Our home renovation. The update, the dust, the hair pulling, the dust. Did I mention the dust?

I scoffed when everyone told me our home renovation would mean every corner of our house would be filled with a constant layer of dust and it would send me into a mild rage.

I’ve hardly blogged here because quite frankly I ignored everyone at my peril and it has  taken over my life.
Sure I’ve photographed the hell out of it all, but other than a few Instagram Stories here and there when I got super excited, I’ve kept away.
Here’s why.

On March 27th we embarked on a major home renovation and like good Scouts preparing for an impending challenge, we puffed out our chests, smiled and just got on with it.
Pft we said. We’ve been through stuff. We camp for goodness sake. We’re hardy.

Turns out we’re not as hardy as we thought.

For a while now we’ve been toying with the idea of moving house because as the kids have grown and changed so have our needs as a family. But we love our house and the environment we live in – so close to schools and friends – so we opted to renovate our home instead.
It started with ‘let’s update the ailing kitchen’. It moved on to ‘Well, if we’re going to do that, let’s replace the crap conservatory with a room’. And soon it was ‘let’s make the downstairs bigger’. ‘Well if we’re extending we may as well extend upstairs too . . . ‘ etc etc.

And so the major home renovation started.

I think the breaking point for me was when my husband declared to friends who were asking how it was all going 14 weeks in “it’s really not as hard as I thought it would be to be honest. In fact it’s been quite easy”.
I have spent weeks trying to keep the house something approaching hygenic, washing the bed sheets constantly so it doesn’t feel like they’re liberally dusted with dust and desperately trying to feed us all healthy ish meals with no cooker and no hob and no space to store anything. My prep table is the ironing board.
He’s either pretending it’s all a walk in the park or he really is THAT stupid.

So, basically the whole of the back of our house was being worked on. That’s the children’s bedrooms, the spare room, the kitchen and the dining room. We’ve pretty much lived in the lounge (although when I came home one day to find the new cooker and tubs of grout piled up in there I nearly lost it) and our bedroom.
For a while the kids had to sleep in a bunkbed in the dining room while their rooms and the spare room were being bricked up/plastered/overhauled.
That’s a teenager and a pre-teen in a bunkbed together. It could have been the stuff of nightmares, but they were ACE.

So the conservatory came down (and we managed to sell it as we’d taken really good care of it and it was in great condition), the patio was decimated, great gaping holes were dug and a new concrete floor went down.
It’s too small, I lamented to the Husband. What have we done? It’s so small.
The builder reassured us all was well.

Then the block work and the bricks started to go up and we could start to visualise what our renovated home would look like.
But the mess. Oh the mess. And they hadn’t even knocked through at this point.

Up up up the bricks went (no, she’s not supposed to be on the scaffolding. Yes I told her many many many times. Yes she thought it was her own personal gymnasium.
Soon they were in the bedrooms, putting the biggest beam you’ve ever seen in your life up there, creating new wardrobes, new space and KNOCKING THROUGH. Argh, the dust. 

Then the builders finished upstairs and we had to ship the kids back up to their rooms, then empty the dining room and the kitchen ready for them to knock through and create a whole new dust hurricane downstairs.
We did it all one Sunday afternoon and it nearly killed us.
Then I lost use of the kitchen and had to decamp to the pantry. Thank goodness for my big pantry. I used the ironing board as my work top!

It’s been a long, a really hard slog but I can finally I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.
I can see my beautiful kitchen taking shape (it’s wonderful and I feel like all my Christmases have come at once) and the concrete slab wasn’t too small after all!
The garden is still a builder’s yard and the new cooker is currently in my living room but apart from that we’re nearly there.
And I can’t wait to share it with you!

Our first meal in the new kitchen; got to be fish, chips and a curry sauce 🙂

Posted in Family Life | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

How to tame a teenager

When your kids become teenagers you despair a little.
Did I say a little? You despair a lot. Here are a list of the things you will say on a regular basis:
Please get off your phone.
No phones at the dinner table.
You can’t watch the movie and message your friends at the same time.
Life doesn’t revolve around that damn phone.
Get. Off. Your. Damn. Phone. Etc etc etc.

Here are the responses you’re likely to get back:
One sec.
I’m just checking out what homework I’ve got.
Really, just one sec.
I’m hardly ever on it.
I’m not on my phone (said phone is under the hoody next to him on the sofa and he’s surreptitiously checking it out every now and again and I can totally tell as the screen lights up his face. Dope).
One more sec.
I’m reading
(Snapchat totally doesn’t count).

So if ever they get the chance to go away on a school camp you grab at that opportunity by the scruff of the neck and with both hands and don’t let go.
Because that means either there will be no phone signal or phones aren’t allowed.
WOO HOO. Nirvana!

So Dan went on a three-day camp and didn’t use his phone once.
I’d even given him permission to get it out to take some photos for me, but it didn’t leave his perfectly packed rucksack (it wasn’t perfectly packed by any stretch of the imagination).

But I wanted to take some photos to show how much he’s grown as I haven’t featured him much on here at all lately. And he’s so different!
And also we were sent this awesome pair of Salomon walking boots from Millet Sports for him to wear during the camp and it was a great excuse for a bit of a photo session!

Here’s the problem with teenagers, well, my teenager anyway. Everything has to be pre-approved. Vetted. It has to be ‘cool’ or he’s not going to touch it with a barge pole let alone actually wear it.
He will say the words “you don’t expect me to wear that do you?”. Emphasis on the THAT and with the sort of distain you’d expect if you produced something from the 1800s with a ruff.
I wasn’t holding out much hope for the boots. They also needed to be light, versatile and withstand never been looked after ever again. Because, you know, teenagers!

However, he poured over the website and picked this pair of Salomon X Ultra Mid 2 GTX and he absolutely loved them. They’re lightweight, waterproof and pretty much teen proof. Toe bumpers because they never pick their feet up and I’m told they look pretty cool too. So there you go, high praise indeed!

So he made it through camp and now we’re hurtling towards Bronze Duke of Edinburgh. Let’s just hope his feet don’t grow too much or I’m hoping Mia likes them just as much as Dan does! #handmedowns


Posted in Dan & Mia, Fashion Review, Reviews, School | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Inside the Atlantis the Palm, Dubai

The first thing I always want to know when going to any hotel is, what is it like inside? I mean, what’s it REALLY like? Not the same old corporate images you see trotted out in every brochure, I want to see the ‘real’ inside. The one holidaymakers see. I want to see if the brochure images match up in any way to visitors’ images.
So this is me showing you the visitor view of Atlantis the Palm, Dubai!

It’s a pretty amazing hotel.
Sat right at the top of the iconic Palm Jumeirah Island, it has views over the Arabian Gulf and, I mean look at it! It looks pretty amazing!
We travelled to the hotel as a family with older kids. You know, the sort of kids who need to be entertained constantly if you want them to put their phone down and a kids club just isn’t going to cut it any more.

One of the reasons we chose Atlantis is because it has it’s own water park literally next door, which was a huge tick in the box for us. But it also has a beach, pools, activities to join in with and flexible dining.
AND it’s in a place in the world we’d never travelled to before.

Atlantis the Palm Dubai: The interior

So what can you expect when you visit the Atlantis?
The interior is lavish to say the least. A stunning blue and green glass sculpture by artist Chihuly dominates the lobby area, as it climbs from floor to ceiling in a mass of writhing, beautiful glass.
The rest of the hotel is beautifully decorated in an underwater ‘Atlantis’ theme, and at one end it houses a magnificent aquarium which dominates the whole of the wall – a giant water feature which marks the start of the Lost Chambers Aquarium, another free feature here at the hotel.
They really don’t do anything by halves here.

The rooms

Considering how lavish the hotel is, the rooms are surprisingly basic. They’re perfectly OK and comfortable, I’d just say they’re nothing special.
We stayed in the Imperial Club room with a window overlooking the front of the hotel and the sea beyond.

The pools

There are two pools – a sit round and chill out pool (Royal Pool) and an active, get up and join in pool (Zero Entry Pool). Obviously the kids loved the active pool and spent hours at the basket ball hoop, underwater with the GoPro, throwing a ball to each other (seriously, if I’d said ‘entertain yourselves by throwing a ball to to each other . . . ‘)

The best thing for me? There was always a great lounger to be had and plenty of shade. Which was vital when we were there as it was so hot (elbowing 50 degrees celsius) there was no going on the beach unless you wanted the soles of your feet resurfacing.

The water park

We visited the water park pretty much every day. A couple of hours here and there and everyone was happy. It is literally a 5 minute walk away. You can access it via the hotel or by walking along the beach front. And it’s FREE to anyone at the hotel.

The location

While it does look out on to the Arabian Gulf, there is an awful lot of building going on around the hotel so it does hamper the view somewhere.
This image below, however, was the lovely view from the beach front in one area – you can see the famous Burj Al Arab there in the distance.

However turn 90 degrees and the view changes to cranes and building sites, with that lovely cityscape in the background.
By the way, that mist is the heat, as while we were there it was touching 49 degrees Celsius!

So what else do you need to know?
We actually had a fabulous time here. If you’re looking for small and personal, this isn’t the hotel for you. It’s big and flashy and extravagant and aims to WOW.
It’s hellishly expensive BUT there are ways around that (more of that to follow). However it has to be said, it kept us happy for 10 nights and the kids didn’t moan once – and that’s some going for a teenager and a pre-teen!

Have you been? Let me know what you thought.

Posted in Family Holiday, Luxury Getaways, Travel | Tagged , , | 3 Comments