Archive for the 'photos' Category

Garden, July-December

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

We moved into this house in July, to find the professionally landscaped garden looking very lovely. This is the children exploring it (photo snapseeded for nostalgia purposes) on the very first day:
childhood summer
In principle we have done nothing this first year but are waiting to find out what is there. With which in mind I have kept a bit of a photographic record: slideshow below. In reality of course there were things to be pruned back, apple trees to be installed (why wait a year when we will definitely need some?), a bloody awful yellow scrubby shrubby thing that I hoiked out in a temper and replaced with a buddleia, some new roses to fit in…we removed the top of the swing seat as it acted like a sail and took the whole thing across the garden at every gust of wind, and fenced the pond within 2 days of moving in. The raised beds were pretty with marigolds, poppies and (nasty pink) lavatera, but that hasn’t stopped me clearing one to make room for some veg. The broad beans are 4″ tall already.


Tuesday, December 20th, 2011


Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

I ordered some, um, kits from Clothkits in their January sale – cutting and paper patterns is the bit of learning to sew I am most intimidated by, so I thought these would let me practise sewing a bit before I had to do any of that. And here is Jenny in a pretty green pinny; I had to make buttonholes and most exciting of all figured out how to sew on a button using my machine. Given that my usual approach to an off button is to ignore the garment for several months before sliding it into a charity bag, this could change my life!

One mystery remains, which doesn’t appear to be solved in any of my newly bought books: I asked Earthenwitch, who muttered something about folding it tightly or chopping a bit off. (I am considering demoting her from sewing guru, to be honest.) You know when you need to make a hem on a flarey thing, like the skirt of this here pinafore? So the foldy up hemmy bit is wider than the skirty bit to which it is destined to be attached? What does one do with the excess material? The underside of this dress must never be looked at by anybody who knows, because I just sort of made some creasey tucky bits and sewed over them hard.

The back of it is here.

Kneading and ritting

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

(Or, yarn along from small things – where you post what you are reading and knitting with, I hope, no requirement to be able to do both simultaneously.)

Books and needles

The small dull-blue pretty thing on gorgeous wooden needles will one day in the distant future, I hope, be a river shawl. I cast it on approximately 800 years ago, its leisureliness caused by being a pattern that requires attention, ie I can’t do it in front of the telly. The long, long grey thing at the front will one day be a shrug for me. I love the yarn (Rowan lima, all sort of braidedy plaity instead of twisted, soft and cuddly and yum); I can do the pattern with my eyes closed* after so many many miles of it. However, as it is so very long now, it is hardly portable, so the very bright ball of Noro towards the back there is about to start being turned into small, portable, socks. This represents a paradigm shift for me as I have scoffed at the idea of knitting socks: Karen, I apologise.

Reading-wise: a large pile of sewing and knitting magazines – I basically went into Hobbycraft and bought one of each in a bid to work out which are me and long-term stop wasting money on magazines full of patterns for old-lady cardies. Time will tell whether it works. “The shipping news”, which I started before (like, 10 years ago) and hated so gave up.  I then watched and adored the film, so I am giving it a second chance. And “delusions of gender” which is fascinating, such that I keep reading bits out to anybody who will pay attention. (Jenny is very interested.)

*I can’t really, I can’t even do it and read: I can do it while listening to and keeping half an eye on a television programme. Cameron doesn’t mind at all when I make him rewind because I forgot to pay attention for a bit. No not at all.


Monday, February 14th, 2011

This is my First Proper Thing made with the sewing machine, apart from a couple of scrunchies. I followed the instructions in this oddly titled pamphlet (“I can’t believe I’m sewing!”) for a baby blanket, but added a layer of wadding, batting, whatever you call it, between cotton and fleece. For extra pouffiness (or, as I believe one would say if one knew what one was talking about, loftiness. Or just “loft”. Have yet to learn to speak sewing.) Hence it being a “quinket”; not quite quilt – although I did sew along the edges of the squares in a quilty fashion, the edges were just turned over not bound with scary bias  binding – not quite blanket.

From baby to toddler

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

She walks! Only a couple of metres unaided, and very wobbly at that, but give her a little finger to hold and she can do the full length of the house. She is safe up and down stairs (though I still have kittens if she tries to combine the two, walking and stairs). She climbs on anything that is left accessible, favourite being the wobbly old wooden chair in the kitchen.

She talks! Nana (banana); mama (me); gong-gong-gong (no idea); uh-oh (I have thrown my dinner/the clean washing on the floor); gak-gak (the noise a duck makes)

She plays! She rocks a baby doll and bangs drums. Favourite is anything that has beepy tunes and/or flashy lights:  no waldorf child, this. She disappears upstairs for hours with the big girls: they play Barbies, I have no idea what she does.

She points! Most forcefully, we are left in no doubt that what she needs is That Thing There.

She doesn’t sleep! She eats on a pattern best known to herself! When she does, she loves minestrone soup, bananas, shepherds pie, and thinks egg is weird.

Sling when you’re winning

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

You must tell the mums! Tell them! I was urged by our oh-so-hippy ex-GP. (He now runs the village farmers’ market and is gung-ho about unpasteurised milk and passionate about the village pig project.) I’m not entirely certain which mums he means, given that surely anybody who was interested would be quite capable of googling – these days there is an enormous array of websites dedicated to the black art of what I refuse to call babywearing – or approaching me on the street; an event that occurs about once every 3 weeks. (In between I am approached by elderly people who wish I would carry them.)

With hindsight, I should have started selling baby slings when M was tiny: if only a fraction of the people who enquired actually went on to buy one from me I’d still be well ahead. There just weren’t the options then; these days there are millions of different sling designs and manufacturers and websites. Unlike some dedicated shoppers, I only have four slings, and one other passed briefly through my hands before being sold on. The one in this photo was our first; bought in Japan (and look, here is baby Maggie in it), it is an Israeli-design stretchy wrap. A sling of some sort was essential in Tokyo, where subway stations often had two or three flights of stairs and no lift (and I learnt from bitter experience that you could stand at the bottom of a flight of stairs looking plaintively at your buggy for a really long time before anybody offered to help.) It’s just about 6 metres of black jersey with a pocket at the front and rings to fasten the ends together. Cameron’s sling of choice, as it is fast and easy to put on; my favourite for a tiny baby. The stretch means you can put the carrier on first then put the baby in – so great for a newborn who might pop up and down over the course of a day – but also makes it less supportive so it isn’t so good once baby is heavy.

My current favourite for Jenny is a didymos, a woven wrap (no photos of this one yet but it is stylishly black and silver). I wrap it in almost the same way as the stretchy, but around the baby as it doesn’t stretch to accommodate. I like it very much but wish it too had rings to fasten as I end up with a bulky knot at the back when I tie it.

Number three is a maya wrap, which I have yet to put Jenny in. I did use it for a newborn Tamsin but it really comes into its own for older babies and younger toddlers; I keep it in the back of the car, or carry it if we go for a walk, as it is so easy to just pop them in and out. I dislike the one-shoulderedness of it and am aware you should swap sides but like my handbag only really feel happy with it over the right side.

I’ve just come to number four and realised with a blush that actually we seem to have five. Blame baby brain even if it no longer officially exists. My fourth style of sling is a meitai, basically a square of fabric with four strap attached to the four corners (you can get meitais with wrap-style straps, padded straps, unpadded straps, head rests, rain covers… mine is just basic.) It’s pretty, in pink spotty satin, and I like it best to put babies on my back. In principle one can wrap onto one’s back but I don’t find it that comfortable; the meitai just feels right. (This is Tamsin again.)

(Lastly, I have a second woven wrap; it’s a turquoise and silver gauze which is supposedly cool for summer but was fundamentally bought because it is pretty. The only photo I have of this one – the curse of being the family photographer – is appallingly hippy.)


Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Busy busy. Mum came to look after us for a fortnight, which was lovely: so nice to have that extra pair of hands to pass the baby to, or to peel potatoes, or colour with Tamsin, or do Maggie’s homework. (I mean, of course, help M with her homework.) And now she has gone and we are working out how to manage three children two grownups; it seems the way to manage is mostly to do no housework beyond the absolute essential* and to live in a midden. So naturally I have upped the ante by choosing this week to put the house on the market. Any buyers out there who can see past the toys and clutter and non-cream walls and distinct lack of immaculacy?

We have a new car, so can all leave the house simultaneously and not in convoy. It is a Toyota so may well be recalled for weirdy accelerator issues:  it will have to go back anyway as they have not fitted the reverse parky beepy things that we requested. Not sure if it is the fault of the lease company or Toyota; frankly I don’t much care as long as it is resolved before I reverse into something. Cameron sold his at the weekend and is now driving my old one, muttering under his breath about the yogurt and crumbs and mud and general unpleasantness of it: he tried to get it valeted on Sunday but was turned away from two places. We are not sure if they were scared by the state of it or just about to close.

Jenny** is growing and growing and I know this is a good thing and what babies are supposed to do yet couldn’t help feeling sad as I realised I had to stop cramming her little feet into newborn-sized babygros and get out the next size. It is a novelty for me to have a big baby (she’s not huge, just biggish) after the other two tots, and she is such a happy content sweet thing with bright eyes and a double chin. Maggie is reading, properly – just discovering the Secret Seven and really not that interested in being read to or even in reading out loud but just wants to be left in peace with her nose stuck in. Just like her mum. She’s a sensitive soul who was upset when Granny went home. Tamsin is, well, three, and didn’t give a monkeys. Very three. She’s enjoying preschool but still refuses to speak there (but will whisper, with some sort of 3-year-old logic) and is great at jigsaws -oh, and she has started ballet lessons which she loves.

* Essential = one hot meal a day, clean plates to eat it from, clean clothes.
**Links are to photos


Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

All sorts of lapsed bloggers have been crawling out from the woodwork and behind stones this Christmas period. I feel inspired to join. If anybody out there isn’t on FB/my text list/the grapevine and is thus unaware, baby Jenny joined us on December 20th (just: 1.11 am). I may be a biased and rose-tinted mum – and it may be early days – but she’s a pretty perfect baby and her big sisters are thrilled. More photos can be found here, including one of M&T dragged from their beds to meet the new arrival, and for those of you who enjoy such entertainment her birth story will follow just as soon as I can bear to put her down for long enough (and as soon as I find time without a babe-in-arms that isn’t immediately claimed by another child or some essential household task. Or sleep.) All I will say for now is that independent midwives rock, and are worth every single penny.

Her first couple of days of life were spent on the sofa snoozing and feeding (she is a champ and has gained a lb already, at 10 days old) and generally getting over the whole pushing out a baby at way past one’s bedtime thing (didn’t get to bed until after 3 the night she arrived). My favourite event was surprising Sara, in whose house we had been at 5 pm on Saturday (no baby): her face was a picture when she walked into our living room at 10 am on Sunday to find a whole new human being had arrived overnight! On day 3, we finally managed to put up the Christmas tree and were visited by a different midwife; this one had wondered the day before J arrived if it would be worth trying a wee bit of homeopathy: we had discussed whether it would work if you didn’t believe in it. She maintains it clearly does (I think she’d have arrived regardless). Day 4 my milk arrived – I need say no more for anybody who has been through it – as did my parents.

big girls A pleasant if necessarily quiet Christmas: mum and dad came and cooked goose and trimmings (and now they have gone I can put selected leftovers in the bin but shh don’t tell!) and occupied M & T with games and crafts. They (the girls) had clearly absorbed all the propaganda about santa not coming if one didn’t go straight to sleep: when I went up to tuck them in and fill their stockings, I found two girls lying perfectly straight under completely undisturbed duvets, clearly neither of whom had twitched a single muscle since bedtime. Both slept until 745 which was quite a present for us, too. [Aside: at a week old I find it hard to evaluate whether J is “good”, but I am getting a lot more sleep now than when I was pregnant, which probably means she is. I was asked today whether she was sleeping through, which struck me as a bit nuts.]

J and I had our first outing yesterday – her first ever trip outside the house, my first venture beyond the garden shed for 10 days. Lovely to get walking not waddling and I so enjoyed getting the baby sling back out. Today was busy with the health visitor (a profession of which I have not been given cause to revise my opinion), a trip to the hospital for J’s hearing test (all clear) and a new tumbledryer as mine picked the perfect time to break down. J has experienced three short car rides so far and has screamed through them all which does not bode well for next week when we must go to Surrey.


Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

OK so I haven’t quite been here as much as I intended.  Part two of our hol has not yet appeared. Today: a new term, a new school year. And boy are we back to normal: Mag loved school of course, despite a small wibble when we went in to her new classroom, saying goodbye to Ruby (different class this year) and not knowing where her drawer was. But apparently her new school shoes were brilliant. Tamsin and I zipped into town on the bus to visit the market for 2 kg of plums – I have an unexplained urge to make wine – and some damsons for gin, then she went off to preschool. Cameron has gone to Italy via London (he is showing some press people round Ferrari, how horrible for him) and I am home alone in the rain with a short deadline. And actually rather enjoying being on my own for the first time since July!

I haven’t set foot on the allotment since being kicked off: am going to have to stop being sad and embarrassed and get myself down there. There’s a sandpit and two raised beds (and some lovely veg, and a rhubarb crown that I know they have been coveting) that I will not leave for the next person. It’s raining though; did I mention that?

english ones

I’ve been reading…not that I am ever without a book, but I’ve been getting through them at a better rate (we’ll see what happens now it is term-time again). One of my reads was not on the label, an interesting book in the same vein as tescopoly or fast food nation. It wasn’t full of surprises but has reinforced a lot of the things I was trying to do anyway – so I am back baking bread, which had slipped over the holidays (and early pregnancy too, don’t forget – a pretty damn good excuse if you ask me) and stepping back from the meat-centric diet we had drifted towards. (This is complicated by Tamsin being almost exclusively carnivorous.) I have dug out my excellent river cottage bread book and today attempted english muffins (that’s them in the picture); bagels are next on the hit list. I am unsure about prawns, the farmed fish/wild fish thing continues to confuse me, but I feel quietly smug (and lucky) to have an organic farm shop in the next village that competes with the supermarkets price-wise and stocks about 95% of things I want.