Little Loves: August 2023

In direct contrast to the crazy busy-ness that was July, August has felt long and slow, even though we have done a fair number of things.  It’s seemed like a month of being held in limbo:  waiting for Ella’s GCSE results; waiting to hear back about various job applications she’s submitted; waiting for the summer weather to maybe, possibly, fingers crossed, finally arrive (spoiler alert – it didn’t).

In between all the waiting there was work – a little less than usual because of clients being on holiday – plus some day trips and plenty of reading.  It’s been… different. I’m used to summers being jam-packed full of excursions and activities and sunshine.  ‘Different’ doesn’t mean ‘less-than’ though, so I’m hoping the things we have done together have made some memories somewhere along the way.

Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately throughout August…


Our Missing Hearts: by Celeste Ng.  I started this at the end of July and finished it a couple of days into August.  It wasn’t the ending I thought it was going to be, and I really liked that it was unexpected in that way.  It’s very different from her other two books (‘Everything I Never Told You’ and ‘Little Fires Everywhere’) and also at the same time follows similar key themes of family and inequality.  Her writing is absolutely beautiful.  It’s almost lyrical, like poetry, but it doesn’t feel like you’re reading poetry, it just immerses you into the world of the book so easily that you forget it’s not real.

There are no speechmarks in this book, which is another way it’s different.  When I read ‘Normal People’ by Sally Rooney a few years ago, which had the same format, I really struggled with it but this time it seemed a little easier – it took a few chapters to get used to it but once I did it flowed well.  I might give some of Sally Rooney’s other books a try now that I’ve got my head around this one.

Little Wing: by Freya North.  Freya North books were my first dabble into more adult books when I was a young teen.  I spotted one called ‘Chloe’ on my Dad’s bookshelf, couldn’t resist reading it (because my name is Chloe too!) and then immediately ‘borrowed’ all the other ones he had and read those too.  They were probably far too grown up for me at the time – he was in publishing and had such a variety of books stacked in huge piles all over the house.  It was one of the things I loved about my weekend visits with him – the opportunity to read whatever I wanted all day long.

I hadn’t read any of Freya North’s work for many years, until I spotted this one – Little Wing – in our local bookshop.  I picked it up on a whim, read the blurb and it piqued my interest so I bought it.  It drew me in right from the very start and I finished it in less than a week.  It has made me want to visit the far north of Scotland, which is where some of the book is set – it sounds beautiful.  The characters were so well written, the descriptions made me feel like I was right there with them and the connections between all the storylines were just right.  A really lovely book that I’m very glad I impulse-bought.

Apples Never Fall:  by Liane Moriarty.  After reading ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ by the same author last month, I wanted to read another.  I really enjoy the way she writes – the character detailing is fantastic and her descriptions really bring everyone to life.  This one is also set in Australia, like the previous one I read.  It hops back and forth in time between present day and the events of  a year ago and again, it’s told from many different character perspectives – the main cluster of people in the story but also occasionally random offshoot or sideline characters which really adds to the depth.  The plot waa gripping – I picked the book up to read it at every opportunity I could because I had to know what happened!  It took me a week in total to finish it and it kept me guessing right to the end.

‘Our Missing Hearts’, ‘Little Wing’ and ‘Apples Never Fall’ were the three books I read in August.



Heartstopper S2:  Ella and Mimi are big fans of the Heartstopper series of graphic novels.  We watched Season One together when it first came out and they have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Season Two at the start of August.  They both watched all eight episodes on the day it was released on Netflix, then invited me to watch it with them afterwards.  We watch a couple of episodes a week when Neil is at work on a night shift, so we’re only about halfway through so far.  It’s very good.  I like that it that raises points that are important and relevant in the world my girls are growing up in and almost every episode has led us to a conversation or discussion about something.

The Lion King:  I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to go and see The Lion King Musical at Birmingham Hippodrome right at the end of the month.  A client-turned-friend was playing in the orchestra for this particular run of the show, so I went along to support her.  She gave me a little tour of backstage and the orchestra pit, which was so cool to see.  I have a very deep admiration of anyone who can read music and create beautiful sounds out of black lines and dots.

She plays percussion (drums, xylophones, timapni etc) and so she had about six different instruments to play.  She showed me what they all sounded like which meant that I could listen out for her parts during the performance – it was fun to know when she was playing.

The show itself was absolutely phenomenal.  The costumes were mind-blowing – I don’t know how the production team created them or how they look so real, I couldn’t sop staring at them.  The energy of the performance, the music, the voices, the use of light and shadow – it all came together to create something so captivatingly magical that you couldn’t help but be transported away from real life for 2 1/2 hours.  It was very special to be able to see it on my own as a little solo treat as well, although I’m definitely going to have to take the girls to see it one day too.

The cast taking their bows after an incredible performance of The Lion King Musical at Birmingham Hippodrome



GCSE results:   Ella waited so patiently for two whole months for GCSE Results Day to come around, getting increasingly nervous as the day itself approached.  We got to school at 9am and she went in to collect them with a friend (so they could be moral support for each other!) whilst we waited in the car for her.  My tummy was as full of butterflies as hers was, I think.

When she came out and we heard from her what she’d got – all grades 7-9 (As and A*s) – she burst into tears.  Mostly of relief I think, just releasing all the emotions that had been building up.  We are SO proud of her, and we would have been no matter what her grades were because we know how hard she’s worked throughout her entire school career and especially in the lead-up to the exams themselves.  She’s now off to college next month to study A Levels.

We’re so proud of Ella for earning a place at college in September


Daytrip to London:  Right at the start of the month I made my way down to London for the day to meet up with one of my best friends and her almost 3 year old daughter, who I’ve only met once before as she was born during lockdown.   We headed to the David Hockney exhibition ‘Bigger & Closer (Not Smaller & Further Away) at Lightroom London, which was brilliant!  I was familiar with some of his work, but not much of it, so getting to see more was interesting.  What I found most fascinating was his voiceover, sharing his philosophies, thoughts and feelings on his journey through life, art, love and creativity.  Hannah’s little girl loved it too – it’s an immersive exhibition and she gazed around her, wide-eyed and totally absorbed, for the whole of the 45 minute exhibit.

It was so good to catch up with Hannah – I’ve known her since we were both four years old and even though we don’t get to see each other very often now thanks to geography, work and kids, when we do meet up it’s like we’ve never been apart.  Her daughter calls me ‘aunty Chloe’, which just makes my heart so very happy – Hannah is like a sister to me, just like Rachel, my other best friend (see below) is and I love them both enormously.

Daytrip to Southampton:  I also made a spontaneous day trip down to Southampton to meet my new baby ‘nephew’ – Rachel had her little boy!  He arrived just over a week later than his due date and I couldn’t resist sneaking down for some newborn baby snuggles.  He was five days old on the day I visited and, of course, he is utterly adorable.  I played with Rachel’s daughters a lot as well and spending time with them all in the garden on a glorious sun-soaked afternoon was heavenly.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to get down there again next month.

Tiny newborn toes



New rings:  I can never resist a visit to my favourite shop in Bude – Wildwood – whenever we visit, so when we were there in July I spent a happy hour or so browsing all the treasures it holds.  I bought myself a couple of new rings: one rainbow moonstone and one mystic topaz.  The second I tried them on (and they fit perfectly, which never happens!), they immediately felt perfect, and the meanings of the stones were exactly what I needed, so I bought them and I’ve been wearing them ever since.

Glitter tattoo:  When I was visiting Rachel, her two daughters (aged 5 and 3 years old) shyly asked me if I would like them to give me a glitter tattoo.  If there is one thing I’ve learned from raising young kids, it’s that when they offer you a gift like that, you say yes – emphatically, enthusiastically and immediately.  Because for them it isn’t just a small gift, or just a glitter tattoo, it’s their way of saying that they accept you, they love you, they trust you.  It’s a big thing for them, and that needs honouring accordingly.  I sat patiently whilst the eldest carefully applied it, closely watched by her little sister, who interjected with instructions every so often, and…I like it!  I felt very special to have had it so lovingly bestowed upon me.

My brand new glitter tattoo. I like it!



Flower fields:   I have wanted to go to a sunflower field for as long as I can remember and we’ve never quite managed to make a visit to one happen.  So, when I stumbled across Shropshire Petal Fields on Instagram, I immediately booked tickets for us all to go on the first Sunday in August.

The day dawned, wet and soggy just like most of the preceding week.  Two out of three girls’ moods matched the weather and they decided they didn’t want to go.  It ended up being just Ella and I in the end and we had a really lovely time together.  The sun came out just for us!

The fields were VERY muddy but the flowers were absolutely glorious.  There were sunflowers; delphiniums of various hues of pink, purple and white; cornflowers and wildflowers.  It was all very well set up: well signposted directions to get there; there was a long row of portaloos; friendly attendants guiding everyone to where they needed to park; a pop up cafe; a vintage ice cream van; picnic tables and giant teepees; pathways through the flowers so they didn’t get trampled on; photo opportunities; and a little place to buy fresh cut flowers from to take home.  The fields are only open to visitors for one week each year and then all the petals get harvested to make wedding confetti.

The only downside to the day is that I forgot to take my camera!  I was SO annoyed with myself!  So it had to be phone photos instead.

A tiny section of one of the sunflower fields we visited in Shropshire

Ella taking it all in – the fields stretched almost as far as the eye could see.

Me at one of the fun little photo opportunities that are dotted around the fields. (And yes, Ella and I did accidentally wear matching hoodies)

Harry Potter Studio Tour:  We are big Harry Potter fans in this house and we’ve been to the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour twice before and loved it.  As a (very belated) Christmas present for Mimi, we headed down once again this month for our third visit.

There were loads of new areas to explore compared to when we’ve been before.  The Dursley’s house (4 Privet Drive) has been opened up a little more than previously, so you can now go through into the kitchen and garden.  The Herbology Greenhouse was fun – you can pull out mandrakes from the soil.  And I loved seeing the scale model of the Weasley’s house, The Burrow.  All three of those new additions are in the courtyard area by the cafe about halfway round the tour.

My favourite new experience by far though was Gringotts.  The banking hall, the goblins themselves…all absolutely fantastic.  And then at the end, the dragon.  I won’t spoil it for you just in case you ever go, but let’s just say it was breathtakingly good.

There is so much to see and do there that even if you’ve been before, like us, you’ll always find something new that you’ve missed on another visit.  Plus, of course, the grand finale of the model of Hogwarts is as stunning as always.

I think the thing I love most – not just about the tour but about the whole Harry Potter world in general – is the detail in everything.  Absolutely nothing has been missed.  The intricacies of it all blow my mind, the amount of work and people involved in bringing it all to life is phenomenal and when I think of the ripple effect of the imaginations it’s sparked along the way, well, I think it’s amazing.  We’ll be back again one day, for sure.

Hogwarts Castle at Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour

The Wand Room

Ella’s adventures:  After our visit to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, we dropped Ella off with my Mum, who she went to stay with for a few days.  They did a bit of sightseeing in London; walked around some local lakes; went to the town I grew up in and saw my old house, school, library and the place where her dad and I first met(!); and went out for dinner.

She last went to stay with my Mum four years ago, pre-pandemic.  She was only twelve years old at the time and it was only the second time she’d ever been away from home (other than a few days away with school when she was still at primary).  So it was a pretty big thing for her to do, especially as it was arranged fairly spontaneously.  It was good for her – she’s more self sufficient and confident now so it gave her the chance to put that into practice, and she made some lovely memories with her Nana and Grandad too.

It’s always very strange having one of the girls missing because the whole dynamic and energy in the house changes.  I missed her lots.


Chapter eight of 2023 is now closed and we are two-thirds of the way through the year.  Next month is one of my favourites – September always feels like a fresh start.  It’s going to have an entirely different rhythm that we’re all going to need to adjust into with the big changes ahead in terms of school and college.  Plus I have an exciting solo adventure lined up!

I hope that you found plenty of little things to love throughout August and that you enjoy whatever the month of September brings.

With love,

Chloe x

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