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Hello there. I had the loveliest week last week, including a fab night at the Rooftop Book Club, with beautiful views across London, a trip to see Sunset Boulevard with Glenn Close (which was absolutely awesome, go go go!) and then a morning spent at Syon Park, learning how to walk.

Yep, you heard that right. My mum very kindly bought me a ticket to Joanna Hall’s Walkactive Workshop as a kind of motivational post-baby kick up the bottom. When she told me about it I was a bit sceptical – I mean, a walking workshop? I’m not elderly or infirm just yet… I also worried I’d be the youngest person there by a mile but then that’s because I forget that I’m 35, and that isn’t actually that young anymore… Ahem. Also, I do walk a lot – all the time and everywhere, so I did wonder if there was actually anything I could learn. However, I was willing to concede that my posture is terrible. And I was pleasantly (is that the right way of putting it?!) surprised during the workshop to learn that basically I was doing it all wrong.

I won’t go into the whole process here, because there was loads to take in (it’s scientifically proven and everything!) but it’s really worth looking into if you’re at all worried about your posture (as I was, and have been for ages). During the workshop we were taught how to push off from our feet correctly, meaning that we used the muscles in our legs in the right way, and how this followed up through the way you hold every part of your body to the very top of your head.

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The best bit of the morning was at the end when we split into two groups and did a kind of catwalk together – the first time walking our ‘old way’, the second time walking in the way we’d just been taught. The difference watching people was quite staggering actually – everyone looked so much more purposeful and cheerful walking the ‘Walkactive’ way, and downtrodden and depressed walking as they used to. I could also really feel different muscles in my legs being used as I walked correctly, and I found my pace picked up so much that I almost felt as though I was doing a brisk trot, but without looking stupid. If that makes any sense at all. It was a very satisfying feeling.

So, definitely worth looking into if you think it might be of interest – I love walking and one of the best things about being a mum is having an excuse to get out and push her in the buggy every day – the days I don’t walk I find myself very frustrated and miserable. And now I know how to use my legs and feet properly, I can already feel my thighs toning up – and that is only ever going to be a good thing! There are workshops and residential camps on offer to learn the Walkactive technique, but if that seems too much of a commitment, there’s also a book and DVD. Find out more on the Walkactive website >

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If you’ve read my blog for a while (or know me in real life), you’ll know that I am rather obsessed with handbags. Handbags are my thing – the thing that I waste the most money on, and the things that I most love buying. I justify this by saying they last so long (if you buy good quality), you use them every day and they always ‘fit’. Anyway, I have a lot of handbags, most of which cost too much money.

When I got pregnant, one of the first things I bought was a Pac a Pod nappy bag. I did tons of research before buying (I am very very fussy when it comes to bags) and was really disappointed in the choice available. The Pac a Pod was the best of a bad lot, in my opinion – it seemed pleasingly unisex, with lots of handy compartments. I didn’t love it, but it was the nicest one I saw.

Once Daph was born however, it started to REALLY annoy me – the design I bought meant that it was constantly bulging at the seams and wouldn’t do up – once the pods were placed in the bag, with a few other things added, the side flap just wouldn’t zip together. The ‘grown up section’ was just a bottomless pit and I could never find what I needed without rummaging for ages. It was really irritating and after a few months I replaced it with an impulse-purchase Skip Hop (this one). It’s pretty ugly (a kind of garish geometric pattern) but I thought the shape would be better as it was more like a record bag, and had a flap instead of a zip. But then Daphne decided to push it off a chair in a busy restaurant, the flap, er, flapped open, my entire world skittered out across the floor and I found myself scrabbling around to pick everything up, with my bum hanging out of the back of my jeans and Daph screaming in my ear. That was the end of the Skip Hop’s lifespan.

Bear with me, I know. Three nappy bags for a baby that’s not even nine months old yet – some may say I have issues. But I decided it was time to invest some serious money and – most importantly – buy a bag that was bloody big enough for ALL MY SHIT. Clearly, I cannot go out with the baby without taking most of the contents of my home with me. Over-anxious first-time mother syndrome. Ahem.

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I did some googling and came across Jem + Bea. I instantly liked their bags because a) they look like handbags but at the same time I don’t think Oli would mind carrying them and b) they looked BIG. With lots of pockets. And sturdy zips. I promise I wasn’t influenced (much) by the fact that one of their designers used to work for Mulberry.

I spent a few days trying to decide which of their designs to go for, and in the end chose their Jemima bag. It’s won awards, seemed to be the biggest of the bunch with the most compartments, and most importantly had a great big solid-looking zip running down the middle.

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It arrived last week and I LOVE it. It is huge. Like, almost an overnight bag. It’s made of leather and is properly heavy. But I don’t care because I don’t have to carry the thing – it hangs quite happily off the buggy. It kind of looks a bit briefcasey or even doctor’s casey but I like that. It has a zillion different pockets, all of which are roomy and useful and when it arrived I spent a gleeful twenty minutes arranging all Daph’s and my bits and pieces into the various different sections. I keep walking past it in the hall and smiling.

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It even comes with a cute little mini pouch for you to stash things like lip balm, chewing gum, hairbands and all the stuff that always ends up falling to the bottom of your bag never to be seen again.

Oh and on a practical note, it has all the usual touches, like a loop for your keys, a nice big soft changing mat and even an insulated bottle sleeve.

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My only quibble? The colour. It comes in Tan or Black. I hate black handbags – just a daft little quirk of mine, but I refuse to buy black handbags. Too depressing, too sombre, too dull. So I went for the Tan. But I’m not really a Tan kind of girl – I tend to wear grey more than brown. And it is quite ‘tan’ – a bit orangey in the flesh. I know it will age nicely and the leather will develop its own patina, but I do wish they did a grey version. If they had, I would be in heaven.

I’m not going to lie – it’s not a cheap buy. I did think long and hard about splashing the cash before going for it, but now I’m really glad I did. It’s SO much more practical than my other two disaster changing bags, and it also looks bloody lovely.

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It’s so lovely, that now, of course, I want to buy their uber cool Marlow Camo bag. How nice would THAT be for summer picnics in the park?! But I think if I do, Oli will never speak to me again (there’s no space in our wardrobe for his clothes because it’s full of handbags…).

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Find your happy? That doesn’t even MAKE SENSE

In need of modernisation – falling down

Cosy – none of your furniture will fit

Spacious accommodation – one of the rooms downstairs is open-plan

Flexible accommodation – the layout makes no sense

Viewing advised – unless you’re the kind of person who likes to buy houses they haven’t seen before

Secluded location – no one will hear you scream as you’re murdered in your bed

Off-street parking (in London) – enjoy the view of your car parked in front of your living room window

Low-maintenance garden – a yard

West-facing garden – still not south facing though you suckers

Blank canvas – a building site

Architect designed – weird looking

Charming – see ‘cosy’

Rarely available – impossible to value

Popular location – good luck finding a parking space on the street

Within catchment area of Very Good School – £21,000 more expensive than houses round the corner

Well located – wave at the people on the bus as they go past your bedroom window

Potential to extend – we refuse to be held liable if you can’t get the planning

Tremendous scope for improvement – knackered

Much-loved family home – knackered

No onward chain – gold dust

Ideal investment opportunity – short lease

Well presented – a magnolia nightmare

Light and airy  – all the walls are white

Within metres of the station – insomniacs best not apply

Tree-lined road – beware the dog poo

Call to avoid disappointment – if we big it up maybe someone might book a viewing

Beautifully presented – done up to the nines by someone who watched too much Changing Rooms

Within easy reach of the station – too far to walk, not far enough to drive. Ergo, a frustrating distance

Fabulously honest in presentation – a shithole and we can’t even be bothered to lie about it

Any obvious ones I’ve missed?! Do share in the comments below!

Read the truth about life with a newborn >

Read the truth about health visitors >

Read the truth about parenting sleep deprivation >

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Where to start with Daph’s eight month update? First of all, she is HUGE. I can’t wait for our next trip to the health visitor to find out exactly how much she weighs now and how long she is – I swear she must be off the charts now especially with her height. She seems so long and, well, big. Not so chubby any more (although she does have a rather cute pot belly) but just big in every way – her head, her feet, her hands – all of it! I think she’s going to be a giant. I know there’s no way of telling how a person will end up from what they were like as a baby but I just can’t see her being a delicate little petite child somehow!

She’s such a little character now – and a really tough crowd. She’ll have the odd day of finding everything funny, and then won’t laugh for a week. Making faces at her that she hasn’t seen before may get you a little chuckle but you can almost tell she’s fighting it, as if she’s really NOT that impressed you know, and once she’s seen something once then it’s no longer funny, mum, so stop doing it over and over again. She’s very particular about who she’ll smile at – she liked some of the female estate agents we’ve seen lately but the male ones were mostly met with looks of distrust. Wise beyond her years! And she’ll have days where Daddy is her favourite and gets all the smiles, and days when I’m deemed the best.

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Sitting!

Milestone-wise, I reckon she’s a little behind average. She can sit now, pretty well, but often launches herself backwards in the middle of sitting and ends up falling on her back. I noticed just yesterday she was doing a bit of rocking on her bum, and reaching forward with her hands, which I think means she’s about to crawl?! But knowing Daph she won’t bother until she’s about 1. If we put her on her tummy she screams and wriggles (often moving backwards inadvertently) and generally looks pissed off with us. Or rolls straight back onto her back. She’s got the rolling down, finally, but still doesn’t do it unless she ABSOLUTELY HAS TO. She can support her own weight really well though, and will stand easily if you hold her hands.

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Unsuccessful attempts to get her to move…

She isn’t babbling yet – but she does do a good line in screaming. And blowing raspberries – her new favourite thing. She’ll also make sort of sing-song noises when you’re feeding her, which are quite interesting. But otherwise, to get your attention she’ll whine (gah I hate whining!) or bang things like her hands on the table or her feet against her chair.

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This photo is my phone screensaver <3

Food is still a hit, thankfully, and she’s tried pretty much everything she’s allowed now, all to great success. Apart from avocado. She really doesn’t get that one. I love watching her eat – she’s a total piglet and will always finish her meal and open her mouth for more. I’ve been quite lazy at letting her feed herself (mostly just to save time), and must make a conscious effort going forward to give her more opportunity to do so. She can easily hold a rice cracker and feed herself with it, it just takes FOREVER and lots of it ends up on the floor… luckily she’s quite a neat eater, but I suspect this is because we haven’t done baby-led weaning so I get to spoon everything into her mouth quite tidily!

I’ve been trying to cut down her milk as I noticed with alarm she’s only meant to have three 7oz bottles at her age. Currently she still has five bottles per day (!) which vary between 5-7oz. I try not to let her finish them if she doesn’t seem that bothered, and I’m desperate to drop the dream feed at 11pm (not least because it interrupts my only bit of me-time all day). But we tried it one night and she woke up at 1am starving hungry so I think I’ll have to try to phase it out gradually. I’m confused about the milk versus food thing and exactly how much she should be having of each – I know there’s that expression ‘food before one is just for fun’ but I’m SURE she doesn’t need all this milk as well as her three proper meals.

She’s sleeping pretty well these days and has settled into quite a nice nap routine of 9am-10.30am, then 12.30-1.30/2pm and then another little power nap at 4pm for about half an hour. Bedtime at 7pm, dreamfeed between 10-11pm and then up for the day usually at 6.30am. I’d love her to sleep longer at night but she absolutely can’t do without her three naps – she goes ballistic at bedtime if she hasn’t slept enough during the day.

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I know this pic is blurry, but I can’t believe how grown up she looks in it!

I feel I must also mention her hair, which is growing thick and fast. It can’t seem to decide what colour it is – the back of her head looks a lovely golden blonde, but the front (where she’s sporting a rather fetching toupee style) is much darker and almost a light brown. Her eyes are definitely blue though, and a lovely dark grey-blue too.

Last but not least for this month, she has her top two front teeth now! They are SO CUTE. They came through last week and we had three nights of crying and generally being miserable, but now they’re through she’s back to her normal self. It’s amazing seeing her with four little teeth and I can’t wait to get a proper photo of her smiling with them all showing!

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The beautiful shared grounds of a Span property we viewed last week. Not pictured: the busy main road on the other side :(

Hello hello. I didn’t blog last week because I was in the midst of the most painful househunting search of all time. In fact, I’m still in the midst of it, but thought I ought to write something down on here so that hopefully one day I can look back and laugh at what we went through. Hmm. Since we lost the dream house, we have put offers in on two other houses (bear in mind that this is a time period of just a week and a half) of which one was accepted for AN HOUR before being ‘unaccepted’ when someone put in a higher bid (we were told we weren’t able to increase our offer either, which smacks of developers giving the agents backhanders if you ask me); and the other which was tentatively accepted but with the caveat ‘were we aware that the house had been underpinned?’ The guarantee for the underpinning had now expired and it was impossible to get insurance. Sigh. We pulled out.

Every waking hour at the moment is spent on Rightmove and On the Market, just trying to find something – anything – that would ‘do’. We’ve long since given up on finding another dream house and it’s actually crazy that considering what a huge decision this is, we’re now prepared to just settle for any old house that roughly meets our criteria. Unfortunately one of the main issues (self-created admittedly) is our criteria does change a lot – sometimes we think sod it, let’s stick two fingers up at London, its pollution and its ridiculous house prices and escape to the country, other times we think there’s no way we could cope with not being within spitting distance of a tube.

This time of year is supposed to be the busiest for the housing market but I can honestly say that there’s hardly anything coming onto the market – we check every morning what’s come on in the last 24 hours in our 400 search areas and there’s usually only one or two new properties at the most. And they all go under offer so quickly! It’s crazy – you even have to fight to get a viewing (with estate agents laughing at you when you request to see ‘extremely popular’ properties and then telling you they’re far too busy to fit you in).

So yes. It’s crap. In order to wrestle back some feeling of control however, this week we did manage to buy a new car. Saturday was a fun day – ordering a new car + rushing to get to viewings of two houses – as the estate agent pointed out ‘you don’t do things by halves do you?’. Anyway we’re picking up the car on Friday, and I’m both excited and terrified about this. It’s a super practical, super boring Volkswagen Tiguan and we’ve got it on some ridiculous finance deal which took eighteen hours to organise and means we don’t actually own it but is bizarrely the cheapest way for us to be able to drive something that won’t fall apart on the A3.

On top of all this madness, I have client work coming out of my eyeballs (not really) and Oli is trying to organise everything for his show at the Edinburgh Festival in August. We are communicating in grunts of ‘Have you seen this house?’ and ‘What time do you want to eat dinner?’ and the rest of our time is spent either entertaining Daphne, driving to see houses or with our heads in front of a screen. Oh what fun it is in our house at the moment!

On the upside, Daphne is a TOTAL JOY and has started blowing raspberries at us whenever we look at her. Which just about puts everything into perspective really.