Monthly Archives: July 2014

L is for love

_KMJ0140Photo Credit: Kamil Janowski

On this day three years ago, I was not yet married. After a whirlwind year and a bit of unexpected romance I was hanging out in East London with the man I’d fancied since I was seventeen who was to become my husband the very next day.

This was not the wedding we’d been planning for months, the one where all our friends and family would be helping us celebrate. That wedding would be happening two weeks later, by which time we would have upped sticks and moved to Devon ready to start a new life together.

But the humanist celebration that was still to come would not make us legally married. We’d thought we’d just get that bit out of the way in a registry office initially, but when we discovered we could have a legal ceremony in Shoreditch House – where we’d ended up on our very first date – it seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.

We stayed there the night before, enjoying dinner on the rooftop and shunning the convention of spending our last unmarried night apart. We giggled nervously as we lay in bed looking over the night glow of London, realising rather late that whilst this wedding was not the one we’d poured all our energies into it was still the one that would make us married.

The next morning we were brought a pile of newspapers to mark the date, and I disappeared off to my favourite hairdresser Taylor Taylor where I’d made an emergency appointment a few days before. My dress had been a bargain from Very, and I’d splurged a little on blue shoes from Joules, but I’d realised rather late that a ponytail might not quite cut it.

Our immediate family joined us for the ceremony, held in a little side room off the bar with bare brick walls and music cued up on Leigh’s iPhone. There was a delicious lunch after that: I couldn’t tell you what exactly, but I know it was good. Then Leigh and I left everyone behind whilst we went for a walk around the surrounding streets with Leigh’s friend Kamil, a photographer, in tow.

I love the pictures he took to capture the afternoon after we got married. We were so in love, and just a little bit tipsy, and found ourselves caught up in a wave of surprise emotion on the day we had thought we were just satisfying legal requirements but were in fact cementing a bond that had been slowly forming over so many years.

When we were done we went back to join our families, had piggyback races in the pool and drank a few too many espresso martinis. It was a pretty awesome start to married life.

Tomorrow is our first third wedding anniversary. I’m looking forward to reflecting on how much has happened over the past three years, to drinking wine and making plans for our future. But most of all I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with my husband, whom I love.

Joining in with The Alphabet Photography Project over at PODcast.

Airplane!

On warm summer evenings with the last of the light reflecting off the water we have often stood and looked at the Riviera Wheel glittering across the bay. We have said many times that we should make the time to ride it, and last week – finding ourselves in Torquay on a glorious day with an hour to kill – we finally did.

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Arthur could not conceal his excitement as we approached: he cried out ‘Airplane! Airplane!’, pointing at the swinging cabins which circled high above us.

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Once we were up he was mesmerised. The views were spectacular over the marina and the town, with the beautiful blue waters of Torbay stretching out into the distance.

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It it was a place to step back from the heat and the hecticness of the streets below, to pause and reflect on just what a beautiful part of the country we live in, to regain a little perspective. Arthur was so transfixed by the views that Leigh and I even had a few moments to revel in the romance of it all.

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Word of the Week: Play

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One of the loveliest things about the stage Arthur is at at the moment is how completely he is embracing play. He will often wake up in the morning and, once he’s orientated himself and had his milk and cuddles declare his desire to ‘walk, play!’ repeatedly until we help him down from the bed.

He calls out from the highchair too, and sometimes from the sling: ‘walk, play! Walk, play! Walk, play!’

I love that he is articulating that need to move and explore, to actively engage in the serious business of playing that is going to be so important in the next few years of his development. It gives me a real thrill to watch the beginnings of make believe, to watch him creating his own world out of the things that are around him.

Of course if there are other children around to play with that’s even better. Grown ups are good sometimes too, but Arthur is beginning to make a distinction between the worlds we inhabit and more often than not is drawn to the vitality and creativity of those who have not yet felt the straightjacket of adulthood.

At the festival we were at last weekend it was wonderful to see him running around with my cousin’s kids and their neighbours. He was a little forlorn without them when we got home, but the arrival of his cousins from London soon distracted him!

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He has spent the week playing in the garden, determined to ride his new dumper truck and keep up with the pace of his older playmates.

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There’s been pool and beach fun too – we literally couldn’t have picked a better week to share the joys of living on the English Riviera!

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Arthur’s back on his own again now, and whilst I’ve caught him looking around for his absent playmates he hasn’t let it get to him too much. He constantly amazes me with his ability to entertain himself, to enter into the spirit of play whatever his circumstances and surroundings.

I guess that’s what makes childhood so special, really. And it is my pledge to you, Arthur, to give you as many opportunities to play as I can possibly muster.

 

The Reading Residence

 

K is for kite

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Boxing day, 2013. Leigh had been given a kite for Christmas, and as we headed to the beach to walk off the indulgence of the day before there was a palpable sense of excitement. The day was crisp and cold and bright: for a British winter it could hardly have been bettered. The wind was strong, but as it happened that was just what we wanted.

Arthur was nuzzled up in the sling, still computing the craziness of his first Christmas season and, not that he knew it, waiting to experience his first birthday two days later. It was the adults though who were rapt with the simple pleasure of a kite flying high in the December sky.

We each had a go, nonchalant at first, trying to conceal our nervousness and anticipation. But as the wind caught the fabric that our hands controlled we in turn were caught by a childlike joy. Those of us who were not physically attached to its pulls and turns found ourselves mimicking the twists and grins of the one who was, unable to tear our eyes away and united in our quest to maintain its flight for as long as possible.

K is for kite.

 

Joining in with The Alphabet Photography Project over at PODcast. 

Somersaulting into summer

Continuing this summer’s emerging theme of music and partying and tents we have just had another fantastic weekend of very little internet – this time at the sensational Somersault Festival in North Devon.

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We arrived on Thursday morning and set up camp with two other families – it was hard to tell who was more excited as the anticipation began to build, but kids and adults alike were determined to have a good time. It wasn’t hard.

Our little camp was a brilliant base for the weekend’s festivities. There were bubbles and body painting, duck baths and duelling ukeleles.

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Arthur loved being able to roll out of bed in his pyjamas and get straight into a new day’s play. He’s becoming quite the seasoned little camper with all our adventures, and certainly seemed to sleep well in the tent with all the fresh air and excitement.

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He loved exploring the festival site too – whether he was running around or cozied up in the sling, checking out the stalls or making new friends.

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We were all super impressed with the kids’ area. I’ve always been curious about what goes on, slightly jealous of the glitter and magic and games in the children’s fields of festivals I’ve gone to in the past. This time though I had a child of my own to take me there, and it didn’t disappoint.

Arthur was particularly fond of frolicking with the fairies, and though I didn’t keep him still for long enough to do any crafts there was a great selection of different things to make – from a stunning array of masks to wings, wands and hula hoops.

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The bigger kids we were with even made bath bombs – then had the genius idea of using them back at camp to soothe their tired feet as they prepared for an evening of dancing. I will definitely be getting Arthur onto that when he’s a bit older – though I will have to appoint myself chief tester…

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One thing we certainly didn’t expect is just how HOT the weekend was going to be! We had a couple of showers, but nothing like the torrential downpours the Met office had been promising. Lots of people took the opportunity to cool off in the river – a pretty cool feature to have in the middle of a festival, though I’m glad no-one took an unintentional dip in the middle of the night!

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We were sorely tempted to join them, but instead decided to head to the beach on Saturday afternoon. The sea was heavenly, and it was all we could do to tear Arthur away from running on the sand and splashing in the waves. I’ve never actually been to the North Devon coast before. It was pretty stunning – we’re already planning our next trip!

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With the myriad of different things to do it was easy to almost forget we’d actually come for the music. The line-up was eclectic and exciting, a perfect blend of bands I know well and was looking forward to seeing again and people I hadn’t heard but wanted to! Arthur absolutely loved the music – whether he was chilling out in the afternoon sun at the Communion stage, jigging around in the sling to Jack Johnson or dancing to Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars with a huge grin on his face.

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We weren’t able to get that close to the stage, mainly because Arthur has decided he won’t wear his ear defenders any more – they were awesome last summer when he was still tiny, but now that he’s a bit older I think we’re going to need to work on getting him used to them! The distance didn’t matter too much though – especially once Arthur was up on his Daddy’s shoulders so he could see what was going on.

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I think he found the live music really inspiring, and it’s inspired me again to find more gigs to take him to. Festivals are brilliant for introducing kids to the sheer joy of live music – especially one that’s so completely family friendly as Somersault. It’s brilliant as a parent too to be able to do the things that are not so easy with a kid in tow – and to know that they’re enjoying it too rather than being stuck at home.

As the sun went down I was very glad to have a baby that still loves to be worn – he snuggled up in the Connecta where he was warm and safe, nodding off not that much later than his usual bedtime. Which meant I could stay up and enjoy the rest of the acts!

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Ben Howard was superb on the Sunday night. I really love the new edgier direction his music seems to be taking, though it was great to hear the crowd singing along to the old favourites too.

My absolute musical highlight of the weekend was definitely Bear’s Den though. They played a fantastic set late on Sunday night on the Communion stage, with haunting melodies and infectious rhythms carried along by the banter of the band.

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Even with such a packed weekend I still left feeling like there was so much we didn’t see or do or hear – which is a very good reason to go back next year. I think Arthur’s just going to love festivals more and more as he grows up. He was looking a little forlorn as we packed away the tents, and rocking his ukelele with renewed vigour even as we were trying to pack him into the car to make our way home.

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Word of the Week: Swimming

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This week was a pretty momentous week for my little water baby: with the help of his float suit he had his first experience of swimming freely – and he loved it!

We spent a couple of days at my parents’ house, enjoying the peace and quiet after the crazy brilliance of their party. We were keen to make the most of their pool, and specifically to try out the float suit we’d ordered from Splash About.

We’d tried it out a couple of times when we were in Cyprus, but he was a little little for it then. It fits him much better now, though it still took a bit of getting used to. In our first session he was happy to hold on to the bars at the side of the pool, enjoying the novelty of not being supported by us but floundering a bit when we encouraged him to move away from the side.

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And then the next day he amazed us by letting go, finding his balance, and actually beginning to move through the water.

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We’re working on getting his legs kicking and paddling with his hands now, and he seems to be picking it up incredibly quickly. He even had a go in the sea when we were back in Brixham: the float suit seems to be working so well that we’ve invested in a little neoprene float jacket too for the colder water.

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It’ll obviously be a little while before he’s able to swim without all the extra buoyancy, but it’s a pretty impressive start! I’m not sure who’s more excited by his new found skill to be honest – Arthur is clearly thrilled with himself, but I am one proud mummy.

 

The Reading Residence