This title is a bit of a fib – what I mean is, our first family holiday involving aeroplanes (!) and whatnot. Before I begin I wanted to say THANKS A MILLION for all of your amazing recommendations in my essentials feature, it really made us far more prepared and as a result I worried less and relaxed more.

There is so much to write about that I’m going to make this feature two parts, this will be a more general holiday/Mama focussed post and I’ll follow on with my own recommendations (largely based on yours!) advice and an altogether more baby related follow up.

We stayed for a week in a private villa in Vale Do Lobo in Portugal. James had stayed there before some years ago but remembered it as being pretty, having plenty to do and being particularly family friendly. It was quite frankly the most manicured, cleanest and fanciest place I have ever been. Ever. We LOVED it.

Our villa was booked direct with the Vale Do Lobo accommodation agents, we rented the two bedroom deluxe Margarita style apartment with its own infinity pool, you can have a butchers at the gallery on the website for full details. The villa was equipped with everything, seriously – from three types of whisk (!) to five varieties of wine glass. It was super easy to cater for Mabel when we were not eating out and it was so just so peaceful having the place all to ourselves.

I’d say this was probably the first break since starting Rock My Ltd that I genuinely switched off from work. Apart from the odd instagram update I was practically social media free too, it was really rather liberating.

Admittedly there wasn’t exactly a huge amount of time to lounge by the pool/have a snooze in the shade with Madame Mabel – she required almost constant attention, but her afternoon nap meant we had a couple of hours per day to read a book and even though she went to bed a little later than usual, this meant we could sleep in too (I say sleep in, I’m talking 8.30am in comparison to 6.30am!)

We had a super king size bed with what must be the most comfortable mattress on the planet. Have you ever slept in a super king size bed? Unreal. Even with Mabel inbetween us most nights (she decided she didn’t appreciate a strange cot in an unfamiliar environment) we slept extraordinarily well.

Apart from the associated euphoria of not suffering from sleep deprivation for a full 7 days mostly we had the chance to talk. A lot. About the future, about buying a new home (our dream family house came on the market the Tuesday we were away, we went to view it on Sunday and are going back this weekend to see it agin – more on this soon!)…..and it was really really nice. Life moves so fast, I felt like this holiday gifted us with the opportunity to slow it down, even with a few 13 month old diva strops included.

I enjoyed putting my make-up on every night and “getting ready” – choosing a cute outfit and actually accessorising a wee bit. James was a star in terms of bathing and humouring Mabel for an hour so that I could do so – in fact we discussed that too, how much of parenting is teamwork. How well we actually work as a team. When the tough gets going it’s easy to forget how hard you work and what a good job you’re doing….you know?

I got over my bikini fear. I felt I owed it to what a challenging journey it’s been and how much my husband is so supportive and complimentary. But I have to say I did feel more comfortable in one of my various kaftan type cover ups. My favourite was this long Palm print shirt that also works as a flattering thigh-covering dress from H&M. I was also never without a cowboy style hat to keep those pesky ageing UVA and UVB rays from my hair and face, whilst away I invested in this rather fetching wide brim raffia number from Zara (it was cloudy that particular day – I figured that was a good excuse as any to go shopping…insert winky emoji here.)

I also think I found my evening wear fashion mojo (well, at least summer season anyway). It turns out I am a lover of the maxi (dress or skirt) and pale blue denim, be it a jacket or flared jeans worn with a light weight vest and a nude strappy sandal. Talking of the latter, I found the PERFECT pair for Β£24.99. So awesome I’ve actually bought a back up. True story.

I loved spending time with my daughter underneath blue skies, paddling in the sea and watching the sun go down. I love being a Mum. I love our small yet perfectly formed family unit we’ve created. No one’s life is perfect but it sure feels like it to me right now, we are already planning our next escape to sunnier climes πŸ™‚

Have you found your summer fashion mojo? Booked your summer holiday? Found the perfect nude sandal?!

I would very much like to invest in some kind of glowy non sparky and not too bronze erm…bronzer (!) any recommendations most welcome.

P.S These beach towels from John Lewis are amazing! I bought the Pineapple print and the Flamingo design, both were quite big yet thin so easy to roll up in your suitcase – they also dried really quick too.