BOOK REVIEW: THIS IS GOING TO HURT BY ADAM KAY

I am very pleased to introduce the first in a new series of Book Reviews.  The reviews will be written by the amazing Hannah de Lasti who already has a popular Book Blog: A London View of Books and who is the fastest reader in town.

Hannah will be regularly reading and reviewing and helping you choose your next book. If you are an author or have any suggestions of books you think should be featured in the DLAM Book Review Series then please email Hannah on: info@dresslikeamum.com. And if you have feedback on the books we feature please feel free to add your comments in the box at the end of the post. Thanks Zoë X

THIS IS GOING TO HURT BY ADAM KAY

This is obviously an ‘interesting’ time for the NHS. The amazing service they provide to us on a daily basis in London alone, coupled with the pressure they've been under very recently from the terror attacks and the Grenfell Tower disaster, means that my admiration and gratitude for all of its staff has never been greater. So reading a first hand account of the daily grind, straight from the horse's mouth, felt really appropriate.

Adam Kay kept this diary throughout his journey as a junior doctor, outlining the pitfalls of each stage and attempting to document the reality of the task in hand. He has had to go through the diary with a lawyer to ensure that nothing is too liable (although I think I’d prefer not to know about some of the things doctors get up to between shifts) but that doesn’t detract from the genuine feel of the book.  

If you want a one line summary it's this: It is an absolute travesty that these people, who train so hard to do a job which benefits us, are so badly treated by our government.

But before you think that the whole thing is an ongoing moan about the terrible conditions that our doctors and nurses have to work in, it really isn’t. I mean, it is, but it’s also one of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time and made me laugh out loud and interrupt my husband so I could read him excerpts (which he asked me to stop doing as he wants to read it next seeing what a great time it gave me).

There are some real gems (why would anyone put a toilet brush up their arse?!), heartwarming stories of success over adversity and insights into the real and scary stupidity of some (only some) individuals. He marvels at humanity on a daily basis, not just the patients, but also his work colleagues, the good, the bad and the downright ugly. On a personal note, I found the bits about Obstetrics and Gynecology (in which he specialised) fascinating and terrifying in equal measure, and I think I’m quite pleased I didn’t read it whilst pregnant (maybe a word of warning there for anyone who is).

Mainly the diary explores why doctors stay doctors - after all, some of them aren’t very good, while others obviously find the whole thing really stressful. And eventually Adam answers the question himself, making a decision which although shocking, is entirely understandable.

We all know that doctors work long hours and we all think we can imagine the things they have to do, but this diary that Adam has brought to life in book form, really drives it home. If it wasn’t funny, it would be tragic and it’s his irrepressible & almost entirely black humour which makes this read a memorable one.

THREE DAYS AROUND AMSTERDAM ON A BIKE

By Ben @cooklikeadad (my husband!)

We've been to some cool places recently, so I thought you'd like to see some behind the scenes tips, tricks and holiday hacks for traveling with a family. Before I start, I was asking myself does the internet need another family travel blog? Answer's probably not, but I think we have got pretty good at this family travel thing, so I want to keep these really brief, informative and to the point. So here we go...

Amsterdam was not the first city that came to mind when traveling with the family, but any memories of my teenage 'interrailing' days were quickly replaced by a beautiful, quirky and family friendly city. My mission was to put the kids in a cargo bike to explore the city's parks, districts and museums.

  • WHICH BIKE TO RENT

If you’re a confident cyclist, go for a traditional cargo bike, with a wooden front to them where the kids can sit. The advantage of these over the back child seats is that you can have two kids sitting together facing forward. You can see them, they can see out and it's generally a far more fun experience. If you're less confident at cycling you might want to consider the three-wheel version.

  • WHERE TO RENTING A BIKE

It's worth saying that not all bike shops in Amsterdam are the same. Check the reviews on Google, TripAdviser or other trusted source. Amsterdam is famous for its bike riding, which means there are going to be people profiting from tourists who are easy pickings. I failed on this front and was left renting a bike with handlebars too low to clear the kid’s heads. (I opted for a forearm across the bar to protect them, but both got the odd clout to the head). Likewise, Zoë's bike had seen better days. Black Bikes seemed like a better outfit, so they'd get my recommendation. 

  • HOW TO NAVIGATE USING TECH

As I said, Zoë and I are terrible at directions (Zoë denies this with the confidence normally reserved for five star generals marching troops into battle). My solution was to use my Bluetooth headphones, combined with Google Maps voice prompts. This allowed a hands-free, in ear direction guidance, meaning we flew around the city like locals. Well almost, there were the odd wrong turn and back track, but it felt far safer and more sensible than riding while trying to read a map off you phone.

Having a bike clip for your phone would also have been another good idea, which I’ll bring for the next family bike trip.

  • WHERE TO GO

DAY ONE: We flew in and dumped the bags off and headed straight out to the NDSM area of Amsterdam. This former disused dock yard has been transformed into a hipster playground, with its own beach, hotel in a crane and other cool bars and cafes. Great views over the bay and lots of decaying/reborn industrial heritage to check out. Easy bike ride to one of the free ferries taking you to the NDSM. Once there, you're free to cycle round and explore with few cars to bother you.

Photos taken using an original Polaroid camera

DAY TWO: Vondalpark was a 1.8km ride away, where we cruzed around the park seeing the beautiful gardens and cafes, then stopping for a paddle in a kids bathing area. After this, back on the bikes and across town to the Horus Botanicus (botanical gardens), with its spectacular café serving exceptionally nice salads, butterfly houses and picturesque gardens for the kids to explore.

 

DAY THREE: Artis Zoo, is a reasonably sized, but very nicely laid out Zoo in the centre of the city. We rushed it in about an hour and a half, but really you should be spending the day there. By this point we were riding like the Tour De France peloton and felt confident to dash back to drop bike off and get our taxi to the airport.

 

OTHER OPTIONS: We could have had at least another two days in the city as there are so many other places to explore. The NEMO Science Museum looks like a great option for the 6 years plus age group.

·         WHERE TO STAY

The Pulitzer Hotel is based in the fully gentrified Jordaan district of Amsterdam. The Hotel encompasses a number of sixteenth century town houses in a street block, with a fascinating higgledy-piggledy maze of stunning rooms and courtyards. It had that balance of beauty, function and play that is so hard to get from a hotel experience.

Giving us some variation from the bikes, we went on the Pulitzer boat tour. They have their own canal boat, which is so far removed from the tourist cattle trucks, it’s hard to even compare the two experiences. Zoë and I had a glass of Chablis, while the lively Captain entertained us with stories of Winston Churchill being taken around the canals on this very boat after the liberation of the city.

We ate at their restaurant the Jansz the first evening there. The menu was unpretentious, but with enough flare to feel both homely and high end. Even if you’re not staying there, just go for breakfast to get the scrambled eggs on brioche with avocado and truffle oil. Perfect start for a hard day cycling the kids around town. 

According to Zoë the shops around the Pulitzer Hotel are also excellent.

Pulitzer Amsterdam offers a Family Programme for those travelling with children which includes children’s programming, natural skincare amenities for babies and personalised surprises and activity books for toddlers and kids. Lead-in rates for a family of four start at £410.

DLAM LIFE QUOTES

LUMITY

Since hitting my mid-thirties I have started to take better care of my body because I have noticed that it doesn't seem to recover so well as it used to and needs a bit more care and attention. I don't mind looking my age because there is nothing I can do about that - I am my age, but I would like to look the best version of myself at my age - if that make sense.

Throughout my life I have dabbled in the world of supplements and vitamins but have never taken one religiously. The reason I haven't committed I think is that I either forget to take or that i've never seen a direct effect from and so ended up stopping.  However a few months ago I started taking Lumity and i'm now committed - I love it.

Lumity is basically a anti-ageing, beauty and well-being supplement. It is good for healthy skin, hair, nails and teeth, inner and outer vitality, brain health, bones, joints, muscles and your immune system. (What else could you need?)

You take 3 brown coloured capsules in the morning and 3 white one before bed. The capsules contain a mixture of Vitamins, Omega 3, Vita and Renew Complex and Minerals, that work with what your body needs during the day and night.

The ingredients in the morning capsules are specifically formulated for daytime health. They support your brain, skin, hair and nails and your immune system. They also contain nutrients to assist with joint, muscle and bone health.

The white (night time) capsules are high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids and contain Amino acids to help maintain the elasticity of your skin.

I keep my morning Lumity in the cupboard with my tea bags and my night time capsules in my bathroom cupboard and haven't once forgotten to take them. 

Since taking Lumity I have found that I sleep better, my skin feels great and overall I feel healthier. So if you are looking for a supplement that pretty much does everything you need it to then I would definitely recommend Lumity. 

This post was kindly sponsored by Lumity. All thoughts and opinions are entirely me my own and I was a fan of Lumity before I wrote this post.

 

 

HomeAway

To celebrate the upcoming release of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, HomeAway are running an amazing competition to win a holiday for you and 20 guests to Duns Castle. Plus, five runners-up could win a HomeAway® holiday. I have already mentally prepared my invite list!

If you follow me on Instagram you would have seen that I have just got back from a brilliant weekend in Lisbon where I stayed in a HomeAway apartment. I went with a couple of girlfriends and had a brilliant time.

Lisbon had been on my wish list as somewhere to go for ages and it didn't disappoint. The people were friendly, the bars and cafes lively, the architecture stunning and the shopping was great too. 

Vintage shops / Breakfast with a view / Markets selling Cork products

We stayed in a beautiful apartment that we rented from HomeAway and it was perfect. It had 2 bedrooms (1 twin, 1 double), 2 bathrooms (with gold taps), a fully equipped kitchen (with a washing and coffee machine - the most important things in a kitchen!), a sitting room (with TV), dining area and loads of storage - all to ourselves.  

The owner was so welcoming and organised - he sorted airport transfers for us, adviced us on places to go and things to see - nothing seemed too much trouble. The apartment was so centrally located and we were able to walk everywhere and were even able to pop back during the day to collect something we forgot. 

I have stayed a few times in HomeAway properties and they have all been great. We have rented a large house in Formentera with my entire my family, an apartment with an amazing roof top in Malta when my son was a baby and a flat in London during London Fashion Week. And we have never had a bad experience.

HomeAway have over 2 million places around the world so if you are looking for a place to stay then make sure you check them out.

More information and how to enter the competition to win the enchanting getaway in a castle for you and 20 friends or family go here.

This post and stay was kindly sponsored by HomeAway all thoughts, opinions, photos are entirely my own. 

 

 

 

MUMDAYS

Mumdays is a gifting business designed for Mums who deserve a bit of a treat (which is all mums obviously).  Founded by mother of twins Ursula, who set out to make mothers feel special by giving them a bit of 'me time.'

Mumdays do stunning, practical gift boxes that include everything from flowers, to cleaning services, to beauty treatments - all of which have been carefully curated and selected with the mum in mind. 

I was lucky enough to receive a Mumdays gift box and loved it - mine included a manicure, pedicure and flowers and made me very happy!

Here is some more information on the company and how it came about:

NAME OF BRAND/COMPANY: Mumdays

DATE IT WAS FOUNDED: Launched December 2016

BY WHOM IT WAS FOUNDED: Ursula Brunetti, Channel Mum Vlogger and Mum of twins

WHY WAS IT CREATED:  I created Mumdays with a simple mission in mind – to make mums feel special. Becoming a first time mum of twins was such a huge adjustment for me (I’m still reeling from the shock of that first ultrasound!). One of the things I struggled most with was the fact that you no longer have any time for yourself. This inspired me to create a gifting company that offers mums exactly that – experiences and crucially, quality me-TIME that is just for them.

When it comes to mum gifts, we’re often faced with generic tat that no one really wants. I realised customers needed someone to make it easy for them to get it right with thoughtful gifts for mums.

Most of all, mums crave some quality me time (and some appreciation for all that they do). And it’s the least they deserve. As mums we’re so used to putting everyone first that I felt there needed to be a company putting mums first instead. And so Mumdays was born!

WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR BRAND: Mumdays is a brand that comes from the heart and is born from that feeling every mum has of finding it all too much. Mumdays are for that mum. The mum that every so often misses a piece of the well put together (and slightly more sane) version of herself that she used to be. It’s for the mum that loves her children fiercely but doesn’t know if she is getting it right. The mum that is exhausted or lonely and juggling a thousand balls but none of them have her name on them. It’s for that mum. It’s for all mums.

I’m also proud that all Mumdays are 100% mum approved! At Mumdays we make buying thoughtful gifts easy, because all our partners are carefully handpicked and tested by our panel of influential mums, to ensure that every Mumday has the desired effect of making her feel like a real life VIP.

We blend experiences together from different partners like Le Salon, Hassle, Urban Massage and Bloom & Wild to offer practical and pampering gift solutions that are thoughtfully presented in our signature pink gift packs.

WHAT WE SHOULD BUY FROM YOU: I’m particularly proud of our Combination gifts http://mumdays.co.uk/product-categories/combinations/ which blend gift experiences from different partners in combinations you can’t find anywhere else. Our Boost & Bloom http://mumdays.co.uk/product/boost-and-bloom gift combines gorgeous letterbox flowers from Bloom & Wild with an at-home massage from Urban Massage for an indulgent pick me up.

Or our New Mum Indulgence gift http://mumdays.co.uk/product/new-mum-indulgence-package is perfect for new mums or mums to be. It includes flowers, an at home massage, domestic cleaning and even laundry collection services, all focused on making life easier with pampering and practical services – the things that make a difference to your wellbeing as a new mum.

Or you could buy one of our Moments http://mumdays.co.uk/product-categories/mumdays-moments/ which are stand alone experiences for a small gift or treat to self.

I really believe happy mums make for happy children. I think every mum deserves a mumday (and not just for Mother’s Day either!).

THE DENTIST

Everyone knows going to the dentist is important but it is often something that is put off or forgotten about. We are surrounded by messages encouraging us to eat well, be healthy and stay fit but no one really emphasises the importance of looking after our teeth.

A few weeks ago I took my son to the dentist, he is 4 (and a half) years old, it was his second time to the dentist and he loved it! I don't mind going to the dentist (that much) but I know a lot of people are terrified of it. And it is a fear that we, as parents could easily project onto our children and the fear of the dentist cycle will continue.

My son and I visited Dawood and Tanner  in London and it was great - Dr Saul the dentist made my son (and me) feel really relaxed - he explained exactly what he was going to do, he let my son press the buttons on the chair and look into his own mouth using a special little mirror. He managed to make the whole process fun, interesting and a positive, enjoyable experience.

Since our appointment my son is much more conscientious with his teeth brushing and my daughter after hearing about her brother going is now desperate to go and have her own appointment.  

So the moral of this blog post is to take your kids (and you) to the dentist more often, it is something that they will thank you for later on in life.

If you are looking for an excellent dentist then we can highly recommend Dawood and Tanner (and ask for Dr Saul).

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

FLOWER FACTS: TULIPS

THE TULIP

  • The name "tulip" originates from the Turkish language, where this plant represents national flower. Tulip in Turkish means "turbin" because this flower has the similar shape like unique-looking Turkish hat
  • Even though certain parts of tulips are toxic, petals have been used as food during the Second World War.

DATE NIGHT TO ALADDIN THE MUSICAL

When you are a parent I'd say it is safe to assume that you go out less at night than you did pre-kids (based on my experience anyway). So when you do make it out you want it to be good and you want to make the most of it.

With Valentine's Day fast approaching my husband and I decided to go out on a 'date night' where we went for dinner together then on to the theater to see Aladdin The Musical and it was brilliant.

Disney's Aladdin has been on in London for just under a year and I don't know how you could not like it. It is full of energy, music and sparkly things and I left feeling full of joy!

The singing, choreography and music is fantastic and I watched a few grown men (including my husband) bopping in their seats. Every single one of the cast is incredibly talented and one thing I didn't expect was that the script is very funny, there are so many good one-liners in it - the Genie especially is brilliant.

The set is incredible and changes continuously. We were lucky enough to have a backstage tour after the show and I was amazed to see the complexities and mechanics of it all. We found out how they created some of the illusions and special effects (that I will not ruin for you) and saw the areas where the cast have to change in seconds. There is so much that goes on backstage with about 100 people working there every performance.

Being a colourful fashion (and fancy dress) lover I really, really enjoyed the costumes. There are over 350 of them and the attention to detail and craftsmanship on them all is incredible. There are also so many different hats, turbans and headdresses in every scene and despite all the energetic movement they all manage to stay on the actor's heads!

The Prince Edward Theatre is in the centre of Soho so we went for a pre-theatre dinner on Old Compton Street.  It felt pretty liberating to be out-out and kid-free for the evening.

Both my husband and I really enjoyed ourselves and loved the nostalgic element of watching the classic Aladdin Disney story that we grew up with as grown ups - it was a whole new world and an excellent Valentine's Day date night.

This post created in assosiation Disney - but when they offered it to me I jumped at the chance because it is something I genuinely wanted to see and do. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.

 

 

 

FLOWER FACTS: The Chrysanthemum

FLOWER FACTS WEDNESDAY

  • The Chrysanthemum flower symbolizes fidelity, optimism, joy and long life
  • The name Chrysanthemum comes from the Greek word 'Chrys' meaning golden (the color of the original flowers), and 'anthemon', meaning flower.

*facts & photo from @flowerbx who delivered the most stunning white roses ever today. 

FLOWER FACTS: CALLA LILY

Cala Lillies

  • Though called a lily, Calla lilies are not really lilies.
  • The word Calla comes from the Greek term for beautiful.
  • The Calla lily roots are poisonous.

BOOK: STEP UP

The Step Up Club's mission is to empower and engage women in conversations around their careers and provide invaluable advice on how you can achieve your own personal career success.

The Step Up Club host events, consults with brands and businesses, sends incredibly useful and informative fortnightly newsletters (sign up here) and they have recently launched a book.

I have been fortunate to meet the founders Alice and Phanella a few times and absolutely love what they do. They exude a confidence and complete belief and knowledge in what they are doing and so they should - plus they always have such great outfits on too! I would highly recommend reading their book and if you can to attend one of their events.

Here is some more info from these excellent ladies: 

NAME OF COMPANY: The Step Up Club

DATE IT WAS FOUNDED: June 2015

BY WHOM IT WAS FOUNDED: Alice Olins, Fashion Features Director at Red Magazine and Phanella Mayall Fine, an executive career coach.

WHY WAS IT CREATED: Because we want to take the conversation around careers out of the boardroom and engage all women. Whatever your job or profession, Step Up celebrates what your career and helps you find your own brand of success. We want to make the chat around women's careers as glossy and widespread as the ones around wellness, fashion and food.

Alice and Phanella sit at opposite ends of the creative/corporate career spectrum and this makes Step Up unique. We inspire and support other women through our monthly events (that we make sure are always in stylish locations - no need for flip charts when Step Up is involved!) and our recently published book, Step Up: Confidence, Success and your Stellar Career in 10 Minutes a Day (Random House).  It’s a new style career manual that blends practical, well-founded advice with our unique 10 minute career workouts, plus the stories of so many amazing and successful women, from Bobbi Brown, via Kirsty Young to Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley, Yvette Cooper MP and the late Zaha Hadid.

WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR BRAND: That it's youthful, fun, stylish, supportive and modern. Oh, and ridiculously helpful too. We know that one size really does not fit all when it comes to careers. We work with brands such as Kikki.K, Karen Millen, D&D restaurants, Desmond and Dempsey, Belvedere vodka and the Hoxton hotel group to help spread the Step Up message.

WHAT WE SHOULD BUY FROM YOU: Our Book! Plus, we want as many women as possible to sign up to our free newsletter for fortnightly career advice (and some fashion tips!), plus first dibs on tickets to our events that combine brilliant female speakers with our trademark 10 Minute Career Workouts.

DRESSING TABLES

I have needed a dressing table for so long now and finally I am in a position to buy one - but now I can't find one. I am open to secondhand, vintage (love mid-century) or new - but whatever it is i'm hoping I will know it when I see it.

I love getting ready to go out - I find doing my makeup (and clothes) really fun so for me this is an important purchase!

Here are a few on my shortlist:

Habitat £200 (was £250) / Habitat PEROUSE £450

The one I think I like the most is the small Habitat one. I haven't got the biggest bedroom either so I think this could be the one, plus it is in the sale and the stool is included. 

S'WELL

S'Well are a brand on a mission to rid the world of plastic bottles - which is a good mission to be on.

I was recently given a S'Well (great present) and I love it so much I thought i'd tell you about it. It is just a simple metal, aesthetically pleasing, well designed bottle that keeps drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12 but i'm sure I drink more water because of it.

S'Well are a socially concious company and are working towards bettering our environment and communities around the world. 

@swellbottle