Friday, 26 July 2013

This moment...

Inspired by Soulemama's {this moment} - a Friday ritual. A single photo - capturing a favourite image from the week. A treasured and special moment that I would like to pause and remember.

Saturday, 20 July 2013


The beautiful summer skies at the moment remind me just how much I love the colour blue. I thought I'd celebrate all things blue with a little collage of my favourite blue things from around The Little House:

1. This pull-along elephant was a favourite toy for our girls when they were toddlers but now he sits on the wooden toy box waiting for younger visitors to take him for a walk. I love traditional wooden toys and he is a very handsome example with his soft leather ears and red felt saddle.  Elephant is big enough to carry small dolls and can sometimes be found transporting Lego bricks. 

2. These seaside cups were bought while we were on holiday in France many years ago BC (before children) when we didn't think twice about browsing in a compact shop full of breakables.  They are great for morning coffee with lots of room for croissant dipping. 

3.  Joni Mitchell's 'Blue' - well, just because really - I do like to sing  wail along to this CD in the car. Though it has to be said, that the lyrics to pretty much every song on the album contain the most random and bizarre of metaphors.  Take one of my favourites, Case of You, with the line - 'I live in a box of paints' ! 

4 & 7.  This big beautiful bowl was a wedding present.  We've been married nearly 20 years now and it has survived seven house moves intact. The lamp from Royal Copenhagen was also a wedding present from the Danish side of the family.  I love the way the sunlight shines through the crystal. Amazingly, this too has survived the many house moves and the cat's very best attempts to knock it over. 

5. Our shower room window looks out over the sea and so it seems appropriate to have a seaside theme. This mobile used to hang in H's room but she's all teenage glamour now and has left her dolphin obsession behind.  Mind you, when the North Sea wind blows and the window is even a smidgen bit open those dolphins end up in a right tangled state!

6 & 8.  Talking of obsessions, our house is full of seahorses.  Our wedding invitation had two seahorses with tails entwined (it is thought that seahorses bond for life so it's a popular romantic image) and subsequently we are often given, and buy for each other, seahorse-related presents and anniversary gifts. The framed embroidery is a souvenir from a little gallery of hand-crafted delights on the Isle of Skye and the last image is , in fact, a ceramic mold and a present from my sister-in-law.  I have never dared to use it as such and prefer to admire it hanging on our kitchen wall.

Friday, 19 July 2013

This moment...

Inspired by Soulemama's {this moment} - a Friday ritual. A single photo - capturing a favourite image from the week. A treasured and special moment that I would like to pause and remember.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Now we are...eleven!

Today, the baby of the family turned 11 and I can hardly believe it.  It does not seem all that long ago that we were anxiously awaiting her birth.  Little S seemed very reluctant to make her way into the world.  12 days overdue she had no birth plans of her own and eventually, having decided that this labour business was much too much work, she turned into a horizontal position and had to be delivered by emergency caesarean. Even then, having finally arrived safely, she made no cry but looked around at the full theatre as if to say, 'What's all the fuss about?'  I remember the midwife looking at her wise little face and stating, 'This one's been here before'.

And that has been her way since. She is a character who takes her time and thinks carefully before planning her move.  She watches the fools rush in and learns from their mistakes; she does not impatiently push herself forward but waits for the right moment.  This child of ours radiates easy-going contentment and cannot abide disagreement.  At our most recent parents' evening it was not the first time that a teacher has admitted that she did not know what she would do without S in the class; she keeps the peace and brings accord.

Happy baby
When she was a toddler she was very shy, frequently hiding behind my legs.  This was a novelty as all of us have lots to say for ourselves and are quite happy to be the centre of attention! As she got older she quietly cultivated friendships and was never short of a playmate. When H was little, her toys were her audience but for S they needed to be cared for and she would gently wrap her dolls in blankets, her bedroom often doubling as a make-believe hospital.

The capacity to fall asleep anywhere!
She is our outdoors girl, off through the door in a t-shirt in all weathers. A hardy flower she can walk for miles, merrily ride her bike up the steepest of hills, climb trees, build dens... In many ways a tomboy but one who refuses to wear jeans and will happily wear wellies with a dress.  She has the sweetest tooth and thinks jaffa cakes are a suitable breakfast. Her favourite tv programmes include Cake Boss and The Great British Bake-Off and her dream trip would be to Choccywoccydoodah rather than Disney World. It is no surprise that she is an accomplished baker and we love to test her creations.

and she's off...

In the kitchen

Often clumsy, she drops everything and has a tendency to fall over her own feet (as they are size 5 already that's maybe not surprising).  She is also forgetful, mislaying her things continuously - coats, shoes, hairbands and I have lost count of the amount of school sweatshirts that have gone missing over the years.  When she comes out from school at the end of the day she looks like a war-torn refugee or a street urchin, such is the dirt-smeared face, bruised and muddy knees and tattered uniform.  She must be cajoled into the shower and then I can't get her out.  You can hear her singing Taylor Swift songs, word-perfect, at the top of her voice from downstairs.
Admiring the sunset from 'her' wall

This is what we love about her - this tangle-mess girl, kindness in a muddy dress with her heart on both sleeves. Now 11 she's reached that in-between age: wants to stay up late but frightened of the dark, obsessively reading The Hunger Games trilogy but also secretly reading Little Grey Rabbit over and over. I see glimpses of the teenager, the young woman she'll become, and she often surprises me with her capable independence.  But then in a moment she's that timid toddler, seeking reassurance and a 'huggle' (one of her own first words formed from hug and cuddle!)  I'm hoping to have a few of those today and will savour each one.  Happy Birthday sweet girl xx

Opening birthday presents in bed this morning

Linking up with The Monday Club over at Hello Wall

Friday, 12 July 2013

This moment...

Inspired by Soulemama's {this moment} - a Friday ritual. A single photo - capturing a favourite image from the week. A treasured and special moment that I would like to pause and remember.

Smile - the braces are off!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

The Name of the Game

Katie Hopkins seems to have caused quite a storm in a teacup, hasn't she. Her unabashed announcement that she judges her children's friends' social status by their Christian names and would never let them play with anyone called Chardonnay, Charmaine or Tyler in case they 'dragged them down' was outright snobbery and I'm sure that her children will be short of  party invites for some time! I had never heard of Katie Hopkins before, not really being a fan of The Apprentice, but she has certainly ignited a right row about the British tendency to make judgements based entirely on social class.

I hope my children are capable of choosing their own friends on the only fair and sensible basis - that of character. I do think though that sometimes parents saddle a child with a name that must hinder their chances of being taken seriously.  If you are not the child of celebrity parents it must be very difficult to pull off a name like Peaches or Apple. North West is sort of amusing, I suppose, but I sincerely hope that Blanket chooses a more adult moniker for himself and that Moon Unit Zappa considers something more earth bound!

It's often only when a child starts school that a name causes problems. I imagine that when Woody Allen and Mia Farrow's son, Satchel, started his education it would not have been a happy experience and it's not surprising that he changed to being known by his middle name, Ronan, as soon as he could. When I started school I had a friend with the very plain name, Alison Plant, which doesn't seem that funny but we all found it hilarious when she was referred to as A Plant! When S started school we were living near Glastonbury and her class mates sounded more like the cast for A Midsummer's Nights Dream with names like Aurora, Raven and Titania.

As a teacher I often come across unusual names and sometimes I've been guilty  of making unfair assumptions about a child or their family before meeting them. In my years of teaching I have come across a Promise, a Blue, a Thursday and a Taome - which I thought must be an ethnic variation until her parents enlightened me by explaining that this stood for 'The Apple Of My Eye'. Then there are the weird spellings to deal with - Leesah (Lisa) and Mykel (Michael) not to mention the dyslexic nightmare of Celtish names such as Siobhan or Niamh or Ruairidh.  Don't get me wrong though, I like all of these names, well maybe not Promise so much, especially as her promises to behave were endlessly broken!

It's tricky this naming business.  I remember with our firstborn that not everyone was enamoured with our choice of name, feeling it was very old-fashioned and we faced criticism again when we gave a French first name to our youngest. Names do tend to reveal your age and the influences of the time. I rarely meet another Helen who isn't around my age and I wonder how many boys currently are called Gale or Peeta or girls called Primrose or Katniss. Of course, sometimes well-intentioned first names are given that only become funny through marriage; I'm thinking of an ex colleague called Beverley who then married and became, would you believe, Beverley Hill!  

Names should have, I feel, some importance or significance even if it's just that you've always liked it. So I guess if you want to call your daughter after your favourite grape variety or your son after the place of conception then that's your prerogative. It is easy to change the name you are given, even if not officially, why else would so many forms have a 'known as' box. What isn't so easy to change is the abhorrent attitude of Katie Hopkins - stubborn prejudice and narrow-mindedness seem all too common.

Joining in with The Monday Club hosted by Hello Wall and Diary of the Dad.


Friday, 5 July 2013

This moment...

Inspired by Soulemama's {this moment} - a Friday ritual. A single photo -  capturing a favourite image from the week. A treasured and special moment that I would like to pause and remember.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Down to the cove we go...

We are very fortunate to have a hidden gem just a short walk from our doorstep and it's come to be one of our favourite places. Follow the cliffside path and go through the smugglers tunnel and there is the magical cove. Fishing boats bob in the harbour and the little sandy beach is perfect for searching for treasure - a pretty shell, a piece of sea-tumbled glass or some gnarled driftwood perhaps. 

Once we have finished our treasure hunt we like to climb the harbour steps and sit on the wall, the sun warming our backs, looking out to sea. 

Can you find me?