Monday, 29 April 2013


The Sublime Times is on Twitter!

I am still getting the hang of Twitter and my activity so far hasn't been very exciting, but you can follow me at this link!

I must get active with my Twitter account as there are lots of bloggers I'd like to follow on there too. Feel free to leave me a link to your Twitter as I'd love to know what you are all tweeting about!

Hannah x

Holiday highlights!

I've been absent from my blog for a little while as we had a bit of an impromptu holiday last week. We've been down South in Liverpool, London and York, visiting family and friends and doing some sightseeing. Here are some of the highlights of our trip!

Liverpool is a great city with loads of character and we spent a couple of days here with my lovely aunt and uncle who put us up at a moment's notice and really looked after us. We saw the amazing new Liverpool One shopping centre, the vibrant Albert Dock and my little boy had his hair cut by my cousin Benjamin Huthwaite at his ultra-cool men's salon. The best thing was spending time with family and catching up with lots of my cousins and their abundance of beautiful children.

It was ages since I'd been in London, one of the cities that always excites me most and a place I used to visit several times a year until I became a settled old mum and less of a party animal! The first night we were there we made a beeline for our all-time favourite pizzeria, Pappagone in Finsbury Park.
This was us outside the Pizzeria, eagerly anticipating the food that awaited us within. Seriously, the pizza here is amazing and it is a brilliant, buzzing family-friendly restaurant. If you are in London please go here and try the melanzane pizza. The kitchen is open and there is an enormous pizza oven right in the midst of things with all the pizza chefs working around it. My son was very happy spending a couple of hours here, as were my husband and I. Beyond happy - delirious! And to put the icing on a great evening I went on to meet up with a very dear friend and catch up over a bottle of wine in the hotel bar.

Much of our second day in London was spent lazily picnicking and playing in Hyde Park. It was such a lovely warm and sunny day that I was actually a bit pink from sun exposure by the end of the day. We strolled for hours, enjoyed a beer at the Lido Cafe, people watched, and it was just bliss.
Hi from Hyde Park. My hand looks massive but that's just perspective, honest! Ok, well my hands are quite big too.

Coming up North from London we visited a Tudor stately home, Hardwick Hall. This is the stunning residence built by Bess of Hardwick, a name rarely uttered without the preceding adjective 'formidable', and she certainly was an intriguing, strong female historical figure. It was great to learn about her and her connections to both Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. What a remarkable woman and also what a marker and reminder of her status in her vast and beautiful home here in Derbyshire.

York is a city I visited in my childhood and enjoyed then primarily because of my enthusiasm for the Vikings (I know, geek alert). I had remembered York being beautiful but wow; it is idyllic. Romantic, gorgeous and saturated in historical interest, I don't think anyone could fail to fall in love with York.

The National Railway Museum in York is a wonderful visitor attraction and it was a must see for us because my son appears to be turning into a little trainspotter, and indeed he loved the museum. Choo choo! I love the romance of train travel and for me the interiors of old steam trains, including the opulent royal carriages of Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, were utterly captivating. The Flying Scotsman is amazing too. I highly recommend a trip to this museum which is a great family day out and is free. Brilliant!

A great National Trust property just outside or on the outskirts of York is Beningbrough Hall. This must be the most child-friendly Trust property we've visited thanks to its playroom, dressing up, interactive galleries and extensive gardens with tons of play equipment. Not only is it a beautiful stately home, but we were made to feel so welcome there as a family.
The little prince. 

Beninbrough is an 18th century house where RAF troops were stationed during WW2, and parts of the house are dressed to give a real sense of how the house would have felt when it was requisitioned for this use in the 1940s. Stories in the exhibits encourage you to imagine young men freezing at night in their army cots, and racing around the grand halls on bicycles and even motorbikes by day. A very evocative old house in a beautiful setting.

We have really had a very nice holiday packed with so many fun activities. Do you like holidaying close to home too? I'm always looking for new places to visit so suggestions are welcome!

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Looking after yourself for brand-new first-time mothers

Nothing changes your life like having your first child! And no amount of advice and preparation will have you ready for the event either. It is a wonderful time but you will be so busy that you will barely have a chance to think about yourself. Of course your baby comes first and it shouldn't be any other way, but it's important for you to be well and happy too.

Here are my top tips on looking after yourself and being a contended, healthy new mum!

  • Feed yourself as well as you can. You need a lot of fuel at the beginning so try to eat regularly, even if you feel too busy. I tried to snack during the long hours spent feeding my son and I was constantly asking my husband, my mum, or whoever was around to bring me fruit, biscuits, cereal and drinks to keep me going. I found breastfeeding made me very hungry, thirsty and tired. Whether breastfeeding or not, you will be tired and working very hard so it's important to eat as well as possible.
  • Take vitamin supplements. You will probably be given iron tablets and I didn't really enjoy taking these although they were necessary. Other vitamins that helped me were a calcium and vitamin D supplement (especially good if breastfeeding), and effervescent vitamin C tablets which I enjoyed taking because it pepped me up a bit when I had to wake up very early in the mornings!
  • Fibre! Particularly important when you are taking high doses of iron. All-bran is a good breakfast cereal which is really high in bran (kind of obvious from the name!) and I also recently discovered oat bran, which is available in some supermarkets and health food shops. It is good made up as a porridge and is also a very concentrated source of bran.
  • Support garments. I would only recommend this if it feels comfortable to you, but I found that wearing a support garment in the early weeks after having my son really helped my waistline shrink back quickly. There are some very expensive ones on the market but I bought a cheaper one from Amazon and it did the job excellently. You can find the one I had here. It was stretchy and supportive, so I found it actually quite comfortable to wear under my clothes during the day. 
  • What to wear? This is a tricky one as you may find there is nothing in your pre-pregnancy wardrobe that is suitable for a while. Or you might be lucky and all your old clothes fit immediately, but that was not the case for me! I wasn't comfortable in my old jeans for a while, and I couldn't wear most dresses because of breastfeeding. I bought a few stretchy tube/pencil type skirts and also wore ones I already had with elasticated waistbands. Anything I bought new was in my pre-pregnancy size because I wanted to get back to that, but a bit of elastane meant these would fit me in my temporary larger size. I bought some stretchy camisole vests to wear under looser tops/jumpers so I could lift my tops to feed but still have a layer underneath to cover me up. So my new mum uniform for a good few months was stretchy skirts, tights, camisoles and jumpers. I was fairly happy in this as I felt comfortable and it was practical for me. I still wear the skirts I bought then and I am back at my normal size.
  • Keep your body moisturised. I had used bio oil throughout my pregnancy and I continued to use that or another rich moisturiser as often as I could find time to after giving birth. I think this helped my skin recover and retain its suppleness. I found a gel-oil like Vaseline cocoa butter gel oil was quick and easy to apply after showering when my skin was still damp, and was very hydrating.
  • Don't try to diet! If you start depriving yourself of fuel early on you will crash and burn. Your body has been through a lot and it is still being challenged every day. Just be patient and you will see your body starting to go back to normal on its own, as long as you are eating fairly healthily. I'd say don't restrict calories for at least 6 months or for as long as you go on breastfeeding.
  • Walk everywhere. Once you feel up to it of course. When your baby is small and taking lots of naps, it is lovely to get outside with the pram and walk to the shops, to wherever you are meeting your friends, or just to the park to have some fresh air. I don't have a car anyway but I found that walking everywhere instead of taking public transport was a good way of getting some exercise and helping shift baby weight. It also gave me time to think and made me feel great!
  • Be proud of your body as it has done the most amazing thing possible.
I hope my tips have been interesting to read! I would love to hear any tips you have too.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Make! Penne puttanesca

Well this is just a lazy pasta dish I threw together after being out all afternoon in the bright sunshine and rather bracing wind! This is more of a 'what's in the fridge?' invention than an authentic puttanesca sauce.

This is how it was made:

  • cook 250g penne pasta as directed on the packet
  • saute 1 chopped red onion in garlic oil
  • add 1 tin chopped tomatoes and simmer
  • season with oregano, rosemary and thyme 
  • add 8-10 anchovy fillets and a handful of olives, chopped
  • allow sauce to heat through then mix with pasta
I added chilli flakes and salt to the adult portions, then served with parmesan and black pepper. Serves 2-3 adults. Very easy and nice dish for an evening when you just want to relax!

Make! Pizza with Jamie Oliver's pizza dough

Saturday night often calls for pizza at our house and what can be better than homemade ones? Everyone enjoys choosing their toppings and then all sitting down to indulge together. Jamie Oliver's pizza dough recipe is so simple and makes great bases. Click the link here to get the recipe. I halved the quantities to make four good-sized pizzas, each enough to feed one hungry adult!

I made the dough in the morning and when it was ready we could put it in the fridge for later.

My pizza sauce was very simple - just tinned tomatoes with oregano and my homemade garlic oil.

Finished pizzas! Topped with meats, olives, sunblush tomatoes and capers. To cook them i turn up my oven to the maximum heat and bake them on non-stick pizza trays which make them really crisp in all the right places. I got mine at Lakeland and they're excellent quality.

We enjoyed these with chilli oil, black pepper and lots of cabernet sauvignon! My ideal Saturday night at home.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Decorate! Baby boy's room

We had immense fun thinking about how we would decorate our son's room, and were picking up bits and bobs before he was even born. Actually before we had even bought our current home!

I have a penchant for all things nautical so you might notice a theme emerging in some of the items here...

I saw this lifebelt souvenir from Shetland in the window of a junk shop. I thought £10 was steep and managed to haggle them down to £8! It's my favourite thing in the room.

You can see here where it hangs, over the cot. The cot is from John Lewis, given to us by my parents-in-law.

These sweet hangers on the back of the door are from Jojo Maman Bebe.

Another sailboat, bought on Ebay. The picture on the far left is a favourite William Blake poem, 'Infant Joy'.

Bunting seems to be a must-have in children's rooms! I jumped on that bandwagon.

Here's a little fishing boat! We bought this on a visit to Anstruther, a beautiful fishing village in the East Neuk of Fife. You get the best fish and chips in the world at the harbour here.

This sweet music box with boats came back from Italy with my parents-in-law. The fish tile was given to me by a lovely friend and former colleague.

Friends gave us these initial letters from Anthropologie when our son was born. I love the home section at Anthropologie! Shown here over the mantelpiece with a Moomin picture from our son's cousins. 

This political world map mural from National Geographic is huge and adorns one wall of the bedroom. We love pointing out places we've been and would like to go!

Finally this lampshade which I bought very cheaply and is very innacurate as a globe, but looks cool hanging from the ceiling!

I hope you liked seeing some details of our nursery. I know I love to see how other people have decorated their homes, but maybe I'm just nosy!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Hand Rehab! Remedies for weak and damaged nails

My nails have been pathetic for ages and particularly throughout the winter they were in a horrid state. I wanted to get back those lovely bright strong nails I've had in the summer, or during pregnancy (that was one of my pregnancy perks - unbreakable nails!) Enter my new hand rehab kit!

The real star of 'hand rehab' has been the cuticle oil from Superdrug. This is such a cheap product that I'm sure has made a massive difference to my nails. I was having a manicure in January on a girly day out, and the beautician doing my nails recommended I try rubbing oil on my nails every night to improve their condition. So I picked up this cuticle oil pen for a couple of quid from Superdrug. I like it because you just squeeze the oil through the brush and 'paint' it onto cuticles and nails - very convenient and mess free!

I had heard that a glass or crystal file was the gentlest and best tool for filing nails, so I picked up a reasonably priced QVS one also at Superdrug. This is all I use now for shaping my nails.

I apply hand cream before bed and during the day if I need it. My current hand cream is this Ortigia one in the 'Zagara' fragrance. This was a mother's day gift and I love it mostly for its scent of orange blossom. When we went on honeymoon to Morocco we smelled orange blossom everywhere, so this scent is very evocative of that amazing trip! There is a lovely and unique shop in the South Side of Glasgow where you can buy Ortigia's gorgeous range of perfumes, bath products and candles. Check out Pierrot et Coco here.

And I've been using OPI's Nail Envy nail treatment sometimes too. I actually haven't been using this treatment as prescribed because I prefer to leave my nails bare and let them breathe most of the time. But when I'm painting my nails with a colour occasionally, I use Nail Envy as a basecoat and this seems to be a good protective layer which stops my nails from being any worse after a few days under polish.

Another thing I have been making myself do to protect my hands is to always wear marigolds when washing dishes or cleaning my kitchen and bathroom, etc. I absolutely hate wearing rubber gloves and they sort of give me the heebie-jeebies but I'm getting into the habit of just putting them on and getting on with it!

The result of my hand rehab is, I can gladly say, much stronger, harder, and better looking nails that do not break and flake. My poor neglected hands can finally thank me for showing them some love at last!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Days Out: Glasgow Riverside Museum

Glasgow's new Riverside Museum is a great place to visit with or without children. My friend came through from Edinburgh last week and we decided to amuse our kids with a trip there.
How could I not photograph this train marked with my initials?

Rather funky bus

One end of the 'street'

This would have been the tram to my neck of the woods!

I have always been a fan of Glasgow's Transport Museum and I approve of its new home in this stunning Zaha Hadid building by the river Clyde. Unfortunately none of my photos do justice to the building's beautiful exterior but it is an amazing water-inspired piece of design which reflects the life of the river around it. The museum informs us of Glasgow's history as a major centre of shipbuilding as well as other forms of transport that have defined the city over time.

My 18 month old son enjoyed this as much as my friend's 12 year old. Both could get their hands on interactive displays as well as exploring the mocked-up old Glasgow street complete with an original style underground train station, shops and Italian ice cream parlour.

Forever an advocate of my wonderful city, I am pleased to say that Glasgow makes its museums and art galleries free regardless of whether you are resident or visitor to the city. This means my children will have free and unlimited access to many great cultural resources around the city just as I did growing up. And you can too!

Find out more about The Riverside Museum and other Glasgow museums at the Glasgow Life website.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Days out: Culzean Castle

It's time to renew that National Trust membership and start taking advantage of the longer, brighter days for some serious day-tripping!

Today we had a gorgeous family day out with the cousins and Granny & Papa to Culzean Castle in Ayrshire.  I can never get over the view out of the big windows in the round drawing room, looking out directly over the Firth of Clyde. Whenever I go I want to renew my wedding vows just so I can have the reception in here. It is utterly dramatic!

Click the link here for more information on Culzean.

The National Trust for Scotland are currently offering 15 months' membership for the price of 9. For a family membership this will means £65.25 for 15 months. Visit

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Make! Kedgeree

My mum often cooked kedgeree for us when we were kids, so it's one of those meals I always associate with my childhood and it gives me that warm and fuzzy comfort feeling. Do you have those meals that give you a funny nostalgic vibe?

Anyway, this is a nice easy and balanced meal to feed your family so it's no wonder it was one of mum's favourites. Most of the ingredients are larder staples and I had some smoked haddock and peas in my freezer.

A great recipe for kedgeree can be found here courtesy of the Hairy Bikers, but it is a bit of a decadent recipe that I find a little OTT for everyday. So I adapted mine using milk instead of cream and brown instead of white basmati rice to make it a little more wholesome for our lunch today. This is amazing served up with boiled eggs, fresh parsley and lemon wedges. The kids ate this very happily too.

Spring shades

Firstly, I'd like to thank the sun for coming out today. Spring looks like it is finally making an appearance, and I am getting into the mood big time. Secondly I'm thanking my gorgeous sister-in-law K for this dress which I love. Also sporting Essie's Lilacism on nails which is the kind of pretty pastel I adore. I also had a few large coffees today which I think has contributed significantly to my overenthusiastic 'springy' feeling! Rather. Here's to the beautiful season.

Nails in 'Lilacism' by Essie 
Dress from Dorothy Perkins