Back On Home Turf

31 August 2011

Doesn't time fly? Our annual holiday gone in a flash. We're now home and settling back into our usual routine with a familiar ease. I must say though that I do feel somewhat rested; or as rested as you can be after a holiday with two children. We had a lovely time, the weather was mostly kind and we managed to fit in everything we wanted to do. In my last post I spoke of returning back brimming with creative ideas for the blog. I really must have relaxed as I've come back with nothing but a blank note book and a lot of photographs. So to get back into the swing of things, I thought I'd share with you some of my photographs. I hope that is not too naff ... it's like the modern day version of inviting friends over for a slide show of your holiday snaps isn't it?

Our base camp in Cornwall was a lovely barn conversion / cottage called 'Rowan' which is on South Tofrey Farm in Golant, near Fowey. We stayed there last year and it ticked every box, hence our return. David and I enjoyed the solitude and views (the sunsets were amazing), whilst Lily and Arthur enjoyed everything the farm had to offer. Our day's soon took on a holiday routine. Every morning after breakfast the kids would go to the hobby farm with bread for the ducks and chickens, salad leaves for the rabbits and any leftovers for the pigs. They'd then find their much-loved new friend Sparkles the farm cat. Once we had torn the kids away from the animals we would either head to Polkerris Beach to enjoy the sand, sea and ice cream or take a short trip out to Fowey for a boat trip, an indulgent cream tea and some time on the quaint little beach there. We had days out too, such as a trip to the Eden Project, but I'll save that and more for another post.

Are We There Yet?

18 August 2011

This will be my last post for a couple of weeks. We're heading off for our family holiday tomorrow; a week in Cornwall with a long weekend tagged onto the end with my parents on the Isle of Wight. The kids can't wait and neither can David and I to be honest. Eleven days of family time. All four of us together at any one time; such a rare luxury. Eleven days of having four hands rather than the usual two and a chance to slow the pace and just be.

Today I've been working through my 'to-do' list of packing, preparing food to take with us, and packing up 'entertainment bags' for the car journey in a bid to delay the inevitable chorus of 'are we there yet?' from the back of the car. Then there's the final bits of washing and carefully selecting which of the kids toys to take. I'm also cleaning the house, so I don't return home all refreshed to a dump of a house. That would be completely counteractive.
Not one to be completely idle, I will use the break to plan some future posts, many of which I'm sure will be inspired by our holiday. I look forward to sharing them on my return.

Here's Four I made Earlier

Well, I actually made them last week. I had a sudden creative moment when sorting through my collection of scrap fabrics. Cats are very much the rage with my kids at the moment, so cats I made.  I have noticed that a little bit of sowing machine action gets me a few brownie points from Lily and Arthur, which can be nice. My starting point and inspiration for the cats was a gorgeous fabric cat by Jane Foster that Lily gave me the other Christmas. I used the shape as a template for a simple paper pattern. Then I just paired up some patterned fabrics and used felt and embroidery thread for the detailing. Arthur is now the proud owner of the blue cat, which he named 'Blue Cat' and Lily was naturally drawn to the pink and orange cat, which she named 'Pinkie'. Very original names don't you think? The remaining two are gifts in waiting for a couple of special little people. They will for now remain nameless so not to spoil any surprise. But I know that they will be warmly received and loved which makes the little effort involved well worth while.

A Tune for Tuesday No.10

16 August 2011

This week my Tune for Tuesday is by way of Crosby, Still, Nash & Young. I like quite a few of their tunes, but after a bit of deliberating, I settled on the track 'Our House'. It's a simple song that warms the ears making for a very pleasant listening experience. I can't quite hit the nail on the head, but this tune has such familiar nostalgic tones to it. Maybe it's the subject, maybe it's the era, maybe it's because it bares an uncanny resemblance to the songs that Rod, Jane & Freddy would sing on Rainbow? Whatever, I like it. Enjoy.

Tea, Cake & Aunties

15 August 2011

We've had a lovely start to the week. Lily and Arthur's three great Aunties (two official, one very much adopted) came to spend the day with us. We drank lots of tea, ate cake, looked at some old family photo's they'd bought along to show the kids, and had ice cream on the beach. They showered the kids with gifts - properly spoilt them. It makes my head spin, but to be fair they're not spoilt very often and I guess it's the job of great aunties to do just that - who am I to interfere?

Having such fun, we forgot to take any photo's, other than one of the cake moments before we cut into it. In case you're interested it was a victoria sponge filled with homemade plum jam and fresh cream; the perfect cake for visiting Aunties don't you think?

My Yoga Ladies

12 August 2011

It's been a long week and quite a tough one at that. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I've been struggling under a bit of a cloud this week. Maybe it's the weather turning, maybe it's the constant entertaining of the kids or (when not coming up with exciting things for them to do) the overused phrase of 'we're bored'. It could be the endless housework, tidying, washing up and cooking meals. It's non-stop for a good twelve hours a day and it is tiring. Then there was the bigger thing; the riots. At first they made me so very angry, now I just feel sad.

Sometimes, during times like these, you need to just lift yourself out of the everyday for a few hours. It's easier said than done, but luckily for me I had an evening out last night. It feels a long time since I last had a proper evening out. Reader of this blog will know that I did go to Vintage at the Southbank recently, but I say that doesn't count as it was 'work related'. I got my diary out and looked back through the months. The last evening out I had was the 5th of May; a good few shared bottles of wine at a friends house. So I was right, it has been a while. With that pattern, my next night out should be in mid November.

I was in very good company last night with my 'yoga ladies'. Yes, the four of us always refer to our collective as the yoga ladies. I must say it does give outsiders a false impression that we are all super bendy ladies that can transform into an elegant 'sun salutation' pose at the drop of a hat. The truth is that we all meet in 2008 as pregnant ladies doing a weekly pregnancy yoga class. Of the class, the four of us soon bonded and now see each other regularly with our resulting offspring; Arthur, Oliver, Cherry and Sofia. The truth is none of us has done any yoga since. But the rather fallacious name has stuck.

A night out with good friends is sometimes all it takes to feel like your old self again. Food, wine, conversation; all partner and child free is great therapy. We're all in the same boat and sometimes just knowing that is enough to wake up a little more positive the next day.

A Day of Tights & Jam

11 August 2011

Today I've been wearing tights. Tights in August. Where has the summer gone? The weather has been going downhill this week. I've yet to summon up the courage to look at the long-term weather forecast for when we go to Cornwall at the end of next week.

What to do on days like this? Well, we made a batch of plum jam before setting out to buy comics which we took to a coffee shop to read whilst drinking hot chocolate and over-priced coffee.

Please let this grey, wet and windy weather lift and let summer back in.

Teach Your Children Well

9 August 2011

I sat up late last night. I was tired and really needed an early night, but I started watching the riots in London unfold on the news. It was thoughtless destruction that was out of control and I couldn't quite believe what I was witnessing was happening in places I knew. Politicians were wheeled out to debate what might have triggered this act of thuggery and other key political figures cut short holidays to come and deal with the issue. Innocent members of the targeted communities have seen their homes and cars go up in flames. Others have lost their livelihoods; livelihoods which were probably already up against it due to the current recession. Good honest people have been very frightened. It's a very sad picture of society today.

Yes, yes I know these thugs are the minority. But I fear that actions like these are becoming more commonplace. Yes, there are political tensions. Yes, there will be friction between the young and the police. Yes, prospects for many of today's young people look grim. But none of those are reasons for this behaviour.

Respect is disappearing from today's society. That, I believe it is one of the underlying problems to the riots. Installing respect into children is the responsibility of parents. Most of us do this as second nature. I do. My parents did with me. When I was young the majority of us had respect for authority; the police, teachers and our elders. My parents generation even more so. Nowadays, the growing minority of respect-less young people dis-regard authority of any kind. They know that they can't be touched. The riots show the extreme, but you can easily stubble upon examples of no respect on a daily basis; unruly kids in the classroom that teachers can't (or aren't allowed) to touch to adults that allow their kids to throw their litter onto the pavements. As parents we are accountable for our children's actions. I know I am not alone in worrying about the world I'm bringing my children up in. But I dare say that my grandparents would have said the same about bringing children into a world at war. I guess we can but teach our children values and hope that they will pass them down to the next generation.

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

5 August 2011

Well, another weekend is upon us. When school broke up and six long weeks lay ahead, I was slightly filled with fear, but I'm now amazed how quickly the weeks are flying by. Maybe I was still envisaging the summer holidays through a child's eyes when they lasted forever and Sunday's felt like a 48 hour day. But now the months and years seem to whizz by and they get all the faster with age.


One morning earlier this week, we had nothing planned. The day was shaping up with the prospect of  a long list of household chores and a grocery shop. But it was such a hot and sunny morning, it seemed a shame to waste it. So all the mundane stuff was put on hold until the afternoon and I headed out with Lily and Arthur.

That morning we stayed local heading up the road to Brighton, but we did stuff we hadn't done before;  stuff on the tourist circuit. We started with a trip on the Volks Railway, (a first for us all) followed by a ride on the carousel at Brighton beach (a first for Arthur). Then we had chips on the beach before walking home along the front (well, we needed to work off those chips). Such a perfect morning; a grabbed opportunity. Now the summer is here, Brighton beach takes on a completely different guise. It's so busy, lively and in places rather brash. It's fun to dip your toe in when it is like that; play at being the tourist rather than a local. It's like taking a mini holiday for a few hours and reminding yourself that it actually is summer after all. Sometimes the mundane stuff just has step aside for a while.

A Tune for Tuesday No.9 / A Day Out at Vintage 2011

2 August 2011

At the weekend I had a very rare day out. On my own. No kids. I took myself off to Vintage 2011 at the Southbank Centre. As any regular readers of this blog might know I love a bit of nostalgia, so this was right up my street so to speak.

The 'festival' as it is labeled, celebrated all things vintage; music, fashion, film, art, design and cultural lineages, from the 1920s to the 1980s. The 21 acre Southbank site was transformed into a Vintage wonderland. On entry you freely roamed the vast building's six levels to take in the era that took your fancy; from the 1940's Torch Club with its tea dances to the Studio 54 disco out on the vast balcony. I've illustrated this post with some of the snaps I took whilst there.

I got there quite early and wasn't meeting up with anyone until later in the evening and after a couple of hours of wandering from era to era, I felt the need to rest my weary feet. I headed up to the sixth floor to the Classic Album Living Room. Throughout the day various classic albums from each decade were played. They were played using the best state-of-the-art British audio equipment. Comfy armchairs were provided, the bar was near by and the huge windows framed a fantastic view of the Thames, Big Ben and all. The idea of this communal listening experience was to listen to the album from beginning to end. Phones were turned to silent and talking forbidden. In the modern world of downloading music the art of album listening is dying. I went along to the album that was chosen to represent the 70's for that day. It was Led Zeppelin: IV

It was so enjoyable. It felt right and respectful to sit and listen to an album in that way and was rather nice to sit silently in a room listening along with like-minded people. It's a favourite album of mine; the songs take me back to listening to it as a child with my dad. I knew it was special back then and love it as much if not more now. So, with this all still fresh in me, I am taking my favourite song from that album as my Tune for Tuesday this week. Enjoy.

Buttercup Days Boutique

1 August 2011

The Buttercup Days Boutique has opened it's doors, well sort of. It's all the vogue now to do craft, but I have always been a maker of things. It's nice to be in fashion once in a while. Since having children I've been making all the more; toys, clothes and party bits and pieces. Many friend's see things that I've made and responded with 'oooh, you should sell those'. So now I am.

First up is my miniature bunting for cakes made from my collection of vintage and patterned fabrics. I first made one for Lily's birthday cake earlier in the year and the result was more than satisfactory. Once made, the bunting transformed my simple homemade chocolate cake into a party centrepiece in no time. I showed the results to Sweet Boutique, a lovely little retro sweet shop near to me that sell a range of children's party bits n' bob's and they said that they would happily stock some of the bunting and see how it goes. So I've been busy with bunting lately and this week I dropped off my first order.

Time will tell if they appeal. But in the meantime I have a list of local shops and online retailers to contact to see if they too would like to stock my cake bunting and of course I'm developing a Buttercup Days Boutique page for the blog through which I will sell direct. I'm working on a PR plan too (if I can't do that bit then something is wrong!). It all looks very good on paper. The only thing left to figure out is where the time will come from to make any orders that may result from all of this. But I figure I'll just work that out if and when the time comes. Watch this space ....