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June 2015

Elma Family Kitty Me and Mine Photography Pip

Me and Mine 2015: June



Happy Me and Mine Day! It’s the end of the month so surely it should be time for another picture of my family in our garden?  I seriously considered making it the theme for this year, and with my newfound gardening obsession I can see an appeal in tracking my garden across a year as well as the family, but we like variety and so this month we’ve really switched it up with pictures of the family, in a garden.  Just not my garden.


I haven’t actually told you all about our adventures at the Eden Project, that postcard will arrive tomorrow, but it was absolutely wonderful, and everything I’d hoped it would be.

And as we had my Dad with us on holiday it was easy enough to hand over the camera for a few pictures with someone actually looking through the lens, rather than our usual hit and miss work with the remote trigger.

These pictures were taken on the tree top walk at the very very top edge of the Humid Tropics Biome.  If the name doesn’t give it away, it’s a rainforest. And it’s hot.  Very hot.  Which might explain why the children are all up in our arms or perched on H’s back.  They were hot and tired and tired anyway from three days of excitements and being away from home.  Kitty was curled into H, Elma I think was trying to snooze and was utterly determined that she was not going to look at the camera and it’s only my little Pip Squeak reaching out towards his Grandpa, possibly because he hopes that Grandpa will free him from the sling and let him out to prod and explore all of these exciting new shapes and smells.

And even though you can’t quite see everyone and the children are sleepy or just plain bemused, I love them for being I suppose semi-candid, and very much a snapshot of our family as it is right now.  We’ve got a great double buggy but when you add luggage for a family of five to the boot of our car, the buggy isn’t going to fit so so often we go out and about with slings, Pip in the Close and Elma, or even Kitty in the Ergo when they’re tired and want a ride. I have so many pictures of H wearing Elma with Kitty sat on his shoulders, knowing that Pip was snuggled up on my front grabbing at the camera strap while I took it, usually with both of us ankle deep in mud as we try to install a spirit of adventure in our little three!

It just seems a very fitting portrait of our little family, in June.



But I can’t go without showing you a couple of outtakes.  These were horribly over exposed because I forgot to alter my settings or shove the camera into auto before I handed it over but I’ve done my best to pull them back from the brink because they are truly wonderful photos.  Not for the composition, or the sharpness, and very clearly not for the exposure, simply because facing forwards we had absolutely no idea what Little Miss Kitty was doing with her face …!




A cheekier monkey you never did see!

dear beautiful

Elma Family Kitty Living Arrows Photography Pip

Living Arrows 2015: 26/52



Living Arrows: a little moment of the week to pause, savour and treasure:

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

This week we had our first “swim” in the splash pool.  Around here they fill them at half term but we’ve just been too busy in the last few weeks to venture out for a dip.  It wasn’t a very sunny day, the clouds blew in and out but the breeze was warm and it felt hot and sticky and oh so very tempting to at least sit with my feet in nice cool water so it was an easy yes when the girls asked if we could go.

And I’m so glad we did because for the first half hour we had it entirely to ourselves.  That’s a splash pool miracle if ever there was one; even if it is term time this is a popular park and the baby park was full of little ones bumbling and crawling around.  Kitty and Elma jumped straight in and with Pip on my back I waded after them.

The girls waded, sat and kicked spray high up in the air, Kitty crawled along under the water and pretended to be a sharked Elma did big splashy steps sending ripples running to all four corners. It was bliss to hot tired feet, and calmed and cooled all our spirits.

And from the wriggling on my back I think Pip would rather like to have had the chance to jump in too – next time sweetheart, next time!


Family Kitty Milestones

The next step


Space for the Butterflies - the next step

This week Kitty had her first settling in session at school. She was at nursery in the morning but when we picked her up after lunch she was fit to burst with excitement.  With her whole pre-school year dipping in and out of nursery as they all try out their new schools in her mind she’s been longing and waiting to go for EVER, but it was finally her turn.

The school invited her to a Teddy Bear’s picnic for the afternoon and as we walked along the road she held Dully (her bunny) in one hand.  To start off with we held Dully between us, swung her, told her about road safety (I suspect Warwick the Bear has been doing another round of the local preschools) but as we got nearer and nearer Dully was switched to the other side and a warm little hand held on to mine a little more tightly.

“Is Dully excited?” I asked.
“Yes! Very!” came the reply.
“Do you think she might be nervous too?”
“Maybe a little bit.”
“Are you going to help her make some teddy bear friends?”
“Yes, I think so.”

We stood at the school gate waiting for the teacher to come down and unlock, stood in a little circle of parents and grandparents chatting with a sort of nervous newness and rather quiet children holding very tightly to their teddies, while Kitty held even tighter to my hand.  But the gate was unlocked and the door opened and I signed to say the school could have her and off she ran with barely a backwards glance.

Space for the Butterflies - the next step

H was working from home and as the youngest two were having a snooze I picked her up by myself.  I was at least ten minutes early because after years of going almost everywhere with at least one child I have unrealistic expectations of how long it takes to go places, and when they were ready to come out she was lined up at the front, I could see her through the glass and she gave me a little wave before the door opened and she sprinted straight into my arms.

The next time she goes it will be September, and it will be for real.

Space for the Butterflies - the next step

And suddenly the momentousness of this change started to hit me.  Most of the time I don’t think of Kitty as being little; she’s tall and she’s my eldest and with two little siblings that rather emphasises the older/taller/more mature side, but stood there with her hand in mine my tall strong confident little girl suddenly shrank in my mind and was my baby all over again and I wondered how I was going to let her go.  She’s been in nursery since she was 10 months old because we both work, but she’s always been within the family more than she has been without, and now that will change.

I don’t know what she did for her hour at school.  Not really.  I know she got a name badge because she was still wearing it when we collected her and I heard about chocolate cupcakes “with flour on top”, a picnic blanket with Peppa Pig on that she didn’t sit on, and that they didn’t do any singing, but the rest is, and will remain a mystery.  And that’s how it should be.

This is the first big milestone where her story will start to part ways with mine. I so hope that she loves school, that she makes friends, that it’s a place that will nurture and support her, and that there she will spend a good chunk of her childhood, but my ability to influence that is, quite rightly, limited.  It is for her to forge her own path, as much as we provide the love and support behind.

I love that she had a great time, I loved walking home with her and spending even a smidgen of time one on one, and I really loved sneaking in a quick trip to the play park on the way home but when it comes to September I think I’ll be with Dully, equal parts nervous and excited.



Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip The 52 Project

26/52 {The 52 Project}


Linking up with Jodi with a portrait of each of my children once every week for 2015.

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 Project

Kitty: No watermelon is ever going to smile as broadly as you do.  This was taken at supper after your first session at school and it was lovely to see you happy and confident.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/80, f/2.8, ISO 100)

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 Project

Elma: Our first trip to the splash pool this year.  As we were running around the house getting bathing costumes and towels ready you came running after me to make sure I packed your swimsuit “with the pink handles”.  I can remember your sister playing in this pool in that cozzie and it seems like it was yesterday.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/640, f/4 , ISO 100)

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 Project

Pip: Oh that cheeky grim.  That means that any second now you’re going to high tail it to the wall and sit there on all fours rocking back and forth while I hold onto you and wonder whether I can get a little baby pen for the garden so you can explore in peace.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/500, f/4, ISO 100)

I really can’t believe I’m half way through this project already, it sounds so trite to say so but they’ve all three grown so much while I wasn’t looking, especially Pip – he just looks so little here now looking back and at the time we thought he was looking ever so grown up!


Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip

Postcard from Fistral Beach



Fistral Beach is quite simply, stunning.  It’s a long straight sandy stretch reaching from Pentire at the south west end to the tale end of Newquay proper at the northerly end and if you stand with your ankles in the surf and stare straight out to the west the next land you’ll see is America. Well possibly Canada but certainly that neck of the woods.  It is the UK’s most famous surf beach and yet for all that it hasn’t been spoiled.  Coming from the south coast where we rate beaches by how difficult they are to get to and how likely you are to find anyone else there, it was lovely to find that apart from a little surf shop on one end and a little cluster of surf shops on the other end, there was nothing else to take away from the joy of the beach, and 750 metres of sand in the middle backed by rolling sand dunes that let onto the golf course on the top of the hill.

As we walked down the hill in the morning we could see the waves rolling in but as the tide came up to the high watermark the surf died down so we made camp, remembered just how chilly life can be on a beach in a northerly wind especially when it’s sandblasting your calves, and hightailed it off to the surf shop to hire a windbreak so we could enjoy the sunshine properly – well that and the built in comedy of watching the RNLI courses run through their paces on the beach in front of us.


The girls set to in building a giant boat sandcastle with Grandpa (his speciality) and christened HMS Surf by Kitty.


Definitely shades of my own childhood, I remember making so many boats, all with a bridge big enough to use a spade for the steering wheel, a good bow and lots of seats in between.  Where Fistral Beach really came up trumps was when Kitty and I set off for the tide line to find shells to decorate with and filled a little pink bucket in next to no time and the whole boat was decked with white polka dots.  Where it fell down a little was the quality of the sand; above the watermark it was too dry, and if we’d tried lower down it would have been too wet.  Very Goldilocks.  But whilst the finished craft was possibly the most structurally unsound boat on the beach that day, the girls did enjoy taking trips down to the water and back to fill up a bucket, carry it lovingly back up, and try to pour it over the sand to wet it without washing it away.


And all the while Pip entertained himself with tasty fistfuls of sand.  In days gone past the girls have both done the hand-sand-mouth manoeuvre, make the most unimpressed and disgusted face ever seen on one so small and never tried it again.  Pip still made the face, but then went straight back for another handful.  Distracting him from eating the entire beach became a Herculean task, and was inevitably only partly successful.  Let’s just say we had some interesting nappies when we got home!



And as the tide started to ebb the surf came back and H and I took the girls off to hire wetsuits and a couple of boogie boards.

And that’s where my photos take a bit of a break.  Because given that it was early June and the sea wasn’t that warm, the surf shop were hiring out winter wetsuits.  Full length, thick, tight.  Getting into them was possibly the funniest thing I have ever tried to do.  For a while I was waddling around like a penguin because I just couldn’t get the neoprene to go any further up my legs, even though my arms were in and the zip done up.  H seemed to manage a little better and before too long we were hitting the waves, with Grandpa left in charge of all three little ones.  From watching the sections of the beach with full board surfers it did look like a lot of fun but we both went for boogie boards mostly because we knew we couldn’t leave the children too long, and we’d get more surfing this way.  And actually it was brilliant.  The wetsuits were the best decision ever, even though I went swimming in the sea in South Devon in just a cozzie the sea has not warmed up in June and it was definitely a quick dip.  With wetsuits on we genuinely didn’t feel we were getting wet for the first 10 minutes, and by the time the water had soaked through we were already warm, it meant we could stay in long enough to remember how best to catch a wave, and oh how I love that feeling when the water catches you and flings you forward.

Dad braved the waves with wooden board and just bathers to show us all how it ought to be done, and then while I reassured Pip that I hadn’t disappeared forever, H took Kitty for a go while Elma took her Grandpa off to jump in every single tide puddle she could find.  I’m told she found lots and it would be hard to say who had the more fun of the pair of them.

But putting wetsuits on and off is tiring work, to say nothing of the surfing in between so we packed up and headed to the north end in search of somewhere a bit more sheltered and a promised ice cream.

Up on the top level, with big windows set in a swoop looking out over the bay we found Rick Stein’s Fistral Beach Canteen.  It had amazing ice cream, sorbet, piping hot chip butties and a very good treacle tart and we sat at a big table while we watched the surf build and the wind skit across the waves, while the salt dried on my skin, our smiles grew ever wider, and we mentally reversed our ideas about the merits of restaurants on beaches!

What more could you want from a surfing day.


PS – Proof of a little south coast swimming before breakfast!

The Pentire Peninsula: Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

You can read about the first part of our adventure in A Postcard from the Pentire Peninsula        

Ok this really is it. I definitely promise that this is the very last time I will ask, but if you’ve been utterly immune to my entreaties so far and yet you do still intent to vote in the MADs awards, please (a) vote now here, it closes today and (b) vote for Space for the Butterflies for Best Baby Blog – thank you!