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Me and Mine

Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: September

30/09/2017

Oh this wonderful crazy family of mine.  What a wonderful crazy busy month we’ve had to match.  I thought we hadn’t done very much this month, just settled into life in the new house and the new back to school routine, but as soon as I stopped to start to think about it the more I realised just how much we’d been here there and everywhere in a near constant whirlwind.  It’s been a good sort of whirlwind though, the sort that softly breezes you along, and it’s meant that our month has been full of some of our favourite things; time spent together, and just the occasional adventure.

Some of them were near at hand, Pip’s Mummy morning on the day both his sisters were at school and Daddy was playing golf, and Kitty’s school expedition to harvest sweetcorn didn’t take us very far afield, and some were further flung (and I maintain it may actually be quicker to get to Majorca (for golf) than to Skipton (for Yarndale)).  What is certain is that they were both well worth the effort, and I suspect we both came back knowing that we’re going again next year.

 

On the house front we continue to unpack.  I fear I may be saying that for many many many more months to come; proof, not that it was ever needed, that we were right to have other people come to pack for us.  We’re trying to unpack gently; actually thinking about what we need rather than just bunging everything in a cupboard, but a random filing cabinet still stuck in the middle of my study says we’re not quite there yet.

And with September gone, we’re properly into autumn; the leaves are turning in the garden and the trains emerge from the mist each morning, audit’s hard not to start to get excited about what comes next, and what comes after that.  In the month to come we have half term; which seems crazy because we obviously only started term 30 seconds ago, and lots of plans to make, and still the occasional box to unpack.

John loves:

  • The golf trip to Majorca.
  • His brother and sister-in-law coming to visit.
  • Having built IKEA furniture for his studio, the actual building of it wasn’t so fun.
  • The start of the hockey season (and football and cricket on the telly)

Carie loves:

  • The trip to Yarndale
  • All the yarn that came home with her.
  • Seeing her first piece of published fiction appear in print
  • A long weekend pottering around with the children

Kitty loves:

  • Her birthday celebrations; many and ongoing
  • Learning to balance on her skateboard
  • the start of school.
  • rediscovering all her treasures as we put the craft cupboard to rights.

Elma loves:

  • getting to see her brother during school playtime.
  • being big enough to go hockey training.
  • magic tricks.
  • collecting huge bunches of autumn leaves.

Pip loves:

  • Mummy.
  • Climbing the Clent Hills.
  • Playing trains.
  • Waking up ridiculously early for his own private adventures while the rest of us are still asleep.

My little family, in September:

Family Me and Mine Photography

Me and Mine 2017: August

31/08/2017

In the weeks and years to come there’s no doubt that we will find a million and one beautiful places out and about in our new part of the world for our Me and Mine photos, but for this month there’s only one place that we could take them; home.

Yes, really honestly truly, we are home, in a house of our very own. Well ours and the mortgage company’s.

This month has been dominated by the big move.  We got the keys to the house at the very start of the month and then I dithered around my office finishing off everything that really had to be done, before scampering off early, keys clutched in my hand, trying very hard not to skip all the way to the train station, and that first evening we pottered around, trying to decide what we were going to try to do before the furniture arrived, and then giving up and just celebrating, popping the champagne to share with my aunt and uncle, and smiling so hard I thought my cheeks would hurt.

John spent the next 10 days filing, sanding, washing walls, undercoating, painting, stripping away lining paper, sticking bits of paper back on and generally acting like a decorating whirlwind, with help from family and friends, while I went to work from one station and came home to another.  I’ve bought precisely two houses now and both times the sale has completed while the head of my team at work is on holiday, which means that I can’t go on holiday until he’s back. I’d claim it’s a theme but it’s twice in thirteen years.

And then the furniture arrived, and we moved in for real.

 

I’ve been on holiday for the last week, and it’s mostly been spent unpacking boxes while listening to the children playing in the garden.  The bank holiday was just beautiful, and we’ve enjoyed every minute of our outdoor living, even on the days when it’s been too hot to eat anything but salad and sandwiches, and I start to glower at the Aga, and our boiler, whose dubious antiquity means that we can have hot water only if we accept that the central heating will also be on at the same time, and there’s no thermostat.

It’s been a month of upheaval and a month of settling down into some sort of a rhythm as we run up to the start of school next week, and there have been days that felt like magic and days that have been really hard work with boxes seeming never ending and the children unravelling all with uncertainty at each other, but it all evens out, and the moments that I treasure will always outweigh the ones where I just want to go and sit under my duvet and hide.

We had a wonderful day for Pip’s birthday; he was spoiled to bits by all who love him in the nicest possible way, and everyone has enjoyed playing with his new toys, particularly the little tractor, the big tractor and the farm.

In August…

John has loved

  • getting the painting finished before the furniture arrived.
  • going to the gym
  • playing golf
  • Game of Thrones (though not that we have to wait to 2019 for the next series)

Kitty has loved

  • having her bed back; even if we can’t find the bolts to make it.
  • play dates with one of her closest class friends.
  • her Mummy-Kitty date to the Festival of Quilts
  • the slide in the new garden.

Elma has loved:

  • listening to the Magical Faraway Tree on audiobook
  • still sleeping in a sleeping bag
  • going to the flower shop and choosing three enormous sunflowers for her room, even though we’ve kept them on the dinner table because we all love them so much.
  • that her class friend (little sister to Kitty’s friend) also came to play.  They’ll be the middle girls this year, no longer the littlest, and no longer with their big sisters so it will be fun to see them start to take the lead.

Pip has loved:

  • his tractor.
  • his other tractor.
  • running around the new garden at high speed.
  • being reunited with his wooden train set.

I have loved:

  • being reunited with electric light
  • having a good sort out as I unpack my craft room
  • having a craft room
  • a week and a bit’s holiday to unwind and unpack.

It’s been a memorable month, a definite milestone in the adventure of our family, and we can only watch and wait to see where the rollercoaster takes us next!

My family, in August.

 

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.

The Me and Mine Project

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: