March has been a month of two halves: I didn’t pick up my camera at all for the whole of the first two weeks (which is unheard of for me) – I was just so busy trying to balance home-schooling with being incredibly busy and full-on with my own work that there wasn’t time to go anywhere or do anything other than that. It was very much a case of keeping our heads down and getting on with things.
The second half of the month saw all three girls finally back at school for the first time this year and us all remembering old routines, finding new rhythms and learning yet more new rules. I’m actually enjoying doing the school runs and whilst the house is so quiet during the day now, having that boundary between home and school, work and weekends is making a positive difference I think. It feels like a tiny step in the right direction towards having a bit more freedom and coming out of the other side of everything that’s happened over the last twelve months.
Here are all the little things I’ve been loving lately throughout March…
How To Stop Time: After reading ‘The Midnight Library’ by Matt Haig back in October last year, I had high hopes for ‘How To Stop Time’, a previous novel he’d written. It took me a little while to get into and I didn’t connect to the main character as well as I usually do – I’m not sure why. It didn’t make me feel as much as I usually feel when I’m reading, it was almost as if I couldn’t quite immerse myself fully into the worlds that were being described. Normally I can keep up with hopping between different timeframes and storylines but for some reason this time I found it quite tricky to do so – that’s probably more about me and my rapidly decreasing concentration span rather than anything else.
Maybe I should have left a few more days in between finishing ‘Where The Crawdads Sing’ last month (which I loved) and immediately starting this one? Despite the initial struggle, I loved the concept of the story and it contained so many words of wisdom in it, especially towards the end. It reminded me a little bit of ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ by Audrey Niffenegger – one of my all time favourite books. ‘How To Stop Time’ is very well written, delicately intertwining all the big questions about meaning and purpose and belonging in the world with the uncontrollable nature of time and how we humans relate to it.
The Night Circus: I absolutely loved ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern. I read the first page and was instantly and unavoidably hooked. I got totally swept away with the exquisite descriptions of the characters, the places, the emotions, the gestures, the expressions – every word made me feel like I was right there. I love magic and have always been fascinated by the circus (I am determined to learn to do the trapeze one day, it’s on my bucket list!) so I think this book was always going to be a winner for me – there is actual magic inherent within it’s pages, I’m sure of it.
Words to describe it: Un-put-downable. Captivating. Intriguing. The storytelling is just so beautiful and you’re never quite sure what’s going to happen next. The pacing of the story is perfect too: the setting of the scene; building the anticipation and then the crescendo of an event that happens. It’s such a unique story. Read it. Now. Seriously.
I knew after the first chapter that it would be one of my favourite books of the year and actually, I’m putting it on my ‘top ten favourite books of all time’ list. The ending of the book was so very clever – intricately and delicately connecting everything together and I didn’t want the magic to draw to a close. I’m already looking forward to reading her second book – ‘The Starless Sea’ – which I ordered immediately.
Snowpiercer: After finishing Season 1 last month, we’ve worked our way through Season 2 of Snowpiercer throughout March. I REALLY hope there’s going to be a third season because it’s brilliant.
High School news: On the 1st of the month we heard that Lola had been accepted into her first choice of high school, the same one that her sisters attend. We were fairly sure she would get in, but as I read the email at 6am when it popped into my inbox I still let out a big exhale of relief from a breath I didn’t even know I’d been holding since we first applied back in October last year. It’s going to make the morning and afternoon school runs so much easier when they’re all in one place and I’m glad that Lola will have her sisters there to look out for her. Lola’s best friend is going to the same school so they’ll have each other as well – fingers crossed they end up in the same tutor group and lessons.
I’ve said it every time so far and I’m going to say it again – I can’t believe that my baby is off to secondary school in just a few months time! It doesn’t seem real and I think it’s an especially poignant transition this time around because she’s the last one, our youngest. Having all three of the girls in high school doesn’t seem possible, I’m sure they were all still toddlers just a couple of years ago.
Parent’s Evening: Halfway through the school year means it’s time for Parent’s Evening (or ‘Consultation Evening’ as they’re called in high school). We’ve only had Ella’s so far and of course it had to be done virtually rather than in person, so that was an interesting experience – it felt a bit like speed dating! We had 4 minutes with each teacher, one after the other, and when your time was up the video cut off mid-sentence and the next one popped up.
We got some phenomenal feedback about Ella’s work – the grades she’s received for homework assignments and tests that she’s taken are brilliant – but I’m most proud of the work she’s put in and how well she’s coped during lockdown and this whole weird year of disjointed education. She’s spent more time at home than in the classroom over the last twelve months and has still consistently shown up and done her best. Every single teacher, without exception, commented that she was “a delight to have in their classroom” and that she’s generally just lovely and my heart nearly burst.
‘Curating The Curious’ Podcast: I’ve always liked the idea of podcasts – just being able to have them playing in the background whilst in the car or doing things around the house, almost like being part of a conversation without actually having to participate – but for some reason I’ve never been able to get into them. I tried but always ended up losing focus, my mind drifting onto other things beyond what I was supposed to be listening to. I’m not a particularly auditory learner, I need to see things written down or do them for myself to take things on board.
However, I’d heard some fantastic reviews from the photography community about ‘Curating The Curious’, a podcast created by LeAnna Azzolini, who’s art/work I greatly admire. I decided to give it a try whilst doing the ironing one Sunday morning while the rest of the house was still sleeping and I think I might have overcome my podcast block – it was brilliant! ‘Curating the Curious’ isn’t just about photography – it’s about creativity and curiosity about the world in general, so it really is for everyone.
The first episode I listened to was an interview with Laura Aziz, who talked about her ‘Morning Pages’ practice (taken from a book called ‘The Artist’s Way’) and her philosophy of “You’re gonna die”, both of which absolutely fascinated me. I actually stopped ironing and took notes (see, I told you I had to write things down to be able to learn and remember them!).
I also listened to an interview with Sarah Krieg, whom I adore. Learning more about her and all the seasons in her life that have led her to where she is now was so interesting. I’ve already lined up some more episodes to listen to – I’m hooked! Leanna is a brilliant host as well – she’s funny, easy to listen to, asks thought-provoking questions, keeps the energy of the conversation going and I love her accent too.
Music: Instagram stories is currently my favourite place to discover new music. I’ve come across so many artists I would never have found if it hadn’t been for watching people’s stories. Most recently I’ve been listening to ‘Change It All’ by Harrison Storm (on repeat!).
GCSE choices: Lots of school-related things have been going on this month! Ella made her choices about her GCSE options last week and again, I’m finding myself wondering how on earth the time has gone so fast that we’ve been catapulted into this stage of life already. It really is true what people say: “The days are long but the years are short”.
She’s decided on History, Geography, French and Photography, as well as the compulsory English Literature, English Language, Maths and Double Science. I had no hand in the photography side of things, that was all her choice! I’m already excited to see where these subjects take her – she chose the ones she enjoys the most and is actually curious about, so I hope it means that the next two years of her time at school will be fun and interesting for her.
This time next year it will be Mimi’s turn and that seems just as crazy. I look at this photo of the two of them together (below), a year and a half apart in age and almost the same height as each other, and I’m just so proud of who they’re becoming.
School uniform: During the second week of March, all three girls (somewhat reluctantly) donned their school uniforms for the first time in 2021 – they definitely much prefer being able to wear their own clothes to do their school work in! They had staggered starts back at school – Lola first, Mimi a couple of days later and Ella was the last one to go back.
They were all excited about the return to school, which I’m very glad about, and thankfully the transition back to classroom-based learning has been a smooth one. They’re all happy to be back with their friends and listening to them happily chat about their days in the car on the way home, and hearing their enthusiastic and entertaining stories from school as they sit around the dinner table in the evening is just brilliant. As much as I loved having them home with me for so many months, they really needed to go back to school for so many reasons. Let’s just hope that they stay open now and that we make it through to the summer holidays without having to isolate.
Mothers Day: Mother’s Day was a quiet day, as most weekends have been recently. These were my flowers from the girls and they were absolutely beautiful. They were from Bloom and Wild which is the company I always use if I’m sending flowers to someone – their customer service is fantastic and you can tell that they really, really care about their products and the people who receive them. These gorgeous blooms lasted more than two weeks in total! If you want to try them out, you can use this link to get £10 off your first order!
One whole year: It’s been one whole year since the world first shut down and I’ve been trying to find the words to write about it. There’s so much to say that I don’t really know where to start. The last twelve months have been incredibly difficult and utterly wonderful all at once and whilst I’m hopeful that we’re beginning to come out the other side now, I’m also acutely aware that nothing is going to be the same again for a long time.
It’s also been a year since I went to ClickAway 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Looking back at photos and videos of that trip feels so surreal – it was the last time I hugged anyone other than my immediate family, the last time I travelled, the last time I went out to dinner in a crowded restaurant, the last time I didn’t have to wear a mask when indoors.
It’s crazy how distorted time feels at the moment – it’s hard to believe that chapter three of 2021 is now over, that we’re firmly into Spring and that there’s only one more term of this school year left to go. I’m doing my best to look forwards to all the positive things that there are to come over the next few weeks and keeping everything crossed that the plans we’ve tentatively made are able to go ahead.
I hope that March has been kind to you all and that April is full of good things.
Stay well x
(Joining in with Sincerely Anna and #LittleLoves)