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Me and Mine

Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: July

31/07/2017

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

 

Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: June

30/06/2017

It became abundantly clear, as we tried to set up for photos, wrassle Kitty into school mode, and keep on packing, just why we have never before tried to take our family photos by our old front door. It’s a really lousy spot for photos; unless your dream set up involves a drainpipe, a really pointy windowsill that you keep bumping your shoulder on, and enough orange brick to give everyone a charmingly oompa-loompa-like glow. Also the light is wrong, but as I never discovered a place in our old house where the light was right (except the studio, and that was a conservatory, so that’s cheating) that at least should not have been a surprise.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a monthly family portrait

I’m not quite sure why we’re half out of the frame either, I suspect the involvement of some small child between the camera set up and the pressing of the button but we are still all in the frame, and imperfect as they are, these are the photos that I wanted to capture to mark June in our Me and Mine year, and to mark the end of more than a decade of calling that our front door.

That was the last morning in our house; we owned it until mid-morning the next day, but by that Thursday evening we were all moved out of our house and our village and our county, and setting up a tent.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a monthly family portrait

It’s strange looking back at these photos. It’s only been a couple of weeks but it feels like a different life and I can’t imagine living there anymore, any more than I thought I could imagine it as someone else’s house in the weeks leading up to the move. It’s an inner confidence that even though we are living in a tent, and we still don’t have a completion date other than “as soon as possible”, moving has been the right decision.

It was a difficult sale, and to be honest one of both John and my highlights of the month was seeing the sale go through without any more hitches. That and watching the removal men lift the kids playhouse out of the garden and straight on the van all in one piece – I’ll show you the video soon, I promise.

Of the children it was only Kitty who was upset about leaving, and while she found it hard to say goodbye to the only place she’s ever known as home, she and her littler siblings have done really well with the whole upheaval.  There have been tears and moments when discombobulation won out over common sense (and that’s us as well as the kids) but I think they’re doing pretty well.

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a monthly family portrait

It doesn’t hurt that the move has brought them their much adored aunt and uncle, the strawberry fields, the swimming pool and Bob the cat, they’re nearer to school and spending no time at all on what Pip calls “the overtake motorway”.

And while they re-enact snippets of my childhood, John has made sure there’s a bit of his sneaking in as well, taking them for their first ever trip to the bowling to liven up a wet afternoon.  The girls enjoyed it and Pip was completely in his element – finally, finally he’d found a place where it was OK to throw balls inside!

I had planned to bookend this post with a picture of us in our current canvas home, but it’s England, and summer, which means that when it was sunny it was too hot to move, I only left the swimming pool under sufferance, and digging through a pile of things to find the camera and tripod wasn’t at all appealing, and now it’s raining.  But last weekend we went “housing” and drove south late on Friday night to spend the weekend with my Dad, and while we were there we went to visit Coleton Fishacre (otherwise known as my dream house and garden).  John had just run a half marathon, hence the “I’m shattered, let me go and have a cream tea and then a snooze in the car” expression but it’s a lovely memory of a weekend well spent.

My little family, finishing June as we mean to go on!

Space for the Butterflies - Me and Mine, a monthly family portrait

Now roll on July and the real dream home.

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Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: May

31/05/2017

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

30/04/2017

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:

The Me and Mine Project

Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: March

31/03/2017

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