Monthly Archives

June 2013

Elma Family Kitty Photography

Me and Mine: a family portrait for June


All it took was one little blog post. One little blog post called Me and Mine. The idea is simple, post a family portrait once a month. But it wasn’t until I started flipping through the thousands of photos on my hard drive looking for a shot to join in that I realised how few pictures of the four of us I actually have. I’ve got pictures taken on the beach last September (H, Kitty, me and the bump that became Elma), pictures of the new foursome plus Grandpa taken in December, and pictures of two sisters and their families taken to celebrate my nephew’s arrival in April.

And that’s it. The rest of the folders have shots of Kitty, Elma, Kitty and Elma, a few with H, and an even slighter smattering with me in on one of those rare occasions when I hand the camera off to someone else and they manage to get us in focus.

I know that, assuming I work out how to back up WordPress, the girls will always have my words to tell our story, but I don’t want to write myself out of the pictures either. I love that if I consciously focus on taking at least one portrait of all of us each month we’ll be able to look back and see the gradual changes, the subtle shifting of baby to toddler and toddler to little girl, and maybe eventually little girl to young woman.

The everyday ordinary tells so much more of the story than a photo taken to mark a special occasion or a once a year (Christmas, I’m looking at you), although there’s no chance that the camera isn’t coming out then either. It might seem a little strange to start now, after all the very talented group of Mummies who dreamt this up are half way through their year, but there’s a strong element of “if you don’t start now, when are you going to start?”, and also, it’s June.

June, our birthday month, the start of our year of being 33. So here’s my commitment to the plan; a family photo each month for our year of 33. And on the basis that if you do things 10 times it becomes a habit, it should be second nature by March.

So with all that in mind, when we packed bathers, quilts and chocolate biscuits for an afternoon at the park earlier this week, I added the remote trigger to my camera bag, and Kitty’s blue stripy sandcastle bucket as a stand in tripod.

This is my favourite,

Me and Mine; June

Kitty’s beautiful smile, me in a scruffy old t-shirt, Elma not quite sure what to make of all the giggly goings on around her, and H doting on his girls. I think that pretty much sums up June in a nutshell.

But I couldn’t not post these:

me and mine June

June family portrait

Only time will tell whether July will make us any more adult; on the current evidence advancing years appear to be having no impact whatsoever!

dear beautiful
Birthdays Exploring Family

When in London


While Elma and I soaked up BritMums day 2, H and Kitty toured London, taking in the London Aquarium and all the singing and dancing a little girl could want at the Trafalgar Square extravaganza before ending up back at the hotel for a desperately needed nap.

Brick Lane

And on Sunday morning, before heading home, we loaded up and set off for Brick Lane for H to have a little birthday spree in an art materials warehouse. I’m not a painter, but even as a mere mortal I thought it was amazing; aisle upon aisle of beautiful colours, all ever so slightly different and in every medium you could ask for; racks of canvases, piles of stretcher bars and all along one wall, giant rolls of cotton duck, linen, jute and anything else you could ever think of wanting to paint on. It’s H’s equivalent of a really good yarn shop.

Brick Lane art

I’d been pretty parsimonious with the packing but even so, bits and bobs for four people, plus BritMums goodie bags adds up to a decent load. Every inch of space in that buggy basket had a little something squirreled away into it, all tucked in with my waterproof and Elma’s baby quilt to stop it escaping, the nappy bag strained at the handlebar and my Warner Bros bag, carrying the vital cargo of Cinderella, half a bunch of bananas and a big green and yellow dinosaur, was slung from the cross bar from where it handily impeded the foot brake.

But we like a challenge, and I always did enjoy Tetris. So of course naturally we added metre long stretcher bars, canvas and a handful of paints.

I have no idea quite where we found that extra space, but you can start to see why people were quite keen to get out of our way. I mean I know we call it the chariot, and I know London crowds can be a bit much some times, but I wasn’t actually planning on mounting shin height spears as a solution.

It totally worked though.

And I don’t think we hit anyone!

Brick Lane itself is a real treat from a photography perspective. When we arrived it was still quite early and only the pervading smell of spices gave a clue as to what could emerge from behind those shutters. But they’re worth seeing in themselves; there’s street art everywhere, much of it really beautifully done on spare walls.

Brick Lane art

Brick Lane art


And as we made our way out of the art warehouse we found it had started to come to life. The shops and stalls were open, the masses were gathering and the Truman Brewery markets were in full swing in a riot of colour and enticing smells.

Brick Lane

Brick Lane

Brick Lane


We resisted manfully until we found this little ice-cream cart,

Brick Lane ice cream

and when I read the list of flavours I knew that if they even tasted half as good as they sounded we were sunk:

Salted Caramel

Basil and Chili

Dark Chocolate Sorbet


Honey and Rosemary


Kitty chose a scoop of Salted Caramel and the lovely guy running the cart was sweet enough to replace it when it met the gutter rather sooner than its tiny owner had intended, and I devoted my attention to a scoop of Pistachio nestling on a scoop of Honey and Rosemary.

Brick Lane ice cream

The first was the most pistachioey pistachio gelato I’ve tasted; no food colouring here, this is the colour of a gazillion nuts in each scoop. And then to follow, creamy sweetness with a little spike of rosemary to balance out the honey.

Mmm, ice cream heaven; the perfect note on which to end a great weekend.

Baking Birthdays Elma Family Kitty

Happy Birthday to us!


I’m usually a stickler for rigorous adherence to the proper date for important celebrations. Christmas presents aren’t to be opened a minute before 25th December and birthdays should be a proper surprise on the day itself; although the cards and decorations can stay up for weeks. But every rule has its exception and I find that mine, unsurprisingly, relates to cake.

Raspberry Mascarpone layer cake, birthday cake

More specifically, my birthday cake. A triple layer raspberry mascarpone filled almond sponge with pale pink icing and a smattering of raspberries on top was not going to make it to London intact, not even if baking paper, tinfoil, bubble wrap and a sturdy cake tin all stood guard.

So we had birthday dinner on Thursday night, a full 15 hours before I turned a year older, but the cake, the cake was good!

Raspberry Mascarpone layer cake, birthday cake

And on Friday morning we opened a few cards and fled rapidly in our different directions. Kitty and H caught the train to join us on Friday evening and we all met up at our hotel to open birthday cards and have a little duvet picnic before two exhausted little girls were tucked up and put to bed.

Elma asleep

And right on cue the cavalry arrived, well to be precise, the Honourable Artillery Company.

It’s very reassuring in these turbulent times to see that an artillery company in the British army can put on a cracking display of explosions, and from our window we had a grandstand moonlit view of the fireworks with the lights of the Shard glowing away in the background.






So that’s how we finished our thirty-third birthday, our fourteenth spent together, sat by the window of a room on the Premier Inn’s eighth floor, in a little puddle of moonlight, drinking a cool beer (H) and eating Waitrose salted caramel chocolate cookies (that would be me), as our beautiful daughters sighed and dreamed, and dreamed again, talking over the minutiae of our every day; work, parenting, the girls, H’s art, my knitting. It wasn’t flashy, and apart from not having to do the washing up, it wasn’t even that different to any other evening (although it was nice not to have to wash up, don’t get me wrong), but it was quietly lovely, and the cookies were excellent.

Family Kitty

When Kitty met Raarghly (and Topsy Turvy)



Up until this weekend Kitty had never to my knowledge encountered Moshi Monsters.  Mickey and Minnie, Winnie the Pooh or the Disney Princesses? Yes, yes, and oh so yes (we realised on Sunday that the extremely effective use of a Princess sticker album as a reward chart means that both H and I can identify each princess by eyes alone).  But Moshi Monsters? She’s a little young to be their target audience, and as the packaging isn’t pink and purple it won’t have drawn her eye in the supermarket.

We’re also pretty careful about what marketing she’s exposed to; if she’s going to watch a little telly it’s usually something pre-recorded or CBeebies, and the ad breaks in Sky’s cricket coverage isn’t exactly filled to the gunwales with plugs for pre-schoolers.  It’s not all for naught (or if it is, please leave me my innocence for a little while longer), and I remain convinced that protecting tiny girls from as much advertising as I can is the way to go, at least until they’re old enough to have a discussion about persuasion and peer pressure.

But when it comes to my daughter it turns out that some things just have innate toddler appeal.

As the contents of my BritMums goodie bags spilled out over the floor of our hotel room on Saturday night, a little gold foil packet slid out of an Argos bag and shimmied across the floor to come to rest by H’s feet.

He peeled open the packet, tipped two tiny plastic figures into his palm and turned to me,

“To be honest, they look a bit rubbish.”

But as he spoke, a small warm chocolate smeared hand shot out from a rapidly advancing toddler and swiftly scooped up both into a protective embrace.  And as she looked at Topsy Turvy and Raarghly* with what can only be described as pure adoration she turned to H with a little frown;

“I love rubbish.  It’s so coot!”

We’re doomed.

* And yes, I did have to google to check the spelling.