Three days in Leeds

When rail ticket retailer The Trainline asked me to write a blog about what to do in Leeds, it was harder to decide what to leave out than what to put in.

So much new, good stuff has arrived in the city in the last few years, and though I included genuine favourites of mine I wanted my tips to have wide appeal.

I suggested places to eat, drink and shop and talked about Leeds’ lively arts scene.

Hop on over to The Trainline’s blog to read my guide to how to spend three days in Leeds.

How to spend 3 days in Leeds: visit the Corn Exchange

Let me know if you think there’s something I’ve left out!

What is your favourite place to go or thing to do in Leeds?

Review: Lifft baby sling

Since Sam was a newborn, I’ve taken to wearing him in a sling. Babywearing suits me because I’m quite active and don’t like being restricted about where I go, and it has seemed to suit Sam who usually spends most of his time in his sling asleep.

I’ve had a jersey wrap sling which has served us well once I got the hang of tying it right (basically it’s a long piece of fabric that you wrap around yourself and over your shoulders three times), but he’s now getting older  – nearly five months – and nosier, and I’ve been looking for an alternative that gives him a little more freedom to look around.

So I was pleased to be invited to review a Lifft sling and when I browsed the website I was struck by how simple they looked to use.

Review of the Lifft baby sling | Angel In The North

The Lifft Sling was created in 2007 by a mum who wanted a stylish, comfortable and simple-to-use baby carrier that would also appeal to men. The innovative design includes a stretch panel to fit snugly around the baby.

The sling is a single piece of fabric which is folded double. The baby sits in a pouch created by the two layers, and you make a smaller baby more snug by pulling the excess fabric over your shoulder.

Lifft Slings is now owned by Alex Duxbury, who lives in Sheffield having moved there to study 17 years ago. Before leaving work to have her daughter, she was a researcher at Sheffield Hallam University in the field of maternal and infant health.

“I have always been interested in attachment and different parenting practices including babywearing, extended breastfeeding and social support networks,” she said.

“My husband Michael and I knew we wanted to carry our daughter. We have used a range of slings to carry her from birth and still carry her most days.

“The opportunity to inspire and enable more families to carry their children came about when the Lifft Slings business came up for sale.”

Alex and Michael acquired Lifft Slings in September 2015 and have since relaunched the brand by updating the logo, building a new website, growing their social media presence and introducing a wider range of colours. Lifft slings are all made in the UK by Alex’s mother-in-law.

Review of the Lifft baby sling | Angel In The North Review of the Lifft baby sling | Angel In The North

Whereas babies outgrow other slings – my jersey wrap, for example, only lasts until about six months – one of the unique features of the Lifft is that you buy the sling to fit your frame, then it can be used from three months to three years old.

There are also no buckles, clips, wrapping, straps to adjust or knots to tie. As much as I love my jersey wrap sling it is a bit of a pain and palaver to get on and off and it took a bit of practice to make sure I had tied it so it was just tight enough.

I tried out the Lifft sling when we were on holiday camping in south Wales last week. The campsite was at Caerfai Bay, right by the sea, and the sling made getting up and down the cliff to the beach so much easier. It was also handy to have something to pop him in to give my arms a few minutes’ rest when just pottering around camp. The Lifft sling sits over one shoulder so it’s comfortable to leave on when the baby’s not sitting in it – like when Sam first dipped his feet in the sea!

It’s also really handy to roll up and carry around in your bag in case you need it. One day, for example, we went to Bosherton for the day. Despite being advised the path around the lily pond lakes was suitable for buggies we found the going too rough so I switched Sam into his sling and we made much easier and quicker progress.

Now he’s a bit older and nosier, Sam seemed to like that in the Lifft he could turn his head and look out more easily than he can in my wrap carrier.

Review of the Lifft baby sling | Angel In The North Review of the Lifft baby sling | Angel In The North Review of the Lifft baby sling | Angel In The North

There are a range of carrying positions you can use with the Lifft. With Sam being just a few months old, I carried him at the front but I imagine when he gets a little older I’ll favour the side carry as well.

The University of Central Lancashire conducted a biometric analysis of an adult carrying a baby with or without a Lifft Sling to prove that using a sling improves the carrier’s posture, by keeping the spine straighter and reducing sideways lean.

Angel In The North Lifft sling review (13) Review of the Lifft baby sling | Angel In The North

I’ll definitely be taking the Lifft sling with me on our tour around Europe.

What do you think? If you’re a parent, how do you feel about babywearing?

What I wore: festival wedding outfit

We went to a fabulous wedding a few days ago.

This family do was always going to be special – because it would be our son Sam’s first wedding – but when the veil was lifted on the couple’s carefully laid plans it was so personal, so fitting and so full of love that it is destined to be a day to remember.

I felt rather nice I have to say in this folky white and blue embroidered dress from Monsoon that had been hanging in my wardrobe – all teasing and enticing – for a few weeks. (You might have noticed I featured it in my picks of the best embroidered dresses around. It’s now in the sale at less than a third of the price I paid – only a few sizes left).

As the wedding was farm and field-based I wore comfy tan wedges from George at Asda, a statement bead necklace from Anthropologie and, as is now necessary, carried a large cobalt blue bag that held Sam’s nappies and his general paraphernalia.

Monsoon Carmen embroidered dress worn at a North Yorkshire festival country wedding Monsoon Carmen embroidered dress worn at a North Yorkshire festival country wedding Monsoon Carmen embroidered dress worn at a North Yorkshire festival country wedding

The venue was a farm in North Yorkshire which is the family home of one of the bride’s friends. Many hours of work had gone into transforming what is a functioning barn into somewhere befitting of a wedding taking place. It was a touching, humanist ceremony and the couple’s border collie dog was a star attraction. There were loads of carefully crafted, DIY details.

The bride and groom got engaged last year at Glastonbury, so it was fitting that their wedding had a festival vibe. A traditional canvas and wooden pole tent from Wills Marquees went up in the field overlooking the Craven countryside, where some guests camped afterwards. The bride arrived in a VW camper, food and drinks were served from mobile vans and there was live music from Ogre Melodies followed by the brilliant New York Brass Band.

We danced in the field and I wore a floral hair garland and heart-shaped sunglasses. While we love being parents, it felt so good to behave like we did when we weren’t.

Later, the dancing moved into the barn and continued well into the night. We left around 11pm, a respectable hour I thought for our first ‘night out’ post-baby and because we were accompanied by a nearly-four-month-old.

North Yorkshire festival country wedding North Yorkshire festival country wedding North Yorkshire festival country wedding North Yorkshire festival country wedding North Yorkshire festival country wedding North Yorkshire festival country wedding North Yorkshire festival country wedding North Yorkshire festival country wedding North Yorkshire festival country wedding North Yorkshire festival country wedding North Yorkshire festival country wedding North Yorkshire festival country wedding

North Yorkshire festival country wedding North Yorkshire festival country wedding North Yorkshire festival country wedding

It was a beautiful wedding, don’t you agree?

A late summer wish list

Late summer fashion and home wish list

  1. Black hexagonal wire wine bottle holder, £25, Holly’s House
  2. Wire and wood industrial shelves, £50, Cox and Cox
  3. Black and white striped laundry bag, £16, Future and Found
  4. Bar drop back rose gold earrings, £19.95, Howkapow
  5. Pom pom sandals, £9, New Look
  6. Embroidered blouse, £35.99, Mango
  7. Rose Muuto elevated vase, £79,*
  8. Swedish green task lamp, £69.95, Howkapow
  9. Mama bangle, £70, Southwood Stores
  10. Pink round sunglasses, £15, Marks and Spencer

Six embroidered dresses for summer

Six summer embroidered dresses from the UK high street

// clockwise from top left / embroidered Tropez dress, Oasis, £58 / embroidery shirt dress, £79, & Other Stories / embroidered dress, £39, JD Williams* / loose fit indigo embroidered dress, £35, Marks and Spencer / Carmen embroidered dress, £79 reduced to £23.70, Monsoon / long sleeve embroidered dress, £49.99, Zara //

How to do classic Scandi home style

Scandinavian-style design has had a huge influence on our interiors over the last few years.

My own home is no exception, as you’ll know if you’re following my house renovation.

My Ferm Living triangle jute rug from Cloudberry Living has been moved into the nursery, and I’ve added another Scandi touch with a new grey moulded rocker. Full room reveal coming after a few finishing touches!

Animal nursery Scandi Vitra rocker chair

Regretfully this is not an original Vitra* RAR rocking chair (RRP £449…) but it still gives a nod of classic Scandi-style to the room, and it is fairly compact as well as practical and perfect for night feeding and the baby’s trickier bedtimes. I bought it from Achica.

But what is Scandinavian style and how do you get it in your home?

There are a few rules to follow if you want to deck out your home like our north-European neighbours.

  • some buzz words to bear in mind: modern, minimalist, clean-lined, functional
  • bring in natural elements like green plants and wood
  • paint on plenty of white, combined with black for a classic Scandi monochrome palette or a selection of neutrals like greys, creams and beiges
  • while these colours could make an area feel stark, Scandi homes layer textures like linen, wool, leather and sheepskin to make them feel warm and welcoming
  • abide by sayings such as ‘less is more’, (one you may remember from my Live Lagom project with Ikea) ‘take only what you need’ and choose ‘beautiful things that make your life better’

Scandinavian style living room. Photographer: Emily Laye, Stylist: Thomas Lingsell Scandinavian style living room

Scandinavian style kitchen with copper pendant lights

// image sources / 1 / 2 / 3 //

Are you a fan of Scandinavian home style? What are your favourite features of it?

Packing a capsule holiday wardrobe

While planning our European road trip, I’ve been putting quite a lot of thought into packing clothes for the month-long holiday and its various climates.

I don’t think we’ll see huge differences in the weather but whereas in Croatia and parts of Italy temperatures are usually around 21-22°C when we’ll be there, it will be a few degrees cooler in northern France and I expect may feel quite autumnal at times.

While I want to make sure I have enough clothes for the month and that I’m ready for most eventualities, I also want to pack light so the car is not uncomfortably stuffed, because the baby’s things will take up a fair amount of room.

So when I was challenged to pack a capsule wardrobe in a House of Fraser suitcase, I thought it would be a good exercise in whittling down what I will actually need! I was sent this lightweight suitcase and had to pack clothes for a week’s holiday without going over a 15kg baggage allowance.

My challenge was to pack light for a week in Paris – and in my view any time spent dreaming about the French capital cannot be classed as wasted.

Black and white gingham cotton top from Marks and Spencer via Octer, Laura Ashley sunglasses, Alphabet Bags Explore bag

Continue reading “Packing a capsule holiday wardrobe”

Our European road trip

As I’ve mentioned in passing a couple of times on the blog, we’re planning a road trip around Europe this summer.

It’s safe to say we’ve ummed and ahhed about whether it’s the right thing to do, with a baby who will be five months old when we depart.

But my husband has qualified for an eight week sabbatical from work and I’m on maternity leave and it seems wrong not to use the time to do something memorable.

So I thought I’d let you know a bit more about what we have planned – though our holiday is still taking shape! Continue reading “Our European road trip”

How to go camping with a baby

We’re keen campers, and basically we usually spend as much time as possible in a tent during the summer months.

So it was quite an important test for us to see how the baby would cope with camp.

We’ve just returned from his first camping holiday – nearly a week on the Dorset coast. He was three-and-a-half months old and I’d been concerned that this might be too young. Asking and reading around, I’d found no consensus on when is the right age for a first camping trip, so I decided to plump for a time that was convenient for us and hope for the best.

I’m pleased to say he was a little star – he wasn’t really any more trouble than he is at home. Yes, our camping experience was different in some ways, but the same in most. He fitted in with us just fine.

Here are a few things I learned during our first camping trip with a baby:

What you need for camping with a baby

  • Prepare for keeping warm, and cool. As any camper will tell you, the hardest thing about being in a tent is regulating the temperature. Whether our baby would freeze overnight or boil in the mornings was my main concern, but I’m pleased to report he did neither! You just need to take a few sensible precautions.

Continue reading “How to go camping with a baby”

Our camping holiday in Dorset

We’re recently back from nearly a week of camping in Dorset.

You might have read about our short break in a cottage in Pateley Bridge, but this was a slightly longer holiday (five nights) that was further away and – crucially – the baby’s first time in a tent.

I’ll write another post about how we managed camping with a three-month-old, but for now I’ll just fill you in about what we did while staying in this beautiful part of the south coast of England. Continue reading “Our camping holiday in Dorset”

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