Our new home



This weekend we went to check out our new pad.  It’s a bit of a fixer-upper; it has no roofs, and many of the interior walls are crumbling, but we can get a ‘man’ in to sort that.  I think it is going to be pretty good space-wise – it has a few more rooms than we currently have.  I just love the detailing around the doorways.



Some might say pillars are a little ostentatious for a new family home, but we love them. They make excellent hiding places for children to jump out from behind.



The garden is pretty spacious too. The boy like the view from what will be his balcony…


..although we all found it a little strange that the centre of the maze garden didn’t quite align with the peak of the fountain, but we can speak to our gardener about that.


We think we will be quite happy with the two ornate fountains. I mean one is just not enough really is it?





And this cute little feature will make a great BBQ area.


So, all in all, we are very pleased with our new home. However there are some strange people about who we will have to keep an eye out for….


…could you imagine if this man was your husband?

Linking up with How does your garden grow?


The beautiful English Heritage Witley Court.




Someone’s watching me


Do you ever get the feeling someone is watching you? Whilst digging my new border this weekend I had that sense.  So this week, I thought I would hand over my HDYGG post to my little gardening buddy, who was just as busy as I was in the garden…but who looked way cuter.







Linking up with Annie and other wonderful green-fingered bloggers at How does your garden grow?

You are worth it

My daughter has a favourite pair of pants.  They have Anna and Elsa on, and a dizzying array of frozen fractals surrounding them. They are very cute and I can see why she likes them so much. But because they are her favourite – her ‘best’ ones – she puts them at the bottom of the pile and saves wearing them ‘for special’.  She’s unsure quite what ‘special’ is, but maybe she will know it when it comes.  Then sometimes she  says she is saving them (best till last) until she has worn all the others and they are in the wash.  Only, she has many many more pairs of pants than just seven (which is the longest we go before putting a wash on), so that day may never come.  I feel so sad for her that she isn’t getting the enjoyment she would surely have by knowing that today she is wearing her ‘super pants’.

Then it occurred to me that sometimes this is what we adults do too.  OK, it may not be with our favourite pair of pants (unless….) but rather with special things we might do to make ourselves feel good.  I’ve done it with a lovely looking bottle of champagne given to us on our wedding day nearly five years ago.  We have had plenty of ‘special’ times in the last few years that would have warranted cracking open a lovely, crisp, chilled bottle of bubbles, but for some reason I have never felt it was the time.  For a couple of years it lived in the fridge, so it would be ready for when it was needed.  But now it has been relegated to the warm wine rack, amongst other ‘nice bottles’ of port and rum that collect dust rather than being enjoyed.  How sad that instead of indulging in a real treat, I have instead set the bar so high that I could not picture an occasion that would warrant its opening.

It is so important to be kind to ourselves, to allow – no maybe not allow, simply let – ourselves have moments of enjoyment and to treat ourselves. We deserve it.  Life can be busy and hard-going at times, so how good is it to reinforce such a positive message that we can take a moment, we have value, and are worth indulging.  It doesn’t have to be much; a walk in the sunshine with the warmth on your face, a half hour on the sofa with a good book before the school run, putting the housework or chores or work on hold just for a moment, simply because you deserve that time and deserve to feel good right here and now.

So today I treated myself to a a pretty bunch of flowers. Money is very tight, and I paused for a moment wondering whether I really needed them. Of course I didn’t.  I didn’t need them, but I would get so much enjoyment from them, brightening up the table, making me smile.  I decided I was worth the £2 investment. And think of all the smiles I would miss out on if I waited until we had flowers to cut in the garden….a good 3 or 4 months from now.

Tomorrow I am going to gently encourage my daughter to wear her Anna & Elsa pants. For no other reason than it is Wednesday, she is beautiful and sweet and kind, and – to coin a well-worn but  important phrase – she is worth it.


What would you do treat yourself? And will you let yourself indulge purely because you are worth feeling good about yourself?


Let’s talk about death

Yesterday evening I snuggled down on the sofa with my children (the boy who is 9 and the girl who is 6) to watch a nature programme before their bedtime.  It was about whether animals experience love.  This should be nice, I thought, animals getting on with each other, snuggling together much as I was with my cubs. And we were hooked. But as the animals’ love for one another quickly became embodied in the production of baby animals, I started to brace myself for the question; y’know the ‘how do they make babies’ one.  The girl had already caught me off-guard earlier in the week when she asked me how mummies get babies out of their tummies.  So, I became a little preoccupied about my answer (whilst anxiously looking to the door to see if Daddy might come in soon to help) should the question be asked.

What happened next, though, I was totally unprepared for.

The girl suddenly burst into tears, burying her head into my chest and sobbing.  “What on earth’s the matter sweetheart?” I asked – puzzled momentarily as to why baby-making should cause tears.  “I want to live forever,” came the tearful reply.  I took a moment to re-adjust from where my head had taken me (to a place of questioning that didn’t exist) to where my daughter actually was.  She was frightened.  “Oh sweetie,” was all I could manage at first as I bundled her close to me.  “You’re going to live for a good long time yet,” I tried to reassure her.  “When you die, mummy, do you turn into a statue?” she asked.  “No darling, you don’t turn into a statue,” I said to her. “So what happens when you die?”, her tears starting to fall a little slower now. “Well, I don’t know for sure – no-one does – it depends on what you believe really. I think your soul goes to a really happy place and you meet up with your friends or family who might have died before you and you are all very happy together.” She looked thoughtful for a moment.  “What’s your soul?”  I started to falter as I told her that her soul was what made her who she is; a great singer, a beautiful dancer, funny, different from every single other person ever.  She absorbed it for a moment and then, as young children who live in the moment do, she said “I’m going to wear my pink hair band when Jonny comes to play.”  That was it; she was satisfied.  Nothing more needed to be said.

I let out a long breath. I had not been ready for that. I felt inadequate.  I should have had better answers to her questions, I should have been more reassuring.

Then I heard a stifled breath.  I looked at the boy.  He was in floods of tears now.  “What’s wrong?” I asked him.  “I’m scared. Everything that she said has made me feel like I’m going to die.  I don’t want to die mummy, I don’t want to die. Ever. I’m scared.” And he looked scared. Suddenly he was just my tiny baby and was frightened.  “I don’t want to die,” he said again, urging – almost pleading – with me to tell him he wasn’t going to.  But I couldn’t. Obviously. We are all going to die.  “You’ve got a super long life ahead of you, sweetheart, I know it feels strange to think of dying, and it makes you feel funny – it makes us all feel funny to think of it – but try to think about the good long life you have ahead of you,” I said.  But for a 9 year old boy, who can think longer and harder about these things, this wasn’t enough.  It deteriorated into a panic attack.  I took him upstairs, we practised the deep breathing we do for his asthma. I asked him to tell me about the African Cup of Nations and finally distracted him enough to calm down.

A couple of years ago I wrote a bid for the charity I was working for about End of Life planning for the elderly.  I felt so passionately that we should talk to people about how they wanted to be cared for at the end of their lives – as much as it is possible to have a good birth, it should also be possible to have a good death.  But death in our society remains a huge taboo subject.  No one really wants to talk about it because no one really wants to think about it ever happening to them.  Children haven’t had this sort of conditioning yet – they simply ask questions about things as and when they occur to them.  And I don’t ever want to stifle my children’s questions.  Yet I felt I failed them last night.  And I think the main reason that I feel that way is it tapped into that deep-set maternal instinct – that is they were scared of something that I couldn’t take away or tell them wasn’t going to happen.

I want to talk to the boy again about this.  I want to be in a better place to answer his questions, address his fears, reassure him, make him feel safe that isn’t just – or rather in addition to – me telling him over again, as many times as he needs, that “You Are Safe”.  So how do you talk to your children about death? As they grow older, and the finality of death begins to dawn on them, how do you help them navigate this?  And how do we change society so that may be us adults, who might also feel a bit scared by the whole death thing, can talk about it too?

I can see you



Hiding under the snow.


Peeking out from behind the silver birch.


IMG_0420Beautiful bulbs are popping up all around the garden.


The chives (in front of my husband’s weathered garden art) are growing back again to brighten up our salad:



I cannot remember what these little fellas are.





Snowdrops and grape hyacinths are starting to bloom.  As the days begin to lazily stretch out, is this a sign that spring is nearly here?  I hope so.

How does your garden grow?