Sunday, 10 March 2013

Now We Are One

Last month the little man turned one. How time flies.

Photo of Bertie and Daddy by First Shoots (see below)

 At one year old Bertie can walk the length of the corridor unaided before realising what he is doing and landing on his bottom with a clunk. He can babble for Britain but no obvious words have emerged yet apart from the ones he has stumbled upon by accident; coleslaw, chocolate, teetotal, gigglejuice. There is a sound that may or may not be pusscat and another that might be Jeff Jeff (one of said pusscats) but nothing we can definitely label a first word. He has eight teeth. He will have nine any day now and, despite the ninth obviously giving him huge trouble and discomfort, he has been as stoical as a baby can be. He has an amazing temperament which gets remarked on wherever he goes. He takes most things in his stride and loves nothing more than observing and taking things in. He has a wealth of toys but his favourites are the jangly balls he steals from the cats. His favourite activity is most definitely swimming - the teacher calls him a little fish. He cackles if you tickle him under his armpit. He has a (mostly thwarted by Mummy) passion for remote controls. He has finally learnt how to sleep (thank god).

This last year has been a rollercoaster ride of learning, loving, sleeplessness, worrying and marvelling but, when you add up its parts, it equals the best year of my life. Motherhood is supremely challenging but the rewards are extraordinary. Our journey to conceive was a long and often heartbreaking one but I would do it all over again tenfold if our wonderful boy lay at the end of it.

These wonderful photos were taken by Suzanne of First Shoots Photography. I was tremendously lucky and won a photo shoot with her on Twitter. We had meant to have some professional shots taken of the little man way before now but money, time etc. etc. In the end it worked out wonderfully well that the shoot coincided with his first birthday. If you are thinking of having some photos taken of your little one then I can't recommend her enough. She put Bertie massively at ease and all the photos are fantastic. We will treasure them for ever.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Evolution of The Tree Part Two

The result of starting again is that the tree is a little bit less adorned than in previous years but I am quite enjoying the green yuletide foliage being on the exposed side. And most importantly I now love every one of the decorations on it (with the exception perhaps of my hastily crocheted "baubles" - they are fine for now but I don't love them).

So here it is, wearing what I hope is the beginning of our family collection of decorations:

The Noel star was whipped up in about 20 min on my new favourite thing in the world, my Brother SE-400, bought for me for my birthday by a group of very kind relations organised by my lovely husband. It embroiders! I know embroidery machines are not news but they are in my house and it still seems like witnessing white witchcraft watching it do its business.

These are my favourites so far in terms of the rest of the decorations:

From Rockett St George

Bought at the Cockpit Arts open studios

Another Cockpit Arts find

Of course the piece de resistance is yet to arrive. We have one of these with Bertie's name on order:

By Sioned ap Gareth via Not on the High Street

I am especially looking forward to hanging that one year after year and thinking back to this special time in all our lives.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Evolution of The Tree Part One: New Traditions

I like Christmas a lot. Like really a lot. Do you remember when you were small and you couldn't sleep on Christmas Eve for excitement? I never grew out of that. It's never been about receiving for me (well not since I was about seven when it probably was largely about Barbies). My excitement is partly about giving but also about good old fashioned magic. That thing you don't really get much of living in the modern world and even less of in London.

Having a baby has made my feelings about this time of year even stronger. Christmas has buried its way even deeper into my heart. It's now going to be about Bertie's Christmases and seeing the magic in his eyes. I can't wait for his first Christmas and all the family Christmases to come.

And it makes me want to start new traditions that can shape his anticipation in the future.

Of all the paraphernalia that goes with the most wonderful time of the year, the one that has always been of central importance to me is the tree. Even as an impoverished student it had to be real and it had to be big. Over recent years I have been building up a bigger and bigger collections of decorations to be lovingly unwrapped each year. Except...each year I have loved them a little less. And last year I looked at them and thought they really just looked plain gaudy. There was no story to any of them. They were a bit kitsch and a bit matchy and without a proper heart. This is last year's tree so you can see what I mean...

Too much teal and fuchsia pink....

So this year they are all going to new homes and I am starting afresh. From now on we will invest in one or two special decorations each year that have some meaning. I hope that Bertie will pick one out each year. That means this year the tree will mostly be dressed in what I can cobble together from my craft cupboard.

This is the (semi) naked tree - so far I have crocheted a few "baubles" and hung a couple of decorations that were gifts from friends:

This year's special decorations are on order and a star is in the making.

I am hoping over the years we will accumulate a family treasure trove of the sort that Bertie's papier mache baubles of the future will sit perfectly alongside and that when the box comes out of the attic each year we will be unwrapping memories.

Dressed tree to come....

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


So rewind to last Autumn and this is me!

Matt and I decided that we should have a few days away together to take stock before our lives changed forever so off we trotted to Wales to stay at Argoed Mill booked through Under the Thatch which was absolutely beautiful.

We had a lovely time sitting by the wood burning stove and doing basically very little!

I did manage to exercise my crochet hook bit and a baby blanket started to take shape...

We also ventured out to the Red Kite Centre to watch feeding time which was amazing and slightly Hitchcockian at the same time...

And we did a little bit of walking and drinking in the gorgeous Welsh countryside:

It seems like another life now as we knew it would. For one thing Argoed Mill has the comfiest bed in the world and we slept and slept. With sleep now a distant memory I look back on that trip with a warm glow because for all that we used to have the freedom to laze about on holiday and lie in, I wouldn't change where we are now for the world. Now holidays are about being a family and discovering everything anew through our son's eyes. It was fabulous being us two but even better being us three.

Monday, 2 July 2012


Hello! If there is anyone out there then bless you for reading. It seems I blinked in October last year and suddenly it is July.

The truth of the matter is I think that I loved being pregnant so much that I wanted to keep the experience close and I didn't have the urge to blog.

And since I "stopped being pregnant" I have been kept a little bit busy by a certain young man. Speaking of which, would you like to meet the four month old light of my life?

I am delighted to introduce Albert to you. Not the best quality pic but a quality smile I hope you will agree.

I am absolutely loving being a mum. I would be a big fat liar if I said it was without its stresses, strains and countless sleepless nights (we are just going through the joys of teething - tooth one is through, hurry up number two!) but nothing can prepare you for the overwhelming love or the fun that comes with being a family.

I have been making, doing and shopping for our lovely boy and whilst I haven't blogged I have photographed so I am now going to rewind to pregnancy and bring you up to date.

Thanks again to those still with me!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Earthly Paradise

I am afraid this post is going to take the form of a shameless plug - apologies!

I am currently co-directing a production of 'The Earthly Paradise' by Peter Whelan at South London Theatre. It is about the tangled relationships between William Morris, Jane Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti and runs from 18th - 22nd October. If anyone happens to be in or nearby West Norwood (SE London) and fancies a trip to the theatre for a funny and moving window into the world of these three well-known figures of the pre-Raphaelite movement then it would be lovely to see you there.

On a more crafty note, as well as directing I have also been helping out with costumes as Janey Morris wore rather specific clothing of the type that you don't usually find hanging about a wardrobe department. My skills as a dressmaker are all self-taught and essentially limited but I have had a lot of fun interpreting the Laughing Moon Day Dress pattern (bought from Habitthat). Definitely not the easiest thing I have ever had to make but I am rather pleased with the result which I hope is suitably Pre-Raphaelite:

Plug over!!

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Simple Pleasures

Baking a loaf of bread has to be one of life's great simple pleasures.

I rarely find the time sadly but I had some family coming over for dinner and wanted to go the extra mile. I realise I am way behind on no knead bread as it seems to achieved cult status online but my goodness it is fabulous!! The original recipe that people refer to is Jim Lahey's in the New York Times . I wanted a little something extra for mine so I used this adaptation from The Gardener's Eden which adds in fresh rosemary.

The basic principle is that you use a small amount of yeast and the bread is left to rise for a lot longer than usual but without any kneading. It is then cooked in a casserole so that it steams while it cooks producing a lovely soft inside. You then take the lid off for the last bit of cooking to get a golden crust.

I was extremely smug about the final result as it very closely resembled my idea of the perfect loaf of bread (although I have to say this is entirely down to the recipe as opposed to any particular skill in the bread making dept!). Look how pretty....