Maternity Leave Goals

I am so behind on so much – I need to post my decade wrap up, my 30th birthday, my 30 before 30 review, but with 2021 nearly over (HOW, I still think it’s early 2020), I want to make sure I’m focused on accomplishing specific things before my year of mat leave ends.

Living in the UK means I get a year off for maternity leave. This is a HUGE opportunity, and one I never expected to have growing up in the US. However I do feel a bit nervous about taking a year away from my career, so there are things I want to accomplish while I’m out of the office and be able to return with an improved CV, and then a few other things I want to do to improve my quality of life.

  • Finish my MPH. Somehow I’m in my last year! When I first started, the idea of it taking four years to complete felt never ending. And now here we are! I have three courses left, and I’m really excited about two of them. Last year I took a Public Health focused class on infectious diseases (so interesting in times of COVID) and I loved it. So this year I’m taking an epidemiology focused infectious disease class, much more challenging but I figured I should follow my interests while I still have the chance. I’m also taking one on medical anthropology which I’m also super excited to learn more about. And then I can return to work with my masters!
  • Get conversational (or stretch goal/dream, to a professional level) in Spanish. Something mega exciting that I’ve been planning way, way before we even conceived, is to spend a few months in Spain during the mat leave taking intensive Spanish classes. I was shocked by how quickly I picked up some basic French after just two weeks of intensive lessons in Montpellier, so hopefully after a few months of them in Spain I’ll be much better at Español! We’ve already booked our accommodation, more details on this exciting move coming soon! 
  • Become a trustee at a charity. There are a few charities I really admire and think I could offer my experience to their board. This is a bit intimidating as a young, mid-level woman instead of an older, high level white man, but I have submitted my first application (to a charity I’m very passionate about and that truly feels like a perfect fit) and I got an interview. Them being interested enough to interview me is a great confidence boost and will definitely help inspire me to keep applying until I’m successful.
  • Get my driving license! I am SO desperate for this one! I have driven since I was 16, but not since I moved to the UK. And wow do I miss the freedom of having my own car. I’ve had to rely on Gareth for so much, and I am sooo excited to have a bit more independence. I’m going to book a week of intensive lessons to get comfortable driving on this side of the road (and to get used to the much smaller lanes) hopefully while my mom is here in December to watch Iris.
  • Become a UK citizen! Next June I’ll have lived here for 5 years and be eligible for citizenship. I don’t love not being a citizen of the country where my daughter was born and will live for the foreseeable, especially post-Brexit. I have pre-settled status at the moment which means I can leave for 2 years and still return, but any longer than that and I’d have to get a visa.
  • Volunteer more. It’s so hard to volunteer working full time, especially doing a part time masters, but I hopefully I’ll be able to fit in a bit more during this year.
  • Do the Strong as a Mother course. Gareth’s gym has a postpartum programme that I want to complete to help me get back to normal. Pregnancy and birth was really hard on my body and I’ve been really weak and out of shape for nearly a year now. I’ve had a lot of postpartum complications and I just want to feel healthy and healed and capable again.

I have no idea if I’m being way too ambitious for a year with a new baby, but we’ll see what I can get done!


Kitchen Reno

Kitchen Reno

We remodeled our kitchen! Months ago, back in November, but I was a bit busy and haven’t posted about anything in months.

If you remember, this was the kitchen before.

Kitchen RenoKitchen Reno

Then we put in parquet wood floors, which made it a bit nicer but still in desperate need of updating.

We demo’ed the kitchen ourselves, which was a bit horrifying, and hired separate plumbers and electricians, but otherwise IKEA did everything and it was much less expensive than I feared – still pricy but not the horror stories you hear about the cost of kitchen renos. Things that we added to the kitchen include much more storage (in the form of drawers, which are so much better than cabinets), a DISHWASHER, which was life changing, full size fridge and freezer, and a microwave! Along with just making it all look much nicer.

Kitchen Reno Kitchen Reno Kitchen Reno

It was quite stressful as IKEA didn’t measure correctly initially so the job ended up being much bigger than planned, but luckily because it was their mistake it didn’t cost us anything.

Kitchen Reno

We painted the walls Setting Plaster by Farrow and Ball and did the tiling ourselves. I think the room came together really well; there is still a few more shelves we want to hang and to update the artwork, but we are very into it. Plus it could have come out somehow worse than before        and having a dishwasher would make it all worth it to me. I love dishwashers.

Kitchen RenoKitchen RenoKitchen RenoKitchen RenoKitchen Reno

Once the kitchen was done, we had two big projects left that we wanted to accomplish pre-baby. The terrible downstairs bathroom, and the nursery of course!

Fløyen Mountain, Bergen, Norway

Trying to Conceive Part 2

Our Third Pregnancy

After our second loss, we again had an off cycle where we didn’t conceive. I was honestly mostly relieved because the thought of ever going through another loss was too much, and I struggled to imagine a pregnancy that didn’t end in one. I was also now on medication from ovulation until either negative test or 14 weeks of pregnancy, and I was happy to get to stop it for a bit. Fun experience, the first day I took all the medication, my entire body started burning and turned bright red. I was in an uber to A&E before the clinic called me back and confirmed it was totally normal and okay. It continued to happen every day for the next 6 weeks!

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Trying to Conceive

This is going to be a vulnerable post about our experience trying to conceive because I think too often the journey goes unsaid, leaving women to feel totally alone in the process when it’s not as easy as they expected at the start. It’s also long and emotional, because there isn’t anywhere this is all recorded and I want to remember the details. That said, I know a lot of people had far more difficult journeys than us, and we are very lucky to be pregnant.

In April I decided to have my IUD removed so we could start trying, right after COVID struck. Everything went into lockdown and I couldn’t find anyone who would remove it, as it wasn’t an essential service. I called all over the country, tried multiple times to do it myself (I don’t recommend), and finally found a clinic who would do it. Luckily this was right before I was set to start my period, and though I didn’t have much hope for a first month conception, I was so excited to know we were really trying!

I immediately did everything I could to help our chances. I logged my temperature religiously every morning, took OPK tests to monitor ovulation, and timed intercourse pretty constantly through our fertile window.

I didn’t think I’d stress the first few months, and I didn’t. In my head I expected it to take about four months, so that was kind of where I was focusing.

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Tuscan Sunset, Italy

A trip to the Tuscan Mountains

We had the best time in Tuscany! This was the part of the trip I was least excited for and it wound up being my favourite part.

Where to stay

We stayed in Mulina, which was quite well located for the two hikes we ended up doing. The flat was really quite and spotlessly clean, with a nice area for eating outside as well. We’d definitely return here in the future.

Where to eat

(Just a note, that as this was during the COVID times, all of these places had outdoor and socially distanced seating.)


We ate some of the best food of the trip in this area. On our way up we stopped at Osteria La Risvolta for lunch and ordered off the server’s recommendation. It was insanely good. Every day we planned to go back, but we kept finding new places to try and sadly never returned.

The second day we had a picnic lunch on top of Monte Forato – bread, meats, cheeses and wine of course. It was lovely 🙂


The first night we had dinner close by at Trattoria Luciana Mulina. This was out of convenience, though our host did recommend it, and though it’s laid back looking, the food really surprised us. It was also totally delicious and a great local spot if you’re nearby.

After our epic day of hiking, we ate at Il Soggiorno. This place is kind of crazy to get to (you drive down a long windy road that isn’t totally convincing as a road), but the staff were so lovely and the food was so good and the portions were giant.

The one place we wanted to try but couldn’t was Osteria Candalla. If you’re going to be in the area (hiking or swimming most likely!), this place is popular enough that it’s necessary to book ahead.

What do to

Isola Santa

Isola Santa, Tuscany Isola Santa, Tuscany Isola Santa, Tuscany We did the best stuff! The day we arrived it was hot and we wanted to find somewhere to cool down, so we drove up to Isola Santa lake, which is nestled in this adorable village, and swam around. The water was so refreshing and you swim right over ruins of Medieval buildings.


The next day we did two hikes because we couldn’t choose between them. If you plan to do this, I’d suggest breaking them up though I am not the fittest person in the world and survived doing both in one day.

We spent the morning hiking Monte Forato, mainly because we saw the peak on the way to Isola Santa the night before and decided it would be fun to climb – and it was!

Monte Forato, Tuscany, Italy

Then we spent the afternoon doing the magical Candalla waterfalls hike.

Candalla Waterfalls,Tuscany, ItalyYou can read the details here!

We only had two days in Tuscany, if we go back we’ll stay longer and explore more. I thought we’d lack for things to do but there is so much on in this area. I can’t wait to return!

Florence, Italy

A return to Florence

We had such a lovely time in Florence. Even though it’s so modern, the city centre is so unchanged it always feels a bit like stepping back in time. We stayed here, and can highly recommend it as it was charming, well placed, and even had an air con. There are a lot of steps up though, so only fit for those glad to climb a ton of stairs.

I’ve already written a full itinerary for Florence here. We mainly followed that, while trying out new food options.

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Karen Blixon House, Nairobi, Kenya

We’re Having a Baby!

The most exciting news I’ve ever been able to share – we are expecting a baby girl to join our family this summer!

We didn’t have the easiest road (nor the most difficult!) – which I’ll get into in another post, but suffice to say we could not be more relieved to be just over 18 weeks along and finally able to believe it’s real!

We’ve already starting collecting some used baby things, and seeing the little clothes and furniture is really mind boggling.

We’re already counting down the days until we get to meet you, little one!

Tuscan Sunset, Italy

Italy Trip in the times of COVID

As you might have seen, we have some very exciting news! Our journey wasn’t the easiest, and after an early miscarriage in August we were desperate to get away from lockdown life for a bit. Luckily, there was a travel corridor open with Italy at the time and despite generally having an extremely low risk appetite for COVID exposure, we decided to take a trip to Italy to try to find some happiness. And we had the best trip!


Other than the flights, where we took precautions like sanitising our seats, not using the restrooms (or moving at all), not eating or drinking anything (thus never removing our masks) and where we didn’t have to sit with anyone else in our row, the trip felt completely safe. Italy is much, much stricter than the UK when it comes to COVID, so we were actually much safer there than back in London. All transport was socially distanced, train stations had people checking temperatures, and busy streets had police mandating masks at all times – even just walked about. No one in London wears masks just walking around outside, so it was a really nice change of pace!


The Duomo, Florence, Italy

We spent two days in Florence, eating the best food, drinking out in the sunshine, and just enjoying the gorgeous city. I have a full Florence itinerary here, and you can read about this trip here.


Isola Santa Lake, Tuscany

We then moved up into the mountains for a taste of the countryside. We ate the best meals here, went on two epic hikes, and swam in some really wonderful places!

Cinque Terre

Vernazza, Cinque Terre

I went to Cinque Terre a few years ago alone, and was so keen to return with a travel buddy. My hen do was actually going to be here in July, before COVID delayed the wedding. We stayed in Vernazza, my favourite of the five towns, and did nothing but eat, read and swim. It was heaven.

DIY Kitchen Parquet Floors

When we moved in we had a list of changes we wanted to make sooner rather than later. One that I really wanted to do was pull up the lino kitchen floors and put in herringbone parquet. The only way we’d be able to afford this would be to do it ourselves, and after some trial (and definitely some error) we are so pleased with how they turned out!

The Baseline

Not terrible, but none of it was really to our taste. And once we started on the floors things kind of ran away from us and we ended up completely redoing the entire kitchen! Lockdown gave us too much time so scheme. This post will only focus on the floors however, so read on for more details below!

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