New favourite place!

We’ve recently discovered Holly Tree, a soft play centre just outside Washingborough in Lincoln and I just have to rave about it!

Isla and I have been to a few soft play centres in our area and while she enjoys them, we found that most of them don’t have much in the way of facilities for little ones Isla’s age. But this is where Holly Tree is so brilliant. It not only boasts a multi level play centre for the bigger kids, complete with the obstacle courses and slides, but a baby and toddler room as well with sensory toys and fun.

I went for the first time last week with a friend and her 8 month old and there was plenty to do for both our little ones. Isla especially enjoyed the mini bikes and soft play shapes as well as the 3D puzzles, there was so much to do she didn’t know where to start.

And the food! At every soft play centre we’ve been to we bring our own food because everywhere else mostly does pizza and chips. But Holly Tree has its own baby menu with yogurts, mashed potato, pureed carrot and toast fingers as well as really nice food for us mummies, my friend really enjoyed her jacket potato with roasted vegetables. 

It’s also very well priced. I didn’t take any photos at the time but definitely will next time, and there will most definitely be a next time, can’t rate it highly enough!


Gingers DO have souls

Take a look at this little girl and tell me she’s not beautiful. That cheeky smile, those blue eyes, and most importantly, that lovely red hair.

If I’d had a pound for every comment I had from someone before Isla was born that was something along the lines of “let’s hope you don’t have a ginger baby!” I’d be a millionaire. Seriously, many people made jokes like “send it back if it’s ginger!” or “shave it’s head!” I’m dark haired but Hubs is blonde and was redheaded as a baby so the odds were always high that Isla would be a redhead, and when she was born with lots of red hair I was thrilled.

I’ve never understood the stigma attached to ginger hair, I think it’s gorgeous. My first boyfriend was ginger and his hair never bothered me (the fact that he looked like the Shermanator from the American Pie movies never bothered me either…) but I got plenty of  stick for having a ginger boyfriend. I mean, even Colin Firth allegedly almost missed out on being Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice because he was “too ginger“! Does being a redhead make him less of a brooding hunk?! Plus don’t even get me started on THAT South Park episode about “Gingivitis”…

Look at all the gorgeous redheads in the public eye: Prince Harry, Nicole Kidman, Alyson Hannigan, Amy Adams, Ed Sheeran, Emma Pilsbury from Glee, that stunning strawberry blonde from Mad Men, you get my drift…
When she’s older, I think Isla will be a Nicole Kidman, with her porcelain skin, long legs and auburn hair. She gets loads of compliments on her hair, I’ve lost count of the amount of little old ladies who’ve gushed over her colouring (“ooooh look at that lovely hair! My grandson/son/great grandson/cat/guinea pig had hair that colour!”) and honestly, doesn’t it suit her? I love Isla’s hair and her dainty, English Rose colouring and hope it never changes.

I’m sure she’ll be teased by someone at some point about her hair, but I’ll make sure Isla knows that those morons who pick on her are the ones in the wrong and that her hair is beautiful.
But could someone PLEASE tell me why gingers are ridiculed? I’ve never understood it. If someone has an answer please tell me because I don’t get it!

* I’m so thrilled that this blog post was published on The Motherload! You can read it here…


Bless me Mumzillas, for I have sinned 🙏

It’s been 11 hours and 52 minutes since my last confession, yet my acts as a mother seem to be so heinous that I need to atone once again for committing sins that no perfect mum would ever even consider. Here are the sins I have committed against the rules of being a perfect mother:

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  • Feeding my baby something not cooked with my own fair hands: I’ve touched on this subject before (you can read it here if you don’t fancy trawling back through the archives) that I’ve been given some snooty looks for feeding Isla a pouch of food when we’ve been out and about instead of giving her an organic, freshly cooked, three course meal I’ve spent hours slaving over to make. Clearly a pouch of organic Ella’s Kitchen food is like feeding my baby sewerage and choosing something convenient is a vile sin. Forgive me.
  • Letting her watch TV: Oh dear. I’m the worst mother in the world aren’t I? As letting children watch television is the benchmark of lazy parenting. I prostate myself at your mercy, O Mumzillas, and plead for forgiveness. Isla only pays the slightest bit of attention to Fireman Sam and Tom & Jerry because she recognises the theme tunes. She will watch them for about 4-5 minutes after she’s eaten a meal before she gets bored and moves on to playing with her toys, and at her age (she’s only 13 months old!) she hasn’t got a blind clue what’s actually happening, she just likes the bright colours, movement and music. No? Still not allowed? I’m sorry. Forgive me.
  • Taking Isla out without shoes on: I know this sounds bad O Holy Mumzillas, but again I plead for clemency. On this occasion it was 24degrees in the middle of summer and she had already stealthily removed one of her little white sandals during the day and dropped it, prompting a Facebook appeal to find it again. It was a nice warm day, so I stupidly assumed that letting her go barefoot while we popped for a walk to the supermarket would be alright, but I now realise thanks to one of your senior goddesses who asked where her shoes were, that allowing this was utterly wrong.
  • Dressing Isla in “denim”: Now this particular misdemeanour was very firmly scolded by one of the highest level of Mumzilla. Denim is for adults, and dressing children up like adults is wrong. Despite the fact that the outfit in question, as you can see, was an adorable pinafore made from very soft denim lookalike material and not a pair of Levi 501s, I realise that this was incredibly naughty of me.  I need to be flogged in the street.
  • Sometimes just surrounding her with toys and letting her play by herself for 5 minutes:  so every now and then, I NEED a cup of tea when I am simply worn out so I will sit Isla down in her ball pit and give her some toys to play with, while I sit two feet away on the sofa and try to drink a hot brew. *gasp* I know I need to be giving her my full attention 24 hours a day, and that one cup of tea while I sit down for a few minutes is time wasted. I have failed my daughter.
  • Not dressing Isla in enough layers/too many layers: I realise that you know my child better than I do, so obviously, you know if she is too hot or too cold. I know I shouldn’t feel annoyed when you ask me if she is warm enough when we go out, but I stupidly feel that I know if she is comfortable. I know now that is not the case. 
  • Taking my daughter swimming: To the two women in the swimming pool changing room: I’m most terribly sorry if Islas presence ruined your swim, and your comments of “well enjoy your swim, if you can,” “hmm yes, I’ll try” to each other while giving us the bitch eye were the perfect way to make it clear we had no right to be there. Despite the fact that Isla made no loud noise, didn’t splash you and made no impact on your plodding up and down the pool, I’m aware we ruined your morning with our enjoyment so please accept my apologies.

I could go on and on, but obviously my parenting fails will take forever to dissect and I know no matter what I do, I’ll never be able to please all of the Mumzillas out there. So for now, I will simply ask for forgiveness for these select few sins. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me and understand that I am not as perfect as thou art.

* I’m thrilled to announce that this post has been published on The Motherload! You can view the published article here.


Things I swore I’d never do…

When I had Isla, I swore I’d never become a typical “slummy mummy”, and that my life wouldn’t become completely babyfied. My baby would fit in around me, as well as me around her, and I’d still be me as much as possible.

Oh dear, how naive was I.

So far I’ve managed to avoid going out in public in my pyjamas and remember to brush my hair at least before we go out, but I have to admit to a few of the things I swore wouldn’t happen when I became a mum…

  • Consider a trip to the supermarket as a big outing: Doing the food shop with a baby in tow can be at best, a bit hectic and at worst, a frigging nightmare. Last weeks trip to Lidl saw Isla grab my shopping list out of my hand and shove it in her mouth, then kick off both her shoes without me realising so I had to do two laps of the store to find them. I can’t complain really though, luckily Isla is happy to sit in the child trolley seat and watch the world go by, so food shopping isn’t too painful, but it still takes so long that I consider it our main outing for the day and don’t plan much else once it’s done
  • Go more than 2 days without washing my hair: My hair tends to get oily the day after I wash it, which is when I tend to wear it in a ponytail then wash it either that night or the following morning. Nowadays though, as it takes over an hour to wash, dry and straighten my naturally frizzy hair, on supposed hair wash days my thought process goes like this: “does it look decent in a ponytail? Yes? Hair wash can wait another day then!”
  • Do colouring in: I’ve become slightly addicted to an adult colouring app and happily spend my quiet time when Isla is napping with a cup of tea creating masterpieces like this bad boy. I was crap at colouring when I was a kid as I couldn’t stay inside the lines, but I’m quite a dab hand at this now!
  • Wear make up only on special occasions: Pre baby I’d try to wear light make up (some mascara, lipgloss and a bit of foundation) most days, but now I only wear light make up for special occasions, i.e. a work day or if I’m going somewhere nice like out for lunch. I just don’t seem to have the time or the inclination to wear make up for a standard day. Full make up is reserved to nights out, so once every blue moon!
  • Google pictures of poo: In my defence, I only did this when Isla was a few weeks old and her poos were all the colours of the rainbow, and I wanted to check that her poos were normal. They were.
  • Talk about my baby constantly to my non-mummy friends: I’m sorry guys, I really don’t mean to do this. I’m aware that talking about breastfeeding, poo and weaning is deathly dull for you and I swore I wouldn’t be one of those mums who can only talk about their baby. It’s just that I’m so happy when I see another adult, I tend to spew all my thoughts onto them in one sitting. Plus I’m besotted with my little girl and can’t help but gush about her. So I applaud you for not sighing and rolling your eyes at me when I whip out my phone and say “oh my god, I have to show you this video of Isla!” every time I see you!
  • Start a sentence with “well the baby book says…”: I have a love/hate relationship with baby books, and while they’ve come in handy for reassuring me about some things, I stopped reading them when I felt like a failure for not getting Isla to self settle at 8 weeks, so now I hate myself just a little bit whenever I reference these ‘one size fits all’ texts of doom.

Our top 5 baby food recipes

Weaning was a bit of a minefield for us. Because Isla didn’t get her first teeth until she was 11 months old, her food had to be pureed quite smoothly as she struggled with big lumps since she couldn’t chew very well. Finger foods also had to be soft or easily dissolvable.

I did plenty of reading up on tasty recipes that could be blended to an easy consistency for Isla and found these to be her favourites. I’ve also marked them on how easy they were to make as some recipes I found took an age to prepare!

5. Baby ratatouille by babycentre.co.uk – I tried this one when Isla was about 10 months old and while it took her two tries before she got used to the strong flavours, she gobbled it up and Hubs and I thought it smelled damn good too! It takes a while to cook so not one to make in a hurry, but it’s worth it.

Yummy rating = ****

Easy cooking = ***

4. Cheesy vegetable medley by Heinz Baby – there are many things in life Isla loves, and cheese and vegetables are in the top of the list. So this recipe went down a treat. She’s moving on to more hearty meals but this was a great recipe for the early days of weaning.

Yummy rating: *****

Easy cooking: ****

3. Fish with peas by Cow & Gate – Aside from the slightly fishy smell left in the kitch after cooking, this one is a firm favourite with both us and Isla. Easy pea-sy (sorry) to make and a great place to start when introducing little ones to fish. Isla now eats all fish and loves them. Also as a side note, we found Cow & Gate’s 5 Step Weaning Plan was brilliant. I’d been a bit daunted by the idea of getting Isla to try solids and had no idea where to start, but this guide spelled it out in plain English and it was dead easy to do. I’d highly recommend it to other first time mums, thanks C&G!

Yummy rating: ***

Easy cooking: *****

2. Savoury chicken casserole by babycentre.co.uk – This one is really good if you want to eat the same meal and at the same time as your baby. The chicken casserole is so tasty and filling, super healthy and most importantly Isla loves it. Takes a while to cook so this is one to prepare early doors.

Yummy rating: *****

Easy cooking: ***

1. Tomato and butternut squash pasta by Annabel Karmel – Where do I start? I love love love this one! So simple to make, smells incredible (a welcome change as many baby foods look and smell revolting!) and oh so sophisticated. Have to admit, when I’m standing at the cooker sautéing the tomatoes I feel like a SuperMum, look at me cooking posh meals for my baby, eff you Mumzillas!! And most importantly, Isla gobbled it up at the first go and after three months, is very much the firm favourite. I now cook twice the amount and freeze about 6 portions at a time. I’m gradually working my way through Annabel Karmel’s website as there is such a variety of recipes.

Yummy rating: *****

Easy cooking: *****