On my feet throughout pregnancy with Hotter Shoes

If you’ve been reading my week by week pregnancy diary you’ll be aware of the fact that I’m a busy person. I don’t really like having nothing to do. As much as the idea of spending a day with my feet up sounds appealing the reality is that I’d probably be bored after a couple of hours. That’s probably why I craft as much as I do. This third pregnancy has been no different.

Since becoming pregnant earlier in the year I’ve managed to move house, get married and also juggle day to day family life with two kids and a step-daughter. I’m also self-employed, a school governor and on my local WI committee. I’m always on the go and therefore always on my feet.

Hotter tourist pregnancy feet

I’ve only discovered Hotter shoes since my youngest was born six years ago, and how I wish I’d known about them sooner. The thing that people don’t tell you about pregnancy is how it doesn’t just mean you grow a bump. The whole of your body ends up changing – including your feet!

When I had Little Miss C eight years ago my feet went up a whole shoe size during pregnancy. It was completely unexpected and I remember spending the latter part of my pregnancy (which was luckily in summer) shuffling around in a pair of flip-flops as they were the only thing that fitted. My ankles also became HUGE.

I assumed that my feet would return to their usual size and shape post-pregnancy, but I was wrong. The fluid retention did vanish, but my feet remained a size larger and I hence ended up having to buy a whole new array of shoes to take account of their increased size.

The size of your feet isn’t the only thing that can catch you unaware in pregnancy. After roughly the 6 month point it also becomes impossible to actually see your feet when standing. Unless you try and stand on one leg somehow. Not advisable with an offset centre of gravity. Trust me. I’m speaking from experience.

Putting shoes on also becomes something of a challenge. Or at least it has done for me. You know that your bump has grown when you realise that putting socks and shoes on can leave you out of breath as you try to bend down and position your arms and legs in such a way so that you can actually reach your feet. It’s like a hardcore yoga class.

An accommodating partner who doesn’t mind helping is useful, but it’s pretty much impossible to have someone on call 24/7 just to help you put your shoes on. With all the hot weather we’ve had this summer I was therefore incredibly grateful when those lovely people at Hotter sent me a pair of sandals to see me through the summer of this pregnancy. When you consider how many pairs of sandals Hotter sell it’s a bit mad to realise that this was actually the first pair that I’ve owned and it’s definitely making me wonder what I’ve have on my feet in previous summers.

Hotter tourist pregnancy feet

Summer 2018 has seem my feet in a pair of Hotter’s Tourist sandals and they have been an absolute life saver. As is the way with all Hotter shoes that I own, they feel as comfortable as slippers and therefore I had absolutely no qualms at all about taking them away to Tea and Tents with me the day I got them. WI ladies love Hotter shoes and at Tea and Tents I played a little game of spot the Hotter shoes as I went around the camp site. Not only were there loads of different sandals and their classic Shake shoes in a variety of colours, but I also spotted a couple of ladies wearing the limited edition daffodil Mabel shoes that they sold to raise funds for Marie Curie.

Hotter tourist pregnancy feet

With the hot weather my Tourist sandals have been perfect for keeping my feet cool as well as being incredibly comfortable. With just one buckle to do up they’ve been easy enough to manage on my own (and obviously I don’t need to put on socks with them!) and they’ve looked stylish with either summer dresses or jeans.

Hotter tourist pregnancy feet

The traditional English weather does mean there have been a couple of occasions where I could have done with reading the weather forecast before leaving the house, but let’s gloss over those shall we!

With the weather now turning it’s time to look at the rest of my Hotter collection to work out what to wear. I’m excited about autumn and the opportunity to pull out my gorgeous purple Belle boots again. But until then I need to find something else that doesn’t involve me having to bend down and tie laces.

What I’m in absolutely no doubt about though is just how comfortable Hotter shoes are. No matter how much the rest of my body has ached this pregnancy I can hand on heart tell you that my feet have not hurt once. Even when I got married last week I pulled out my old pair of their Lauren shoes in Teal (which first made an appearance on Being Mrs C back here) and they were absolutely perfect for my wedding day. Despite being 7 months pregnant, and on my feet for most of the day, they felt like wearing slippers. That’s how shoes should feel. Especially when pregnant!

Disclaimer: Hotter sent me a pair of Tourist Sandals for the purposes of this review. I am however, very proud to be a paying customer of Hotter as well. All opinions remain my own.

Pregnancy Diary – Week 30

Hmmmm. I’m thinking that week 30 of this pregnancy might be the one where I took on rather a lot. But it was also the best week of the pregnancy, as it ended with me getting married!

Yep – there I was at 30 weeks pregnant waddling down the aisle in a maternity dress. It wasn’t quite what I expected at the start of this pregnancy, but it was perfect in every way that I wanted it to be.

The week actually started off slightly calmer, with B’s birthday and the thrills of my car needing (and then failing!) an MOT. By midweek we were at the back to school stress point with the kids, and then by Friday night all our families had descended on us ready for Saturday’s nuptials. Pregnancy Diary Week 30

By Saturday afternoon we were married and enjoying a perfect afternoon tea as husband and wife! It felt like a million miles away from the last minute finding of PE kit and sewing on name tapes of Tuesday evening.

The thing I’ve realised through all this pregnancy is that organisation is key. The only way I think I survived the week is by having lists. Lots and lots of lists. Lists of what the kids needed for school. Lists showing exactly where they needed to be when and with what. Lists of what needed organising for the wedding. Lists of what I needed to tell various family members about when to be where. And finally lists of what we needed to take to the registry office with us on the day.

There may have been some curved balls thrown in mid week to keep us on our toes – an evening dash to Norfolk to collect a relative, a failed MOT and an AWOL registrar! – but our wedding day itself was just perfect. Everything we wanted it to be.

We planned and organised the whole thing in less than two months and actually I think that was the best way to do things. The jobs that need doing will just expand to fill the time that you have available, so by time-boxing it you still get everything done, you just have less time to stress about it all.

We only went for a modest affair and that kept the organisation down a lot, but the midwife had noticed a slight rise in my blood pressure the week before. Not really that surprising when you think about everything I was juggling.

Pregnancy Diary Week 30 Wedding

Just ten weeks to go now before baby hopefully makes an on schedule appearance. Let’s hope they’re all nice and calm!

Pregnancy Diary – Weeks 27, 28 and 29

Ok. Who stole the summer holidays? As I sit here writing this my kids are back at school for the first day of term and I’m finally coming to terms with the to do lists that have been growing and growing over the summer. Some days pregnancy almost hasn’t had a look in on things. There’s just so much going on in life at the moment that I’ve found myself getting really annoyed with myself for not being able to do everything that I’ve wanted to.


Busy is the main word that I’d use to sum up the last three weeks. My step-daughter has been staying with us for most of it, and whilst she’s pretty self-sufficient at 14 it has still meant a bit more to do around the house, and also her Dad being off work too. It’s always the case that trying to get work etc done when kids are around is trickier than during term time. Add into the mix getting everything read for going camping and a sudden deluge of data entry work and sleep went out of the window for a while.

Camping during pregnancy

We did manage to make time for a family holiday though and all five of us headed off to Nottinghamshire for five days of camping together. Luckily, we chose somewhere not that far from my Mum, so it was possible to take shelter at her house when the weather really turned, but the trip did teach me a bit about how different camping is when pregnant.

Pregnancy Diary weeks 27 28 29 camping

As well as the obvious frustration about not being able to fully do everything like get the tent up and carry stuff, sleeping on an air mattress is tough going. Even more so when the air mattress decides to empty itself on the first night. Thank goodness for a local branch of Argos and the ability to reserve things online! Even with a new fully inflated air mattress though I still found that I needed to walk B up at 1.15am to help me actually get up so I could accompany the five year old on a trip across the field to the toilet block. Still I survived.

Board and card game obsession kicks in

The kids also had an amazing time which is what matters most. It seems that this was the holiday in which they embraced board games like never before. I’ve written over on Penny Plays about how much Master C loves Snakes and Ladders and Ludo, but that’s now turned into more of an obsession. Amazingly none of them asked for TV at all whilst we were away, even when we visited my mum. Instead though the board and card games had to go with us and they insisted on playing them as soon as we arrived anywhere. I can’t complain though as we’re rather big fans too.

Pregnancy Diary weeks 27 28 29 camping snakes and ladders

All this does mean that the board game buying level seems to have gone up another notch. Not something I thought possible before, but definitely preferable to them just spending all their time in front of a screen.

Pregnancy Diary weeks 27 28 29 camping top trumps

Top Trumps has also become a firm family favourite too. I’d forgotten how much I used to play at primary school and with all the new versions that are now out my two are trying to collect as many as possible. Long may it continue!

Popping our Geocaching Cherry

The time with all three kids also saw me finally giving geocaching a go. It’s something that I’ve been meaning to do for ages, but just never got round to. I’ll pop something up about it over on Penny Travels very soon, but it’s been a brilliant way of all five of us getting out and discovering new places.

Pregnancy Diary weeks 27 28 29 Geocaching

It’s even meant the kid being excited about going on walks. Something I’ve been trying to do for years! They’ve always been fine once we’re out, but actually getting them out of the house with their shoes on hasn’t always been easy.

Pop goes my tummy!

Halfway through our camping trip also seemed to co-incide with me suddenly “popping out” around the week 28 / 29 mark. My midwife tells me it’s common, but it was literally the case that I woke one morning realising that my sleeping bag was somewhat tighter than it had been when I went to bed.

Pregnancy Diary weeks 27 28 29 camping

Then, that night, I realised that I couldn’t actually zip the sleeping bag up any more! Fair to say that there was absolutely no chance of disguising this pregnancy after that and also the realisation that I really do need to try to take things a bit easier now.

Back at the midwife

Our return from holiday saw the kids go back to their Dad’s for a bit and an opportunity for me to catch up on work and wedding preparations. We’re keeping things very simple on the latter, but it still feels like my to do list is just growing and growing. It also gave me the opportunity to slot in what I think was officially my week 28 midwife appointment.

With the baby moving about so much more now it’s all feeling much more real than it has done before. There’s a little person going to be joining us in just over a couple of months and I think my head is finally catching up with that concept. This midwife appointment also felt much more like the ones I had with the other kids. Practical things like measuring my bump and listening to the baby’s heartbeat along with also having more blood tests and my Anti-D jab. There really isn’t that long to go now I guess.

Looking forward I’m hoping that the return to school will mean things calming down a bit and a return to a routine for the kids. We’ve had a blast this summer, but I think they too are ready for that regular pattern of doing things in the week as much as I am.

BBC Ten Pieces Prom – taking kids to the proms

There are some experiences in life that just blow your kids minds. That’s exactly how I would describe taking my children to the Royal Albert Hall for the BBC Ten Pieces Prom. I have never seen such a look of wonder on their faces and found the whole experience quite emotional if I’m honest.

Let me backtrack a bit in my tale…

BBC Proms

Firstly. The Proms.

If you’re British you know about the BBC Proms. They’re an institution and rightly so. It’s likely that people are most familiar with the world famous Last Night of the Proms, but musically that’s just scratching the surface. The Proms actually go on over eight weeks and include daily classical concerts – with most taking place at the Royal Albert Hall in London’s Kensington.

The thing that always amazes me is how varied the Proms programme is. There really is something there to suit all different classical music tastes. From world music to famous tunes that you hear regularly. And hundreds of different pieces in-between. I’m lucky enough to have been to the Proms once before and I’ve always known that it was an experience that I want to share with my kids.

Proms for Kids

When it comes to getting children involved in the Proms there is a whole schedule for families. In the BBC’s own words:

There are regular matinees for all the family to enjoy, with tickets half-price for all young people aged 18 and under. Or for families looking to delve deeper into the music, the Proms Family series offers the perfect introduction to the classical Proms. Whether you play an instrument or sing, whether you are a complete novice or an aspiring virtuoso, come and join in the fun at our family-friendly workshops.

As part of this family programme we were lucky enough to be invited along to the second of the two Ten Prices Prom (Prom 20) and also the accompanying Proms Children’s Press Conference, held at the neighbouring Imperial College Union.

BBC Ten Pieces

The BBC Ten Pieces project has the aim of opening up the world of classical music to 7 – 14 year olds across the UK. To educate and inspire them to develop their own creative response to the music. The initiative was launched in 2014 and has so far reached over four million people across the UK. The project provides an amazing set of teaching resources for this age group, all based around ten pieces of classical music.

They are currently on the third list of Ten Pieces which forms the central core of the programme, with teaching resources arranged either by piece or via other theme. These ten pieces were then included in the Ten Pieces Prom, as ten musical spells to help bring the Firebird back home to the Royal Albert Hall.

BBC Ten Pieces Prom

The Prom itself was a beautiful musical story which not only introduced the audience to the ten pieces, but brought them all together with the firebird story and also dance and poetry. It really was a showcase of the arts, and an amazing way of introducing children to more than just music.

BBC Ten Pieces Prom

With children’s television’s Naomi Wilkinson as the musical spell-caster, we also had the on stage delights of Shakespearean actor Paapa Essiedu (as composer Joseph Bologne) and the magical Josie Lawrence (as eccentric music bird spotter Molly Finch).

BBC Ten Pieces Prom Firebird

The three of them took the audience on a musical journey to find the Firebird and bring him back home.

BBC Ten Pieces Prom

With pieces as varied as Aaron Copland’s Rodeo Hoe-Down and Kerry Andrew’s No Place Like the Ten Pieces list really does give children a huge variety of music to help inspire them. I particularly loved Kerry’s vocal composition – full of human observation and humour.

Brave New Voices

Another inspiring part of the Prom for me was the performance of the poem Home by Brave New Voices. Brave New Voices is English PEN’s ongoing outreach programme for young people from refugee and asylum-seeker backgrounds.

BBC Ten Pieces Prom

The group created this poem having been inspired by Dvorak’s New World Symphony. It was performed in English and Arabic and was, quite simply, breathtaking. There was a lovey clip from this on the BBC News website in advance of the Prom and it makes you realise what an incredibly piece of work the Brave New Voices project is.

The Royal Albert Hall

As if the Prom itself wasn’t enough for the kids, there was also the spectacular Royal Albert Hall for them to take in. None of the three of them had visited before and even as an adult I remember it taking my breath away the first time I went in. It is a huge space. Incredibly impressive. Like nothing they’d ever seen before. The closest Master C could come was comparing it to the circus! I suppose he’s right when you think about it being in the round like a circus is – but it did make me laugh when he kept telling people over the next few days that he’d been to “a concert at the circus”.

BBC Proms Children’s Press Conference

As if a Prom wasn’t enough for a day out in London, the kids also got the excitement of going along to the BBC Proms Children’s Press Conference first. Hosted by Barney Harwood of Blue Peter fame, this press conference gave children the opportunity to pose questions to leading musicians to find out what it takes to make it in music.

On stage with Barney were composer Bushra El-Turk, saxophonist Jess Gillam and clarinetist and composer Mark Simpson. All three of them spoke passionately about how they made it in music. The dedication and determination that they had to show as children and how hard work and practice can pay off.

Whilst none of our three show an interest in becoming a musician (yet!) what came across loud and clear was how the messages that all four of them on stage were giving could be read across to other professions. My step-daughter wants to be an actor, but as is often the case when you’re young, has received some set-backs in her aspirations. The messages that Jess and Mark were giving in particular about not giving up and remaining focussed on an end goal were so important for her to hear from someone other than her Dad.

The girls were also completely starstruck to meet Barney. He’s been a key part of all their Blue Peter watching over the years and they were particularly excited to see him in the flesh, and really that he’s actually a real human being! Little Miss C was incredibly proud to put on her recently acquired Blue Peter badge for the occasion and was thrilled when Barney asked her about it.

A musical education in the arts

I have to say that our afternoon at the Proms was definitely a school holiday highlight for all three kids. Not only did they get the experience of amazing classical music being played by incredibly musicians (the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Rafael Payare and accompanied by the BBC Singers) in a world-class venue, but there were also so many other messages that they took away, especially from the press conference. I feel that it was an important step in their arts education for all three of them, and one which I urge any parent to try to follow.

Disclaimer: We were invited as guests to the BBC Ten Pieces Prom. The accompanying BBC Proms Children’s Press Conference was free of charge to attend. All opinions remain my own.

All photographs thanks to and copyright BBC/Pete Dadds.

Pregnancy Diary – Weeks 25 and 26

Pregnancy seems to be speeding up. I’m sure of it!

I’m now at the stage where I think I’ve honestly forgotten how pregnant I am. I can just about work it out if I use my fingers and consult the diary, but it seems that I’m so busy right now that I don’t just have it instantly to mind.


What I would say about the last two weeks is that I have felt utterly exhausted. I’m not sure if it’s just down to trying to cram in a lot of stuff with all three kids the first weekend, but by Monday and Tuesday I was no use to anyone.

Pregnancy Diary BBC Proms Royal Albert Hall

The first weekend had been crazy with a visit to the Dunstable Kite Festival, along with a very long day in London. We managed to squeeze in both a children’s festival and a children’s Prom (watch out for the blog post about it very, very soon) into one day. On opposite sides of London. Without very long at all to get between the two. And without any proper plans for lunch. What I learnt was that I need to slow down a bit. And eat properly. Valuable lessons that I’m trying to take forwards into the rest of the school summer holidays.

Lazy days at home

Pregnancy Diary baking with kids

If there is a plus side form overdoing it though it is realising how much my kids like a day in which we do very little. A day full of board games, television, baking and happily pottering about the house. Don’t get me wrong – the house is a tip at the end of it – but I think we all needed a few lazy days like this. It gave us time to reconnect somewhat and spend some quality time together at home.

Master C has got a bit of a thing for board games at the moment, so when he’s not playing with his trains he’s keen to find someone to play either Snake and Ladders or Ludo with him. Something I’m more than happy to agree to. Well, for the first nine or ten times!

Regaining my fitness levels

Another thing that I’ve noticed with this pregnancy is that I’m nowhere near as fit as I was with the last too. Back then I did the school run on foot and just generally seemed to have so much more energy. This time round I’m desperate to go to bed at the end of the day and in comparison walking and exercising very little.

I’m feeling. bit bad about that. Especially since I haven’t even been able to make it to my weekly aqua natal class for about 6 weeks now.

The only regular bit of exercise I have been getting is when I take the kids to their swimming lessons once a week. I’ve made a real effort to start swimming lengths again whilst they have their lessons. It’s a good thing for me to do – mentally and physically – and I’m realising I really do need to make some time to look after myself a bit better. I need to make time to go for walks and do other bits of exercise, as well as eating better too.

As I sit here writing this I have a week where the kids are staying with their Dad, and I’m trying to use it as an opportunity to get properly organised for the rest of the year. With the wedding and the baby I know that the next five or six months are going to be crazily busy and I also know that I need to be on top of things so nothing gets dropped. I just need to make sure I put time in my plans to concentrate on myself too.

Midwife appointment

Speaking of looking after myself, one thing that I do religiously make time for is medical appointments. I have to admit that I don’t understand people who don’t keep regular appointments. You’re responsible for a little life inside you. How can you not make the time to go and see the Doctor or midwife?

I therefore waddled off to the local doctors’ surgery for my 25 week mid-wife appointment, which was short and sweet. Although luckily not as disappointing as the last one was. This time around I did get to listen to the baby’s heartbeat, but to be honest there wasn’t a whole much more to the appointment.

A quick feel of my tummy told the midwife that baby (unsurprisingly) wasn’t head down yet, and all my blood pressure and urine sample were also fine. I’ve already got the next two appointments with her in the diary and at those I’ve been told to expect another set of blood tests and also my Anti-D injection. It seems the way they do Anti-D is different from when I had my son and daughter, so that’s yet another thing I have to get my head around.

Travelling around

I’ve also been making the most of the times when the kids have been staying with their Dad to accompany B on some of his work travels. I generally find that if I stay at home I end up not working that well as I get distracted by the various jobs that need doing instead. I therefore try and find cafes with wifi near where he is working and go with him and concentrate on my work whilst he is at work. I can make a cheap cup of coffee or tea last a good couple of hours if needs be, but it does mean I get so much more done. At the same time I can also make the most of the car journeys for a bit of crochet or sewing (which is like mental therapy to me!) and get to see a bit of the country at the same time.


Pregnancy Diary Brighton beach

We were lucky enough to be in Brighton the day before Brighton Pride and loved the carnival atmosphere in the town. I found some gorgeous cafes and shops and even managed to find my wedding dress on a sale rack for the bargain price of £15 whilst there! That afternoon we sat on the beach watching the waves come in and it was just perfect.


I also tagged along when he had to go to Colchester, which gave me a perfect excuse to catch up with my blogging friend Mary over a cuppa and piece of cake. We worked out that it’s been about two years since we last managed to catch up in person and it was an excellent reminder of how wonderful some of the blogging friendships I’ve made over the years are. She took me to a lovely vintage tea rooms and we platted a return visit so that we can go to the local board game cafe too. Colchester – we’ll be back!

As if that wasn’t enough as we made our way home, we delayed lunch plans slightly as the heavens opened, but that meant that we happened to be driving past the East Anglian Railway Museum just as our stomachs were rumbling.

Pregnancy Diary East Anglian Railway Museum

Unfortunately the need to get back to pick up the kids meant that we didn’t have time to do the museum itself, but the pair of us loved having lunch in an old railway carriage on one of the platforms as we watched real trains go through the middle of the museum. Yet another reason to return soon.


As if all that wasn’t enough we also managed to squeeze in a quick overnight trip to Norfolk to see B’s family. We figured it was the last chance we’d get before the wedding so we thought we ought to make the effort.

Pregnancy Diary Wells fish and chips

It was very much a flying visit, but no visit to Wells Next The Sea would be complete without fish and chips from French’s. If you’re ever in the area it is the place to go. Don’t let the queue put you off. It’s well worth the wait.

The gorgeous weather also meant that we were desperate to fit in a beach trip and we managed it. Holkham is one of B’s favourite beaches and I totally agree as to why. It’s just so big that even on the busiest of days it doesn’t seem busy. There’s also something completely magical about paddling in the sea and it’s one of those things that I think should be done at every possible opportunity.

Leighton Buzzard Railway

The fortnight finished with a final trip out with the kids to the Leighton Buzzard Railway. Master C is a huge train fan and seeing as Leighton Buzzard is our closest train day out we thought it about time we visited.

Pregnancy Diary Leighton Buzzard Railway

Needless to say the kids had a ball (full write up coming soon on Penny Travels) but once again it reminded me how much days out are exhausting me with this pregnancy. Luckily we were able to change our plans and just stay home the following day, but it was another reminder not to plan too much these holidays.

The one where I turned 40 and took off all my clothes in public

It’s hard to believe that it’s two years since I ventured off to Tea and Tents for the first time, and boy how my life has changed since then. Back then I described it as one of the most inspiring weekends of my life and just being back in the same place and seeing how far I’ve come since then was in a way quite humbling.

The Women’s Institute has helped turn around my life over the last few years. It’s given me confidence, courage and ambition, and without it I don’t think I would have made the changes I have to my life. I realised how unhappy I was and made differences to give me and my kids a better, happier life. The WI as a whole, the experiences I’ve had there and the friends I’ve made are what made all this possible.

Tea and Tents Women's Institute

When I discovered that the 2018 event was the weekend after my 40th birthday it seemed like the perfect time to celebrate with some of my closest girlfriends. What I didn’t realise when I booked my ticket was that I would by then be 24 weeks pregnant. Or that the country would be in the middle of a massive heatwave.

Never fear though – with a paramedic in my WI group, plus my mum and sister living just down the road from Walesby I set off determined to have a fab time and I did just that.

Last time round I was totally disorganised (possibly something to do with the amount of gin I took with me!) but with a clear head I this time planned my activities somewhat more and even booked in for some workshops and activities before I went.

For those unfamiliar with it, Tea and Tents is an unofficial WI festival that runs over three days on a Scout camp in Nottinghamshire. With over 500 women of all different ages and backgrounds, it’s a completely unique experience that I think is one that all WI members should try to see for themselves.

There is so much on offer that even after being more organised I still only feel like I scratched the surface of what there was. But I once again came home from Walesby feeling reinvigorated and motivated in a way that I hadn’t before.

Being pregnant meant that things like axe throwing were off the agenda for me, but instead I aimed to strike more of a mental balance by signing up to a variety of craft activities. I started off the weekend by totally throwing myself into the festival vibe and making a flower crown. How else are you supposed to look when going round a campsite in your pyjamas in a morning?

Tea and Tents Women's Institute Suffragette Flower Crown

I’ve never really been very good with fresh flowers, but Polly was a fantastic tutor and gave us a great workshop showing us how to form the basic crown from wore and then adding on flowers as we wanted to. Bearing in mind we all started off with very similar flowers, it was amazing just how different all the finished crowns were. But that’s individuality for you.

Tea and Tents Women's Institute Stampin Up

I booked onto a card making workshop on a bit of a whim. Mainly because I was looking for something to fill a time slot and because a couple of my friends were going. I’m so glad I did though as I absolutely loved it and came away with a couple of completed cards. It also introduced me to Stampin’ Up and I know I’ll be heading there way to order a few bits for some Christmas card making later in the year.

There were so many sewing and needle felting workshops that I wanted to do, but in the end I went for one simply titled “stitch a suffragette”. With no picture as I guidance it was a bit of a case of booking in the dark, but I’m so glad I did. Run by a mother and daughter team from Old Town Belles WI, it was quite simply one of the most organised workshops I’ve ever been to.

Tea and Tents Women's Institute Suffragette

With pre-prepared fabric hoops and kits consisting of all the pre-cut pieces of fabric we would need to create our suffragette (as well as detailed written instructions) it really did make the process of creating such an impressive looking piece of embroidery quite simple.

Tea and Tents Women's Institute Suffragette

The two hour session just flew past and I’m so pleased and proud of my finished piece. Another member was telling me about how she was planning to add hers to a suffragette collection of artwork and memorabilia that she had in her downstairs loo and that somehow seemed just strangely perfect.

The other highlight of my weekend couldn’t really be any further away from the stereotypical Women’s Institute image of stitching a suffragette.  After signing up for a swimming session at Walesby I was convinced by some of the other women online to join them in the organised skinny dipping session. And somehow I agreed to this without a drink inside me!

Two years ago there were stories floating around the camp about an impromptu spot of skinny dipping, but this time around it was far more pre-planned. With a lifeguard and everything! Quite what made me sign up to do it I’ll never know. But I’m so glad I did.

Never before have I felt so liberated and free. Naked in an open air swimming pool. My pregnant body fully on display. With a bunch of women that I had never met before, but yet I felt so comfortable. And heck that water was beautifully refreshing when it was so hot outside.

Tea and Tents Women's Institute

What a way to celebrate turning 40!

Just two days before my 40th the blogging world lost one of its brightest stars. Kate from WitWitWoo died suddenly, and we were all left stunned. How could someone so full of life be dead? Kate always told us to live life to the full. Not to worry about what everyone else thought. To wear what we wanted to wear. To be who we wanted to be. The blogging community came together in a way that Kate would have loved so much.

Inspired by T from Mummy Barrow we all decided to make the following weekend by embracing body confidence regardless of our size or shape. Bloggers across the country (and around the world on holiday in may cases) showed off their swimsuit selfies on social media. She would have laughed so hard (especially as many of us realised just how damn hard it is to take a good selfie in swimwear!) but I know she would have also been proud. #BeMoreWitWitWoo has already become a mantra for so many of us, and that’s exactly what I was doing when I went skinny dipping. Take these crazy experiences that life throws at you and embrace them as much as you can.

The final message that I took home from Tea and Tents this time round was being realistic about what is possible in life. A deflated air mattress, a bad bag, and crazy temperatures meant that the camping element wasn’t the easiest of things to deal with. The final night I headed off to my mum’s rather than endure another night under canvas. Although I missed out on some time with my friends (who it seems managed to stagger round most of the campsite making friends into the small hours) I instead slept for a decent length of time, woke without aches and pains, had a loo just down the corridor when the baby decided bouncing on my bladder at 3am was a fun thing to do, and also got a hot shower the next morning. As a result I felt refreshed for my return home – and clean for once too!

Quality Pregnancy Sleep thanks to Dreamgenii

It’s fair to say that I didn’t plan this pregnancy very well when it comes to getting a decent night’s sleep during it. These crazy temperatures mean that everyone has been struggling to sleep – regardless of whether they’re pregnant or not. It’s impossible to sleep when it’s still about 28 degrees in your bedroom, even when you have a fan running and all the windows open. All that means it’s been a bit tough to give the Dreamgenii a fair review until now.

Dreamgenii pregnancy support pillow

I was fascinated when I first saw the Dreamgenii pregnancy support pillow at Blog On back in May as it doesn’t really look like any other pregnancy pillow that I’ve seen. As well as the familiar curved shape it also has an extra bit added on that I’ll come to in a minute.

How to sleep when pregnant

Firstly, one question that I’ve heard people ask, especially those that have never been pregnant, is why you need a special pillow during pregnancy. It’s true that not everyone does, but all three times I’ve been pregnant my sleep has been disrupted by back ache and also some degree of pain in my hips too.

As well as giving you a whole different body shape, pregnancy also affects joints, ligaments and muscles in different ways and for many women that can result in some degree or pain or discomfort. In previous pregnancies I’ve found that sleeping on my side with a pillow tucked between my knees helps somewhat, but it is bulky, cumbersome and not always perfect.

It’s also worth adding here that NHS guidance is for pregnant women to sleep on their side when pregnant, and ideally on their left hand side. Over the year there have been some frightening headlines about the risks of women sleeping on their backs (and as an aside this useful bit of the NHS website helps you understand the facts behind such headlines) but if you’re used to sleeping on your back it can be a hard habit to kick. Especially when you’re asleep and don’t realise you’re doing it!

Dreamgenii’s design

This is exactly where the Dreamgenii’s clever design can help. As well as having a curved section that works as both a knee support and also a bump support the pillow continues with another section. Joined to the end of the main curve is a flat non-padded comfort panel and then a smaller back support cushion section.

Dreamgenii pregnancy support pillow

It’s a bit confusing to describe at first, but basically you lie on your side with the flat comfort panel section under your body. The larger section then goes in front of you, supporting your bump, and the curve continues and goes between your legs. This helps to align your hips straight and stop pain and discomfort there and in the pelvic area.

The back support cushion section does very much as the name suggests and rests in the small of your back. This is the part of the cushion that I wasn’t all that sure about at first, but it not only supports your back, but also stops you from rolling on to your back when asleep.

How did I sleep?

Let’s totally separate out this crazy summer we’ve been having. In fairness nothing was going to get me a better night’s sleep when it’s so hot. When the temperatures have been lower though, the Dreamgenii has been an absolute dream. I hadn’t really realised just how much I roll around in my sleep until now, but I’ve found that I can use the Dreamgenii to stop me from doing so and I seem to sleep longer and deeper as a result. For daytime naps in particular it has been amazing. I’ve woken up feeling refreshed and not in pain.

Dreamgenii pregnancy support pillow

At night time I still find that I want to swap sides in the night and the Dreamgenii stops me from just doing that in my sleep. Instead I tend to wake up completely, reposition myself and the pillow and then going back to sleep. Trying to position it with the back support section whilst half-asleep took a bit of getting used to, but once I’d got the knack it was easy enough. Then once asleep I stay off my back and tend to sleep deeper too.

What I really like about the Dreamgenii is the additional bump support (this time round my bump aches in a way that I don’t remember having before) and also the lack of general bulk. There’s still room to have my other half snuggle up to me without him feeling pushed out of the way by a pillow!

With a retail price around the £49.99 mark the Dreamgenii does work out a bit more expensive that some other pregnancy support pillows on the market, but I think that is worthwhile for the addition of the back support and the lack of general bulk to the pillow.

Feeding support pillow

What I’ve obviously not been able to test out yet is how good the Dreamgenii is when you use it as a feeding pillow. As I understand it, the idea for this is that you have the comfort panel behind your back and the back support to one side of you, almost locking the rest of the pillow in place in front of you. That way it stops it slipping in someway whilst you feed.

The only bit I can’t get my head around yet is how you work it if you decide to swap sides mid-feed. I’ll admit that it’s over 5 years since I last breastfed, but I’m pretty sure my two did swap sides mid-feed and therefore expect this one might be similar. Will this work with the Dreamgenii. I guess I’ll have to wait a few more months to find out.

The Dreamgenii pregnancy support pillow retails for £49.99 and you can buy one directly from them here. Some of the range are also available online via Amazon.

Disclaimer: I was sent a Dreamgenii for the purposes of this review. All opinions remain my own. This post contains affiliate (and non-affiliate) links.

Pregnancy Diary – Weeks 23 and 24

Can you tell that the school holidays have arrived? Hence all organised work plans just fly out of the window. Combine that with the stupidly hot summer we’re having (remember I’m northern, I prefer the cold!) and it seems I’m behind on absolutely everything right now. Including blogging.

There are moments when this pregnancy feels like it’s going on for ever. And other moments where it feels like only two minutes since we found out. A hell of a lot has happened since then, but there still seems to be so much more to do before we’re organised for this November arrival.

Looking back I’ve been trying to remember what I’ve been up to these last two weeks. A glance at the diary suggests actually quite a lot!

Sorting out the paperwork

Firstly – and possibly most excitingly – was a trip to the local register office. Paperwork all submitted and we’re getting married. Quite soon! We decided there was absolutely no point in hanging around and seeing as we want to do it before this baby arrives we were a little bit limited in free dates in the diary when all three kids would be with us. Luckily it was one of those cases where we came up with a possible date, found the registrar could do it and so could all our immediate family. Hence we booked it. It’s only going to be a small do followed by afternoon tea, but I’m so excited I could burst! I just need to find a dress that’s going to fit and hope that this baby doesn’t decide to make a surprise early appearance.

Turning 40

As if that wasn’t enough excitement for one week, just a couple of days later I celebrated one of those big birthday events that ends in a zero. Yep – somehow 40 has arrived and it’s fair to say that life isn’t at all how I expected it would be at this age. If you’d told me two years ago that I would have celebrated my 40th with a non-alcoholic gin and tonic as pregnant with baby number three I would have laughed at you. But here I am. And I couldn’t be happier.

Pregnancy Diary Weeks 23 24 Birthday Flowers

In the end it was a quiet day. The day before I’d tagged along with B on a work trip to Kent and we managed a couple of hours at Bodiam Castle and a traditional National Trust Cream Tea which was a lovely pre-birthday treat. B managed to get the day off work for my birthday itself, so a lie in followed by lunch out was in order, before the rush of school pick up, swimming lessons and Cubs AGMs in the evening.

Pregnancy Diary Weeks 23 24 National Trust Cream Tea

Luckily B snuck the kids to the supermarket for a spot of cake buying and the appearance of two friends at the AGM picnic meant I had a bit of a celebration there. By the time we got home it was late so there was just chance for that sneaky G&T before bed. It’s a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle I lead.

Tea and Tents

Pregnancy Diary Weeks 23 24 Tea and Tents

The weekend after my birthday is when life got much more exciting though. I headed north for a child free weekend and Tea and Tents. This amazing WI filled weekend deserves a blog post of its own, but needless to say it was fantastic (apart from a deflating air mattress!) and a perfect tonic to the madness of day to day family life. I ticked something major off my (as yet un-finished) 40 things to do when I’m 40 list, but more about that later.

End of Term

Pregnancy Diary Weeks 23 24 Kids end of term

Once I was back from Tea and Tents we had the usual end of term madness. Somehow I’ve managed to get Little Miss C and Master C to the end of Year 3 and Reception at school and I’m so proud of how they’re doing. Despite all the disruption of the last year both had glowing school reports with LMC showing huge strength in reading, writing and French, and Master C in all things mathematical and scientific. They may both be so different in many ways, but I’m proud of both of them.

Birth Choices Clinic

The final bit of this fortnight of pregnancy was a trip with B to the local hospital to attend the birth choices clinic there. As I’ve spoken about before here, a consultant at the hospital has said that I can choose to have an elective C-section if I want to with this baby, but she referred us to the clinic to help us make an informed decision as to what to do. At least we thought we were going to attend the clinic. Right up until that moment when you tell the receptionist why you’re there and she looks at you and says “but there isn’t a birth choices clinic running today”. Argh!

All my medical care at this hospital has been fantastic so far, but I have to say that the admin side of things has been somewhat shoddy. Mistakes in letters, lost notes, cancelled appointments. The list goes on. Luckily a chat with the admin manager about these failings, and an acknowledgement from her that it wasn’t good enough, led to her finding one of the midwife matrons and we ended up with a private session with her to discuss our options instead. I have to say that she was excellent and answered all the questions we had, as well as some that we hadn’t even though of yet.

We think we’ve made our decision now, but babies can be unpredictable things. Who knows what the rest of this pregnancy might be like. So we’re keeping a bit of an open mind for now as to what we’ll do, depending on how things pan out.

And in a nutshell that’s it. Two weeks of busy family life with a couple of big milestones and a whole lot of fun thrown in for good measure. I’m shattered by the end of it though and slightly worried about everything that needs to be done over the next couple of months, but I’m sure well get there. Well, at least I hope we will!

Pregnancy Diary – Week 22

The weeks seem to be rushing past in this pregnancy. When it was all still a big secret in the first trimester it felt like time was dragging, but now that we’re past that point things are going so fast. Before I know it there will be a baby here! Guess I’d better start getting organised…

If anything though, I’ve done absolutely nothing over the last week that can even vaguely count towards getting organised. There’s been a lot of dull practical “life admin” like getting the exhaust fixed on my car and spending ages trying to find a garage with enough gas to re-gas my air conditioning. Really thrilling!

I also found time to take Little Miss C to her first pool party – Brownies end of year celebrations have certainly moved on from the church hall disco of my youth.


The lovely Bonn and I also found time for a bit of a mini-holiday. Emphasis on the word mini. We were out of the country for less than 36 hours, but we still somehow managed to have a great time and feel like we’d properly had a break. I realise that I’m not going to be able to fly for much longer so I took advantage of him having a work job over in Ireland to squeeze in a quick trip to Dublin.

Dublin’s a city that we’ve been back to several times over the last year and we’ve made it very much our own. In particular we happened upon a lively little tapas restaurant there on one of our first visits and now we just have to keep going back. Normally we only get chance to squeeze in a quick lunch before rushing back to the airport. This time though we had an overnight stay and a proper dinner out. A rare thing!

Pregnancy Diary Week 22 Dublin

The next day even allowed uptime to be proper tourists. After a trip round Tower Records (honestly we only went in so I could use the loo, yet came out with some vinyl!) we hopped on an opened topped tourist bus. They may seem like a bit of a naff thing to some, but when you want to be a tourist and can’t walk far they’re the perfect solution.


It’s my 40th next week so we decided to make it into a proper birthday meal out – knowing that my real birthday will become somewhat lost in a flurry of kids related activities. It was lovely to just for once get the chance to properly relax and enjoy the moment (and the excellent food) rather than rushing off somewhere. If you’re ever in Dublin I definitely recommend finding The Port House Pintxo. Just don’t tell everyone. We kind of like it being our little secret out there.

Bekonscot Model Village

We finished the week with a. trip to Bekonscot Model Village. We’ve visited loads of times before, but this was the first time Bonn had been and Master C in particular was very keen to show him the trains there. Little Miss C actually went on a school trip a couple of weeks ago, but felt that she hadn’t got to see everything she wanted, so was more than happy to return.

Pregnancy Diary Week 22 Bekonscot

I was also keen as I’d seen some tweets about a new section to the village and I was excited about seeing the village’s first underground station and funicular which had officially opened only a few days before.

It’s far to say we had an absolute blast. Trying to bend down to see some of the details is a tad tricky with a bit of a bump though! Look out for a full review soon over on Penny Travels.

Tots 100 Pregnancy Round Up

It’s not only been a week of days out and travel though. In between there has been plenty of work and also pulling together the latest Tots 100 Pregnancy Round Up. It’s live over on the Tots site if you want to go and have a read.

Pregnancy Diary – Week 21

Flippin’ heck! This heat. I’m from the north. I find heat hard work at the best of times. Add pregnancy into the mix and I’m really struggling.

Christmas in July

If anything’s set to guarantee hot weather it seems to be Christmas in July events. For those readers that are not bloggers or do not work in PR or marketting I probably ought to explain. Basically, most brands use July as the time to launch their Christmas ranges. Many of them hold big events to do so, often in London, and they invite media types to come and see what they are planning. All these events usually overlap time wise and so you end up with a week, or more, or Christmas in July.

It’s usually a fantastic, if slightly surreal, week. Imagine fake snow, Christmas music, copious amounts of festive food and decorations when it’s nearly 30 degrees and brilliant sunshine outside. It certainly messes with your head a bit.

Pregnancy Diary Week 21 Christmas in July Lidl

This year I’ve only really done a quiet Christmas in July. Partly down to feeling huge, and also down to lack of time this year. Last week saw me head on a train to London though to celebrate with Lidl. As I’ve come to expect with companies that sell food there was the tradition Christmas table laden with delicious food, but oh my, it was torture!

Christmas Food & Drink wish list

I hadn’t realised just how much I’m looking forward to celebrating Christmas this year. It will be the first Christmas in our new home. The first one with a new baby. And the first one with a new husband (oh yes – there was a surprise involving a diamond this week too!) It’s also going to be a Christmas at which I can eat and drink to my heart’s content. Well I can within reason. I’m fully expecting to be breastfeeding and dealing with a six week old baby then, but I also plan to enjoy myself.

Pregnancy Diary week 21 Lidl Christmas in July Cheese

Lidl had put on a magnificent Christmas spread, but there was so much that I wanted to sample but couldn’t right now. I’ve started writing a Christmas food and drink wish list based on the event and all the things there that I wanted to try, but can’t eat or drink at the moment. I mean, how dare they have a whole room devoted to cheese and whisky? Do they not realise how cruel they were being inviting a pregnant blogger along? I’m certainly saving the champagne and voucher from the event goodie bag until I do a pre-Christmas shop there.

Day to Day Life

Christmas wasn’t the only thing in the diary last week though. Little Miss C had a day at a local community event with her Cub pack and I also braved the sun again for Master C’s school sports day.

Pregnancy Diary Week 21 Dunstable Downs tea

Regular school runs and mum taxi duty left me feeling frazzled at times, but luckily B and I managed to carve out a bit of time for the two of us with a post school run breakfast up at the Dunstable Downs. I love it up there and the cool morning air was perfect for sitting and being calm for a while, before starting on our new set of exciting plans.

House progress

As if starting to think about Christmas wasn’t enough, this last week also saw Bonn and I make huge progress with the house finally. Having my sister and (Ikea and DIY loving ) brother in law to stay was possibly the kick up the backside I needed. Finally I have a dishwasher installed in my kitchen rather than just taking up space in the corner. This gave me the excuse to finally look on eBay at vintage kitchen units and I have some exciting news coming up on that too. As if no longer having to wash up by hand wasn’t exciting enough!

Inside the kitchen wasn’t the only area getting some attention. Our garden had a rickety old summerhouse thing in it when we bought the house. We were hoping we might be able to restore it in some way, but a more detailed look meant that it wasn’t to be. Luckily a bargain spot in B&M meant that I now have a gorgeous new place to sit for a morning cuppa and a spot of sewing in the garden. Another thing deserving of a separate blog post.

Pregnancy Diary week 21 garden arbour

Despite all the progress, this pregnancy is making me feel quite useless in many ways. There is so much physical stuff that I want to be cracking on with and doing, but my body just won’t let me. This last week, just hanging the washing out some days did me in for the next hour. I need to work on looking after myself a bit more and resting more, so that I can then use the time I have to maximum advantage. There’s so so much I want to get done before this baby arrives, but only 24 hours in a day it seems!