Since leaving London, almost 6 years ago, after eleven years in the capital, I’ve often questioned whether we were, my husband and I, ‘tired of life’ as John Samuel’s famous saying goes, when we departed.
I think we were most definitely TIRED full stop as first-time parents, the first too from our group of friends to have a baby, making it a rather isolating experience, not helped by the fact we were far from home and the support we needed.
So off we went.
Firstly heading for green and serene Bristol where dynamic and nurturing friendships were made with like-minded creative folks (literally), and then during Christmas 2010, a visit back home led to us not ever leaving. ‘Hi Mum we’re home for Christmas…I mean home, forever, thanks!’, was basically how it went.
We lived with my parents before buying in a village on the outskirts of Leeds, overlooking the open countryside, and that was that. Being here doesn’t meant it’s forever though, Peter and I like to move around and we’re always open to where we might end up. We never say never. Not ever.
For now though, this is home and despite it being 6 years back in Leeds this Christmas, it only feels like five minutes ago that we returned.
And I suppose in part that’s down to me spending a day a week in London most weeks for ‘meets and eats’ and also having the privilege of calling the wonderfully elegant and most welcoming of 5 star hotels, the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington, my home from home.
Our home from home.
Look at little Xander, enjoying room service in his Christmas Pjs, the king of his castle!
A blogger’s child if ever I saw one!
He definitely likes the good life does Master Alexander and certainly approved of the Park Suite, our not so humble ‘wish-I-lived-here-everyday’ abode.
It’s quite extraordinary staying in a hotel where everyone knows your name and the staff feel like they’re actually your friends. But over the last past year that’s exactly how I’ve felt and as I continue to collaborate with the hotel in 2017, I’m brimming with excitement for all the trips there, we have planned.
In fact, I’m actually back there tomorrow!
But back to past weekend, for now at least.
..Arriving in London early on Saturday morning (which required two alarm clocks and copious amounts of scrambled eggs on granary toast for all to even make the train) our sleepy boys revived themselves once there, thanks in part to the energy ball that’s London, along with Pokemon hunting on my phone, and most importantly, the promise of fun with their great friend Anya who was patiently waiting to celebrate her birthday with them, that day.
Her Mum, Nomita of the incredibly chic and inspiring blog Your Diy Family is a close friend of mine and it was the first time we were visiting her brand new beautiful home. In real life at least. We’ve devoured many a blog post and video set there but we’re now we were going to see it in 3D!
Nomita and I met at the start of our digital journeys and together, along with a group of kick-ass women created what can only be described as a sisterhood. We’re a blogging tribe, that’s what we are. A girl slash mama squad who have each others’ backs. United in our commonality and love of the arts, we’re women who simply get one another. We’re not part of some of exclusive group either. Everyone can sit with us! We’re creative and caring and support the heck out of one another, and I’m lucky to have these ladies in my life.
As Nomita posted on instagram after we all hung out, watching our husbands and kids bond, along with our deep, unwavering friendship, is the greatest thing to come from blogging.
That real bond that began so many moons ago and will last a lifetime is the most rewarding perk of doing what we do, of being bloggers in this world, at this time.
Working in the digital sphere is such a huge part of my life and as I type this at 2 am unable to sleep thanks to an accidental napping incident while putting my youngest to bed, I remember what a powerful form of therapy it is too, a way to unravel and reflect: a remedy to all life’s woes, a means to create and connect. It offers purpose as well as a platform, a piece of online space to share and remember, a living way to define who I am and those moment in time we shared.
This blog of mine is an extension of me: my online diary, my collection of memories, how I saw the world in that instance, a vehicle for my thoughts and feelings as a mother and woman finding my way in the world.
It’s also a means to digress, so back to the weekend we go again!
Arriving at Nomita’s stunning house, Bollinger was duly popped ‘sweetie, darling’ as I literally dashed around the rooms in sheer delight gasping at each Scandi style space (many of which have appeared in the most revered sites in the world) cooing at reworked chaise longues, marble worktops, lit stairs and floorboards and my most favourite: the kitchen dreams are made of.
If Pinterest designed a house, this would be it.
After the kids got to making their own pizza creations with dough lovingly prepared by Nomita’s wonderful husband, Richard beforehand Blue Peter style, the kids volleyed enormous pale balloons to one another across the expansive lounge as we adults sipped champagne and stored carbs for the winter, whilst putting the world to rights.
All the feels. If in doubt, carbs are always the answer.
And after the pizza party came the chocolate cake party with a divine torte by Paul’s as the pièce de résistance and photos where the otherwise happy trio looked rather morose when asked to smile.
Natural pictures always win the day but we were having so much fun, lost in the moment, as we should be, we don’t seem to have many of those.
A small price to pay, hey?!
This one’s a little better!
What a sweet, sweet day.
Floating back to our hotel, light on bubbles and all that gorgeous feel-good energy, we piled into our perfect suite, ordered room service (sweet and sour prawns with rice and my favourite: grilled salmon, hollandaise sauce and buttery new potatoes) followed by hot chocolates all round.f
Although the sun was setting now, the pretty street and Christmas lights dotted in the distance danced across the London skyline and made us smile. We watched the twinkles wink at us before closing the curtains as we dipped the homemade mince pies into mugs of milky chocolate, toasting the most magical of days…
Post sweet slumber came a breakfast of champions and early start at Cineworld Leicester Square for the much anticipated premiere of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Channel 4 and Universal.
But first a mocha like no other and Eggs Florentine were the order of the day.
Fighting the crowds at Leicester Square, it was time to line up the troops.
…Before bear related wonderment pre curtain call as we were snapped in front of a green screen for bear-tastic Polaroids of us collectively roaring (OK it was just me who roared), and a showering of bear balloons and even soft cuddly toys. My two bears spoilt with two bears of their own was just the cutest.
Then, it was film time!
A favourite story of both boys, this 2d animated adaptation of the classic We’re Going on a Bear Hunt book is a touching retelling that will melt your little hearts this Christmas. I was moved to tears twice and cannot wait to snuggle up on Christmas Eve and do it all again at 7.30 on Channel 4.
My kids were captivated by the short and examined scenes in detail once the curtains fell.
A piece which evoked memories for them, they recited parts of the book with glee and spoke of dancing in the lounge as the children do in the film were followed with questions on what would happen to the bear now leading an interesting debate, and exercise in storytelling.
This will undoubtedly be a treasured short film, joining the Snowmen classics, revered forever, timeless pieces to fall deeper and deeper in love with each and every year. Please don’t miss it when it’s on.
Sweet, additional asides to the day included being recognised in Leicester Square (!), something that’s happened a fair few times before, surprisingly, and never gets any less lovely nor surreal, and also bumping into super presenters and crew I’ve met through blogging and via my directing days.
I actually have an animation of my own in development and this mesmerising film reminded me of the importance to push on with it to get it made one day. Watch this space, as they say!
After all that excitement, we wandered around my most favourite of festive locations: Covent Garden as the kids took in the bright lights, wide-eyed and in complete awe, shooting enquiries of what mistletoe was and would Daddy now have to kiss me in the middle of the road as taxi zoomed by, under the huge decorative light above us!
We then whiled away far too much time watching a pretty dismal entertainer (who failed to entertain with his underwhelming tricks) before scuttling down the streets escaping the rain through to the market and shiny shops adorned with decs, picking up some festive treats.
Before long we were weaving through traffic in a trusty black cab arriving at Belsize Park to enjoy pasta (yes, more food) this time at Pizza Express with my sister from another mister, Amancay whom I went to uni with and whose 4 week old baby girl, Alba we were meeting, for the very first time.
A picture in pink, with jet black hair and bambi dark brown eyes, it was love at first sight, and a complete dream to chat, toast my friend’s mamahood, and of course, eat, eat and eat!
Then, rushing to collect our cases from the hotel we arrived at our final destination for more food (I blame the cold for this non stop feast of a weekend) and the final rendezvous with another best friend of mine, Mirka of All Baby Advice and Fitness 4 Mamas.
I feel so lucky to have all these smart, sisterly, beautiful women as my mates. They make life sweet. Nothing feels hard when we’re together. True friendship at its finest. We laugh, cry and of course eat together, and frankly, I felt a bit heartbroken to be leaving her and my London friends when we boarded our train back home, weighing more than when we’d arrived, anchored with kind birthday and Christmas gifts and extra padding from all the calories too, of course. The baggage was worth it though.
London, you busy whirlwind of a city, we love you. Every twinkling light, taxi ride, enveloping view, your energy and vibes.
As we arrived back to Leeds, my hometown and now our town, another place we love, I realised that we never really grew of tired of life when we moved away from London, because we never really left. Not really.
See you again tomorrow, my friend.