Tag Archives: summer

Summer is here!

I’ve decided I’m calling it.

Admittedly it’s early days: as I’ve been writing this post the tapping of my fingers on the keyboard has been accompanied by the rain spattering the window panes. White horses skitter across the bay, and the leaves in the trees are being buffeted by a wind too strong to be called a breeze. But that’s just part and parcel of the season here in Devon.

And looking at the week in balance there is no doubt in my mind that we have crossed the boundary into summer.

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It’s half term of course, so the streets of Brixham are filled with holidaymakers. Dangling lines over the harbour wall to tempt crabs into their buckets, clutching ice creams which drip deliciously over little fingers.

On Breakwater beach paddlers are venturing deeper and deeper into the sea, delightedly splashing in the icy water and sometimes taking the plunge and diving in for a swim.

It’s that for me that marks the transition into summer most clearly. I am still a fair-weather swimmer. I aspire to being one of the hardy souls who takes to the sea all year round, but I’m not there yet. This week, though, I made it in.

We’d managed to tire the toddlers out with stone-throwing, and leaving them dozing under the watchful eye of friends we headed for the water.

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And it was glorious!

Pretty feckin’ freezing, obviously. We’d hoped to have a dip in Shoalstone pool, which whilst it wouldn’t have been warmer would have at least given the option of jumping or diving in. But pump problems combined with excessively low tides put paid to that, so we scrambled over the rocks instead. Feeling my way through the shallows I almost gave up, but my stubbornness took over and saw me through till that all-important moment when numbness takes away the worst of the cold and you can just concentrate on how wonderful it is, floating in the salty sea looking back at the shore, cobwebs of all varieties well and truly blown away.

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We’d hoped to have another dip yesterday, but the sun wasn’t shining quite so brightly. It didn’t deter Arthur from paddling up to his waist – I think swimming kit is going to be an essential part of the arsenal when we head to the beach from here on in!

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The clouds cleared as the afternoon went on, and the beach was still busy when I walked back from my council meeting at 9 o’clock last night.

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So yes, I’m calling it: summer is here.

Stay tuned for more watery adventures over the weeks and months to come!

My word of the week is summer.

The Reading Residence

Evening light

Is it just me, or do the evenings all of a sudden seem to have got lighter?

I realise that *technically* the lengthening of the days is a gradual thing, but I swear this week someone has just flicked a switch. Suddenly we’re finding ourselves sitting down to dinner in broad daylight, and I’m having a hard time explaining to Arthur why he has to go to bed before it’s got dark…

Toddler sleep habits aside, it is pretty wonderful.

There is nothing that screams to me that summer is finally coming more loudly than when the days begin to stretch out beyond the afternoon. And it is when living here, in our beautiful little seaside town, really comes into its own.

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What with all the hectic we’ve been juggling recently we’ve really appreciated being able to go out as a family in the evenings more easily, wandering into town and soaking up the views. There is a sense of excitement and anticipation that all three of us share as we venture out just at that point when normally things would be winding down. Arthur has taken the evening strolls in his stride, enjoying another burst of energy and of course the obligatory beach time.

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We even got to sit outside at Rockfish for a bit the other night, gazing out to sea as the fishing boats trundled through the twilight with their catch. Arthur was absolutely transfixed as he watched the fish being docked – he hasn’t stopped talking about it since.

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There is certainly something incredibly liberating about the extra hours of daylight this time of year brings, and it’s making me ever-more excited for the summer.

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My word of the week this week is anticipation.

The Reading Residence

Word of the week: regroup

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For me and Arthur, the last couple of weeks have been about finding our rhythm again. We’ve done so much this summer, had so many adventures, but now, as the autumn draws in, it’s time to settle back into our little routine.

A big part of this for me has been to get back into the swing of things with writing my novel. I’ve been relieved to find that after a bit of a shaky start the inspiration is now flowing again and I’m loving the challenge of the redraft. As per usual a little bit of organisation and structure, painful as it was to put in place initially, has really helped me use the time I have whilst Arthur naps as efficiently as possible, quickly unlocking my creativity and setting it to work.

But it’s been the time that Arthur’s been awake I’ve loved most of all. I was worried that after a summer surrounded by family and friends he’d struggle to adapt to being only with me – would be bored or lonely. But actually he’s seemed to enjoy it too. We’ve started back at his regular classes this week – music and gymnastics – but other than that we’ve done an awful lot of not very much at all.

It’s been awesome to see just how much he’s grown up over the summer, how his skills and confidence have grown both physically and verbally, how much more an active part of the world he has become. I knew he’d developed loads recently – I managed to capture some of it here – but it’s only been since we’ve had the space and the quiet to just hang out and regroup that I’ve truly appreciated the little boy my baby is becoming.

 

The Reading Residence

 

Twenty months

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Dear Arthur,

Twenty months ago today, you came into the world. That might not seem like a particularly important milestone. I meant to make more of your half birthday – that day in midsummer when you turned eighteen months – but there was just too much going on to stop and reflect.

It’s generally been a summer like that to be honest. We’ve had so many adventures – boating and swimming and camping and exploring. I’ve written about lots of them here, snatching minutes to upload photos and try to capture the things that you’ve been up to. But in focusing on what we’ve been doing I fear I’ve missed some of the most significant things that have happened this summer: the changes that I’ve seen in you, all the ways you’ve grown and developed.

Language has been a really big one. You have so many words! We stopped counting back in June some time, and it was seventy seven then. I reckon it might be double that by now – you’re a brilliant mimic, not only of the words themselves but of the intonation too. It’s not just that though – you can use your words independently as well, naming things and making your requests. You’re so thrilled when we understand you, the glee literally lights up your face.

I think you still understand way more than you can vocalise, and that might be why we’re starting to get some tantrums. That frustration we caught glimpses of when you were younger is showing itself more clearly now. It comes from not being able to get your point across I think, from the world going from making perfect sense to suddenly slipping through your fingers. You are still such wonderful company, but there are times when you seem so unhappy in your skin that I wonder if anything I can say or do will make it better.

It’s times like those I’m really glad I’m still wearing you regularly, still nursing you several times a day. If I hold you close, if we focus back in on that special bond we share, then the angst soon passes. The world is a pretty confusing place after all – it’s totally understandable that there are things that won’t make sense to you.

And despite that closeness being so important sometimes, there’s no doubt that you’re becoming more independent too. You love to sit on your own little chair at your own little table in the kitchen, to shake off my hand whenever you can and wander off by yourself, following your own path.

Sometimes you’ll then decide you want company, but on your terms. You’ll reach up expectantly and say ‘hand?’, mainly to Daddy as you lead him into your world. I know he’s treasured every moment he’s been able to spend with you this summer and he’s going to miss you dreadfully when he goes back to school.

You’ve had lots of different playmates over the summer, and you’ve so enjoyed all the different interactions, particularly with children a few years older than you. It almost makes me sad to watch you mistake strangers for your new friends who we’ve had to say goodbye to for now, to hear you call for Abbie or Fifi in the street, but I know we’ll see them again soon and you’re learning something important about friendship and memory. You’ve had the chance to nurture relationships with family too – with Grampa and Mimi, with your uncles and aunts and cousins. Again you’ll sit and run through their names when they’re not here. I hope you won’t be too lonely when you’re stuck with only me most of the time come September. We have lots of fun things planned though, lots of local friends to catch up with. It’ll be good for you to hang out with children your own age, to start to learn those big skills like sharing and kindness and taking turns.

It’s fascinating to watch your interests and preferences develop. You still love music, your little ukulele guitar but also the piano and the drum. You love to move too – dancing, running, climbing, jumping. You’re still working on that last one – it makes me smile to watch you squat down with such focus in your face and thrust yourself upwards only to find your toes are still in contact with the ground. You will get there soon, I promise.

You’ve had your fair share of scrapes as you’ve found your feet this summer. A succession of firsts that would never have come at all if I’d have had my way: first stubbed toe, first nose bleed, first scraped knee. I guess the bumps and bruises are all part of it though. A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.

And I think I can safely say that for the most part your world is a happy one. That word itself has become increasingly important to you, it’s become our little ‘I love you’: ‘Happy Arthur, happy daddy, happy mummy’ you’ll say, with a look of pure contentment on your face. You get such joy from the joy of others too: sitting around the table joining in with the laughter of adults at some grown up joke, waiting for a lull before you proclaim it ‘funny’. I don’t know whether you know that will provoke even more laughter, but it invariably does.

There’s so much I haven’t found a way to fit in here. Your love of trains and tractors and anything with wheels. The way you can almost count to ten when the mood takes you but somewhere along the way have got six and seven mixed up with chicken and motorbike. How your perception of crayons is slowly shifting from tasty snack to something to create pictures with, and how I want to frame every one even though I know we’d soon need another house to keep them all. 

I have big plans for the autumn, but I’m really looking forward to hanging out with you too. To savouring everything you learn and say and do, and helping you make sense of this crazy world. The memories of summer will carry us through the cooler days and darker nights, and I know you will continue to astound me.

All my love for always,

Mummy xxx

 

Thank you to Sara at Mum Turned Mom for inspiring this post with her prompt ‘Memories of summer’. 

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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

Hello summer!

It’s been coming for a while, in the gloriously light evenings and the no need to take a jacket when we leave the house, but today summer finally arrived. In scorching sunshine we finally made our way to Shoalstone Pool for the first dip of the season.

Arthur was so excited: we barely had time to get him into his swimmers before he was running towards the water. He definitely found it cold at first, but each time we lifted him out he was desperate to get back in again.

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Before long we had both got used to the cold – after the initial shock it really wasn’t that bad, and now that I’ve broken the ice (so to speak) I’m determined to fit some regular swims into our routine.

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Arthur being Arthur there was quite a lot of splashing – hence the somewhat blurry photos where I forgot to wipe the lens… But it was brilliant to see him having so much fun!

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I think he would happily have stayed in the water for hours, but we figured we’d better not let him get too cold. He protested a bit at first but then was happy to entertain himself with my hat for a while.

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We went for a wander to get some ice-creams (it’s summer right?) which gave us a chance to look back at the pool in all it’s glory. It was so great to see so many people enjoying the water and the spectacular setting – unbelievable to think it almost didn’t open at all this year!

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It wasn’t long before Arthur was desperate to get back in again, this time splashing around in the shallow end with the kids who’d started piling in at the end of their day at school.

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Eventually though he did begin to shiver, and was grateful to be wrapped up warm with raisins and take a moment to relax out of the sun in his little ‘house’.

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Which gave Leigh and I a chance to look out over the bay and take in the view. And what a view it was.

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It’s lovely to see you summer! Very much looking forward to getting acquainted again over the next couple of months.

 

 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall