Bia Mara

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Bia Mara

Bia Mara is somewhere Mark and I having been coming to for a while now and somewhere I always mean to write up about, I am being completely honest when I say it serves the best fish and chips (and being british I've tasted a fair few).
You see its popularity straight away as the place is always busy and even if there is a queue I would still suggest waiting, staff are efficient (and always friendly) meaning you won't be waiting to long. Plus with a central location and minimal/modern decor (love the lights) its a great place to head to whenever your in the centre.

Bia Mara - food

I can't say enough how great the food is, the fish is always fresh, chips nice and chunky and the garlic truffle mayonnaise is to die for. Our favourite is the fish in lemon and basil tempura with seaweed salted chips and garlic truffle mayo, plus mushy peas (which comes in 2 pots) on the side and we always head here when we're with Finn as he loves a good fish and pea combo.

So if you haven't tried this place yet and are in the centre of town its a must to go to, plus with prices 10-12 euros a menu how could you complain.

Bia Mara - inside

2nd Birthday

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So just over 2 week ago Finn turned 2 and its true what everyone says, time really goes by quick.
We organised a small birthday party for him and with his much loved interest for 'things that go' decided to go with a transport theme. Incase its not clear there its meant to be a fire engine on the cake (cake decorating is clearly a skill I don't have, ha!)

I will admit my planning and to do list wasn't at the level of last year (this pregnancy isn't giving me much energy) but I did managed to get a paint brush out and create a few cardboard vehicles (pic above), which we stuck on the windows. It was so worth it as straight away Finny started pointing and listing them (last year's painted animals weren't such a hit). For other decor we put up the bunting from the last year and a load of balloons. Thankfully most of the food was taken care of by Gaga and Fafa (utter life savers), so all in all there was no stress for me.

Present wise we decided on a play kitchen (Ikea) as he is always keen to make tea (for me) and coffee (for mark). We included some pots, pans, fruit and veg and thought it best to build/set up everything the night before meaning I spent most of the evening constructing (always love a good ikea challenge though plus Mark never reads instruction so really can't be trusted to help :)). Mark put up the decorations and when the morning came Finn excitedly came upstairs and headed straight over to the first balloon he could find, which he played with most of the morning…I love how sometimes its the simplest things.

I would say the day/party was a clear hit, he ate all his favourite sweet things, got to play loads with his best buddy Emil and throughly enjoyed us singing 'Happy Birthday' to him (which he also sang to himself several time through the day), come bedtime he was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.
I do have one regret though that we didn't take more pictures, I always find it the case when theres other thing to do, next celebration I'm holding a camera permanently in my hand.

Pampers to Potty

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Pampers to potty

Some big news at the moment is that Finn is officially starting 'school' this coming February (which is actually having me in tears now). I keep thinking its too early for him to be away from me, but in truth I think it could be too early for me to be away from him :). What is easing this new stage is thinking how fun it'll be for Finn to spend his days with other children, as well as the much needed alone time I'll get with our next bundle and to do illustration.
On the school, we have decided to go with a local Flemish (Dutch) one and are lucky enough to get a place there. Everything obviously is taught in Dutch (I understand enough) and with a lot of French speakers going there we're hoping he'll pick up both languages. We did think of expat schools, but with them being so costly (a lot of companies give allowances for this, unfortunately not in our case) and not equipped with the facilities I expected, we didn't see its worth at this age.
So for the moment the school search is over (thankfully because filling forms, meeting deadlines and visiting schools were a little hectic), we'll see how Finn gets on and in the worst case we can always move him.

That all being said we now come to a dilemma...

Children are expected to be potty trained before starting school, which is giving us a clear deadline for a dry boy! We initially had a goal for Finn to be out of nappies before Sep (when bundle 2 arrives) but hearing how things like this can go back a step, when new siblings arrive means it might take a bit longer
How are we handling it? At the moment we're getting him interested in the potty, we talk about it, make him sit on it in the morning and read stories, as well as ask him if he's done things in his nappy. Next stage will come after his birthday (this weekend..yay!) where we'll try him only wearing pants. I'll let you know how that stage goes, but pretty sure it'll involve a lot of cleaning...ha!

Porto Santo

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Porto Santo

So as our family will soon become 4 we decided it would be best to take a last little holiday as a trio. Relaxing and spending quality time with Finn and as a family.
When deciding the type of holiday we were thinking: all inclusive (so no worries about where to eat), sun, swimming and the beach, and after a little search we ended up booking a week away to Porto Santo. If you haven't heard of it (I have to admit I hadn't), its a small island of 5000 people just above from Madeira.
The 4hr flight was a little longer than we would've liked (we had to stop in Madeira to let people off), but thankfully Finn did his usual thing and slept most of the way.

Hotel - Porto Santo

When we arrived the weather wasn't the best (you can see from the left pic) but thankfully the clouds lifted and we had really sunny days from then on.
Now I must say I'm always one for the sun, I could happily lay down and sunbathe all day, but it seems that this might of changed. Being pregnant I couldn't stand even half an hour in the sun, and trying to relax on the beach or a sun lounger when you can't lie on your front or back is pretty frustrating. I constantly covered Finny with high factor and made him wear a hat and then ended up doing the same, which was great for setting an example plus the fact I couldn't exactly sunbathe made me more up for doing things.

Regarding the food, our expectations weren't too high, (food is never amazing when somewhere needs to cater for lots of people) but there was always something good enough to eat, and the fact there was food from 7am-11pm was perfect with two hungry boys. Plus lots of choice meant if Finn didn't like something there was always something else to try.

Finn - Porto Santo
As is usually the case our daily routine revolved mainly around Finn, so we spent our mornings swimming in the pool and afternoons at the beach ('building sand castle with dada').
The life vest you can see above was a purchase we made the day before, it had me running all around the shops trying to find one and resulted in me paying a vast amount for the only one I could find. When Finn finally did get in the water with it on, he hated it so much that we ended up using it for 5 mins and it spend the rest of the time packed away (at least theres room to grow).

Jeep Safari - Porto Santo

To break up the week one day we went on a jeep safari around the island (pic above), which was well worth taking as Finn loves being in a car, plus it was interesting to hear about the area. Then another day we took the custody bus into the town centre for a look around followed by a long leisurely stroll back to the hotel via the beach (pic below).

Family walk - Porto Santo

The holiday was exactly what we needed, Finn enjoyed it (especially the waves, which he went mad for) and I loved the fact the three (and a half) of us were all together somewhere else than at home. I think another all inclusive beach holiday will be on the cards once our next one is ready.

Update on Finn

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Update Finn 2014

Weekend trip - Copenhagen

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Nyhavn - Copenhagen

Another weekend took me on a solo trip to Copenhagen, this was my third time there and I have to say I really love this city. Apart from the fact my best friend Nin lives there, Denmark undoubtedly has the most amazing design taste. Most of my favourites brands come from there (Ferm Living, Arne Jacobsen, Stelton, Royal Copenhagen and Hay), which always has me at a constant battle not to buy everything I see when I visit.
Even glimpsing into passing homes (please say we all do this) makes me look at their style, with all their individual designer pieces and make me just wish I have the same at home (our home is more the Ikea showroom type).
Another thing I love is the great family vibe, young children and babies are everywhere and more dads are with prams than mums (though with the size of their buggies its no wonder). It just gives that sense that having and being a family is very important seems so safe and relaxed there.

Royal copenhagen cafe

I always have a real feast when I'm over there, we do brunches, have hotdogs, smørrebrød (the pic above is the Royal Smushi Cafe) and always coffee (which usually end up me drinking more coffee in one weekend than I do the whole rest of the year). And I always come back with types of salty liquorice such as Lakrids (I blame growing up in The Netherlands for my love of that) and now I have a new favourite of Bonbon boiled sweets.

Eurovision 2014

There was also another reason for the trip, Nin managed to get tickets to the Eurovision Jury Final. Basically it was a full test run of the performances, with fake results included (Montenegro won btw).
It was such a fun night and it had an amazing vibe in the place. From that night it was pretty clear who the winner was (shame I didn't put money on it). There was also lots going on around town that you couldn't help but join in with singing a Eurovision song or two.
No doubt I'll be planning another trip to see Nin/Copenhagen soon, and I can't wait!

25 Weeks pregnant

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25 weeks pregnant

Weekend trip - Nice

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Nice beach

With our new bundle of joy coming in September and Finny turning 2 mid July we realised that our benefits of a free passinger and me even being allowed to travel by plane were drawing to a close. So we became very organised and booked a load of trips to see friends/family, with a sneaky last holiday as a trio thrown in.
One of the weekend included a trip to see our friend in Nice, France!

Nice harbour

Last time we went to Nice was back in the day when Mark and I were child and care free. We would relax in the sun with drinks in hand and party hard into early hours. Our mornings would involve long lie in followed by large brunches to ease our hangovers.
So here we were heading back again, but this time with a child and a half, I think we both knew that we would be seeing a different side to Nice.

Nice streets

I do love the way the streets are set in Nice, narrow alleys with little restaurants and bars along them, its like stumbling upon secret places every time you turn the corner.

Finn - Nice Park

Our experience this time of Nice was we felt more like locals then tourists, we spent our days walking around the markets and backstreet, enjoying long lunches and copious amount of ice cream (think pregnancy allowed me to get away with that one). The rest of the day we focused on activities for Finny, which would involve a lot of time in the Park. The new one in the centre had great things for him to play on, funnily enough it had fake grass (shown in pic above), which looked so real and kept it perfectly green. We also took a trip put to a view point on the little white train (ok pretty touristic) which Finn was thrilled about. Evenings varied, one night was spent in another out and about and our last evening we relaxed on a hotel roof terrace with amazing panoramic views.
One difficulty we did find on the holiday was our routine with Finn, with us being out and about he ended up with broken naps and bedtimes of 10pm. This resulted in a decreased appetite and him being a little fussy in the day, though considering it all he always had a smile on his face.

By the time we started to settle and relax, our long weekend was up (I hate it when that happens). No doubt we'll be booking another trip to Nice soon, but next time it'll be Nice with 2 children in tow.

Sushi Oui

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sushi oui - outside

Something that I am counting down the days till I can eat again is sushi, well that and a rare steak, baked camembert and pâté on toast! I hate when you can't eat something, you crave it so much (why I never stick to diets).
I mentioned in a previous post about Makisu (a take on sushi) but if your one of those people who go for the real, authentic deal then there is a great place called Sushi Oui.
It opened last year and being situated right near my old work was a places at the time I couldn't wait to try (the nearest sushi before that was Carrefour). As soon as it opened I was there and after trying the lunch menu it became my lunch twice a week (which when you work part time is a lot!).

sushi oui - lunch menu

For lunch I would always go for the set menu: a sushi box (18pieces), salad and miso soup for 12.80 euros (might be different online). My favourite was the 'Trio' box (shown above), theres spicy ones which are delicious and I love sushi with the lettuce around refreshing.
You can obviously get their sushi anytime of the day, but value for money the lunch menu is great. If you go for something different they do have a wide selection of sashimi and sushi, with even some cooked versions which I might have to try very soon (will satisfy some craving).
All in all if you're into sushi you need give this place a they deliver!

sushi oui - booklet

Lastly, if you're into design then you should check out their website, booklet and packaging, great, simple and clean…mmm can you tell I worked in design.


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Second big change is come September there will be another little member of our family! Whoooooo!
I actually found out a few days after my last day at work (feelings of nausea pretty much gave it away). Indeed probably not the best timing with our limited income right now but we are still over the moon, we were planning on trying sometime this year so now is just as good as any.

I can't believe I completely forgot how horrible 'morning' (more like 'all day') sickness can be, I remember being ill with Finn but not this bad. Throwing up countless times a day is not a pleasant past time, but when looking after a toddler is thrown into the mix it can really take it out of you.
This was the main reason I took a step back from blogging, getting the energy for anything those months was a challenge. Its a good thing the brain blocks these bad times from memory because remembering I'd feel hungover for 3 months would be hard to take.

Its funny how different first pregnancies are to second. I look back on my pregnancy with Finn, everyone congratulated and asked how I was all the time and all I did was lie around relaxing and deciding what my next craving could be. This time round its like there isn't time to think about being pregnant, its only when I get sudden bouts of thirst or finding I'm exhausted from walking up the stairs that I remember. I love the moments when I have a bath and get that time to think about the little one growing inside and those times when Finn does something that makes me think how amazing a big brother he will be.
With Finn being only 2 when this one is born I did worry that maybe the age gap would be too small. My ideal spacing was 3 years (my brother and I have this and it worked great), but when I read up about it there were pros and cons at any age difference. I guess for us, the baby products are still out and the challenges with Finn are still fresh in our minds so already prepared for the next!