Review: Jemima changing bag from Jem + Bea

jem-+-bea-jemima-bag-lifebylotte If you've read my blog for a while (or know me in real life), you'll know that I am rather obsessed with handbags. Handbags are my thing - the thing that I waste the most money on, and the things that I most love buying. I justify this by saying they last so long (if you buy good quality), you use them every day and they always 'fit'. Anyway, I have a lot of handbags, most of which cost too much money.

When I got pregnant, one of the first things I bought was a Pac a Pod nappy bag. I did tons of research before buying (I am very very fussy when it comes to bags) and was really disappointed in the choice available. The Pac a Pod was the best of a bad lot, in my opinion - it seemed pleasingly unisex, with lots of handy compartments. I didn't love it, but it was the nicest one I saw.

Once Daph was born however, it started to REALLY annoy me - the design I bought meant that it was constantly bulging at the seams and wouldn't do up - once the pods were placed in the bag, with a few other things added, the side flap just wouldn't zip together. The 'grown up section' was just a bottomless pit and I could never find what I needed without rummaging for ages. It was really irritating and after a few months I replaced it with an impulse-purchase Skip Hop (this one). It's pretty ugly (a kind of garish geometric pattern) but I thought the shape would be better as it was more like a record bag, and had a flap instead of a zip. But then Daphne decided to push it off a chair in a busy restaurant, the flap, er, flapped open, my entire world skittered out across the floor and I found myself scrabbling around to pick everything up, with my bum hanging out of the back of my jeans and Daph screaming in my ear. That was the end of the Skip Hop's lifespan.

Bear with me, I know. Three nappy bags for a baby that's not even nine months old yet - some may say I have issues. But I decided it was time to invest some serious money and - most importantly - buy a bag that was bloody big enough for ALL MY SHIT. Clearly, I cannot go out with the baby without taking most of the contents of my home with me. Over-anxious first-time mother syndrome. Ahem.


I did some googling and came across Jem + Bea. I instantly liked their bags because a) they look like handbags but at the same time I don't think Oli would mind carrying them and b) they looked BIG. With lots of pockets. And sturdy zips. I promise I wasn't influenced (much) by the fact that one of their designers used to work for Mulberry.

I spent a few days trying to decide which of their designs to go for, and in the end chose their Jemima bag. It's won awards, seemed to be the biggest of the bunch with the most compartments, and most importantly had a great big solid-looking zip running down the middle.


It arrived last week and I LOVE it. It is huge. Like, almost an overnight bag. It's made of leather and is properly heavy. But I don't care because I don't have to carry the thing - it hangs quite happily off the buggy. It kind of looks a bit briefcasey or even doctor's casey but I like that. It has a zillion different pockets, all of which are roomy and useful and when it arrived I spent a gleeful twenty minutes arranging all Daph's and my bits and pieces into the various different sections. I keep walking past it in the hall and smiling.


It even comes with a cute little mini pouch for you to stash things like lip balm, chewing gum, hairbands and all the stuff that always ends up falling to the bottom of your bag never to be seen again.

Oh and on a practical note, it has all the usual touches, like a loop for your keys, a nice big soft changing mat and even an insulated bottle sleeve.


My only quibble? The colour. It comes in Tan or Black. I hate black handbags - just a daft little quirk of mine, but I refuse to buy black handbags. Too depressing, too sombre, too dull. So I went for the Tan. But I'm not really a Tan kind of girl - I tend to wear grey more than brown. And it is quite 'tan' - a bit orangey in the flesh. I know it will age nicely and the leather will develop its own patina, but I do wish they did a grey version. If they had, I would be in heaven.

I'm not going to lie - it's not a cheap buy. I did think long and hard about splashing the cash before going for it, but now I'm really glad I did. It's SO much more practical than my other two disaster changing bags, and it also looks bloody lovely.


It's so lovely, that now, of course, I want to buy their uber cool Marlow Camo bag. How nice would THAT be for summer picnics in the park?! But I think if I do, Oli will never speak to me again (there's no space in our wardrobe for his clothes because it's full of handbags...).

Babies are expensive

First thing Oli said to me this morning: 'You snored all night'. So, a public apology to start. Sorry Oli. And again I say it: pregnancy is not glamorous or glowy or fun or romantic in any way. Moving on. The point of this post really was to give you guys a bit of a rundown of what we've spent so far on Chip (who is yet to be born).

I suppose I knew that babies cost a lot but I also kept hearing people say 'small babies don't need much - just you, your boobs and some nappies!'. In a LOGICAL SENSE they are right but that doesn't mean you don't feel obliged to partake in the purchasing of posh nappy bins that hygienically seal your little one's stinky waste products etc etc.

The first thing I bought for Chip, actually, was a bag. And it wasn't really even for her, but for me. Now, those who know me know that bags are my 'thing' (last longer than clothes, always fit comfortably unlike shoes, often potentially good investments, excuses excuses...). So when it came to baby shopping, I thought I'd start in my comfort zone, and treat myself to a nice nappy bag. I was a bit disappointed with the choice on offer, however. Someone with some design credentials - PLEASE design something a bit cooler. Anyway, in the end I went for the Pac a Pod.

pac a pod elephant

It has compartments! Many many compartments! It has removable pods!  It's a pleasing unisex grey (the bright pink 'yummy mummy' bags get my goat because they imply the dad will never have to be seen with them - grrr for gender inequality). It was £80. According to my mum, expensive. According to me (in the wake of Louis Vuittons and Pradas), cheap as chips.

As time trundled on, we started researching the bigger items: buggy, cot, car seat. Here are the ones we chose:


The Bugaboo Bee 3, with carrycot. And cup holder. And car seat attachments. And lots of other bits that you have to buy to make the thing actually work. Don't be fooled by the prices online - they're just for the base. Once you've added all your bits to it, it, er, adds up. Thankfully my parents paid for this, but it was still in the region of £800. And I know, we didn't have to get a super pricey buggy, but genuinely we went for this one because it's so small and lightweight and we have NOWHERE to put it! The cheaper models are generally much bigger with much bigger wheels. And, as I said, my parents very generously offered to get it for us.

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For her cot, we bought Chip the Chicco Next to Me. I've never been a fan of Moses baskets but we did want something that could fit in our small bedroom. I also liked the idea that I could feed her in the night without having to get out of bed (although some people have said that babies often poo after they feed so you have to get up anyway - who knows, I have yet to find out how their digestion systems work). Anyway, it was £150 including mattress, which was actually pretty reasonable in comparison with other bedside cots on offer. It also folds up and can be used as a travel cot, which I thought was quite nifty.

maxi cosi pebble


Did you know that car seats are a legal requirement? I mean, makes sense of course, and I wasn't exactly intending on driving around with Chip balanced on my lap, but still. Quite surprising. We went for the Maxi Cosi Pebble Plus and I actually really like it - it's sort of the cutest thing we've bought so far! I like the fact ours is grey not black too. It was £200, but do not be deceived - it doesn't work alone. You also have to buy this massive contraption that you fix to your car to clip it in and out of (technical term: FamilyFix Base). Which was another £150.

So there we are, already well over a grand and that's just for the big things. Once you've added clothes, nappies, baby baths, the aforementioned nappy bins, blankets etc etc to the list, it's official: babies are expensive! I'll do another post on all the cute bits and bobs we've got for her soon.