Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Midlife Crisis or Wanderlust Gone Wrong?

When I was little, I daydreamed of travelling the world, I loved globes, atlas' and maps - many of my favourite books had a map in them - even if it was of Middle Earth. 

I'm not your usually sunny beach in Spain sort of tourist, I'm by no means at all an adrenaline junkie but I do have an explorer spark -  when we went to Vegas for our tenth wedding anniversary, one of the highlights was kayaking down the Colorado river and honeymooning in the Maldives meant I was usually snorkelling in the sea with reef sharks and giant turtles. 

Where most of my friends are eagerly anticipating European beach holidays, I'm hoping for an icy trek to a remote Icelandic waterfall, a conservation holiday to the Galapagos, visiting the city of Petra, indulging my spiritual side in Bhutan, Hugging trees in an eco resort in Costa Rica (Luxury eco resort of course)  keeping my fingers crossed for an untouristy Inca trail to Machu Picchu, taking the train with the glass roof through the Rocky Mountains, learning to cross country ski through a Finnish forrest, loosing myself in a small Greenland village or pushing myself to my limits crossing a wobbly wooden bridge on a hike to base camp, Everest.  One of my all time favourite Movies is the Secret Life of Walter Mitty and in it he visits many places on my destination wish list and his imagination is very much like mine.

I have wanderlust and it's bad, an itching desire to explore the world. Our children are almost 12 and 10 and have never been abroad - if we are ever lucky enough to all have time off from school/work at the same time, we have such a large family scattered across the UK that holidays abroad keep being shelved so we can see our wonderful family, with Covid I anticipate it'll be over two years since we last saw some of our family. 

In the 12 years of being a parent, I have managed to travel to Verona for two short weekend breaks and Las Vegas for a 5 day epic celebration, believe me when I say they were wonderful trips and I really don't mean to sound ungrateful, It's just I envisage more travel than that in 12 years. 

Summer 2020 was supposed to be the first year we were taking the children abroad - it seemed like the prefect opportunity to celebrate our eldest finishing primary school ... but covid happened and like all middle class families on the outskirts of London, we got a puppy instead. 

Summer 2021 looks like a write off to - if the pandemic reaches a stage where we are safe to travel, the chances of us all having time off from work and two schools at the same time, having someone look after our puppy and finding a European holiday are slim. 

I can't help but feel a bit deflated, as I'm getting significantly older, I can't actually see a moment in my life where I go to any of the places on my destination list, I think it really hit me when I watched the Sherpa documentary - firstly - it was an eye opener just how exploited some of the Sherpa's are, I would not expect someone to risk their life so that I could have a hot towel or fizzy pop (and how dare the Everest tourists who do, demand that!) and I can't believe that it costs an eye-watering  £100k to climb but the documentary said Sherpa's aren't even paid enough to cover their own funeral costs (if they perish on the mountain it would cost £400 for their funerals)

I think the biggest realisation was that for me, my Everest ambition has passed my by, apart from it being a totally unaffordable sum of money, my goals slowly shifted, I used to think I had as good a shot as anyone at reaching the summit (when I was about 13 I remember conquering Striding Edge on Helvellyn and thinking Everest was totally accomplishable)  then I used to scale it back to camp one and then I started to think I'd probably die just trying to get to camp one but I still wanted to have a go and now base camp isn't even an option! I cannot see a point in my life where I would be fit and healthy enough to do the challenge now I'm a mum in my forties, life has simply passed by quicker than I was able to realise that dream. It was enough for me to go and have a little cry in the bathroom, Its just hit me quite hard that I am indeed a mum in my forties who is never going to climb Everest or even just reach base camp ... so in reality is my wanderlust actually evolving into some sort of weird midlife crisis?  

I tried to give myself a reality check, after all I definitely wouldn't swap my children for anything, not even Everest and crying in the bathroom because I'm not going to explore the world like I thought I would back in 1987 is a little over indulgent ... and not to mention utterly ridiculous when there are literally millions of people loosing their lives to covid right now. 

Get a grip Emma, you can do better. 

Grand Canyon by Emma Clement - Emma in Bromley


Monday, 29 March 2021

Easter 2021 Inspiration Guide

With Easter coming this week, I feel a little unprepared and I know I'm not alone so I've popped together a little last min inspiration guide.

Emma in Bromley - Easter 2021


Decorate

Add an instant sprinkle of spring with a window cling, we love the ones from Stickers4Walls a family run company,  because they are super easy to apply and not at all sticky making them easy to remove and reuse too. An absolute winner.

Emma in Bromley, Easter 21, Bunny Window Clings - Stickers 4 Walls


Treat

I love the "Wildlife in Spring" print from Victoria Eggs and it just sits perfectly with Easter - a new British made tea towel, something for me and a nod to spring - this print puts a smile on my face and reminds me of growing up in the countryside.... I might just need to go back and add a tea cup to my collection too!

Emma in Bromley Easter 21 Victoria Eggs Wildlife in Spring Tea Towel


Chocolate

In the past it has been difficult to find vegan Easter eggs (Especially ones that aren't just dark chocolate) but then the last few years have brought a wonderful choice unfortunately this year I've really struggled - I had 2 online grocery deliveries where neither had any vegan eggs left and the few shops that are open are really lacking, my local Holland and Barrats this year only had a choice of 2 so It's been like a massive step back - I've had to go online, my go to online vegan shop didn't have much choice left at all so I had to try harder to find something good and I'm excited to have discovered a new brand -  HiP Chocolate (Created by John Cadbury's great, great, great grandchild)

Emma in Bromley Easter 21, Vegan Easter egg HiP Chocolate


Make

With 2 weeks off for Easter and we are still limited to where we can go, or what we can do I suggest grabbing a den kit - I particularly love the simplicity and tactile nature of the Wooden Den Kit currently on offer for £20 from Hobbycraft Everyone loves a den - if we are lucky with the weather - maybe we can put it up in the garden but if it just rains everyday (As is the norm for school holidays) then we can watch a movie from our dens!

Emma in Bromley Easter 21 Wooden Den Kit Hobby Craft

Hoppy Easter xx






* I have received non-returnable press samples of some of the items shown for the purpose of this post content and photography. 

Monday, 22 March 2021

Preparing for Easter

Easter is really close but nobody is really talking about it, maybe its because it'll be another lockdown easter - another easter without a big family gathering or cousins playing together, perhaps it's because the schools have only just returned - with only 2 full weeks of school before the easter break, we haven't really had that chance to breathe, think and plan yet or could it simply be the lack of retail presence? 

Easter Crafts 2021

Easter is usually so heavily commercialised but most of the shops you would pop to for egg hunt supplies (I'm looking at you Hema) or crafting inspiration, chocolate treats or home decor are all closed - whilst some are still doing online shopping - not everyone is and its so hard to browse for inspiration and I can't be alone in feeling frustrated by "out of stock" messages every time I click on something. 

I've also noticed a lack of chocolate goodies in the few shops which are open, it feels like there is less variety, I had my eye on the Nomo Caramel egg which is exclusive to Tesco - I've tried 3 branches and online and it just isn't available... and the vegan creme egg is no where to be found - H&B said they aren't stocking it this year! 

Wondering what the secret is? where are all the goodies? is it possible to shop in only a few places rather than so many bits here and there? 

It looks like we will be doing a very small family of 4 roast dinner, a small egg hunt around the house and I'm struggling to see how we can fit any Easter crafts in, I'm hoping to at least make a spring wreath!

What has everyone else planned? 

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Finding Craft Love in 2021

I've always loved crafts, I've attempted many and I'm always drawn to them. I can cross stitch, I can do a very basic knit, I can sculpt things from air drying clay and I can make a pretty beaded bracelet but if we are being honest here, I'm not very good at completing a project, I always get distracted by parenting needs ... and I know I shouldn't say this but ... I'm also a bit rubbish at crafts - I love them, but I'm not a natural. 

Children learning to Knit, Lockdown Crafts and childhood anxiety and OCD


The thing is, I've recently been incredibly drawn to crafts, I don't know if part of it is pandemic boredom - There isn't really a whole lot we can do in a pandemic and I need to keep my mind busy and my children busy.

Or is it just that very brutal confrontation of our own morbidity and wanting to leave something to cherish behind? Being fortysomething with only one kidney really makes you contemplate survival odds.

I started making my daughter a scarf using just basic knit, I attended a Hobbycraft press event and there was an amazing knitter there who refreshed my memory on the basic technique my nana had taught me when I was somewhere around 8 but this particular event was back in 2017 and between serious building work on our home and the wonderful chaos that comes with parenting, this partial scarf got left in a box until just a few weeks ago when I rediscovered it and with a mixture of both boredom (these days I tend to feel a bit 'meh' if you know what I mean?) and the curiosity of my children - "what is it?" "How do you knit?" and the predictable "can I have a go?" I picked up that partial scarf and it is now a bit longer partial scarf that may become a snood because it takes me forever just to do one row, this is the most imperfect scarf you can imagine, full of holes, mistakes and quite bobbly for something that isn't even close to completion!  BUT most importantly I have (almost) successfully taught my two children the basic knit! 

I purchased wooden knitting needles and a small ball of multi-coloured cotton yarn for them both - I think for children, the tactile combination of the wood and the natural yarn is quite grounding, I read somewhere that it's very calming for children suffering from anxiety (which most children in a pandemic are facing) and it's great for childhood OCD, it's also a much needed screen free task!

So now I am so full of creative ideas I feel like I could burst! My children also want to explore "off screen"  - I want to try new crafts and expand on the ones I can already do, but most of all I'd like to make things to gift to the people in my life. 

We are entering a weird stage where schools are returning but nothing else is back to normal, not to mention the schools are only back for a couple of weeks before a 2 week easter break. 

I know I'm not alone with feeling a little worried about the children going back and I need to keep my mind occupied so it's the perfect moment to pick up a few new skills.

Have you tried a new craft or rekindled an old skill during lockdown?

Sunday, 14 February 2021

February begins with happy news

 It's like there was this crazy rush in December - all the focus was on preparing for Christmas, adapting plans to coincide with the latest, ever-changing  covid rules. It was intense, focused a mission completed. 

Then there was January - a month known for its "blues" but with the chaos of distance school learning January was insane, every day felt like the same long battle of trying to co-ordinate devices, internet access and schoolwork - at times we had 3 live meetings on the go at the same time with Blake's year 7 meaning his love lesson has up to 180 students, Meg's year 5 live lessons grew from 30 to 60 participant where one teacher was off and then there was my husband on his live calls too. My days were spent rushing around - literally feeling like I was pulled in every direction making sure everyone was logged onto the right thing at the right time, both children heavily relying on my assistance to be able to do the work. and of course keeping everyone quiet whilst hubby was working from home - including the puppy. 

If I'm brutally honest, January felt really low for me, we the worry of an elderly relative in hospital and my sister's pregnancy, to the fear of people getting ill - I find it hard not to panic on the days hubby has to go into London (once or twice a week) with the heavy restrictions it sometimes feels like we are just surviving, it doesn't really feel like life all that much sometimes. I have a reoccurring nightmare which I get at moments of stress and its just waking me up most nights at the moment. I know I'm not really ok but the important thing is that I know I will be!

February started with the best of news - we have a new niece! Niece number 7 (and 2 nephews) I feel blessed to have such a lovely large family and so many nieces and nephews to fuss over - It's just frustrating that it would be a 12 hour round trip to see her (and lets face it, I'd be terrified of going near a newborn right now!) 




Friday, 29 January 2021

What happened to January

 You know me, for years now my January tends to revolve around the London toy fair so with it being cancelled it seemed to leave a bit of a massive gap - It seems such a shame to have not been able to see or share with you all some of the wonderful toys to look forward to - after all I think it would be a welcome boost right now. Last year I remember how crazy you all went when I shared the video footage I took of Playmobil's Back To The Future range!

I feel like most of all though, this January I have just kinda stumbled through it. 

Theres been a roller coaster of emotions, there's been moments where I feel literally broken and moments where I feel so extremely lucky. 

Most of you are parents so I know you will all appreciate just how exhausting it is to Home School/ Distance Learn our children - like many others, I'm constantly darting from helping my primary age child and my first year secondary - neither are quite yet at the stage where they can sit unassisted and simply get on - both need my help/advice/assistance whether it be from teaching quadrilaterals to helping visualise the life cycle of a rock to the impromptu science experiments the year 5 teacher likes to hand over. Like you, I have a daily chart so I know which child needs to be doing what and when. My eldest has 6 classes a day - some are live, some not - its hard going trying to fit them all in and even if he stuck to the time table he would be sat at a desk in front of a screen from 9am to 3pm but he always has work left over to go back to so it usually takes a few more hours on top. It's such a long time for a child to be in front of a screen. My 9 year old has 4 live video calls and 3 independent learning sessions after the calls each day.

It's exhausting but I feel lucky that it is my only major complaint.

I had planned 4 posts fo this month and I just haven't been able to write them. I'm sorry. Please check in soon, I will have more to share in February.


Emma x

Monday, 7 December 2020

Outdoor Sparkles

 This winter season more than ever, we need extra sparkles and I know every single time we see a house with festive lights, it puts a miles on our faces. 

Koopower Solar Fairy Lights

I really wanted to add a little sparkle to our garden, I'm a keen advocate of solar energy and used it as an opportunity to wrap one of our trees in a set of fairy lights - 100 led solar fairy lights set on a copper wire gifted to me from Koopower to be exact. The ones I used have different settings for various flashing and twinkling or a solid light. 

Some solar lights come with a back up battery source so they can run off a standard AA battery if its been a dull day and the solar panel hasn't charged enough. 

Koopower Solar Fairy Lights
The first evening I had these set up, they were lit from dusk at about 4.30pm until 10pm and they were amazing but since then, we are lucky if the lights stay lit for 90 minutes - the solar panel is in the brightest part of my garden but I think this must be the realistic expectation for December in the UK.

They're very pretty and I'm keen to see them perform on sunnier days in warmer seasons - I might just add a reserve AA battery for December as festive lights really do make everyone feel happy!

Have you tried any solar garden lights this festive season?

Emma x



Disclaimer: This article contains gifted solar lights for the sole purpose of this piece.

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Stocking Fillers 2020 - The Perfect Stocking Recipe

Coming up with unique stocking fillers can be challenging at the best of times, but lockdown, different tiers and isolation is making it just a little harder.

Under usual circumstances you would probably be picking up a little item here or there with other shopping and with most stocking fillers tending to be a lower value item, it can sometimes be hard to justify the postage for just stocking filler gifts so this year I think we are all going to need to be a little savvy in our approach. 

Remembering that stocking fillers are just a little added fun and not the main gift so there's no need to go crazy but at the same time I think Christmas 2020 is going to be all about the little things - so no pressure!

I find the best method is to pick an item from a few of the categories I think mean the most to the recipient - flowing and combining feelings like a little recipe of Christmas love!

The Perfect Stocking Recipe

A Moment of "Me Time' - it's all about a great big dollop of self care. 

Smile Factor - a spoonful of something to induce the giggles.

Spark Joy - add a dash of glitter, sparkle and joy. (not to be confused with thanking your items before donation)

Just for Them - blend it into something personal.

Foodie - there just has to be an edible element.

Keep it Handy - a pinch of something useful.

For the Planet - remembering our home, something eco friendly or a gift that gives back. 



Inspiration Section:

Neom travel size candle in Real Luxury - Scent to De-Stress is just a magical scent. like a big deep breath and a hug all in one. (plus, there's no artificial head ache inducing scent - just pure essential oil goodness)

Candle - Stocking Fillers 2020 - Emma in Bromley

L'Occitane Hand Cream suitable for everyone, this is a decent, repairing cream to combat the drying side effect of hand gels, cold weather and heating!

Hand Cream - Stocking Fillers 2020 - Emma in Bromley

Worry Eater - an absolute game changer for little ones, even more so with the curve balls the world is throwing right now. 

Worry Eater - Stocking Fillers 2020 - Emma in Bromley

PLAYin CHOC - Think eco-friendly, sustainable, vegan alternative to a kinder egg - Cardboard themed play cube filled with two really tasty cruelty free chocolates, a fact card and a thick card toy to build. Themes range from Christmas to Animals and Dinosaurs - enjoyed by everyone. 

PLAYin CHOC vegan alternative to a kinder egg



Guy Martin Proper belt made from rescued RAF firehose - Handmade in the UK using retired RAF Fire hose, rescued from going to landfill.

Belt made from reclaimed Firehose for Guy Martin Proper


Hey Pots, the sweetest little personalised handmade plant pot - you can choose from so many designs to be laser etched on alongside your personalised message with a choice of plants or vegan candles from such a lovely sustainable gifting company. 
Hey Pots Personalised plant gift - sustainable gift

Carfume - premium fragrance designed for your car, presented in a luxury painted and wooden bottle. Lots of fragrances to choose from, including leading perfumes and scents such as Sauvage. 

Carfume  - premium car fragrance




Lego NutCracker Brickheadz 112 something fun to create for the festive season. 
Lego Nutcracker
Merry Christmas Everyone! 

Emma x







Disclaimer: There are affiliate links within this article and some items in this piece are gifted.







Saturday, 13 June 2020

Father's Day 2020

We're in a limbo state at the moment where we might be slowly coming out of lockdown and some shops are starting to open, most of us are still keeping distance and some are even still shielding so what exactly does that mean for Fathers Day?

This year more than ever we are going to be relying on ordering gifts online or thinking outside the box for ways to make the day special.

Father's Day gift guide for 2020.

Neve's Bees Hand Salve with a masculine Cedarwood and Vetiver scent, this is a hard working natural hand balm (to combat all the extra hand washing!) Neve's Bees are including wild flower seeds with purchases over £10 and can include a handwritten note on their Happy Vibes postcard on request. A lovely small business with a great ethos. 

Neves Bees Hand Salve - Fathers Day 2020 gift guide



















Small Beer Gift Set  A collection of 4 beers to create the ultimate Small Beer journey through the malt spectrum. Deserving of its award winning status and another wonderfully run small company.

Box Wild Dad's Bird Feeder Hamper
Whilst our Dad's are all enjoying the garden during lockdown, this special Dad's blend bird feeder hamper is the perfect gift. You can see the care that has been put into each gift from Box Wild - a small company who's goal is to give our wildlife a boost. 



Star Wars Droids Egg Cup Set - about as much fun as you can have with a boiled dippy egg.
Star Wars Droid Egg Cup - BB8 Egg Cup R2D2 Egg Cup - Fathers Day 2020
Flash Gordon Illustrated Guide Full of facts and photos, this guide reflects on the original Flash Gordon (Pre 1980's movie)


Flash Gordon Illustrated Guide - Fathers Day 2020

Tiger Gin with earthy notes, the perfect way to unwind on Father's Day. 




Back to the Future Delorean Art Set A nod to the classic Back to the Future movies, this set of 3 prints showcases the Delorean in each era. 




London Lego Architect Set Looking for a challenge 



Create an online Video VidHug montage 
Get all your siblings, grandkids and next door's dog to contribute a video to your video montage on vidhug - a great surprise to create. 

Emma in Bromley 









Please note, this article contains some affiliate links, however all items in this gift guide have been carefully curated.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

My blog turned 11 years!

I can't believe it, today my blog turns 11 years old!

Blake Clement 10th Birthday Legoland birthday board


For something I started to keep myself amused whilst I took a maternity break from my marketing roll, I can't quite get my head round that 11 years later I'm still doing this and loving it!

It all started with a post about maternity clothes in my local area.

It certainly feels like an achievement worthy of a celebration but I have to confess, my thoughts of celebrations are else where!

Over the next 6 weeks I have to navigate covid19 lockdown celebrations for uk Father's Day, Two childrens birthdays (Blake turns 11 and Maegan turns 9) and my husband's 40th birthday! under normal circumstances we would celebrate with a special family day out such as last years' trip to Legoland but this year it looks like we won't even be able to have any friends or family round. 

Where on earth do you start with lockdown celebrations? This might be one for a blog post or two!

Emma xx

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Did we have COVID19 ?

The start of this story is Friday the 13th March - now I am not superstitious about Friday 13th so I wasn't expecting any unfortunate events to happen.

Maegan (age 8) seemed a little unwell, just a cold - typical runny nose and a little bit of a cough.
We had heard her with a croupy sounding cough once or twice in the night, it's a pattern we have noticed with Meg since she was a toddler, a croupy cough before an illness.
She wasn't particularly unwell, the sort of snuffle that under normal circumstances wasn't enough to not go into school but we kept her at home for the day as a precaution.

Meg said she was coughing up "spicy stuff" which we assumed meant a "wet" mucus cough.
At this time, the advice from school was to carry on as normal unless she had a temperature or a continuous dry cough - at the moment she didn't have either of these so her big brother Blake went into school.
My husband's office advised for him (and all staff with a family member with any illness at all)  to stay at home for the next 7 days.

I popped to the shops to try and get some basics for the week, it was easier said than done - the shops were already crazy and out of stock for lots of things and I didn't even get half a normal weekly shop. I didn't panic as I thought I'd get an online order... little did I know that this was going to be virtually impossible!

On Monday afternoon I had a few tickly coughs but nothing else - not what you would describe as continuous and it was very sporadic, I didn't feel unwell at all - although I did have a bad headache - nothing unusual as the last few weeks of stress have given me quite a few headaches!

By Tuesday, Meg was pretty much over her cold, her runny nose had calmed and her cough was just lingering a bit.  In the afternoon my cough seemed to become more consistent and definitely a dry one - it didn't hurt and it wasn't particularly annoying - more like clearing your throat, in all honesty it sounded a bit like a pathetic put on cough.

Blake came home from school and had a bit of an asthma cough, not uncommon for this time of the year, he said there was a lot off from his class today.

The advice started to change to self isolating for 2 weeks and although at this time I just felt that Meg was getting over a regular cold and I might be starting with a cold - I didn't really feel that it was, or even could be COVID 19.

From Tuesday 17th March evening we took the decision to self isolate as a family just as a precaution.

Wednesday morning I woke up at about 3am and felt really ill, I woke up feeling like someone was sat on my chest, my ears hurt and my throat was on fire - comparable to tonsillitis pain. I drifted and snoozed until 11am which isn't like me at all. I'm sticking to our bedroom as much as I can and trying to avoid the children and Rich - its hard because you don't want to panic the children!

I still had a dry cough but it was usually a single pathetic one with a really bad burst of dry coughing every few hours - the bad bursts were enough to hurt a lot and leave me feeling a bit dizzy for a few moments. I was also quite sneezy.

My eyeballs ached, I tried to chill out and watch a bit of TV or read but my eyes hurt too much. I've lost my sense of smell and taste and off food. 

I spent most of the day nodding off and I had 3 doses of paracetamol in 24 hours - I don't like taking pain relief and this is more than I'd usually take in 6months!

I kept having moments where I felt normal and I'd go to get out of bed to move about but I'd feel dizzy and short of breath really quickly.

I don't have a fever at all and the symptoms don't seem to fall into any category - all over the press are charts showing you symptoms and the difference between a cold, a flu and covid19 - the problem is I have some symptoms from all of them and symptoms that are not mentioned at all and my symptoms don't seem to fall into other similar illnesses either such as chest infection or pneumonia.

Both my GP website and 111 don't seem to offer much advice and both say to self isolate at home unless I develop a fever, there seems to be absolutely no way of getting a test or finding out what it is I've got. 

In our household we have 2 Asthmatics, 1 suspected Asthmatic and then there's me with only 1 kidney (I had childhood kidney disease) so I'm a bit worried about either having covid19 or if being poorly has weekend my immune defences. I'm drinking lots of cranberry juice to help support my one kidney.

I felt mostly alright but had random brutal moments where I felt like I couldn't breath easily, if it wasn't for my husband looking out for me, I would have skipped a lot of meals, I just didn't feel hungry ... until I started eating and then I was a piggy! 

I tried to do my best to support my immune system with Matcha Lattes, multi vits and anti-inflammatory goodness such as ginger. I also drank pineapple juice because there's an enzyme in it which really helps to calm coughs and cranberry juice to help my kidney as I experienced a few kidney aches and pains. 

The next 3 weeks were a blur of sleeping, some days I'd sleep for over 12 hours, wake for a bit and then drift off for a nap. The dry cough started to hurt a lot, my rib cage felt bruised and sometimes the  coughing was so bad I felt like I couldn't breath and went into a panic - If it wasn't for my 10 year old son realising I couldn't breath and running to get my husband who then used asthma attack techniques to get my breathing to return - well, I'm sure I at the very least narrowly avoided a hospital trip if not something much worse. There were at least two occasions where I thought I might die. 

I'd find myself getting confused sometimes, I'd go to get something from the cupboard and forget what I was doing, or I'd lose track of the day or even what part of the day it was. I struggled to focus, It's not like I could sit and watch the TV or read a book because either my eyes hurt too much or I just couldn't concentrate. 

It took about 5 weeks for me to start to feel more normal again and I can't recall much from when I was poorly at all - its like there's a big blank.

Once I was better, I had these really sporadic stabbing pains in my left lung - They would be a burst of 3 or 4 stabs every couple of days and that was it but then about 2 months after I started with covid19 symptoms, I started getting a pain in my left lung every single time I took a deep breath, or if I sneezed, it was very worrying and I also had a mild achy in my heart area but both calmed after about a week - It might just be my imagination but it felt like a final bit of a fight between my body and covid19. 

Just to put things into prospective of just how brutal things got and how long it took me to recover from what might or might not have been covid19 ... I'm not good at being poorly, I don't like to sit still and I can't just rest or nap in the daytime. When I had my kidney removed, I was out of hospital within 5 days and started a Saturday job still with stitches. I've recovered from abdominal surgery following childbirth complications quicker than whatever it was that I had and even with full blown flu I've never slept as much as this. 

I know that I just have to accept that I might never know if I had "it" but its very frustrating as I feel that if it wasn't, then I'm terrified that we might get something even worse than I experienced especially with the thought that I might have to send my 10 year old (year 6) back to school on the 1st June. 


Emma xx




Thursday, 5 March 2020

Preparing for COVID-19, Isolation and School Closures

I'm in the UK and we currently have less than 500 cases so I don't think we are at the stage of needing to be ready for isolation but I do think it wouldn't harm to start preparing "just in case" and to have a plan. 

At the moment I don't think we really need to go further than picking up an extra pack of toilet rolls or a few tins of fruit with our regular weekly shop, from now, each week just grab two or three additional items that have really long dates on them and stick them in a box at the back of your cupboard -  put a reminder in your calendar for the item with the shortest date so you can use (or freeze) that item without creating any waste. 

Emma in Bromley - Isolation, School Closures and COVID-19


If you are not already doing so, take a multi-vit and consider a probiotic too. Have a look at your general health and see if there's anything you can do to try and optimise it.

Air your house every day - even if it's just to have the bedroom windows open for 5 mins. 

Have a couple of house plants dotted about - its surprising how much they can clean the air and brighten your mood!

Obviously continue practicing good hygiene, hand washing, sanitiser etc but also consider wearing washable gloves (like the magic stretch ones) and being more aware of what you touch out in public - do you really need to hold onto the handrail on the escalator? etc. 

The best way to prepare is a slow and steady approach - If you go all out and panic buy enough  provisions for your whole family to last for a few weeks in home isolation then 
1. its going to cost a small fortune, 
2. You might find yourself with a lot of unused waste, things being forgotten about and going off, too full a freezer or just too many tins of baked beens which in a life or death situation would be fine but for normal every day life - beans are the last thing you fancy. 
3. It's too early to tell if you are going to find yourself in a home isolation situation and as things stand right now, its actually highly unlikely - but as parents, we can't help be be prepared -its also a real possibility that schools could close as a measure to delay the spread. 

Can you work from home?
If you work for a company that can potentially allow you to work from home if we do find ourselves in a pandemic situation - now is a good time to check systems are in place - if you can remotely log on to your work system from home - check you can do it now, take ten mins to have a physical dry run -  it will give you enough time to have the IT department correct any remote access issues. You don't want to find yourself in an emergency situation, working from home in isolation and you can't even log on to the server. 

Build a stock pile
Start to slowly stock your freezer and cupboards - you only need to be buying 2 or 3 "emergency rations" a week at this time. Its about a careful balance so you are not unnecessarily spending too much money on things you might not even need but at the same time, you don't want to find yourself in a situation where the poop hits the fan and your standing in the middle of an empty supermarket wrestling for the last tin of soup (Or worse, Fish Paste)  risking exposing yourself to infection. 

Supplies to start growing

Food Cupboard:
Tinned Fruit.
Tinned vegetables.
Tinned Tomatoes.
Tinned beans and lentils.
Long Life Fruit Juice
Long Life Oat Milk
Olive Oil
Crackers
Breakfast Cereal
Pasta
Rice
Noodles
Sauces, Nandos, Yo Sushi, Thai Taste, Passata, enchilada kits, pasta sauce etc  - Look for long expiry dates.
Tofu - Silken tofu is often found on supermarket shelves with a long life 
Biscuits
Crisps
Chocolate (you will need treats)
Part Baked Bread rolls 
Squash

Japanese Matcha Tea - naturally helps your body fight infections. 

Water - I know we have good mains drinking water in the UK but I'd have a few bottles just incase there is an unlikely disruption to supply. 

Freezer:
Frozen Fruits and Vegetables - There are so many available, choose ones your family will eat and that can make simple foods such as casseroles, soup, fruit crumbles, smoothies etc. If you can, get some frozen pineapple - it's great for helping to fight coughs and sore throats. 
Chips - I mean, you can't ever have enough!
Bakery Items - Crumpets, Bagels, Part Baked Bread Rolls, Pitta and wraps all freeze well. 
Treats - If you are in isolation, especially with small children - Ice creams and Ice Lollies will be your life line. 
Herbs, Spices and Sliced Lemons - things like garlic, ginger, Thai spices etc freeze well and can make dull store cupboard food super tasty - not to mention things like garlic and ginger and lemons are great for fighting infections. 
Favourite meals - put some of your family's favourites in there such as a couple of pizzas or things for a roast dinner so that if you find yourself indoors for a long time you have a special treat to cheer everyone up / celebrate an untimely birthday etc. 
If you have meat eaters in your home, things like Prawns, sausages and chicken fillets freeze well and are easy to use with you store cupboard items. You can also freeze cows milk - go for a filtered kind such as cravendale - it still retains its freshness once thawed. 
Alternative proteins such as soy mince, chicken style pieces and veggie sausages

Household:
Paracetamol
Calpol
Toilet Rolls
Toothpaste
Handwash
Batteries
Check your first aid kit and general medicine cupboard.
Keep an eye on your prescription medicines and contact lenses etc. As things are now, its unnecessary to have lots of extras in your cupboard but if things with this virus start to escalate you don't want to be caught short. 
Laundry products. 
Household cleaning products - I'd go for an anti bac surface spray and washable cleaning cloths. 
Rubber Gloves
Bin liners.

Grow Your Own 
Have a few edible plants around the house, herbs such as basil and rosemary are easy to care for and great to add to meals where you can't always use fresh ingredients. 
Try growing a small strawberry plant in a jam jar or some living lettuce / rocket leaves - at the very least, children enjoy growing something they can eat - at the most - you'll have some fresh produce to nibble on if we all end up house bound.

Something Special:
Have a few new small things tucked away to tackle boredom such as a board game, movie, craft kit, new colouring pens or a lego set. If we don't find ourselves in isolation, then at least you have already prepared your Christmas Eve box!

Home School:
We've already seen a few school closures happening to help delay the spread of COVID-19 so it only makes sense to make sure you have a few educational resources at hand - ask your teachers which topics are coming up and grab a few non-fiction books and worksheets. You might find yourself teaching fractions in a cabin fever situation!

It's really hard to prepare when we don't really know what we are preparing for!

Look for the clues
Are there a few cases close to you?
What events are being postponed?
Any lockdowns happening?
Any schools nearby or in the neighbouring county closing?
Are any GP surgery's near you closing?
Has a decision been made to close your nearest tourist attraction?
Is your local hospital rescheduling procedures. 
Whats happening in Ireland, France and other countries close to us. 


If these start to happen close to you, it might be time to increase the amount you are stockpiling so that you have enough for a 3 week home isolation or reduce the need to go out in public places as often as usual... or at the very least you will be ready for the easter holidays! 

If I was to guess, at this point, I'd say its likely that the 2 week easter school break might be extended to 3 weeks and we might stay in more to avoid busy places. 

Lockdown
Italy now has areas in Lockdown ... its easy for our imaginations to picture this as a situation where you are imprisoned in your own homes and fighting for food but the reality is actually far from that ... you are contained to your lockdown area, meaning you are still free to leave your home and go about daily life, walk the dog, and supermarkets are still getting deliveries, there are no true shortages - just delays to deliveries and shelf stacking because panic and bulk buying creates the illusion of a shortage - imagine each customer who usually buys one packet of toilet rolls is now buying 6 packets on each visit.


Emma x

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

The History and Evolution of Blogging

Forgive me, I know its been a while!

My blogging adventure started 20 years ago when I was at university studying a BA in Marketing and Advertising - for one of our assignments we created blog posts but it wasn't until I held a marketing role within the fashion industry that my love for blogging really grew, at the time I was a marketing co-ordinator for Arcadia back when all their online content fell under a shared service we called Zoom. The online content for all the Arcadia brands Topshop, Topman, Wallis, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridges and Burton was all done by our small team and one of the parts of my job I enjoyed was creating blog features that used products from all the brands such as a guide to the best skirts of the season etc. My team's work on Topman won an award at an event presented by Lauren Laverne and Preston from the Ordinary Boys.


I continued blogging professionally when I later worked for an architect firm and again in the fashion industry for a maternity brand, I enjoyed setting up blogger events and working on collaborations. In the mid naughties there were only a few bloggers and influencers and it was certainly seen more as a hobby and its true value to brands wasn't yet to be revealed. It was hard enough to get a budget sign off to provide breakfast and a goody bag for the bloggers we invited in to preview the new collection and the director of the company felt like it was a waste of time, I had to really fight the case for working with bloggers - it was still very much unheard of.

In 2008 when I was pregnant with my first baby, I launched this blog, it was really just to keep me involved with online marketing whilst I wasn't working but it was driven by the fact that I missed blogging! It was my first adventure into blogging for myself and the first time I hadn't been on the corporate side! It was strange being on the other side of the table but I loved it. The community of British parent bloggers was relatively small and we all seemed to know each other. You would bump into the same faces at events and it was lovely, we genuinely cared about each other and twitter was still a place to hold conversations rather than an addition to customer services as it is now. I'm still friends with people I met through blogging a decade ago - some were fellow bloggers, some still blog and some were the marketing people for brands at the time.

Brands started to see the value in bloggers, they understood that we were a useful marketing tool and recognised that a good blog post would take about 3 hours and that many of us used DSLR cameras and provided high quality imagery (this is before current smart phone offerings) within marketing and PR departments there was a dedicated person working with bloggers, we would get to know each other and build a professional friendship to the point where our brand contacts would send out Easter eggs and Christmas cards to their group of bloggers, it wasn't unheard of to receive a bouquet of flowers when a campaign went particularly well. The work bloggers did was recognised and valued by brands who would pay bloggers for their contributions. Many of the bloggers, like me, came from marketing backgrounds themselves and understood how to use key words, SEO and things such as alt text for images, we knew which fonts google could read, we know the best times to share across our social media networks and how best to drive traffic to brands. Readers valued our opinions and our brand contacts would ask our advice on upcoming campaigns or for our recommendations when looking for other bloggers to use.

As things grew, I moved to the middle of the table - I ran a few campaigns for brands I had developed good relationships with. One included a book publisher I still love. I would manage a group of about 10 bloggers on a campaign to support a book release. At first the publishers had wanted to thank the bloggers with generous book bundles - these would include the book they are promoting before publication but also the bundle would include other books and toys as well usually to a retail value of about £80 but I proved how valuable the bloggers were and negotiated a generous fee for the bloggers too. It was hard work making sure the brand and the bloggers were happy and that everyone had everything they needed and that things went smoothly - with the publishing of a book - timing is crucial. For one campaign I chose a blogger who at that time was local to me, we'd met up a few times for coffee and whilst we hadn't worked together before, She had mentioned being in a position where she needed to earn some money and when a campaign came up where I felt she would be a good fit I put her forward. Unfortunately a complication came up and she didn't tell me there was a problem, she just didn't publish her blog post when she was supposed to .... didn't reply to my emails and phone calls and just seem to not take part, the brand were not happy and blacklisted her for future campaigns as it left a gap in the online campaign (the bloggers were all linking to each other) and I was upset as I had personally selected her. Several weeks after the deadline, and after the campaign had been closed, she published a blog post that didn't even fulfil the brief and then sent me a demand for payment. It took a lot of negotiating but the brand paid her half the original fee. As a way of thanks the blogger sent me an email which which included insults and comments which were enough to put me off continuing what I was doing - I don't give up easily so I hope you can imaging that this particular blogger caused a lot of personal devastation.

Just as I was feeling low enough ... then the saturation came ... there was no longer just a small community of marketing trained professional bloggers.. now anyone and everyone was blogging, now there were lots and lots of new parenting bloggers popping up overnight, some played dirty by buying large followers to make it look like they had more influence than they really did, some copied existing bloggers work and some were just out to troll. Some were great and became solid parts of the blogging community but whichever way you looked - parent blogging and the world of influencers exploded and it was no longer following the same professional trajectory.

Brand attitudes and teams changed, it became rare that you will have the one same contact long enough to build up a professional relationship, it's been a few years since I received a Christmas card from a brand contact or a call just to see how I'm doing or what I'm working on. A lot of blogger and influencer work is given to interns and there seems to be a growing expectation that bloggers will do 3 hours of work - writing, editing, photographing, publishing, marketing - their blog post to benefit a brand with no payment at all, but maybe in return for keeping an item they're asked to blog about such as a £6 book.  It seems we've seen a switch from qualitative blogger influence to quantitive.

Towards the end of 2019 I saw a few glimmers of the value of blogging returning. I have hope that 2020 will see brands forming dedicated teams to build relationships with bloggers and influencers again. I've noticed, like me, some of the bloggers who were influencers a decade ago are returning to the community. I hope that the work a blogger puts in will be recognised once again as just that  - work.

... or maybe I'm just daydreaming of a time long gone?

I almost walked away from blogging, I certainly took a long break but I'm not quite ready to hang up my keyboard keys, not yet! I'm also evolving and trying something new ... 2020 is going to be quite the year!

Emma xx