Little Loves: June 2023

It has been all about exams this month.  After half term finished it was straight back into the second half of Ella’s GCSEs, which were immediately followed by Mimi’s Year 10 Mocks – the first time she’s experienced formal exams and understood what the whole process is like.  They both coped admirably well and are very relieved that it’s all over.

Ella has also attended a ‘college experience day’ where she got to go into college and have some lessons in the subjects she’ll be taking, meet other students and get to know her teachers.  She loved it and now can’t wait to get started in September.  Before that we have the long wait for GCSE Results Day in August, which Ella is actually more nervous for than she was the exams themselves.

It’s been such an intense time – for them and for us.  It felt like there was a lot of pressure from school (intended to help, not harm of course), so we tried to keep it fairly easy-going at home: encouraging revision but not forcing it; and prioritising balance and wellbeing and energy over and above anything else.  I think it worked.  We managed to have some fun in between the hard work as well, which I’m glad about, because all work and no play isn’t any fun.



The Signature Of All Things:  I finally finished ‘The Signature Of All Things’ by Elizabeth Gilbert.  It took me a while – about a month in total I think.  It’s not my usual genre and I found it a little…heavy?  Usually when I’m into a book I pick it up at every available opportunity, whereas with this one I had to make an effort, a conscious choice, to read it.  Putting in the effort paid off though because by the time I got to 2/3 of the way through I couldn’t put it down and needed to know what happened.

It’s quite an extraordinary book in many ways.  It spans the main character’s entire life, from before she was even born right up until she dies.  It’s set in the 1800’s and covers, amongst other things, the complexities of family and love and nature and faith and science and travel.  Some sections swept through several years in just a couple of pages, whilst other chapters covered just a few hours in intrinsic detail.  I found the ebb and flow of time described in this way quite fascinating – I felt it gave the story quite a unique rhythm.

I’m still not 100% convinced I enjoy Elizabeth Gilbert as a fiction writer (although she is growing on me) purely because of the historical aspect of what she writes.  However, I do very much appreciate the attention to detail she includes, the delightfully slow character building , the descriptiveness, and the thorough research that clearly goes into her books.  For those reasons, I’ll persevere.

‘The Signature Of All Things’ by Elizabeth Gilbert

All Your Perfects:  I needed something completely different to read after the hard work of the book above, and a Colleen Hoover book was just the thing. They’re so easy to read even if the subject matter and storyline itself is challenging.  I finished it in just four days.

‘All Your Perfects’ tackles infertility and marriage struggles as the main topics and, even though I don’t have any personal experience of infertility, it felt like it was written sensitively and honestly.  I enjoyed it.



Hamilton:  At the very start of the month, whilst it was still half term, Mimi and Neil went to see Hamilton at the Victoria Palace Theatre in central London – Mimi’s first trip to the capital (that she’s old enough to remember properly anyway – we did go when the girls were very small to meet the author Jacqueline Wilson).  It was a birthday surprise.  I took Ella to see Hamilton for her 15th birthday too and wanted to uphold the tradition.  Mimi absolutely loved it, and Neil enjoyed it as well.  She was thrilled to have the whole day just with Neil and they even explored London a little bit too – visiting Buckingham Palace whilst they were in the area.

Neil and Mimi at Hamilton in London

The Little Mermaid:  Whilst Mimi and Neil were in London watching Hamilton, I took Ella and Lola to see the new live-action ‘The Little Mermaid’ film at the cinema.  Mimi had said she wasn’t too fussed about it, whereas the girls and I really wanted to see it.  It was one of my favourite Disney films as a child so I was curious to see how it had been interpreted.  Overall, I thought it was excellent: I enjoyed the backstory that was added in for Prince Eric; there were a couple of extra (new) songs; the actress who played Ursula was fantastic; the cinematography was beautiful; and the CGI worked really well.  It got the thumbs up from both girls too – Ella even said it’s her “new favourite Disney movie”, which is high praise indeed.

Tommy Innit:  Not long after his southbound trip to London for Hamilton, Neil was on the road again, this time heading north to Manchester with both Ella and Mimi accompanying him.  They went to see Tommy Innit in his tour show ‘Annoying At First’. He’s the girls’ favourite YouTuber – a 19 year old self-made millionaire with over 14 million subscribers who watch his Minecraft related videos.  I have no idea what the show was about (it’s not my world at all), but both girls loved it and said it was very funny.  He did Ella’s ‘BeReal’ with her and she still can’t quite get over the fact that he touched her phone.

Neil, Ella and Mimi at Tommy Innit’s show in Manchester

You (Season 4):  I find ‘You’ quite intense and need to be in a particular headspace to be able to watch it, so I’ve been working up the courage to watch Season 4 for a while now.  We finally got round to it in June and… it was excellent of course.  It was even more brain-contorting than the previous seasons and I think it might be my favourite one yet actually, purely because of the twist at the end that I didn’t see coming at all.  I’m already looking forward to Season 5, which is apparently the last ever season.  I have absolutely no idea how it’s going to conclude!



Goo Goo Dolls:  The Goo Goo Dolls have been one of my favourite bands since I started college 24 years ago.  I love their music – it was the soundtrack to some really pivotal moments in my life so every time I listen to their songs it brings a sense of nostalgia as well as pride and a whole lot of memories.  I’ve never had the chance to be able to see them play live.  Neil knew this, saw they were doing a UK tour for the first time in years, and got me tickets for Christmas – honestly one of the best presents ever.

The gig was at the O2 Institute in Birmingham, which I’d never been to before – it reminded me of the Deaf Institute in Manchester where Ella and I saw Dermot Kennedy last year.  The support act was ‘Those Damn Crows’ (who I’d never heard of before) and they were pretty damn awesome – they really got the crowd going.  It was my first time standing at a gig rather than having seats and I found it to be a much more immersive experience because you feel like you’re really in the middle of it all, rather than just watching it.  Although… short girl problems!  I couldn’t see very much but I loved every single second of it.  It fully met (and exceeded) my hopes and expectations.  So many of my favourite songs got played, including ‘Slide’ and ‘Here Is Gone’, and of course ‘Iris’ was the encore.  The whole crowd singing together in a completely collective experience really was a moment that I’ll never forget.

The Goo Goo Dolls live at the O2 in Birmingham – a dream come true!



A spontaneous trip to Watford:  I headed down to Watford on Father’s Day (leaving Neil to celebrate the day with the girls), so that I could spend the afternoon with my Mum and stepdad, who were going out for a late lunch with my stepsiblings.  My stepsister lives in Hertfordshire and I last saw her and her family when Neil and I got married nine years ago and they came to the wedding.  My stepbrother and his family live in Australia – it’s been thirteen years since I last saw them.  They were over in the UK this month for the sad occasion of a friend’s funeral.

It was so lovely to see them all.  We talked for ages about all sorts of things and I made sure I took some photos to remember it by – just phone snaps but better than nothing – because who knows when we’ll get the chance to meet up together again?

Out for lunch in Watford on Father’s Day… (r-l): me, my stepbrother and his partner, one of their sons, my stepsister and my stepdad. Photo taken by my Mum.



New hair:  Both Ella and Mimi had haircuts this month.  Ella wanted a new look for prom, and Mimi wanted layers put into hers – she hadn’t had her hair cut for well over a year and it really needed it.  They were both very happy with the results.

Ella’s new haircut – she went shorter and darker

Mimi’s new hairstyle – layers and curls



Chapter six of 2023 is now closed and we’re officially halfway through the year, which seems unfathomable to me.  Next month is set to be busy – we have quite a bit of UK-based travel coming up that I’m excited about, plus all the usual, inescapable, end-of-term chaos.  I’m very much looking forward to the summer holidays and being able to slow down a bit.  It’s always a challenge to balance work with the girls being home and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to do some fun things as well because from September a lot is going to change in the rhythm of our lives.

I hope that you found plenty of little things to love throughout June and that you are excited for whatever July brings.

With love,

Chloe x


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