Monday, 28 July 2014

Big changes and a beautiful beginning...

This week has been a rollercoaster for my little family. We left our home in London to seek a better, quieter life in Cambridgeshire.

As I sat in the empty flat that was been my home for 20 years my heart aches with all it's memories. I know it's only bricks and mortar but these walls hold so many memories. Spending time with my parents here, long boozy nights putting the world to rights with friends some still in my life, others long gone. This is where I took refuge and hid from the world after losing our baby number one then on to happier times where we brought our perfect, healthy little girl home. This is where she has grown into a beautiful little girl, where she has laughed and cried, played with her closest friends. A place that she loves coming back to, somewhere familiar that she has known all her life.

And so begins a new chapter in our life, an adventure...we are renting a little house with a magical garden for the foreseeable future. I've spent the last few days manically unpacking trying to create a beautiful home but am still battling with the lack of storage and the mountains of stuff we've all accumulated over the years. I guess you make to create mess in order to tidy it but at the moment where ever I turn there are piles of things awaiting a new home.

We'll get there eventually and I need to stop putting pressure on myself to accomplish this almighty task in record time. This is now our home and we're not going anywhere so I need to take a breath and enjoy my surroundings.

We did just that on Saturday night, and I can't think of a better initiation into the city of Cambridge. We went to see the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival open air production of A Midsummer Night's Dream at the beautiful Kings College Gardens. Normally closed to the public and lying across the River Cam from the college itself, this was the perfect backdrop for the play and a picnic. The hot night heavenly scented by the vast array of flowers further reinforced our decision to leave London for a quieter way of life.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Dimbola Museum, Isle of Wight

As you're probably aware given the badge right next to this post, I'm now a contributor to the wonderful This Is Your Kingdom. I was so honoured to be accepted as a writer! This is the perfect place to help plan your special trip around the UK, like minded writers share their favourite local hangouts. I've been a big fan of this award winning site since it began. I highly recommend you take a look and discover for yourself the many brilliant things to do or places to visit in our green land!

My first post went live recently and here it is for you to read, we visited Dimbola last Spring and fell in love with this little corner of the beautiful Isle of Wight:

Time has stood still at the Dimbola Museum and Galleries, perched high above the picturesque Freshwater Bay on the Isle of Wight. The multi award-winning museum occupies the former home of the pioneering Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. She was one of the earliest photographers to promote photography as an art form, made even more remarkable because she was a woman. Women of her social standing were not often allowed a voice, though it would seem she fought against all sorts of preconceptions.
This rambling house has been lovingly restored and is now home to temporary exhibitions, a Victorian dressing up room, a dedicated Alice in Wonderland space, as well as a museum shop filled with unique handmade gifts, and a creaky, pile-them-musty-high second-hand bookshop.
Dimbola lies at the heart of this small bohemian community made up of lively artists, actors, writers and designers, who together are committed to keeping the Freshwater circle spirit alive today. It is run by a dedicated team of local volunteers who give up their time with a passion.
Don’t leave the museum without visiting The Mad Hatter at Julia’s Tea Room. So delightful it was, that we couldn’t tear ourselves away from a whole sunny afternoon spent in the front garden lingering over the delicious lunch until we also gave in to a large slice of a perfect Victoria Sponge.
If you find yourself on Wighty, do take a detour (you never too far from anywhere on the island) to this magical Bay and discover its natural beauty.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Farewell London

For the last 42 years apart from my university years spent in Bristol and a year in Paris, my home has been London. I'm proud to say that Fulham is where I was born, bred and lived except for those short spells away. Fulham has changed beyond recognition in that time but is has always been my home and will remain forever in my heart.

However, from tomorrow evening we will upping sticks and moving to the beautiful Cambridge area. It's been a whirlwind decision but one that I know is for the best. Our daughter will be bought up a country girl, who's London roots I'll never allow her to forget I hasten to add, where she can run free, enjoy nature surrounded by wildlife and the freshest air. No doubt one day she'll return to her home town and this flat when she is much older but in the meantime she'll have a much longer untainted childhood filled with outdoor adventures. She'll run through the woods, picnic along the Cam, learn to ride a horse, build dens, create magical kingdoms in the nooks around the garden and eat fruit fresh off the trees.

Moving out of London has been in our thoughts for a while but somehow the courage to actually go through with it has been somewhat lacking. Suddenly a couple of weeks ago our hand was forced when the husband had the fortune of landing a job in Cambridge. After a tempestuous time for him recently it was the change he needed and so therefore we needed as a family. Despite knowing all this I've run through a whole gamut of emotions from anxiety to fear to exhilaration to a lot of tears brought on by the sheer exhaustion of trying to do a move in two weeks! So the removal men come in tomorrow to pack up our lives and transport them to a beautiful Cambridgeshire village where we will begin a new life.

Wish us luck...

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Timing is a funny thing...

After months of willing her to catch chicken pox, taking round to friends as soon as those little red spots appeared on them, in the hope she would catch it, her immune system has finally relented. Two of her closest friends are just getting over their bout of chicken pox and I honestly thought Matilda has missed her chance, but no on Sunday Glen noticed a few little spots and by Monday they were coming thick and fast.

Matilda was devastated yesterday as this was not only the last week at her Nursery before the long Summer holidays, but her last week at Queens Manor School. Her last chance to see all the wonderful friends she's made before her move. My heart ached for her as the realisation crept in that she wouldn't be finishing her term with the friends and incredible teachers that have been instrumental in making her the happy, bright and funny girl that is.

We couldn't have wished for a better start in the academic life that lies ahead of her. The care, quality of teaching and fun environment these women have created in their corner of Fulham is second to none. I have nothing but praise and gratitude to shower upon her two unique teachers Emma and Wendy. They make learning fun and easy, Matilda often would surprise me with facts or stories that could only have come from them. Her last school report at Queens Manor was exemplary and a credit to her teachers as well as to her. They totally got Matilda, her sense of humour and sometimes over enthusiastic personality, the report bought me to tears.

Her thirst for learning, art, music and drama has been encouraged and developed in such a positive way since she started. She has been provided with the right foundation to go on to begin her education.

Not only will Matilda miss these two ladies but I will too. From the bottom of my heart and teary eyes thank you Emma, Wendy, Joan, Manpaul and Jill for being so kind to my daughter. We'll always remember you, and will visit whenever we can. Keep on doing what you're doing, all I can say is how lucky all these children are that are taught by you!

Matilda's first day at Nursery back in January 2013 already listening intently to Emma and which I wrote about here.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Happisburgh Lighthouse, Norfolk

On our last trip away to the Norfolk coast we came across one of the most dramatically located lighthouses in the UK.

Happisburgh is the oldest operating lighthouse in Norfolk and still owned independently. It opened on New Year's Day in 1791, it's distinctive red and white stripes were added later in order to distinguish it from it's Winterton counterpart, which opened on the very same day. The lighthouses were built to guide the vessels into a sheltered stretch of sea called the 'The Would'.

It is also opened to the public, sadly Matilda fell short of the height restriction so we weren't able to climb to the top. We're hoping on our next visit she might have reached the requirements! The staff were so friendly willing her to be the right height as she showed such enormous interest, they took time to explain what happens at the lighthouse

The views surrounding the lighthouse are extraordinary, even mystical. Paths winding through tall windswept corn fields lead out to the cliffs that hug the grey North Sea. I loved this imposing place with it's sweeping landscape, do take a little trip here if you're in the area.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

The 6th July

Each year as this day approaches a wrenching feeling of dread creeps over me. This day six years ago I lost my first baby at 18 weeks pregnant. This baby lives forever in my heart and there's not a day that passes that I don't wonder where their little spirit has flown too. I like to think it is near to me and looking over it's little family. Every year on the 6th July we go to Mortlake Crematorium, where they were laid to rest, to remember their too short a life. A life stolen from its parents and sister. The only way I could deal with the excruciating loss of this unborn child was to imagine that theirs was a spirit that needed releasing and that I had been chosen to aide this process. I can still clearly feel it's presence within me despite never having held him/her in my arms. My darling Anastasia Aloysius you will always be a part of our lives, you will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

English Churches

No matter whether you're religious or not, I don't think anyone can deny how utterly charming English Country churches can be. We attended a christening on Sunday that took place at Christ Church in Shamley Green, a picture perfect Surrey Hills village. Set on a hill the church is at the heart of this community despite it's position on the edge of the village. The church dates from 1863, with solid stone walls it is simple yet so pleasing to sit in.

It's tranquillity calms the mind as it nourishes the soul. After a hectic week it was nice to stay still and quiet for an hour as the very jolly Vicar, who I'm sure has been compared to Vicar of Dibley on more than one occasion!