Why I decided to take up an Interior Design diploma

Sometime last year I opened up my laptop and googled 'Interior Design courses near me'. I'd been thinking for a while that as the kids were getting older (and Mabli started nursery school) that I wanted to pursue an interest outside of being a mum. It also needed to be something I could fit around childcare so I also wanted it to be something I could be studying from home. I found an online interior design diploma course from the University of Nottingham and am now almost halfway through a year-long diploma.
Ferm living wallpaper - interior design diploma

Interior Design is something I have always naturally been interested in, from doing up the first home that we bought ten years ago to move to our new house a year and a half ago. I also recently set up a separate 'home account' on Instagram to show all the bits and bobs we are doing to our place. I think that the incentive to post more about home and interior related content has just naturally occurred as we are coming out of the baby/preschooler days and whilst those years can be so consuming I feel like my brain has a little more space to think about other things finally.

midcentry modern bathroom interior design

I've been asked quite a lot on Instagram for details on the course and how I'm finding it so I thought it might be useful to pop some more details into a full blog post.

interior design courses online
Interior Design courses near me nottingham university

For starters, the course is via the University of Nottingham. I wanted to do a distance learning course that I could start straight away (rather than waiting on certain term dates which others seemed to offer). The course cost £695 in full (although I think you can pay this in installments also) and you can complete each section of the course by the deadlines given or by extending them if needing to (which I've had to do a few times!).
The pros of the course have definitely been how flexible it is. I had hoped to fly through the assignments but life (and especially life with small children) don't always make that so easy. So for the flexibility aspect, I think it's brilliant. The cons, however, have been a little unexpected. I'm not sure if it's this particular course or just that it's been ten years since I've been in formal education but I've found the structure of the course and the marking of it very wooden. I'm reminded when it comes to things like art and design a lot of it is simply one person's personal aesthetic preference over another. I know this from my degree in graphic design and illustration but somehow being out of that 'system' for over a decade it's a hard one to get used to again!

I'm also not sure if it's my age and the fact I am now a parent but getting back into the whole 'student' mindset again has been a trickier adjustment. I'm used to speaking to people as if I'm their equals now I am of similar age whereas I guess at 18 I would be more used to speaking to tutors as them being the 'adults' especially just coming straight from school. I think this also could be seen as a con of visual learning, reading peoples comments in email is really different from speaking to someone face to face. I think being able to ask questions would be much easier in person but that being said there is always the option to send messages whenever.

As the course, I'm doing now isn't a continuation from my degree (like masters or Ph.D.) that you'd expect to find older students in I think the tone of the course and marking feels a little bit more 'school-like'. A diploma is generally taken between A-Level and Degree level so I'm only assuming perhaps the other students aren't in their 30's. That being said I'm really enjoying the actual subject matter and learning about the different aspects of interior design.

It's important to me to learn more about the process behind Interior Design as I become more passionate about creating that kind of content here and on Instagram. I'm not really sure where it will lead me but it's nice to have a change and use a different part of my brain for a bit too! 


We Like to Read

Madame Badobedah by Sophie Dahl
Madame Badobedah by Sophie Dahl, Sophie Dahl book review,  Lauren O'Hara, O'Hara sisters, 
Madame Badobedah by Sophie Dahl

'A timeless story celebrating friendship and imagination, from an exciting new voice in children's literature.
Mabel lives with her parents in The Mermaid Hotel, by the sea. Mabel likes to keep an eye on the comings and goings of all the guests. Then one day a particularly in-ter-est-ing old lady comes to stay. There is something very suspicious about her, with her growly voice and her heavy trunks and her beady-eyed tortoise. And why does no one know her REAL name? There can only be one answer, Mabel decides ... this guest is a SUPERVILLAIN'

The O'Hara sisters have collaborated with Sophie Dahl in the making of this beautiful book. Sophie's first book is a lovely seaside tale full of all the best types of characters like pirates! We own a few of the O'Hara sister's books such as Hortense and the Shadow which I would really recommend too! 

(affiliate link)


Our 5 best family holiday destinations

Whilst we aren't planning on any family holidays abroad this year I thought it would be fun to share our best family holiday destinations. They are all places we would definitely re-visit at some point and wholeheartedly recommend. 

Efteling Holidays -
This was one of our most magical family trips away and we would love to revisit sometime in the future. We visited winter Efteling around Christmas a couple of years ago which was incredible. I have to say we aren't usually fans of 'theme park' type holidays (having visited Disneyland Paris and not really enjoyed it at all) but Efteling we couldn't recommend enough. Efteling is a fantasy-themed amusement park in Kaatsheuvel in the Netherlands. The attractions are based on fairy tales from the Netherlands. It also feels really outdoorsy as you can stay at the lake and there is lots of woodland and greenery. You can see our blog post about it here.

Efteling is a fantasy-themed amusement park

Iberostar Anthelia -
For an all-inclusive stress-free family holiday in a beautiful location and great food I honestly don't think you could want anything more than Iberostar Anthelia Costa Adeje Tenerife. This is one of those trips that although we were only there for three full days we can't stop reminiscing about. We went for the all-inclusive package which a few people asked me about when booking for themselves and I would really recommend if you can as it made a relaxing break even more so (those all-inclusive cocktails went down very well!). We are hoping to return next year fingers crossed. You can read about our stay here.

Iberostar Anthelia

Tresco Isles of Scilly -

For the UK I don't think you could get anywhere more outstanding that the Isle of Scilly. We were blown away that was even still in the UK as it felt like a tropical island. The travel there was pretty full-on (we went there via the plane then back via the ferry as the 6 seater plane was not for the faint of heart - or those who have a fear of flying!). We visited Tresco and stayed in a self-catering cottage there and then moved to Hell Bay and stayed in a hotel for a couple of nights. Find out what we thought of each accommodation here. 

Tresco Isles of Scilly

Aloha Village Parc in Serigan Plage

I'm a huge fan of Eurocamp so when we saw this one run in an Aloha camp in the south of France looked perfect. Especially with its Tiki-themed mobile homes. I think they are so perfectly set up for families and their facilities are always really reliable, clean and friendly. We visited this one when Mabli was just a few months old it was such an easy holiday we would happily return.

Aloha Village Parc in Serigan Plage


The first family trip we ever took out of the country was to Paris. I think some people might not think that there were many activities in Paris for families, especially those with toddlers but we found the total opposite. It felt like every other street we would stumble upon a park or great children's shop or friendly cafe. We loved it so much and even better that you can just hop on the Eurostar to get there. You can read our posts on Paris here.

activities in Paris for families


We like to Read

the steves by morag hood
picture books about conflict resolution, the steves by Morag Hood

'When Steve meets Steve, neither can believe it. Surely one of them must be the first Steve, the best Steve, the Stevest Steve . . . The claims of each puffin become sillier and sillier as the argument descends into name-calling – until both Steves realize there’s really no need to fall out over a name. 
The feuding puffins perfectly reflect the sort of silly arguments children have – and The Steves shows just how pointless they are. The bold, brilliantly coloured, graphic illustrations will have you laughing out loud in this glorious book from Morag Hood, creator of the hilarious Colin and Lee, Carrot and Pea and I Am Bat' 

This is a firm favourite at bedtime round here! A great way to discuss subjects like arguments and wanting to be right with little ones. It's also brilliantly funny! 

Available via here 

(affiliate link)


Wish List - Four Jumpers I'm loving right now

winter jumpers ladies

winter jumpers ladies  winter jumpers female best jumpers 2019 
Blue Puff Sleeve Cable 
Red Tie Neck Cashmere-Wool (on sale)
Serena Jumper 
Striped Pullover 


Tom's easy vegan mac and cheese

easy vegan mac and cheese recipe

This is one of our family favorite recipes and I am awful at actually sharing the things we eat over here despite it being one of our most requested posts. So finally here you go! I also recorded making this recipe with my friend Bethie (Hungermama) on her podcast 'Friends with Recipes' 
easy vegan mac and cheese, easy vegan mac n cheese, easy vegan mac and cheese recipe, 


one head of cauliflower, chopped
two medium-sized carrots, chopped
a handful of cashews (soaked for five minutes in boiling water) 1 teaspoon celery salt
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (garnish)
a glug of olive oil
juice of half a lemon
cup of nut milk
salt and pepper
250g macaroni pasta

  1. 1  preheat oven to 200oC (400oF)
  2. 2  cook the macaroni until al dente
  3. 3  boil the cashews, cauliflower and carrots until so!4  drain the veg, but retain a mugful of the water
    5  blend the veg together with celery salt, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, turmeric, dijon mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, nut milk, and salt and pepper
    6  use the retained cooking water to thin out the mixture
    7  place the cooked macaroni in an oven dish and pour the sauce overtop and mix
    8  top with breadcrumbs and smoked paprika
    9  bake 10-15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are toasty

Retro Stripes and Salmon Pink

portishead lido sixties fashion shoot
portishead lido sixties fashion shoot asos
portishead lido

I found these in my drafts and now I'm not even sure if I posted them??
Flashback to summer two years ago
I miss the sun! My baby faced knees need to make a comeback

Photos by Lauren Jayne Hall
location Portishead Lido


What the last ten years have taught me

lessons ive learnt from the past ten years
ten things ive learnt in the past ten years what the last ten years have taught me about life, lessons ive learnt from the past ten years

Into the unknoooooown

Kids back at school/nursery (with a few tears at drop off for Mabli, ah so hard!) but hopefully getting back into routines.. new year, fresh starts you know how it goes.
Although I've yet to really feel like I've got my head into that mindset yet. It feels much like the fog that engulfed Bristol a couple of days after Christmas. So beautiful and eery and great for taking pics ;)

It's WILD to think its a new decade and that it's such a space-age number like 2020, what! The past ten years have been full of so many big moments that any other decade will find hard to top. We ticked off some of the big ones, house, kids, marriage as well as less conventional things like quitting our jobs and working from home together. I've been blogging since 2010 so this marks ten years over on this space. I think if I can get it together enough I might do a little round-up of the things I've recorded over here.

That's not to say the last ten years have been a breeze. There are have been many losses, a baby, my mum's health and a family estrangement.

Life isn't always so clear or easy and it's sometimes hard to see where your path will take you or even if you are on the right one at the moment. There is a huge amount of pressure to have set goals or to be starting a new year inspired to do this or that and a new decade feels like even more pressure. It's ok to not know where it will take you, or to feel like you even know what you would like that to look like.

It's mad to think that by the end of this decade Wilf will likely be leaving home and Mabli will be fully emerged in being a teenager. I honestly have NO idea what my life will look like with grown-up kids, it's certainly an unknown that I'm apprehensive about. I know that amongst the hard times in the early years with little children things can feel relentless but I also know that these will and have been the best so far in my life. I'm scared to lose that and I'm scared of not appreciating it enough as I'm in it.

ten things ive learnt in the past ten years
what the last ten years have taught me about life

Until then I'll be singing Frozen songs with both my kids as much as possible thank you very much

Some of the most important things I have learned in the last ten years would probably be, don't be scared of trying a failing. Some of you might remember the online homeware and accessories shop I set up and ran for four years. Let me tell you it barely broke even through those years (in fact I'm pretty sure it ran into a loss there at the end). It was SO much work for little return but it was my dream to be a retailer for so long that I'm glad I tried it despite it failing.
That being said I'm glad I saw when to stop. I'm glad I realised that other avenues worked better and focussed and worked hard at those without the worry that those too would fail.

Don't get burnt out, everything will suffer. Take breaks, make time to read books even if you have no time. Your home will almost certainly always be messy if you have kids, don't sweat it too much.

Make sure you are the most generous person in the room. Kindness is always the most important thing. My mum once told me when I feeling particularly jealous and sad and angry (shortly after my miscarriage about anyone with a healthy baby or pregnancy) she said 'collect kindness points' every time you feel like doing or thinking the exact opposite, think of it as reaching a goal and reward yourself with each kindness point you collect'.

Clean out toxic people, you don't owe them anything but you owe yourself not to be hurt by them.

Don't compare yourself to others (this one is SO hard and I fail at it often)

Learn how to forgive yourself, I have said stupid things or acted in certain ways that when I think on it can lead to a spiral of thought that it was all-consuming and destructive. Forgiving myself is as important as to try and to fail.

Meet friends, make time for dates, make sure you leave the house once a day even if it's just the school run or a trip to the shops.

Take lots of photos!

Thanks for reading and to everyone that has been reading for a decade!! 


For the Kiddo

childrens clothing for sale

childrens clothing sale uk childrens clothing for sale alex and alexa toosta billi blush weekend house kids 
It's been a while since I've done a kids collection round-up but here we go!

1, Weekend House Kids 
2, Via Alex and Alexa 
3, Tootsa jacket (now on sale)
4, BilliBlush jumper (also now on sale)

(contains affiliate links


Our Christmas 2019

Avon Valley Christmas
christmas time with family, christmas is family time , christmas time family time, 
christmas a time for family and friends
I'm not really making resolutions this year (apart from the general, maybe drink a little less, exercise more, go to bed earlier) but one thing I'm intending to do is to blog over here more. This year marks ten years of recording my thoughts down on this little space. I would never have thought I could have kept up with something for so long to be honest! Back in the day, I would blog at least once a day but as times have changed, Instagram too off and the introduction of stories I think naturally I used this space a little less.
That being said it's pretty much the only space I feel really free to write, I don't worry about or algorithms or likes. It's a space that feels a little calmer and slower. When I posted a few throwback posts and pictures over on my Instagram stories I had so many lovely readers message me to say they had been following my life for a decade (crazy!) or that they missed reading my blog. So for that handful of people, this is for you ;)

Avon Valley Christmas tigerlilly quinn
British Shorthair Cat

Our Christmas has felt a mix of very relaxing and very stressful, I imagine that probably sums up Christmas for many. Relaxing in part because this year I've really embraced unplugging, playing board games, watching TV and spending time with friends and family. My youngest siblings spent the big day with us which was really lovely. I think it really made Wilf's Christmas in particular as he's had so many people to play with. The age gap between me and my youngest siblings in the same as between them and my children which is kinda odd I guess but works really well when we are all together.

christmas a time for family and friends
christmas eve family time

It was stressful in parts because Christmas is overwhelming and also Mabli was poorly for most of it. On the big day, she was too poorly even eat chocolate (a sure sign that kids are actually ill) and cried for a lot of it. Her temp was spiking 40 for a few days and we were a little exhausted. On top of that, I think she found (and is still finding) the experience full-on. There have been a lot of tears (both me and her) and a fair few occasions of public screaming when we try to leave the house (her not me although wouldn't that be liberating?).

in cold blood

(the book Tom got me for my bday and I finally managed to finish over the holidays)

moomin pjs

For the most part, it's been wonderful having a full house and whilst my sister headed back earlier my brother is still here before he returns to uni (he is in his first year). I hope they had a nice time and I didn't put them off having kids for life ;)

I've very proud and grateful for them both and the kids love them so much. I'm so happy to be getting to know them more now as adults and that Wilf and Mabli know them more like older siblings than boring grown-ups.

wapping wharf mighty quinn

Is it even Christmas if you don't have matching PJs? Tom bought us these from the Moomin range at Uniqlo.

southville bristol

I think its also important to state that families are complex and flawed and all sorts of emotions in between. My parents are out of the country on a last hurrah traveling across Spain in a camper van as my mum's illness progresses (front lobe dementia). I'm grateful we were able to make Christmas special for my youngest siblings but obviously feel all sorts of sadness about the situation we are in. I'm also estranged for another member of my family, for now, a decade which is something that is absolutely for the best but still no without sadness and my elder brother is on the other side of the world and is yet to meet one of my children because distance and money and all the rest of it in between. Families are complicated and if you didn't have a picture-perfect one know that we didn't too. There were many wonderful memories and many 'oh my gosh I need a break from my children!' moments too!

Want to know one of Wilf's best moments? When a seagull pooped on us both!

Thankful to be heading into the next decade and reflecting on all we've achieved and experienced together over the last ten... and so many more lines around our eyes!

bristol frozen dress
siblings Christmas

To everyone that has followed along for so long THANK YOU for sticking around. For those a little newer thanks for finding me. Here's to 2020!
Speak soon xoxo 
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