Thursday, 3 September 2015

So long Summer...

Firstly apologies for my radio silence over the last few weeks. School holidays, work and a number of other events that seemed to take over have left little time to share with you here.

Without any childcare except for tennis club, at times it was challenging but we got through it and managed to have a wonderful few weeks. The weather was a little unkind though we took every opportunity we could to get out in the fresh air, we caught up with old friends in London, picked plums from the garden, watched movies on wet rainy days, read, drew and baked. The holiday ended with a glorious week in our beloved Cornwall, thankfully the weather made up for the rest of the Summer making for a Mediterranean temperature and blue seas.

Like most other children Matilda made a return to school today, the last 6 weeks went by in a flash I couldn't believe it when I woke up this morning to realise that I was once again relinquishing my daughter. Not only that she is now in Year One when everyone tells me they really start growing up, becoming a lot more independent. I read somewhere the other day that you have from when they're 5 until 8 before they rapidly lose interest in you focusing much more on their friends. My guess is it can also come earlier, as soon as she entered the playground today Mummy became oblivious to her. Though she came running towards me with arms held wide open this afternoon at pick up.

I'll be sharing a few more Summer adventures over the coming days, in the meantime here are a few snapshots of some fun moments.

Hope you all had a great Summer and that the return to routine wasn't too painful this morning...

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Oxbow and Peach Vintage Shop, Cambridge

One of the very first places we stopped at last Summer on our hunt for a house to rent was the exquisite Oxbow and Peach. Both the husband and I fell in love with it, since then I've got to know Georgie and Lizzie well during all my visits to the shop as they're always happy to chat and share their knowledge about all things vintage.

Tucked away in Whittlesford a few miles from the centre of Cambridge a visit to this place is such a treat, I defy anyone to come away empty handed. My latest post for This Is Your Kingdom is all about this gorgeous place which you can read here.

If you're passing by on a Friday or Saturday from September (they close over the Summer) do pop in and have a coffee with Georgie and Lizzie, you won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Summertime and the living is easy

School's officially out. We've been crawling through the countdown over the last few days, it's been a packed few months and we're all ready to slow down, take a deep breath and relax.

This term has been particularly busy with concerts, sports days and school trips and for a small five year old who bursts with energy I think she's ready to have a break. Though work will continue for me I am planning catching up with old friends, picnics, baking, trips to museums on rainy days, gardening and making use of the marvellous school swimming pool. Allowing Matilda to just be is just as important as filling up her days. Play under her own steam, running around the garden whilst inventing little stories are as character building as planned activities so no doubt we'll be doing plenty of that too.

A Summer wouldn't be a Summer without a road trip so it's off to Cornwall (at Matilda's request might I add) we go for a week in August. We'll be returning to our beloved Ruby Cottages which I wrote about here, here's hoping the sun shines for us!

One big task for this Summer holiday is to jointly create a Pirate story book inspired by Matilda's late Grandfather's navy adventures, a re imagining of the potential escapades he could have taken part in. We will all write the stories together and do the illustrations to accompany them as a family, her memories of him are very clear at the moment but we keep trying to think of ways to make those recollections last well into her adulthood as she was so young when he passed away. Cornwall I'm sure will provide much inspiration with it's colourful Pirate history evident wherever you travel in the county. It's doubtful that publishers will be queueing round the block to snap up our book but I'm sure it'll provide hours of creative fun.

What have you got planned for the Summer?

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

7/7 Ten years on: remembering...

At 11.30am this morning I was in Waitrose in Cambridge. Everyone in the store including staff stopped what they were doing to observe the one minute's silence at 11.30am in memory of those that lost their lives in the 7/7 London bombings. Eerily solemn to be amongst complete silence my eyes filled with tears as I remembered that devastating day ten years ago.

At 9am I left the house running for the 74 bus to take me to West Brompton station where every day I took the tube up to Edgware Road, a few minutes walk away from my office. That particular day I felt really ill, little did I know it was tonsillitis, I'd never had it before. I dragged myself out of the house as I knew two of my colleagues were not in the office so I couldn't let my other colleague down, I somehow had to get through the day.

I arrived at West Brompton at about 9.15am to find them closing the gates to the station without any explanation. Not really thinking much of it except 'bloody tube again, what's gone wrong with the district line this time' I returned to the bus stop to wait for the next 74 bus that would take me up to the office. Still not knowing anything I attempted to call my colleague to let her know that I was now running really late but was on my way. My phone wouldn't work, strange. I buried my head in my book only occasionally looking up when more and more sirens seemed to fill the air with their sounds. It was only when we got to Marble Arch that the suspicions began to arise when the Edgware Road was cordoned off and the buses were not continuing their journeys. We were told to get off the bus as we did I realised people were looking panicked, there were police everywhere. I continued my journey on foot and managed to get to the office through the back streets as the whole of Edgware Road was sealed off. Just as I reached Bell Street where my office was located I spotted a policeman who I would ask what was going on, I assumed it was a demonstration or the like. He told me no there had been a bomb at Edgware Road tube station. My heart sank. I let myself into the office to find our answering machine buzzing with countless messages from concerned clients. I picked up the ringing phone and it was my colleague who'd been frantic trying to reach me. We found out later that the mobile phone network had been shut down. She quickly drove to the office to fetch me and we spent the rest of day at her house watching in complete disbelief as the devastating news of more bombs unfolded. For that thirty minutes or so I was alone in the office the realisation of what was happening and the panic of what could potentially still come began to dawn on me. It was absolutely terrifying being sat there wondering for first time in my life whether my life was geniunely in danger.

Landlines were buzzing over the city as long distant families and friends tried establish the safety of their loved ones, including my very own. If you knew of someone living or working near the areas affected you were desperate to hear their voice. Once the mobile networks were turned on they couldn't cope with the rush of calls.

It was as if we were in a dream, this couldn't possibly be happening on such a large scale to our city. I was lucky however many lost their lives or were permanently scarred. And for what? A senseless attack. One that we never imagined be possible. London has always lived with the threat of terrorism, the IRA in the 70's and 80's and now this.

The overwhelming feeling of solidarity amongst Londoners demonstrates the city's resilience in the face of such fear. Fear was prevalent everywhere as we all anticipated the next attack. The admirable strength and determination to not allow the fear of terrorism to invade our lives makes me proud to be a Londoner. To see how ordinary people helped each other to safety whilst the emergency services fought valiantly to restore our city and people shows just how unified this city of contrasts really can be.

London will never forget those innocents who lost their lives, those who remain scarred and those who risked all to come to our aid.

Monday, 6 July 2015

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside...

Feeling weary from the excessive heat of last week there was nothing for it this weekend but to head for the coast in the search for cooler climes. With the promise of nearly 30 degrees on Saturday even in Norfolk, we got up early and headed for the beach. In all the times I've been to Norfolk I've never set foot in the sea, normally bitterly cold on Saturday I couldn't wait to leap in. In fact we spent most of the day splashing around, jumping through the waves. I took a few moments away to immerse myself in a book whilst Matilda and the husband played cricket, beach ball and an arduous round of tennis.

Watching the sea inspires a refocusing of energies, there is nothing more soothing that listening to the sound of the waves crashing, the laughter of children splashing in the water or watching the ripples kiss the shoreline. Hours can be spent in such activity washing away the stress of routine...I especially love this tousled sun kissed photo of Matilda showing off the fruits of a satisfying day playing simple games in the sun...

Thursday, 2 July 2015

School Sports Day

The glorious sunshine this morning paved the way for a very successful School Sports Day at Matilda's school. Thankfully it clouded over a little for the little ones giving much needed shade for all the races. All the practice they've been doing over the last few days paid off providing a very entertaining morning for all the parents for this was about having fun rather than winning. Though Matilda did have a little wobble after coming last in the 50 metre race, she soon perked up when she came second in the next race and put three goals in the back of the net, much to her Father's delight.

Not being a particularly sporty person myself I was very happy to see her team spirit trying her best to gain points for her House which sadly came last in the end.

We had a lovely morning chatting, watching and joking with parents, we're so lucky to have met such a great bunch of people since our move here...all so welcoming, I know these will be long lasting friendships for both us and Matilda.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

A weekend of Music, art and friends

We spent last weekend in the heat of busy steamy London. The husband travelled down on Friday for The Who in Hyde Park whilst Matilda and I left Friday evening to join my girlfriends for dinner. A much belated catch up fuelled by ice cold bubbly. Reliving our youth and with the children tucked up in bed we partied until 4am once the boys had wobbled in from their gig! It's been a long time since I've done that but it was a great release after the stress of the last few weeks. Old friends, wine and dancing around the kitchen to dance tunes just like old times was the perfect medicine.

On the Saturday we dragged ourselves over to the Southbank for the Carsten Holler exhibition at the Hayward which well worth the expedition battling through all the roadworks that have seemed to have taken over London. This is a must see, fun for both children and adults alike, this is art at it's best not only reaching out to all participants but challenging them too.

Carsten Holler hails from Belgium though he now lives in Stockholm. A celebrated installation artist I was super excited to finally get to take part in his work. Installation art is a fantastic way to introduce young children to fine art, inclusive and positively encouraging of participation, they adore getting involved. Matilda's highlights were the pitch black tunnels and the upside down virtual headsets (sounds crazy I know but so effective) where the London skyline is literally turned on its head. Another terrace was host to two rotating harnesses allowing people to experience flying over the Southbank, sadly there was a two hour waiting time so we didn't partake. The piece de resistence was the rather unique exit out of the gallery through two giant slides. Again Matilda didn't quite reach the height restriction so were unable to take advantage but the husband and our friends loved whizzing down to street level.

The exhibition is on until the 6th September and well worth a trip. You can book tickets here.

The weekend culminated with us busting our hip hop moves to the sounds of Public Enemy at The Roundhouse, still relevant and forever daring to challenge the establishment, they were simply brilliant.

Not only was an action packed couple of days but it was a wonderful chance to catch up with old friends and get my fix of dusty sweltering London with all its smells, colour and culture. Times like these I miss my city though leaving it for the open countryside and neverending skies filled my heart with warmth too...