In her own words, Helen Farmer is a “Mum of two. Haven’t slept since 2015. Freelance writer/blogger. Wedding celebrant. A bit too fond of grey marle. Non-coffee drinker. Did I mention I’m tired?”
In our words, she’s a fantastically fearless (and often hilarious) blogger that the world’s been waiting for. Honest to a tee, Helen runs her own wildly successful blog, The Mothership, that explores life in Dubai as a mum, a wife and a woman.
Bayut dropped by her bungalow in peaceful Jumeirah 3 to spend some time with her, her charming toddlers, Phoebe and Tabitha, and their boisterous but friendly rescued dogs.
We’re welcomed by Phoebe, who excitedly asks us if we are here to take photographs of her house…and what a lovely house it is!
Helen and her family moved here three years ago after the lease of their villa in Al Manara ended unexpectedly. While the move was undoubtedly stressful (she was six months pregnant at the time), Helen says, “I do believe that everything happens for a reason. It really wasn’t the best family home and it allowed us to find this”.
The villa had never been lived in before (it had been built for the landlord’s mother who never ended up moving in) and is spacious, with plenty of natural light flooding in, but it’s easy to see why Helen is so fond of the area as well. “I’ll be leaving here in a body bag,” she says jokingly, but admits that as long as the family is in Dubai, Jumeirah is where she’ll be living.
Any negatives about living in Jumeirah? As is usually the case in non-freehold parts of Dubai, Helen wishes she could own a villa like the one she has now, and have access to a pool (which is why she’s a huge fan of Privilee!). But she is quick to point out that there are so many more positives! “During Ramadan and Eid it does feel very neighbourly, you see families coming out on the street and sharing…it feels like Dubai. Some places in Dubai you feel like you could be living anywhere in any city in the world…”
Helen continues that “it’s so convenient too, Phoebe’s nursery is just a few streets away, so if I’m working or have a meeting, Loretta (their nanny) can walk with her if the weather’s not too bad”. For when Phoebe’s a bit older, Helen mentions that she’ll probably go to one of the schools in the area too, all within convenient driving distance!
When Phoebe’s not at school, the family loves spending time at the beach, “we go there all the time” Helen laughs, or walk a few minutes to DOSC (Dubai Offshore Sailing Club). Her husband Nick is an avid sailor, and while she’s been pregnant for the entirety of their membership, Helen’s looking forward to starting sailing as well. In the meantime, she loves the family-friendly vibe at DOSC, not to mention their breakfasts and just spending time on the beach.
As the ex-editor of good magazine, Helen’s used to office-life, but nowadays…the city is her cubicle. “I work from home,” she tells us, but as Phoebe has just taken to the sofa to show us how high she can jump, she laughs and says that “there are so many great little cafes and places I can go, like Bystro, The Garden Centre, DOSC…” and they’re all in the neighbourhood too.
One of our favourite parts of Helen’s home has to be the wall filled with personalised art and memorabilia that the couple have accumulated over the years. In fact, all the prints on the wall have been gifts from friends, including a gorgeous illustration by Dubai based artist, Hatty Pedder, taken just a few days after her 7-month-old, Tabitha was born, “which is why I look a bit shell-shocked!”
She also reveals the first thing they had to do when setting up their home was to throw away Nick’s bachelor-pad furniture, before seeking out more family-friendly pieces. Several of these can be seen in the riotous play area tucked into a corner of the living room, "it's all a bit plastic fantastic, but we've made our peace with it for the next few years". This little playpen is also where the family has their TV, and Helen tells us that the entire family does curl up together in here for movie nights!
Another fantastic space in the house has to be Phoebe and Tabitha's room. This calm and delicate space is where the girls have all sorts of treasured possessions, from their toys to books, presents from friends and (one of Phoebe's favourite things), a photograph of her and Barney. It's clear to see the thought that has gone into this space, and it's clearly one that Phoebe loves spending time in!