Tag Archives: spring



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

Hurrah for Spring!

For warmer days and shorter nights, for grass running and tree climbing, for sunshine smiles and muddy knees.

Living where we do, it’s pretty hard not to get out and about all year round. Still, though, this time of year makes everything into an adventure.

I love nothing more than following the lead of my little explorer, and watching him absorb and embrace so much more than he could a year ago. His world is just buzzing with potential: and that means mine is, too.

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

Deconstructing daffodils

The unschooling diaries: week eight

Between Valentine’s, an anniversary and Mother’s Day we have had a lot of flowers in the house recently. Which of course has been lovely, but for Arthur has also proved an irresistible draw. Several times I have come into the kitchen and found him looking sheepish with pollen on his fingers and petals scattered on the floor at his feet. It’s hard to get cross, because I know he’s just curious. So this week I thought I’d play him at his own game…


Our garden is generally looking a little sorry for itself at the moment, but in the midst of all the work that needs doing there is a determined patch of daffodils that Arthur and I have watched grow and flower into a sea of yellow and green. One particularly dreary morning I ventured out whilst Arthur watched me through the rain in his pyjamas, sticking a tentative toe over the threshold before deciding that inside was a much better place to be.

I picked out a daffodil and handed it over, explaining that I thought it might be interesting to break it apart together and see what was inside. He was a bit reticent at first, taking time to hold and admire the whole flower as the rain broke and sun began streaming in through the windows. I’d never actually seen him handle a flower so carefully. Still, it didn’t take him long before he took me up on my offer.

He explored the daffodil’s trumpet before taking it apart in strips, then gently peeling away the petals. I encouraged him to smooth the pollen with his fingertip, and we paused at that point to talk about what it was all for.

We talked about the bright yellow colour attracting the bees, who buzzed around between the flowers and took the pollen from stigma to stamen so the flowers could make babies. He was curious, so I found a video on YouTube showing a bee doing exactly that, and he watched, intrigued. He’s generally quite interested in bees at the moment because of his current obsession with Winne the Pooh (when I asked him what he thought the pollen might taste of he answered quite confidently ‘honey’), but that’s another story…

After our little introduction to botany he wandered off to do something else for a while, and when he came back I’d set out paper and glue so he could stick the parts of the daffodil on. He was keen to cut up the stem at this point – a good time to practise using scissors, and discover that the metal ones were much more effective for the job than plastic. We talked too about how the stem was like a straw, sucking up water to keep the flower alive.


I had thought of labelling the parts of the flower once he’d stuck them down, but he’d lost interest by that point and it probably would have been a step too far anyway! As it was he began to understand, I think, a little about the fascinating construction of a flower, laying down foundations for future conversations when we’re out and about.

And now I come to think of it he has held back from randomly destroying any flowers since, so maybe it has served to satisfy the curiousity that was driving him – for now at least.


*A little note of caution: daffodils, whilst fascinating, are not edible and are actually toxic if consumed. I made sure Arthur was aware of this and washed his hands carefully after our exploration. Please make sure you supervise your little ones closely and seek medical attention if they do accidentally ingest any part of a daffodil.*

Five signs that spring has (almost) sprung

Alongside everything I have been doing this week – creeping ever closer to a completed third draft of my novel, keeping up with Arthur’s ever-expanding social calendar, and supporting Leigh through another wave of deadlines – there has been the faint bubble of anticipation. The sense that, after weeks and months of the dark and the cold of winter, spring might finally, actually, be just around the corner.


Arthur and I were at my parents’ place last weekend. Although they’re less than an hour away, and still on the sea (well, the estuary anyway), the environment there feels very different. They are surrounded by countryside, and there is no escaping the shifting seasons. So it was there I noticed spring first. It took me almost by surprise, but it has not disappeared since we returned to Brixham.


Arthur has learnt the words for primrose, snowdrop and daffodil this week. He sought out the little patches of colour as we traversed the woodland, and I couldn’t help but notice the shoots beginning to seep from winter branches. Back home we saw that our own daffodils had finally burst out from their buds, trumpeting the promise of warmer, lighter days to anyone who cared to listen.



For the past few months my parents’ chickens have refused to lay. The flock was expanded at the end of last year, and ever since their nest has remained empty. In the past few weeks they have seemed to call an end to their strike. Looking at the beautiful eggs they are now producing in abundance it seemed way too coincidental to have nothing to do with the coming of spring: and on doing a little research I discovered that sure enough, the longer days have much to do with the chickens’ willingness to release their eggs into the world.

We travelled home on Monday with a collection of them, almost too lovely to eat.

I am pleased to report that they were delicious.



One thing that spring can be guaranteed to bring is crazy weather, and this week has most definitely not disappointed on that front. On Tuesday, we were woken up by a hailstorm at three am – it was so insanely loud I thought for a while it might dislodge the slate on the roof. A few hours later, we woke again to pink skies reflecting off the sheen of an almost perfectly still bay, the only sound being the squark of seagulls and the distant drone of fishing boats heading out to sea.


A text came through from a friend as I was getting Arthur organised to head out to his drama class, saying that we should make the most of the glorious day. Just as I was sending my agreement, the rain rolled in. Yet by the time we were ready to leave it was beautiful once again. Dark clouds gathered before the day was done.

The weather this week has most definitely been unpredictable, but not entirely unpleasant.



In the moments when the sun has come out, there has been no denying this week that it is starting to get warmer. There have been points when I’ve almost been able to taste those delicious summer days, children laughing as they play for hours in the great outdoors, parents watching over them whilst basking in the rays themselves,

We had music today at Lupton House, followed by the precious coffee and catch-up I’ve come to so look forward to. Afterwards us mums stood and chatted as the children played, tentatively exclaiming our delight at the warmth which filled the air.



This is perhaps the least tangible of the signs that spring is on its way, but it’s no less important for that. I cope with winter better than I used to, but still during the past few weeks I’ve felt a little like I’ve been wading through treacle just to manage the tasks which make up the day to day.

But this week that sense of drudgery has been replaced with hope, with the anticipation of spring rolling into summer, of leaving the house without a coat and returning in the evening whilst it is still light.

I suppose deep down I love the seasons, all of them, for the contrasts they bring. But I cannot deny that I have my favourites, and spring is most certainly one of them.

My word of the week this week is spring.

The Reading Residence
Mums' Days

Word of the Week: Garden

Today the word that sums up the week that was is:


We only have a little one, with no lawn and lots of awkward angles. When we bought our house it was a mess of concrete, its potential limited by the hill that it’s built into, but we were willing to sacrifice anything more substantial for the fact that we’re so close to the sea. When I look outside now, although I’m actually quite proud with what we managed to do with it, I do wonder whether in our pre-child mindset we were underestimating the importance of space to run. Certainly if anything would make us consider moving again it would be that.

Fortunately Arthur’s not quite as picky as me. He loves our garden, and would spend every waking hour out there if he had his way. Over the winter it’s got progressively hazardous – rainwater filled pots, detritus from the work we had done on the roof, sludgy piles of rotting leaves, unruly brambles. But when the sun came out last weekend Leigh could hold himself back no longer and blitzed the worst of it. Arthur was delighted, determined to help as much as he could!


Once things were looking a little bit clearer we got the cushions out, and even managed the first barbecue of the season. The intimacy of the space is definitely going to present a challenge with that particular hazard, but Arthur seems to be learning the word (and concept) ‘hot’ – before long he was keeping his distance and blowing whilst waving his hand cautiously, an awareness which seems to have spread to the oven inside too.

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We found time to enjoy the garden during the week too, chilling and exploring after lunch. As my eyes become accustomed to the space again I’m becoming increasingly aware of all the jobs that still need doing – cutting back and planting, particularly our little raised veg patch which was fantastic for salads last year. I’m really not all that green fingered. In fact looking after a garden would probably rank somewhere near the bottom of the skills I’ve acquired over the years. But I’m sure that even I can manage to get our little garden looking its best – especially with such an eager little helper by my side.


The Reading Residence


Seeds of Creativity

Ever since I can remember I have loved the coming of spring. I don’t suit winter. I quite enjoy  snow, in moderation, and find the rare cold, crisp, sunny days as exhilarating as the next person, but it’s the interminable darkness that really gets to me. The darkness that sets in before you get a chance to get outside at the end of a hard day’s work and hangs around for way longer than it’s welcome after you’ve dragged yourself out of bed in the morning, fighting your body’s desire to hibernate.

For years I thought I suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder – I didn’t just dislike those months of darkness, they consumed me like the fog that rolls in over the sea. Even the anticipation of the shorter days that set in as early as the summer solstice was enough to instil that sense of dread that would just get worse and worse as the seasons closed in.

Now that I’m not operating on someone else’s timetable I’m not so sure. There’s no doubt that living by the sea helps too, and spending most of my time with a little person who sees the world without a trace of my weariness. Despite not having slept for more than two hours at a stretch for the past fifteen months, despite the challenge of juggling nearly-new motherhood with writing a second novel and trying to find a publisher for the first, despite the fact that this winter it has rained for days and days on end, I don’t need spring anywhere near as badly as I have before.

That’s not to say it’s not exciting. The snowdrops pushing through the sodden ground, the bare branches beginning to burst with buds, the daffodils that have suddenly taken over our neglected garden in an explosion of yellow. And alongside all these things the seeds of new ideas that are taking root inside my writer’s brain.

I seem to be settling into a pattern with my writing, one which I hope is sustainable and suits my rhythms. In the autumn, as the days begin to close in, I lose myself in researching and planning a new novel. By January, typically my lowest point, I’m ready to bring the plan to life, spending long chunks of time writing, letting my characters take the story where it needs to go. This year, as with last, I’ve set myself the deadline of Easter to complete the first draft. I’m on track to achieve that: I’m about two thirds of the way through with another month to go, and as the story gathers pace and urgency it’s all I can do to pull myself away from the keyboard when motherhood calls. Once that first draft’s done I’ll let it sit for a while before going back to it with fresh eyes, handing it over at the same time to a trusted few initial readers. With their ideas and mine I’ll then attempt the redraft in the height of summery optimism, hopefully having something I’m happy with as summer draws to a close.

Alongside all that redrafting, though, the seeds of the next project need to be germinating, shooting up into the light so that I can work out how to help them grow in the next phase of their development. And with that in mind I had begun to panic a couple of weeks ago: the end of the current novel was in sight, but I had no idea what I was going to work on next. I have several ideas for new novels in the Lili Badger series, a couple of distinct directions in which things could go. But I don’t want to start working on those until I know whether the original has legs. I love it, and would enjoy nothing more than to lose myself in Lili’s world again, but however much I try I can’t justify it to myself. I need something new.

In the midst of my panic, I went for a walk. Just the usual walk into town, taking the long way round by the pool, allowing myself to tread more slowly than I normally would so Arthur could soak up his surroundings. I began to notice the dedications on the benches, stopped to read them. And without me even noticing the seeds began to embed themselves.

By the time I got home I had two reasonably formed ideas for new novels. Both with their heart in Brixham, and both with stories which spread out across place and time in their mapping of life and love and death. Both have strong female characters at their core – something which I am beginning to realise is emerging as a pattern in my work. I haven’t decided which one I’ll run with yet. I hope I’ll write them both, in time. But now the seeds have been sown I’ll leave them for a while, trusting that they will germinate in my mind as I bring my current project to its conclusion, ready for me to nurture when I can shift my attention to them more closely as spring turns into summer.

Thank you to Sara at ‘Mum Turned Mom’ for inspiring this post with her prompt: “Spring is the time of plans and projects” (Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina).

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