Tuesday, 25 November 2014

There's a new man in my life...

... and I am in love! I don't know why I kept it a secret for so long, but I guess it felt special that way. We didn't tell Miss G until gone past 20 weeks and our parents, who live abroad, only found out when we were a good 6 months into it. Bonkers, I hear you say, but it has been fun that way. 


Coppelio, as Miss G has named him, after a Hungarian ballet character no less, has been a fun and trouble-free addition to the family so far. And, may he remain trouble-free forever unlike his big sister who was the biggest pain in the ass baby ever.

He is already a little jet setter having been with me through gondola trips in Venice and hikes in the desert in Palm Springs. He kept me company during my jet lagged nights in California and the long queues to meet every possible princess in Disneyland. He has been a trooper through very hot nights in Puglia and has enjoyed every chance we had for a swim, either in hot Italian beaches or in the lovely pool at the Four Seasons two weeks ago.

He has gone through our homeless state during the summer and survived it, which quite frankly means that he is either a tough boy or that he might come out slightly neurotic! Let's hope for the first option, shall we? 

Apologies if this blog has been a bit quiet in the past few months, but a home renovation, a four year old and a bump has been hard work at times. I'm hoping to tidy up a few lose ends and share some travel tips for Los Angeles, Puglia and other places we've visited before Coppelio makes his appearance. Regarding his appearance...eeek! Let's hope it all goes well *starts to freak out slightly*

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Home away from Home

There are a few places where you genuinely feel 'at home'. Even when we go to my family home in Italy, it does not quite feel like 'home' any more. There are plenty of memories, but they often make the place too raw to feel like home. Home to me is where I can relax the moment I walk through the door and where I get a good night sleep and ideally a break from the manic side of life.

For this family the Four Seasons in Hampshire is a true home (not that far away) from home. We go at least once a year and usually in the autumn, when the summer holidays are sadly a distant memory and the Christmas craziness has not started yet. The moment we arrive is the moment we know that we are in for a fun and relaxed time. 


Beside the beautiful building, a fantastic swimming pool and spa, and the fact that each and every single member of the staff is super attentive to all guests, them being adults, children or dogs, there is one added reason why Miss G loves the Four Seasons and it comes in the form of its resident dog, Oliver, the black labrador. She fell in love with him the first time she met him and the love has never stopped. 

Luckily I had been in touch with the hotel before we left and I knew that Oliver had had an operation and might have not been his usual perky self, which meant that I could prepare Little G in case he was a bit poorly or even not around. She refused to believe that she might not see him and made him a get well card as 'this will make him better, mamma'. Don't you love the optimism of kids?


Unfortunately Oliver was not around on our arrival, but he had left Miss G an unexpected gift in our room. There it was, an Oliver table mat with the sweetest note. Miss G couldn't stop laughing at the fact that Oliver signed his card with a paw and that it said 'love and licks'. She also very much appreciated the Four Seasons sweet welcome (all suitable for her allergies) and so did we. Do you see what I mean when I say it's a 'home from home'? 


Whilst Mr H opted for a nap, Little G and I put our wellies on and went to say hi to some of the other Four Seasons four legged members of staff, the horses. The sun was just setting down and it was utter delight to have a warm fire and a bottle of water welcoming us back to the hotel from our walk. It is the small things after all...



A stay at the Four Seasons wouldn't be complete without a pre-dinner swim and splash. It's our ritual. Little G took it a step further by wanting to try the steam room, sauna and all the products in the changing room, hair gel and talcum powder included! Only then she was ready for dinner (with her Oliver soft toy, of course) and a cosy night sleep.



Day two saw Miss G's eyes literally light up when her favourite friend made a much unexpected appearance. Yes, Oliver was back! Not in his usual red collar and not in his usual sparky mood, but to Miss G it did not matter at all. He was there to be stroked and cuddled and that was good enough for her. And us.


Sadly Oliver was out of action and unable to come for a walk with us, but we decided to go anyway and made the most of a misty walk on the hotel grounds. We visited the Four Seasons chickens, the kids adventure trail and we finished it all off with a fun session at the well appointed playground. It was smiles all around a lot of fresh air (and muddy boots).




Tired but in high spirits we left the hotel for a nice pub lunch and a visit to the nearby Alice Holt forest. We even went on a Gruffalo trail, which was not much to speak about, but it was fun nonetheless. Once there we realised that our aversion to get muddy made us stick out amongst the local crowd. I guess you can take city people out of the city, but you can't really convince them that being covered in mud is all that normal after all. I think a couple of my instagram followers were amused by my ashtags for the day #CityPeopleDoCountryside #Fakers #MudNoThanks 



Of course we were all quite tired, exhausted actually, but we were also happy and in good spirits after the walk and the fresh air. Just when we thought the day couldn't get any better, guess who came jumping at us to greet our return to the hotel?


Seeing Little G so happy that she was nearly in tears made me a bit choked up inside. Maybe the countryside air does play tricks even on cynical city girls like me? Our day finished off with a swim and a game of grab-as-many-floaters-as-possible, which Little G won without a shadow of a doubt. Some hair gel and a candle-lit dinner later, we were all ready for bed at 9pm, which surely is a sign of the good and fun day that we had.



Needless to say, we woke up in a great mood ready to enjoy the Four Seasons epic Sunday breakfast, plus some newspaper reading or, in Little G's case, iPad playing. If Sunday mornings were always like that at my house, I'd be in heaven! 

Miss G wouldn't let us leave the hotel without saying goodbye to Oliver, but he was not around and I had to prepare her for the eventuality that he was actually having a day off. The tears were nearly streaming down her face when Mr H took her out for a final walk on the hotel grounds and guess who came running to say goodbye once we were literally packing the car and ready to leave? Oliver himself! Little G was in disbelief and wide-eyed said to me: "Mamma, he sniffed my car seat, so he can remember me next time I arrive at the hotel!" And just like that, we departed our home away from home feeling energised, relaxed and happy.



* Please note that we were not guests of the Four Seasons Hampshire and that we paid for our stay, so this post is a genuine review of a place that we love and that we like to call home once or twice a year. The Oliver table mat was a welcome and unexpected gift, but then I doubt that many guests would be writing prior to their arrival to find out how Oliver is...

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Only know you've been high when you're feeling low...

Year 2000: My Graduation Party
Ready to take on the world! 
You know when you are in your teens and early 20s and you can't see how beautiful you are? You inevitably compare yourself with the friends who are taller, slimmer, prettier than you. There is always someone out there with glossier hair, longer legs, better skin. Ten or fifteen years later you come across a picture of your 'ugly' younger self and you see your utter beauty. You can't actually believe that you found so many faults with your looks. 

Yet you haven't quite learned your lesson yet. You look at the mirror and you want to believe that in ten years time you will look back at your present self and once again see that beauty that right now you are struggling to find in your own reflection. Not just the physical beauty, but your spiritual beauty, your strength, your confidence.

Your body is different, you have had a child, you are devoting yourself to raise that little person as well as keep everything else together. You don't have the time to obsess about yourself any more as there are mouths to feed, clothes to wash, bills to pay. Your girlfriends don't call you with funny tales about the boy who is driving them mad. They call you because they have real problems, because their boss is an asshole, because their kids are ill, because their husbands don't understand them.

You try your best to keep up with all these adults conversations and responsibilities, you want to remind yourself that you are smart and fun and beautiful, but somedays you don't feel that way at all. You want a change, but the world is less full of possibilities than it was ten years ago. Everyone is ready to pounce on your territory the very moment you let your guard down. It's as if there's an army of people telling you what you are doing wrong and how they would do it better.

Some days you long back to be your younger self and run away from it all, back to when that was an actual option. Back to when you caught a plane a moved to Los Angeles for a year, because...why not? Back to when nobody could really hurt you. Or at least not for too long. Back to when boys were fun. Back to when you thought that by your late thirties you'd have a doting husband, a kick-ass career, money in the bank, Louboutins on your feet, stamps in your passport and a big fat smile in your face. Kids, you were not that sure about, but the rest felt like a dead certainty.

Well, about that...  


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