This time last year I was well into my third trimester and a little rounded to say the least.

It had been five years since I was pregnant with Emily and my weight and fitness has been good, great, poor and very poor at different times over those years. I was 34 when I became pregnant with Emily and you’d think I’d be sensible at that age but oh no I definitely decided to ‘eat for two’ as the saying goes.

No no to caffeine – the first thing to go in my diet was coffee. This wasn’t a choice I in fact had no choice as even the slightest smell of coffee knocked me sick to the point of vomiting. En route to my H&S job I collected an intern each day and she insisted on bringing a pot of coffee into the car but I didn’t want to tell her and she seeming seemed oblivious to my retching. The saving grace is that it was summer and I could drive with the car windows down without question.

Cravings – pickled fish. In fact anything at all doused in vinegar. I was often found in the kitchen day or night downing shots of vinegar. It sounds absolutely disgusting now but truly vinegar at the time was akin to the finest bottle of Champagne well to me any way.

I also had a penchant to burrito’s and Doritos (taste buds have just gone off simply writing that).

This time round I was 39 when I found out that I was pregnant with little Luke and wanted to use Emily’s pregnancy as something to learn from but all I wanted to do was eat and eat and eat nothing appeared to fill me. Weight was steadily going on and I was only ever weighed once and that was the initial appointment. Although a mature adult I acted like a child and didn’t know when to stop eating this had to stop. Then a light bulb moment I rediscovered my love of smoothies.

I had done quite a lot of reading and knew it was important to do the following;

  1. Eat atleast the government guideline of five fruits and veg per day.
  2. Eat starchy carbohydrates at every meal to fill you for longer.
  3. Have low fat dairy products twice a day to ensure your need for calcium is met.
  4. Ensure protein rich food factor at least twice a day.
  5. Remember you only need an extra 200 calories per day so restrict the intake of sugar and fat.
  6. Add natural folic acid into the diet which included leafy green veg (kale roasted in the oven with sea salt and a little oil became a snack staple)

Apparently you are only expected to gain 1lb a week if you started you pregnancy at a defined healthy BMI but those like me who sat above the healthy range only 1/2lb was acceptable. Yes I have heard it all before, “don’t gain too much weight, as it’s harder to lose it post-pregnancy, especially when you are an old mum”. Now stand back before I punch you, was often the thought running around my head whilst I gave a disingenuous smile to the wisdom giver, as they only meant well, didn’t they?

Now back to my love of smoothies. Rediscovered in month six whilst on a visit to Intu Metro Centre and there was a smoothie stand I was really hungry/thirsty and I was intrigued by the queue around the booth diagonally opposite from Greggs (I will forever love their sausage rolls). I can’t quite remember the name but it had a bit of everything in there.

Off home I went via the supermarket and health food shop to load up on smoothie ingredients a plenty. I got some fab ideas from Pinterest. I had a completely outdated blender and had already started looking up blenders when I came across Baby Moov a brand I wasn’t familiar and it’s Nutribaby I knew it was the product that did what I wanted. It steamed and blended and didn’t take up too much counter space. Alas I talked myself out of the purchase, I couldn’t treat myself to something that is aimed specifically at baby weaning. Absolute codswallop. If I’d bought it when I was six months pregnant and then used it for weaning (when baby turns six months old) I would have had the equivalent of a full term pregnancy of  use out of it equating to only £11 per month and then there was it’s future existence to. No brainer I shouldn’t have deprived myself. I do have one now though as I’m part BabyMoov’s 2016/17 cohort of brand ambassadors.

Over the next few months I’m going to let you see my Nutribaby in action and re-live those delicious pregnancy smoothies. They were epic and I hope you will enjoy them when you try them.

This is a collaborative post with Baby Moov #stresslessweaning



When asked to review The Haybarn in Fryton, Slingsby, North Yorkshire by Gorgeous Cottages as a destination for ‘Posh Hen Do’s’ and ‘Girlie Getaways’ we were not prepared for the splendour to come.

We headed to York and found our way to The Haybarn, one of the Cherrygarth Cottages luxury holiday cottages. It was pitch dark when we arrived at 7pm. Upon opening the doors our jaws dropped and not a sound, not even a pin drop could be heard.

It was truly magnificent. Peace perfect peace but not for long.

We all headed off in different directions to explore the vast space.

There are four bedrooms and the photographs really don’t do them justice. The room I selected had a mezzanine bathroom with a sky light directly over the bath to watch the twinkly stars above. I was a little antisocial for a while as I drew the bath, filled with UK brand Molton Brown bubble bath and luxuriated in peace. Heaven, well I was the honorary hen.

The ladies explored the outdoor facilities and jumped into the hot tub and had a merry time drinking some bubbly, I joined them after my soak (looking a tad prune like) but didn’t want to miss out on all of the fun. Next we found the sauna and that gets a big thumbs up too. And so too came the games room for a spot of karaoke and a session on the Wii.

After the tomfoolery came dinner albeit a late one, so we all gathered around the lovely kitchen table and prepped, cooked, drank wine (we had just discovered the bottle already chilling in the fridge) and talked. Everything you could possibly need from a kitchen was right there.

If you didn’t feel like cooking though there was a great file with honest reviews of local pubs and eateries. The appliances in the kitchen were UK made too, Stoves and Dualit.

With glasses in hand we headed to the lounge were we lit the fire (already prepared for us) and talked some more. The sofa was huge with enough room for everyone.

Time for Bedfordshire came upon us quickly and we all went off to our rooms, rather reluctantly. All the bedrooms were sumptuous but, which one to choose though? The seemingly largest room with the vaulted ceiling and wet room, bed two with mezzanine bathroom, bed three with Jacuzzi bath, walk in shower and mezzanine lounge area or bed four (mine all mine) with the second mezzanine bathroom? The beds were so, so cosy that we all found it difficult to wake in the morning.

For breakfast we devoured the food basket filled with cereal, eggs and bread. Yummy!

Outside, each cottage has a quiet, sheltered, south-facing courtyard garden with patio and barbecue area. The courtyards have been creatively landscaped to provide privacy for each cottage.

Would we recommend this for a Hen Party or a girlie get together? Without a shadow of a doubt.

This stay was organised by Gorgeous Cottages who can create a ‘Gorgeous weekend for stylish stags and well heeled hens.

Hope you have a Gorgeous Weekend soon.


Suzanne x


The month of May sees the start of National Walking month and this year Nicola and I are going to try and walk  as an absolute minimum 20 minutes every single day. Of course there is a hashtag for this (#try20) but it’s not one we have created.

Living Streets is the UK charity that champions everyday walking. Their aim is to create a walking nation, free from congested roads and pollution, reducing the risk of preventable illness and social isolation and making walking the natural choice.

For over 85 years Living Streets has been a beacon for walking. In the early days their campaigning led to the UK’s first zebra crossing and the introduction of speed limits.

Their ambition is to get people of all generations to enjoy the benefits that this simple act brings. Progress starts here: one street, one school, one step at a time.

Twenty minutes is doable and I’m aiming on getting a minimum of a fifth of the recommended daily steps (10,000) fitted into this time.

Day 1: May 1 – Metro Centre Visit

Yes whilst Nicola was down in London celebrating her nephew’s naming day and lots of bloggers were in Manchester for Blog On I was subjected to the Metro Centre.

I didn’t count the time or the steps as I stupidly left my tracker at home (which is currently my mobile) but if I walked past each shop front, I would have walked 3.5 miles and believe me it certainly felt like that especially with a reluctant six year old and pushing a nine month old in his pram.

Purchased: 1 x man’s suit from M&S, baseball boots from Clark Shoes, Scalp products by Aveda at House of Fraser and concealer by collection 2000.

Day 2: May 2 – Trip to Wynyard hall then on to Seaham 

Bank holiday Monday and we headed to Wynyard Hall to see, ‘The Very Best of British’ Spring Fair. Not much walking got done as I bumped into Judith and Nicky of Pure Candles who I haven’t seen in years. After a rather uneventful event (another story) we decided to head to the beach. The rain clouds were in the sky and there was a nip in the air but I was driving so I was in charge so off to the coast we go.

We parked up and I donned our Baby Bjorn One carrier and it was off for a walk with 17lb (7.7kg) strapped to my front. It’s a short walk along the high street past Tommy and then done some steps then a ramp and then some more steps. I needed help going down as I couldn’t see past Luke to see the drop of the steps.

Then we were onto the beach. This is not a sandy beach but one with pebbles and sea glass. We spent time forging for lovely glass and then Emily and H2B headed out to look at the rock pools. We walked to the edge of the beach and then the sky went dark so it was about turn and a quick march. This took us about ten minutes from the edge of the beach to the top of the steps as it was almost two steps forward two steps back on the shingle.

The time spent walking was part of our day and didn’t feel like exercise at all. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and this #try20 is so manageable.

I did both of these walks in a pair of heeled boots, not the type of footwear necessarily associated with walking but nether the less a walk is a walk no matter what’s on our feet from bare toes to stilettos. Get walking and #try20 !

We’ll keep you updated with how we are going.

Love Suz x


Need a Little Help: Half MoonIt’s week two of the Easter holidays for one half of the Sofa Stories team and the other half has a lovely birthday coming up. Here’s how I’m spending my week.

Monday: Pirates and Princesses: Crook Hall & Gardens, Frankland Lane, Sidegate, Durham, DH1 5SZ

Visitors are invited to follow a quest for treasure around the gardens and join in swashbuckling activities led by the Crook Hall Pirate. There will be treasure hunts, pirate games and pirate ship designing.

Tuesday: Need A Little Help: Northern Stage,  Barras Bridge, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear, NE1 7RH *

Joe and Ella are a great team – they make each other laugh, help each other out and tackle all the chores their busy lives throw at them. But one morning things begin to change when Joe gets all tangled up and Ella has to do things alone. What will Ella do now? Will she be able to continue as before, or will it all get too much? If only she had a little help.

Wednesday: Surprise date with Momar Red for Emily and work hat for mummy (yes I’ve returned from maternity leave and yes I hate it!!!!)

Thursday: Hall Hill FarmLanchester, Durham, DH7 0TA

We have an annual pass for Hall Hill farm which was £106. It’s a great way to spend the day, petting animals, tractor rides, donkey rides, indoor play barn, crazy gold and bouncy castle too.


Friday: Washington Wetland Centre , Pattinson, Washington, Tyne and Wear, NE38 8LE

We are going to head to the WWC to take a look at The LEGO® brick animal trail. The awesome models include a gigantic otter, super-sized crane and humongous goose and will form a fun trail for children (and big kids!) to take part in; inspiring them to build a better future for nature.

Discover just how many LEGO bricks have been used to make the massive creatures and enter a competition to win your very own LEGO kit.

Saturday: Miss Nicola Little’s birthday celebrations possibly at Wheelbirks or just at her delightful love filled home!

Sunday: No plans yet.

Suz x

*Reviewing for Northern Stage Newcastle

Image: Kit Haigh
Date day with daughter we headed to the theatre for a production of ‘Snow White’.

Rewind to 2010 and Emily and I were involved with Northern Stage’s anniversary project #40babies where a living book was created and captured from bump to three years old so Northern Stage Newcastle always holds fond memories.

Fast forward to 2016, When I asked Emily if she’d like to go and see a ballet and that it was Snow White she bounced around the room shouting, ‘yes please mummy’.

Image: Bill Cooper

The production is by balletLORENT a leading UK contemporary dance company based in Newcastle upon Tyne, which regularly tours the UK. This version of was very far removed from the Disney version Emily is used to and akin to the darker side of the tale by Brothers Grimm which I’ve always preferred. So it was familiar to one of us but completely foreign to the other which led to lots of questions.

The set was simply beautiful and yet simplistic and was so adaptable throughout the whole production and was moved this way and that with what seemed like ease. The words by ‘Poet Laureate’ Carol Ann Duffy and a score by Murray Gold accompanied by balletLorent dancers and children from local primary schools took us to a magical place throughout the show. The score moved me lots and really hooked the emotion and the narration was fitting, dark in some parts and light and funny in others.

Here’s a snapshot of the story;

The Queen (Caroline Reece) creates a doll and she wanted to make a child in it’s likeness and the King was happy to oblige and baby Snow White is born (first divination from Disney as the Queen in Snow White’s Disney is ‘Evil Stepmother’ rather then Snow Whites mother). Children and adults alike come and greet the child. Alas soon after the King dies. The beautifully vain Queen is deeply saddened as well as the rest of the kingdom.

As the child turns from a baby (depicted by a doll) into a little girl (we loved how this was shown in the set but don’t want to give it away) then into a young woman (Natalie Trewinnard) the Queen shows her daughter the good things in life until she starts to see that the beauty of her daughter is now over taking her own. The modern dialogue mentioning hair dye and facelift made Emily and I laugh lots.

Here enters the magic mirror depicted by an exceptionally flexible dancer (Gwen Berwick) mirroring every move and told the Queen that her daughter was more beautiful. Her vanity could not cope with this at all and even though she had brought her daughter up in love she now could not bare for her to be on the planet.

The huntsman was sent to kill Snow White, the Queen is shown to eat what she thought to be heart of Snow White was a little intense.

No dwarfs but seven ‘stunted’ miners who like the dwarfs where in play and disliked the presence of Snow White at first but grew to love her.   With many more twists and turns along the way this is definitely a story worth telling.

Caroline Reece had me captivated and conveyed the part of a withering beauty with aplomb where as Emily loved Natalie (Snow White) although she was less than impressed that she ended up with the Huntsman and not, ‘a handsome prince’, whoops maybe I shouldn’t have said that?

The main actors where perfect but my eyes were continually drawn to one of the female dancers named Giulia Coti Zelati and the young girl partnered with her, their connection was lovely and it reminded me of Emily and I which made me smile on the inside.

We really enjoyed our our time and can’t wait to see what is next in store with  balletLORENT and Northern Stage.

Over the years we have seen many fabulous productions and can’t wait to see many more in the future too, infact our next visit is on Tuesday 5 April to see ‘Need A Little Help’.