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This week has involved lots of baking, creating and bonfire night celebrating! All of my favourite things!

D has a new topic at school on the theme of chocolate! What could be better than that! She is so excited to do her homework, next on her list is making rocky road…yum!

M and I made Parkin for the first time, especially for bonfire night. A traditional Yorkshire cake made with treacle, ginger, golden syrup and all things delicious!

This was topped off with a bonfire and sparklers, still so much joy to be had even at my age!

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You may have thought the loom banding craze was over…not in our house! It is very much alive and well! Lots of love happening from everyone here for the joy and contentment it brings to us all.

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A Lesson Learnt from a Trail Blazer

Do you ever fall into the mythical idea that success just springs upon those trail blazers of times past? Sometimes the success is so celebrated that the pathway towards it is obscured by the shining glory of that moment of genius. I have! And I’ve realised it works quite well as a water tight alibi for not putting myself out there too much in case it all falls into a piling heap of failure. It has taken me time, alongside many reminders along the way, to realise maybe there’s some whopping great holes in that theory! A visit to Lacock Abbey was not only beautiful and fascinating, as so many National Trust properties are, but also an enlightening insight into the life and studies of Mr Fox Talbot who resided there.

I had heard of Fox Talbot many years ago whilst studying photography, and glanced over the facts without too much thought, taking for granted the fact that the whole reason I had the subject of photography to study was partly down to the dedication and passion this person had for the science behind capturing and retaining a photographic image.

Photography began very much as a scientific pursuit, alongside the creative benefits. This was perfect for Fox Talbot who had both an interest in and experience with chemistry as well as a keen interest in the study of botany. Due to his lack of artistic ability, he wanted to find a way to capture images of specimens without the need to be a skilled artist. His motivation and passion for the photographic world was born out of a lack of artistic skill; rather than letting this bring him into a deep gloom it pushed him on to make many scientific discoveries by exploring his curiosity. That’s a great set of life skills right there!

There were many failures along the way, but curiosity, determination and resilience came through, and look where we are today! In his words:

“…I do not profess to have perfected an Art, but to have commenced one; the limits of which it is not possible at present exactly to ascertain.

I only claim to have based this new Art upon a secure foundation: it will be for more skilful hands than mine to rear the superstructure.”

– Fox Talbot 1839

A truly inspiring moment in history, for which I’m grateful, as I get to enjoy this wonderful art form pretty much everyday. What a different world it would be without photography in it!

 

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Henry the VIII Gets Everywhere!

We’ve been on some great days out this summer, countryside walks, historic houses and a castle that is still owned and lived in by a family. When learning about the history of the buildings and its inhabitants, Henry VIII’s name frequently pops up as a royal visitor to the household…he certainly travelled around and made an impression wherever he went. Famous or infamous, he is certainly a fascinating character! When visiting Sudeley Castle recently, I was intrigued by a quote that I read (forgotten who by now), which spoke about how much Henry VIII adored women; he was, rather unconventionally at the time, brought up around his mother and sisters rather than being sent away and had a great affection for women. He was a very charismatic individual and deeply loved women…of course until he really didn’t!

Sudeley Castle was the residence of Catherine Parr, the famously surviving wife of Henry VIII, where her remains were discovered in the late 1700’s. Catherine Parr had a great influence on society, through her religious beliefs, publishing books of prayers which became an accessible means for others to take part in personal worship. In a letter, she mentioned that she felt it was her duty to marry King Henry VIII, through the will of God, saying: “Howbeit God withstood my will therein most vehemently for a time, and through his grace made that possible which seemed to me impossible; that was made me renounce utterly my own will, and to follow his most willingly.”

Her influence also stretched to educating Lady Jane Grey, who she took under her wing; another woman who played a significant role in history. There were so many interesting facts and some very informative short films, which made the information accessible for adults and children. I really felt that I gained a small glimpse into history.

The gardens were spectacular! Beautifully kept with a huge variety of sights to see and interesting designs. We walked through secret gardens, narrow pathways lined with hedges, climbing trees and spotting fish, pheasants we never knew existed and wonderful water features.

We had the best luck with the weather, beautiful sunshine which was perfect for a picnic, running around the grounds and having a sneaky ice cream.

I loved the ruins of the banquet hall (pictured above), with all of the foliage growing around the remains of what would have once been a breathtaking building. Even with a hum of people milling around, it was peaceful enough to reflect on times past and the merriment and entertainment that happened here.

Saved for the end of the day, was a fabulous adventure playground, which the children could easily have spent much more time running around in than we did. My tip if visiting Sudeley Castle, is to get there at the opening time to enjoy all it has to offer, as it closes early evening. We only drove out through the local village, but it also looks like a beautiful place to wander around and explore.

Thanks to the wonderful world of Tesco club card vouchers, we had a fantastic day out for the royal sum of £3, what a bargain!!

Happy faces all round!

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Not to break with tradition, I totally forgot to take back to school photos on the first day at school. With added complications, due to a move to a new school and a delay in starting, I was caught up in the rush of it all. So on a more relaxed ‘second day’ of school, I grabbed the camera out!

Unfortunately the enthusiasm for a back to school photo was pretty one sided, even bribery didn’t work this time. I’m hoping that other parents experience the explosions and arguments about who touched who, who stood on whose feet etc etc in setting up any type of formal photograph.

Daisy lightened the mood with her uncurbed desire to always be cheeky, and we enlisted the help of daddy to get some giggles!

We got there in the end…sort of ?!

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All looking smart and beautiful for a wonderful family wedding. Can’t believe I’m old enough to have a nephew that has just been married! So exciting to see a couple starting their life together anew, so many adventures and happy times ahead for them both!

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A Wild Time at the Wild Place Project

Summer holidays = a very empty bank account! So it was a real treat that the girls got a free voucher each for completing the Summer Reading Challenge at the library this year to The Wild Place Project. We hit it on a beautiful, sunny day with a bag filled with a picnic lunch, a change of clothes and wet wipes (as advised by friends in readiness for the barefoot trail, which can get quite muddy and messy).

There are lots of trails and activities in between visits to the range of animals there, as well as an insight into the effect of the choices of others and their impact on animal species, such as illegal poaching, mining and deforestation. The girls asked lots of questions about this as it is something they haven’t come across in the past, a great opportunity to discuss some big environmental issues.

A favourite was watching the giraffes gracefully moving around their living space, they are truly amazing close up!

We got up very close to the lemurs, who put on a good show of extreme cuteness as they curled up together for an afternoon snooze.

The barefoot trail was lots of fun (to watch…I didn’t participate), of course the best bit was the sticky, sludgy mud!

Our final adventure before we headed for home was a go on the huge, extremely scary swing, which falls from a great height. To show that I’m brave too, I went on the swing with the two older girls…as we hung high up waiting for the fall E said ‘how did I get myself into this?’ And I had to agree! Suddenly remembering my fear of heights, I decided I wasn’t so brave after all!! It provided much amusement to all the spectators as we descended without much composure or grace!?

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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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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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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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