Jools Oliver is well known for being Jamie Oliver’s wife and mother to their four children, Poppy, Daisy, Petal and Buddy. But aside from running the Oliver household, she also heads up the wildly successful Little Bird clothing range for Mothercare. Known for its signature retro prints and gorgeous rainbow colours, the collection for boys and girls has been a smash hit since it launched. We are delighted that Jools has taken some time out of her very busy schedule to chat exclusively to kodomo.com about her family travels and the upcoming Spring Summer 2016 collection for Little Bird.
Q: What is your first childhood memory of travel?
We always went to France, to Biarritz, so we’d get that horrible long overnight ferry, which is my first memory of Mum and Dad dragging us there, though they were the best holidays ever. You’d get there and it would be English weather but the beaches are incredible. That ferry ride was always rough weather I remember, but it was all part of the fun.
Q: Where have you had your best holiday to date?
It’s always got to be Cornwall. We started going about 13 years ago and we always have the best holidays there. As we’ve had the children we’ve gone more often because it’s easy to travel that way. If ever we have a foreign holiday and then go to Cornwall, we always say Cornwall was best and the children agree. Even if it’s pouring with rain everyday, we always have the best time. Something just works there for us and our family. It’s marvelous. Our honeymoon in Italy was amazing, too. We spent three weeks travelling around the whole of Italy. Most honeymoons are amazing, but it was fantastic.
Q: Where was the first place you went with a little one in tow? How did it go?
New York. We took the two eldest children and lived out there for about 6 weeks. I didn’t really travel with them before that as I was a bit worried but we did that when they were 2 and 1. I think I have just obliterated that from my memory. I know we went to LA when I had Buddy but it was Petal who was awful on the flight. I said to Jamie, “I am never doing this again,” so we haven’t done it since. Now they’re at an age when I would do it, but when you have a two month old and a three year old it’s awful. Petal got on the flight and didn’t stop crying and people were getting up to help us and it was just so embarrassing! It worked in the end, but I wouldn’t do it with a baby again.
Q: How do you find the experience of travelling with children generally?
I don’t really like it, to be honest. I like it when I’m there but don’t like getting there. Mine just aren’t great travellers and I’ve a fear of flying, which I may have passed on to one of my daughters. They’re all a bit anxious, but it’s better when I’m with them because my mind is “off” the worry. Travelling is a bit of a nightmare with our family though. We are that bonkers family where someone is always ill or crying or arguing. We don’t do it smoothly! I’m quite good with packing. I do it all about a week before and lay out what they wear on the plane, their pajamas; I just get organized to the max. Everyone shares a case so we basically have three cases.
Do you ever travel with your children for work?
So far, no. Jamie would love to take the girls and he goes to the most amazing places so he’s dying to take them but it’s difficult to get them out of school. I don’t have to travel for work yet but I’d take the older girls if we had to go to Paris or Antwerp, for example. It would be nice if Jamie could take the girls somewhere where they could really learn something.
Q: Where was your best holiday with your children?
So far, apart from when we were actually in LA, which was incredible, we still prefer Cornwall over everywhere.
Q: And your worst?
Ibiza was rubbish. I didn’t like it. We went and one child got ill and then they all got ill and we ended up in hospital. Ibiza and me just didn’t work. I should try it again as everyone says it’s amazing but we haven’t been back since, which I know is a bit uncool!
Q: What is your must-have travel accessory when away with children? Any top tips for travelling with children?
I always take a change of clothes for the kids, no matter what, and I always take wipes, which go in my hand luggage. We always get them a new bag for trips so they’ll have new sticker books, colouring books, reading books – I always take books with me because I think it’s really important to read to them at night. Getting them set up in the bedroom with their books just helps them to get settled.
Christmas is coming up. Are you ever tempted to spend it abroad or do you tend to stay at home? What is a typical Christmas like in the Oliver household?
We are always at home. I would hate to be somewhere sunny and you’d have to drag me to get me to a beach at Christmas. So far, we have always spent it at home. We did try to go skiing one year, but it’s expensive and difficult to book and we have a lot of family so we tend to stay at home and hope it snows in England!
And with all this wet and windy weather we are already dreaming of our summer holidays. Can you give us an insight into what we can expect from the Spring Summer 2016 Little Bird range? Anything you think works particularly well for holidays either at home or abroad?
We always do nice swimsuits and we have a really nice playsuit in there, which I love for girls. It’s got a little white collar with a really cute little print. It’s cotton and could easily go into a case. In fact, I want one myself. And we have some lovely little toweling shorts, too. We’ve gone quite severely ‘70s this time and we’ve a little suede in there as well. We were laughing because it’s so back from our childhood and, even a bit before mine, because I was born in 1974. There are lots of large flowers on the print so you need some confidence to pull them off but there are some normal pieces and some really fun pieces to mix things up.
It’s been quite retro from the beginning so I can’t imagine it getting more retro!?
Yeah, we may have extended the collar slightly but not too much! We’ve slightly longer collars for the boys and we always bring in a few pieces that are radical to see how they sell. Sometimes we worry it’s a bit much but, so far, the response has been brilliant.