When Max was born in October 2003 I was so happy. I assumed I’d get bored after a few months and then want to get back to my business. How wrong I was, I loved being at home with him and I was actually quite out of my depth and found it pretty challenging! My hats went off to those moms I knew that juggled babies, toddlers and careers, I found it enough to keep everything under control with one little person! I approached the whole thing with the same attitude I approach most things and that is to get organised and stay as organised as possible so as to not loose control, Max was in a routine very quickly and sleeping through the night from 7pm to 7 am at about 8 weeks. I made sure I had naps when he did and that I ate well and so the whole journey was really lovely. I fed him myself to about 9 months, I was expressing so that if I wanted to go out and have a nice meal and a glass of wine or two Max would still get to have my milk, I had a freezer full and my friends called me the Unigate cow!! Charming!
We lived in a Marina in Hampshire at the time and were right on the Solent so every day I would walk Max around the Marina and every night he had his window a jar and I am convinced that good sea air did him the world of good.
I did what I needed to do to keep my existing business ticking over but I didn’t have any desire to go back at full pace like I used to. Plus I had quite a lot on to keep me busy.
We had kept our flat in London and the tenant that had been living there for 6 years was moving out so the place needed completely updating so I had that to organise and oversee, it was 3 months of going in to builders merchants with Max in a sling, he was 6 months old at the time, and driving to and from London with him, it was a little stressful but at least we could be together and I actually enjoyed the work, sourcing the materials, keeping on top of the works etc. It was all finished and the flat was re let in the August.
Before Max was even a thought we had bought a plot of land in Portugal where we wanted to build a house that we could use as a holiday home and possibly live out there for a year or two. We started building on the plot when I was a few months pregnant in the Spring of 2003 and the house was finished in August 2004 when Max was 10 months old. We needed to have a car over there so we loaded up a car with as much as we possibly could and got the ferry over to Spain and we drove through Spain to the Portuguese border, Max was a star and when we stopped at the border we decided to carry on to where the house was instead of staying in a Hotel somewhere which was the original plan, we were making such good progress and were excited to see the house. We arrived looking rather worse for wear and Max was a bit grizzly at this point, we also looked a bit like the Beverley hill billys as the car was filthy and we were all crumpled from the journey. It was magical to get to our room and all get bathed, put Max to bed and then we had something to eat in our room sitting in our bath robes anticipating the next morning and the builder handing over the house, we slept very well that night.
There was a lot to do to get the house finished and I stayed out there with Max getting that organised, I furnished it practically from scratch other than a few pieces we had sent over from the UK, we loved it there and James came up with the idea of spending Christmas there, inviting his parents and their dog! The house was a shell and surely we couldn’t get it ready enough to have christmas there? Well, why not?! I’m always up for a challenge! So I went out a couple of weeks early and organised everything. Having Christmas in another country isn’t that straight forward, cranberries? Turkey? Chestnuts? Anyway we had a fabulous time and you’d never have known that the house was an empty shell a few weeks before. We had a beautiful tree, garlands on the fireplaces and it was like home from home.