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Siblings 2018: January


Fortified by sausage sandwiches, three intrepid explorers, bobble-hat and welly booted, set forth up the hill.  We’d been dropped off abandoned into the wilderness by John on his way to hockey, with a plan to fuel up and head out on a long walk.  Hill walking has always been one of my great loves, and I know that if I’m ever going to be able to take the children to do some serious exploring of all of my favourite bits of the UK, we need to build up the mileage gently.  We planned a walk that I’ve been wanting to try since we first moved here, we promised them sandwiches and “em-rats” (chocolate buttons doled out two at a time at key points or when morale seems low), that it was downhill all the way (nearly true), and that it would be good practice for climbing Kanchenjunga (the one that looks remarkably like the Old Man of Coniston – Arthur Ransome fans will know why) and off we set.

That the three miles took just shy of two hours is no surprise, particularly given the need to hoick Pip out of the squelchiest of squashy mud at regular intervals, but what was lovely to see was how much they supported each other and looked out for each other all along the path.  With the Christmas hibernation and just daily life in the winter, it’s all so easy to find that we’ve spent too much time indoors and they’ve spent more time in close quarters than is really a good idea for any of them, and I’ll admit that when there are weeks where they’re really pushing each other’s buttons, it’s just so lovely to be reminded that it isn’t really them; it’s more of a situational overlay, and nothing that big skies, pink cheeks and a handful of chocolate buttons can’t blow away.

With the end of the school holidays, and the start of a bit of time and space for all three of them, they’ve started playing together more and more when they are home.  The current game seems to involve Pip being a puppy – admittedly an upgrade for the girls on their previous version, a remote control car of John’s, although the remote control car never woke me up in the morning by licking my cheek so I’m in two minds as to whether all this make believe is entirely a good thing; maybe if he’d just stop licking me!!

Up at the top of the hill all of our views had disappeared behind low grey cloud that sucked the light out of the end of the afternoon, and when we headed down into the trees and lost sight of any other people it felt as if we were truly out in the wilderness and when we made it back into the land of traffic and street lights, our backpacks and muddier then muddy boots felt very oddly out of place.


At last four tired pairs of feet finally made it back home, abandoning great clods of the hills all the way down the hall, and we tucked around the table for hot squash and biscuits; three little rosy tired faces curling up around their mugs, and I thought back to last January and how our afternoon would have felt so out of reach as to be laughable and yet here we are; two little sisters and their brother too, in January.

There’s been a little bit of a switch up to Siblings this year and now the linky is just going to be over with Lucy at Dear Beautiful, so do go and see what her little three have been up to and link up and I’ll see you there!

Family Siblings

Siblings 2017: December


When I was little I longed for winters that was sharply cold, where every cloud meant snow and the greens faded under a blanket of soft white that lasted for weeks.  I lived in Devon, on the coast, it was a tad unrealistic, though it did hail a lot one Easter that we could almost have counted it as snow.  When I moved about as far away from the sea as you can get I thought we’d get more snow and in truth we’ve had a few good dustings over the years, but nothing, nothing in my whole life has been as snowy as the last weekend.

On Friday morning when I got up the world was the dark black of winter sky and cold wet ground.  I peered out of the windows hoping to convince myself that the stripes in the variegated ivy at the bottom of the path were really tiny clusters of snowflakes but even my snow optimism can only go so far, and I tucked myself up in the studio to get on with the day’s work.  When we opened the curtains an hour and a bit later the world was white.  The cars were frosted with a thick coating, the grass had vanished, the bones of the trees had started to be revealed with sharp white highlights and the traffic on our road had all but stopped moving.

The last time my three saw proper snow they were on top of a Swiss mountain, and it was August.  They just couldn’t get into their coats and hats and wellies fast enough and I’m not ashamed to say that breakfast that day was a picnic in the garden.  No one wanted to come inside, not when it was snowing harder every moment.  All through that day it snowed and we smiled, noses pressed to the windows, then the sun would come out and I’d worry and will the snow to stay, desperately hoping that it would still be around to play with in the afternoon and when the three of them got back from school I’m not sure they spent a moment inside.

The body of the snowman was made before breakfast, and after lunch they rolled and rolled him around the front garden to pick up all of the morning’s snowfall until we could see the grass again, then made his head and raided the veggie box and the barbeque for eyes and a nose.


He was their pride and joy, and Elma was gutted yesterday when she realised that he’d melted.

Is it a mark of being British, of having no confidence that the snow that was there then would still be here later that we’d saved the back garden snow for the afternoon, and so when they’d used up all of the front garden snow on Mr Snowman, they went to explore the rest.

Our garden is basically flat but there’s one little slope where the garden has been landscaped up and away from the level, where in the summer a gentle grassy path will take you up to an arbor underneath the apple trees.  In greener days Pip uses it as a bike run, pushing off at the top and freewheeling all the way to the bottom lawn and now it proved the perfect spot for some very gentle tobogganing.  It’s a short run, but it gave all three of them the chance to feel what real sledging might be like.

By the time I finished work it was dark, but Pip and Elma were still game to be out and about in the garden; the snow was all but gone underfoot, scooped up into sculptures and snow runs and bundled aboard sledges to be dragged around the garden – as well as one tell tale snowy smudge mere inches away from the kitchen window.  It was perfect and as we tucked ourselves into the house on Friday night I thought how lucky we’d been to have a proper snow day.


That’s the second mark of being British – even then we didn’t really believe the forecast for Sunday.

But Sunday was when the magic happened.  This time the world was muffled in white; the snow had covered the road and the cars and the snowman and everything under a thick blanket.  Our sledges, left in the middle of the lawn the night before, were barely visible lumps and the snow just kept on falling.

A friendly tractor ploughed a single pathway down the middle of our road but the tarmac was barely visible before the white whirl started to fill it in again.  We postponed Elma’s birthday party and made plans to spend the day in our own snowy bubble.  It was perfect.

Eight inches of snow fell that Sunday, even if they’ve all melted away now, and in the afternoon we went sledging down the road just outside our house, all five of us flying down the hill and then climbing back up to do it all over again.  Just for a moment, it was the winter of my dreams, and Kitty’s and Pip’s and especially Elma’s.  Elma’s one true birthday wish was for there to be snow and she just couldn’t believe that it had come true.  Early on Sunday morning John found her standing behind her curtains, staring out into the garden, willing the snow to fall, and it clearly heard her call.


Kitty wasn’t far behind her, and it was wonderful to see how confident she has become in these last few months; jumping on board her sledge and pushing off downhill; her only complaint was that she struggled to steer, a far cry from the little girl who would have been nervous about getting on in the first place.

And as for my Pip Squeak, where there was snow he wanted to roll in it and jump in it and generally just be outside in it until his gloves were sodden and the snow trickled down into his boots, and even then he’d take some persuading to come back inside and warm up.  Pip played in the snow right to the very end, when wind and warmth turned it all back into rain, and for a first real experience of a proper snow day, I think it’s going to take some topping!

Two little girls, and their brother too, in the snow in December

(because what else do you do with snow but taste it!)

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, and Katie at Mummy Daddy Me. 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 Siblings

Siblings 2017: November


If I told you that I bribed the children for these photos with lemon drizzle cake you might be forgiven for thinking that the three of them had inhaled half the loaf.  Believe me, my friends, believe me, when I tell you that that had had not a tiniest taste of the lemony sugar crystals that drift across the top, not the slightest scent of damp sponge nor heard the tiniest crinkle of its cellophane prison.  They don’t need sugar to spend Sunday afternoon rugby tackling each other over the front lawn, they simply need to be back together.

Their separation had been neither lengthy nor without purpose; Kitty and I spent most of Sunday at a birthday party for one of her dearest class friends, heading off mid morning leaving John with the little two, a radiator to remove from the wall and two large bags of plaster.  After having only each other for company, both Elma and Pip were utterly delighted to have their big sister back in the fold, and chose to demonstrate this in time honoured tradition by alternately trying to push her over, and smothering her in adoring hugs.  She in return spent most of the time trying to get them both in head locks for the photos as her best idea as to how to make them stay still long enough to be in focus.  It’s love, pure and simple.

As we went back to school for the second half of term at the beginning of the month it’s been really interesting to see how this school year, when all three are in separate classes, has shown up in their individual development and in their relationships as a little trio.  I always think of the bonds between them as being somehow elastic, a line between Kitty and Elma and a line between Elma and Pip with one big band keeping the three of them roughly together.  At any given time, one of the bonds will be stretched as one or two pull away from the rest, and one of the bonds will be slack as they become closer together despite the age difference, and no matter where there’s tension, it all seems to even out in the long run.

Sometimes the stretch will be between Pip and the sisters he calls “m’girls”, and it was very visible last summer when they were in the same class at school and Pip was still the little baby at home with Daddy; they had a shared vocabulary of songs and experience, and were less interested in involving Pip the destructive in some of their make believe, for somewhat understandable toddler tornado reasons.

Right now the stretch is between Kitty and the littler ones; she has thrown herself into school life even more so than last year and is just soaking up every scrap of information she can lay her hands on.  A lot of her learning is through singing and reciting verse (with actions) and she got beautifully peeved with me the other night because I got stuck reciting the last section of Skimbleshanks (from memory, in the dark) when to her mind a poem is something you say a couple of times in class and then you’ve got it (Mummy’s brain holds far more useless information than yours sweetheart, there’s less space available for railway themed poetry).  I love hearing her singing around the house or trying to test my entirely non-existent German.  If it’s got a bit of a latin root then I can have an educated guess but “curtains” and “chalk” were entirely beyond me.

Last week saw our first lantern parade (we missed last year’s because it was too far to travel) and it was so sweet to see her off with her class and all their gorgeous papier ache lanterns, right in the thick it, while Pip and Elma stayed back with us to wield paper box lanterns and admire the tea lights glowing through their painting, and sniff the paraffin burning in my vintage hurricane.  Kitty’s class will be starting to gear up to their end of term festival soon and I will move heaven, earth and meetings to be there to see what thriving really looks like.

And with that stretch, the slack has fallen between Elma and Pip; with only 20 months between them, once Pip left his baby days behind him, the age gaps was only going to close, and at quite some speed.  Pip has caught up, and while Elma is still learning and growing and changing every day, she isn’t doing it so speedily that she’s dashing away from him again. They’re pretty much the same size, though Pip weighs more, borrow each other’s clothes and spend half the time considering their wellies to be entirely interchangeable and the other half protesting loudly if you present them with the wrong ones.

Next year they’ll be in the same class and I can see them playing together in class far more than Kitty and Elma ever really did.  In the last week Pip has spend a morning in Elma’s class (and looked pleased as punch at being so grown up) and Elma has spend a morning with Pip, just because they wanted to be with each other.  They’re a contented little pair and without Kitty in the picture they treat each other as equals which is both adorable and on occasion leads to some pretty impressive falling out.  But after all, isn’t that what being a sibling is all about.

Two little sisters, and their brother too, in November:

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, and Katie at Mummy Daddy Me. Our fearless leader, Lucy at Dear Beautiful, has been laid up poorly so you might want to pop back later in the week for her post but in the meantime go here to see her latest big news.  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 Siblings

Siblings 2017: October


It doesn’t feel like October does it? Around here it’s not just that yet another month has scampered away without so much as a backward glance, as a climbing thermometer that’s seen the first day of half term significantly warmer than most of our August.  Having just gone digging through boxes of clothes for the long sleeves and the wooly jumpers, we’ve gone piling back through looking for the shorts and t-shirts that I was certain I’d put away for this year.  Last month two of my three were wearing coats and the other a thick cardigan and wind blown pink cheeks.  And now look at them.

You’d be forgiven for thinking we’d jumped a few months backwards, both for the summer clothes and the fact that these pictures came from an afternoon expedition to the farm, to see my aunt and uncle and catch up on all of their news, and then to pick some veggies for supper.  Despite our long stay while we waited for this house to complete, I never did do a Siblings post from the fields; June was the last post from our old house, July a trip to our old cricket club, and by August we’d just moved in.

Topsy turvy though it might be, I’m glad to include them in this year’s set of twelve because it is without a doubt one of our happy places; and one of many reasons why our crazy stop gap house plans worked so incredibly well.


Today we needed potatoes and they made a concerted bid for beans and kale – and when I cook it they genuinely will eat it.  But then these are the children that will make sneaky inroads on a dish of cooked carrots and fight to the teeth over the last piece of broccoli in the bowl.  I’d love to claim that it’s the result of some sort of superior parenting but when they wolfed down a bowl of kale at the end of August no one was more surprised than me.  If I were to get evangelical about one thing though, I’d have to stay that farm fresh veggies are so far removed from anything that’s ever touched a piece of plastic that they shouldn’t really be classed as the same thing, and when veggies taste as good as they possibly can they’re just about irresistible.

All three are off school for the next two weeks and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  Kitty has been ferociously tired as we reached the end of the week, and in need of serious cosseting, as early nights as we can get away with, and just a bit of time to stop and let her mind catch up with itself.  She has adored the first half of term, is so happy she’d go to school seven days a week in a heartbeat, but I think she is more than ready to have a couple of weeks of just pottering around at home.  We have very minimal plans for the holiday, mostly because I used up all of my holiday allowance for the year moving house, and I think it will do her the power of good.

Elma and Pip both missed the last day of term, Pip because he’d had a slight temperature and a grouchy cold, and Elma, well Elma’s motto for life is “go big or go home” so she had to one-up us all.  After a horrible Tuesday into Wednesday night, when she was really struggling with a horrible cough, I asked John to take her to the doctors because everything we’d tried overnight hadn’t really done the trick and she was starting to breath like a steam train and I thought it must be a chest infection.  Well the doctors tried their magic tricks and when those didn’t really work as well as they wanted, they tucked her up in an ambulance and sent her to the nearest A&E.  Several inhalers and one diagnosis of probably a viral wheeze later we brought home a little girl who was absolutely bouncing off the walls with vitality.  That would be the steroids kicking in then.  She’s been having an inhaler every four hours since, including all through the night and hello sleep deprivation my old friend.

It’s funny, every time we’ve had a newborn we’ve just rolled with the lack of sleep and got through it more or less coherently.  This time, whether we’re older, or just less used to it, it’s wiped the pair of us out and I know John is definitely looking forward to some lazy mornings at home, without even our ridiculously short school run to interrupt the dozing.

Aside from comparing ambulance stories the three of them have had a lovely month together, and for all their ups and downs, they are such a happy little trio, I couldn’t imagine life any other way than with the crazy, noisy world that these three bring.

Two sisters, and their brother, in October:

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 Siblings

Siblings 2017: September


The evenings are dark, the mornings have turned decidedly nippy, and for the first time since February at least one of the kids is wearing a coat; it’s definitely September, and the time for Siblings posts seems to have rushed around once again.  I’m certain that it wasn’t five minutes ago we were all in shorts and now we’re digging out the fluffy socks.

September has been a milestone month for two of my little trio.  Kitty started Class 1 (equivalent to Year 2 in mainstream and the formal start to Lower School), and Pip Squeak has graduated from parent and toddler group to spend three mornings a week in nursery.  Both mark big changes, Pip joining the Early Years section just as Kitty leaves it to start the next adventure, and I think Elma started to wonder why she was the only one doing exactly the same as last term.

It’s made for a start to the month full of last minute shopping trips for new boots and shoes, the search for comfy slippers that don’t have characters on them, and then the early morning search for a slipper that has mysteriously gone missing between purchase and school (we found it a whole day later zipped into one of the kid’s camping backpacks.

Kitty has shot up over the summer, though thankfully her feet haven’t grown too much.  That being said, an adult 2.5 is good going when you’re six.  Elma is still taller than Pip, but she’s so much slighter in build that there’s barely any difference between them.  They can share wellies and t-shirts and jumpers and all sorts of useful things, though for some extraordinary reason they think this is a lot less exciting when we do when we’re scrambling around the house looking for whatever sock is nearest.  With only 20 months between them I can easily see that they’ll leapfrog each other all the way through their childhood until eventually Pip grows taller and stays taller.  Elma is never going to be short, but she might well end up the littlest of the three.

But for now that’s years away; now they are all three about the excitement of school and seeing their friends again, exploring our new house and working out which trees to climb in the garden.

They bump into each other during the school day; Elma and Pip are often playing outside at the same time, even if Pip is just in the nursery garden, but they’ll have a little chat over the garden gate before Elma rushes off to play, and Kitty told me of her class heading out to play and seeing their kindergarten class friends from last year peeping out of the window.  I love that they have half an eye and an ear out for each other, and that they do seems to really underscore the relationship they have as a trio which is entirely separate to their part in our family.

It’s a relationship that has it’s ups and downs and fallings out, and there are days when I wonder whether it is genuinely possible for them to spend five minutes in the same house without someone wailing, but they’re balanced by the days of coming home to find that they’ve all been working on a “show” (to be performed while balanced precariously on top of our garden chairs), or to see them snuggled up in a big arm chair to listen to a story.  They’re friends, with the added layer of sibling that allows them to push every button going and forget about it a minute later.

For our pictures this month we headed up to the Clent Hills.  I had a perfectly brilliant plan that involved gorgeous evening sunshine, views of Wales (just), and not a single drop of rain, and to be fair, when we drove up to the car park, and when we first started out along the path, the sunshine was dimpling through the trees and it was all looking very perfect.

And I must point out that it didn’t rain on us until after we’d climbed to the view point and were heading over the ridgeline and back to the car.  But rain it did.  All those clouds that you can see in the back of my photos converged on the top of the hill and we dashed down the hill and into the woods for a bit of shelter.  It was drier, but definitely darker, and with everyone else finding their own shelter it felt as if it could be just us and the fairies.

It gave it a spirit of adventure that just isn’t there when the sun shines.  Which as we go into the autumn is probably a good idea!

Two little sisters, and their brother too, in September

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.