Friday 27 June 2014

Gentle Mornings

Today is an inset day... we were planning on heading to the south-west for the weekend but forecasts of rain among other things have put us off so instead we are having a gentle morning at home.
Gentle meaning no rushing around to find reading books or PE kits, no shouting about getting bikes out or shoes on.
I find mornings hard, I hate the chaos of our weekday mornings and I keep vowing to myself that I will try to get up earlier, be kinder, not raise my voice. But I make the vow as I go to sleep at nearly midnight again and so inevitably it's almost forgotten by morning as I pull myself out of bed, later than I should have.
And then at the weekends I want to get things done... to go places and make the most of our family time and so I often fight the gentle mornings, I fail to enjoy the pottering and long breakfasts. I get frustrated that the cereal packets aren't put away before the paper, glue and scissors are got out. It's hard to be an intrinscially untidy person that can't stand mess.

So today so far has looked like this...

Breakfast with a few strawberries from the garden... the few that haven't been half eaten by something else...

The duplo has had a sudden resurgence...

We pottered in the garden waiting for the coffee to brew. Coco helped to snip some new flowers for the mantlepiece and we harvested some beans... and tried some young borlotti beans.
Coco did ask me "Mummy, why do you take photos of everything?"

Coffee and croissants on the deck

Fresh flowers on the mantle.

Now we just need to decide what we are going to do today. Or maybe I'm missing the point?

(All photos are iphone... it's been such a lazy morning that I couldn't even be bothered to take 'proper' photos.)

Thursday 19 June 2014

52 Project - A half year of catching up #2 - Coco

It feels like Coco is growing up so fast at the moment - I can't believe she is about to finish her second year at school... it sometimes seems like I hardly even see her at the moment, but then there are other times when I look at her and I still see my baby girl... here's a little catch up of what she is like now... starting back in March.

(For those of you that don't know this is a catch up of the 52 Project  - taking a portrait a week of your child - which I took part in last year but have totally failed to keep up with this year. So it's a bit of a cheat!)


Making a rock and wood sculpture in the garden with some bits leftover from one of Hugh's DIY projects... Coco is pretty self sufficient and happy to create her own games most of the time - her favourite thing to do is to settle down at the kitchen table to do some 'arts and crafts' but obviously she's is also partial to doing a little site specific work...


Some intense colouring artwork... I think she is a graphic artist this one - enjoying patterns and colour more than drawing scenes.


At the Southbank after we went to see the Martin Creed exhibition - climbing and scrambling around as usual.


We made an Easter basket together by weaving paper and then Coco got a bit trigger happy with the stapler. She loved the fact that I let her go and cut some flowers from the garden too.


Looking studious while completing the very cryptic Easter egg hunt that Hugh made for her....



Climbing a tree in Richmond Park - she loved doing this. She has quite a fearless determined core when she gets going.


Collecting bluebells for her flower stall at camp. We hadn't seen her entrepreneurial streak before...
Like her brother she loves her bike and can ride it like a demon. Her new thing is riding along the pavement home from school with one hand hanging by her side - doing quite a good impression of a listless teenager.


No need for me to push her on the swing anymore (although she prefers it when I do).


Planting a sunflower at stall in Chiswick as part of the Abundance London Chelsea Fringe. She is still a bit shy about stepping forward and doing these kinds of things on her own and takes a bit of encouragement to join in with things occasionally.


Enjoying mud and water (see entry for Henry from the other day in the same location).


We spent an afternoon at the Whitechapel Gallery for their family day (they have another one on this weekend - I would highly recommend them - we went to one before that I did a post about here).


She is growing out of her beloved foxy jumper by Tootsa Macginty but she'll keep wearing for as long as possible. I have a shelf in our airing cupboard when I stash things when they are too small and Coco keeps raiding it and pulling out things to wear - she has another old favourite a jumper with a bus on which she had on the other day and it's aged 3-4. Her sartorial choices never cease to amaze (and frustrate) me...
Her wearing trousers on this day out was nothing short of a miracle.


With one of her best friends engrossed in a game in the garden... I guess that is what childhood is all about eh?

Tuesday 17 June 2014

52 Project - A half year of catching up #1 - Henry

I've been feeling a bit sad that I haven't kept up with the 52 Project this year... (taking a portrait of each of my children each week - a project started by Jodi at the blog Practising Simplicity).
Last year I managed to do the whole year and it was good. I recorded lots of little moments and it made me think more regularly about my photography and forced me to try to improve a little.

Despite the fact that I haven't really been committed to the project this year I have still been documenting life here and so I thought I'd do a round up of some of the best photos from where I left off a few months ago; around March time.

Sometimes the photos aren't so great but for me the moment was worth recording... and what is this blog if not a record of our family lives?

So as not to do too much of an overload - I'm doing Henry's selections first.
Also gives me a chance to do a little update while I'm at it.


Henry is getting into the swing of nursery and is happy to go most days. He's making friends - he's started his independent life away from me and often doesn't want to divulge what he got up to. From what I gather art isn't as popular with him as it was with Coco but he still manages to bring home a few bits each week.


Mud has started to appeal... digging and getting his hands dirty! He quite often comes home from nursery with muck under his finger nails & will often find a dusty/muddy hole in the playground to mess around in (although our playground has just got a sandpit too - which is equally as popular with H).



When he is tired he'll loll about, often in a position like this one...


Eating octopus at Brindisa - although Henry definitely has a sweet tooth he's a pretty good eater, Coco is a good influence and they are both happy to try new things most of the time...


Out in Richmond Park - it's very important to locate a good stick when you are near any trees.


After a morning out at Kew gardens Henry fell asleep in the buggy and I took a photo as 1) I can't believe how massive he looks now and 2) I thought it could so easily be one of the last time he falls asleep in the buggy - it gets left at home more often than not - the end of an era.


Coco and Henry are playing together more and more, it is such a pleasure observing their little games. They have a few funny routines, one is that after their shower/bath in the evening they'll escape naked and run around singing 'wiggle your bottom' in a sort of weird fake American accent. They've also invented the 'mogo' dance and will say conspiratorially to each other "common' let's do the mogo". On Sunday morning when I came downstairs they'd turned the toy kitchen to face the wall creating a little cubby hole behind it where they had their duvets and were playing 'camper vans'. The trip they were on sounded quite something - they were off to the jungle and then the farm.


Water water water! He still cannot get enough of water play. If he has quietly disappeared then you can guarentee he is playing with water... either inside or out. Last year we had to resort to taking the top of the outdoor tap off or he would have it running constantly, we keep in the drawer in the kitchen but Henry will now self regulate (ish) by taking the tap and putting it in his pocket and then he'll turn the water on for a bit but then take the top back off himself and keep it in his pocket...
This photo was taken at a friends house where all the children made a mud puddle - they were in heaven - but covered in mud! We lined them up and hosed them down! The face shows shock in this photo but was shortly followed by delight... honest!


Clambering around at Borough market...


He loves his bike! He's fully mastered braking and starting off by himself now and we've been on a couple of longer journeys with him on his bike... this was on a Sunday that we went to our local pool. He cycles to nursery whenever he can and sometimes when we get back he'll spend another 10 or 15 minutes riding up and down the pavement outside our house too. I'm still making him go on the back of my bike for the school run although he begs me most days "I want to go on my bike" and he'll use arguments like "but I need to" or "I am old/big enough". I did let him do it one sunny day and he was brilliant (it's almost a mile away) but he did tell me that it was tiring.... and it's pretty hairy for me having two children on bikes around the school gates where there is a constant stream of parents & other children on scooters or bikes with the odd buggy too... I fear for peoples ankles.


And finally - as much as this boy is growing up fast he is still my baby... the rare moments of calm certainly need to be savoured.

Saturday 14 June 2014

An Evening at The Affordable Art Fair

Last Thursday Hugh and I had an evening out together* in Hampstead.

After rushing round like a maniac getting the children fed & watered I left the house in the beautiful balmy evening and got the overland train round to Hampstead Heath.
I love it up there... it feels so civilised. The heath was looking lush and the early evening shadows were dappling the path ways. There are so many great pockets in London; but Hamsptead would definitely be high up on my list of ideal places to live.

On to the fair however... we had tickets for the 'summer art soiree' which sounds posh but basically it was an evening opening with free wine - a great way to get you to be a bit more frivolous with your cash!
The last few times we've been to the Affordable Art Fair (which I'm quite a fan of) it's been with children in tow - they have a creche and also they put on some good child-friendly activities and workshops - but it was lovely to be able to wander around with Hugh and a glass of wine in hand.

Our strategy is generally to walk relatively fast and stop only when something catches our eye... there is a lot to see so if you start meandering then you never get all the way around. Plus the great thing with the fair is that there is so much variety - so some stands we just know aren't our thing - but there are a few regular stands that I'll always stop at for a closer look.

Here is a summary of what grabbed my attention last night (excuse some of my rather hurried iphone snaps).

Myung Nam An eyeball ceramics at the affordable art fair June 2014

These ceramic eyeballs by Myung Nam An at Cube Gallery looked fantastic and a little disconcerting too.

Anna Masters butterflies and petals at the affordable art fair June 2014

The show always has its fair share of butterfly related art (which I love... but is becoming a bit overdone). Anna Masters at Cube Gallery had some lovely 3D pieces with petals in, too.

Mychael Baratt re-imagined tube map at the affordable art fair June 2014

Maps are also always a winner with me - and there were a very vintage-inspired collection by
Mychael Barratt at the Printmakers in residence stand...

Colin Moore, 'snow on the heath' at the affordable art fair June 2014

where we also saw this gorgeous Snow on the Heath print among some others by Colin Moore.

Alexander Korzer-Robins deconstructed books at the affordable art fair June 2014

Alexander Korzer-Robins deconstructed books at the affordable art fair June 2014

At the Liberty-Gallery Alexander Korzer-Robins' deconstructed book sculptures were tempting me - I'm pretty sure I've seen them before and photos don't really do them justice - there is a lot of detail; I could spend quite sometime looking at these objects.

Eithne Roberts flower painting at the affordable art fair June 2014

Next up - flowers. I loved these simple bowls of flowers by Eithne Roberts at Bowlish Gallery

Emma Williams bluebell painting at the affordable art fair June 2014

and this painting by Emma Williams at Lime Tree Gallery (I do love this sort of St Ives school naive painting style)

Kate Osbourne watercolour bird paintings at the affordable art fair, London, June 2015

and from flowers to birds - these small watercolours by Kate Osbourne at Nicholas Bowlby's stand... 

Claire Moynihan 'bug balls' at the affordable art fair June 2014

and from birds to insects... these felt pieces by textile artist Claire Moynihan at Byard Art were an obvious choice for me, I love specimen case style artworks.

Jane Hansford garden paintings at the affordable art fair June 2014

Jane Hansford garden paintings at the affordable art fair June 2014

I was really drawn to these large oil paintings of gardens by Jane Hansford... Hugh had walked on and I really wanted him to come back and look at them; but with prices starting at £1,800 I don't think he even wanted to be tempted!
They were stunning though...

Finally both Hugh and I were surprised at ourselves for quite fancying a garden sculpture... I would have never imagined us wanting one; but these stoneware hydrangeas (of which I'm struggling to find an image - but this is a similar, earlier work) by Frances Doherty at Fourwalls Contemporary Art had us both wanting one.

Slightly merry on wine and with one purchase made (can you guess which!?) we headed home... but not before taking a few moments to gaze at the stunning moon which was so big and yellow (and this snap does not do it justice at all).
All in all a lovely and inspiring evening.

*otherwise known as a date night I suppose... but urgh that phase is wrong, as is play date; in my humble opinion.

Thursday 12 June 2014

From Disaster to Eton Mess

On Thursday's Henry does cooking at nursery. It's 'cooking' in the loosest sense of the word and today they made Eton Mess.
It was almost impossible to stop him eating it as soon as we left nursery and it took all my best Mummy-negotiating skills to get it home in tact; but after lunch Henry literally ran to get it from where we'd left it in the hall only to end up spilling it everywhere. Not quite sure how he managed it but it went all over the rug, into the shoe basket and on his t-shirt... as you can imagine a three and a half year old did not take this calamity lightly.

But... by some wierd sort of miracle we actually had pretty much all the ingredients to make another Eton mess to hand (thought it best to overlook the fact that the meranges were almost six months out of date)... so we made a new Eton mess...

and even better we used a grand total of TWO ripe strawberries from the garden.

Phew. Crisis averted.

After he'd finished Henry tried to tell me all the reasons he could think of why he should make some more...

I just got him to clear up instead though.

This turned out to be a great little cooking activity - quick and easy and most importantly pretty yummy.
If you like Montessori style activities like this then check out Abigail's blog - she is doing a series on activities she does with her little boy Theo.

This hurried blog post is bought to you thanks to the fact that it's SUNNY (hooray for summer) and Henry is amusing himself with water in the garden, although I'm slightly dreading going out there now to see what mess he's managed to make now...