Review: Lunch at Bill’s Brighton

Living in Brighton, I’m not sure I know of one person that doesn’t love Bill’s. Being a local brand it just feels part of our city and our Brightonian culture. There is something special about the atmosphere, there is always such a buzz, the food is delicious and it’s a friendly meeting point for many, at any time of the day. Although Bill’s is nationwide now, it actually started close to home just up the road in Lewes, with the Brighton restaurant the first to open after the success in Lewes, so they always seem to me like a small local business.

A couple of week’s ago Bill’s Brighton had a complete redesign – adding a touch more glamour to venue (which was before Bill’s a bus depot!) they now offer 50 more seats, launched a brand new Summer Menu and the best part, a sundowners cocktail menu (which looks amazing!). They had a glitzy relaunch party which I was invited to but evenings aren’t so easy with a little one, so I watched the fun from afar (good old Instastories!) Quite a shame, as I quite fancied a sundowner or two! Instead, I popped into Bill’s for a leisurely lunch, which was much more Violet-appropriate.

The new redesign certainly makes the inside of the venue feel bigger, I love the new decor too – They seem to have found the perfect balance of homely and friendly with a touch of glam. It’s easy to see how the venue can be transformed from a brunch spot to a cocktail bar as the day goes on.  The above snap was a rare quiet moment when we arrived, however within minutes there were people jostling for seats and the background buzz of chatter ramped up a notch or two. There is an extended mezzanine area for dining too, so there is a huge amount of seating now as Bill’s does tend to fill up quickly. Getting in and out with a pushchair wasn’t easy, the mix of dining room chairs and plush armchairs meant it’s a bit of a maze, but during the day most people in there were families, so I think everyone just ‘gets it’ and were more than happy to help me squeeze by.

I met up with my friend Andrea for a catch-up over a Bill’s Pink Lemonade and to see what the new menu is all about, and of course so she could get some Violet cuddles in too.

I haven’t been to Bill’s in a while, but the first thing I noticed is how extensive the menu has become (I swear there wasn’t that much choice before -or is it because I always used to get a fish finger sandwich?). It took me quite a while to decide on what I wanted, I was tempted by options such as the macaroni cheese, halloumi burger, plus of course I was thrilled to see they had the fish finger sandwich still in place – but feeling summery and tempted by a colourful selection of baby kale, pomegranate, asparagus and  watermelon – I went for the Bills Summer Salad with a side of Sweet Potato fries (oh come on, I wasn’t going to be THAT healthy) – all washed down with a classic the Bill’s Pink Lemonade, which is the perfect summer drink, served over ice and strawberries.

Andrea went of the Golden Fried Sesame Pork Dumplings with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce, followed by the Chicken Caesar Salad, which although I don’t eat chicken looked particularly tasty and the chicken chargrilled to absolute perfection.

Sadly, Andrea had to get back to work after her main course, so missed out on the epic pudding menu! Violet had been a nightmare that morning, I’d pushed her all around town trying to get her to drop off to sleep before our lunch as I knew she’d just be overtired, however she didn’t finally give in to a good sleep right to the last minute, so I decided to make the most of it and ordered another Bill’s Pink Lemonade and a Raspberry and Peach Crumble (with Salted Caramel sauce!) to myself, so I sat enjoying the moment of sheer indulgence and peace and quite on my own! It was absolute bliss!

We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch date at Bill’s Brighton and sampling the new menu. I loved the new decor inside, it’s quirky, electric and chic with that buzzy feeling Bill’s always has. The perfect place for anything from brunch, lunch, afternoon tea or cocktails – Bill’s is open from ‘breakfast to bedtime’ and covers all bases under one roof!

Thanks for letting us visit and try out the new menu – I’ll be back soon no doubt to try out the rest of my favourite dishes! 

I was offered a complimentary meal at Bill’s Brighton in return for an open and honest review – all words and opinions are my own

Getting out and about with a new baby: My Ergobaby 360 review

As a new Mum I found getting out and about with a newborn baby incredibly difficult. I never thought that would happen as where I live in Brighton, I see new parents parading along the seafront every day with the tiniest of babies – sleeping peacefully in their prams whilst their parents stroll along enjoying an ice cream in the sun. For us, Violet wouldn’t settle in her  pram for weeks – I felt totally stuck and stayed in the house a lot. At about 5 weeks and about to lose my marbles, I decided I’d try babywearing as I needed to leave the house and start getting some normality back to our lives.

As Violet was a tiny baby at 6lbs 2oz, my first jaunt into babywearing land was a stretchy fabric wrap. This had been recommended by a friend for smaller babies, so I gave that a go. That day, I managed to get out of the house to our local Tesco and honestly, it sounds like a small thing now but I was so proud of myself going out on my own with the baby I even took a selfie of me holding up my Tesco shopping bags, a tiny baby tied to my front! It’s funny how little things can seem so hard for new parents. I still remember that day so well.

I was pleased for the extra freedom of the wrap, but something inside wouldn’t let me relax when I was using it, it felt pretty stretchy and with a complex method of tying it up I always questioned myself – had I tied it too loose, too tight? Could Violet fall out? I didn’t go far from the house with it for fear it would come loose, in the end I decided it just wasn’t working for us and gave up on the wrap.

I then scoured the Internet for an alternative and discovered the Ergobaby 360, which I could use from 7lbs with their newborn insert snug. Perfect! This seemed far sturdier, safer and something we’d both be able to relax in.

So, zooming forward – that was nearly 5 months ago now. Wow, time flies when you are having fun and this is a long overdue review of one of the most useful baby products we have used to date. Violet is just about to turn 5 months and I use our Ergobaby 360 every day without fail, sometimes if it’s a bit of a clingy day (like today) multiple times (today was 6 different times, including one hour long nap). As I’ve been using our Ergobaby 360 so much today I thought today would be the perfect time to write up my review and share with you why this carrier has been the one for us. I also found these adorable photos we took of Violet in her carrier on our first walk, so I couldn’t resist sharing these too.

Lets start off with some facts about the Ergobaby 360…

  • 4 carrying positions – Forward facing (0-4 months), Outward Facing (6 months+), Side Carry (6 months+) and Back Carry (6 months+)
  • Suitable for babies 7lbs – 33lbs
  • Ergonomic in all positions
  • Adjustable padded straps and waist band for comfort
  • Loads of funky designs and colours
  • Machine Washable

Wearing the carrier – as you can see from this picture of the back, the large waistband is super comfy and is really supportive to the lower back area (which after pregnancy was really sore for me) – there is also comfy shoulder straps and a clip at the top to keep everything super secure and safe. This seems to spread the weight evenly across my back meaning I can wear the carrier for longer without feeling too strained. I have tried out quite a few carriers now (around 4 or 5) and this by far has been the best on my back, even on longer walks and as Violet gets heavier over time.

The straps are also really easy to put on and click into place safely – something I just didn’t feel with a stretchy wrap type carrier.

As we used our Ergobaby 360 from when Violet was very small (7lbs onwards) we used it with the newborn insert – which is like a little booster seat that brings them high enough to be close to you and to sit comfortably within the straps. We also used it with the neck support buttoned up, although now she is bigger we usually have this folded down so she can have a good look about for for the forward facing setting too.

We have the Dewy Grey design which has a gorgeous light grey lining with white raindrops too, which is a really pretty touch to what looks like a very sensible baby carrier.

The padded ‘seat’ part is ergonomically designed for babies to be comfortable in all positions, whether facing forward or inwards.

There is also a privacy hood that is also UPF 50+ which is really handy on sunny days when I’ve forgotten the sunhat or even if we are caught in the rain. If Violet falls asleep when she’s in the carrier I usually pop the neck support up and the cover over so she can have a good nap, this seems to keep her asleep for longer which is always good – I do this around the house on days she’s unsettled and have been known to write blog posts standing in the house with our Ergobaby on!

So, that was a whistle stop tour of the Ergobaby 360. I’d highly, highly recommend this carrier – we absolutely LOVE ours and like I said earlier in the post, wear it daily, multiple times a day. I use it at home, out on walks, on day trips and it even came on holiday with us. If you watch me on Instastories, you’ll see I use it a lot! It’s just such a well thought out design, they’ve catered for every eventuality, rain or shine, babies big or small – they’ve got you covered.

Ergobaby 360 retails for £134.90 and you can order here. Don’t forget that if your baby is under 12lbs, you’ll need the order here too.

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Summer Beauty Picks

As a new Mum I think it’s really important to try and keep up some kind of beauty regime if that is what you were used to before babies. Even if your regime is lot quicker than it was previously it’s important to just to keep some sort of identity and also to ensure you are feeling at your best, so you can be the best Mum you can be at all times. When Violet was a newborn I spent weeks in my PJs, with my hair in a bun (usually stuck together with baby sick) and no make-up. I soon realised that was part of the reason I stopped feeling like me – I’d forgotten to care for myself. I personally feel like I make a better Mum if I care for myself too, so I wanted to share a few of my favourite Summer Beauty products that have given me a boost in the last few months and helped me to feel like me again! As I don’t often post beauty posts, this will be a bit of a ‘bumper post‘ but bear with me, there are some great products here worth talking about!

SKINCARE

When it comes to skincare, my normal day-to-day cleanse, tone, moisturise routine is pretty samey so I won’t bore you with that here – instead I wanted to talk about the additional products I use on my skin that have that extra wow-factor and leave my skin feeling super pampered….

Heaven New Edition Cleansing Cream | Heaven Chamomile Densitising Hydrogel | Bio-Essence 24k Bio-Gold

So, first up I wanted to talk about the Heaven Skincare range. This is a brand I’ve only just discovered as I was recently invited to a blog event at The Grand Hotel in Brighton, where Heaven Skincare is now the range of products they use within their spa for treatments. The event was to try out some of the products and meet the owner and creator of the brand Deborah Mitchell, who was a super creative, inspiring lady who has been in the industry years, eventually creating her own brand -She even does beauty treatments for the Royal Family so we enjoyed hearing some of the stories about that! We were given a goodie bag of treats to take home, so here are my two favourites from that – the New Edition Cleansing Cream and Chamomile Desensitising Hydrogel. One of the things I really love about the Heaven Skincare range is that all of the products are totally natural, with no preservatives, so when you read the ingredients you aren’t slathering your skin with chemicals. She also has come up with some rather radical ideas too – such as Prism technology that reacts to light, even the light from your computer or smart phone – this comes with a rainbow-light app that visibly plumps the skin and adds a radiant glow within seconds. I know, you have to see it to believe it! I look forward to giving more of the range a go soon.

Second on my list of slightly unusual but awesome skincare products is the 24k Bio-Essence Gold Water – If slapping gold on your face doesn’t make you feel like a princess in the mornings, I don’t know what will! Bio-Essence Gold Water is applied like a serum after cleansing and quickly absorbs into the skin. I was particularly excited about this one as it genuinely has shimmering gold pieces within the product, making it feel just that little bit extra special. Apart from the bling-factor, I’ve now learned that using gold on your skin is said to be a superior anti-oxidant which effectively blocks away free radicals to help skin defy signs of ageing. Bio-Essence Gold water helps to tighten pores, boost firmness and suppleness, plump wrinkles, balance sebum and give a luminous radiance. I’ve been using this product around a month and have certainly noticed softer, more radiant skin – so in my opinion this one is a win!

Image Biomolecular Anti-Ageing Radiance Mask

I’ve always been one for face masks – especially in the bath, with a good book – that is my idea of heaven. Before baby I tried to apply a mask to my skin at least once a week, now it’s more like once a month if I’m lucky as I just don’t get the time. However, just recently I’ve found that I can save time by using a sheet mask. Although I think it makes me look like a crazy about to rob a bank (they look like balaclavas!) they are so quick to just peel out of the packaging and pop on and then peel off again, rather than slathering on a traditional mask, usually making a mess along the way (if you are like me). One of my favourites has got to be the Image Skincare range, especially the Biomolecular Anti-Ageing Radiance Mask. It’s so cooling and refreshing to apply, you can literally feel the goodness sinking into your skin from the word go. This always leaves my skin feeling so rehydrated and silky smooth, even a few days on.

Necta Perfecta Beautifying Mask by Bee Good

The Necta Nerfecta Beautifying Mask is a product I’ve been wanting to try for SO LONG and I finally got my hands on this little beauty and I haven’t been disappointed at all. if anything I’ve been more wow-ed than I expected! I’m not sure what I was expecting to be honest, probably a standard face mask with a honey twist, but this isn’t like anything I’ve tried before. The blend is thick and balmy, literally like applying a sweet honey bees wax to your face. It’s just gorgeous and so luxurious. I also love that this is a 4-in-1 mask which means I can just go to town in lots of different areas at once, again a luxury product that is a time saver too (can you see the pattern here!). This handy mask is not just for the face but also can be used as a weekly scalp treatment, an SOS mask on dry and ‘challenged’ areas or a hand rescue remedy too. I also love Bee Good as a brand, I’ve used their products for a few years now and love supporting a British company that is so kind to our friends, the bee!

MAKE-UP

Onto make-up now. I mainly wear the same daily make-up that I can now apply in about 2-3 minutes. I’ve even  learned to do it one handed too (the things we do!) However, like with skincare I’ve learned that a little extra goes a long way – a bold lip for example can totally change a look and makes me feel great too. I feel like you can’t have a bad day if you have a bold lipstick on or glitter eyes, so I’m rolling with that and it seems to be working. So, with that in mind, here are a few additions to my makeup bag….

Carrying on my theme of timesaving – I’ve been loving bold lip shades that last. Honestly, if you don’t have much time for makeup in the morning, my tip is to apply a bold colour in a lasting formula, like these 12 hour Timeless “kissproof” lipsticks by Lord & Berry. They stay on no matter how much cold tea you sip and you can actually fool people that you put some effort into your makeup. Perfect!

This one was a naughty treat to myself. I’ve been looking for a bold metallic eye shadow forever (honestly, for years) that actually pops with a bright shimmer when you use it and THIS IS IT. I’ve finally found my dream glitter eye! This is the Stila Magnificent Metals Foil Finish Eyeshadow in Metallic Dusty Rose it is so, so beautiful! It comes with this super cute little primer with a tray and dropper (that are so mini you’d think they were for borrowers) so you can blend it and create different looks. I love using this for a sweep of shimmer using an eyeliner brush or a bolder more dazzling look all over the lid.

Last on my list is this gorgeous eyeshadow palette – it’s the Estée Lauder Smoky Nights palette. I realised not so long ago that I’ve been wearing the same eyeshadow blends for nearly 4 years now (!). My go-to palette is the Urban Decay Naked 3, I’m on my second one as I wore my favourite shades out on the first one, but I think now it’s time to try some new looks. I love a smoky eye, so the Smoky Nights palette was perfect for creating a slightly bolder look with some lovely purples and blues – my favourite!

 

So, if you’ve read this far – thanks for sticking around through a MASSIVE beauty update post – I hope you found some fab product recommendations here. Let me know what you thought of my favourite summer products and if you have any favourites at the moment, share them in the comments below! 🙂 

 

Post contains PR samples – words and opinions are my own

Bathtime fun with Summer Infant Lil’ Luxuries Whirlpool, Bubbling Spa & Shower

Following on from my previous post, I thought I’d continue on the bath time theme by talking about another product that has really helped us make bath time as calming and as fun as possible for Violet – even in those early stages when times were really tough. We’ve gone from bath time being something of fear and dread (probably for us all!) to a really fun experience where we sing songs and have a good old splash about.

Our secret is a rather snazzy baby bath. When I saw the Summer Infant Lil’ Luxuries Whirlpool, Bubbling Spa & Shower, I just knew it was the one for us. I mean, isn’t owning a jacuzzi every girls dream? Being a bath-lover it is certainly mine and as they didn’t do them in my size, I thought maybe Violet would like a whirl (haha, get it) herself. So, yes she does own the most extravagant of baby baths, but she loves it and it’s totally changed our bath time experience so it must be doing something right!

So, whats so snazzy about this bath? Firstly, it’s a good sturdy size with plenty of room for your baby to grow, you can use either in your own bathtub or just on the floor, however I find using it inside our bath easier as you can let the water out easily and top-up the shower section with ease too. It has thick double insulated walls which helps to keep the temperature of the water warm (which is really important if you are a paranoid mother like me who uses a bath thermometer numerous times before putting her baby in). The bath has a detachable section which houses a water tank and shower unit, it’s also where the controls of the whirlpool and jets are placed.

At the moment as Violet is still too young to support herself, we are using the soft Newborn Sling that is provided with the Whirlpool Bath. It has a soft and cushioned headrest, with an ample fabric sling that really helped to keep her safe, secure and well supported during bath time. This also helps when bathing her alone as it’s tricky to hold her with one hand and access her shampoo/bubble bath with the other, so the support definitely helps the bath be slightly more ‘hands free’ in that department (although obviously I wouldn’t leave her totally unattended on there!). Only slight niggle with the newborn sling is that the fabric is quite often popping off the frame, this doesn’t seem to interfere too much but is a bit frustrating.

The super snazzy bit is the whirlpool settings – one is more of a water jet, the other is bubbles coming from the base of the bath. I’d say with the newborn sling in place, the bubbles are quite subtle as they are mainly absorbed by the sling but this is quite nice when they are so little as it’s more of a gentle massage or vibration at this stage which is calming, relaxing and not too overwhelming. I think when she can support herself and sit up unaided she will really be able to enjoy the bubbles a bit more, so far she is starting to kick her legs in the water, so she’s getting there with starting to learn to splash about!

The last feature is the shower head – the water comes from the tank rather than the mains, so you can check the temperature before you use. The shower is not amazingly powerful – which if it were a shower for me, I’d be disappointed with, but as Violet didn’t like water on her head at first, this was really handy as the water is so gentle. She doesn’t seem as affected by it as she would be if we were washing her down with a jug or even a handful of water (a side note is that I think her Waterbabies lessons have helped her with this too!)

So, as you can see from the pictures, Violet is thoroughly enjoying her baths these days and is one happy smily girl – I can’t actually wait for her to be interested in bubbles, rubber ducks and playing with beakers now! I’d definitely recommend the Summer Infant Lil’ Luxuries Whirlpool, Bubbling Spa & Shower, although I do think it has quite a high end price tag at £69.99  although I have seen it on sale on the website for £49.99 which is much more reasonable! I think we’ll also be using it for quite some time as it’s big enough to use right up to 2 years.

I absolutely love some of the Summer Infant products, I think what I love is that they take an adult sized product and shrink it down to baby size, like these amazingly cute little toilets (yes really!) which are going to be fab for potty training. Maybe we’ll have to add this to the collection down the line and create Violet a whole mini bathroom for herself one day!

 

Post written in collaboration with Summer Infant – all thoughts and opinions are my own

Review: Baby Dove Sensitive Range

When we first started bathing Violet, things really didn’t go to plan. Before I had a baby I envisioned our bath time being a sweet, bonding experience – I’d have a cute newborn splashing away in the warm water with a cute dollop of bubbles on top her head. Switch to reality and we had a screaming tiny baby, who hated bath time with a fiery passion. She screamed so much, her cries sounded like a bleating lamb, it was so stressful for us all. I also used baby soap for the first time and immediately she came out in a nasty red, itchy rash. I felt like a terrible Mum, not only had I tormented her with a bath but now I’d aggravated her soft, gorgeous baby skin. Well done me. 

Roll on another few weeks and I think we’ve just about cracked bath time after a huge amount of trial and error to reach an equilibrium with it all. The first big change is that she actually likes being in the bath now, she’s used to the warm water and enjoys splashing her feet. As long as we are quick, we can get through bath time without a peep. She hates being cold so we realised a big warm fluffy towel before and after really helps to soothe her into things and helps her to relax.

Secondly, we’ve finally found a product suitable for her super, super delicate skin –  the Baby Dove Sensitive Range. It’s so gentle and fragrance free, so finally we have something that agrees with her skin.

Dove is a brand that has been around for years and years, in fact I’ve been using their products since I was a little girl, so it made sense to me to give the new Baby Dove range a go on Violet’s skin too. Dove have actually been creating gentle and mild products for 60 years now, would you believe it! Baby Dove is the new addition to their growing compliment of products and this new range goes beyond mildness to replenish essential moisture and nutrients in baby skin. It’s dermatologist tested, paediatrician approved and safe to use every day – even on newborns.

The Baby Dove Sensitive range includes three products, the Head to Toe Baby Wash, Lotion and Wipes. All of which are fragrance-free to take extra special care of babies with sensitive skin, it’s also hypoallergenic so clinically proven to minimise allergy risks and is pH neutral with tear-free cleansers.

The first product we tried from the range was the Baby Dove Sensitive Moisture Head to Toe Wash. This is perfect as it’s an all-in-one baby wash, meaning we could keep bath times quick and easy, seeing as she is still just getting used to the sensation. The thick, creamy wash was so delicate on the skin, creating a rich lather with absolutely no scent at all.

We treat her bath as part of Violet’s bed time routine, so after her bath, I like to wrap her in a warm fluffy towel and give her a baby massage to calm and soothe her for the night ahead. She’s had some dry skin since her birth, so the Baby Dove Lotion helped to moisturise these areas, locking in the moisture for 24 hours.

The last product in the range is the Baby Dove Sensitive Wipes – I really loved these for nappy changes as they are so soft and gentle and the only wipe I’ve found to be moisturising to the skin without any harsh fragrances.

Using the Baby Dove Sensitive range has worked so well for us after our bathing disaster beforehand – it’s the only product I’ve found gentle enough to use on her skin and we’ve been so impressed by the impressive moisturising qualities for such a mild, gentle product.

Baby Dove believe that “there are no perfect mothers, only real ones” and after my bath time experience (well, and motherhood in general) I couldn’t agree more. The media portray this image of the perfect mother and before Violet arrived I naively thought that would be me, but things just don’t pan out like that. You can’t odds that your baby will hate baths or have super sensitive skin. We are all just doing the best we can and it’s uplifting to know that as mothers we are recognised and supported for that.

“From choosing a preferred way of feeding, educating and disciplining their child, or deciding if and when to go back to work, the Real Mothers Heard study revealed split views among women, ultimately showing there is not one ‘right way’ to parent. Even more interestingly, we note that all over the world, mothers are feeling the same way. We want mothers to know that when it comes to themselves and their babies, they really do know best.” – Baby Dove

Baby Dove is available in two ranges, Rich Moisture or the Sensitive Moisture. You can purchase them in stores nationwide.

This post was produced in association with Baby Dove