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 Photography

Siblings 2017: June

15/06/2017

For the last set of Siblings photos from this house, from this county actually, there was only one place we could go.

I’ve been holding off on the windmill each month, knowing that only such an incredibly special spot would do to mark the end of an era in style.  Today is moving day 2, which means that when you read this we will have spent our last night in this house, had our last morning walk here, and probably be melting into a puddle while trying to work out what to throw into what box and what needs to go on the lorry and what’s coming with us.

It’s a funny feeling, sitting in a half empty house, and as the month has gone on and we’ve got nearer and nearer to moving date, I can see that it’s had an impact on my little trio.  They’ve all been pushing boundaries just that little bit further, trying to make sense of that very unsettled feeling and quite often tripping over each other’s feelings in the process.  On the face of it they’re all very excited about the move, and the tent phase of the whole palaver.  They’re looking forward to being nearer to school and their friends and seeing Bob the cat and camping and my aunt and uncles’ swimming pool, but at the same time I’ve been able to see the moment for each of them when it all became very real.

Kitty started to feel a little worried about the whole thing a couple of weeks ago, but for Pip and Elma it’s only really been this week, and for Pip, possibly only when he saw his Duplo being loaded onto the removal lorry.  We have kept some toys out for them, but obviously we can’t fit that many in a tent so some of them have had to go into storage, which seems very exciting at the time because the removal men let you walk up the loading ramp to see the box going in, but less exciting when you get to bedtime and realise that it’s gone.  I see tent Duplo in our future!

As we were packing up I asked them all what they loved about the house, and both girls mentioned their brother and sister; this is the house where their sibling relationship was forged, and it’s one of many memories that makes it hard to accept that we really are leaving.

But among the boundary testing and the worrying there have been moments of incredible sweetness and when we’ve quite literally had our hands full I’ve loved watching them band together to help each other out.  Kitty is a great big sister to both, but where her relationship with Elma is one of near equals, especially now they’re in the same class at school, with Pip it’s more a case of brotherly adoration.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings

He will follow where she leads without question, which isn’t always a brilliant idea, but I’ll take that for every time she runs to scoop him up if he topples over, or finds a way for him to join in their game of Swallows and Amazons or what Elma calls “Mums and Dads and Sisters” in which she gets to be Kitty, Kitty gets to be me and Pip gets to be a younger version of himself, and somehow they all love it.

As we walked up to the windmill under a still scorching sky they were hatching another game that seemed to involve saying “I’m going to work now” and then diving into the long grass so that they could only just be spotted – what do they think I do as a job?!

Ever since we first realised that there was a path up to the top, the windmill has been our happy place.  I’ve taken one and two and then all three along for impromptu picnics on so many sunny evenings, and I’m glad that for once the weather played along and chased the afternoon’s muggy grey clouds back for a perfect last visit.  We could have stayed there for hours, drinking in the sunshine and memorising every inch of the horizon, but real life means bedtimes and school runs and bringing the laundry in before the dew falls, and so with one last lingering look back, we headed home to tuck three tired little heads into bed and to let them dream of tomorrow and the next big adventure.

Two little sisters, and their brother, in June:

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings

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!

 



 

 

Family Handmade

Pink Petal {handmade}

02/06/2017

It’s the first Friday in June so “Happy Christmas!”. What do you mean, it hasn’t been Christmas for five months and 8 days? I hereby declare Friday 2nd June 2017 to be a knitterly sort of second chance Christmas (shortly to be followed by a third chance Christmas when I eventually finish Pip’s hoodie) because, thanks to a lovely hot sunny day that helped speed along the blocking, I have finally, finally finished Kitty’s Christmas cardigan.

In truth it stopped being Kitty’s Christmas cardigan a good week before Christmas when I realised that with the best will in the world there was no way that I could knit a 4ply cardigan in age 10 in the time remaining, even if I didn’t eat or sleep.  She got a skort instead which still fits and is much loved and ticked all the boxes for handmade by mama and handmade in an afternoon.

But I hadn’t forgotten her cardigan, and knowing that there were no more sizes if I held off too long and she shot up again, I cast on in the Spring and got to work.

The pattern is Petal, designed by Michelle Wang and from Brooklyn Tweed’s BT Kids collection. I love the patterns in that collection and I have my eye on Magnus, Atlas and Wyatt for Pip when he gets just a smidgen bigger (so probably this summer!).  It’s knit top down, which is perfect as being able to try it on as you go it a must with my every growing eldest daughter. It’s also a really clever pattern, because most of that cardigan is just a nice plain knitted rib.  Truly.  There’s a bit of increasing going on for the yoke, and then the leaf pattern adds some interest, but by the time you’ve separated for the sleeves, it’s rib with an incredibly clever sled stitch on every fourth row which does all the work of making those ring cables before another row of leaves and the finishing rib.  I tried to find a video on YouTube to link to but it brought up how to knit and cross stitch pictures of sleds which isn’t exactly what we’re looking for but basically you bring the third stitch from the end of the left hand needle over the other two like a sort of crazy backwards cast off, then k1 yo k1 and you’re done.  It’s true knitting magic and I loved learning something new and clever almost as much as I love the finished fabric.

It’s knit to the largest size in the pattern, no extra inches, no messing around and it fits with a little room to grow.

The yarn is special. This is Wollmeise, that came from the actual genuine Wollmeise shop in Germany last summer.  Kitty chose it with me; she wanted pink, I’d been looking for the perfect coral-rose for her for ages and here it was, Babe; probably named after the pig.  It’s a very gentle semi-solid, with just enough variation to give movement, and not so much that it looks like the washing machine marmalised it, and I suspect the depth of it just doesn’t quite come out on my camera, no matter how long I spend messing about in Lightroom so you’ll have to believe me.  As a fabric it knits up beautifully to show off all the cables and lace work, and the finished cardie is so soft and cosy that I’d be jealous if it weren’t for the fact that there’s also yarn in the bag for a cardigan for me.

And when I came to choose buttons, there, sat on the shelf, were tiny flowers; small enough to get through some fairly dinky buttonholes and a perfect colour match.  That, if anything, must be a sign of the Knitting Fates’ good graces.

From last week’s one sleeve to go, the bank holiday weekend saw one sleeve, two button bands and one collar, the buttons went on on Wednesday and then it had a little wash and block to open up all of the lace work and make it perfect.

It’s a big hit with Kitty; she’s been trying it on in all the different stages, but even when I’d put all the buttons on it wasn’t quite the same as the first time she tried on the finished finished version.  She’s promised faithfully not to leave it on the floor, and if that isn’t a sign of adoration I don’t know what is!

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

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 {the ordinary moments}

In which we have a date

28/05/2017

We exchanged contracts on our house this Thursday.  A week ago we were still batting back another silly question from our buyers, and then suddenly we got an email asking if we could complete by the end of the month.  Well no, that would be ridiculous, but in a flurry of phone calls and organising we went back with a date, and suddenly our days in this house are numbered to a little less than three weeks.

It’s very exciting, and very real, not least in the prospect of sorting out all of our things for packing.  We’re not actually moving into our new house yet.  The purchase is all still on track, it just had to sit around and wait, and wait, and wait again, and finally the letter the mortgage company needed arrived and we’re all systems go.  With the best will in the world, that’s not going to be in three weeks’ time, so we have a masterplan.  My lovely aunt lives a stone’s catapult from the *fingerscrossed* new house, and so while most of our stuff goes into storage, the five of us, Buckingham Palace (the tent*) and the important things in life are going to camp in her garden until we complete our purchase.

The kids are very very excited; they adore their auntie and uncle, and Bob the cat, and their swimming pool, and their strawberry fields! John and I are definitely looking forward to shorter school runs, a shorter and easier commute, and just a little bit, the simplicity of our camping life.  It’s not going to be exactly the same as our summer adventures, for one thing we’ll be staying put, and for another I’m still going to be working, but the truth is that when you have to boil your life down to what will fit in a tent, even a really big one, it’s a lot less than tends to build up in a house.  I suspect that we’ll take a bit more than we cram into our family car for travels, but only as much as we can fit in the other car.

So that’s the exciting bit, and we’re all looking forward to the house at the end of the journey too.  It has a compromise or two, and it’s a bit of a fixer upper, but they were compromises that weren’t on the really important things (garden, not too far from school or a train station) and it’s got some seriously beautiful bones.  Touch wood now because I can’t wait to show it to you or to start to get to grips with making it truly ours.

But at the same time, it’s starting to feel just a little bit too real.  We moved into this house 11 1/2 years ago.  It’s the house we moved into on an impossibly cold and foggy November day, when even the hottest curry that could be delivered couldn’t keep out the chill as we made trip after trip from our rented house with all of our things in the back of a van.  It’s the house we came home too as newlyweds, and the house that was a first home to each of our three children.  It holds so many memories and will always be precious.

We’re not just moving house though, we’re moving county, all the way over to the other side of the middle, and I think that lends the whole thing an air of standing on the edge of a precipice.  We’re more embedded here than perhaps I think we are, and there’ll be a good bit of finding our way around and making new friends before it feels as much like home as our little village here.

I went into town yesterday afternoon, and the thought struck me that this might be the last time I go into town living in this house, and while that’s not a big deal, and with John still playing hockey over here I can be back every other weekend all through the season if I want to be, it brought it home that there are going to be lots of lasts to come in the next few weeks.

As it turns out, I have already bought my last monthly season ticket.  The next one I buy will be a weekly, and then that will be it and my commute will be totally different all over again.

So while we pack up camping kit, and try to work out what needs to come with us, and remember to buy new air mattresses because three little trampolinists appear to have fatally wounded our one remaining one, I’ve got a definite plan to make sure that we cram in as many memories of our favourite places as we can possibly manage, before the day comes that we pack up and drive away to our next adventure.

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

*so named despite our original intention of calling it Wendy, when a German guy crawled out of his tiny take-it-up-a-mountain sized tent as we were putting it up on the shore of Walchensee and exclaimed “Ist Buckingham Palace”. Nicht ist Buckingham Palace but the name stuck!