Bonjour from France!

Bonjour,

This weeks blog comes to you from France (Brittany infact), and although it’s sunny it is freezing cold. I don’t think I have ever filmed A Place in the Sun and had to scrape ice off the car windscreen in the morning before driving to location! Saying that I do love France. The food great, the wine is lovely and the countryside is beautiful. A downside is the Internet connection isn’t so great which has meant there has been a delay in sending over my blog and photos!
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This weekend it is my birthday and I can’t wait to see Alex and the children. Alex has planned a surprise weekend which I am really looking forward to. Usually the children travel with me when I am filming, but because I knew it was going to be cold and quite isolated this week, I thought it would be more beneficial for them to be at home. Before I left, I lined up a week of exciting outings for them and so far they have visited Hobbledown Farm and Kidzania London.
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Based in Epsom, Hobbledown is pretty local to us and I think it’s one of the best family days out you can have in Surrey. The children can have fun come rain or shine because there is a huge indoor Softplay, a variety of great outdoor play areas for different ages and lots of animals to see and interact with.
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Hobbledown also hold lots of exciting events throughout the year and if you are looking for something to do with the children this Summer, it’s worth checking out their Gorilla Circus trapeze school. It’s running from Saturday July 23rd to Wednesday July 27th and as well as learning some high wire skills you will get to watch the pros perform their show.
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Kidzania in Westfield was a HUGE hit. Although it is recommended for children age 4-14, Rocco and Tahlia had an incredible time and were still able to enjoy many of the activities.
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Kidzania is a unique, interactive, educational experience whereby children have the opportunity to play, explore and learn about the adult world through role play. With over a 100 different immersive adventures, children have the opportunity to choose their own agenda. And although there aren’t any rides, they really do have so much fun whilst learning through real life adventures, all of which have been designed by educationalists.
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Rocco loved dressing up in the little outfits and taking part in some of the experiments and by the end of the day he was completely exhausted. Kidzania really is a place like no other, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Another great place to visit with the children over the Summer!
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If any of you have been following my tweets or Instagram posts, you might have seen me referring to my new fitness app ‘Laura Hamilton’s Total Body Workout’. I’m really excited to be able to tell you my app will be available through the IPhone and Android in early May. The fitness program was put together by PT John Beeby (who in the past has trained Nicole Scherzinger) and we filmed it in Vilamoura, Portugal last week in somewhat warmer climes that France.
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The villa was incredible, the sun shone, the hair and make up by Jo Delano was fab and the team were a lot of fun. I loved wearing the fitness gear from USA Pro’s new collection and also from Charli Cohen’s

Superhero range, all of which you will get to see in the app.

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There will of course be an official launch and as soon as I am allowed to share some of the official photos with you I will…

That’s it from me for now. Here is to the weekend and celebrating my birthday!
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Lots of love

Laura xxx

My top 3 beauty products

Hi all,

Apologies it’s been a while since I last blogged. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you might have seen I have been filming in the Balearic Islands. During my first week I filmed on the beautiful island of Menorca and then I hopped on a 25 minute flight to Mallorca. Although the weather wasn’t great, I managed to spend the weekend on the beach with the children and my old school friend who came to visit which was lovely.

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I wore some lovely outfits which included a bright fuchsia pink dress from Oasis and a cute khaki green playsuit from Miss Selfridge.

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Before I left the UK, I had my update haematologist appointment. I was absolutely over the moon to discover my platelet count had risen on its own to 90! Okay so it still isn’t as it should be but without treatment things are looking positive, and hopefully my platelet count will continue to rise over the next few months. I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who has emailed or tweeted me with well wishes. It really means a lot.

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A few weeks ago before I started filming the new series of A Place in the Sun, I popped along to the bloggers hangout event in East London. It was a great event to attend where some fab beauty products were showcased. Whilst I have been away filming I’ve been testing a few of the products out and here are my top 3…

1. Sensationail Starter Kit

Being abroad/on the road so much I often struggle to find places to get my gel nails done. Sensationail have small portable light and gel polishes that means anyone can do their own gel nails, wherever they are. Best of all, they sell a product for £49.99 that gives you the ability to turn any of your normal nail polishes in to gel polishes. I think it’s absolutely brilliant and although the gel isn’t as strong as other gel polishes on the market, it is a great DIY option. www.sensationail.co.uk

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2. Magnitone – Barefaced Vibra Sonic Daily Face Brush

This was absolutely amazing. It is a waterproof portable/chargeable exfoliating brush for the face priced at £70. The charge lasts for around two weeks when it is used twice a day. After the second day of using it I could see a difference with my skin. Typically I’m a bit rubbish with my skincare regime and I seldom exfoliate so I wasn’t surprised to see some under the skin break out on my forehead. This cleared after day four and my skin definitely feels firmer, brighter and wrinkle free!

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I’ve been so impressed with the product I’m now trying out the ‘Full Monty’ (full body version) which does what it says on the tin. https://magnitone.co.uk

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3. Amie Morning Dew hydrating moisturiser

After a super smooth, exfoliated face, I tried this moisturiser and absolutely LOVE it. I remember using it previously when I appeared on Dancing on Ice. It smells amazing, it’s a light moisturiser but really hydrating, and it’s not at all greasy. It’s also priced extremely well at £4.95. They have lots of other really nice products in the range and I would highly recommend checking them out. http://amieskincare.com

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Whilst I was at the event I also got my hair braided by the Braid Bar who are usually based in Selfridges. I loved the look and had a really nice afternoon.

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In true ‘Laura Hamilton’ style, I have been at home for a few days and am now getting ready to travel abroad again. This time it is not to film for A Place in the Sun or to go on holiday, it is in fact to film an exciting new fitness/weightloss app for the IPhone or Android. My app won’t be specifically targeted to those who have had a baby and are trying to shift the baby weight, but obviously my weight loss journey and fitness regime (with personal trainer John Beeby) began 6 weeks after the birth of my second baby.

If there are any mums out there who need a bit of guidance, hopefully you will find it beneficial. And if you haven’t had a baby and just want the help of a Personal Trainer who has trained Nicole Scherzinger then my app will be worth checking out!

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As soon as it is released I will be sure to let you know. That’s it from me for now. Have a great rest of the week.

Laura xx

My health update and a luxury staycation

Hi all,

I hope you had a great week and a lovely weekend, whatever you got up to?

I had a lovely weekend at the beautiful Stoke Park Country Club but before I tell you about that I wanted to give you a little health update… Any of you who read my last blog or perhaps even saw last week’s copy of the magazine, would have seen my news about my recent health shock.  I came out in bruises all over my arms and legs and it was all a bit of a mystery.

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With a diagnosis of suspected ITP, at my first haematologist appointment I was offered a 4 month course of steroids to see if my blood platelet count would rise. Although I was advised there is nothing I can do or eat (apart from cut out alcohol, because it destroys platelets), I decided I wanted to wait two weeks to see if rises on its own. I made this decision because I’m not too keen on pumping by body full of steroids. My next appointment and blood tests are this Thursday so I have everything crossed I have a platelet count higher than 40!

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Anyway on to more exciting things… Last week Alex and I attended the ‘Blue’ carpet premiere of ‘Eddie The Eagle’ and we had an absolutely brilliant evening. Leicester  Square was packed and I’m not surprised given the list stars of stars who were walking the carpet; Hugh Jackman, Jamie Oliver, Dexter Fletcher and Claudia Schiffer to name but a few… Oh and myself and Alex of course!!

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I decided to go for a bit of a leather look and teamed up my faux black leather River Island with a black lace body also from River Island. My shoes were from Ursula Mascaro. I created a messy look hairstyle with my GHD straighteners and my make-up was pretty simple with statement red lips Macs ‘Russian Red’ lipstick.

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At the weekend we decided to have a little family staycation! We packed up the car and drove an hour (from home) to the ‘Five AA Red Stars’ hotel Stoke Park Country Club.  Set amongst 300 acres of parklands, lakes and historic gardens, the surroundings are absolutely stunning and with just 49 luxury bedrooms the service and customer service is fantastic.

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I was particularly impressed with how well the hotel catered for families with young children. Rocco was provided with fun Peppa Pig bed sheets on his bed and he was VERY impressed. He even had his own little dressing gown and slippers.

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The bath had removable non slip ducks, and there were wash bags for both the children – a nice touch I thought. Rocco enjoyed his ‘Little Star Afternoon Tea’ in The Orangery, and Alex and I thought San Marco the Italian restaurant had a great menu for both children as well as for us!

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The top treat of the weekend, had to be our fine dining experience in Humphry’s 3AA Rosettes restaurant.  Executive Chef – Chris Wheeler is a genius.  I enjoyed Scallops to start, Sea Bass for main followed by a rather impressive cheese board and handmade petit fours.

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There are two types of accommodation at Stoke Park; the modern rooms in The Pavilion and the more traditional in the Main House. We stayed in the Pavilion as the bedrooms are better for families. However, the Main House is absolutely stunning especially if you are having a romantic weekend away. As you walk around the Main House and look at the artwork, you don’t feel like you are in a hotel, but more like you are being welcomed into a country home.

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If you are a golf fan, love your tennis, enjoy luxury spa treatments or just fancy an weekend away with or without the family in a beautiful setting, I can highly recommend Stoke Park. Alex and I have already planned our next stay in the Summer at their ‘Boodles Tennis’ event.

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So it’s already Wednesday and I have a few fun things on this week before I fly to Menorca at the weekend to start filming the new series of A Place in the Sun.

I have some new exciting projects I will be able to reveal to you very soon!… But in the meantime tuck in to those Easter Eggs and enjoy the long weekend…

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That’s it from me for now.

Laura xxx

 

Mobile phone addicts and my big health shock

How many of us are too reliant on our mobile phones. I will hold my hands up to that! It’s my office, my diary, my contacts and my hub of information. So when Rocco decided to put it down the toilet and then flush it last week, I felt a massive part of my life temporarily being flushed down the pan.

So as you can imagine I went mad, I shouted and then felt guilty about it. Rocco is only two but I am convinced he knew what he was doing and I’m sure it was all for attention, not that he gets a lack of that. He really is testing us at the moment. Saying no to things, snatching toys from Tahlia and throwing a tantrum when he doesn’t get his own way. The terrible twos aren’t called that for nothing.

For five days I was without my phone and I felt completely lost. I had meetings in town and I couldn’t phone home to check if the children were okay because there aren’t any pay phones anymore anywhere. If I was running late from one meeting to go the next I couldn’t contact them. Let’s just say it was a difficult time and I was pretty happy to finally be in radio contact again.

Before phone gate, Alex and I were lucky enough to be invited to some great events in London. It was amazing to attend the Ferrari Spider 488 launch in association with Hublot at Watches of Switzerland on Regent Street. Not only was I able to wear a beautiful Hublot to compliment my white and blue Hanieh ‘H’ dress, I also wore some beautiful Lucy Choi shoes and was photographed in a gorgeous Ferrari! A girl can dream…

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untitledA couple of days later I attended the Gifts for Goddesses event at Liberty’s to raise money for the charity Mothers to Mothers. It was quite timely just a few days before Mothering Sunday. I have been supporting this charity (which aims to help prevent HIV passing from mothers to their unborn babies) for over a year. On this occasion it was extremely moving and emotional to meet, and hear one from one of the women who has been helped by the charity. Liberty’s were kindly donating 10% of the money spent in the shop that evening to the charity which was fantastic.

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Following the event Alex treated me to a Mother’s Day meal at the French restaurant Gauthier. The food was unbelievable, the service was fantastic and if you are a foodie then you have to visit this place.

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For Mother’s Day weekend, we had a lovely family outing to Legoland to watch the new 4D adventure film. It was a real hit with Rocco and even Tahlia was transfixed. Despite being freezing cold, we had great fun exploring the park and going on some of the rides and we will definitely be revisiting in the summer when it warms up.

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This week I had lots of things planned but unfortunately everything has been thrown up in the air due to a worrying health issue. I want to blog about it because if it’s something that has happened to anyone else it’s not something that should be ignored.

I’m the kind of person who hates going to the doctors and has seldom been to hospital. A few days ago when I started getting bruises all over my arms and legs I simply ignored it and thought they would go away. When my husband Alex saw it he was some what concerned and said I needed to get it checked. A day later, I saw the doctor and found myself having some blood tests. It was only a matter of a few hours later when I was in fact on my way to get on a flight to Portugal for a meeting that I received a call from the doctor. I was told to go to hospital immediately. My white blood cells and platelet count was dangerously low. I know nothing about blood counts but the doctor advised me it should be between 150 and 400 and mine was 28. So I had to go to hospital straight away.

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I found myself wired up to an ECG monitor where they were checking my heart, I had chest X-rays and even more blood tests. A very scary and worrying situation to be in. After 9 hours of tests, my bloods came back and my count had risen slightly to 40 so it was still low but a bit of positive news. My body is bruising because my blood can’t clot and the hospital has suggested I might have something called ITP. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/idiopathic-thrombocytopenic-purpura/basics/definition/con-20034239)

I’m now waiting to see a Haematologist for further investigation, to try and get a diagnosis and then work out treatment. This is all going to be happening in the next 24 hours so I am hoping it can all be sorted.

If Alex hadn’t seen the bruising, I would have just ignored it and hoped it would go away. Thankfully he did see it and I got it checked out. A BIG lesson I have learnt. Don’t ignore your health issues.

I’m really hoping that this weekend I will be at the A Place in the Sun exhibition in Manchester but ultimately my health comes first.

Finally before I sign off, I want to mention The Giant Wiggle. Its your last chance to sign up to this fun event where you and your children can help make a difference to other families lives. You can check out the details of how to get involved here…

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https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/how-you-can-help/fundraise/fundraising-events/the-giant-wiggle/

That’s it from me for now. Here’s to good health and keeping well.

Laura xxx

Burning the candle at both ends!

Hi guys

Hope you all had a great week and you are looking forward to the weekend?

I touched down from Spain last week with tonsillitis. I can’t remember the last time I was struck with it but it’s horrible; an achy head and neck, a throat that feels like razor blades each time you swallow anything, and yellow spots on your tonsils. I think all the running around has finally caught up with me. Thankfully I have some nice little spa visits and treatments to look forward to in the coming weeks, which will really help me to relax. Despite feeling run down my skin is actually glowing and I’m loving the Ila face oil I mentioned in my last blog as well as The Sanctuary’s 4 day body moisture oil. Neither are greasy and I really like the way they make your skin feel. Perfect for this cold weather, that seems to dry out your skin.

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The weekend after I got back we enjoyed a family outing to a red carpet premiere of Alvin and The Chipmunks – The Road Chip. I don’t often get to take the children to these kinds of screenings because we are usually abroad but this time I was able to take Rocco and Tahlia and extend the invite to my niece and nephew too, who absolutely loved it. The screening was in Leicester Square and there was a great little party beforehand. I enjoyed the film more than I thought and Rocco was transfixed. Here is a pic of us on the red carpet.

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A couple of nights later I had a girlie night out and attended the London press evening for Cirque Berserk at the Peacock Theatre. All I can say is WOW. Absolutely incredible acts and a great evening out. I would say the show is a mixture of Cirque du Soleil and a traditional circus with a clown and a knife throwing act. The Globe of Terror had to be THE act of the evening and if you get the chance to go, I would highly recommend it.

I managed to get a sneaky pic with some of the cast and felt pretty glam in my gorgeous black, feathered dress from Michaela Frankova.

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I loved it so much that I decided to wear a dress from the same designer to the new ‘W’ channel TV launch at Cafe Union, a few days later. It was great catching up with my ‘Jump’ pals Kimberley Wyatt and Amy Childs who both looked fab.

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After a couple of late nights attending events, it takes its toll with two little ones and also when you aren’t 100%. Rocco and Tahlia have always been great sleepers but Rocco just won’t wake up any later than 6am. We have tried it all; the gro-clock, cutting day time naps, putting him to bed later, but nothing seems to work. I’ve always been an early riser so I don’t mind getting up. Alex isn’t so happy. Sadly I think it’s the norm for children his age to wake up at this time so unless any one has any other ideas, I’ll tell Alex he just has to deal with it for the next 5 years!

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So with London fashion week starting this weekend, I’m hoping I will get to attend a few shows. I have my tickets and outfits sorted. I’m also prepped beauty wise after an amazing Microdermabrasion facial and some High Definition Brows by Iyeesha from PowderboxB.

I’ve just got to get there and brave the cold.

Have a great weekend.

Laura xxx

9 months on and 9 months off and there is never a dull moment…

It has been so nice being back in the UK. Enjoying the fresh, crisp cold weather and feeling all wintery. That probably sounds odd but when you spend so much time abroad it’s sometimes nice to experience some cold weather.

After being at home for all of one day, I decided what better way than to start feeling relaxed by having a bit of pampering. You might have read in my previous blog that I had some HD Brows. Lyeesha from Powderbox Beauty came to my house and waxed, tinted and threaded them giving them some great definition. I really loved what she did so I decided to have them again. This time I also decided to try another treatment, some LVL lashes. LVL stands for lift, volume and lengthen and it’s a treatment that was created by Nouveau beauty group. It does exactly what it’s initials describe, and after over two years of having individual lash extensions I must say I am converted.

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My eyebrow and lash treatment wasn’t just for a bit of pampering, it was also in preparation for my appearance on Loose Women to talk about my involvement with St Johns Ambulance Baby CPR campaign. I joined Ruth, Coleen, Katie and June to discuss this vital skill that all parents need to know. It was great to be able to help bring some awareness of the video on such a popular TV show and I’m please to say I’ve finally booked in my first aid course.

In case you missed it and you would like to see the Nursery Rhyme Inc video you can watch it here…

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=C2kp_IDpI6E

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It’s an extremely important campaign that I am proud to support and as I knew I would be joining some glamorous women I wanted to wear a nice outfit. Here I am wearing the Yass dress by Hanieh, an ethical and sustainstable UK designer who has some beautiful dresses that are perfect for a smart daytime event or swish evening party.

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I completed my look with some jewellery from Carat and my trusted nude Louis Vuitton shoes.

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The best thing about being at home of course is that I can spend some time with my husband Alex. We’ve always tried (when possible) to go out on ‘date nights’ and, as Alex works in the city I thought it would be good to try a restaurant nearby his office. Zebrano has a few restaurants around London but it’s city venue is relatively new and I was keen to try it out.

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We started off with some cocktails in the chic/industrial like bar in the basement and then I enjoyed a delicious meal of scallops and steak upstairs. For a Tuesday evening it was pretty busy and there was a great atmosphere. We had a really lovely evening and only one bottle of wine which meant I could hit my fitness training hard with John Beeby the following morning.

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untitled6I have now been training with John for 6 months and although it has been hard to work out whilst I have been abroad, I’ve stayed focused and remained disciplined. Now that I am around for a few weeks I am able to fit in around 3 sessions a week and I feel energised.

It’s really has been 9 months on, 9 months off with my baby weight. I set myself a target; to get down to my wedding weight of 8st 6lb (half a stone lighter that my normal weight). I wasn’t sure if it would be possible to achieve and I certainly got frustrated when I didn’t see results immediately. Tahlia is almost 9 months and when John weighed me a few days ago, I was so happy to see I had reached my target. Now the challenge is to tone and sculpt – something I have never done before so it will be interesting to see what I can achieve. That doesn’t mean I’ll be donning the creosote and entering the next Miss Bodybuilding UK competition, I just want to see a bitter of tone.

Here is a pic of me 31 weeks ago, 23 weeks ago and then now.

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Half way through the week I had a quick chop with Carly at FOUR London which was just in time for my appearance on Channel 5’s new Saturday show.

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Those of you who read my blog will know I have a great love of adventure travel and it was lovely to be able to join Gabby Roslin and Matt Barbett to discuss some of the best places in the go in the UK, Europe and further afield.

Whilst I was on the show I met their lovely resident Dale Pinnock; aka The Medicinal Chef. He made the most delicious cheesecake and the secret ingredient was, wait for it… Avocado. Not calorific at all!!!

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I was grateful of the training sessions I had been putting in. Here’s a little pic of me in my strawberry shirt from Oasis, that coincidently I’ve since managed to destroy in the washing machine because I didn’t realise I had two of Rocco’s crayons in the pocket of a pair of trousers in the same wash… It didn’t look great with strawberries and green and blue stains everywhere… Sometimes I think I need to run around a little bit less!

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So I said, I was going to be home in the UK for a few weeks didn’t I? Well, there really never is a dull moment because less than 24hours ago I got asked to fly to Spain to film for 4 days. It was slightly crazy getting everything organised but I managed it and I am now on the Eastern Costa deal Sol near Nerja. It’s not as warm as I hoped but whilst I’m away I’m going to be testing out a new face serum from the Ila range. I don’t usually review beauty products but Gwyneth Paltrow is a HUGE fan so I’m intrigued to see what effect it has on my skin. It certainly needs hydrating with all the flying I do.

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Until next time. It’s Adios UK and Hola Espagne. Lots of love,

Laura x

Buenos Dias from Mojacar in mainland Spain

Hi all,
I hope the New Year has got off to a great start for you all? I can honestly say I had one of the best work trips of my life in South Africa.
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If you read my last blog you will have seen that I completely made the most of my time off. Safaris, amazing wildlife, beautiful beaches, breathtaking scenery, wine tasting, incredible food and incredible value for money. South Africa has it all. It is still very much a country of two halves and at times it is hard to see such poverty alongside wealth.
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Before I left the country I was really keen to visit a township, where some of the less fortunate people live. You pay to go on the tour and you can donate money, clothes or food to help the locals if you so wish. In my opinion it was quite a brave thing to do with two small children. I wasn’t sure just what we might see. People report there are children with alcohol problems and crime can be rife. Nevertheless I was confident in our guide (who had grown up in the township), and a local policeman confirmed it would perfectly safe. It is important to me that my children grow up to be well rounded, respectful and polite people. Although they are still young, experiences like this will help shape who they become.

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I absolutely adored watching Rocco playing with the children. He wanted to share the crisps he bought in one of the local shops with one of the local toddlers, and he was quick to hold hands with some other girls we met as we walked around. When he wanted to jump up and down on a dirty old mattress that some other children were using as a trampoline I was a little concerned, but he embraced being part of their community and I was proud of that.

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If you are planing to visit South Africa in the future, a tour to a township is worth adding to the list of things to do. It was a truly humbling experience.

I returned to the UK last Sunday and I had the quickest turnaround time I have ever had, just 15 hours before I flew to Spain.

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During my fly in visit at home I lit my new Monique Hart candle and Alex and I enjoyed a good bottle of red wine that I brought back from South Africa. I got Monique Hart’s room scent spray and one of their candles for Christmas. Not only does it come in beautifully presented gift box, it makes your home smell like a spa. It makes you feel very relaxed and this was just what I needed before I boarded another plane…

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I am now back in one of my favourite places in Spain; Mojacar which is in the Almeria Provence. It’s a pretty place with incredible views from the old town, and it has somewhat of a Moorish feel about it. In the summer it is extremely busy but this time of year it is quite a subdued and peaceful town.

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Because I’m only here for 5 nights we decided the children should stay at home with Alex. As much as I miss them, I am enjoying a bit of ME time. I have already enjoyed a massage, a manicure and pedicure and I am catching up on lots of paperwork. I did receive a text from Alex saying ‘I don’t know how you do it’ which made me feel very appreciated. As women we just make things work. And, whether you are a working mum or not, bringing up children is an enormous challenge, but one I am very much enjoying.

Rocco is now pretty much potty trained and Tahlia is well on her way to learning to walk. She is pretty strong for an 8 month old. She is a happy, smiley little girl and I love the fact that they are now starting to interact with each other. I might not be saying that soon if they start to fight, but isn’t that all part of growing up?

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Tahlia is at the age where she is trying food and exploring new tastes. I remember weening Rocco and I was always nervous he would choke on the food. It can be a real worry and that leads me on to an extremely important campaign that I have recently become involved in.

Many people will have heard of St John’s Ambulance and when I heard about their new video teaching parents Baby CPR I had to get involved and help spread the word.

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The charity has released several useful videos previously ‘The Chokeables’ being one. Their new Baby CPR video is a clever clip where cartoon characters sing a nursery rhyme and explain how to perform this essential parenting first aid skill on babies under 1 if they stop breathing. According to research 75% of parents are scared about what to do if their child stopped breathing and only 25% would actually know what to do. Alex and I had a very scary experience with Rocco just before he was one. He went all floppy, his breathing became shallow and his temperature rocketed. We had little first aid knowledge and called an ambulance immediately. Thankfully he had a vitally infection and was fine but Alex and I realised the importance of knowing more first aid for our children and I started to do lots of research online. I have actually signed up to go on a first aid course during the 9 weeks I am going to be back in the UK and now, thanks to St John’s Ambulance’s new video I would feel confident on how to perform Baby CPR if I needed to. I urge you to please watch the video AND if you can go on a First Aid course, it could be the difference between life and death.

I will be on Loose Women next Wednesday talking about my involvement with the charity as well as talking lots about my recent travels. I hope you get the chance to watch.

The new series of A Place in the Sun is currently on air and there are some exciting new locations to check out. If you missed my ticket offer last week to come and meet me at the exhibition here it is again…

A Place in the Sun Live at Manchester Central 11th – 13th March 2016.

aplaceinthesun.com/exhibitions/manchester and the complimentary ticket code is mancomp

A Place in the Sun Live at London Olympia 6th – 8th May 2016.

aplaceinthesun.com/exhibitions/london and the free code is loncomp

Have a great week.

Laura xx

Christmas in the UK, New Year’s in Dubai and then Cape Town!

Is it too late to wish everyone Happy New Year in my first blog of 2016?! As it’s only the second week in to the New Year I hope not…

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I hope you all had a brilliant Christmas.  I had a lovely time with the family and in the lead up to the festive season I felt well and truly pampered.  First off Alex and I were treated to a fab teeth whitening treatment at home by the lovely Debbie from Polished Whitening. We’ve both had our teeth whitened before using lasers and I must admit I was a little nervous since the first time it made our teeth so sensitive and wasn’t particularly pleasant.  Debbie assured us it would be pain free and it was.  We were really impressed that she offered a service in your own home and also by her teeth whitening strips that help to maintain the perfect smile! @polishedwhitening
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Following that I then had a great pamper from Iyeesha Rattu from who manicured my wild eyebrows!  Because I spend so much time in the sun filming they are often so fair.   Iyeesha tinted, waxed and threaded them creating the HD Brow look and I loved it. You can check her out on Instagram @powderboxb
Christmas Day itself was a pretty relaxed one and I had actually planned to stay in the UK for a couple of weeks after returning from America but things took a slightly different turn on Boxing Day…
As a last minute trip Alex booked a surprise holiday over New Year to Dubai.  So when most people were probably sitting down enjoying the food leftovers and Christmas TV, I found myself packing again!  I wasn’t complaining at all although I did think it was a little crazy.  I guess it goes to show you can still be spontaneous when you have children and I am not phased by travelling with them since I do it so much with work.
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laura3As we sat sipping champagne and eating canapés on New Years Eve we saw the sad news breaking about the fire in the Address hotel.  We weren’t actually close to that particular hotel because we had chosen to on the Palm, but it was terrible to see how quickly things got out of control and really awful for those affected.
Aside of that it was an amazing place to see in the New Year.  I have never see fireworks like it.
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We landed back in to the UK on the 1st of January and it was a quick turn around again because I flew to Cape Town in South Africa to film A Place in the Sun a day later.
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South Africa has always been on my wish list, particularly because my Dad was born in Cape Town and he hasn’t returned since he was 4 years old when he was adopted to a British family after his parents died.  I’m half way through a two week trip and it is absolutely amazing.
Taking a 12 hour night flight (the longest I have taken with the children) wasn’t too bad as they slept most of the way and the great thing about South Africa is there is only a two hour time difference with the UK.
The country is like 5 countries rolled in to one; incredible beaches, incredible mountains, lush vegetation, incredible food and wine, a relaxed way of life, and unbelievable value for money especially with such a favourable exchange rate.  I have been astounded by just how affordable property is.
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I particular enjoyed Cape Town where I was based last week.  For this episode I decided to wear a 50’s inspired dress from the London boutique Lagom, based on the Southbank. Here is a photo of me wearing it it one of Cape Town’s Vineyards!
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I thought Hout Bay and Noordhook were beautiful and the city of Cape Town itself has some great night life with trendy bars and restaurants.  The Village Idiot restaurant close to long street was brilliant although I couldn’t understand most of the menu in Afrikaans.
If you are plannIng a visit to South Africa it’s worth visiting Boulders Beach where you can get extremely close to the Penguins.  It’s not far from a cute little place called Simons Town but a word of warning is doesn’t smell too great!
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Visiting the V&A waterfront is also a must, as is taking a helicopter tour over the city.  We took a 30 minute flight from the waterfront and it cost £210 for three of us and a baby!
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I managed to get to see Wynberg where my Dad originates from.  It had some beautiful bakeries and patisseries and parts of the area were quite upmarket.  I will most definitely be coming back to explore the city more when I’m not filming and would love to return when the children are a bit older.
After finishing up in Cape Town last weekend, we drove 8 hours along the garden route towards Port Elizabeth.  I wanted to travel by car as I thought it would be great to stop at a few places along the route.  Nysna and Plettenberg were beautiful and if you visit during South Africa’s winter months (basically our Summer) you are pretty much guaranteed to see whales swimming in the bay.  We haven’t seen any whales but there have been plenty of black flags with white shark logos, indicating great white sharks have been spotted in the waters.  Shark attacks are common so it goes without saying we haven’t been swimming in the sea!
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What we have managed to do is a game drive/mini safari where we spotted Rhino, giraffe and Zebra.  It was pretty amazing being driven around the park and Rocco loved his adventure.  I would never take the children to a game reserve with Big Cats or dangerous animals so Lombardini was the perfect option for us to experience something that was more child friendly.  At just £8 for a two hour drive it was excellent value for money.
What I am keen to do this week is visit a township where the not so fortunate African children live.  We are planning a trip with a guide so it will be safe.  I think it will be an eye opening experience and something that I am really keen to do especially since South Africa is still very much a country of two halves.
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My first show in this beautiful country is airing on 27th January.  I hope you guys manage to watch it.  As soon as I return to the UK this weekend I have one day off before I fly to Spain.  I then have 9 weeks at home where I will be UK based… I’m not sure what I am going to do with myself…wrap up warm for sure as I hear the temperature has really dropped.  I seem to have managed to avoid the cold weather for the last year so now it’s about time I donned my bobble hat and winter coat brrrr…

Just before I sign off, if you fancy coming to meet me or any of the other presenters of ‘A Place in the Sun’ at one of the exhibitions this year I have some complimentary tickets to offer you. You can check out the details below.

A Place in the Sun Live at Manchester Central 11th – 13th March 2016.

aplaceinthesun.com/exhibitions/manchester and the complimentary ticket code is mancomp

A Place in the Sun Live at London Olympia 6th – 8th May 2016.

aplaceinthesun.com/exhibitions/london and the free code is loncomp

Hope to see you there and until next time I blog (likely from Spain), have a great week.

Laura X

Staying well this Winter and getting ready for Christmas

Tis the season to be jolly and I’m pretty pleased because I’ve just finished my Christmas shopping. With Rocco really starting to understand more about the festive season this year, it’s even more exciting. Although saying that I haven’t gone crazy buying loads of presents for the children because grandparents tend to buy lots of things!

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Usually I do my shopping online but this year because I’ve been filming in America I was able to buy some great things in the Malls and Outlets in Orlando. If you love shopping and you’ve never been to the Premium Outlet on Vineland in Orlando, you HAVE to go. They have over 160 designer shops, some of which sell their items 70% less than on the high street. I must admit I went a little crazy and I did buy a few little treats for myself including a cool DKNY hat and trainer boots and a lovely red Coach bag, rather festive I thought!

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I have found some great pressies online for the children, and with just over a week left until Christmas you might just be able to order them in time if you are quick!

Rocco is at the age where he loves role play. He loves pretending to make tea with a cup and saucer set at his Nana’s house so I thought it would be a nice idea to buy a mini kitchen with a pretend oven and sink. He has become quite fussy with food recently so I also figured it might be quite a nice idea for him to pretend to make his own food. Tahlia is a little too young to appreciate it at the moment but hopefully it’s something they can both play together with in the not too distant future. This is the kitchen I found online www.marbel.co.uk. It was £69.99 and their site is worth checking out as they have a good selection of toys.

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Something else we have purchased for Rocco is the soccer trainer goal from Chicco. It can be used both indoors and outdoors and is from the fit and fun range. The football net is triggered when the child scores, by activating lights and sounds and it offers 3 electronic games modes. The goal is also designed to develop Co-ordination and Psycho-Motor skills so I think it’s a great present. It was reduced from £29.99 to £19.99 in Argos too which I though was a bargain.

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One of the presents I am most excited about giving Rocco and Tahlia are their Wheelybugs. I bought these online too at hippy chick.com for £69.95 with free delivery. Rocco has a panda and Tahlia a little mouse. They are beautiful traditional wooden and fabric toys that they can sit on and wheel around on. I can see that these are going to bring them both a lot of enjoyment it’s inside and out.

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Aside of my finishing the Christmas shopping, I have recently been filming in a town called Dunedin, near Clearwater in Florida. It’s on the Gulf of Mexico and around 2 hours from the theme parks in Orlando. The little town of Dunedin is really lovely. It has loads of cute boutique shops for both clothes and interiors. One of my favourite days spent there was when we hired a trike and I went for a 7 mile bike ride. Tahlia on my front in the Baby Bjorn and Rocco was in a trailer on the back. It was the perfect bit of exercise to burn off a few of the extra calories eaten thanks to the huge American portions!

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Since I’ve been back I’ve already had two photo shoots and appeared on The Wright stuff. I will be able to tell you more about the photo shoots soon…

I appeared on The Wright Stuff to talk about the ‘Stay Well this Winter’ campaign for the NHS. It’s all about raising awareness of the free nasel flu jab for children aged 2 to 6, pregnant women, those over 65 and also others with a long term Illness. In addition to this it is also about caring for those around you who are over 65 whom you think might be getting poorly over the winter season. If you can help before they become too unwell it can potentially make a BIG difference. So be neighbourly this festive season and look out for your elders. For more information on the campaign you can google ‘Stay Well this Winter’ or head to the NHS website.

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Now it’s time for me to wind down for Christmas. I can’t wait to enjoy some family time at home which is a bit of a rarity at the moment.

The Christmas tree is up and decorated and we have one very excited little boy!

Laura x

Two weeks and two extremes with a holiday in the Maldives and a visit to LaplandUK

Sometimes I sit and think how lucky we are as a generation when it comes to travel. Of course the world is a big place but it is so accessible and sometimes we take it for granted that in just 24 hours we can be on the other side of the world. Last week I was 11 hours away from home and +6 GMT, as I flew East to enjoy a week in paradise at Mirihi in the Maldives. I feel rested, relaxed and recharged but I’m dreading getting on the scales because of the amount of amazing food I have eaten.

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Alex and I booked our first trip away without the children just after Tahlia was born (6 months ago). It was a huge thing to do knowing we would be leaving both of them behind, but we are lucky they are both good sleepers. We have an amazing nanny who adores our children (as they do her), as well as some brilliant grandparents who were keen to help out.

So my suitcase was packed and it included my two new gorgeous Lindsey Brown (www.lindseybrown.com) beach kaftans and my new Simply Beach Gossard (www.simplybeach.com) bikini.

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One thing I didn’t need to pack were my shoes because the island we were visiting had been described as an elegant, barefoot, luxurious retreat. When we stepped off the seaplane on to the jetty (after a 30 minute transfer), I couldn’t have been happier.

Mirihi is located in the heart of the South Ari Atoll. At just 350 metres long and 50 metres wide it is one of the smallest resorts in the Indian Ocean and it is just like you are living on your own private island with a lagoon. With 160 member of staff and just 37 rooms it is never going to feel over crowded or understaffed. It is a classy yet understated place and not at all stuffy which can often be associated with such high end service. Guenther (the resident manager) and Jasmin (head of guest relations) were the perfect hosts for such an intimate place.

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It’s unusual for me to sit still for more than five minutes but I actually managed to do that in Mirihi. I read a book (a rarity for me with two children and a busy job), and I certainly wasn’t bored.

Alex and I absolutely loved going on a whale shark watching trip where we swam with dolphins, manterays and turtles. We didn’t see any whale sharks but this more than made up for it. We also loved wine tasting in the wine cellar/private dining room with the Islands’ sommelier also named Alex. There was an option of doing rum tasting and testing some of the islands collection (130 varieties to be exact), but I don’t think I would have been able to handle it as I don’t drink that much! If you are into your diving and snorkelling though, Mirihi has its own house reef with some of the best diving in the world. It’s pretty amazing to see black tip reef sharks swimming past you every day as you paddle in the clear turquoise water.

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The accommodation is typically Maldivian with a Swiss twist; luxurious bathrooms, designer furnishings, a sitting area with a sound system and a Nespresso coffee machine with complimentary coffee each day. As you know (if you follow my blog), I love interior design and I was impressed by this place. One of the best features on the island though had to be the food. Felix, the head chef, is proud to give you a tour of the restaurant each night to show off his creations. Oysters, lobster, typical Maldivian curry, home made Baileys ice cream, it was all on offer. My tastebuds certainly got a work out but I wish I could say the same for my body. I did visit the gym on three occasions so it wasn’t too bad, but so much for my baby weight loss diet… it definitely had to be put on hold this week.

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Of course Alex and I missed the children (definitely more than they missed us), but we both agreed that time apart from them was good for everyone. We got to enjoy some quality time together in one of the most beautiful places on earth and they had a fun week being spoilt by Nana and Papa!

If you are looking for a break away in paradise or perhaps looking to book a honeymoon in the Maldives, Mirihi (www.mirihi.com) is most definitely worth investigating. We can’t wait to go back…

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As soon as our British Airways plane touched down in Gatwick it was ‘go go go’ again. We were so excited to see the children and even more excited to be taking them to LaplandUK. Rocco is really starting to understand Christmas now which is adorable.

LaplandUK was certainly colder than where Alex and I had just visited and it was a little odd going from two extremes but completely worthwhile. LaplandUK is such a magical treat not only for the little ones but for the grown ups too. As soon as you park your car (ahem sleigh), you walk through the enchanted forest and towards the log cabin where you check in for your adventure. It’s decorated amazingly and the snow covered pine trees look beautiful.

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The children are issued with little passports that they are asked to get stamped by the elves they meet along their journey. They have to help Santa’s workers make toys and decorate gingerbread men before they get to meet the man himself. Rocco loved getting involved and the gingerbread man didn’t last that long…

I tried my hand at ice skating again, the first time in a while since Dancing on Ice and we even took Rocco on the ice which was the only thing he wasn’t too keen on! We met some of Santa’s reindeer and then shortly after were taken to the log cabin hidden in the woods to meet him. It was fantastic and Rocco was a real chatterbox the whole way home.

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When you purchase tickets for this experience, you also get some lovely letters from Santa which you give to your children on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. I know just how excited Rocco is going to be to see that the Santa he met has written to him too. A really nice touch I thought.

LaplandUK (www.laplanduk.co.uk) is based in Ascot and if you are thinking of taking your little ones to see Santa I can’t recommend this place highly enough. Allow around 4-5 hours for your experience and won’t be disappointed.

With just a few weeks now until Christmas I am now -5 GMT because at the weekend I flew back to Florida to film. Although my body clock has been all over the place in the past few weeks it’s been every bit worth it.

So until next time.

Laura xxx

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