun from 14:00 – 16:00 with a whole host of child friendly, imagination sparking activities).

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After a full and active day, it was time to return to reality and the comfort of our own, glaringly average bed. Thank you Tempur for inviting us to test out your memory foam mattress, it was a fabulous experience and one we hope to repeat again in the very near future!

 

style blue narrower35811421_014_bI’ve always had an obsession with travel and far off places, which goes hand in hand with a love of all things exotic and usual. Extending to my interior design taste, the things I like to collect for my home are often beautiful, handmade items from around the globe. I find something wonderfully intriguing about objects with a history or a story…

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Sadly it isn’t always easy to bring things home from abroad with measly luggage allowance and strict weight restrictions, but there are a few brands here in the UK which share my love of the unusual, exotic, handmade pieces.

Anthropologie is a brand I’ve long followed, I love their ethos and their home decor range, infused with a kaleidoscope of diverse patterns, exotic prints and vibrant colours which always seems to capture my imagination. I can just imagine their buyers heading off the beaten track to scour far-flung markets around the world, uncovering pieces imprinted with history and tradition, what a wonderful job, hey?

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A Global Tapestry is a recent campaign from Anthropologie, celebrating the culture and history behind different global patterns and prints. On the image below they have shared some facts on the rich tapestries of our world, from the classic Scottish tartan to the intricate swirls of Indian paisley. You can even go on your own adventure and create your own unique global tapestry, here is mine! Happy exploring…

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