Thursday 21 July 2011

moving on.........

Today is a bittersweet day, the last day Jack will spend at primary school. This September he moves on to pastures new, the next step towards his adult life, one step further away from us. He has been very happy during his time at school, it 's been a lovely, nuturing and creative place to be. We're so proud of him and I just wanted to make a record of it here, not that he reads this blog, thinks it's "strange", but maybe one day he'll have a nosey and see just how we feel about him. We tell him constantly, but like most nearly 11 year old boys, listening isn't his greatest skill so we don't know how much goes in.

From the moment a child is born you're aware that one day that child will leave, and each step you take with them brings you closer to that day. They start making their own choices, have their own opinions, quite often disagree with you but still look to you to guide them, and sometimes even hold your hand (when no-one else is looking!) As parents we long to hold onto that hand but we know we have to let it go, and it's hard, very hard. I'll miss my boy on our walks to school, I'll miss seeing his face in the playground, and our chats on the way home but I know (hope) he's going to enjoy the next stage of his life and we're so looking forward to sharing it with him.

Last week we watched Jack in his school production, we waited with our hearts in our mouths for his turn to come. Jack's stammer has been worse over the summer and part of us didn't want him to go through speaking in front of an audience. How we underestimated him! Our brave, brilliant child stood proudly in front of the whole school and assembled parents, and although he stumbled he played his part brilliantly. Speaking is something we all take for granted but it is something that Jack is aware of the whole time and he copes fantastically, in fact he expects people to accept him for the way he is, we find him an inspiration and words can't describe how much we both love him.

We love you our darling boy, don't ever change...............xx

Sunday 10 July 2011

good homes...............

Last year was a momentous one in many ways, we got married, Jack turned ten and I left my glorious thirties, a decade I'd loved. The decade in which I had my children and life finally made sense, I could admit that really I wasn't hugely ambitious and a life as a mum would do for me, more than that, I would really love it (most of the time).

Not being a diamond and pearls sort of girl a 40th birthday present had to be something else, and after visiting a friend of a friend's garden and loving her little painted potting shed, I worked on Ian and we designed a summer house with Reg, shed builder extraordinaire. This little beauty sits at the bottom of our little garden, and it's all mine................well, ok I do share it now and then with the children. I love it and when my photographer friend Amanda asked if she could take some photos for a feature she'd like to do, of course I agreed.

Let me say, it's never been this tidy since. We'd used the summer house a couple of weeks before for our wedding, as a tea room, filled with all my vintage tea-cups and side plates (and a few borrowed from Mum).
So whilst it was still tidy Amanda took all the shots she needed and did a brilliant feature for Good Homes magazine.

It's a very strange but incredibly thrilling feeling to see your home in a magazine, slightly surreal to see something so familiar to you through somebody elses eyes. Amanda did us proud, I think my family may again have bought up all the copies and Reg rang me the other day to say he'd been contacted from readers all over the UK for a quote.

Kitty has celebrated her 7th birthday with a pool party in the garden. Not the warmest day of the year, one of the girls even asked if we had a wetsuit............for a 3 foot deep paddling pool! The afternoon went well, there were no punch ups over pass the parcel, only one child cried when she lost the musical statues game  and the dog was removed from the situation since we knew the temptation of food and children would have been too much to bear.

Sunday morning in this house means it's my turn to get up with the dog. She's an early riser our Peggy, normally about 6am. For a night owl like me this has taken some getting used to, I'm not known for my positive attitude towards early mornings. Peggy has changed all this, Sunday morning  has now become a ritual for me............a cup of tea, crumpets and nutella (how I love nutella!) and a couple of magazines......bliss. I get about 2 hours quiet, the children fortunately take after me with their love of a lie in, which sets me up for the rest of the day.

It also gives me time to sit and appreciate the house and all our bits and pieces. For example, this shelf, one of the many areas adorned with bits of nonsense which mean something to us. Ian's dad's books, a tiny tandem I bought for my bike mad husband, one of my favourite wedding photos of my sister and I which perfectly sums up a perfect day, a strange springy dog that Kit bought from a street sale, a spotty candlestick from a neighbour for our wedding and Ian's Biggles books.

This year the garden is thriving, against all the odds. A gardener I am not, can't even class myself as an amateur, my special skill lies in killing plants. But I am a trier, and maybe my efforts are paying off.

The geraniums are doing brilliantly, as usual, the sweet peas are coming on, and this morning the first dahlia unfurled it's beautiful petals in the most glorious pink.

My one flower bed is pretty good, the roses are having a second flush, the foxgloves were a triumph and the cosmos my friend Liz grew from seed are beginning to flower.

Our scrubby neglected table has been brightened up with some donated verbena from a neighbor..........

................and the apple tree we planted for Jack four years ago is bearing many fruits.

Somehow the large blue paddling pool with the slightly stagnant water is adding much to the garden, it's only still there because nobody can be bothered to empty it!

Have a happy week all..............xx

Monday 4 July 2011

a holiday, a dream comes true and asbo dog excels herself.........


So much to catch up on, so apologies for a very picture heavy post. First of all, our "honeymoon". A honeymoon with two children in tow, we wouldn't have had it any other way. We ventured further than our usual west Wales haunt, left the dog with Mum, packed up the car and headed 1000 miles through

...........Venice, one of the most beautiful, vibrant and atmospheric places I've ever visited. There was so much to see, to eat, drink and just absorb. We wandered for hours, picnicked in squares, drank coffee and ate cakes, people watched, crossed so many bridges we lost count, and we all loved it.

Venice is one of those places that is just as you imagined it would be, we lost ourselves down endless alleyways, watched gondolas gliding by (at 100 euros, out of the question!), and admired the water taxi ranks..............

Balconies laden with geraniums were everywhere..............

We wandered far off the beaten track and found ourselves virtually alone.............

On our final day we stayed until the evening drew to a close, catching the last ferry out and enjoying Venice without the crowds, we ate seafood in a fantastic little restaurant, scoffed the famous Venetian ice cream and bought naff souvenirs.

We had the most wonderful time, and that was only one third of our epic journey, the rest of the hols were spent in Switzerland and Belgium. After a particularly busy year it was fantastic to spend so much time together on a holiday that I hope will stay in the childrens memories for ever, I know it will in mine.

Doglet was very well catered for whilst we were gone, Mum has fallen for her wily charms. She soon settled into having us around again, and is very pleased with her new collar.......

 She spends rather a lot of time in the garden and the view from the summerhouse is like this........

Today she decided that she no longer needed her she ate it, along with her daily diet of pencils, tissues, shoes and to top it all she finished her feast today with a piece of toddler poo that we'd fished out of the paddling pool.........YEUCH!!


Other exciting news...............a few months ago I spent a very frustrating couple of hours trying to buy tickets for Take That, without any success. Having given up hope of seeing them imagine my excitement when my fab friend Liz announced that her sister had won us two tickets and we'd be going to see them in Birmingham in less than two weeks. What an amazing night, the most fantastic stage show, great dancers, fabulous atmosphere, and to top it off The Pet Shop Boys were the warm-up act. Liz and I couldn't really believe we were actually there, we had the best night. I know they're not to everybody's taste but it was one of the best nights I've ever had........

So, life's good. Today I turned 41, my thirties are well and truly behind me and the next phase of our life as a family will soon begin as Jack starts secondary school.

More exciting news in my next post..............

Tuesday 26 April 2011

a birthday, a wedding and an asbo dog.......

So, where do I begin? After wasting far too much precious time changing the look of this blog I thought I'd pop back for a little update. How I wish I had a bit more technological expertise than a tadpole, I spend an inordinate amount of time sighing and having violent thoughts towards my laptop than is healthy.

So.........I'm back, who knows for how long, but I have been keeping up with you all out there, enjoying catching up and absorbing all those fantastic images. Losing bloglines has meant that I've lost track of some of my fave blogs, but I cannot get to grips with the new one so I'm relying on my sidebar.

How was 2010 for everyone? Here in the VH household things have been a-changing in quite a major way. Not only did I hit the big 40 last July but finally, after 15 years of blissful (ha!) happiness Ian and I finally took the plunge and got married! It was the most fantastic day, a very short civil ceremony at the pump rooms complete with music from The Waterboys and then 90 people squeezed into our diddy back garden for afternoon tea. Food was supplied by all our fabulous neighbours and friends, as were the flowers and cakes. It really was a special day which brought home once again how fortunate we are to live here.

The icing on the cake came courtesy of Emma and her fantastic photographs. Having followed her blog and loved her photos we asked if she'd take pictures of the day for us and she did us proud. They were exactly what we'd envisaged and she captured the spirit of the day perfectly, what a clever lady!

..............finally, a chance to use all those vintage teacups I've collected over the years

.................this photo sums up the atmosphere of the day perfectly, we laughed from beginning to end she managed this one I'll never know. This is how I look in my imagination, not in real life!

It's the time of year when the garden starts to come to life and I've been experimenting with picnik's effects and loving the polaroid effect.

Which brings me to the latest addition to the family, a very naughty, hyperactive but extremely cute new member of the clan. Doesn't listen to anything I say, has a habit of chasing joggers round the park and steals shoes, newspapers and any food within reach.............what have we done??

...............asbo dog aka Peggy, how could you resist?

Tuesday 12 January 2010

a new decade begins........

........I'm not sure in which childcare manual it suggests that mouthing through the living room window "Get out here and finish the snow dog you miserable little sod" is positive parenting, but after two extra days of children at home I'm finding I can forgive myself. Ian and I had a whole child free week planned, you know, eating in proper restaurants where chicken nuggets are not on the menu, long walks without chocolate finger bribes, wandering round town without the whines of dismay, but two days in we, like the rest of you, woke to this glorious sight........

Needless to say the school was closed and entertainment of a snowy variety was our remit. Now we love our children, relish their company (mostly) but after exhausting them on the sledge on day one they were a little hesitant about venturing out on day two, hence thinly veiled threats being hissed through the window.

Fortunately the various snowmen, snow bears etc. were built on day one and spent the next few days watching us (quite ominously in the dark) until the big melt started and snowman's head looked futher skywards until it eventually fell off.

Did you notice how I slipped back in there, hoping no-one noticed my unexplained absence? A blogging crisis hit the VH household, actually I couldn't find the time to do it and I had little inclination anyhow. It's amazing how much time it freed up for me but I have missed you all so I'm back (again). Quite often it strikes me that this is a funny thing to do, what is the purpose? Sometimes it feels a bit show offy, a bit "look at my perfect life, home and children". That is so far from my life, our house is in dire need of attention, our children fight daily and life as you all know is never perfect. But I like the fact that this blog is my only journal of family life, my only diary, a record of how our lives are at this point in time. Many times over the last couple of months things have happened that I wanted to blog about and tonight this prompted me...........

...............our children love each other to bits but how they fight! Over anything and everything........who goes up the stairs first, who has the biggest piece of chocolate, who sits where at the table, who gets the extra yorkshire pud and on, and on. Sometimes however, they forget their differences and actually get on, in fact revel in each others company. Tonight Kitty climbed into Jack's bed and he read her stories whilst I was despatched to more menial duties, not much in the scale of things but to me, priceless.
So, Christmas has come and gone, New Years day was spent recovering  from a fantastic party here with lots of friends, neighbours and their various offspring. The Christmas tree turned into a twig, far too much was chocolate consumed, terrible television watched and Ian and I got very competitive with Singstar. Normal life has now resumed but here's a snapshot of our festive house before the hoardes descended.................

........look at that cute little Santa, an ebay bargain and just like the one my Grandma had when we were children.
When this house is tidy the love affair with it begins again, quite a short lived one because the order never lasts long.................... 

.............this year the children were in full control of the tree which of course meant rather a lot of low flying santas, snowmen and baubles. We chose a beautiful tree which managed to shed both needles and decorations with alarming speed, there was a strict no go zone set out, in fact even breathing near it was strictly forbidden.

So, 2010, a new decade, the big four-oh is creeping up on me but apart from that not much changes. The children will try to kill each other with increasing regularity, I will still drink far too much tea and consume vast quantities of cake, I will consider a job, and then promptly reconsider, I'll lose my temper, Ian will pursue various hobbies with his customary intensity, we'll camp in the rain, visit new parts of this wonderful country we live in and rant, laugh, cry and dance with each as normal!

Happy New Year.........................xx

Friday 16 October 2009

fame at last..........well, sort of.......

Last week I was having my usual Saturday morning magazine fest, this involves a lie in, tea, toast and most importantly time to read in peace. Out of my pile I chose BBC Homes and Antiques and made my way to the contents page. I nearly fell out of bed, for there was a picture of our very own kitchen. Now don't get me wrong, I did know that someone had been and taken pictures of the house (be a bit weird if I didn't, eh) but we didn't expect them to be in the mag until next year. Amanda, the very talented photographer is a friend from school who mentioned about this time last year that she would like to take some shots of the house and see if she could place them with an interiors magazine. Now, although I love my house I can also see all the faults, the dust balls, leaky patches, cracked toilet, scuffed walls and bits of crap everywhere, so I was dubious as to whether it would be good enough. However, Amanda did us proud and took some fabulous pictures and earlier this year we heard that H&A wanted to do an article.

We were told that it would be going in early 2010 so it was a bit of a shock to see our kitchen there, right in front of me. I broke all my magazine reading rules and rushed through straight to page 59 and I have to say it was a great spread. The only downside is the picture of the old crocheting crone in the corner but I can avert my eyes from that bit quite nicely. It's a bit surreal seeing your house on paper, it almost doesn't feel like ours, but it's very exciting . The whole family have been out buying up all the copies , Ian alone bought 4, and it's been a great conversation piece for the last week.

The pictures here aren't the the best quality, I couldn't stop the flipping light shining off the pages, but you get the idea. Thank you to all the lovelies who left some very kind comments about our home, we love it and the children can't quite believe that we're in print.

News of a more depressing kind came a few mornings before the magazine arrived. Ian had to go into hospital for a minor op and stayed in overnight because of some complications. I've never really had a problem about staying in the house alone and went to bed as normal. Next morning I came down to find that someone had forced open our kitchen doors and been in and taken my handbag from the living room. Once the situation had sunk in, and believe me it took a couple of minutes to register what had actually happened, at first I thought I'd left the door open, I immediately thought of the children and I can't describe the cold feeling of dread that went through me. My legs went to jelly and the run upstairs to check them seem to take forever. Needless to say they were fine and none the wiser. The police came straight round and I had to pretend in front of the children that it was all a big adventure and managed to hide my shock until they went to school.

My handbag was recovered, all they'd taken was £6, they must have been so disappointed with that haul. The same night they also went in my lovely neighbour who lives alone. Both of us have now had super locks and burglar alarms installed. One of my biggest fears has always been someone getting into the house at night and to be honest if I sit and dwell on it and consider the "what ifs" it does haunt me, but I refuse to let anyone make me afraid to live in my own home, so life will go on as normal. My peace of mind will not be shattered by the creeps who think they have a right to invade my property and take the things Ian works so hard to provide, to be quite honest it makes me more angry than afraid, but there are so many nicer things in life to dwell on that I'm trying to close this chapter.

Onto things of a lighter nature, since the photos were taken I've had a major overhaul of the kitchen. The blue dresser was never quite right in there and I had a picture in my head of a cube type storage system since seeing it in a book somewhere. A bit of a departure from my normal style, but a couple of trips to the DIY store, a lot of drilling and painting later.........ta dah.........

Ian wasn't convinced about the whole thing so I did my usual trick and bought, built and painted the whole thing before he could argue about it. I think he likes it now but no matter because I love it, all my treasures (crap) are on display and easily accessible and it's freed up some cupboard space. The whole cleaning business will be a nightmare but we'll cross that bridge later.

The dresser has been moved to it's new home on the landing and I'll show you that later, I know, you can hardly contain your excitement, not exactly rock and roll on this blog is it!

Let's finish with a couple of gratuitous fire shots, can't resist. Our boiler seems to have gone into turbo heat mode and we can only have the radiators on at furnace level so we're hiding our heads in the sand and using the fire instead................

Happy weekend all....................