Late Fragments by Kate Gross

I stumbled upon Kate’s blog a few months ago and was saddened to read of her illness. I think it makes it sadder when the world loses someone who was doing so much for it. In her mid 20’s, Kate was working at No. 10 Downing Street with Tony Blair followed by Gordon Brown, as their personal secretary’s. She then went on to be CEO of the Africa Governance Initiative of which Tony Blair is a patron.

She passed away on Christmas day but what makes her story even more tragic is it happened 10 minutes before her 5 year old twin boys came running in to ask “Is it morning?” Earlier this month her book Late Fragments was published and I immediately ordered a copy which I practically devoured in one sitting.

You wouldn’t be wrong for thinking this is a book about cancer and in many ways of course it is (it’s the reason she writes the book). It tells of Kate’s story and how she deals with knowing death is coming knocking at her door. But to me it’s also a book about life. The book is filled with one liners that make you sit up and think. When asked by someone “What is the best thing cancer has given you?” her response was “a feeling of being alive, awake”.

It reminds you to really live your days, make the most of your life and follow your heart. She wrote the book for her two “knights” whom she hopes will one day read it and know her a bit better.

This book will bring you to tears but it will also raise your spirits. From the little I’ve read about Kate and the work she did, I think this was exactly the kind of reaction she was hoping for.


Happy New Year! Back to school runs and work.  As you skip back into the gym, remember to check out new January rates that might be displayed in the smallest font humanly possible to read – they may be cheaper than what you currently pay. I only realised when I received a letter from my gym about a rate increase – which was sent in error!

I emailed polite queries that evolved into frustrated complaints, always to at least 2 managers, escalated these to managers’ managers and finally got a nice chap on the phone who agreed that I had been overcharged for 2 years! The same nice chap gently explained that since our gym had been taken over, new rates had been made available; the information had been “on display” in the gym and therefore nothing could be done to reimburse me for the excess paid. Not happy, I insisted that I should be compensated and after more emails and calls, the same but now not-so-nice-chap then decided to give me a month’s membership free but still took payment for that month anyway.

Deciding that I wasn’t going to stop chasing this until the excess that I had paid was refunded, I expressed extreme dissatisfaction about the way my case had been dealt with, which drew out another few months’ membership off. Eventually, the really-not-so-nice-never-wanting-to-speak-to-me-again chap offered a few more months’ free membership and threw in guest passes too!

Funny how the human brain works, I went to the gym way more often once money wasn’t leaving my account for it…

You always have the right to request a review on your membership, just ask.

Gyms use their websites now to communicate offers, letters are only sent bearing bad news about price increases; for the good news, look online. And I guess I will be going to the gym with my glasses on, take the 3 minutes extra to look for the fine print!

Remember, if you are stuck, you can always read about your rights:

Where do I begin?

2 Years and 10 Months, that’s how old A & Y are today.

2 Years and 10 Months of bewilderment, being overwhelmed, feeling a new kind of love – on the double, and just being in pure rapture watching 2 little boys I gave birth to at the same time (ok, well 15 minutes apart) being so so different from each other.

A & Y came 6 weeks early, and 2 weeks earlier than I realistically expected.  Twins can come anywhere from 28 weeks on to full-term, but I anticipated mine around 36 weeks and not 33.5.  So for the 1st 2 weeks they were in the hospital in incubators and then just under observation as by God’s Grace they were healthy and were not machine dependent.  The best healing for premies is to give them ‘kangaroo care’.  Wow!  What an amazing experience to hold two little munchkins to my chest at the same time and just listen to each one take their breath.

Watching them and already seeing how different they were was bewildering.  I could already see how different their features were from each other, how they positioned themselves while sleeping, how the tones of their little cry were different.  I can only imagine that it’s overwhelming to say the least when you’re holding your first born and you already start to dream in to their future.  Holding 2?  Wow.

Needles to say the journey has been loads of fun (ok it has been, AND challenging!) so far.  I will let you in to snippets as I recollect the fun and crazy times leading up to now.

My posts will be going back in to the past sometimes and then back in the present.  Enjoy the ride.

Why am I so quiet?


Loving January.  No matter where I am – in Los Angeles or in London – I love January.  It’s the calm after the storm of the holidays, but there’s this magic in the air as I look forward to all the surprises that will unfold in the New Year!

(I do not make New Year’s resolutions as I think I keep evolving during the year and make adjustments, amendments, or learn new things as I go along.  However, this year I have stopped having sugar in my 3-cups-of-tea-a-day and resisting my daily bite of dark chocolate after every meal.  So… I did cheat yesterday, but is it cheating to eat 90% PURE, dark chocolate??)

I have been busy working behind the scenes on my Colourful Women who will be portrayed slowly but surely on this site.  As I had mentioned… these are MY Colourful Women.  The Women in my life who I admire, respect, and model various aspects of my life on.  They are an inspiration to me and many around them, and I will be sharing these special women with you.

While I work on ways to portray them, I encourage you to think of the special women in your life and either talk about them…….or please…. introduce them to me!

I have also been asked to write about bringing up my twin boys, so on my page – Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun – I will be sharing stories of being a mum in her 40’s to twin toddler boys!  Mostly funnies – yes, the joke is usually on me! – but it’s a beautiful and blessed journey when I’m not tearing my hear out and trying to pawn them off on Papa or the Nanny.

Enjoy 2015 and everything beautiful that unfolds along your path.  Open your eyes, ears and heart and allow yourself to take it all in.





Staycation with 2 energetic toddlers.

January 7.  Well into the first week of 2015, we are all settling back in to routine.  Boys at school and me chucked back in to work (while I was hoping for a week off for myself!).  Papa unfortunately worked through most of the holidays but now he can work in peace without me screaming out for help with the boys every now and then!

It was not half has crazy as I expected it to be with 2 little boys bounding with energy.  I came to realise also that they were not looking to be kept ‘busy’ and ‘entertained’ all the time.  They were definitely tired from their first term of every morning Nursery plus all the weekend activities, and they actually slept in an extra hour to an hour and half! Yay for us, the extra sleep was definitely welcomed after almost 3 years of being sleep deprived!

So, how did we survive our first ‘staycation’? (The last 2 Christmas’s and last summer we spent in Sunny California).

1.  A good friend hosted a Toddler Christmas Party at her house with Secret Santa, Musical Statues, Bubble Machines and Christmas Cookie Decorations. Y & A really enjoyed the experience as they were still grasping the concept of Christmas and biscuits

2.  We baked cookies together!  The boys were fascinated watching my Kenwood mixer whisking eggs and butter, then they helped me put in the dry mix in to it and again watching the batter being made.  Obviously, scooping spoonfuls and placing them on the baking tray was fun, and then the anticipation of the finished product that they got to taste! (Yes, just taste.  We still limit their ‘sugar’ and ‘junk’ in take and we eat ‘pretend’ cakes!)

3.  Visiting one of the many Santa’s Grotto.  We went to Westfield, Shepherd’s Bush where they first watched a short movie on ‘munions’ and presents flying across the screen with each child attending’s photos on them.  (If you ask me my opinion, this film left much to be desired! but I’m not 2.5 years old).  Papa joined us for the Santa experience, then left the 3 of us on a lunch date.  I have to recommend ‘Fire and Stone’ as they are VERY child friendly.  A nice and yummy Children’s Menu with smoothies on the side, and great management and staff that stayed close to me when they say I was managing 2 boys!
santa grotto   fire and stone





4.  Another Christmas play date at another good friend’s home.  More play, more gifts, more treats!

5.  I hosted a Christmas party at home with just desserts and cocktails at the run up to main day.  The boys once again helped with some of the preparation in the kitchen with the Kitchen Aide!

6.  Oh! and I did the unthinkable!  yes, I plopped them in front of the Tele every morning for 20 mins! Like sugar, I’m not a fan of television either, but this one – if you need it, you’ve got to use it.  And that’s why it’s known as the BEST baby sitter!

7.  And now it’s Christmas Day!!! PRESENTS!! WOW!! SO MANY!!  Y & A were soooooooooo overwhelmed and excited with all their gifts (half of which I had to swiftly put away before they were ingrained in their memory), that once we got to my cousins’ Christmas Lunch, the boys wanted to turn back home and play with their ‘new toys’.  Well, this kept us busy for a good 4 – 5 days with a few outings here and there.

8.  We took them to watch Gruffalo’s Child at the Arts Depot in Finchley.  I purchased front row seats as it was their first theatre experience and I wanted to maximise on their attention span by placing them right in front of the stage.  It worked!! I read the book to them as a refresher in the morning and so they were quite enthralled by seeing it all in live action.  They still talk about it and do funny things and say, ‘the Grufallo did that’ and ‘the Grufallo’s Child did that’.

9.  Letting them run wild at home!  Down to their underwear and vests and letting them be as silly as they wanted to be.  No agendas. No where to go.  Just monkey around!  Many times they were in their 1st Halloween Costumes – I had a little cub and a baby elephant running around the house!

10.  Santa Land at Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park.  We got there with an hour left of day light so they experienced it by day and night.  A whole 1 1/2 of rides, crowds, music, sounds.  Too many rides to choose from and some they wanted to repeat!  Adrenalin high! All this excitement and madness followed by dinner at Maroush Gardens on Edgware Road.  Nothing like a good bowl of humus to settle them down!


11.  Soft play areas AND Play dates with older cousins!  Now that’s when I get to take them to a soft play area – this time Gambado in Watford – and get to enjoy a good cup of coffee with my cousin while my 12-year-old niece whisked the boys away for a good hour and a half!  This was probably one of their best outings with their Didi (older sister).  The key to enjoying a soft play area – having older siblings, cousins, older children of good friends to take the kids through the hoops, climbing the walls and sliding down poles and slides.

The 3 1/2 weeks I was apprehensive about turned out to be a lovely, bonding time with my sons and just doing fun things, day by day.  They say kids need a routine and I agree to a very large extent, but letting go sometimes also is loads more fun!

So, here we are, 2015…. let’s see what fun moments the boys bring in to my days!


Stretching…into… The New Year

After having missed 2 weeks of my regular weekly Iyengar class I have to admit to feeling sluggish and moody.

The first week the boys were unwell and I wanted to be around them all day. The second week was just pure bad time management in trying to juggle work, the boys on Christmas break and organising a Christmas party at home. To top it off – it was a desserts party – and it really did not help my situation – especially when you need to ‘taste test’ during preparation !

I love Yoga and I’m thoroughly enjoying Iyengar’s approach.  Prior to practicing Iyengar Yoga, I had done a few years of Ashtanga & Hatha Yoga.  I was skeptical about the use of props in yoga (the Iyengar approach) but after having had a hip surgery, then a surgery to remove the rods, followed by a twin pregnancy soon after, I found that the use of props actually helps in the rehabilitation process. You get the entire benefit and stretch of the asanas using the props aiding your weak and  troubled areas.  The blocks, band, and the wall, and sometimes even a partner, facilititate in getting you in to the asana with the correct posture thereby ensuring that you get the intended benefit.

(Elaine, my yoga instructor is approximately 65 years ol and you would not put her past 45.  She grew up with her mother being an Iyengar Yoga Instructor.  The lady who taught Elaine’s mother and her is 90 years old and is still practicing.)

It looks like in the New Year I have to commit to at least 2 sessions a week with some home practice.  I am hoping the boys get in on the fun and we can make it a mummy & me activity that they (and definitely me) look forward to.

These are 14 of my favourite asanas…

1.  Tadasana (Mountain Pose)


2.  Adhomukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)

Adho Mukha Svanasana
Adho Mukha Svanasana

3.  Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)


4.  Ardha Chanrasana (Half Moon Pose)

Ardha Chandrasana
Ardha Chandrasana


5.  Ardha Matsyendrasana  (Half Lord of the Fishes)

Ardha Matsyendrasana

6.  Balasana (Child’s Pose)


7.  Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

Setu Bandhasana
Setu Bandhasana

8.  Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One-Legged King Pigeon)

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

9.  Marichyasana III (Seated Twist)

Marichyasana III
Marichyasana III

10.  Baddha Konasana (Butterfly or Cobbler’s Pose)

Badha Konasana
Badha Konasana

11.  Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

12.  Sarvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
13.  Sirasana  (Head Stand)
14.  Savsana (Corpse Pose)


I would like to share the actual benefits of each Asana with you but I am not qualified to do so.  The benefits personally for me are that my spine gets a good twist, my hips open up and become more supple, I strengthen both my upper and lower body, get some blood flowing to my head, and I get a sense of balance.

In London for the holidays?

I was recently asked for some advice on things to do in London over Christmas for a couple and their 10’ish year old son. So here’s my list of the best things to do if you’re visiting London during Christmas.

1. Shopping – If you’re staying in town, you’ll have Oxford Street and Regents Street but if it’s too cold (they are coming from Hong Kong) then I’d suggest you head to Westfield. It’s not far, a few stops on the Central Line to Shepards Bush (from Bond Street) and you’re there. It’s a huge mall with all the high street outlets as well as high end fashion stores. Another shopping haven is Bicester Village. It’s in Oxford (there’s a direct bus from Marble Arch) and it takes alittle over an hour. It’s a designer shopping outlet (open air). You can get some pretty good deals there.
2. The lights on Oxford Street and Regents Street are usually amazing. Debenhams has undergone a total makeover and I think their lights are pretty spectacular. The windows in Selfridges (Oxford Street), Harvey Nicks and Harrods (Knightsbridge) are usually really good. You have to see Harrods at night, it’s lit up (all year round) and looks like a Golden Palace. Selfridges also have a huge Christmas shop in the basement.
3. The great outdoors – Hyde Park have a winter wonderland. I went a couple of weeks ago with my son and he really enjoyed it. They have an ice rink at Somerset House which is at Aldwych (you can catch the No. 13 bus from Baker Street going South). Diagonally across the road from there you can go up to Covent Garden and they turn the whole piazza into a Winter Haven with a 60ft tall tree!!
images (1)
4. Touritsy things to do – There’s Madame Tussauds, the Dungeons, the houses of parliament and the Tower of London (their son likes history). You can do the big red bus tour which also includes a river cruise. The commentary on that is really good and you learn so much about the city in such a short time. I’m just not sure how comfortable it’ll be riding on an open top bus in December though! There’s the London Eye which includes a 4D show at the end which is good. The Eye ride itself is okay. It takes 26 minutes to go around. Worth it if it’s a good day. The Harry Potter tour which is located at Watford is worth it for fans of the infamous Wizard. The British Museum (Tottenham Court Road), the National History Museum, the V&A (South Kensington), the Transport Museum (Covent Garden): they are all free to visit and well worth it.
5. Stuff for Kids – I only have one word…Hamleys! On Regents Street, it’s a must see for any child visiting London.
6. The West End – Plays and Musicals: Although I’ve never seen a show on Broadway, people say the West End is a lot better. Maybe I’m biased Winking face I’ve heard the Book of Mormons is really good and 1 Man 2 Guvnors is very very funny. I saw Wicked last year which was amazing. Mamma Mia (great to sing along to), The Lion King (the story was okay but worth watching it just for the sets and to see how they create the animals, etc), Phantom of the Opera (pretty dark but one of my favourites). My Fair Lady, Legally Blonde, Sister Act – they were all good. Ghost has been out for a couple of years now and I heard that is good too (it’s on my list!). If you like history then you may enjoy Les Miserables (based on the French revolution). Again I’ve heard fantastic reviews from some people and not so great reviews from others. There is a box office on Argyll Street (Opposite Niketown at Oxford Circus, beside Warehouse, the women’s clothing store). It’s called Stargreen Box Office. You can get great deals on theatre tickets there. I’d suggest you call them on the day, ask them for tickets for the same day and collect before the show. Good tickets for the top shows can be around £60+. Matinee shows are usually more reasonable and most theatres have matinee shows on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
7. Afternoon Tea – You’re in London, darling, how can you not have Afternoon Tea?! Personally I love good ol’ fashioned Richoux on St. Johns Wood High Street (they have other branches as well) but for a little something extra special, I’ve heard great things about Afternoon Tea at The Ritz and The Wolseley.
More than anything, being in London at Christmas is magical. It can be really cold but if you wrap up you won’t feel it so much. There’s heating on in all the stores and anywhere indoors so it’s only really while you’re outdoors that you’ll feel it. All the shops play Christmas songs, everyone’s in a really good mood as they shop and get ready for Christmas. I’m sure you’ll have a lovely time!
Let me know if there’s anything I’m missing!

Reunion in Paradise

photo 5

Ahhh….. I LOVE the ocean! I just love looking in to the expanse of the blue water, listening to the waves and watching the sun’ rays glisten and dance on the water.

On my last two trips to LA I have been fortunate to visit Crystal Cove. The first visit was a romantic morning walk with hubby along the shore, followed by breakfast at Beachcombers. It was really a lovely way to start our runaway weekend from the kids! …
The 2nd time was inspired by my friend, Anita Dhillon, who will soon be featured in the Colourful Women page. Anita jogs  at least 4 miles along and 4 miles back on this beautiful coastline every weekend. This time it was a reunion of 3 of us friends – such a beautiful way to catch up while connecting with God’s gift to us and getting a work out!!
We walked, talked, jogged, and stopped to soak in the Sun’s energy, Nature’s beauty, and the moment.  It surely was a new way for us to get together.  Not at a bar, not at a restaurant, and not in Las Vegas!  Perhaps it’s a sign of the times…  A new age, a new thought, and a new feeling… It was perfect!
Pictures speak THOUSANDS of words… BUT the video will hopefully connect you to that moment of magic in paradise. (redundant?) that’s how much I loved it!

Halloween Day Out

pumpkinHubby and I took the boys on the 31st of October to the Halloween Festival at Willows Farm, St Albans. This was our 3rd visit to the Farm in 6 months. First time for Easter Hunt and to see all the animals on the farm. The second time we spent more time around the animals, feeding them, and petting the rabbits and guinea pigs. We also spent more time on all the rides and the bouncy castles. On this trip we also showed the boys the potato fields and how to dig and pick potatoes.

This time we went to experience the Halloween Festival. The boys participated in various relays rolling pumpkins and bouncing on the space bouncers. We showed them the pumpkin patch then went on all the rides the they love.

We took a lunch break and found so many healthy options at the farm for children. Fresh fruit, sandwiches on multigrain bread, vegetables.

I have been very impressed with Willows Farm as there is so much for children of all ages to see and experience and each time we go back we have a brand new experience.

This is for now the boys’ favourite day out, before they discover Disney that is.

I’m a mother, I’m a daughter. I’m a daughter , I’m a mother.

3 weeks ago my mamma underwent a scheduled surgery involving reconstruction of a bone and skin grafting. Being that we live in different continents and not being able to leave my boys at the time all I could do was pray for a successful surgery.

That day I found myself deep-rooted in the ‘middle’ generation. Between my parents and my children. It’s quite a privileged place to be and yet it’s that place and time in my life I find myself praying for the good health of my parents and for the good health and development of my children. It’s a magical place and an un matchable emotion to be a parent and a child.

I have had the urge to fulfil my call of duty as a daughter to help care for my mother and my father who is so dedicated in  nursing my mother back to a speedy and healthy recovery. However to do this I need to for a few days not be a mother and leave my children to be looked after by their father and grandmother.  A strange place to be as both roles are equally important to me.

Nurturing my nurturer and nurturing my babies.

I am on my way to be the daughter.