Ed ♥

Before I came out to Guadeloupe I thought I knew what love felt like, but that pales in comparison to how I feel about this adorable (most of the time) little boy. 

I love all of the family, without a doubt, they're amazing and have become close friends (Estelle mainly, Harold and I just like to annoy each other!), especially Camille and Maxime. Max is always on the go, has to be right and is incredibly cheeky. Camille is docile and compassionate, always putting others before himself.

But with Ed it is different. I spend most of my days with him, and I've seen him grow up so much. Estelle jokes when we have a problem with him that we are trying to resolve that she doesn't know what to do, Camille and Maxime were her babies, but Ed's mine. She also jokes that the bond Ed and I have is closer than hers and Ed's. These are jokes, as I only even vaguely know what I'm doing with Ed because of Estelle and she's his Mummy, nothing beats that bond.

However, I have never felt anything like the way my heart swells when he comes for a snuggle, tells me he loves me or wants to show me something he's excited about. I honestly can't imagine that it would be possible to love a baby that's biologically yours anymore. 

There are so many things he does that I love, but these are a few, for me to remember, and for him when he's a big boy and doesn't even remember the time we spent together.

His first three English words were peek-a-boo, thank you, and my name, Josie (da-ceee).

How much he loves to snuggle on my chest. His favourite place. Even when he isn't tired he comes for a snuggle, pops his thumb in his mouth and we just have special cuddle time.

When he runs. It's the cutest little doddery run. When we are on walks he will all of a sudden just break into a run and go crazy.

How he comes into my room early in the mornings. Fairly often I wake up to the 'donk' of my door handle and my name coming from the other side, before he comes in asks for 'up plese' and then wriggles in for morning snuggles.
The way he is now recognising people in pictures. Jus this week he's noticed himself and will point out it's 'Ed'.

When he goes for his nap, after we turn on the AC together and close the windows and doors, he climbs into bed, I give him a kiss and say good night, and he responds with "nu-night. I luuf yoo.".

After he wakes up he always comes to find me to have a cuddle before he is properly awake.

How much of a little boy he is. And the gross things he does, like licking my face if I pretend to ignore him.

The happiness that radiates off him when he sees the people he loves.

His cheeky nature. The way he plays games while he's eating, such as pretending to sleep or saying he needs a "pee-pee" if he hasn't got enough attention.
His naked bum. I've become so used to it while we potty train and it's just so adorable.

How amazing at swimming he is. HIs face is pure joy as soon as he realises I have his swimming stuff or say "pool time". Once in the water he is just at home and is already swimming short amounts on his own, breathing properly and playing breathing games, at not even 24 months!

The way he can't say 'one' so it is now just "tooo, tweee, dumpp!" (one, two, three, jump!)

His love for his crocs. No other shoes come close.

How he can't be wrong, he gets so frustrated if he is unable to do something at the first attempt.
The way he will always choose Barry the Fish with Fingers as the book he wants to read, because he loves the way that Barry (a hand puppet in the book) can tickle and be kissed.

How affectionate he is with people and his toys. Everything gets kissed so much! (Although we are discovering we also like to hit, but let's stick with the kisses for the sake of this post!)

His wonderfully learned habit of saying "mmm" after every mouthful, even when it's food he doesn't particularly like!

The amount he loves his big brothers (especially Camille).

That since I have been here his blanket has become Sniffy, like mine. Given the choice, he will choose mine over his.

How he can't say Sniffy, it comes out "Puffan".
The way he loves to tidy and put things away.

How he recognises when he's done something right/well because he will ask for a high five.

When he is being told off or to stop doing something he shouldn't be doing he instantly comes to give me a kiss as if to say "Oh look, I'm kissing you, let's forget that I was bad.". It works, because how can I turn down a kiss from him?!

When he sneakily finds the biscuit box, on his own and will try to help himself until he spots me and says "bisut plesee" (even if on one occasion he had his mouth full of biscuit at the time!)

That he says please and thank you so well, in the correct context.

How he has always loved planes and as soon as he hears one he has to stop what he's doing, point to the sky and say "plen, plen, plen!!!!".
As soon as he spots a camera he says "cheeeeeeee".

How he loves to have his hands and clothes sucked by the hoover.

That everything becomes a game.

How he will tire himself out by running circuits around the house, through all of the open doors and shutters. (Roaring the whole time to let you know where he is.).
When at the supermarket, he just wants to snuggle so always pulls me down to the right height.

That he wants to be the one to put products in the trolley and will get upset if he sees me do it without offering it to him first.

His big brown eyes.

The way his mouth keeps sucking when he's sleeping, even after his thumb has fallen out.


The Best (and easiest) Cookies

You know when you kind of half follow, half make up a recipe to make something very quickly, and only using the things you have to hand? That happened a couple of weeks ago when I was thinking of something really quick for the boys snacks that week. 
The result was the best cookies you can ever imagine. Very similar to the soft gooey, freshly baked ones you buy in Sainsbury's and M&S (Sorry Waitrose, you lose out here, unless your cookie's have changed in the 18 months!) but even better because you've made them yourself and can make them in less than the time it takes to get to the shop!

You will need:
  • 150g salted butter, softened
  • 160g sugar cane (but brown, granulated is good enough)
  • 2tsp vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 225g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 200g chocolate- chips/chunks/mix (I like to use a mixture of milk and white chocolate, chopped into chunks)

Start by pre-heating your oven to 190 degrees or gas mark 5, and getting your chocolate and butter to room temperature. This makes it much easier to chop the chocolate into chunks.

Line 2 baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
When your butter has softened and is at room temperature, add in your sugar.

And cream until well combined.
Pop in your vanilla (it works better if you have little hands to help!). Add the bi-carb and a pinch of salt. And crack in your egg.

Mix again on a high speed so you have a wet mixture. Then add the flour, still using your mixer, and when the flour is all mixed in and you have a cookie dough, pop in the chocolate.

At this point you can also add in other things if you fancy. I like to add raisins or chopped hazelnuts.
Dollop small teaspoon amounts onto both baking trays, evenly spaced. They won't spread too much, but do flatten.

Bake for 8-10 minutes and remove from the oven. They should look just done on the edges, but not quite cooked through the middle to give them that squidgy texture.

Leave to cool for a few minutes (where they will firm up a little) before moving to a cooling rack.


Back to the UK for my Twenty-First!

It was so surreal being back in the UK after such a long time away. Mainly because it was so cold though.
When I first moved to London and I went back to Dorset I felt like I had been away for such a long time and everything felt very different. I expected to feel this way about being back in England but it actually just felt exactly the same and as though nothing had changed. The first thing I did was have cuddles with my girls. The hardest thing about being away is definitely missing my pets! I can speak to my family and friends regularly but I don't get to snuggle my girls (and Murph and Marm!).

My Dad picked me up from Southampton airport and we drove back to Dorset with the heating in the car warming up to 23 degrees (I couldn't believe I have to cool the house down to this using the AC in Guadeloupe!) but I was still cold!

I went back to Mum's where thankfully I had my electric blanket and hot water bottles ready to warm me up. We had a lazy day where I slept until nearly 12. So unusual for me but after such a long journey and lay over in Paris I clearly needed sleep!

My second day home it was my twenty-first and I had the best day! Mum woke me up with birthday cake and proper English tea. She gave me the cutest presents, my favourite being the rose gold bangles engraved with my favourite quote "What if I fall? Oh but my darling, what if you fly?" as well as making me a cushion and make-up bag with some of my favourite fabrics and personalised with my name. Not forgetting my Kale t-shirt!! Isn't she just the very, very best!!!

I then went for Birthday Brunch with my Daddy. It's funny how when I was younger I hated going on walks with Dad, but now it's one of my favourite things to do. We just went to West Bay and walked along the cliff, whilst having lots and lots of cuddles with Smudge and being rudely interrupted by Whinnie.

The Watch House Cafe is a really nice place to eat on the beach. It used to be a really grubby cafe but was taken over a few years ago by The Hive Cafe and now they do really good food- the best Eggs Benedict as it's using Dorset bacon- obviously!

For dinner we went up to my grandparents for a birthday meal, consisting of Christmas Dinner and pudding! I wasn't home for Christmas so it was so lovely to have this special time with my family. I didn't know it at the time, but it was the last family meal we had with my Great-Grandad Dooks so it makes it a time I'll really cherish. Nan had saved crackers and got out the mini tree and fairy lights.
The following day I went up to London for a week to spend time with my friends and in my favourite place. It's funny how Dorset is where I grew up and where all of my family is, but London feels like home to me.

I met Lucy and David and as a true gent, he carried my bag, despite my protesting!

I love so much that in London you can always go and do things. We left Lucy's at about 8.30pm and still went to Oxford Street and wandered around shops. I think because my college was on Tottenham Court Road Oxford Street is one of my favourite places, even when it's hideously busy.

We went to Five Guys as I've never been and although I really don't like fast food, I can't deny it was an amazing burger!!!

We really wanted to try going to Duck and Waffle, to see the sunrise so we braved a 4.30am alarm to get there early enough. I hadn't planned this well as I had been for drinks in Richmond with a work friend the night before. It was pretty hideous but well worth it!

We shared pastries and the peanut butter and jam waffles, as well as having our own main breakfasts. Unfortunately I couldn't manage all of mine which was such a shame as it was posh egg and soldiers!

We were given the best table in the restaurant as although they had a booking for breakfast at 7.30am the lady assured us we could move when they arrived, but they didn't turn up which gave us such a great view of London waking up. It was overcast so we didn't get the sunrise as we had hoped, but we got the different light and watched the light disappear. Luce made these collages of the changing view (it's great to have arty friends isn't it!).

Having spent a few days at Lucy's in North London I'd invited myself (I've got an open invitation as we will be living together when I'm back in the UK now she's just bought her own place!!) to Claire's for the weekend in Chiswick to get to spend some time with her and Katie.

There was some confusion over which night we were all going out for my birthday and it was finally decided that we'd go out on Saturday. Friday night turned into pyjama's and selfie-stick time. HOW HAD I NEVER HEARD OF A SELFIE STICK?! They're basically made for me!!

We were planning on going to a place called Barrio Central but after someone *cough* taking such a long time to get ready, the queue was too long so we headed down to Strawberry Moons for some super cheesy tunes and the best dancing!

I kept everyone well entertained and made sure Luce's new boyfriend was up to scratch. If you can survive a very merry best friend after a first date and you're still interested then I think he's got to be okay!

For some strange reason Katie and Claire decided to wake up stupidly early the next morning. I need eight hours of sleep and I'm good, but significantly less and I'm not so great. Claire's an avid lover of the Eggs Bene at The High Road Brasserie, so we had tried that the morning before and it just wasn't great. It was cold by the time it go to us, I didn't think the sauce tasted of much, and the eggs were just meh. However I do love Sam's Brasserie, so when Claire abandoned us on Sunday morning, Katie and I went to check it out and it was definitely our favourite.

*You appreciate British bacon so much after being out of the country, other stuff just doesn't cut it.

I'm such a West London girl, I went to Brick Lane once and hated it. So out of my comfort zone, but not in a good way. I've lived central (Waterloo/Southwark, a 4 minute walk to The Tate) and in West London and it's just where I know. Luce also loves the V&A and as I wanted to go for a walk (and spend some time in Whole Foods, of course!) we met David in South Ken, walked down the King's Road to Sloane Square, to the Chelsea and Albert bridges, then all along the river, passed Big Ben and the Eye, refuelled with hot chocolate and dessert, crossed the river and up to Covent Garden.

I love that you can walk everywhere in London if you want to- even if your poor friends are so fed up of it! I just had to cram in as much walking as possible while I was back!

I left Lucy with around 200 selfies on her phone. She had just got the new iPhone and it's front camera was way better than mine. What else are friend for??

Back in Dorset, Lauren and I had planned some special time together to celebrate both of us turning twenty-one. It's been a long friendship, and despite having a teenage fall-out, we are such good friends. In fact I think it was beneficial to our friendship to have a year or so no talking as it means we are now friends because we really get along, not just because we always have been. So much so, that she's actually coming out next week (14th May) to be my replacement as the Clavier's Au Pair!
After a couple of treatments with Lauren, I went to stay with Ashley for the weekend. This was so lovely as I hadn't actually met baby Thomas yet! He was born in August while I was abroad and then they were all feeling a little run down so didn't make it to my birthday meal.

It's so nice to spend time with Ash as well. She's my cousin, but I definitely see her as the big sister I never had. I still can't believe she's go three children now, let alone that Rose is four already!!
We went for a lovely walk at Moores Valley which was great for the children to run around, and I'd definitely like to try doing GO Ape during the summer!

I don't remember the last time I had fish and chips, and we had planned to go to Harry Ramsden's before I left for Guadeloupe but it was forgotten about. This is the worst thing that can happen because it meant that while I was away I really, really wanted fish and chips!!! So when Mum came to pick me up, we all went for a treat dinner (Ray, Ashley's husband was working night's that weekend so I got her all to myself! Thanks, Ray!)

It was just about sunset so Rose and I ran off to have a look and managed to get some beautiful pictures!

And then Mum, Ash, Arthur and Thomas caught up with us!

We finally got the best crunchy fish I could have hoped for, it was definitely worth the wait. But I'm not in a hurry to have it again for another couple of years!
When we got back to the house to collect my stuff I realised Ash had a selfie stick as well, so I think her and Mum also had phones full of pictures of me, myself and I (and a few family shots for good measure!).
I spent some more time with Dad, met a new family member on his side of the family and we had some more lovely walks with beautiful light.

I remember learning to ride my bike up at Stone Barrow and summer walks as a family down to a hidden beach called St Gabriel's where we made friends with a donkey. I love it when places have such special memories.

After two and a half weeks filled with friends, family and my gorgeous girls it was time to head back to the Caribbean.