Tag Archives: home

Home for Christmas

The unschooling diaries: week forty-nine

For the first time since Arthur was born, we spent Christmas Eve at home this year. And it was wonderful.


The day began with a treasure hunt, starting with a clue in the last advent calendar pocket and ending with Arthur’s Christmas Eve bag – complete with new pyjamas and bedtime books, a bag of reindeer food, and a little elf for him to share the Christmas secrets with that by this time were almost exploding from his head.


We settled down after that with a fire and a movie, Arthur building lego and me putting the finishing touches to his birthday Peter Pan costume whilst Leigh power washed the deck ready for his party! There are definitely challenges to having a birthday to consider so soon after Christmas, but having a few hours to chill and get things sorted took the pressure off a bit.


There were still Christmas jobs to be done too though, and after a lunch of cheese and mince pies Arthur and I went off to deliver the last of our cards to the neighbours. He even treated one of them to his rendition of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer – nothing like a bit of impromptu carolling!


Then it was down to the pool for a cheeky snowball fight…


I had to pop down anyway just to make sure everything was ok, and it was the perfect opportunity to try out Arthur’s pom pom snowballs.

We had a quick scramble on the rocks first…


And then ran off our excitement on the green overlooking the sea.



Finally it was back home for some final Christmas baking followed by a festive family supper of pan fried local gurnard. Yum!


The next morning we were downstairs before dawn so that a very excited little boy could open his stocking.


He especially loved the bow and arrow he had requested in his letter to Santa.

We opened some bigger gifts too, including the humungous beanbag we’d bought Arthur for his reading corner, before heading over to my parents’ to enjoy the rest of the festivities with family.

The next couple of days were lovely, hanging out with my folks and my brothers and my new niece. But there was something very special about imbuing our home with a little bit of festive magic – and maybe beginning some festive traditions that will become our very own…




“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

This one is so utterly bonkers it makes my heart sing.

We had a bit of a mission of a morning on Friday, getting the bus over to gymnastics which involves forty minutes of walking each way as well as the hour-long bus ride itself. Arthur did nap on the bus, but once we’d eventually made it home it was definitely time to chill and watch a movie.

Except, obviously, this was the position he wanted to adopt, just to get a bit of extra gymnastics practice in.

And he’s getting so tall!

But I’m trying not to think too much about that…

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for The 52 Project. 

Close to home

There has been something incredibly satisfying about working on a novel over the past couple of weeks that draws its inspiration from the town I now call home.

I’ve been here five years, but the first two novels that I wrote at my desk overlooking the sea were based on a very different life. Their plots and characters were woven from memories which, as memories do, have faded as my distance from them increases, and whilst there is nothing wrong with seeking inspiration from the past I have found my present a much richer source of detail.


It’s kind of ironic, really, given that this third novel is historical, playing out its story between the 1970s and the dawn of the new millennium, and thus further away temporally than each of the others. The world I have created within it is not the same as the one I live in now, but that has not stopped my senses seeking out the experiences it needs to strengthen its authenticity.

Going back to edit the draft, its stifling seventies’ summers conjured in the winter months, I brought to bear another layer of experience from the summer just passed. My love affair with life by the sea has inevitably found its way onto its pages, and I believe that it is an altogether better novel for it.

There is something in that journey that feels good for my soul, too. To be living and breathing the words that I write rather than tearing myself between my current reality and another, far removed, that I am trying to make true.

This past week’s writing, now that I have submitted that draft to my agent, has focused in even more on the experiences that define me now. When I am not trying to carve out this niche for myself as a writer, a large amount of my remaining energies go into my local lido – both in swimming whenever I get the chance and in working to help run it, restore it and preserve it for years to come.

On Saturday I took part in a fundraising challenge, swimming thirty lengths alongside other lovers of its watery charms. As I swam my 1500 metres, a longer distance than I’ve attempted in many years, my mind worked on a story I’ve been developing to answer a call for submissions for new writing from lido lovers. I finished writing the first draft of that on the beach yesterday afternoon, and after a few hours of polishing emailed it off this morning.

I can’t guarantee that my next wave of inspiration will come from the water that surrounds me here – and in fact it would be an impoverished body of work that was too insular in its outlook – but I think perhaps I needed grounding, and it feels like these projects have achieved just that.

It will be interesting to see where they take me next…


Writing Bubble



“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

The joy of still being in your pyjamas at 4pm after a busy week…

A busy couple of months to be honest. The weather has shifted, though, in the last couple of days, and we have taken advantage of that by slowing down and cosying up and taking time to breathe.

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for The 52 Project. 



“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

This week, fuelled by sunshine and jet lag, we have mainly been getting the house ready for summer.

As part of this, on Sunday morning, we went to our local garden centre. Arthur was lured along enthusiastically by the promise of a visit to their play area, and was initially a little put out when we couldn’t go there STRAIGHT AWAY.

Actually, though, I think he surprised himself by how much he enjoyed looking at flowers. When we walked out to the back, basking in proper summer sun, he exclaimed “It’s so beautiful!”. And it really was. We meandered between the rows and through the poly-tunnels, picking up things that looked pretty and not too easy to kill.

Arthur was tremendously careful with the trays he was given to carry, and loved being part of our little garden project almost as much as he loved being let loose on the climbing frame when we were done.

And now, after a couple of hours of planting, we have a garden resplendent with colourful troughs. Arthur disappeared off around the corner this morning, and when I asked where he was going he said he just wanted to look at the flowers.

Now I just need to remember to keep them watered and fed…

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for The 52 Project. 



“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2016.”

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have noticed that WE HAVE TADPOLES!

I am very excited about this. Possibly even more excited than Arthur. There has been something really quite astounding about watching them grow and change every day, and the whole process with it has brought with it so many opportunities for learning.

More on that later…

For now, though, I just love this image from the other morning. I’m not sure quite what our emerging froglets made of this giant towering over them, but it most definitely made me smile.

Linking up with Jodi at Practising Simplicity for The 52 Project. 

Home Sweet Home

This time last week, I was feeling a little sad to be home. We’d had a wonderful holiday with some much-needed quality family time, and I had once again been infected with the wanderlust that makes me want to see all of the corners of the world that I can.

This week, though, we have accidentally had the most wonderful time in our little town, and it has left me wondering why we need to travel at all when we have such a glorious place to call home.


There is Berry Head, where we went last Sunday with my parents, my brother and his fiancee. Arthur was thrilled to see everyone after our trip away, and he had great fun flying his kite, doing impromptu yoga with Uncle Ash, and just enjoying the view.

IMG_0908 IMG_0906 IMG_0905

Then there is Breakwater beach. Our local beach. I honestly never thought I’d be able to say that! With the spectacular weather we’ve had this week it’s felt a little like a corner of the Caribbean at times. Arthur has continued on his mission to get every single stone from the beach into the sea, and we’ve enjoyed a picnic with friends as well as a sneaky takeaway, just the two of us.

IMG_0904 IMG_0903 IMG_0900 IMG_0901

I’ve really become aware this week how many lovely people we’ve met in this town. It’s taken a while for us to really feel like we belong here: the first 18 months when both Leigh and I were working in Plymouth didn’t help, and even once Arthur had arrived and I began to spend a lot more time in Brixham settling in to a new town wasn’t easy. But this week both Arthur and I have had social calendars almost full to bursting, and I have realised that we both have genuine friends here now. Which is nice.


Of course my latest venture – standing for election to Brixham Town Council – has made me feel even more as though I belong. It’s been brilliant getting out and about seeing people and places that are new to me, and so far the reception to my election campaign has been really positive. Mostly anyway – but that’s a topic for another post.


For this one suffice to say that I have had a week which has left me loving Brixham even more than usual. Ten days post-holiday when I still lived in London I would have been yearning for escape, but right now nothing would pull me away from the place I am proud to call home.




My word of the week this week is home.

The Reading Residence

Also linking up with this week’s prompt of ‘travel’.