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{The Ordinary Moments 14} #42 'Bubble Beards.'

on Sunday, 09 November 2014.

It's been a busy old week here, and it has passed me by in a blur of hectic times, mini panics, usual disorganisation and needing to take a moment to catch my breath.  We started off the week fresh from our weekend in Amsterdam, under a mountain load of washing and catching up.  Also on Monday, a project that I have been involved in for some time, finally launched.  

Way back before the Summer I was asked to be a part of a new collaborative travel blog, and it was something which really excited me.  I have a huge passion for travel, I worked in the travel industry for almost seven years, going back part time after having Mads and only stopping properly when I went freelance last January after the birth of LL.  Before the girls came along, any spare money we had would be spent on our next trip or holiday, so I was really honoured to be asked to be a part of this new project.  After some work beavering away behind the scenes, Space In Your Case went officially live on Monday and I am thrilled to be a part of it.

Which brings me back to my week.  On Wednesday evening I went into London to attend a party sponsored by the lovely team at Mark Warner, before attending the World Travel Market on Thursday as I had been invited to take part in a bloggers speed networking session.  (Literally exactly like speed dating but without the flirting and semi awkward conversation!)

Then on Saturday, thanks to a last minute ticket, I attended Blogfest, a conference which I hadn't been to before, and it was a great day catching up with some of my favourite bloggers and friends.  So as such it hasn't really been an ordinary week for me at all, it's been pretty hectic and a lot busier than it normally would be.

On top of that the girls have moved nursery and we have been adjusting to the slight change in routine and having LL feel slightly unsettled again as she has moved not only into a new premises but a new group too. Their new nursery is run by the same people, but has just moved to a new place and it is beautiful, in an old converted barn, but we are adjusting to the fact that we now get stuck in traffic each time we leave.

I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunities I get through my blog and for the people I have met, but while I love going to events and meeting my friends, I really am a home bird.  I am happiest at home, snuggled up in my living room with it's bright yellow wallpaper, two feral kittens causing havoc and two small people jumping all over me.  Indeed as I write this I am snuggled up in my pj's while the rain lashes down outside and there truly isn't anywhere I would rather be.  

Which brings me to my ordinary moment amidst a slight hectic week.  A photo of the two most important little people in my life enjoying one of their favourite bits of the day.  A spot of splashing, giggling and playing in the bath.  Where two slightly grubby girls got transformed into Father Christmas with the help of some good old bathtime beards.

When life is busy, when I get stressed because I am behind on my work, or the washing, or that the house needs a damn good clean, or even when Mr E and I haven't uttered a word to each other all evening because he has been doing his freelance work on one computer and I am on the other, I do often need to take a moment to reflect.  That we are working hard for those two little people.  That I may not have seen them as much as I liked this week, or that I may feel a pang of sadness over the fact that Mummy's girl LL wanted a cuddle from Daddy instead of me, but that we work hard, both in proper work and also through the odd amazing opportunity my blog brings, to be able to enjoy things as a family.  I do love to document our memories.

And that even when we are having a hectic week, or a stressful day, or even if the girls have been hard work, that as we wind down for the day and watch them as they splash around in the bath, everything is forgotten, and all that matters to us are those two little girls with their high pitched giggles and their big old bubbly beards.

bathtimebeards

 

 

 

A Child Friendly Weekend In Amsterdam- Part Two.

on Thursday, 06 November 2014.

Last weekend we were lucky enough to visit the beautiful city of Amsterdam.  We had the most amazing weekend as a family and were so surprised about just how child friendly and relaxed the culture is over there.  We loved exploring and making memories together, and we are already talking about booking another stay for the Spring of next year as I would love to visit and see the tulips- it is such a colourful city even in Autumn, I can only imagine what it is like when it is in bloom.

 If you missed it here is Part One of our adventures.  We packed so much in to our stay that I have had to split my posts into separate parts.


Day Two

 

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Our junior suite room at the Movenpick Amsterdam City was large, with a separate lounge area with a sofa bed.  The large windows meant that in the morning the room was flooded with the most beautiful light.

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My happy girl waiting for the ferry.

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Everywhere you look there are bikes in Amsterdam and I didn't see one person wearing a helmet the whole time we were there, it's a little crazy to cycle there yet apparently it's one of the safest places in Europe to cycle.

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When we go to a new place we don't always want to do typical tourist things, and prefer to go off the beaten track a little.  My husband and I love colourful street art so when I read about the Amsterdam Noord area online I knew we had to visit it.  It's a bizarre area, with derelict buildings, abandoned boats and a real urban gritty scene, yet it houses some of the city's most creative and artistic communities, even MTV have a headquarters here.  It was quiet and there were lots of graffiti artists working while we were there.  It was amazing and it was definitely the highlight of our trip.  To get to Amsterdam Noord you need to hop on a ferry going to NSDM behind Centraal Station, they run 24 hours a day and are free.

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While we were there there I got asked to have my photo taken and had a little interview with the Dutch newspaper NRC Hardelsblad because they thought what I was wearing was stylish.  Definitely the first time I have ever, ever been called that!  I had to get the girls to pose with me because I hate posing for photographs on my own, I am so unconfident in front of the camera and prefer to hide behind it.  These guys do it better than me! ;)

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The girls loved running around the big open space in Amsterdam Noord.

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It was so quiet and deserted bar the odd street artist. 

pllek amsterdam noord

We didn't want to eat in a touristy place so headed to Pllek, a crazy looking restaurant made out out of old shipping containers.  

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Pllek had a really cool vibe, we sat on wooden blocks and cushions which the girls thought was really fun and meant they weren't confined to the table so much.

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I had falafel, Mr E had a burger and the girls had a sandwich which the barman translated as 'brown sugar'- it arrived and literally was that, bread and butter with little cereal sugar biscuits on top.  Needless to say they loved it.

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We decided to hire bikes to really explore the city- the girls went on the front and it was so long and a little scary!  But we loved exploring the city this way and they giggled non stop the whole time.

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A quaint little open space we found while cycling- there was such a mix in Amsterdam of little parks, open green spaces, traditional old buildings and new urban zones.  And it was just so colourful and bright.

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We hired our bikes from Mac Bike, which we found to be excellent and they were great with the girls.  We were also pleased they had helmets in stock as because as mentioned above we hadn't seen anyone else wearing them.

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I love the way she is looking at her big sister.  She was so tired she fell asleep while we were cycling and Mads held her against her shoulder for the whole trip.  She really is the best big sister. 

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I feel so lucky to be able to give my girl's adventures and to experience them as a family. 

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Our hotel was about ten minutes walk from the centre which suited us perfectly as it meant we were out of the tourist hectic bit.  There was a nice walk back along the river.

 

Day Three

 

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After seeing the big I Amsterdam sign on our first day, we spotted this mini one from the ferry when we were heading over to Amsterdam Noord.  We therefore started our final day by jumping on another boat to check this one out out.

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We then headed over to Dam Square to do the tourist thing and people watch by eating delicious Nutella and whipped cream waffles outside.  We were so lucky with the weather, the sun shined our whole trip.

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Soon it was time to head back to our hotel ready to catch our plane home.  If you book a junior suite at the Movenpick Hotel you get 24 access to the executive lounge with complimentary snacks, drinks and newspapers. This actually saved us a fair bit of money, the mini bar in your room is complimentary as well.

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We headed back to Centraal station to catch our train to Schiphol airport, but not before having one last stroll by the canals.  I love this picture of this beautiful city.

 

All in all we had the most incredible weekend in Amsterdam and we have all fallen a little in love with this colourful, vibrant city.  We felt incredibly safe there which is important to us when travelling with the girls, and the Dutch were so friendly, indeed Mads and LL were in their element as whereever we went they got little gifts from locals, such as stickers, keyrings and a little toy car.  There's a really eclectic mix of traditional culture, mixed in with the bright colours and new modern structures associated with large cities.  The flight with KLM was so quick and easy, and to be in a European city within 35 minutes is just spectacular really, it's definitely opened our eyes to flying from our regional airports rather than going to the larger ones.  

My photos don't do this beautiful place justice, but if you are looking for a short weekend trip away with little ones, I can one hundred percent recommend it.  We have come away with lots of happy memories of our adventures and will definitely be going back soon.

My final post of our Amsterdam trip is coming tomorrow- photos captured by my iPhone.

(And in case you missed it here is a video of our adventures in Amsterdam)

 

NB: Thanks to KLM for flying us to Amsterdam as part of their #KLMFlyLocal campaign, we feel honoured and very lucky to be a part of it.  Be sure to check them out as they have some really brilliant deals from 16 local regional airports.  As always, all content and words are my own.  We love you Amsterdam!

 

A Child Friendly Weekend In Amsterdam- Part One.

on Tuesday, 04 November 2014.

When you think of Amsterdam what do you think of?  Stag and Hen parties stumbling out of 'coffee shops'?  Men dressed as Borat roaming widely along the red light district?  Or perhaps slightly prettier things such as tulips or clogs?  I thought all of these things about Amsterdam until this past weekend, although I knew it was beautiful I didn't exactly imagine it to be a particularly family friendly city.  Having been briefly before, staying one night in my early 20's, and a couple of times because my old head office was there for work where I literally saw a desk and my hotel room, I didn't really know exactly what the city had to offer.  Therefore when we were invited to stay for the weekend on behalf of KLM and their #KLMFlyLocal campaign we jumped at the chance to get to know the real Amsterdam.

I hadn't flown KLM before but we were so impressed.  Flying from Norwich airport to Schiphol airport (KLM's original home!), our check in was smooth, easy and without the hassle often attached to larger airports.  Once on the plane our flight only took 35 minutes, which is pretty amazing and even within that time we got a biscuit and a drink included.  Whenever I fly I always think of the larger airports, but we will definitely fly from our regional airports again, in fact KLM fly from 16 local cities including Aberdeen, Manchester, London City and Newcastle.  It was just so easy and much less stressful with two young children.

All I can say is Wow.  Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful, vibrant, colourful and quite frankly amazing cities I have ever been to.  It is relaxed, the Dutch are so incredibly friendly and it is so family friendly, with my girls having the time of our lives over the course of our long weekend.  Both myself and Mr E were blown away with the city and wished we could have stayed longer.  Obviously travelling with small people can sometimes be stressful, but our girls were impeccably behaved all weekend, with us not having to have one cross word with them.  They loved it and so did we, we made so many memories as a family and we will remember it for a long time.  I have taken so, so, so many photos that I am going to have to split this into a few posts, but here is our wonderful weekend in photos...

Day One...

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We arrived into Amsterdam really early and by 9.30am were in our hotel room which is quite frankly so quick and amazing.  We were thrilled with our Junior Suite at the Movenpick Amsterdam City, especially because they allowed us to check in when we arrived and not wait until the usual time.  This meant we could have a freshen up and a relax in our room after a 4am start.

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Our first morning was spent walking around the canal area and getting our bearings.  The canals are just so beautiful, with street after street of waterside shops, restaurants and quaint coffee shops.  We spent hours looking at the old Dutch buildings and the girls waved at all the boats going past. 

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We took our single buggy and a buggy board but Mads decided to have a really long sleep in the buggy on the first day so this little one walked a lot.  She was in her element, waving at people, smiling and loving the attention from passers by.

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As a family we have a *little* obsession for pancakes, so were excited to try out some Dutch ones as they are a speciality over there.  I had heard the best place to go was Pancakes! Amsterdam so after much map orientation we managed to find it.  

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We had to queue outside for almost an hour as it is so small inside.  LL wasn't sure whether it was worth the wait!

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But it most definitely was!  We shared a traditional savoury ham and cheese Dutch Pancake, plus two sweet chocolate, whipped cream and ice cream ones, with a little sneaky American style maple syrup and bacon stack as well.  They were honestly the most delicious things I have ever eaten, definitely worth a trip if you are ever in the area. 

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 We were so lucky with the weather, the sun shined the whole time and it was so beautiful in the afternoons when it began to set.  I love this photo of Mr E and LL.

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I absolutely love this photo of us- she really is a ray of sunshine.

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We got on a tram and went to the area behind the Rijksmuseum so the girls could run around in the park area and we could see the 'I amsterdam' sign.

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 They loved running around and playing on the sign.

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I love the light in this photo.

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Peeking.

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M is for Mads.  And random Man.

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 Throwing stones in the water.  As you do.

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I love this photo of us- I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to take them on adventures.

 

The rest of the day passed in a blur of sightseeing in the beautiful streets, before we headed back to our hotel bar for dinner as the girls were so tired after their early start.  A couple of other families were also there at the same time as us, so it was lovely to meet Fritha and Laura's family for a drink in the Executive Lounge at the Movenpick, where snacks and complimentary drinks are served for Executive Room guests.  We all went to bed really early, with Mr E falling asleep at 8.30pm!  

Here is a little video of our adventures in Amsterdam and Day 2 and 3 of our photos coming up soon!

NB: Thanks to KLM for flying us to Amsterdam as part of their #KLMFlyLocal campaign, as always opinions and content are completely my own.

 

 

Me and Mine: A Family Portrait Project 2014- October.

on Friday, 31 October 2014.

Yet again I type the inevitable words that I type every month 'Wow hasn't this month gone fast.'  But just like all the months before it, October seems to have gone past in a complete blur and now we are heading into November with the realisation that the end of 2014 is fast approaching.  That thought quite frankly scares me.  I'm not ready to say that 2015 is the year my baby turns two.  Or that my big girl is going to be going to school 'this year.'  Time slow down a little bit please.

Whereas in September we had our family photos taken right at the start of the month, this month we have done our usual trick of leaving it till the last minute.  It's been a busy month- bathroom renovations, weekends away, new kittens and bits and bobs contributing to some hectic times, as well as Mr E working a fair bit in the evenings due to a freelance contract. 

So when we set off out to take our photos this past weekend, none of us were feeling very inspired.  In fact it seemed like a bit of a chore to be honest, when normally I do enjoy going out on an adventure to take them.  We headed into our local town as we needed to go and buy some bits from the supermarket, and on driving through I spotted one of the local parks had a pretty spot with some fallen leaves.  We decided to set the tripod up there and take a few snaps, before continuing on with our quiet and chilled out weekend.

Except our usual set the tripod up and take a few snaps didn't exactly work well on this occasion.  It seemed it wasn't just myself and Mr E who weren't particularly feeling inspired, in fact LL really wasn't up to capturing any family photos that particular afternoon.  Every time I set up the self timer and ran back into shot (note to self- maybe after doing this for almost two years now you one day will buy another remote.) she kept running off and having a small strop when I tried to hold her in place.

I could have salvaged one semi decent photo from the bunch I am sure, maybe even two, and no one would have been any the wiser.  But this blog, it's our memories and our memories of our October family portrait are of a grumpy youngest daughter (who was as happy as Larry once we put the camera away and she could run free to her hearts content) who just was having a little bit of diva moment.

It's our real life.  And it's a very happy life to be living.  

(Unless you are a 19 month old toddler whose parents insist on holding you when you just want to run in the mud and get your pretty shoes dirty.  In which case real life sucks.)

a family photo october 14 f

It started off with promise...

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Then it all started kicking off.  There was tantrums and strange faces a plenty.

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Mads engaging in a massive eye roll over the fuss her little sister was making.

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Before deciding to partake in the grumpiness herself.  Albeit bemused grumpiness.

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LL decided to just not bother to join us in this particular shot.  I love this one of us three but I am not looking at the camera as I am keeping an eye on LL legging it off across the park in search of someone to take her away from her embarrassing family.

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I think both Mads and Mr E's faces in this quite clearly say it all.  Time to pack up and go home. ;)

 

******

This month I am sending you to have a look at my lovely friend Lucy's gorgeous blog.  She is a very busy lady who has just moved into her forever home so perhaps that may be featuring in her Me and Mine photos this month.

 

(Check out all my previous family photos here.)

 

 

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