On The Back Foot + A Belated Happy Birthday

11 September 2012

That's where I've been most of the last week; on the back foot. New routines coupled with our busiest work period always makes September a busy month in our household.

The children are now back at school and playgroup. The've settled nicely into their new routines. Arthur is now doing four mornings a week meaning I have an extra 4 hours a week in the office; barely enough but over a week or the month I hope it will make a positive difference to our ever-demanding workload. 

Next week is a biggie for our business as the London Design Festival kicks in. We handle the PR for two of the festival's biggest events, Tent London and Super Brands London. We've been working tirelessly since May with the exhibiting designers and show organisers to create as much coverage on the events as possible. During the event David, I and the whole team decamp to London for five days to work from our pop-up press office housed in The Old Truman Brewery. It's five, long, tiring, busy days but also five days full of buzz and celebration. It's also our key time of the year in which we can meet industry colleagues, old friends and hopefully forge new relationships and work contracts. We're also rebranding and changing our company name (more of that at a later date) and we'll be setting out the seeds to that change at Tent London and Super Brands London, which is kind of exciting too. In a nutshell it's a pretty important five days for us.

It will be a strange feeling staying up in London for those days next week. My parents will be down to care for the children and keep their busy little schedules ticking over. I know that Lily and Arthur will adore having Nanny and Grandad to stay and look after them, but I'll really miss them as I am so not used to not having them around.

Finally, I want to say a big, albeit belated, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my wonderful brother who became another year older at the weekend. He may (or may not) appreciate the photographs above. We must have been around 6 and 3 in these pictures, but I love them; they really make me smile. 

A Little More Charilla

3 September 2012

Whilst in Charilla we took frequent trips out in the car to explore neighbouring towns and further afield places. The local town, Alcala La Real, was barely a ten minute drive away. It is a beautiful town with a fascinating history. It was first inhabited during the stone age and played an important role during the Roman and Moorish occupations of Spain. We visited the impressive Fortaleza la Mota one day and spent time in the town on many evenings too. The kids played in the central park and visited the local toy shop for Spainish playmobil figures and I shopped for local ceramics and cake tins (yes cake tins; I found some beautiful shaped ones that were just a couple of euros each) and picked up any provisions for the next day. We had a couple of meals out, but more often having cooked and eaten supper at home we would amble into town for an ice cream pudding at one of the roadside cafes.

We stopped off in Madrid too on the way back for a couple of nights. Although the polar opposite of Charilla it was a fascinating and charming city we wouldn't hesitate going back to.

Oh, and the flying? Arthur took his first ever (rocket) voyage in his stride and Lily simply loved every second of it. We were lucky that on both our outbound and return journeys we had lovely clear skies so  could see the land way down below us. As we gained height, Lily asked where we were flying over, England? Brighton? The Sea? What Sea? France? Spain? Once up in the huge white fluffy clouds she asked 'Where are we now? Is this heaven?'


Well, here we all are back safe and sound from our holiday. We had a lovely time. Truly lovely. Charilla, the little village we stayed at in Spain has certainly won our hearts. It was proper Spain, without a trace of commercialism. It was just the olive trees, the views, the mountains, the heat and the lazy days. It took the children a few days to adjust. It was hot; really hot. During the days it would reach 110F whilst still holding its own in the 90's at gone midnight. Lily and Arthur had to learn to take things slowly and have a midday siesta so that they could stay up late as the locals did sitting outside their home on a mis-mash of chairs with their little dogs chatting until the early hours.

Despite the change of scene, climate and all, they still saw daytime sleeping as some kind of punishment when they had done nothing wrong. They got into the groove eventually I'm pleased to say. Arthur managed to have a midday nap (as did David), whilst Lily and I indulged in the quite time to read (James and the Giant Peach) or do some cross-stitch in the shade.

We stayed in the most charming casa owned by our friends Michelle and Bill. A designer and a photographer by trade, I knew it would be a stylish abode that was sensitive to its surroundings and history. From its tiny blue window shutters and it basic cosy kitchen to the stunning view the top terrace offered, it was a real gem of a place that really helped us feel we were away from it all. Arthur called it his '20 house' as opposed to his '30 house' here back home; a sure sign of affection. Although none of us can speak a word of Spanish we managed to communicate through actions and gestures with the locals who all made us feel most welcome in the village.

I really felt at home in my little Spainish kitchen. We were surrounded by fantastic locally produced fruit and veg. As much as staying in a hotel and eating out a restaurants each night would be lovely, I really couldn't do it for very long. I love cooking and even more so when surrounded by all this wonderful produce. The kitchen had just 4 gas rings on which to cook; basic but fun. It meant quick, simple food, which is all you need in such heat when you have such great ingredients to cook with. My regular lunch was a bowl full of thickly sliced juicy tomatoes layered with capers, salt, pepper and olive oil eaten with some freshly baked bread. It tasted divine. We visited the local market which had amazing produce stalls, but even the supermarkets were full of seasonal fruit and vegetable and local seafood. Ready meals were extremely hard to come by. They put our supermarkets to shame. From such basic ingredients we ate like kings. Happy days.