09 Amazing April Adventures: updates from April 2016

30 April 2016

Such a week! 

Busy busy busy. I had two late nights at work on Monday and Tuesday (for our London Mayoral Hustings and dinner at the House of Lords). So on Wednesday I came home a little early to see the babies. 

Naughty monkeys.

But also so so sweet 

In baby development they’ve started shaking their heads really vigorously which is amusing. 

Margot seems to have weaned herself off the bottle. For the past couple days she’s only had solid foods and seems to be enjoying it. We are delighted to be done with formula. 

On Thursday  they had their BCG (Tb) vaccine and while they were super brave during the vaccine they were very out of sorts that night and didn’t really sleep. So of course neither did we. 

I went to Bristol for work on Friday and then in the evening we went to Alistair and Virginia’s for dinner. We had raclette!

Today Liane came over and the babies were really taken with her. She’s.seven months pregnant and I wonder if they ‘know’.

Then tonight Camilla and Mark came over for an impromptu dinner. Patrick made tortillas from scratch and we had fajitas. 

April has seen so much change in the babies. As mom said in an email to me recently – they are practically toddlers and not really babies. But for me they are just getting more and more fun. 

24 April 2016

West Country weekend 

Well who knew a 3 year old’s birthday party could be so much fun? 

Friday Patrick and the babes went to Claire’s I knocked off work a little early and got to them about 4. After a week of beautiful weather it was suddenly cold and drizzly. We drove out to John and Kait’s through hideous weather and an accident (not ours) meant we arrived an hour late. Margot was not impressed and showed her displeasure by screaming. 

Jon and Jo arrived later with Arthur. The next morning we played in the living room – Margot and Isaac had a great time and George loves giving them cuddles. 

Excitingly the sun came out and the men folk gathered to make a gazebo.

They also rented two bouncy castles – one of which was like an assault course. You had to climb walls bigger than you were… 

The party was a huge success with many of Georges friends from nursery. Then later on Ben and Susie arrived with Clara and Leo and Pippa (she’s now 30 weeks pregnant). 

Inevitably there was too much booze and too much politics talked. W went to bed at midnight but the hard core were up till 3! 

Excitingly the sleep regression seems past. They slept till 4 or 5 both nights. Despite being in an unfamiliar  place. 

This morning we drove to Claire’s on our way back. We saw Al & Liz and the kids and also Maddy and Rob: the twins are so active during the day now. Isaac likes ‘running’ if hold his hands and Margot seems to be everywhere at once. 

19 April 2016

Ten month sleep regression is a thing… 

The babes have basically stopped properly sleeping. Three nights and counting. It’s not great.

Saturday we went up to Watton to see Juliet and Iain and Ben, who was in town from Portland. The babes were on incredibly good form. Model babies. 

But last night we were up at 10:30, 1, 3:30, 4:45… 

That said Margot has adopted an adorable habit of cuddling the cat. 

Today I worked from home and frankly it was hilarious. We had lunch. Homemade soup and bread. The soup was actually some of the potato, courgette, broccoli and white bean purée I made for Isaac.

We took a nice long walk and then they launched into a pitched Bottle Battle. 

Then they conquered the nappy pile!

Here’s hoping we have a good night…

15 April 2016

Ten months old… 

Back at work and clearly unable to keep up the pace of updates. Which is a real shame.

Tuesday Patrick texted me this photo… Which I received while in a particularly never ending meeting.

Then on Wednesday I got home to discover that Margot stood up. From sitting. All by herself. 

Today we finally achieved a no-tears bath time. 


Grandma’s funeral was Thursday. I was really sorry not to be there. But I have no doubt that it was a beautiful celebration of her incredible life. 

But… One thing I just feel I have to share is that she did a wicked Willie Nelson impersonation. So much so that when I was about 9 she won a radio phone in competition with her rendition of Always on my Mind. We got tickets to see Willie at the Beaver Creek amphitheatre. It was the only time I’ve seen Willie live! It’s those little things that don’t make it into the official record that make a person really real, and it is those memories that I am keeping close right now.

The babes are being so incredibly adorable at the moment. But they seem to be losing interest in breastfeeding. Which is perhaps a good thing as I booked flights to New York for my 15th reunion. 
10 April 2016 

Lady night with Selina and Dave was lovely. The babes were on winsome form. They didn’t sleep particularly well but then they’d been in a different place every night since Monday. 

I drove us back to London at 6:30… We gave the babes their porridge and ate our breakfast.

The babes were in a great mood for ages. In fact … Margot has very nearly said her first word. Unsurprisingly cat.

She keeps making the c and t noises while looking at Cadmus. 

Isaac is also keen on Cadmus. He kept playing with his tail and shrieking with laughter. 

We had a really rough hour or so of screaming around lunch time. I think they didn’t have a good / long enough morning nap. 

Then just as I was finally getting Isaac to finish his lunch Mom called to say that Grandma had died. Clearly I am glad that she is out is pain. But so so sad. She looms large in my life. We always had a complicated relationship but that’s only because we were so alike. I will miss her. 

This afternoon we went to meet up with the NCT crew for coffee. It was good to see them. 

The babes went to bed without much fuss. I made a shrimp and broccoli stirfry and am having hot cocoa. Both of which I know Grandma would love. 

9 April 2016

And so we are home

Thursday (7th) was a lost day. We spent it entirely on the ferry. But we made our own fun.

Also we all slept. A lot. 

We got into Portsmouth harbour at 9:30 and then drove to Claire’s (which is nearer) and spent the night. We’d also managed to rent out our house for a week at the last minute so needed to stay away until the afternoon. 

So we went on a nice long walk with the dogs. 

   And saw a swan sitting on 6 eggs!

The twins are loving playing on the floor and with one another.



This morning we’ve had a super successful bath. Margot didn’t cry at all however in order to get her over her fear of water I’ve taken to bathing with her. And the inevitable happened. She pooed everywhere… 

This afternoon we are going on a (possibly ill-advised) trip to Kent to see Dave and Selina. While it will be lovely to see them I reckon we could use a weekend at home. 

6 April 2016

Adios Bilbao, hello ferry home 

The day began early, and not particularly well. The coffee machine was broken. Patrick remarked with wry humour that this was the first time he’d ever seen me uncaffinated. It was awful. 

We fed the babes breakfast and left at about 7:45 to find a cafe. One of the unexpected pleasures of being in Spain is that I’m the one in charge of communicating. It’s funny how small things start to come back to you and just pop out! 

We went to a cafe and had coffees and quite possibly the sweetest rolls I’ve ever tasted. Then back home for a nappy change. The babes were in a great mood so we just let them have a play for a while.

We went out again about 10 and had a Spanish tortilla (egg & potato frittata) and another coffee. 

We walked around the city and were really struck by the topography.

 We then picked up food for lunch at a local supermarket – steak, salad, bread. Went home at noon and fed the babes, then ourselves. 

Then we packed up and headed to the Guggenheim. 

 I had been skeptical. I shouldn’t have been. It’s one of the best modern art museums I’ve ever been to. First were the monumental Richard Sera sculptures, and then a Louise Bourgois retrospective which was probably the most moving exhibition I’ve ever seen. I had tears in my eyes. In a gallery. 

But because it was a bit overwhelming we ran a tiny bit late for the ferry home. Luckily we made it. 

It was definitely an amazing trip. But as Derek Jacobi says at the end of every Nighr Garden; it was time to go. 

5 April 2016

Au revoir Ogeu, Hola Bilbao

It was a pretty rough morning with the babes. Lots of fussing and refusing to settle. Presumably because they knew it was time to go. 

We ended up running about an hour behind schedule because of a much needed 8am family sofa nap… Or cuddle snooze as we think of them.

We finally set off around 11:30 and headed for Spain. We were taking a more inland route but it was still stunning. 

We finally made it to Bilbao and to our Airbnb – where the babies were the happiest I’ve seen them in ages. Partly because of being out of the car no doubt! 

But also because of the mirrors.

Which were a HUGE hit. 

After Patrick had a little rest (long drive with really challenging ‘other road users’) we went on a walk to discover Bilbao.

I will write a longer more work based blog about this but I have to say it was pretty much love at first site.

 Obviously there are the iconic buildings. But more than that this really feels like a city that is truly alive. Lots of older people, school kids, babies being pushed around by grandparents, college kids. We were staying right in the centre and it was full of all kinds of people. 

At about 5 we headed home and fed the babes and put them to bed. We spent a quiet night reading. Luxury! 

4 April 2016


This morning we went on an early morning stroll with Michael and his neighbour Phillipe. It was amazing to see different sides of Ogeu even though we’ve been taking massive walks this whole week.

After the babies’ brunch we caught the train into Pau. It has literally one carriage. 

From the train station there is a funicular that runs up the side of the hill. 

 So we took that. 

We wandered around Pau for a couple of hours and then caught the train back to Ogue for lunch. On the train the twins were hilarious – crawling around the carriage and charming the other passengers. 

After we put them to bed we had a final dinner with Mike and Carol – an enormous roasted leg of lamb. 

3 April 2016 
It is going to be so very hard to leave. 

We started the day with a long walk around the village. We had the babies in slings and they chatted to one another. 

The sunrise on the mountains was glorious. 

We also made friends with a mule. 

We then had a Guinea Fowl for Sunday lunch with Mike and Carol. 

The babes were well behaved but definitely put our ‘let them eat dirt’ parenting philosophy to the test. 

 They also enjoyed smoked salmon for the first time. 

And apparently lemon… 

 2 April 2016

The day started well enough with a rather ebullient bowl of oatmeal. 

The weather was absolutely stunning (again!) so we went on a nice long walk round the village. 

We then tried to get them to eat lunch and while Margot took her bottle happily enough Isaac was MOST unimpressed with his goop and fussed throughout. This has not been our most successful concoction. 

We then took a drive up to the mountains to a ski resort. To get there we had to drive through a mountain. A 5 mile tunnel! It was totally surreal. 

The resort wasn’t very attractive but the views were incredible. Patrick is very keen to go skiing next year… I think I should just accept that this is not my sport. 

 We drove back down and stopped for a coffee in Oloron. Margot screamed for a full hour while we drove. It was pretty traumatising for all involved. On the plus side – I discovered that she has FINALY cut a tooth!

While in Oloron we visited the local history museum. It was a really impressive exhibition. Obviously supremely well funded.

They even had a beret on display.

When we got home we had a moderately more successful dinner. A bit of a play with the flyswatters. 

Then to bed by 7 with almost no complaint. We had dinner with Mike and Carol – he cooked an amazing seafood platter, duck with roasted potatoes and Brussel sprouts and a blueberry tart! 
1 April 2016

Today the rain stopped. Hurrah! But it was freezing. Literally. There was fresh snow on the mountains. But after being trapped inside all day we braved the cold and went out for a ‘brisk’ walk.

Patrick really loved the mountains. It’s a view he never tires of. Whatever the weather. 

And who could blame him? Maybe someday we’ll build a little house like this.

The babes did reasonably well on their walk. But both demanded to be carried at various points (happily not both at once… That would have been tricky).

 After a very successful lunch we drove out to the Grottes de Betharram. We’ve seen signs for these caves for the the last 15 years and we decided that Today was The Day! So so so glad we went. Given how much Patrick and I like caves it’s crazy that we’ve never been.

It was about a 45 minute drive from the house. When we arrived Patrick said (quite possibly a unique sentence) ‘my what a beautiful car park’.

We then went to ask about buying tickets and were informed that we couldn’t buy them there but had to wait a (maximum) of 40 minutes for enough people to turn up to be taken up the mountain in a bus… And then we could buy the tickets at the entrance to the caves. When we asked if we could pop into the gift shop for a coffee we were told it didn’t open till 3… This was because they had only reopened at 1:30 (they’re closed from 12-1:30 for lunch) and so the first tour group wouldn’t make it to the shop till 3. It was 2:10 at this point. So. Very. French. 

So we took a little walk around the lovely car park and then let the babes have a clamber around the car for a bit.

Finally we had enough people for a little tour group. A French couple from Bordeaux, and then a Spanish family.

The caves were worth it.



Also there was a boat to get you across and underground lake! 

And a train to take you back out of the mountain.

 We will definitely be going again when the babes are old enough to appreciate it.

When we got them home we gave them dinner and put them to bed. 

Mike and Carol got home about 7:15 and had supper together. They’d just been on an epic sojourn of Italy and had driven 12 hours today. So we made them supper. 

Lambs lettuce with pear, walnut and balsamic glaze.

Buckwheat gallette with spinach, lardons and mushrooms with marscapone and topped with emmental. 

We’d bought a gateaux Basque at the local bakery for desert and it was delicious. All in all a really lovely day.