Happy Mum Happy Baby

Following on from my last podcast discovery The Parent Hood, I’ve now discovered Giovanna Fletcher’s Happy Mum Happy Baby.

Giovanna first came to my attention when she and her husband Tom Fletcher (McFly singer) posted a series of adorable You Tube videos documenting her pregnancy from announcement through to the introduction of their adorable boys. My eldest was born just a few weeks before their eldest so their journey struck a particular chord. However, then my own life took over and it wasn’t until I listened to Giovanna’s interview on The Parent Hood that I learned of her book Happy Mum Happy Baby and new podcast.

I wish I’d known about the book earlier. First time “mumming” can be lonely, daunting, overwhelming and a little bit isolating. I was really lucky to have great support around me but in the middle of the night when I’d tried to soothe my eldest to the sounds of Pretty Amazing Grace for the millionth time, I could have done with a bit of “Giovanna solidarity”. Because that’s what this book is – not particularly a book of advice or tips (although they are there) and certainly not an instruction manual, but it’s her account of motherhood in an easy to read and approachable fashion.


For her blog series, Giovanna has invited other celebrities to describe their motherhood experiences. I’m being a bit of a podcast junkie at the moment and listening whenever I can. So far I’ve heard Davina McCall and Emma Willis give their accounts but it was Alex Jones’ story which resonated particularly. Younger than me but “an older mum”, she expressed her fears for being that bit older than most first time mums and described how in the end she realised that we’re all in the same boat, whatever age we are. I’ve since bought her book Winging It (such a great title – I’ve often felt that’s exactly what I’m doing!)51zXeADNs9L._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_

The podcast with Jo Malone made me look at her in a whole new light – what a woman. Kimberley Walsh understood my stress at having two children far too close together (especially for a woman of my age!). The episode I listened to most recently was fairly traumatic with Elle Wright and Michelle Cottle recounting their experiences of stillbirth and infant death – too close to home to be comfortable listening but also good to know that none of us are alone. I cried too!

I keep wanting to speak back to whoever Giovanna is chatting to and exclaim “me too, me too”! So thanks Giovanna and guests. Please make another series before I run out of your back catalogue!

Herbalife – Week Three


Finally I feel like I’m getting into a rhythm and seeing it in black and white on the scales! After last weeks blip (and weight increase), I’m finally a smidgen away from a kilo down from day one (and a kilo and a half down from last week).

I’m making both my milkshakes in the morning and leaving my lunchtime one in the fridge before setting off for work. It’s much better to have it ready to go rather than risk being tempted by something quicker or easier (or quieter!) to make when I get home. Let’s face it, there’s nothing complicated about mixing powder and milk in a nutribullet but as I sometimes don’t get home for lunch till 4pm and am hungry, all reason can soon fly out of the window!

I was much more disciplined at the weekend. The weather was so glorious that it made you WANT to be good! I did indulge in my tomato on toast on Saturday morning but walked a little way to earn it and considered it a treat so didn’t feel I was depriving myself. On Sunday we took the children to the beach for a couple of hours with a snacky picnic and my protein bar fitted right in with their choccie biscuit bars.

My cheapie activity watch finally made a bid for freedom somewhere on Saturday morning. Timing was ideal as I’d ordered a Fitbit to be collected the same day and paid for with a gift voucher left over from Christmas that I’d completely forgotten about! We are gadget junkies in our house so it was going to happen sooner or later but I’m loving having something much more interactive to log my steps and weight.

And my sleep! It’s fascinating seeing the sleep stats! My sleep is all over the place which is hardly surprising with a 2 year old and a 4 year old. I must try and get my act together though and get to bed earlier rather than indulging in my hour of me time and TV time once the family is in bed, school bags packed and clothes laid out for the morning! The One Show presenter, Alex Jones, in her anecdotal book about becoming a Mum, Winging It, talks about how you need sleep to lose weight. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Her Teddy is still a baby so she’ll learn not to expect a full night’s sleep for another year or so!

Either it’s my imagination, or Herbalife is definitely having some positive side effects. Despite not a lot of sleep the last few weeks, I’m much more focused at work and in my other activities. I was asked to contribute a chapter to a book being compiled by Ali Meehan of CostaWomen and whereas a few weeks ago I would have put it off and procrastinated until the last minute, I knuckled down and got it done after the family went to bed on Friday night so that I didn’t have to dwell on it over the weekend. I’ve also been asked to edit a book on Mindfulness – a topic that’s not really crossed my radar before so I’m feeling positive about that one too. As well, being a distributor is giving me much more of a sense of determination and responsibility to try harder myself at losing weight and staying on track with my Herbalife lifestyle choice.

It’s another bank holiday in Estepona today celebrating San Isidro de Labrador so again it’s all about the children. Luckily I’m going out with my sponsor and her children so it will be a case of “I’m having what she’s having!” – God, I hope she’s hungry! Later on we’ll be going to town to watch the parade – this is one of my favourites with cows, horses, carriages and children in their colourful countryside style outfits.


Grace came home from school with this present she made for the family to celebrate Family Day which is also today

Have a great week everybody!




Herbalife – Week Two

My Herbalife sponsor always says if you have a bad week, think about what you did wrong and rectify it for the next week. So, time to think.

Actually, I don’t have to think that hard… I was a horror at the weekend. When I look back at how I achieved my goals before Christmas, I allowed myself a treat on a Saturday and Sunday which gave me a real impetus to get through the week. Instead, this weekend my “bad” was to grant myself two days entirely made up of treats!

Saturday started pretty well. I really wanted to go to the beach for tostada con tomate in the morning but resisted the urge. But then the husband decided to nap away the afternoon which, combined with a surge of monthly hormones and crossness that I had to do the weekly shop once again on a Saturday night, created a treat monster like no other. In fact, I remember feeding the children their dinner on Saturday night but I can’t remember having any myself so it was probably just a load of rubbish!


Día de la Madre present for the littlest one

Sunday was a fantastic day with a trip to the zoo and pizza for dinner. Fantastic family time but not so great for the weight loss plan. It was Día de la Madre in Spain which meant that zoo entry was free for mums, as was a meal in their restaurant (didn’t choose the salad…) and when you’ve had such a great day that your four year old asks politely to go out for tea before going home, resistance is futile.

I had the Italian version of my tomato on toast (that I was still craving from the day before) while the husband gorged on pasta and the children picked on their pizza. My bruschetta was DELICIOUS but probably didn’t rate very highly on the protein/energy healthy option scorecard and so when we got home and everyone was asleep while I was preparing the school bags for the new week, still fighting those hormones, and the bag of marshmallows fell out of the cupboard… well put it this way, the children aren’t getting any marshmallows this week!

fuengirola pizza

When they’re good, they’re very very good

So, needless to say, the scales are probably telling the grim truth this morning. Hormones are still in residence so I’m going to allow myself some fluctuation for that and repeat the mantra of “must try harder”. Weekday treats MUST NOT HAPPEN. Weekend treats to be minimal, and only taken when in the interests of family harmony (ie. no late night alone snacking). A couple of other ladies have now joined as my Herbalife buddies so hopefully they will keep me on the straight and narrow. I’m going to check the Herbalife list of snacks as well to make sure I’m eating enough in the afternoon so I’m not so hungry at night.

Now where did I put that protein bar???


The Parent Hood

I mentioned The Parent Hood podcast in an earlier post but wanted to expand a bit more for those who haven’t come across it before.

Marina Fogle, wife of TV presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle, was recently interviewed on TRE, our local English language radio station here in Spain. She was talking about The Bump Class, her revolutionary antenatal classes, book and first series of podcasts.

My husband is a huge podcast listener, enjoying topics as diverse as football, news quizzes, comedy and history. We’ve often listened to Desert Island Discs in the car on long journeys (life before toddlers) but that was as far as my podcast experience went. But I decided to give The Parent Hood series a try.

Initially aimed at new parents, most of the topics centre around first year problems – teething, weaning, breastfeeding, sleeping and so on. But there’s also some really interesting extra topics including verrucas and teeth cleaning, as well as a selection of interviews with other famous parents asking how parenthood has changed their lives. I was particularly touched by the podcast where Marina and Ben discussed their pretty unconventional family life and how they were affected by the stillbirth of their third child.

The podcasts are not long – usually around half an hour – so perfect for dipping in to on the way back from the school run (or just when you’re hiding from the children or the Paw Patrol theme tune).

You an access the podcasts on itunes or acast. Give them a try!

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Herbalife – Day One (Second Attempt)


I was “encouraged” to try Herbalife last September by a friend who had been converted to the Herbalife way of life after losing three stone. She has beautiful twins the same age as my eldest daughter and was not feeling good about the way she looked three years after their arrival. She has done amazingly well. Her perseverance and determination to change her life has really paid off – her new “outdoorsy” lifestyle, energy and joie de vivre is just incredible. She’s a real inspiration!

My friend has the luxury of a bit more time than me to join exercise groups and is now very committed to her training. Having said that, if I had the extra time, I’m not sure I’d be as motivated as she is to try kick boxing and all the other workouts she does. However, I am going to send my four year old to her for some roller blading instruction! Hopefully I can find a weekly exercise class not too far from home in the near future – one where I don’t feel too fatshamed to go back!


Herbalife and I rubbed together pretty well from September. I found milkshake flavours that worked for me and added a banana to the breakfast shake and berries to the lunchtime one. Protein bars were my saviour giving me my daily chocolate fix. Some days were easier than others. Lunchtime commitments sometimes meant I didn’t have time to make my shake between work shifts and inlaw visits meant loads of temptation and not much time at home to get into my Herbalife routine. However, by Christmas I had lost 10kg and was very pleased with my progress.

But then it all went down hill…

Christmas is hard when you’re following any diet plan, let’s be honest. Add in the depressing element of being stuck in a sick house with poorly children and a husband suffering badly from flu and the willpower flew out of the window. And all that chocolate in the house!!!

Into the New Year I was back on my morning shake but that was all. Any excuse for me to miss the lunchtime one and I’d take it! Then it was getting a bit expensive, weather was rubbish, etc etc. Name the excuse and I’ve made it!

But, back with vengeance today 1st May. I’m thrilled to say that despite quite a lot of excess, I’ve only gained a kilo since my lowest point. That in itself is encouraging. So I’ve had my vanilla shake this morning with a banana for an extra boost. I didn’t lick the knife when I made the children’s nutella toast this morning and protein bars are ready for action later on. I’ll be making a mint choc shake for lunch before I head out to a children’s party (willpower tester) – that’s a new flavour for me so I’m hoping it’s as delicious as mint choc ice cream and won’t get too repetitive!


My sponsor tells me I have to plan my day with sufficient snacks (the right sort obviously) – it’s not easy when you’re working full time and juggling two under-fives to find snacks that fit in but I’m going to try! Scrambled egg is one that’s recommended but it’s a bit difficult to make while you’re out on viewing with clients!

I know Herbalife isn’t for everyone and it has its “haters” as well as its converts but it’s important to find what works for you and I need something easy to follow that fits with your life. I’m not going to be making special dinners for myself or following it too rigorously at weekends – family time is too important to mess with. I heard a tip on The Parent Hood podcast the other day about pouring washing up liquid on children’s leftovers as soon as they’ve finished eating to stop mums picking at leftovers – that may be one to try!

Wish me luck!





Who Stole Christmas?

Do you ever get that feeling that you missed something really important? Or think, “I must get that organised in time for Christmas…” only to realise it’s already happened?

I love living on the Costa del Sol but let’s face it, Christmas just isn’t the same. The anticipation and madness that precede the actual event are nothing like what you experience growing up in the UK. In Spain it’s more subtle, dare I say refined, reserved and, let’s face it – warm! Perhaps even the renowned detester of tinsel, etiquette expert William Hanson would even appreciate the Spanish way of celebrating the festive season.

The lights in each town are festively beautiful rather than gaudy. The new trend for light and sound shows as seen in Malaga and now San Pedro are stunning but not tacky! There are no houses bursting at the seams with multi-coloured lights, overgrown santas and singing reindeer to distract drivers as they pass by. There’s no hint of tinsel laden living rooms peeking out from between the curtains as soon as the flames from Bonfire Night are put out. And on Christmas Eve, the streets are quiet and free from drunken revellers and instead the Spanish enjoy each other’s company at an important family meal.

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Yet, while the Brits are racing to take down their decorations on Twelfth Night, the Spanish have really only just warmed up ready for the main event. Their children are awaiting the arrival of the Three Kings who parade through towns throwing down sweets on 5th January before delivering presents to well behaved children who are fast asleep during the dead of night. On 6th families once again get together to exchange presents and to eat and be merry finishing off with a Roscón de Reyes (with bean and toy hidden inside much like sixpence pieces in puddings before the Christmas “Elf and Safety” crew put a stop to it).

I’ve often pitied Spanish children who have to wait until a day or two before they go back to school to receive their long awaited Christmas presents. It always seemed like a waste of two weeks playing time. But in actual fact it all makes perfect sense now as the novelty of the new toys and gadgets lasts much longer as they have to fit recreation around being back at school.

For us, Christmas was pretty much a right off this year! The flu virus hit our household just in time for our youngest daughter’s second birthday on 22nd (didn’t happen) while a gastro bug floored our eldest on Christmas morning leading to a much muted Christmas stocking discovery session. Thank goodness for Three Kings granting us a second opportunity to get it right (and for our two year old not understanding enough of what was going on to forgive her mummy for not wrapping her presents or making her a birthday cake this time round!).

We joined our local village Three Kings procession, collected sweets in our carrier bags, cheered when our daughters’ names were called out to collect their presents from Balthazar and celebrated with a family meal the next day. There may have been more Christmas Pudding than Roscón de Reyes, and the children still received the bulk of their presents on 25th rather than 6th January but we feel for the first time ever that we paid homage to the country we now call home rather than sticking to the foreigner’s way.

Having said that, my Christmas decorations came down very swiftly on 6th – you can have too much of a good thing…

Welcome Back to Charlotte’s Web

Where have you been?

I’ve been away from the blog for a couple of years now thanks to two new arrivals in our life.


For some reason the task of keeping up with the blog seems to have fallen down the pecking order behind nappies, feeding, nursery school runs, my real job, housework, husband and so on. I can’t imagine why.

What’s new?

For the moment, this is just for fun. A few sporadic posts commentating on our mostly fantabulous but somewhat chaotic lifestyle here in Spain interspersed with the occasional more ranty serious topic as required or desired. I’m also adding some of the most popular old posts for your enjoyment.

And a new look

I can’t decide if the new theme works or not so please feel free to comment, exclaim or abuse. It felt like the right time for something less professional and more frivolous.

Most importantly…



Saturday Night’s Alright For Shopping

4th April 2011

Do you ever worry that your life is a bit dull, when you listen to your friends regaling each other about their fantastic Saturday nights out? Do you get jealous when they go on and on about romantic dinners in amazing restaurants and evenings spent strutting their stuff on the dance floor, in time to the latest tune playing in the flashest club.

Well don’t worry, they’re lying. Perhaps that’s not fair. I’m sure they’re not all lying. But after my Saturday night visit to IKEA at the weekend, I can confirm that most of them were, in fact, partaking in a bit of home styling retail therapy.

Never have I seen so many families, couples and groups of young men and woman rammed into one furniture store on a Saturday night. Some were hanging about in the sofa department, chatting and texting on mobile phones, no doubt to their friends admiring duvet covers in the bed section.

Those with small children were sharing a bargain meal in the cafeteria, filling up their children with fizzy drinks at the free refill station, before steering them around the room settings, letting them race off all the e-numbers by spinning in office chairs and bouncing on beanbags.

Couples were oohing and aahing over the kitchen settings, designing their own dream layout on the computers provided. And just about everyone else was in the marketplace, selecting bargain frying pans, crockery, cutlery, glasses and mugs, plant pots, lamps and rugs that they really didn’t need but at those prices, who can resist.

Next came the warehouse aisles from where you pick the large items that you saw on display in the main store. If you haven’t written down the correct location reference, be prepared for a long walk retracing your steps back to where you saw the ideal bookshelf for your room. Walking against the flow of pedestrian traffic makes for a much longer journey. And when your item is too heavy to lift on to your trolley? Just keep trying because there’s no one around to help unless a fellow shopper feels sorry for you.

The queues for the tills are a testing experience and the scene of some domestics breaking out between now fraught couples, regretting the whole e-number overload at the start of their shopping experience. But eventually you fight your way through, argue with the cashier who’s charged you for 400 coat hangers instead of 4, and head out into the darkness of what feels like the world’s largest car park when you can’t remember where you parked your car.

Never fear, there’s still more fun to come. If you’re not too exhausted when you get home, you get to assemble your flat pack furniture until the early hours, giving you the appearance on Sunday that you would have had if you’d spent all night out at the club. Job done.

If I sound scathing, ignore me. I had a fantastic time and was very proud of the bookshelf I built the next day. So much so, I’m going back for another next week. I’m a glutton for punishment!

Register for an IKEA family card here before you next visit the store to make sure you can take advantage of any discounts going. Oh, and free coffee too!


Google Yourself

28th March 2011

Have you ever googled yourself on the internet?

I don’t really mean in an egotistical way – although it will be for some people. I decided to search on my name when an old school friend got in touch with me by email after finding my name and business email address on the web. It was great to hear from her but it was unusual that she’d found me through that route, rather than via facebook or another social networking group.

So, I did a simple Google search on my name and found out all sorts of exciting things about myself by clicking on the links that appeared. Not only did it bring up the address and telephone number of where I lived in the UK over ten years ago but I also found someone with the same Christian name and surname as me, living in the town that I used to live in – on the same street. That was a bit freaky and I did wonder if my identity had been stolen at first. After a bit more research, I discovered that she was quite a lot younger than me, a lot more wealthy and highly successful in her chosen field of graphic design so I guess she’s not trying to steal my identity after all!

It would appear that I’m also a very talented musical comedian and ventriloquist in San Pedro – but that would be San Pedro in Belize rather than our local area here in Marbella.

I’m very fit as I have been the runner up in numerous North of England road races in the UK and I regularly compete in dressage on my horse, Big Risk when I’m in Australia.

According to LinkedIn I have fantastic red spiral curly hair (which I probably hate) although in some other photos I appear to resemble a pixie with a dark brown cropped do.

I have mixed fortunes for my dog has eaten my car keys according to the Evening Post in Yorkshire but I have been photographed with a man known as the Fashion Assassin in New Zealand. Do we think he’s a bit like Gok Wan? Who knows!

Although I’m very busy in my job as a litigation assistant somewhere in London, I have been tipped to take over an industrial services company in Rotterdam. They obviously haven’t heard that the court in North Carolina has charged me with securities fraud and seized my assets.

Oh well, I think I’ll just stick to being me. But I do recommend that you have a quick search on your own name – you won’t believe some of the things that you find out.