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Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: May


There were supposed to be penguins in the back of my Me and Mine photos this month.  Technically, if you look really closely in the middle far left of this one, you can see a bit of a penguin underwater so that will have to do.

It was just after feeding time, they’d all been waddling around in an adorable little line following the keeper with the fish bucket and the diving and splashing each other and being generally cute as penguins are, but clearly, when the camera came out they all scarpered!  What was it about never working with children or animals?

Well, as you can see, this month’s Me and Mine photos don’t come from home, or even from one of our favourite haunts (I’m saving all of the lump in the throat moments for next month’s set!), but there does seem to be a theme.  Last May’s photos were taken when we went on an adventure to meet up with some of our dearest friends, and this year we went to meet the same friends, just somewhere a little bit different.

I’ll admit when I heard we were going to the Cotswold Wildlife Park, I was thinking ducks and geese and the occasional swan but the ducklings we saw were just a smidgen more exotic, there was a train that had Pip mesmerised all afternoon, and I got to see a giraffe up close for the first time in years as well as the penguins that hid.  More on all of which another day when I’ve had a moment to process the photos.

So what have we been up to this month? Well a highlight was definitely meeting up with our friends, and not just because they know how to work my camera and don’t mind taking the occasional snap, it’s just lovely and relaxing to see them and catch up on all of their news and fill them in on a bit of ours.

Other than that …. we sold our house, sort of. We’ve exchanged and we’re due to complete in a few weeks, so by the time we get to the end of June we will have moved, though possibly not into our new house.  Remind me never ever to move house again.  It’s definitely stressful, and definitely dominates everything your do for a little while so much as we’ll miss this house, I think we’ll be glad have done the big move.

For now you’ll have to excuse me as I disappear off into a flurry of packing the things that aren’t going into storage and trying to divine just what the weather’s going to be like for the next few weeks, all while trying not to perform ancient English rain dances by accident.

So here we are, my little family, in May:

Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: April


Only this afternoon did I realise that only in my head does a day called the 30/1 of Apray actually exist.  Really truly, despite 30 something years on this earth, I thought tomorrow was the last day of April, and at the same time know that it’s the May bank holiday and I don’t have to go to work.  It wouldn’t have made much difference anyway; despite having had a week’s holiday in the middle of the month and all the lovely sunny evenings, I took our pictures this morning under the cherry tree.

It’s a beautiful tree and it’s been a marker of the change of our season here in this house when every year bare branches unfurl first tiny leaves and then let free with a cascade of pink snow that not only covers our garden but reaches out to embrace the neighbours too.  All being well, and I say that with all fingers and toes double and triple crossed, this is our last spring with this cherry tree, and while the garden of the new house (touch wood) has at least one apple tree, I don’t know whether we’ll need to add a cherry for the same effect.  The reality is starting to hit that we really will be moving house, and in among organising for a friend to come around to quote for the removals, and dealing with surveyors and agents and all the rest, I’m determined to make time to cherish and preserve our most favourite parts of this very first home of ours.

And so here we are, in all our Sunday morning barely awakeness, watching the petals come swirling down in the breeze, and trying to take a photo in which Elma is not entirely obscured by her hair.

This month John has loved the Easter holidays; me being home all day and the return of several sorely needed weeks of lazy mornings and no long school run.  It’s a marker of these holidays how little we’ve driven, and I think he’s enjoyed the rest.  April has also brought the start of the cricket season, and if I’d written this post last night instead of this I could have told you how he’d got 7 runs and the final wicket (off 3 balls) in the first match of the season.  Today he didn’t need to bat as we romped to victory and gave away only 11 runs for his 4 overs bowling, all of which I’m told is a good thing.  We, as always, enjoy the tea and the sunshine, and if you were anywhere today that was on the grey and windy spectrum, know that I have cricket spectating down to a fine art, because we came with not only quilts to sit on, but two of the sleeping bags to huddle under. It was great.

I’ve loved the Easter holidays too; I really needed the break and the pottering around days were just perfect, as is going back to work for a week and then having a long weekend (yay for May!). The time off gave me time to finish the cosy cottage ripple blanket I started at Christmas 2014, and for Elma to steal it for her bed, and for Kitty to submit a wish list of the one she wants me to make next, and to do my homework for Sara Tasker’s Instagram course.  It was completely and utterly awesome and I can see the changes in my pictures (come and see my feed here), as much as I can also see how much more I want to keep working on!

As for the littlest three, well Kitty has discovered Swallows and Amazons, because I discovered that they’ve re-recorded them on Audible (the previous reader was just atrocious) and she is now completely immersed in their world, which has led to lots of games of ‘camping’.  John told me that he walked into the lounge to find all three in sleeping bags sat around an upturned scooter helmet, and when Pip reached out for it the girls both said “no don’t touch the fire, it’s hot!”

Elma, as well as purloining my recently finished blanket, had her first day of Kindergarten  She would ordinarily have moved up just after her fourth birthday, but as she joined nursery late because we had to wait until there was space for her, she had an extra term and moved up to join Kitty this week.  I have never seen anyone as excited as she was on her first morning; we all went on the school run and she was literally quivering for more of the journey.  I wasn’t there to pick her up but at little lunch she’d sat between Kitty and one of Kitty’s dearest class friends and to all accounts she’d had a wonderful time and hadn’t been hugged by too many of Kit’s friends to make her not want to go back the next week.  She still only does three mornings each week, but this is where she’ll be in September.

And as for my Pip Squeak, he’s still Mama’s Best Pip, the cuddliest chaos that a Mama ever did see.  He loves that sunshine means outside, and outside means hockey and football and golf and cricket and digging in the mud, and even when it rains, that means puddles.

It’s been a good month, with the prospect of all sorts of excitement in the next few months, roll on May (and another of those bank holidays!).

My little family, in April:

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Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: March


Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine photo project, March 2017

I know I’m writing this with one more day of the month to go, but I’m going to jump out on a limb and say that March has been a lamb. We’ve had some utterly gorgeous days, that actually happened at the weekend when I was home to wriggle my toes in the grass and open all the doors and windows to let the sunshine in.  It reminds me how much I love the changing of the seasons; if our weather was constant it wouldn’t be half as much fun to hang the first laundry out on the line, or enjoy throwing the kids out in the garden to get properly muddy.

The biggest news this month is that we think we’ve maybe just possibly found a house to move to.  It’s still not quite tied down so we’re trying not to get over-excited or plan too far ahead, but if it all comes off as we intend it will be a beautiful house (eventually, it needs some work) and a home in pretty much exactly the spot we want.  Keep all your fingers crossed for me.

But house excitement aside, I think this month has been one of family.  I’ve been making an effort to reclaim my evenings from work, and to spend the weekends wallowing in family life and while there’s still a little part of me that can’t quite get over the “I should be working” feeling, the truth is that at long last we’re merely busy at work not firefighting and it’s been good to be at least trying to find a better balance.

This month my family grew, somewhat earlier than expected, with the arrival of my very teeny tiny nephew, and we also got to head north for a well planned day trip to surprise John’s mum on her birthday.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine photo project, March 2017

It was the most beautiful day; wall to wall sunshine, and far too hot for the clothes we’d left home in and the kids seem to be leaving a crumb trail of socks and jumpers all through the house.  They ran around the front garden and the back garden, played on bikes and with prams, and had a valiant effort at badminton.  John and I, reliving the summer holidays of our student days played for what felt like hours, required the borrowing of shorts and t-shirt, and left me with seriously achy arms the next day.  It was fun, and I must find a social badminton club somewhere to play with, as my school PE reports used to say, “enthusiasm but very little talent”.

These pictures are from that afternoon, and with the camera set up on a garden stool they tell all the story behind the finished photo.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine photo project, March 2017

I’ve no idea why Elma looks quite so umimpressed – that’s more headstand than I’ve ever managed.  Kitty at this point had gone wandering off, but came back with what she saw as an essential counterpoint to Elma’s badminton racquet and Pip’s mini rugby ball;

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine photo project, March 2017

A mandolin – but of course.

And then Elma came back, and Kitty was persuaded that mandolins are happier in houses, and the kids all piled on.

The final photo captures everything about the afternoon, and about us as our little five; silly and fun and full of love.

My little family, in March:

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine photo project, March 2017

The Me and Mine Project

Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: February


This February’s Me and Mine pictures are brought to you by the tale end of Storm Doris.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a family portrait project - February 2017

I actually managed to miss the entire thing; I left on the 5.47 train on Thursday morning headed north, arrived before the speed restrictions were in place on the trains, and then was in court from 9.30 to 5.30.  The court didn’t have any windows, and by the time we got out there was a little damp on the pavements and a light breeze rustling the trees.  Meanwhile back down south emails circulated my office to the effect that all trains had been cancelled going in and out of Birmingham, the Premier Inn next to our office was fully booked from early afternoon and several of my team had some adventurous journeys to get home.  Sat in my nice comfy hotel room I started to think it had been a rather well timed two day hearing.

At home it wasn’t too bad; the barn behind our house has lost a row of tiles, and a tarp blew down the hill and plastered itself to a few cars before making a bid for freedom, but most of the trees around us are still standing.

Friday was a lull but on Saturday and Sunday the wind and rain returned.  We caught a glimpse of a sunbeam and headed up to the windmill to capture a very windswept portrait of our family for February.  I know I’ve taken goodness knows how many shots of us all up at the windmill, and it will always be a favourite spot for photos, but it’s also quite hard to get a sense of the scale, and how proudly it stands on the peak of the hill so for this month all our photos are from lower down the slopes.  It also reduced our chances of getting blown away which was definitely a good thing.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a family portrait project - February 2017

Life this month has been busy as always; when February disappeared in no more than a moment I’m beginning to expect that this is just how life is at the moment.  I’ve been travelling a lot for work, and that’s going to keep going for this week at the very least, but we loved loved loved having half term together; time for the slow mornings and the big adventures both.  It felt very strange to go back to work and be without them, especially for Pip who was definitely discombobulated by the Mummy at home then Mummy goes to work and doesn’t even come home combination.  He was my little limpet at the weekend and I loved it, even if my biceps do feel like they had a serious workout.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a family portrait project - February 2017

I’m not going to tell them to say sausages next time – these are all expressions of great delight I promise!!

They got a week and a day thanks to a teacher training day so the first day back for Kitty is today and Elma tomorrow.  They’re both really excited to see their friends; Kitty has finally lost the tooth that was wobbly for ever so she has a whole new look to show off, and she spent Friday afternoon making a get well soon card for her friend who was too poorly for a playdate that I hope we will find in time to take in.

We’ve also got Kitty’s parent teacher meeting this afternoon, which I’m equal parts curious and nervous about.  To us it seems as if she’s settled in really well and is loving school, so I’ve got all my fingers crossed that the school thinks she has too.

So before we move into March, in February we have loved:

  • Half term! No school run (John), two days off (me) and their half term treat (the kids)
  • Our trip to the Chatsworth Farmyard;
  • Watching the carpet fitters lay our new lounge and stair carpets – if you’re two it’s the most exciting thing that’s happened in weeks, only closely ousting pavement chalk from top spot;
  • Adventures fuelled by white chocolate buttons;
  • Being woken up by a small boy two inches from your nose saying “Wake up! It morning Mummy!” and discovering that it is in fact half past seven.
  • Carpet picnics (on the old carpet!) and lazy pyjama Saturdays.

March looks likely to be similarly busy, especially this week when I’m in London two days out of five, so perhaps these are very apt photos as we continue to be blown through the year!

For now though it’s my little family, in a very blustery February:

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a family portrait project - February 2017

I’ve also just realised I was wearing the same outfit in January’s photo, I genuinely do own more clothes, I promise!!
The Me and Mine Project

Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: January


In centuries past February was considered an unlucky month (we’re talking Roman history here). It’s why the month is so short, you wouldn’t want any more unlucky days than you really had to put up with, and why leap days (also unlucky) got added into the mix too, but I am really looking forward to it being February tomorrow.  January has been a whirlwind; hurtling past us while we clutched for our balance.

It’s been a month of colds and bugs, work and school and hockey matches and birthday parties, and constantly tidying the house for viewers who complain about things they could have known from the photos, and I could swear it was only Christmas a week or so ago, especially as I only just unearthed my Christmas fruit cake (made in November, tidied away in December before a viewing).

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine 2017: January

The kids are doing their best; it must be very strange and puzzling to be constantly being asked to help tidy up, especially when all they want to do is play trains and spread their crayons all over the dinner table, but they’re trying hard to help, even when their efforts go wildly in the wrong direction.  Even if we don’t find a buyer right this moment, at least in February the near constant flow of viewings should slow down enough to give us all a break.

The girls have loved being back at school and nursery; they celebrated Kings Feast last Friday (a delayed Epiphany celebration) with beautiful crowns, a parade through the three kindergartens and nursery, and a feast of raspberries, blueberries and grapes.  Pip is the one under the weather at the moment; our poor wee boy has been happy only when curled up in someone’s arms since mid morning on Monday and hopefully he’ll shake off whatever’s getting him down. Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine 2017: January

I think when months are crazy busy it’s hard to look back and pull the highlights out of the endless flurry, but this month I’ve loved the brief quiet times we’ve had at home; making lemon cake the way my Grannie taught me, sitting on the floor playing trains with Pip while the girls fill up their colouring books, and no one to phone me, no need to record what I’m doing in 6 minute units, and no pressure to be pushing myself just that little bit harder and faster even when I know I’m already maxed out.

Last weekend John had a double header of hockey matches so on Sunday I took the children up to Birmingham for the Chinese New Year celebrations and even in the pouring rain it was brilliant. I shan’t give away too many spoilers because with a bit of luck and a following wind I’ll post about it later in the week, but dragons, lions, and balloon arches were never going to go down badly.

My pictures for this month came from Warwick; we love going to the park there and we love watching the ducks on the river, and the kids adore the playpark.  I don’t have that many photos this month; my camera battery died pretty early on (fail to prepare; prepare to fail and all!) and the light was fading, but I love the few that I did get, for all that at least one child is making a funny face in the pictures.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine 2017: January

We had no idea Pip was blowing raspberries until I got home and saw it close up!

My intention for Me and Mine for this year is the same as my intention for Siblings; I want to take pictures that I’m really proud of, and I want to be organised enough to have the time and the light in which to do it.  We’ll gloss over the fact that my camera battery died fairly early on in proceedings this time round (fail to prepare; prepare to fail) but I’m happy that even the few I took have all five of us in focus and even vaguely looking at the camera.  It’s a good start to what I am determined will be a wonderful year of family portraits.

My little family, in January:

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine 2017: January


The Me and Mine Project