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04 February
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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

21 January
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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

13 January
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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

17 December
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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

03 December
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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

24 November
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Our worst nightmare before a week in the most beautiful place on earth

Having touched down from the US last weekend it was nice to spend a few days in my own bed. Sometimes I think I’m a little crazy because I almost have this ritual that I have to clean my whole house as soon as I’m back for a trip and then again just before I go away. There is something about getting in to nice clean bed sheets as soon as you are back from a trip – no?

Moving on before you all think I’m strange… I can’t believe our little boy Rocco is now two. It’s official he has hit the terrible twos and we are potty training. I have made a couple of attempts previously but it hasn’t really worked because he hasn’t been ready. We are now seriously giving it a go and hopefully it won’t be long before I only have one lot of nappies to change. I’m keeping a little sticker reward chart, so he gets a sticker each time he uses the toilet/potty. People say boys are usually slower than girls so we shall see. If anyone has any tips they are most welcome to share!…

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For Rocco’s 2nd birthday (13th November) and Alex’s earlier in the month (5th November) we were abroad so the weekend we returned Alex arranged a little party. Although it was a success we also had an experience that is every parents’ nightmare…

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The party included a lovely lady who did some face painting which was a huge success as well as a soft play bus. It was basically a double decker bus that was kitted out both upstairs and downstairs as a softplay centre. It can pull up outside pretty much any property and it is brilliant if you don’t have a huge space inside your home, or you don’t want it to get trashed…

So after the hour and half hire finished and the members of staff told us the all children were all back in the house we presumed they were. However less than 5 minutes later we realised one child was missing… Where was Rocco?

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Alex and I thought one another had checked him back in but neither of us had and there was utter panic as we tried to find him. My brother-in-law was half way down the street looking for him but Rocco was nowhere to be seen. ‘He couldn’t still be on the bus?’, one of the guests shouted. Yes that’s exactly when he was, on the top deck happily playing. The organisers were disgusted that they hadn’t cleared the bus properly. Rocco was still there playing as the bus was moving along and Alex and I felt sick. Apparently it had never happened before and it CERTAINLY won’t be happening again. Rocco was completely oblivious but it was a very scary experience and something I never wish to repeat.

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Just two days after our little drama, Alex and I boarded a British Airways flight to the island of Mirihi in the Maldives. It would be our first trip away without the children.

Some parents might question this, then many others suggest that a short break away as a couple without your children is a healthy thing to do for all parties. Alex and I obviously fall in to the second category and the fact that we have a doting family back home who wanted to look after and spend time with Rocco and Tahlia put us at complete ease. Of course we are missing them but we know they are having a great time and they aren’t actually missing us at all.

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The Maldives is one of my favourite places on earth. The islands are like beautiful gems that are scattered in the Indian Ocean. It’s the perfect place to rest, relax and recharge and there is simply nowhere else like it.

My full report on Mirihi will feature in my next blog and I will also be writing a travel feature for a national publication. In the meantime below is a little taster of what it’s like… www.mirihi.com.

That’s it from me for now, the hammock is calling!

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Love,

Laura X

www.laurahamilton.co.uk
@laurahamiltontv

12 November
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An amazing American adventure

Anyone who follows me on Instagram and Twitter will know from my posts that for the last couple of weeks I’ve been filming in America. It has been a pretty special trip because whilst I have been filming, the children have been visiting the Disney parks with Sarah our nanny. On my days off I have squeezed in a few visits too so I’m not complaining.

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This was a first for me, taking both children on a long-haul flight. Rocco has done it previously but this was Tahlia’s first trip to the US. It was better than I had anticipated partly because Rocco can now travel on his own seat. He can be entertained more easily and he will sit still and watch a film (so that’s a couple of hours sorted). He did of course want to walk about too, so I found myself walking up and down the aisle of the plane a few times making new friends. I guess it can only be expected from an almost 2 year old on a 9 hour flight. Tahlia was pretty happy and not being mobile yet made it easy. All in all it was a success. It did take 4 days for both of them to settle in to their sleeping routines, but with a 5 hour time difference from the UK I didn’t think that was too bad.

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Rocco is two on Friday 13th November and this trip has been an incredible birthday treat! Although he might seem a bit young to be going to theme parks, he talks so much and is a pretty outgoing little boy, that every day he has been so excited about his new adventures. Over the past two weeks we have managed to go to all four of the Disney parks; The Magic Kindgom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Each and every one of them has had suitable shows and activities for both the young and old!

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The Magic Kingdom is probably the best of the lot. As you take the boat ride over to the island, you can see the famous castle in the distance and it feels every bit as magical as you would expect. I loved meeting Mickey and watching the shows on stage just as much as Rocco did and we all loved the street parties where we got to dance away with all of our favourite characters and some of the rides were great too.

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We arrived at the park at 8:30am to watch the welcome show and didn’t leave until 8pm after the firework display. It was a long day but completely worth it. At night the castle is even more magical.

The Animal kingdom and Hollywood studios were quicker parks to get in and out of compared to the Magic Kingdom (as there was no boat ride to take), and they were both brilliant. At The Animal Kingdom Rocco went on a safari adventure which was a big hit. At Hollywood studios he particularly enjoyed the ‘Honey I shrunk the kids’ play area and the ‘Frozen Singalong’ theatre show. The Disney live show is worth going to but best of all he loved meeting Woody and Buzz from Toy Story and having his face painted as a pirate.

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Epcot was probably the most ‘educational’ out of all the parks where you got to walk around and explore different countries of the world. All Rocco really wanted to do was go on ‘The Seas Nemo and friends’ ride. It was a colourful interactive experience and worth going on. He enjoyed it so much that he wanted to go on several times and then kept asking to see Nemo when we got back to the hotel.

I found the best way to explore each of the parks (and the best value for money), was by having a five day hopper pass that is valid for five days over a two week period. With this pass you have access to two water parks and can also experience the game zones and play mini golf at Disney Springs where the parking is free. I thought it was fantastic that I could create an account online through the Disney website. I was able to plan each day’s itinerary, make restaurant reservations, book shows and also use a fast pass for three things each day. This basically meant I could go straight to the front of the queue for the three things I chose.

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I would 100% recommend taking the family to Orlando. If you have young children pushchairs are a must! You can hire them at the parks if you don’t want to travel with them but I couldn’t get by without my Egg double stroller. Loads of people actually kept coming up to me and commenting saying it was the best they had ever seen. A little strange but interesting to hear! The Baby Bjorn carrier was also a bit of a necessity even though it was incredibly hot to wear.

If you are planning a family holiday to Orlando, make sure you have a few days to rest. You will walk A LOT and if you do everything at the theme parks it can be pretty tiring. You need to factor in some time to shop in the discounted designer malls if that’s your thing, and also to relax around the pool at your hotel or villa if it has one.

Whilst the children have been having fun, I have of course been having fun working in the sunshine. I have been wearing some of my new dresses from a great brand I’ve discovered called Chi Chi Clothing. I love their styles and fit. Their dresses are 50’s inspired and they work really well for a curvy shape, pinching in at the waist and then flaring out. I also really like their below the knee length which I find flattering. I’ve also been wearing some pieces from Blue Vanilla.

Here’s a sneak peak of some of my outfits below that will be on screen in the new year.

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I will be returning to America for a couple of weeks just before Christmas so I’m planning on doing my Christmas shopping then! Before that I’m actually going on holiday with Alex to the Maldives to a small island called Mirihi. It’s only 350 metres long by 50 metres wide. It’s one of our favourite places in the world and, the perfect place to switch off, unwind and relax.

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I’ve been working so hard in the gym and with my personal trainer John Beeby trying to shift my baby weight so I hopefully I look ok in my bikini for Alex. The big portions in America haven’t helped…

Until then,

Laura xxx

03 November
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Peppa Pig’s surprise and terrible twos‏

A lot of other parents say to me when you have children you constantly question if you are doing a good job. I’m always asking myself is it okay to be travelling so much with my children, and am I doing enough with them when they are back in the UK? I know it’s not always about doing things, it’s often about spending quality time with them, but I think it’s great for them always to be busy! This week has been a fun filled, action packed week for Rocco with a film premiere and a trip to the theatre and he has loved it.

We were lucky enough to be invited to the UK premiere of the screening of some of the new episodes of the Teletubbies at the BFI on the Southbank. If I’m honest I was never too sure about this television programme, I questioned whether it’s was good for children’s speech development. However the new series seems to have improved upon that somewhat.

The Teletubbies still say ‘ehoh’ for hello but there seems to be more about it that is educational, and in HD it looks pretty special when you compare it with the old episodes.

Rocco was so excited in the lead up to the screening that when he actually saw the Teletubbies in person he had a bit of a meltdown and became completely overwhelmed and burst into tears! Nevertheless we had a great morning.

It’s just two weeks until his 2nd birthday and it’s almost like a switch has flicked – it’s time for the terrible twos! I would have never have believed that when he can’t get his own way he would just lie on the floor and scream. Where did he learn that? Not from me that’s for sure and I can’t recall the last time Alex did that! Ha!

For a little boy who has always had a good appetite he is starting to become tricky and fussy with food. On a daily basis I hear “no, I don’t want it.” But, interestingly, his nursery say he has a great appetite and eats loads, so clearly he is testing us and it’s certainly a challenge time.

We aren’t giving him options and if he doesn’t eat what we offer, then fine. He isn’t going to starve and hopefully it is just a phase. Has anyone else encountered this with their toddlers? What did you do?

As a bit of a birthday treat (and before I took the children abroad again!) Alex and I took Rocco and Tahlia on their first trip to the theatre.

I love going to the theatre and given that I have performed as Cinderella eight times its always been a big part of my life. I was really excited when I heard the live theatre show of Peppa Pig was going back out on tour and was coming to Fairfield Halls in Croydon (just down the road from where I live).

Peppa Pigs Surprise is a really good production with simple sets that kept Rocco transfixed for the two 35 minute halves. The theatre was packed and the children were all absolutely loving the show.

The story is told by Peppa’s friend Daisy (actress Emma Grace), who interacts with the audience effortlessly. The actors who operate the popular children’s characters on castors around the stage were dressed in black and impersonated the voices of the characters superbly.

Peppa, George, Danny Dog, Pedro Pony and Suzy Sheep all feature in the show with Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig and Mr Potato performed by actors in full size skins. The story is sweet and Rocco’s favourite scene was when Peppa and George had a bath and Daisy created some pretty impressive bath bubbles.

If you have children who are fans of the TV show the live theatre performance is really worth watching and makes for a great afternoon out with the children. You can find out more about the tour here.

Over the next couple of weeks Rocco and Tahlia are going to be extremely busy in Florida. Whilst I am filming, I have planned lots of exciting days out for them with things to do at the Disney Parks. It’s brilliant that you can create an online account and literally book everything in advance.

If you are thinking of taking two young children on a long haul flight, there are a few things you need to consider; like dealing with jet lag and how to keep them entertained, but don’t be put off. I’m just thinking I can’t wait to see Rocco’s face when he meets Mickey Mouse. Dealing with a couple of days with early mornings will be worth it.

So my next blog will be coming to you from the ‘Sunshine State’, Orlando and the home of Mickey. I think Sarah our nanny is the most excited of us all!

 

Until then, lots of love

 

Laura xxx

22 October
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Travelling to Crete and Cyprus with Rocco and baby Tahlia

It feels like forever since I last blogged so apologies to my regular followers… I’ve been abroad filming for the last three weeks in Crete and Cyprus.

Being away from home for three weeks is usually particularly hard, but I’m so lucky that I am able to travel and work whilst the children are with me and, without sounding too smug about how gorgeous the weather has been (32 degrees) compared with the UK, I am definitely not complaining.

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Since my last post (and before flying abroad to film) I went on a lovely little girlie shopping trip to Oasis in London with my good friend Hayley Sparkes. It’s quite odd buying winter clothes when for the next couple of months I’m away a lot in the sunshine, but there were some lovely bits in store.

By the end of our spending spree our shopping baskets were almost identical! I picked up a lovely winter black coat and a smart nude jacket which I ended up wearing later that evening to the Children in Need Book launch Fi-Rex.

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Hayley and I attended the event together and the book has been written by a variety of celebs and a portion of the sales will be donated to Children in Need. It’s a lovely book and Rocco is enjoying it when I read it to him.

A few days after the event my cases were packed again and little Rocco was very excited to be going on another ‘herroplane’. Tahlia is settling well in to the travelling lark now too. She’s growing fast and I don’t think it will be too long before she is crawling. I’ve started weening her with the brilliant Ella’s kitchen pouches that I used with Rocco. I can’t recommend them enough for when when you are travelling.

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Rocco is currently going through the ‘it’s mine stage’ where he doesn’t get the concept of sharing. He often takes Tahlia’s toys from her, but despite of this she still adores him and my heart melts when she smiles at him. I captured a great little video of the two of them when I was in Crete.

Filming in Crete was lovely. I was based in the old town of Chania and the area around the port was beautiful at night. I was impressed by just how family friendly the restaurants were. In fact Cyprus was the same, so many of the restaurants have softplay areas and it’s totally acceptable to take your children out in the evening when you eat. It makes such a difference when the temperature is so warm in the evening.

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For this episode I wore a dress from www.darlingclothes.com with some tan leather sandals from Dorothy Perkins. For my closing chat I managed to squeeze in to my Love jumpsuit. My baby weight is still coming off and I think I have around 10lbs to go so it’s nice being able to fit into the clothes I love again.

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After our week filming, we had to take two flights to get from Crete to Cyprus (via Athens). I thought it would be a nightmare but thankfully it went really smoothly and the children were fantastic. Tahlia was a bit of a hit with the airport staff and they all wanted cuddles.

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We arrived in Larnaca and had a much needed weekend off. What better way to treat ourselves than with a visit to the country’s most famous water park ‘Waterworld’ in Ayia Napa. They have a couple of areas for younger children and some pretty impressive slides for the adults (or bigger kids!). If you are visiting the area with family and want a guaranteed fun day out, visiting is a MUST! Sadly for us after the weekend was over, it was time to get back to work.

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The property market in Cyprus is really interesting. There are some UNBELIEVABLE bargains around, and despite not a lot of places having title deeds buyers shouldn’t be put off. The government are currently putting schemes in place to rectify the situation and they are currently working through the back log of applications. The climate is fantastic so much so I had to keep reminding myself it’s almost November.

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I filmed two episodes near to Protarus and although I can’t give away too much about what happened, they are both going to be great shows. The shows will both be on in the new year but in the meantime I thought I would give you a little sneak peak of the outfits I wore in Cyprus.

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I’m seriously looking forward to sleeping in my own bed this weekend and I am sure Rocco and Tahlia are too. Although saying that we are only back for a week before we head to Orlando and I will be filming and blogging from Disneyland.

That’s all from me for now. Don’t forget we get an extra hour in bed this weekend. Well I probably won’t!!

I hope you have enjoyed the read and I hope not to leave it so long next time.

Over and out…

Laura xxx

28 September
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New hair, family outings, events and a week in Tuscany!

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of September. Seriously where has this year gone? I’m going to be starting my Christmas shopping before I know it.

As always it’s been a fun-filled couple of weeks. If anyone has thought about going to the Shrek experience in London’s County Hall, DO IT! I took Rocco and Tahlia recently and although Rocco was too young to go on the bus simulator ride, he absolutely loved the experience. In fact he hasn’t stopped talking about the Muffin Man, the Gingerbread Man and Shrek since we left. He is completely hooked. The experience is actually a little scary at times (so I would suggest it’s better for children over 5). Even I got a little freaked in the mirror maze…

No expense has been spared, the sets are fantastic and the actors who guide you through the tour are brilliant. If you have children and are looking for a fun few hours in London, I highly recommend going.

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After taking the children out for a fun-filled experience, the following evening I went to another fun experience myself. I was lucky enough to get two tickets to #Friendsfest in East London, the pop up in Brick Lane (that was being put on by Comedy Central) featuring some of the sets from the hit American show. Hosted by Gunther himself, I could resist getting a pic with him in Monica’s apartment. The event was a great idea and I wouldn’t be surprised if they do more of the same with some other hit shows. I took our nanny Sarah to the event and she said it was one of the best evenings of her life which was really sweet.

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Although I went abroad to film in Tuscany during London Fashion Week, I did attend one event just before I left. Showcasing my new lobb (long bob!) I worked the red carpet at the award winning make-up artist Lan Nguyan’s book launch. I decided to wear a pink floral skirt from SkeenaS and teamed it up with a simple black jumper from Zara. I finished my look with a gold bee necklace from River Island and a pink lipstick called ‘Relentlessly Red’ from Mac. My make-up wasn’t a patch on some of the creations in Lan’s book but I hoped she approved of my lippy!

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So on to my new hair… Yep I decided to go for a chop. Amy at FOUR London (and Claudia Winkleman’s new hair stylist on Strictly), gave me a little hair and I love it. I’m still learning to style it but I think it’s easier to manage when it’s a bit shorter. I’m also hoping that I will be able to avoid Tahlia being sick in my hair on the left side! Does anyone else ever have that? The constant ‘sick left shoulder!’ Both Rocco and Tahlia have been sicky babies but hopefully she will grow out of it soon.

With my new look and feeling good (I still have 16lbs of baby weight to go), I boarded a plane with the two children to film in Tuscany for the week. I had never visited this part of Italy before and I totally fell in love with it. I was based very close to the city of Lucca which was packed with loads of great restaurants and wine bars. The atmosphere was fantastic and the cobbled Amphiteatro was my favourite place to sit and people watch. A couple of evenings when I finished early I took the children to Pisa and Florence. Rocco kept telling me he was being the leaning tower of Pisa.

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I’m back home in the UK for a week before jetting off to Crete and Cyprus. This week I’ll be catching up with my old ‘Jump’ buddy and Masterchef champion Kimberly Wyatt as we are going to lunch in The Shard. I’m really looking forward to seeing her.

I hope you have a wonderful week.

Over and out,

Laura X

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