35/52

We were abandoned in favour of sitting together in the shade. It is very sweet seeing their friendship together and their joy at tormenting their parents, after all we are outnumbered 3:2!! Happy memories built on long summer days.

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Are you a collector?

A constant battle in our home is the accumulation of ‘stuff’. I am the big bad wolf when it comes to keeping things, and if something gets thrown out everyone knows it was me! After moving house many times over the past 10 or so years, life and its associated belongings get considerably pared down. Funnily enough, I find it really difficult to eliminate the unnecessary and sometimes experience little pangs of guilt, fear or nostalgia after giving items away…worrying that I have let go of something with true emotional significance. I don’t think I ever have…possibly my children would disagree. I’m giving an impression that we live a streamlined, minimalistic existence..not so! Despite my continued efforts there’s still plenty of ‘stuff’/ treasured possessions everywhere.

Recently, we had a beautiful day out at Snowshill Manor, a stunning National Trust property. There is always a fantastic history around each of the National Trust properties, and this one didn’t disappoint! Although it may have unconsciously fuelled their desire to collect even more things!?

The most recent owner, Charles Paget Wade, an avid collector from age 7 amassed over 22,000 objects linked by their distinct craftsmanship. He became so well known for his collections, that people travelled to him from far and wide to sell him their wares. He was so dedicated to his collections, that they took up main residence in his house, whilst he resided in a small cottage in the garden. When guests came to visit he would entertain them in the main house and show them around his collections throughout the main house.

So why do we collect things? There are many theories behind this…an obsession with a particular range of items, a feeling of comfort, a feeling of value through owning things, or because they are connected to someone or something famous which we admire. Whilst growing up, I had my own collection of thimbles. I would buy one from places I visited or people would buy them as a gift from places they had visited. Some were intricate or individual in design and some were just a reminder of places I had been (I actually still have them in a shoe box somewhere, one of the things that has stayed with me on all our travels). I don’t collect them anymore, but for me it was definitely a way to feel connected to the places and memories and I had made on trips and holidays. Now my collection is a collection of memories through photographs and mini films, as I try to hold onto the ever fleeting moments of my children as they grow. Luckily, reminiscing is a favourite past time of theirs. I often hear them saying ‘do you remember when…?’. They already have a treasured set of memories that they enjoy replaying and sharing as the adventures they have experienced so far, with many more to come in the future!

 

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Getting out into nature in the city!

I absolutely love nature, countryside, flowers, fresh air etc etc. On our visits out, I am always drawn to the flowers, gardens and greenhouses. Even though we live in the countryside, as we were already going into the city we made a little detour to visit the Bristol Botanical Gardens. For just a small entry fee, it was such a treat, there was even an activity for the children! Which I wasn’t expecting at all! A little trail finding Bee facts and stamping flowers (with ink onto a piece of paper…not into the ground!?)….this kept them really engaged as they had to search them out.

The weather was forecast for a rainy day, but we lucked out! The weather man was wrong…hooray! We had some beautiful sunshine between the clouds. There was a wealth of information about the varieties of bees in the United Kingdom, where they nested and their habitat.

It was a quiet day, so plenty of space to run around and explore without causing a nuisance, with a huge variety of different themes and displays to enjoy. The Chinese medicine garden was amazing, seeing all of the different plants that are used for healing illnesses.

I loved the ferns, grasses and trees, the aromas were lovely and earthy, which always remind me of my nan’s garden and the same smells I experienced on our visits there throughout childhood and beyond.

The children became quite attached to a black cat, which followed us around the gardens for quite a while!! Pretending it was a black panther in the wild.

There was something beautiful to see around every corner, inspiration for anyone’s garden.

One of my absolute favourites were the greenhouses, so many different greens and exotic plants to explore. The girls discovered a Venus fly trap and had fun tickling the leaves until they closed.

This is definitely a place I could come back to again and again, as I’m sure it changes with each visit.

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An Ode to an Awesome Man

Sometimes a moment hits where I get a clear view of just how good I’ve got it! We all take the good people in our lives for granted and so here is my ode to the wonderful man I am lucky enough to be married to!

  1. He always has time to make things fun and make the children giggle, with cheesy jokes and cheeky comments.

2. He lets the children be just as cheeky back!

3. He never complains even though he suffers a lot with pain and headaches.

4. He is very kind and patient with all of us…a house full of females can sometimes be a challenge (I know because I’m one of them!?)

5. Gives lots of cuddles.

6. Listens to the woes of both wife and children and provides a new perspective.

7. Always happy to go on family days out, walks etc and let me constantly take photos without complaint.

8. Happy to help, even after a hectic day at work…some direction may be needed 😉

9. Likes to share funny pictures, jokes, videos to bring a smile to everyone’s day.

10. Loves being tickled (ok maybe not…but we still do it anyway!?)

11. Gives wonderful foot massages…even though he doesn’t get any in return (yuk! Can’t touch other people’s feet!)

12. Watches tv programs that he doesn’t really enjoy, just to keep me company (and can’t even see the screen at the moment)

Just a few things to be grateful for…can you think of someone that’s awesome too? Maybe you could share your thoughts with them 🙂

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July highlights

A little bit late….the summer holidays don’t seem to have slowed the pace of life yet. Lots of exciting things happened throughout July, I’m always surprised by how many things get packed into our little lives.

  • We had some beautiful sunshine throughout July (which has rudely disappeared for the summer holidays!?), which has been great for being out in the garden, school sports day and lots of BBQs. 
  • The two oldest children took part in the school production at the end of the academic year and really gave it their all in both acting and singing. We also had a treat seeing the youngest two performing their ballet during their last class before the holidays.
  • M kicked off the summer birthdays, with much hilarity during her party where we played some good old fashioned party games, including the cereal box game, after eight game, flour game and a treasure hunt.​
  • I tried out some delicious new recipes, one using aubergines (the yummiest dish using aubergines that I’ve ever made) and some scrumptious mexican rice
  • I really enjoyed reading The Muse by Jessie Burton. I have previously read her first novel, The Miniaturist, a few years ago. It was a gripping plot and I was really drawn into it through her eloquent writing style.
  • An ongoing issue that keeps popping up in the news….something I can never fathom, the justification behind a gender pay gap even being existence.
  • We took advantage of a beautiful, sunny day to visit Blaise Castle and the Toy Museum there, for the first time. The grounds are expansive, with woodland, streams and plenty of open space to set up cricket and football matches. 
  • And of course, a family camping trip to Wales!
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A weekend of celebrations

It’s always a super busy time the first week of August with 2 birthdays, but this year was extra special with E’s baptism. To just add an extra slice of challenge to the event, I decided to make E’s baptism dress (something I always wanted to do for my children…a little commitment/wish made in my head many years ago). I made M’s 2 years ago, but had totally forgotten everything I’d learnt and due to time pressure I ended up finishing off the dress a few hours before the baptism…it all adds to the excitement! I have already warned them all that I won’t be making any dresses for their weddings!? Happily, E loved her dress and it looked beautiful on her.

Something really special about these life events is to have the excuse to spend some time making wonderful memories with friends and family. We felt totally spoiled as we had friends and family, both locally and from afar, visit and spend time celebrating with us, renewing those bonds of love that remain regardless of time and distance.

We’ve had roast dinners, countryside walks, BBQ’s, laughter, games and lots of cheekiness! I love that D chose to go on a walk in the countryside for her birthday, after the many times she has bemoaned the prospect of family walks. Just goes to show that you just never really know the impact that is being made on their growing minds….but now her secret is out and I know deep down she loves walking really!?

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X Marks the Spot


I was a little worried when Ben came back from his pre-op tests that the incision might actually be where the X was! Thankfully his forehead is still in tact!

The last few weeks, and those to come, have been a bit challenging due to health challenges; but number 1, it has made me realise how much I have to be thankful for: a loving family and friends – who have offered support and help, an amazing NHS service, apart from some blips – good health, sick pay – so Ben and I can take time to recover and of course Tesco home delivery!

The children have had to become a lot more hands on with jobs around the house; yesterday E said, whilst helming to prepare dinner, ‘this is really good as we’re learning about what it’s like to be a mummy’, which then later developed when asked to help clear the table ‘what!? I helped make dinner! I’m not having kids if you have to do all of this work!’……maybe some gratitude there on a different level? Meanwhile D has taken great delight in teasing Ben whilst he can’t see, her favourite past time!

My top takeaway tip from this week….put eye drops in eyes before the codeine kicks in, to avoid rolling around in fits of laughter (who knew eye drops could be so fun!).

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A Taste of our Easter Holidays

I read an inspiring blog post about creating short films to capture the fleeting moments and memories of family, which reignited the desire to try to do this again. A couple of years ago I enrolled on Xanthe’s Creating Time Capsules online film course. I learnt a lot about various methods of making and keeping memories through film and photography, but for one reason or another, only created a handful of my own little films. So here I am having another go, dregging the cavities of my brain to put those lessons into use once again, to capture memories that would otherwise be long forgotten.

This was created using my iPhone, as this is something I have with me most of the time. I’m still getting to grips with filming with my DSLR, it may take a while!

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The Fine Art of Complaining 


The last few months have been very challenging at work. I took the job as it was a walk in, walk out type of job which incurred no childcare costs; a contrast to my previous teaching jobs which take up a lot of time and mind space outside of official working hours.

Although the work isn’t particularly challenging, the perks outweighed the negatives. But life can quickly spin around and suddenly the opposite was true.

I never really embraced change very well as a child and teenager, but through a variety of experiences it has become easier. Of course, I’m quite happy to grasp change when it brings all of the good things in life; I’m not so keen on the challenging, hard and unpleasant stuff. But here it all is in front of me, and honestly, it’s been really, really difficult.

My lovely friends and family have endured much venting and complaining and moaning, with A LOT of patience! Did it make it better? Possibly initially, but then I noticed it was just sending me spiralling downwards into the land of misery.

Serendipitously, I stumbled across an article in the beautiful Flow magazine entitled ‘The day I quit complaining ‘. Maybe this could shed some light into a way out of my negative funk?

It’s always good to discover that there’s other people all over the world who struggle with the same kinds of emotions. It was uplifting to read about different perspectives on how to deal with my current mindset. The top tips I took from the article were:

  • Be honest about your emotions and express them (this is not the same as complaining).
  • Rather than getting sucked into the emotion, try to focus on something else e.g. breathing/change perspective.
  • Think about what you need, what is at the root of the complaint?
  • You have a choice, you can DO something about your situation.
  • Focus on all that is good in your life.

I have felt a huge impact by talking through emotions, but not allowing that to lead to a mass of complaining. Changing my focus to other things that I enjoy in my life and shifting my perspective to the bigger picture. It’s baby steps, but if nothing else, I’ve learnt some more effective ways to deal with the bumps in the road and that can only be a positive thing right?

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4/52

4/52

Nothing better than a leaf fight in beautiful sunshine….still finding little bits of dried up leaves deposited around the house, in shoes, coats, jumpers etc. Lovely to see the joy the simple things in life bring.

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