Elma Family Kitty Pause for Thought Photography Pip



As if we hadn’t had enough of the travelling bug recently, this week we popped up to Yorkshire for a couple of nights to catch up with the family and make the most of the last few days of our long and wonderful summer before Kitty has to go to school and I have to go to work and everything takes a lot more planning.  We had a lot of fun and the girls adored trailing around after Grandad, colouring in with their Auntie and spending an afternoon with Grandma and Auntie baking the most decorated Frozen cupcakes that have ever ever existed.  We drove home, stopping off at our usual services, watching the Friday night traffic build on the opposite carriageway and listening to Elma chatter for two and a half hours without one single millisecond of a pause, and arrived to the tail end of a gorgeous afternoon, autumnally warm and beautifully sunny.

Space for the Butterflies - Home

Space for the Butterflies - Home

We turfed the children out into the garden to stretch their wiggles out and as H unloaded the car I sat and chatted to them and watched them unwind.

Space for the Butterflies - Home

Space for the Butterflies - Home


Space for the Butterflies - Home

Space for the Butterflies - Home

Pip found a stick and started digging in the herb garden, before moving on to a little dedicated soil tasting, while the girls sat on the monkey swing, or played teachers (Kitty’s current favourite game) with Elma playing the game of obedient-ish pupil, or they all tried to pile on the slide.  They played happily with the occasional squall and it was lovely, peaceful and restful and the antidote to a long drive.

Space for the Butterflies - Home

Space for the Butterflies - Home

Space for the Butterflies - Home

An ordinary and perfect moment; my three strong, healthy, safe, warm, housed, fed, protected children.  I have never had to choose whether to risk their lives to try to save their lives.  I have never had to flea from my home, from the country that I love, because it was changing beyond all recognition into a frightening and dangerous place.  I have never known, and can only imagine, the feeling of despair and failure that must sweep over every parent who has realised that despite striving with every fibre of their being they cannot keep their child safe from harm.  And my heart breaks for those in that position.

It could never have been my children loaded on an overcrowded boat trying to reach Greece.  It could never have been my children attempting to cross the mediterranean from North Africa and it could never have been my children walking and being carried hundreds of miles through Eastern Europe, simply because they, and we, are lucky.  They were born in a country that will keep them safe, that is not rocked by civil unrest and intolerance masquerading as a militant faith.

But it could have been their great-great-something-grandfather.  My mother’s family legend would have you believe that my Great-Great-Uncle Otto (and presumably some level of Great-Grandfather) rowed the North Sea to join the merchant navy.  How much of that is embellishment I don’t know, but I do know that several generations back the family were immigrants to the UK.  Mum’s maiden name was German in origin and I remember her telling me that my uncle and aunt had traced the family tree and found that at a time when Germany was plunging itself into disarray my great something grandfather had sat his family down and said, “we need to go, and we need to go now”.  The family split, Great Uncle Otto and my great-something-grandfather came to the UK, and more family was traced to North America and I think to South Africa.  They built new lives, married and had families, and they kept those families safe, and several generations down the line that’s the only bit of my lineage that isn’t most decidedly and wholeheartedly British.

There are people today who will do anything to get themselves and their loved ones to somewhere where they can be safe, just as there were yesterday and just as there will be tomorrow and for many days to come.  They aren’t a swarm or a flood or any one of a number of derogatory collective nouns, they are people, they are families, and the one thing that they and their children have in common with me and mine right now is that they love those children with the same protective fierceness that I love Kitty, Elma and Pip.

I would love nothing better than to wave a magic wand and give them back their homeland, safe and secure.  I wish with all my heart that there was no need for anyone to run in fear, but people have sought peace in the middle east for years, decades and, let’s be honest, millennia, without much success.  As a nation we can and should be doing everything we can to work towards that peace, to support the countries that border Syria, to give them the strength to continue to stand firm, to resist the evil that pushes at their gates, and to help the thousands of ordinary people seeking safety.

That help starts right here at home in the UK.  We are being called to help people in their hour of need and as a nation we need to step up and our government needs to step up.  Now is our time to be tested and it is not the England that I know and love if our humanity is found to be wanting.

In short and simple terms: Do as you would be done by.

Space for the Butterflies - Home

This cartoon has been shared widely over social media this week and it hits the nail on the head.  What is so tragic is that it wasn’t drawn this week, it’s from Australian cartoonist Simon Kneebone and was drawn in 2014 as commentary on the boatloads of people arriving in Australia from Indonesia.  The more things change…

And for every argument that suggests that the UK doesn’t have enough space, or opening our gates would see us overwhelmed I just want to shout out this interview with Professor Alexander Betts, Director of the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford.  The impact on the UK for helping: negligible; the impact on the people we help: life changing.

For what it’s worth, we’ve made a donation to Save the Children’s #savesyriaschildren campaign, and the Independent has a great list of ways you can help.





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  • Notmyyearoff 06/09/2015 at 9:22 am

    Brilliant thought provoking post and so spot on. We are so so lucky to be born into a safe and secure environment that a lot of us can’t comprehend what it means to need to make the decision to flee for an entirely different country. x

    • Carie 07/09/2015 at 10:30 pm

      Thank you 🙂

  • Katie @mummydaddyme 06/09/2015 at 9:41 am

    A gorgeous and thought provoking post Carie and I completely agree. I hadn’t seen that cartoon before but gosh how powerful and doesn’t it make utter sense? I hope you have had a wonderful summer with your gorgeous pair, it certainly looks like you have. x

    • Carie 07/09/2015 at 10:30 pm

      Thank you – it’s a real hot knife through butter to the crux of the issue isn’t it – and we can only hope that it will work for us where it seems to have little impact on its original audience.

  • LauraCYMFT 06/09/2015 at 4:22 pm

    Such gorgeous photos and wonderful words. I think we sometimes take for granted just how lucky we are even when the times are tough they aren’t as tough as those families in Syria just now. That cartoon is amazing.

    • Carie 07/09/2015 at 10:28 pm

      Isn’t it just – it’s that it’s not new that I find so hard to get to terms with.

  • Preeta Samarasan 06/09/2015 at 6:24 pm

    Thank you for writing this. I’ve cried so many tears looking at those pictures from Syria; honestly, if one of those parents were standing face-to-face with any of us, and he or she said, Please, please just take my babies, please get them out of here, save them — which of us would say no? And yet, by some evil magic, it becomes possible to say no over and over again, when there are millions of them, when it’s our governments facing each other instead of us, ourselves, face-to-face. It’s because of things like this that I question the nation state, the idea of immigration and visas and borders — honestly, the more you think about it, the more ridiculous the system appears, and I say this as someone who has only been mildly inconvenienced, not destroyed, by immigration law. Why should one person/child be more deserving of the resources in a particular geographical area just because they happened, randomly, through no effort of their own, to be born there? It seems absurd that we could believe — and live by! — such a thing in this day and age.

    • Carie 07/09/2015 at 10:27 pm

      Quite. I think it’s why that cartoon is so powerful, it pulls us all back together as simply people.

  • You Baby Me Mummy 07/09/2015 at 8:10 pm

    Such a beautiful post lovely. We can’t even begin to imagine what those people are going through. x

    • Carie 07/09/2015 at 10:19 pm

      thank you 🙂

  • Chantal Milk&Nappies 08/09/2015 at 8:24 pm

    Brilliant brilliant post. I couldn’t agree with you more, and this past week I just haven’t been able to get out of my head what it must be like for all those who are suffering. I really wish we lived in a world where things like this didn’t happen, and I can only thank my lucky stars that I was born here where we are safe. It could have been any of us, we are all citizens of this earth and I truly believe that we should all help each other. Every time I see someone posting that we should help ‘our own’ it makes me wonder why they consider other humans to not be the same as us. xx

    • Carie 08/09/2015 at 8:56 pm

      Quite – and they’re right too in a way, we should help “our own”, if by that they mean British people but it should be as well as not instead of.

  • Rachel @ The Ordinary Lovely 13/09/2015 at 10:11 am

    I couldn’t agree more, Carie. And that cartoon absolutely spells out what our duty is to our fellow inhabitants. Also, have all of your children shot up, this summer? They’re looking so grown up all of a sudden.

    • Carie 14/09/2015 at 11:17 pm

      Oh they definitely have – especially Pip!

  • sally 17/09/2015 at 11:06 pm

    A great cartoon, there’s been a massive amount on our social media circles about this issue, but I’ve not seen this, so I’ll be throwing it in the mix in a minute! It’s just impossible to imagine how desperate you would have to be, how terrified of what you were leaving behind, to go to the lengths so many are going to. And then to see and hear some of ‘our’ reactions to it is just heart breaking and makes me so ashamed of us as a society. But as well as those reactions, there’s a very strong movement round here to help and organise aid, which does restore faith a little.