Once Upon a Smile

The last three months have been just a little hectic but I am extremely proud to have been announced as a patron of Once Upon a Smile. The charity provides all kinds of support to families who have suffered bereavement, from helping with funeral costs to listening to children, they cover it all.

To help them do what they do best I decided to hold a charity event. I asked my friends to donate some pre-loved designer goods which I then sold in a pop up shop at the event. Alongside this I held a raffle (with prizes generously donated from ChronoEdge and Philip Armstrong, to name just a couple) as well auctioning a box at Manchester City (I know!!), donated by Harvey Nichols, and a VIP shooting experience from Cloudside Shooting and Sporting Club. ESPA and Agent Provocateur bestowed the ladies with gifts and they were entertained by the amazing Sam Burrows as well as the boys from The Mend. I was blown away by those who showed their support by donating to the event, but even more than that, the generosity of those who attended the event. We raised over £11,000 on the day and every penny went directly to the charity. There are some items left for sale and the lovely ladies at Elite Dress Agency in Altrincham are continuing to sell them for me. So if you’re after a bargain or a post-Christmas treat then head on over there! If you want a closer look inside the event then take a look at The Manchester Evening News, Cheshire Magazine and Cheshire Life…they have all the pics from the day!

In the run up to Christmas, Once Upon a Smile have also been collecting gifts for children who would otherwise not receive anything on Christmas Day, as well as providing families with Christmas dinner. This charity relies solely on donations from people like you and they really do make a difference to the people they help.

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You can never see this gorgeous Helmut Lang skirt too many times…love love love it!!!

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Daniel Jillings is one half of the founders of Once Upon a Smile.

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Don’t forget to check out our other pics!!!!!

Count Your Blessings.

Over the years I have supported various charities but just recently I have decided to hold my own event in support of Once Upon a Smile .  The charity was launched in 2011and provides support to families who have lost a child or parent; and just recently they launched a child bereavement support service too.  The stories of the children they have helped through grief are so inspiring.  I am delighted to be able to help raise money and awareness for Once Upon a Smile and hope my event is a huge success!

Every now and then I count my blessings; just something small can make me realise how lucky I am and I get an overwhelming feeling of happiness and contentment that I just can’t describe.  It’s like my whole heart is filled with so much love it could actually burst!  Being a parent is just the most amazing thing and my children make me proud everyday (as well as driving me crazy from time to time).  I wouldn’t change them for the world!


Since the new school term has started Lilia has been taking violin lessons.  You should bear in mind that this child has spent two weeks at almost every club under the sun, not because she is incapable of doing anything, it’s her stubbornness.  She wants to be perfect before she has even tried it!  So with that in mind I was slightly apprehensive about the violin but we agreed she could give it a go.  After only four lessons Lilia is amazing!  Obviously I have never even attempted to play so I don’t know how difficult it is, but I was astounded by her talent and her love of playing.  She hasn’t stopped practising and every week she is so excited for her lesson!  She has always loved music and when we are driving in the car seems to know every single word of every single song that comes on the radio.  I wouldn’t mind, only I find her correcting my made-up lyrics all the time!  Occasionally she asks me to put Classical fm on, but just lately it’s every time.  She loves it and can pick out the instruments being used in the orchestra!  I find her fascinating, especially as my first choice would be Capital Extra!  Ha!  I’m going to look into taking her to the Halle orchestra.  Actually I did go once when I was at school, so maybe I have a bit of classical in me after all!  It could be that Lilia has found her niche, I am just so proud and felt I wanted to share it.

The Secret is Out!

So my secret is out; I am one of the six Real Housewives of Cheshire!  I can’t actually believe it and I’ll be honest, there are times I have thought, “oh god, what am I doing?”  It’s very exciting and I am sure it’s going to be fabulous!  Obviously it is a bit scary to let people into your life put yourself out there for the world to criticise, but I am confident that we will be looked after.  We have a fantastic crew and they are already feeling like family!  I know most of the other ‘wives’ very well and we are all having a fab time.  There are going to be highs and lows but I suppose that’s life!  I am so lucky to have great support from those closest to me and I am sure they will keep my feet firmly on the ground.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
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So, in other news for me, I did something I have never done before.  Last Sunday I took part in a charity bike ride for Macmillan (40k to be exact!).  It was actually my lovely friend, Carla Kompany, who asked me to join in.  She has done many things for this charity (including climbing Ben Nevis) so myself and Jessica Lawlor decided to get involved!

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It took place around Tatton Park in Knutsford, it was the most beautiful day and there was a fantastic turn out!  As well as not having ridden a bike for a fair few years, I hadn’t don’t much training so was so pleased when I completed it in 2.03 hours.  Not too bad!  So there I was thinking “piece of cake”, until I got off the bike and realised it was definitely going to hurt later.  Obviously the bacon sandwich when I reached the finish line helped a little!  Ha!  Well, it’s rude not to!  It made me feel so proud to be part of something special and to help to change peoples lives like Macmillan do…it’s just such an amazing cause!  I raised just under £2800 so I need to say a massive thank you to everyone who donated!  Of course my number one fans were at the finish line waiting to congratulate me and who knows…maybe next year I will go for the 80k!!??

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Party Time!

It’s still full steam ahead for me at the moment but I managed to squeeze in a fab girly evening watching Pharrell at the phones4u arena.  We had so much fun and danced all night!  We couldn’t resist a little pre (and post) stop off at Neighbourhood.  I love this place; I really do think they have it just right.  The food is delicious and the layout is great.  My fave spot is the big booth as you walk in (which is where we sat of course).   I had my usual snap crackle and pop (which is king prawns in a seafood lobster bisque sauce) yum!  Of course this was amongst other things because, as usual, I finished everyone else’s food off too!  Ha!  The music is great and you can have a meal, dance, drink and party!

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On the way into the arena my crazy friend, Tanya, got us some sparkly flashing hats.  We were all refusing to wear them for the first 30 seconds and then we were fighting over them!  I love girly nights!

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My next big night was the Creme de la Creme Ball.  This is a massive event every year and is organised by my close friend, Dawn Ward.  It’s in aid of a fantastic cause and supports Caudwell Children.  It always raises a lot of money and this year was no exception.  With Dawn experiencing what it’s like to have a sick child (her youngest daughter, Aston, had meningitis when she was a baby) her speech was very emotional and heartfelt.  It was difficult to hold back the tears.

Everyone was dressed to kill; it’s glamour at it’s finest!  I wore a floor length dress by my lovely friends Philip and Tony Armstrong.  I felt a million dollars in it and got lots of compliments!  The performance from Pixie Lott was a real hit and we were treated to the first performance from the new girl band, Alula.  Dawn’s daughter, Darby, is one of the three gorgeous girls so it was such a proud moment for all of us!  I really do love this event as it gives me a chance to catch up with almost everyone in Cheshire!  However my fight to throw some shapes on the dance floor can be difficult; bumping into someone you know every two steps is lovely, but I do love to dance!  The night goes soooo quick and before you know it the sun is coming up.  Woops!  No taxis insight!  Its one of the worst feelings in the world; daylight in a ball gown!  Needless to say, although it was a week ago, I am still feeling the after effects.  I just can’t handle it any more!  But an extended hangover won’t stop me partying!!!
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My Head’s Spinning!!!

I feel like my feet aren’t touching the floor of late.  I’m not going to lie, I have been so ridiculously busy my head is spinning!

I have been working on a new, exciting (and secret) project as well as getting into the thick of my clothes range.  It’s all going on!  I know I need to stop thinking of everything all at once but it is so easy to get lost in your thoughts and project yourself into the future.  To stop thinking of what you want and where you want to be, and start living in the here and now, is much easier said than done.  I have started to read a book called Mindfulness for Dummies (not sure I appreciate the title!).  I have always been interested in meditation and I have been saying I would love to take classes as I think it’s so important to be able to relax and give yourself that bit of time for you.  It makes you look at the world differently, or should I say, makes you take note and appreciate how beautiful the world we live in is!  I am loving it and find it so interesting.
I managed to read the first few chapters while on a short break from the madness, with Wes.  We went to Puerto Banus in Marbella; no kids, just us.  It was so amazing to have a bit of quality time together and I love Marbella.  With the fancy designer shops, the big yachts and people-watching in the restaurants on the port, we had a totally chilled out time (no crazy nights, just us and the sunshine!).

If ever you get the chance one of my favourite spots is La Sala restaurant and bar.  The food is lovely and the atmosphere is great.  It’s nice to get a table outside because it gets lively inside, but if you don’t like standing I would book an inside table from the off set if you want to be in the mix!  Los Bandidos is my favourite restaurant on the port.  The food is lush and it’s situated right next to Louis Vuitton and Dolce and Gabbana, amongst other lovely shops!

We stayed at  The Guadalpin Hotel as it’s only a short walk along the beach into the port (so no car needed) and the Mistral Beach, which is right in front of it, is really lovely.  They have traditional Spanish food which is beautiful and the beach is very chilled.  You’ll find everyone from young to old to families!  Obviously if you’re going for a crazy time that’s a different story…I will fill you in on the best spots next time I go with the girls!  Haha!

Start of the Season

I hadn’t seen my beautiful husband for almost 3 weeks and the girls had missed him so much with being in Turkey on holiday. They had loads of fun but they never stop asking for daddy!  The weekend we got back was the first home game of the season for Sunderland and they were playing Man Utd.  After a whirlwind one night stay at home (unpacking and packing again) we were off to The Stadium of Light!  Wes had got all the girls the new season shirts with their names on the back (and obviously their daddy’s number 5).  The game was a draw, so a great point for Sundo against Man U!

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We decided to stay at the Jesmond Dene House hotel in Newcastle.  Its set on the park and is a beautiful place.  It is so quiet but less then 5 minutes into the town centre.  The rooms were lovely; we had a deluxe room in a separate annex from the main building which was on the ground floor.  It had it’s own little garden which the kids loved (Halle took a beautiful picture of a bumble bee on a pink flower, which just makes you appreciate nature) but more importantly (for me the foody) the restaurant is amazing! 


We have eaten there once before and we all loved it.  There is a private dining room for up to 12 people which is perfect for us as it means the children are less likely to disturb anyone in the main restaurant!  The food is so beautiful.  I opted for French onion soup for starter and the lobster tail for my main, while my mum and Wes went for the steak.  Both were outstanding and obviously I tried everything!  Now I am usually up for sampling a bit of the desserts but this was something else.  I had the dark chocolate sphere and it was lush.  Hot chocolate sauce was poured over the outer shell which melted to reveal ice-cream inside.  Finger licking good!!

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The wine menu has a wide variety and there is a wine connoisseur on hand to advise you (just in case you’re like me;  I often ask for something “full bodied with vanilla and chocolate undertones with a smooth finish”…something I once read on the back of a bottle.  Ha!)  Anyway, after baffling him with our extensive knowledge of wine he suggested a Syrah: Chateau Ste Michelle from Columbia Valley.  It was beautiful.  We followed it with a few cocktails and then it was definitely night night for us!  A hotel I would certainly recommend if you’re ever staying over in Newcastle!

Great Places in Bodrum

We went to some beautiful places in Bodrum. The beaches aren’t sandy (unless they are man-made) so there was a lot of jumping off jetties! Everybody was so welcoming of children so it was never a struggle to find somewhere to entertain them. Stacey’s house is in Torba and there are a couple of beach front restaurants there which are lovely. We also went to Kuum Beach in Turkbuku (known as the St Tropez of Turkey) and stayed until the sun set. The kids were running around and jumping in and out of the sea all afternoon!
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We went to B-long beach in Yalikavak too; it’s part of the newly built Palmarina. It was so beautiful. The children were playing in canoes in the sea and the little ones took advantage of the (slightly strange) sand! After the sun went down we went for some food and walked along the marina, looking at all of the yachts. We even managed to squeeze in a waffle with Nutella!
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We were there for ten days so, of course, we managed a cheeky night out! Stacey used to live in Turkey so she has lots of friends who live there, including the famous belly dancer, Tanyli. We had a really fun night at the open air club, Halikarnus (decorated by Jade Jagger…it was stunning), and Tanyli showed us a few of her moves. I love all types of dancing but found her particularly fascinating. What that girl can do with her hips…wow! Amazing. 
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