Friday, 5 February 2016

A day at Thetford Forest

I've been meaning to write this post for months, it's sat there in my drafts gathering dust but as the promise of Spring seems imminent with the arrival of unseasonably early daffodils, writing about a potential day in the outdoors appeared to be more appropriate.

One of the best days of last Summer was spent discovering Thetford Forest. We'd only ever driven along the edge of it on our way up to the North Norfolk coast but now only living 20 minutes away there was no excuse.

Thetford is vast. It covers an area spanning 18730 hectares making it the UK's largest man made lowland forest. There are countless walks, cycle paths and winding footpaths to follow if you'd rather be left to your own devices. However the play area right alongside Go Ape is marvellous. I couldn't quite believe there was no entrance fee levied such was the standard. With plenty of climbing and play equipment mostly constructed from natural materials found lying in the forest, it provides a cheap day out for all the family. Accompanied Pony rides are also offered, which Matilda thoroughly enjoyed, It was her first time on a Pony but I'm guessing it won't be her last. There are plenty of activities such as Archery or canoeing as well as special events to keep the family entertained. Check the website before you set off so you can plan your day.

There is a lovely well stocked cafe and shop if you decide not to take a picnic but with so many lovely spots to lay your picnic blanket I'd reserve the cafe for an ice cream run. Matilda loves nothing more than sitting on the long grass with her lunch in hand, internally debating which piece of climbing apparatus she should try next...

The imposing forest majestic in it's reach is simply breathtaking and worth a day if not more to explore it's full potential. Ancient trees sway in the light winds providing shelter from the weather. The forest is awe inspiring having been born way before our life time and lasting long after. One gets the real sense here that despite our human attempts to preside over planet earth we really so little influence on Mother Nature.

Find out how you can support the work of the Forestry Commission here so we can all keep on enjoying our countryside.

Monday, 1 February 2016

The Tooth Fairy's been...

This happened last weekend...

Yup Matilda's first tooth dropped out without any warning or build up. No it fell out last Saturday afternoon whilst she was watching a film with Daddy. Just like that. In fact it was amazingly the very same first tooth that arrived when she was just 7 months old. We had gone away for a few days to a friend's place the New Forest. We awoke one morning to find it had popped up. First in, first out...

So while I was mooching around Bury St Edmunds, my baby's tooth was no longer. My heart sank when I read the husband's message. For this is the real start of waving good bye to being my baby. As the adult teeth come in and as she grows longer limbs there'll be nothing left to visually remind us that once she was a tiny dependent baby. I'm in no rush to see her grown up, I enjoy far too much spending time talking nonsense, playing her made up, games soaking up every charming moment. What I'd really like is for time to stand still, this is such a gorgeous time in childhood where the world is yet to be discovered, innocence prevails. It's wonderful to revisit this with my own child, I'd rather not move on to the next stroppy teenage stage please.

I just couldn't help myself that day, I cried. In the middle of a busy market Saturday I cried. For the loss of the tooth but also for the loss of innocence.

There was undoubtedly a part of me that was sad I wasn't there to witness the event though at the same time I was happy her Daddy had been around for this momentous occasion. We've been inseparable since the day she was born so I've been witness to a lot of firsts which her Daddy sadly hasn't. This was a precious moment for him to share with her.

January 2016 has been a weird old month, I'm looking forward to being one step closer to Spring and finally ridding our family of viruses and illness. Having said that I'm home today with a poorly little girl who is willing her next tooth to fall out by asking for endless rounds of apple. Not chopped up so the chance of it falling out is maximised! I've just made her favourite Lemon Drizzle Cake with this foolproof recipe from Tana Ramsey though I would recommend using the zest of two lemons if you'd like more of a lemony zing to it. One of my New Year's resolutions was to bake more so we're not consuming any shop bought cakes or biscuits. Each weekend we bake cookies and one cake which lasts us through the week, something I always did when I was a child. Saturday was always a big cooking day in our family, Matilda enjoys being in the kitchen though I daresay it is more for the end game of licking that spoon.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

January slow living...

With my tax return filed and bill paid up I sat for a few moments this afternoon listening to the thrashing rain and wind beating against the roof of the conservatory where I've taken up office. Our office renovation is just around the corner but until then I;ll enjoy the wonderful view over the garden.

Whilst watching the big old chestnut tree sway in the wind my mind began to wander away to sunnier times when days are longer and warmer inspiring all kinds of adventures. Beautiful bright Winter days also have a place in my heart. Wrapped up warm to face the bitter bleak, wild landscape our family love a long brisk Winter walk. Matilda enjoys collecting sticks, climbing fallen tree trunks all whilst pretending to be a 'Science Archaeologist'.

January has been a tough month, a flu bug completely wiped me out lingering on for well over two weeks. We've had to cancel visits from friends and slow right down to allow for recovery. We did find a few moments to drive to one of our favourite new places, the pretty town of Clare. We discovered a beautiful walk around the Augustinian Priory, a remarkable gem deep in the Suffolk countryside.

After filling our lungs with the crisp fresh air we relish the moment we retreat to our favourite spot in front of the fire for a cuddle and movie dinner. Despite not feeling well I've enjoyed this quiet time with my family, living slowly after the madness of the last few have your January's been?

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Christmas in Portugal

With the New Year came every intention of writing a little more regularly in my favourite creative space here on the blog. However last week I was struck down finally with a flu bug, the full works of high fever, sleepless nights, weak, hacking cough etc etc...still recovering but feeling a little more human today I wanted to do something for myself having worked throughout this bout of illness. Thankfully I work from home so wrapped in a sheepskin and blanket I soldiered on through...being self employed if you don't work you don't earn, which at this time of year with Christmas to be paid for is not an option..

We spent Christmas in Portugal with my family. I have my parents in their late 80s and my Mother not being in the best of health it is important to create as many long lasting memories with them and the rest of the family for Matilda. None of us know what tomorrow will bring so whilst we are all here and able this time of year, for me, is all about the family unit. Sadly the break began with a disappearing Ryanair flight and Matilda being sick but thankfully she was all better for Christmas Eve. We spent that day at my Sisters as it is also her birthday then Christmas Day was hosted by my niece and her partner. Both days we were fit to burst with the generous amount of food and wine consumed, typical of most Portuguese gatherings but taken to the extreme at Christmas.

At the end of the break we managed a couple of all important days to ourselves. We met the other half of roomtobreathe my dear friend Bea and her partner Pedro for a delicious lunch in Lisbon followed by coffee with my oldest friend Isabel and her family at the world famous Santini ice cream parlour. If there's one place you should visit in Lisbon on your next trip it's this place. The Ice cream is to die for! The following day we headed to the Lisbon Aquarium which I wrote about here a few years ago. Matilda didn't remember her last trip there so it was super exciting for her. Beautifully designed with a huge tank filled with all manner of sea life taking centre stage you can sit for hours beguiled by the slow movement of the fish gliding past.

Christmas went by in a flash and before we knew it we were back to the normal rushing around routine plus the invasion of the virus. Don't you just love this time of year?

How were all your Christmases?

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year!

I wanted to wish you a very Happy, Healthy and Inspired 2016! May your year be filled with love and adventures. I promise to be back a little more in the New Year but now I'm going back into hibernation with my loved ones to enjoy tonight in front of the fire with a large glass of bubbly. Enjoy your evenings!

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Letter to Matilda on her 6th Birthday

A little late as you've been six years old for two weeks now but better late than never my darling...

Dear Matilda

Where can I begin? So much has happened this past year, you've learnt to read. Yup we can't get away with saying Scooby Doo isn't on as you can clearly read Scooby on the listings, reading road signs seem to be your passion 'look Mummy you can go to Cherry Hinton and left is to Saffron Walden, aww we're home Cheveley'. Reading, books, drawing and writing are your passions as well as Scooby Doo. In fact Scooby has been a constant in your life the last couple of years, though Teddy is your main man, your brother. He has been with you since birth and I reckon we'll see Teddy go through your teenage years and take pride of place in your first student room at university.

Your enthusiasm for life and ability to absorb knowledge and run with it is infectious. You've had some big changes at home this year but have handled them a lot better than we have! You have made some wonderful friends though one in particular, Libby has become your little partner in crime. I love your ability to play, chat and welcome others into your world without hesitation.

Your insatiable thirst for learning has developed even further over the last year as has your imagination. You are equally happy playing with friends or alone, Teddy, Husky and Bubba often join in with your games taking on the role of playmates when you are home. You are enjoying your new playroom especially playing the new Bond theme on your new stereo at 7am on a Saturday morning which is your way of gently letting us know you're awake!

We love that not only are you a creative little being always writing stories with accompanying drawings but you have a definite fascination with Science. In fact if you're asked what you'd like to do when you grow up you exclaim 'an Archaelogist Scientist', long may it continue. As you know I'm not one to encourage a more artistic career having followed that path myself. However what will be will be. As long as you continue to be the happy, bright ray of sunshine that filled our hearts with love, that's all that matters.

Mummy and Daddy are forever bursting with pride at how well you're doing at school and how you throw yourself heart and soul into every challenge that is presented to you. Our recent house move, I think affected you even more than when we moved from London. You loved our little rented house and only being a couple of doors down from your friend Sebastian whom you used to chat to over the fence, but in time you'll make new friends here in the village I'm sure. You love your new house and bedroom and have taken great delight in looking after Papa Jonny's pond with Daddy.

This Summer you also discovered a love for 'surfing' down in Cornwall, we bought you your first board which you tried out at Watergate Bay; fearless you inched out further and further to reach the better waves much to my dismay as I nervously watched from the shore. Obviously Daddy was standing guard but even when a big wave came crashing over you there were no tears just laughter. The beach is where you most love to be, playing with the sand or splashing about in the waves. Eating Cornish ice cream and devouring large platefuls of mussels.

We love you with all our heart and beyond, your sense of humour tickles us as well as your impersonations of Craig from Strictly, another of your passions. Perhaps you will be musical, you've been playing the piano now for nearly a year and half way though this year you announced you wanted to take up the violin which you seem to love. Long may it all continue my darling. You bring us and so many others a huge amount of joy.

Happy 6th Birthday to our precious little girl Matilda Rose xx

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Paris Je T'aime

Watching the horrific situation unfold last night in Paris was devastating. A city that is so very close to my heart attacked in such a vicious way, so many people hurt and dead is unthinkable. We've had our fair share of devastation in London too, do these terrorists have s little regard for human life. Two wrongs do not make a right, an eye for eye is wrong, pure and simple.

Paris is special to me for so many reasons, I lived there for a year in my late teens, a year that marked my soul forever. I have close family that still live there and whom thankfully were at home safe. It is also where the husband proposed to me nine years ago. Paris is a city I love implicitly, inspirational to me in many ways. So you see not only is Paris one of the most beautiful places on this earth it has marked my life in so many positive ways.

My heart and prayers goes out to those families that are suffering loss or injury and to all the Parisians, so fiercely proud of their city who are undoubtedly feeling vulnerable and frightened. As my cousin said this morning to me 'it feels like war has broken out'. How can a human being feel so compelled to inflict death on another? All countries need to stop inflicting pain on others, the blame is universal.

Be strong Les Parisiens we are with you. United we all stand against the perpetrators of such horrors.