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August 2016

Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip Siblings

Siblings 2016: August



This month my Siblings post is brought to you from the road (which also explains why it’s a bit late getting loaded because we had very dodgy phone reception at the last campsite). I started writing this sat on the tent field of our favourite Black Forest campsite, H next to me with Pip fast asleep on his back after a mammoth day’s walking, and Kitty and Elma are paddling in the stream. It’s one of those picture postcard moments that made us so keen to come back to this crazy adventure sort of holiday again.


So this month is my adventurous Siblings post, though the story it tells isn’t just about pretty backdrops (though the Black Forest has proved very good for those!), it’s about these three little people learning to be a full time three again.

It’s funny, as soon as school finished, the girls in particular were so excited to be back together again, they were practically counting down the days. And yet when it came to it they found they’d forgotten how to be together all of the time and all of the days.


Kitty is used to spending her days with other four and five year olds who understand the games she wants to play, get their shared references, and don’t mind playing assembly all day long, and Elma has learnt to step out of her sister’s shadow and has her own relationship with Pip in which she’s the big sister.  Learning how those two parts of themselves slot back together into our family as a whole has taken time and a fair few fights and grumpy moments.


Camping and travelling seems to have brought us peace; taking them away from the noise of real life, back to simplicity, and to each other.  Something that their brother is very please to see as he always seems slightly bemused by their strops, and then all too keen to copy them.

They’ve looked for fish in the stream that runs through the village, and found them, black against the green moss, climbed up onto the bike trails to look down from among the trees, and sat in camp drawing and all trying to colour in the same picture on a quiet rainy morning.


At Mummelsee they found a flower sculpture and the promise that if you can find the flower along the shores of the see you’ll be rewarded with special powers, and decided that hugging it was the next best thing.

And finally, and then I’m going to post this before we drive through another tunnel, my favourite of all of the pictures I have of the three of them, from a very rainy day in Stuttgart.  They all loved the water fountains (of which there are many), and even the pouring rain couldn’t tear them away from this one.

Two little sisters, and their brother too, in Germany, in August.


The Me and Mine Project

Do go and say hi to my lovely cohosts; Lucy at Dear Beautiful, Katie at Mummy Daddy Me, Amber at Goblin Child,  and Keri-Anne at Gingerlilly Tea; and to show us your sibling photos just link up below or come and play on Instagram under the #siblingsproject and tag @siblings_project_

Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip The 52 Project

33/52 {the 2016 portraits}


Linking up with Jodi with a portrait of each of my children once every week for 2016. All iPhone photos this week:


Kitty: taking a picture of your Daddy and me in front of a fountain. I love that you wanted to take pictures, I can’t wait to see how it turns out, and I do like that your pigeon chasing sister makes an appearance in the background.


Elma: it’s not just your Mama who had Le Crucet envy at the site of this monster – although I don’t think it would fit on our camp stove – or in the car for that matter.  I agree it would make a pretty good spag bol though!image

Pip: my little adventurer.  Why be carried when you could walk, or walk when you could run! You are loving being on holiday and having all of us together again, even though you are certain that you are the only one who should ever be cuddling your Mama.


Family Photography Pip

Pip Squeak and the new trousers


Like all of us, I enter competitions with much more hope than expectation, and quite often not even that much hope, it’s just for a bit of fun, which makes it all the lovelier on the very very rare occasion when I actually win.

I entered the Little Buttons Boutique giveaway because I happened to see it on Facebook on the way to work, and then got two lovely days, the first when there was a message to say I’d actually won, and the second when a little purple parcel plopped through the letterbox.20160809-DSC_0149

Just perfect for my little Pip Squeak; a pair of Blade & Rose leggings in rainbow stripes with a cloud on the bottom.

We’ve had Blade &Rose leggings before; I think I bought a couple of pairs in a sale one summer when Elma was little and she rocked pink cupcakes and zebra stripes until it was time to pass them down to Pip, who passed on the pink cupcakes, but looked very sweet as a zebra.  They’re more stretchy than ordinary jersey leggings, which is really great for getting tiny legs down them in the smaller sizes, and warm and cosy when they’re on.20160809-DSC_0126

I love leggings for little ones, they give them so much more room for manoeuvre than something more solid like jeans, so they can run and stretch and wriggle to their hearts content, and Pip has built up an impressive collection, though he’s now on the cusp of growing out of most of them (oh the calamity of having to choose some more!)20160809-DSC_0112

This pair are size 3-4, which is indeed the clothes size that my charming one year old is growing into; they’re not sizing small, if anything they’re on the more generous size, he’s just a giant.  They’re a little long in the leg for him right now but now so much as they look completely silly and by the depths of winter they’ll be the perfect fit.20160809-DSC_0098

The biggest challenge for really brightly coloured leggings is finding something to match on top, but with navy, turquoise, red and yellow stripes and green cuffs, there’s a lot to choose from.  A quick rifle through Pip’s drawers and we found that my favourite of this summer’s t-shirts was the perfect match.  It came as part of a set of three from Mothercare and I love it both for the colours and the sentiment.20160809-DSC_0090

Pip decided to put this new outfit to the test in his traditional manner; by checking whether you can play golfball/hockey/stick in it, and from the looks of things it passed with full marks.

Ian Poulter eat your heart out!20160809-DSC_0116

Joining Make do and Push for Funky Kid Friday

A Year in Books Books Elma Family Kitty

One for them and one for me: books for August


With all forms of recreational typing, knitting, sewing and crochet off limits while my wrist and elbow started to heal, I’ve had plenty of time for catching up on some reading this month, and so I have not one, or even two, but three books that I’ve read for me this month, which must be some sort of record.

but first, one for the little ones:

One for them: The Jolley-Rogers and the Monster Gold20160809-DSC_0235

“Matilda lived in Dull-on-Sea …”, and with that we were hooked on the Pirates Next Door, Jonny Duddle’s first picture book featuring the Jolly Rogers. It was a tiny Elma’s favourite read (I can’t believe how much she’s grown since those days of being a teeny tiny pirate in a laundry basket), and well loved by all of us.

So when we spotted a sequel in the bookshop we knew it was coming home with us. And what I really love is that the format has ‘aged up’; the toddlers who loved that picture book are hitting primary school and learning to read and so The Jolley-Rogers and the Monster’s Gold has grown up with them.  It’s a book that Kitty could definitely read with help, and still a great story for reading aloud; something that she’ll listen to now to fall in love with the story and then in the future pick up herself on a rainy afternoon, a perfect early addition to her ‘proper’ library.

One for me: The Lady’s Maid, Rosina Harrison


Eighty-five years before the Spice Girls re-invented girl power, Nancy Astor took charge of some literal girl power, becoming the first female MP to take her seat in the House of Commons, and in the process smashing beautifully through a glass ceiling.  She was charismatic, generous to a fault, viciously tempered and on occasion quite spectacularly rude and while my views differ too much for her to be one of my heroes exactly, I love her confidence that there was nothing she couldn’t do just because she was a woman.

She was the subject of my school project when I was eleven, and as with all people who’s names you have carefully inscribed in mock calligraphy at the top of pages of careful handwriting, my interest as always been piqued by any mention of her.

The Lady’s Maid was republished when Kitty was a baby, possibly cashing in on a bit of Downton Abbey fever; it’s the memoirs of Rosina Harrison who served as Lady Astor’s lady’s maid for most of her life.  It’s fascinating as an insight into the organisation of a very big household at that time and even more so as it explores the relationship between the two women.  They would never have described themselves as friends and yet they were probably much closer, and were certainly very well matched, to the point that family members used to sneak nearer to listen to them having some humdinger rows.

When I bought it I read it cover to cover through the night feeds over a couple of days and I was prompted into re-reading it this month by a bit of a Dowton Abbey binge watching of my own in the first few days post car prang when everything hurt, and that also led me to my second book for the month.

Up and Down Stairs is a history of the big country house servants from Tudor times to their near extinction in the modern day. Rose Harrison is quoted extensively on the section on the 20th century, along with a number of her fellow servants, and while it’s certainly interesting to see just how much nicer the residents of Downton are to their servants than their supposed contemporaries, I found myself most caught up in watching the way that the role of a servant evolved from it being a mark of status to have a visibly large household, to the Edwardians’ preference that their small army of staff be not seen and not heard.


And finally, and continuing with the vaguely Downton theme, another of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s pieces of adult fiction, The Making of a Marchioness.  This is beautifully written comfort fiction; Emily Fox-Seton, a young lady of 34 with no family and very limited income, earns her living by running errands for the aristocracy.  She is sweet and good natured and unknowingly lovely, and the perfect Cinderella to be swept off her feet by if not a prince, then at least a marquis (given the title, I’m certain this isn’t too much of a spoiler). But where Cinderella ends after the big society wedding, Emily has to settle into her new life, and deal with her husband’s deeply unpleasant heir presumptive. Yes it’s a classic Frances Hodgson Burnett plot point, but it’s beautifully done, and you know it’s a story where you’re going to enjoy the ending.


This month’s year in books I’ve been horribly disorganised so it’s just me for now but do go and check out Claire’s beautiful beautiful pictures of her time in Norway and Katie has a very excellent excuse for not having been reading or blogging so much of late so do go and say hi!

Family Kitty Photography Sponsored Post

Once upon a time there was a stationery addict


Space for the Butterflies - Basic Invite Baby Announcements

When I was a little girl, birthday party invitations meant choosing between the three options in the little stationers in town (pirate, princesses or the jungle).  Your mum would write them out neatly in her very best handwriting and send them with you to school, and then you’d watch and wait for the little tear off slips to be brought back to you over the course of the next week.  We all had the same, except for one girl.  A friend of her family was in the printing trade and her party invites were, to my four to eleven year old self, a thing of beauty and loveliness.  Little cards about the side of your hand, with tightly scalloped edges, and blank swirly printed script in the middle.  The centre of the card was white but the borders were ombre; each year a different colour.

They were in a different class to all of our invitations, and as having anything personalised is just about the most exciting thing ever when you’re in primary school, we were all wildly impressed. It’s funny what your brain remembers, I don’t remember much about the birthday parties, but I could make you a mock up of the invitation pretty quickly. Perhaps it’s because they stood out so much, or perhaps it’s because they sang to the embryo stationery addict in me; the one that was already collecting up beautiful writing paper and cards, and then having to force herself to use it because nothing ever truly seemed quite good enough an occasion, and hoarding and writing are not the same thing.

To that little girl, the idea that in the future you could design your own invitations or announcements from the colour of the envelope up, with more pretty templates in any colour you want than it’s possible to look at in a lunch hour, would have seemed a far off impossible dream.

Space for the Butterflies - Basic Invite Baby Shower invitation

It was in fact nothing short of miraculous even so recently as when I was expecting Kitty. A very dear friend and colleague was trying to talk me into having a baby shower, but I was a little reluctant; I’d never been to one before, I didn’t know whether it was too American or just too un-English, and it hung in the balance until on one lunch break we started exploring the possibility of a very beautiful invitation.

Twenty minutes later I was completely sold on the whole concept, including an invitation decorated with turquoise butterflies – what can I say, I’m nothing if not consistent.

And for the record, it was a truly lovely tea party with some of my very favourite people – I’m so very glad the invitation tempted me.

Space for the Butterflies - Basic Invite Baby Announcement

Since then I’ve had family Christmas cards with Kitty’s beaming face smiling out from underneath a hand knit candy striped hat; her beautiful first birthday invitations, with a photo that took a whole morning to persuade her to sit still and smile when there was so much mud in the garden to go and crawl into; and Elma’s first birthday invitations with added snowflakes and sparkle for my winter baby.

Pip, being the third baby, got neither personalised invitation nor party for his first birthday for which I can only hope that he will in time forgive me.  We’d just got back from travelling last summer and we decided we’d much rather spend the day as a family.  Perhaps having two older sisters dancing to your tune all day and satisfying your every wish counts as a party anyway.

Space for the Butterflies - Basic Invite Birthday Party Invitation

Our general rule has been to have a first birthday party and then not bother with birthday parties until they’re well into school, or at the very least until I can muster up enough courage to host an entire class, but I’m wondering whether Pip should get a party between now and then to make up.

So this is my question for the day – how suspicious would it be to host a party because you just happen to have seen the perfect invitation?

Thank you to Basic Invite who commissioned this article. If you are interested in collaborating on a post, please take a look at my Work With Me page