April feels like it’s stretched on for ages. For all the right reasons though – it’s been full of good things. We’ve been doing our best to make the most of the last month of having Neil home with us full time before he goes back to work at the start of May to get ready for his pub re-opening later next month.
The first half of April was the Easter holidays for the girls and even though they had only been back at school for three weeks post lockdown, we were all definitely ready for the break.
We squeezed in as much fun as we could over the Easter bank holiday weekend: arts and crafts plus a couple of days out a little further afield now that restrictions are beginning to ease a little bit – it felt SO good to go somewhere different! I then worked non-stop for the first week of the holidays. It was utterly exhausting but worth it because it meant we were able to escape for a few days to our happy place by the sea for the second week.
The six days we spent in Bude were very much needed by all of us. We stayed in a different property to usual – The Old Bakery which we booked through Beach Retreats – and it was lovely. We were so lucky with the weather as well, it was chilly but we had the most glorious blue skies and sunshine every single day. I’m so grateful that we were able to make it down there.
It’s definitely getting harder and harder to leave each time we visit now. How much time is too much time to spend trawling the local estate agent’s websites in search of a property to buy that we could let out as a holiday home and use for ourselves whenever we wanted to?! Asking for a friend of course… 😉
Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately throughout April…
Dear Edward: by Ann Napolitano. A blogger I follow, Katie Ellison, recommended this book in her Instagram stories ages ago and I’ve been wanting to read it ever since because it sounded so good. I finally bought it and took it with us to Cornwall, hoping to get at least partway through. I ended up finishing the whole book in five days – I can’t remember the last time I did that. I genuinely didn’t want to put it down.
The property we were staying in was a real sun trap so I’d curl up on the squishy sofa in the warm, late-afternoon sunshine once we’d got back from a trip to the beach or a long walk and I’d read. It was wonderful and I hadn’t realised how much I’d been needing to just switch off and relax.
I loved the book – it was really well written, the characters and their inner thoughts & feelings were so real that I felt like I was there with them on every step of the journey throughout the story. I thought the depiction of grief and the theme of loss was excellent throughout as well. It didn’t feel like a sad book, despite the tragedy of the event that the storyline describes: a plane crash where the only survivor is a twelve year old boy. It’s a hopeful, uplifting story of resilience and friendship and making a difference and I really enjoyed it. A keeper.
The Starless Sea: by Erin Morgenstern. I ordered this as soon as I finished ‘The Night Circus’ last month. I couldn’t resist. I loved ‘The Night Circus’ so much and the synopsis for ‘The Starless Sea’ sounded equally as intriguing and magical – it was pretty much inevitable that it was going to end up on my bookshelf. I’m only a few chapters in so far and it’s already every bit as incredible as I knew it would be. I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds…
Blossoms blooming: From March onwards I’m on ‘blossom watch’ – keeping my eye out for the trees beginning to bloom with their various exhibits of varying shades of pinks and whites. I love how each species takes it’s turn, patiently waiting for it’s chance to show off. The pink cherry blossom, flouncy and full bodied, is one of my favourites, as is apple blossom – one of the last to unveil it’s beautiful display. It’s worth the wait. At the time of writing this, they hadn’t quite reached their peak, I think another week or so and they’ll be utterly glorious.
Sunsets: Watching sunrises and sunsets is something I love to do. I find it so peaceful and grounding, almost like it puts everything else into perspective. When we were in Cornwall it became a little ritual for me to go for a solo walk across the clifftops or down to the sea every night to watch the sun dip below the horizon and every night nature delivered on her promise. The colours were so beautiful, like watercolours streaked across the sky.
Our family playlist: In anticipation of our trip to Cornwall, Ella spent hours creating a ‘Family Playlist’ on Spotify for us to listen to on long car journeys. She asked all of us to list our top ten personal favourite songs and then added several more that she knew all of us like. There are over 100 songs on there in total – everything from Little Mix to Metallica with The Beatles, Alanis Morrisette and Wham thrown in between. It’s a somewhat eclectic mix, but it actually works really well!
Inspired by her idea, I created my own playlist of all of my favourite songs (which I’m constantly adding to as I remember more!). I’ve taken to listening to it with headphones on whilst I’m cooking dinner or editing photos in the evenings.
Parent’s evening: This month was Mimi’s turn for a virtual parent’s evening, another speed-dating-esque experience. Considering she’s not actually spent a full year at high school yet (despite being nearly at the end of her second year there – Year 7 was cut short by schools closing at the start of the pandemic and Year 8 has also contained a significant amount of home-schooling as well thanks to the third lockdown) the feedback from her teachers was excellent. I’m so proud of her. She’s excelling in PE and Art, her two favourite subjects, as I knew she would be, and the rest of her teachers only had positives to share too.
Easter goodies: The Easter holidays mean we get our oven gloves on and start baking. The two requests from the girls this year were to make cinnamon buns and chocolate Easter mini-egg nests – both are a firm tradition in our household now as we make them every single year! Neil was in charge this time as I was working for the whole first week of the holidays and both batches turned out brilliantly – no photos as evidence because they all got eaten too quickly!
Road Trip to Cornwall: As I’ve already mentioned, we made the long journey down to Bude for the second week of the Easter holidays. It took us longer than usual for various reasons but it was 100% worth it. I felt my shoulders relax as soon as we arrived, and I’m just so grateful that we were able to make it down to our happy place by the sea for a few days. I’ve written about the first half of our trip here if you want to see more photos and find out what we got up to.
Nail varnish: Whilst we were in Cornwall I painted nail varnish on my toes for the first time in about five years! I love having red toenails – it’s such a small, silly thing but painting my toes really is a bit of an act of self care for me and I just haven’t made the time to do it for so long. I feel happy every time I catch sight of them! I thought the tiles on the bathroom floor of the accommodation we stayed in seemed like the perfect place to show them off too.
Crutches: Technically this wasn’t something she actually wore, but crutches did become a key part of Lola’s everyday attire for the second half of the month. On the last day of our holiday the girls were playing in the sand dunes, climbing up them and jumping back down again, having the time of their lives. Then, on one of her jumps Lola landed awkwardly and I knew the second she hit the sand and screamed that something was very wrong.
The nearest A&E to where we were staying was over an hour away and we knew we’d be home early the next morning anyway so we decided to ice, elevate and rest it, and wait and see how she was once we got home. She had a very uncomfortable journey back to Staffordshire, bless her, so I took her straight to A&E once we were back, where we spent three hours in total. Thankfully, it was deemed to be a very bad sprain rather than a broken bone or fracture, so she was given crutches to help her get to and from school and to aid her with beginning to put weight back on it. She was a little wobbly at first but she soon got the hang of them and was speeding around all over the place.
Easter fun: Despite working non-stop for the first week of the Easter holidays, I managed to squeeze in some Easer-themed fun with the girls over the Easter weekend and in between clients. We had our annual Easter Egg Hunt; the girls planned and carried out an Easter Tea Party (they even created homemade invitations and a menu, all beautifully detailed); and we created a new Easter tradition of decorating hard-boiled eggs too.
Trentham Gardens: On the first day of the holidays, Ella, Lola and I headed to Trentham Gardens for the day. It was supposed to be all five of us but Mimi hadn’t been very well on the last day of term so she and Neil stayed home instead.
We had lunch in the sunshine, played on the adventure playground, walked around the lake and admired the blossom, daffodils and the tulips which were just beginning to bloom in readiness for their annual Tulip Festival. We hadn’t been to Trentham Gardens for the longest time so it was lovely to be back and be able to simply wander.
Calke Abbey: We also managed to visit a new-to-us National Trust location! I’ve been wanting to visit Calke Abbey for ages so it was brilliant to be able to snag a slot and finally visit. The property itself was still closed due to Covid rules but there was still plenty for us to see – the grounds were huge! We walked for miles, explored the Walled Garden, peeked inside the glasshouses and explored the ‘Blue’ trail – another three to four weeks and there would have been a stunning carpet of bluebells covering the ground. We’ll definitely go back again another day.
Chapter four of 2021 is now at a close and whilst it’s felt like it’s been a long month because of our mini-adventure in Cornwall in the middle of it, it’s certainly been a good one. I almost can’t believe that we’re already a third of the way through the year. April has felt a little more positive than the first three months of the year did: we’ve been to places beyond the edges of our town; the girls’ schools haven’t had any class bubbles being sent home; and shops are open again.
I’m allowing myself to feel tentatively optimistic that next month will bring more of the same kind of progress. My parents have had their second doses of the vaccine so I’m very much hoping we’ll be able to see them and that they can actually come inside our house – it’s been a long, long time. And hugs might even be allowed by then? I’m keeping everything crossed that that’s the case. May is a busy month of birthdays in our household and we have some modest travel plans in place that I’m hoping with all my heart will actually go ahead and not be cancelled again like they were in 2020.
I hope that April has been kind to you all and that May is full of good things.
Stay well x
(Joining in with Sincerely Anna and #LittleLoves)