This edition of Little Loves feels like quite a strange one to be putting together. April has been both a busy and a quiet month in many different ways and Easter feels like forever ago. I had to check in my diary that it was actually in April, not March.
I don’t see therapy clients during the school holidays so from a work point of view it’s been pretty minimal and I’ve been able to spend lots of time with the girls and give them the focus of my attention, which has been both really lovely and rather challenging in equal measure. The first week of the Easter holidays was relentlessly wet and cold, so we filled it with having friends round to play and baking. We spent the second week in our happy place: Bude in North Cornwall. We were SO lucky with the weather – the forecast showed torrential rain all week and it ended up being beautifully sunny (if a little chilly) most of the time so we were able to get out and about and do lots of exploring and playing on the beach.
Once we returned to school and work we were immediately launched straight back into multiple after-school clubs, homework, Year 6 SATs preparation and revision, sports tournaments, late night theatre performances, clients, emails and endless life admin and suddenly it feels like we’ve never been away. I do love the contrast of slow and busy as without one you can’t appreciate the other, though I have to say I’m already counting down the days to May half term and the adventures we have planned.
Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately throughout April…
I’ve been getting incredibly frustrated with myself in recent months with just how long it’s taking me to finish whichever book I’m reading. I’ve always loved getting lost in books ever since I was a child but as I’ve got older and adulting requirements have increased, reading has slipped further and further down my list of priorities and I really want to correct that. I’ve been working my way through ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’, the fifth book in the series, for ages now without seeming to actually get any closer to the end. I made a conscious effort whilst we were on holiday in Cornwall to pick up my book at random moments throughout the day, and to close my laptop in the evenings and read instead. I managed to get through loads of it and had almost finisehd it by the time we got home. I carried on with reading in the evenings after we got back and I’m now finally done. Woohoo! It’s the biggest of all the Harry Potter books and while I always enjoy it (there are always new little snippets that I come across which I don’t remember reading before, plus of course all of Dumbledore’s infinite wisdom to soak up) I have to say it was a little bit of a relief to have finally got to the end of it.
I felt like I needed a bit of a break from Harry Potter, so I’ve started ‘Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine’ before I continue on with the sixth book. I resisted buying it for ages – EVERYONE was talking about it and I really hate being a sheep and following the crowd. And then my curiosity got the better of me so I gave in and started it. It’s already got me hooked – the little glimpses of the tantalising back story, wondering where on earth the author is going take the character and the intricacies of Eleanor’s daily routine, thoughts and feelings are incredibly well written.
Disasters Of A Thirty Something, also known as Sarah Clarke, is one of my favourite people on Instagram. I love following along with her daily peak and pit, swooned over her year long travels with her husband Jonny, and am excited to see their next adventure – twins! – unfold. I read this interview with her and it was so refreshing to find out that she really is as completely down to earth, lovely and normal as the rest of us. Go follow her – you won’t regret it.
As I mentioned, the summer term at school is always jam-packed with sporting events. Mimi enters pretty much every competition there is as she loves being active so much, and so a lot of my time is spent ferrying her around to various locations around the county and cheering her on from the side-lines. The first event we went to watch was a football tournament and thankfully this year’s glorious sunshine was a vast contrast to last year’s torrential rain. Her team got knocked out before the semi-finals sadly but she enjoyed herself which at this stage is all that matters really.
We managed to get hold of some discounted football match tickets to Stoke City vs Burley through the girls’ school. Lola wasn’t interested in going but Ella and Mimi were super-excited as they’ve never been to a ‘real’ football match before. Both the husband and Mimi wished that her first experience of a proper football match would have been to see their beloved Liverpool FC play, but sadly it’s incredibly difficult to get tickets so that’s going to have to wait. Lola and I spent a really lovely afternoon together at nearby Trentham Gardens whilst the husband took the other two to the match. They had a brilliant time, loved the atmosphere and chattered non-stop on the way home, telling me all about the experience.
Ella attends an after-school dance club called Jazzmattazz and this year they got the opportunity to showcase what they’d been working on stage at our local theatre along with many other schools, community groups and clubs in front of hundreds of parents, teachers and students. Over 1000 children took part in total. Ella’s role was Mother Earth and their concept was that dance has the power to unite everyone around the world. They performed dances from ten different countries, everyone clapped along and I was the Mum sat there with tears in my eyes and my heart bursting with love and pride as I watched her dance with an enormous smile on her face, looking out into the audience and having the time of her life. She was super-nervous but you’d never have guessed it.
Every Easter Sunday, we have an easter egg hunt around our house. I love hearing the excited squeals and raucous giggles of the girls as they chase through our home, dashing up and down the stairs, searching high and low. Sometimes I wonder if they’re maybe a little bit too old for it now, but seeing their joy makes me think I’ll keep it going for another year.
As many of you know, Ella is a voracious reader and loves writing stories of her own too. She recently entered a competition run by Annabel Norman (The Adventures of Travel Girl), daughter of Stu and Sue from world-schooling family Normans Running Wild, to tell the story of an adventure she’d been on and we heard the news yesterday that she’d only gone and won! She watched the video (below) just before we left for school and she was so excited that she got a bit emotional, bless her. It’s the first time that she’s won anything for her writing and it absolutely made her day.
It’s become a tradition to make chocolate cornflake cakes with mini eggs (Easter nests!) during the Easter holidays, so one rainy afternoon we did exactly that. We also made butterfly cakes when the girls had some friends round but they were scoffed too quickly for me to be able to take any photos of them. I know it sounds daft but I do love these little traditions we have. I used to love baking with my Mum when I was a kid – lemon cake is the one that sticks in my mind the most – and I hope that my girls also look back with fond memories when they’re older of the time we spent together in the kitchen.
During the second week of the holidays we made the long trip down to Cornwall and spent a week there exploring new places and making the most of our time together as a family. Here’s a little video of what we got up to if you fancy a peek:
I would happily travel forever. At the end of a holiday (and sometimes even just after a day trip!) I’m happy being home for a day or two and then I immediately start making plans for our next adventure. Since travelling for over a year in my late teens/early twenties I’ve never really felt settled anywhere and that restless feeling only seems to be getting stronger. Thankfully we’ve now made plans for our adventures in late Spring – a mini-road trip to visit friends and family plus our very first experience of using AirBnB for a couple of nights and I’m really looking forward to it.
It’s been a mixed old month clothes-wise! We’ve worn our jumpers and wellies a lot – any walks we’ve been on have been decidedly muddy after all the freezing rain we had at the start of the month. And then that mini ‘heatwave’ (ha!) a week or so ago saw us in TShirts, shorts and ballet pumps that I had to hurriedly dig out of boxes hidden at the back of the wardrobe. I have to say though, it was so good to feel the sun on my skin and to watch the freckles begin to emerge on my girls’ beautiful faces. It made such a difference to everyone’s moods too.
I’ve mentioned once or twice that we went to Cornwall during the Easter holidays! These are some of my favourite photos from our trip and I’ve shared many more in Part One of a blog post I’ve written all about where we went and what we did. Part Two will be coming soon.
We were scheduled to have a family photoshoot with the fantastic Steve Gerrard the day after we got home from Bude but unfortunately the weather wasn’t playing ball at all so we made the sad decision to cancel it. It’s not a simple task to rearrange the shoot either – Steve is based in Canada and is only in the UK for a limited time each year. We’re keeping everything crossed that he’ll be making the journey back across the ocean later this summer and we can re-book in with him them as I loved the shots he captured of my girls and I last year on our family photoshoot.
A few photos from the afternoon I spent with Lola at Trentham Gardens whilst the other two were watching the football with Neil. We really did have the best time together – she’s such great company! – and creating time and space to have regular one-to-one time with each of the girls has become something I’m determined to do.
The next three months are ridiculously jam-packed with events and I’m looking forward to all the fun things we have planned. The month of May will see us celebrating a couple of birthdays, the start of GCSEs for the teenager and Year 6 SATs exams for Ella and a little mini road trip adventure. Hopefully Spring will finally put in a proper appearance, the sunshine will come out to play (and stay for a while!) and we can finally ditch the jumpers, boots and coats for good.
Linking up with Coffee Work Sleep Repeat’s ‘Little Loves’ link: