Welcome to the family, Chip!

Meet the latest addition to the family, Chip de-la-Haye.

Our pretty boy

Cats have always been a huge part of our family. Growing up, I have fond memories of chasing E’s black and white queen, Babes, round the garden at my Nan’s house. I was totally in love with her soft fur and feline features. The feeling was not mutual: Babes didn’t like humans that much, least of all my gentle giant grandfather, Lloydie. Her favourite game was to hide under the bed in the back bedroom of my Nan’s house, as this where the warm water pipes ran under the floorboards, and my poor Lloydie was always at the receiving end of her claws when trying to coax her out.

My Uncle with another family cat, not Babes, sometime in the mid 1970’s

We eventually got our own family cat: Barbara. She was a long-haired tortoiseshell, rescue cat and we loved her to pieces, even when she’d swipe us between strokes of the grooming brush! I once gave myself a black eye and a cartoon-like, egg-sized bump on the head when she got caught under my feet as I was rushing to a ballet class. In my attempt to not hurt poor Barbara, I tried gracefully to jetté over her. This would’ve saved the day, had I not been in a pair of silk ballet slippers on a tiled floor. I went headfirst into the wall in front of me, but Barbie was completely unscathed, thank goodness.

Yep, she’s absolutely loving that
Potted cat, the summer of 2010

After Barbara, we adopted two moggies, a brother and sister, (supposedly – they certainly fought like siblings) called Tyler and Marmite. Regular readers will be familiar with Tyler. We’re lucky enough to still have our cheeky, noisy tom-cat with us and he’s been invaluable to my family this lockdown, providing E with no end of hilarity, meowing and scratching at her office door the minute she logs on to Zoom.

Tyler, our family moggie

Marmite was devoted to my younger brother, Will. She following him around all day and slept at the foot of his bed each night. Very poignantly, and massively upsettingly, Marmite died on Will’s 18th birthday. We always say she guided Will to adulthood and then departed; she was his Familiar – or daemon, for any Philip Pullman fans – and passed on when her work was done.

Tyler, tending his beloved catmint plants – he boy’s addicted to catmint and catnip

Once Vince and I moved into our new home, with its enclosed garden and surrounding countryside, we just knew the time was right for us to expand the fur family. The lockdown has made the adoption process a little trickier than usual – demand for cats and dogs has rocketed – and the brilliant team at Battersea Cats and Dogs Home, Old Windsor guided us each step of the way.

Meet Chip! Named after the tabby cat Beanie Baby

We filled in an online application in January, once I realised that I wouldn’t be travelling anywhere for work for the foreseeable future. Following that, we had a phone call with Battersea to find out what we could offer our pet and also what we were looking for from life with our adopted pet. And then we waited, perhaps a little longer than in pre-Covid days, but it was so worth it and the bit of patience we had to have paid off. We found out on Mother’s Day that Chip was looking for a new home and Battersea felt he’d be the perfect addition to our family. A couple of days later, which gave us the chance to buying out the whole of the cats section at Pets At Home, Chip arrived!

Since then, we’ve mainly spent the week having lots of strokes and treats as Chip gets used to his new forever-home. We had a whole host of potential cat names. Ronnie, Salem, Binks, Sid, Bloomberg were the front-runners but the moment we met Chip, we decided to keep his given name as it suited him so well.

I’m sure they’ll be plenty more Chip content to follow on our Instagram but for now, we’re looking forward to celebrating his 3rd birthday at the beginning of next month, alongside Vince’s 32nd!

If you’re thinking about adding a fur baby to your family, I can’t recommend Battersea enough. The process is very transparent and the extra support they provide you and your new pet is amazing. And if I may recommend a breed, “rescue moggy” has always been my personal favourite. ~L.

Chip in his new banana bed

Treat Yo’shelf

L shares her latest reading recommendations.

These titles have real shelf appeal

We de-la-Haye Girls have always been avid readers. E is far more adventurous in selecting her material than me, but we often recommend and share books amongst our family. I’m always reticent to try anything new without a recommendation, such is my stubborn Capricorn nature. Prior to this year, I would only allow myself to read “for pleasure” during the holidays. There’s nothing better than selecting your beach reads at the airport and getting stuck in on the aeroplane, is there?

Recently though, with everyone having to go a bit slower and finding ourselves with more time at home, I’ve been treating myself to reading more often. There is a sense of cultivating a habit, or a flow, with the reading, but once formed there is nothing more luxurious than curling up with a blanket and something warm to drink and escaping into those pages.

Travel books are some of my favourite reads at the moment. Planning my next escape already!

With this in mind, I thought I’d share a list of our my most recent recommendations: the books that have had E and me hooked from cover to cover. Please do let us know what you are currently enjoying reading – we’d love to add to our shelves!

  • The Other Bennet Sister Janice Hadlow. Don’t let the intimidatingly large size of this book put you off! Both L and E romped through this “alternative” and extension Pride and Prejudice story within a week. The perfect tonic post Bridgerton.
  • Quite – Claudia Winkleman. This funny, frank and fabulous book had me chuckling out loud. Our beloved Strictly presenter is so unashamedly herself in the writing, it really feels as though your talking to her. Or rather, she is talking to you, sharing her thoughts on all things from art history to the benefits of bangs.
  • I Am Not Your Baby Mother – Candice Brathwaite. Lots of wonderful female authors in this list, what better tribute to this week’s International Women’s Day? We’ve been long time followers of Candice on social media and her debut book is beautiful and brilliant. Enjoyable whether you’re a mother or not – beg, borrow or steal a copy!
  • In Paris – Jeanne Damas and Lauren Bastide. Paris is my happy place. It always has been. I’ve often fantasised about running away and starting a new life across the Channel, renting a tiny apartment in the Sixth…ideally with Vince and a cat. Whilst this is still a pipe dream, I love to read about my favourite city, circling all the cafes and streets I want to explore. Excellent reading if like me, you’re mourning the end of Call My Agent.
  • Yes Please – Amy Poehler. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been recommended this book by friends of mine and during this lockdown, after having picked it up several times, I finally managed to complete it. It’s a lovely, fizzy read which I’m sure I’ll come back to again.
  • Cook, Eat, Repeat – Nigella Lawson. Without fail, each Christmas, both E and I will receive some type of cook book. Cooking and sharing food is a huge part of our family and Nigella’s most recent serving is truly delicious. It reads more like a novel than a cookbook thanks to the way Lawson talks about the emotions surrounding food. It is so comforting during these uncertain times. Oh, and her recipe for Linzer Cookies went down a storm for our German Themed Date Night two weeks ago!
E’s multicoloured bookshelves

What have you been enjoying recently? ~L.

Top Things to Make Us Sing this Spring

L and E share a list of little things they are looking forward to this Spring.

“Here comes the sun, and I say, it’s all right” – The Beatles.

Is it just us or is there a sense of optimism in the air? Now we finally have a roadmap out of this lockdown and with various family members being called up for vaccines, everything is starting to feel lighter and certainly brighter. As you know, we de-la-Haye Girls love a list, so we thought we’d share one all about the little things we’re very much looking forward to this Spring. And, as we have been ever so busy with our respective jobs this week, we decided to indulge in a little thought experiment: we agreed to prepare our lists without discussing them with each other to see how many items we’d have in common. We estimated that our individual lists would share a couple of items. Have a read below; we were SHOOK by the similarities, not just in content, but in how we express those desires too. What is it they say? Great minds think alike, or perhaps that fools never differ… We simply say: “is there an echo in here?”

Flower puns always make my daisy

Lily’s list

  • Those extra hours of daylight. By the end of the month, it won’t be getting dark until 7.30pm making the evenings feel long and generous. I’ve certainly enjoyed getting out for a daily walk in time for the sunset and playing spot the daffodils. Have you noticed the bird song increasing too? It is just wonderful.
  • From next week, we can safely meet up with one other person outdoors and not just to walk! We can have a coffee and chat – what sweet bliss. I’m already planning my picnic menu once the government, but more importantly the weather, permits!
  • Creating garden mood boards on Pinterest. Long time readers will know that I recently moved house and finally have a garden of my own. I’m sure E won’t mind being roped in to help out. Your Garden Made Perfect on the BBC is providing us both with a mountain of inspo and ideas. Is anyone else hooked?
  • Digging out our summer clothes and the welcome return of Birkenstock season. Packing away your winter wardrobe in anticipation of the warmer season is honestly such a life hack. It frees up your closet space and you get the thrill of new pieces without the financial sting.
  • At the minute, any and all holidays feel so needed. What better way to appreciate getting safely through the last 12 months than celebrating and spoiling our lovely mothers next weekend. I feel incredibly lucky that les grands-mères in the family have now been fully vaccinated and I can’t wait to show them, and E, of course, how much I’ve missed them. Oh, and if Mother’s Day isn’t for you, it’s St Patrick’s Day on the 17th of this month. Race you to the Guinnesses!
Duck, in dappled light.

Emma’s list

  • The easing of Lockdown 3.0 restrictions, hopefully from mid-April. This will mean Lily and I can meet for a socially-distanced walk and, critically, I can have my hair coloured and cut! I am doing the “double long” at the moment: the overall length of my hair is too long and the length of my roots is ridiculously long. I’ve made contact with the wonderful Kelly, who looks after my tresses – my currently stressed tresses (try saying that quickly) – and am on the waiting list for an early appointment.
  • Getting my COVID vaccinations. On current projections, I should be called by the end of April/beginning of May and getting my jabs should pave the way for me to see my beloved Mamacita, who I’ve not been able to see since Christmas. Mum had her second dose today and we are all looking forward to spending time together again.
  • The clocks going forward and lighter evenings. Like thousands of other people in the UK, I’ve been struggling with this latest lockdown as it coincided with the darker days of winter. I’m very fortunate as I’ve been busy with work throughout the pandemic – genuinely, I recognise just how fortunate I have been – though that has meant that since November on week days I have tended to start work while it is still dark, and by the time I finish work it is dark again. I’ve had weeks where I’ve been so busy I haven’t been outside the house all week and I don’t like how that makes me feel, what it does to my fitness and wellbeing levels and what it does to my skin. Sure, I’ve been popping my Vitamin D supplement each day and trying to take a quick walk at lunchtime, but working with clients all over the world, who themselves are trying to deal with the consequences of COVID on their businesses, adhering to a strict lunchtime break hasn’t been possible. But, lighter evenings mean I can get in a walk after work, indeed, Steve and I managed this thorough the first lockdown and we loved it. I have also ordered myself a new bicycle and as soon as it is ready for collection, I’m going to make a concerted effort to “get on my bike” more regularly. I am not a natural cyclist, but know how good it is for me and if I can make it a habit, I reckon I should be capable of getting to enjoy it, at least once in a while.
  • Spending time in my garden, one of my great pleasures in life. Daffodils are out, tulip leaves are through, the lawns have had their first cut, sweet pea plug plants are on order and I can’t wait to get my fingers in that soil. Fear not, I will try and ration posting of photos of my flowers to TdlHG website and Insta feed (note the careful phrasing here: “I will TRY and ration…” – no promises).
  • Dressing up, a bit. I have spent most of the past year in gym and walking gear. The joy of my home office set up is that Zoom, Teams, WebEx, Blue Jeans, FaceTime and any other video conferencing platform you care to mention, only broadcast the top half of my body. A bright lip, reasonably styled hair and a scarf artfully arranged around my neck or shoulders permits me to commit all sorts of Sweaty Betty leggings and wicking top atrocities out of range of camera. With spring, I am going to start rotating in some of my “proper” work clothes; I have a a yen for wearing a crisp, white shirt, some tailored culottes and a pretty cardigan. I’m going to ease myself back, perhaps dressing up two days a week in March, ramping up to three or four in April, so I’m ready and match-fit for actual face-to-face meetings again, hopefully from early summer. Just don’t ask my to include heels in this mix. I am unsure I will ever be able to wear heels for a full day again; I am sure this pandemic has altered the shape of my feet. Hey, colourful Adidas Gazelles are good for professional meeting attire, right?
And Easter Eggs, of course. Who could forget that great joy?

We know, we know. It’s spooky just how much of a mirror image our lists are. Or is it? Perhaps if you ask anyone at the moment, we would all echo these sentiments? We’ve all been so constrained by the pandemic it not really surprising we are hankering after the modest, but near-universal, hearts’ desires included in our lists. Whatever the reason, we have chosen to celebrate our symbiotic freakiness in all its glory!

What are you most looking forward to this Spring? Does your heart desire things very different to us, or do you share what we are looking forward to?~ The de-la-Haye Girls.

Hoping for days as happy as this one, in August of last year