Tag Archives: champagne

The SM guide to Surviving September

If back to school means colds, tired and grumpy kids, a return to washing PE kits and remembering after school clubs (hands up who has had a ‘late’ from school or a parking ticket already?) – here’s our guide to making it through til half term…


Whilst this might sound like something out of the Edina school of parenting, enjoying a wonderful bottle of fizz in the bracing outdoors is the grown-up equivalent of jumping in muddy puddles. We love the rich and robust Champagne Gremillet Blanc de Noirs NV (£32, All About Wine, Tiny’s Tipple, Christopher Piper etc) – which would pair wonderfully with Venison if you were at home – but is delicious alfresco after a dog walk or pony ride with a pulled pork roll (and toffee apples!)


Rainy Day Kids Adventure Book is the sequel to ‘Let’s Go Outside’ and packed with inspiration for getting little ones enthusiastic about drizzle. Their tips: fill a backpack with essentials like string and tape, invest in a good puddle suit (Frugi or Wet Wednesdays do some great ones) and never use the word ‘gloomy’ to refer to the weather.

Even without a book of ideas, what kid wouldn’t be thrilled at the prospect of hunting for shiny conkers right now – and displayed in a bowl they’ll keep spiders away too…

Comfort bars

No, not hotel lounges with leather chesterfields (although, let’s not rule those out!) baking these comfort bars involves firstly cleansing your cupboards by emptying every half used pack of pumpkin seeds, raisins, organic oats and almonds clogging up shelf space into a mixing bowl, adding a scoop of protein powder (we love Nature’s Plus Paleo one) and a spoonful of coconut oil. If the mix isn’t mushy enough, add that old banana that you’ve had in your changing bag – or a few blueberries. Press into a lined tin and bake on a low heat for about the length of an episode of ‘Ben and Holly’. Then be comforted by a) the fact that you’ll be snacking on superfood flapjacks all week and b) you won’t be showered with hazelnuts the next time you try to find a tin of tomatoes … #Win.


If Autumn flower arrangements make you think of those orange-overload far-too-cheery Thanksgiving style table centrepieces then keep it moody blue with the humble thistle. They look really elegant with antique roses or even just alone tied with string (if you’re feeling extra ‘spiky’). Grab a dried bunch for a tenner and it will last til Spring.

Investment Beanies

The bastion of fashion bloggers, a good beanie hat keeps one’s head warm, helps calm frizzy hair, hides most of your face when you don’t want to make eye contact at the school gate and forms an impromptu shopping bag when you don’t want to be hit with the 5p charge in Tesco. Celtic & Co’s lambswool pom pom beanie in claret is the colour pop equivalent of red lippy (or go all out for their cashmere version.)


Why brand your child’s uniform in Century Schoolbook when you can brand it with unicorns (or pandas, pirates and ponies?) Petit-Fernand’s stick on clothing labels make stitching nametapes into blazers a thing of the past – and the colours, fonts and designs can all be customised.

Are fizzy drinks during pregnancy really that bad…?

So the latest hoo-hah is all this business about avoiding fizzy drinks (even the sugar free ones), because let’s face it, you’re already having to give up your morning double espresso, evening G&T and mid afternoon bowl of oysters laced with blue cheese and pâté … So why not add Vimto in there as well?

Obviously the logic here is that fizzy drinks may or may not contain: caffeine, sugar, no nutrition whatsoever, saccharine, stevia, artificial colour – none of which do you or any kind of babymaking any good. And now – apparently – drinking fizzy drinks leads to fat babies after birth as well.

But hands up who hasn’t reached for the ginger beer to curb morning sickness?  Or downed gallons of Lilt one day when all the water tasted metallic? Guilty as charged…

If you’re worried about all of this, but still can’t actually face drinking plain ole water (us neither!) we’ve recently acquired a taste for Ugly Drinks – which are flavoured waters with no sugar, sweetener, colour or any sort of nasties at all really. The grapefruit one comes billed as ‘a disco in a can’ (and as giving up discos was kind of on the list after the first child came along, this one seemed like a bit of a winner to us…)

The ‘Get More’ range are also pretty nice – these actually have added vitamins, so you’re not just swigging carbonated water. The Vitamin D one is meant to be the most preg-beneficial and it tops up calcium too .

Another new one on us – although not in the fizzy drink family at all – was the range of Caffe Ottavo teas for one’s Nespresso machine. ‘Tea in the Nespresso?’ we hear you cry – well, apparently it’s a thing and actually a darn site easier than brewing yourself a pot and having most of it go cold/get too strong. We’re loving the Moroccan mint and Chamomile ones (there’s also good ole fashion English Brekkie in the range if you’ve got builders ’round – and obviously lots of lovely rich coffees that for the minute you’ll just have to sniff the cartons of…

But gosh-darn-it,  if you still really crave a fizzy drink then we (who aren’t doctors or midwives or scientists of any sort – and often known to quote things we read in Mallory Towers) totally suggest the odd glass of really good champers …


We had a few weeks off due to attempting a Jan Detox, but back by popular demand we thought we’d make this one a bit special.

So come 4pm today, pull on those heels, dab on some lippy and crack open the bubbly …and stir yourself the Hendrick’s Eden Special Fizz


500ml Hendrick’s Gin
150ml Homemade Cherry Liqueur or Cherry Heering (to taste)
1 Bottle Champagne
1 Lemon (sliced)

PREPARATION:Steep sliced lemon in first 3 ingredients overnight* Pour into punch bowl over a block of ice and add champagne just before serving.

(*not likely in our world, but we doubt it matters – Ed)


What’s it like to give birth at The Portland?


Famous for delivering the offspring of rockstars and Royals, suffice to say a birth at The Portland will set you back the best part of ten grand (13K for a C-section)

But what do you really get for your money? According to their spokesperson ‘We are one of the most highly equipped hospitals in Europe and have an international reputation for our standards in medical care…’ But does that justify the pricetag?

Here’s what we found out…

PANTS AND PANDAS: The Portland provides ‘everything you can think of’ said one Mum: knickers, nappies, towels, babygrows, Molton Brown toiletries. After the baby is born they are enrolled in the Portly Panda Club (with a panda toy) and the proud parents get a bottle of champers, plus an announcement in The Times and a fancy meal.

PRIVACY: Round the clock security keeps out paparazzi (or overbearing Mother In Laws). Says the Daily Mail ‘The hospital prides itself on security. The paparazzi might camp outside the doors – but they never make it inside. If you think a stay at the Portland means a chance to rub shoulders with A-list mums – you’ll be disappointed. The airtight environment and private en-suite rooms means it’s possible to stay a week without seeing another mum’

PICTURES: one nice perk is a complimentary photoshoot each year til your child is 18 from Imagethirst. 3D scans are also available at the hospital.

PINK: pink seems to be the order of the day when it comes to wall decor. ‘The only things about the Portland I didn’t like are trivial: the lifts (incredibly, pointlessly slow); the fact that my room was either too hot or too cold; and the revolting pink wallpaper in there. (For some reason I’d imagined it would look like a very modern boutique hotel inside, with Prada hospital gowns)’ (Mumsnet)

PAIN RELIEF: Lots of it, if that’s what you want… ‘I was smacked off my head on morphine, which was lovely! ‘ (Mumsnet)

“You get painkillers galore and you are definitely not forced to breast feed like you are in the public hospitals,” says one mother, “If you want a c-section, that’s no problem. They have a full night nursery for new babies, so if you are tired you give your baby to a nurse for the whole night and they bring it back to you all washed and scrubbed first thing in the morning. You are not forced to ‘bond’ with your child.” (Daily Beast)

PERSONAL SHOPPING: The Portland Hospital has links with Babylist who provide consultations from experienced advisers on what to buy for your baby. For Portland Hospital patients they offer a complimentary consultation.

Intrigued? Find out more by booking a tour: http://www.theportlandhospital.com/maternity/book-a-tour/