Monthly Archives

July 2017

Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: July


We still live in a tent.  I know that at the end of last month a combination of hope and will power had me near certain that we’d be in the house by this point, but, well, we’re not.  All things being equal we should exchange this week and then complete as soon as possible afterwards, which basically means as soon as the mortgage money can get to our solicitors.  Next month, next month I promise we will not be living in a tent, because if we’re not living in our house then something has gone horribly wrong and we’ll be looking for a long term rental while we start all over again.  Not going to happen though.

We originally thought that we’d be living in the tent for a couple of weeks, three or four at most, and sitting here at six weeks and counting I am beyond grateful to my aunt and uncle for letting us stay; aside from the sheer joy of watching Kitty, Pip and Elma come to know and love them as much as John and I do, and the fun they’ve had helping to pick strawberries and raspberries and swimming in the pool, staying here has meant that while we may not have had a house, we have always had a home, and there just aren’t ever going to be enough thank yous to cover it.

We’ve just come back from a week going “housing”, firstly to Yorkshire to stay with the family, and then John and I escaped to spend a couple of nights away in the Lake District climbing mountains.  If you follow me on Instagram please note that the holiday spam shows no sign of letting up soon, and I’m utterly unapologetic about it – the Lakes are much much prettier than the view from my desk when I head back to work today.  The children, as far as I can gather, wore their grandparents out and flew kites, and we all enjoyed such modern conveniences as walls, beds and electric lights.  With the evenings not as light as they were when we first moved in, and camping lights good enough only really to find something, not read or knit something tricky, it was a revelation to have light that we could just turn on!

The holiday was pretty well timed to avoid a very soggy week; two days before we left the tent sprung a sort of leak, when splits on two sections of the back ridge got so bad that they let the back wall of the tent start to puddle on the ground, and where there was one puddle, another soon followed, and then the day I finished work our gazebo/shelter took off in a rogue gust of wind (despite being fully pegged and guyed out), so this month I have learnt how to mend shelters with self-adhesive tent plasters, and how to replace sections of tent pole and refit the whole shebang while leaving the rest of the tent standing – top tip, don’t try to use cheap and cheerful hacksaws on fibreglass tent poles; I think I cut it mostly through strength of mind!

The tent is much the better for the tlc and despite torrential showers bucketing across the skies yesterday afternoon we’re as dry as a bone.  I did however make the mistake of promising the children a biscuit when it rained, which they interpreted as a biscuit every time it rains, which means that an entire packet of crunch creams were laid to waste in the course of one afternoon.

On the whole the kids are doing pretty well with their life in limbo.  We had a few wobbly moments that could have been as much to do with the end of term as the house moving, and Pip has taken to telling us he loves any new toy so much that he doesn’t want it to go into storage, but they’re a happy little trio (despite Kitty’s very teenage expressions in some of these shots), currently obsessed with playing Swallows and Amazons, right up to and including the rigging of a Wild Cat Island style tent courtesy of some rope (charmed out of their uncle), out badminton posts, and their aunt’s old sheet.  You’d think that they’d have had enough of camping of late, but as I should well know, there’s camping and then there’s proper Swallows and Amazons camping.  Yesterday afternoon they performed Swallowdale: the musical, with particular focus on the climbing of Kanchenjunga and the spotting of goats, which was quite a sight to see.

Despite all of our adventures, this month’s photos could only have been taken in front of our tent.  Neatly cropped to avoid showing you how much of a mess it still is post flood and holiday, but still very recognisably our very own Buckingham Palace.  We haven’t decided when or whether we might go travelling this summer, but I know that even though we’re really really looking forward to the next stage of this big move, it hasn’t dinted our love of life outdoors, and there will be plenty of opportunity in the future to take out photos on our canvas doorstep.

My little family, in July:


The Me + Mine Project - Dear Beautiful


Family Photography {the ordinary moments}

The end of term


Space for the Butterflies - the end of term

Wednesday marked the end of Kitty’s time in Kindergarten, and the end of Elma’s very first term.  All the parents were invited in for the last circle time of the year and oh there wasn’t a dry eye in the back of the room. Even John, stoic Yorkshireman to the last, admitted to needing his coping mechanisms as we listened to their lovely teacher tell the story of the children climbing the tree in their garden, a branch for each of the years that the Transition class have been in Kindergarten, until finally they reached the third branch and could see over the hedge into a new garden and all of the different paths that wound their way through it that they will discover as they head off to Class 1 and the beginning of the official Lower School.  It was so beautiful and so very personal to the children making the big remove; even writing about it makes me think that someone must have been cutting onions in the vicinity.

Space for the Butterflies - the end of term

In September she started into a relatively established group of friends, wearing her heart on her sleeve and clutching every ounce of courage she could find, and what a difference the year has made.  She seemed so grown up when I took that photo of her in September, and now my first reaction was to think how little she looks!

Space for the Butterflies - the end of term

She’s grown in height (that happens every other week), but also in confidence, and she’s made the best of friends in her new peer group.  She’s developing the silliest sense of humour, with endless variations of why did the cow cross the road, and the little girl who didn’t sing in the Christmas circle time because she didn’t want anyone to look at her (the six year old me would sympathise), sings out happily in every circle time.  This year took a little girl nervous of school after becoming burnt out and disengaged in her previous year and put back some of the joy.

Space for the Butterflies - the end of term


The fact is that Kitty loves school, and that’s a sentence that for a while I thought I’d never get to write.  If there were more days in the week she would go for all of them, and still be bouncing around on a Monday morning wanting to be the first through the door.Space for the Butterflies - the end of term

This year she made a mallet from a log, she stitched up a very sweet felt needlecase, and she finally finished her weaving on the penultimate day of term.  It’s gorgeous, and when we move into the new house I’m determined to find a spot on the wall for it somewhere.

And as for Miss Elma, she seemed to go from toddler to school girl overnight.

Space for the Butterflies - the end of term

Elma started the year in nursery, running in with barely a backwards glance, and by the time she moved up to Kindergarten at the beginning of this term she was ready to tunnel her way in over a weekend.  She’s a very self contained contented little girl for the most part and if she ever had any regret it was that she didn’t get to go for all five mornings.

Space for the Butterflies - the end of term

This term she’s done some drawing, painted a crown, made very slow progress on her pompom, and learnt so many songs and finger rhymes and blessings that she and Kitty sing together.  As far as I can work out they didn’t spend that much time in class playing together, but they, and the other two sibling sets, gravitated towards each other at meal times, and would often end up sitting next to each other.  They certainly enjoyed having that time together and I’m glad they had the opportunity to share it.

Space for the Butterflies - the end of term

In mainstream counting she would start Reception in September but at our school she’ll stay in Kindergarten for another couple of years, one of which she’ll share with Pip, and then it will be our time to hold back the happy tears all over again at her final circle time.  By the time Pip leaves Kindergarten I give fair warning that I’ll be a blubbering wreck – we have at least three years before then though.

Space for the Butterflies - the end of term

All of which means that once we’d dried our eyes, the girls had hugged all of their classmates and their teachers, and we’d gone back to rescue Elma’s jumper from her peg before the doors were locked, it’s the summer holidays; and that’s a whole new adventure waiting to happen.

Joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me and Donna at What the Redhead Said for The Ordinary Moments


Family Photography Siblings

Siblings 2017: July


We’ve uprooted ourselves, put just about everything we own into two storage containers, and moved ourselves and our tent half way across the country and yet this month, my siblings pictures come from Warwick cricket pitch, just like at least one set of summer portraits from every year of my Siblings project.

But for all the pictures that I could share of my little trio this month, these were the ones that I wanted to share.  Whilst he’ll keep commuting back and forth for hockey, cricket is John’s social sport and I suspect that when this season comes to a close, he’ll be looking for a team closer to home for next year, and we’ll be looking for a new outfield to run around.  These pictures sum up not just the children and their ever changing relationship, but the essence of our cricket days out, and it would be remiss of me to move on without recording it.

It had started as the kind of scorching English summer’s day when the humidity thickens the air to the point that you could eat it with a spoon, and we’d all taken refuge from the sunshine in the clubhouse, but as is so often the way, as the sun began to drop and the breeze picked up it became a truly lovely afternoon.  Pip played football with our team, and our spectators, and even some of the opposition after tea, and the girls sat and read stories or ran around to play tractors before all three of them took on the challenge of making themselves as messy as possibly with choc ices at cricket tea.

Space for the Butterflies: Siblings Photo Project

The picture says it all. Elma, with chocolate smears down her dress and mucky feet from running around barefoot, Kitty with her hair all hot and straggly, and Pip Squeak whose apparent cleanliness belies a distinct stickiness about his person, and the three of them closer than ever.

Space for the Butterflies: Siblings Photo Project

Even in the sticky heat it we were all so very content to be there, watching John play and just being together.

It might be living in even closer proximity than normal, it might be that most of their toys are in storage, but I suspect that a good deal of their relationship now is just a product of their ages; the older they get, the closer together they seem, especially Pip and Elma, whose can happily wear each other’s clothes, just about borrow each other’s wellies, and are always swapping sunhats.

Space for the Butterflies: Siblings Photo Project

Elma is still very much the taller, even if she may well be lighter, and while for the most part she and Pip can do pretty much everything together, just occasionally there’s a moment where she can put that extra 20 months to good use.  The nearest playpark to us at present has a wonderful rocket ship slide, but to get to it you have to be able to climb up the ladder.  Kitty has no trouble at all, Elma has finagled a way to make it work, just, but Pip, for all his trying, and frustrated grumping, was most decidedly left behind.  We have a playground rule that if you can do it, you can do it, so Pip had to stay down on the ground until he found another slide more suited to his stature.

Space for the Butterflies: Siblings Photo Project

This month Elma and Kitty finished their first and last ever term together in the same kindergarten.  They’ve both had a wonderful term and a wonderful year and one of the (many many) things we love about their school was that they got this extra time together.

I never took it for granted, and never take it for granted, that these three little individual people will get on; that shared genetics would take them past the hard wiring of love into friendship, but for all their squabbles, they are true friends.  Just before we left the old house, I asked each of them what they liked most about the house, and Kitty’s immediate answer was “my brother and sister”.

Space for the Butterflies: Siblings Photo Project

To watch them play swingball, with a hockey stick for a third bat, or those moments where Kitty and Elma crowd round Pip to make sure he’s OK, and call him “my baby bunting”, or pretend he’s their baby so they can put him to bed in a sleeping bag precariously positioned on the upturned slide, is to watch my hopes and dreams for the three of them surpass themselves and I can only hope that it contines for many years to come.

Two little sisters, and their brother too, in July:


Space for the Butterflies: Siblings Photo Project

Do go and say hi to my co-hosts: Donna at What the Redhead Said Natalie at Little Jam Pot Life,  Keri-Anne at GingerLily Tea, Amber at Meet the Wildes, Katie at Mummy Daddy Me and of course the mastermind behind the whole thing, Lucy at Dear Beautiful.  And then link up your Siblings posts below, and if you’re joining in on Instagram if you use the hashtag #siblingsproject and tag @siblings_project_ we’ll be able to see them too!


Handmade Knitting

No longer In Tsuspense {handmade}


There’s a little plastic bag squished into the corner of my big knitting bag.  A little plastic bag with a squish together top whose creases and worn softness tell the story of a project that’s long been carted around, knit a bit and stuffed away, knit a bit and put out of sight.  And now that bag is empty.

Space for the Butterflies - In Tsuspense Socks
I have finished a pair of socks.  By itself this shouldn’t be particularly noteworthy but if you’ve been reading here for a little while would you like to guess the last time you saw these socks, or sock singular as it then was?
Before Pip was born?
Before Elma?
Before Kitty even?
That it has taken me since 2011 to knit the second sock gives this pair the unenviable honour of having suffered from the worst bout of second sock syndrome I ever inflicted on a pile of yarn, and even that first sock took its time.
Time for a moment of candour.  I cast on this pair of socks on 30 August 2008 (yes you read that right) and finished them on 8 July 2017.  Nine years. Nine whole years of largely being tucked away down the bottom of the knitting bag, of being the constant WIP at the top of my Ravelry notebook, or being out of sight but never quite forgotten.
Space for the Butterflies - In Tsuspense Socks
I’m not quite sure what it was that prompted me to pick it back up again after so long, perhaps simply wanting to make space for more yarn in my tent stash, or, more likely, the realisation that a lot of my socks have all reached the end of their natural life span together and we have something of a cold feet problem in the house, and it really shouldn’t have been a challenge.  I am a good knitter, a knitter with a capital K, who loves to wrap her brain around the complicated and the crazy and put them into order, stitch by tiny stitch and yet this second sock (and probably the first one too) had me questioning everything I ever thought I knew about being a knitter.
Forgive me if you’re learning, or it’s something that you never quite wrapped your brain around, but for me, after 30 years practice, knitting is my second language, a language of stitches, one after the other, that I speak with native fluency (which is far more than can be said for my French), and yet there is not a single section, not one in all thirteen sections, Richard to Vain, that I did not have to rip back and do over.  And I don’t care how much will power you have, how much you love your craft, how clever it makes you feel when you get it right, that amount of frogging would crush Pollyanna.
Space for the Butterflies - In Tsuspense Socks
To get to this point, where I can show you a whole two socks, warm and snuggly and covered in grass because I live in a tent and it turns out to be impossible to take “rainbow in the sky” pictures without at some stage stepping on the lawn, took determination, and a finely judged amount of pink wine.
The truth is that to knit something beautiful and complicated is easy when your hands hold the muscle memory to make it easy.  I can smile and accept a compliment because yes I did just take sticks and string and make clothes, but it’s like a toddler marvelling at an adult for reading Swallows and Amazons while they’re still working out That’s Not My Train.
It’s when the muscle memory isn’t there, and you find a pattern that you love that stretches you, either in the knitting or because it’s not written in the way that your brain works, that’s when you step up and earn every one of those knitterly stripes.  And that means that these could have been the ugliest socks ever to be cast off, and I would still rate them, not as a favourite knit, but as a worthy adversary.
Space for the Butterflies - In Tsuspense Socks
So let me tell you a bit more about them.  The pattern is the Seven Chakras, formerly known as the In Tsuspense Project, sent as part of the 2008 Tsock Club and designed by the late Tsarina of Tsocks, Lisa Grossman.  Each section arrived as instructions and the relevant constituent part of the rainbow rolled up into little balls of Holiday Yarns Flock Sock, you followed the direction and waited for the next month and we were probably on the third instalment before we even knew it was a sock, given that it started at the heel.
The pattern runs out from the heel through the different elements for the Chakras until finally at the toe and cuff you find the heart.  It’s a clever design, typical of Lisa’s creativity, and I love that there is so much going on below the surface of what is otherwise just a beautiful soft rainbow sock.
Aside from all of the ripping back, I learnt a new way to cast on, I learnt that I don’t particularly like that new way to cast on, and in this second sock especially, I got to grips with knitting socks on two circulars, and also decided that I really do like my nice shiny purple metal DPNs.
Space for the Butterflies - In Tsuspense Socks
If you want a pair of rainbow socks, there are far far easier patterns out there, even before you’ve got anywhere near self striping rainbow yarn, but that isn’t what these socks are about; they’re about seeing a project through to the end, about never giving up, about accepting that it is OK to find a project infuriatingly wonderfully hard, and just a little bit about the fact that come the winter, I’m going to have amazingly cosy rainbow toes.
Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On