A warm Sunday morning in March, much like it was the other weekend. A new kite. Some necessary errands ticked off the list and a chance to take off for some family time. To the beach to fly our new kite. Possibly more for me than for Baby VP, though when it took off the look of awe and wonderment filled her face just as much as ours. It was possibly the easiest kite I’ve ever flown, and so much fun. It stayed in the air, without any skill from me, for over 25 minutes. And was, at one point, flying almost 80 metres in the air with only a very light breeze. Amazing and so, so magical.
Monday 13 March 2017
Saturday 11 March 2017
Weekends are so short these days. They fly by in the blink of an eye, so, so quickly. What’s different? We’re busy with little Baby VP who is definitely not a baby any more! But weekends… they disappear. So we try to make sure that we go out and do Interesting Things together as a family.
So a couple of weekends ago we donned warm coats, Baby VP wore her thick all-in-one bunny coat, and we headed out for a decent countryside walk. I must admit that since having a baby, our walks are not as long as they used to be, and certainly shorter now that we don’t use a pram any more. But we make sure that we stop to enjoy all that nature has to offer and now that spring is so tantalisingly close.
We find that getting out early is best as we not only avoid the crowds but we make the most of the pre-nap energy. I also think that getting out and about early is best to see wildlife and we were lucky, seeing a treecreeper, lots of blue tits, coal tits, great tits and chaffinches as well as a pheasant, robin and moorhen. It was the first time that Baby VP had been into a bird hide for quite a while, and this time it was magical because she was so open to seeing the birds. We made sure we pointed each one out. We’re not ‘twitchers’ by any means, but there is a lot I appreciate about seeing birds come and go and spotting new ones I haven’t seen before. They really are beautiful things, birds.
I think about the things I want to pass on to Baby VP, the things she’ll remember forever, and one of the greatest things I can think of is a love of the outdoors. An abiding love and deep appreciation for the wonder and beauty of nature; the awe-inspiring brilliance of the world’s living body. I think of how much information there is to teach; how much I am learning alongside her and I feel so humbled by it all. The weight of this duty is immense. What a wonderful job to have.
By the time we were finished walking and bird-watching we were ready for a sit down and a coffee, complete with a toasted teacake shared between us three.
Sunday 5 March 2017
Have you noticed that we’re now exiting the deepest, darkest bits of winter? Like a plant deprived of the sun, I am desperately craning myself to find some its rays again. So when the weather gets above 10C and the wind is not blowing a gale and the sun is shining? I make like a cat and luxuriate, nay revel, in its appearance. Hoo-boy, Sun, you have been away far too long!
All of the above necessary conditions were met the other day and so I set off with Mr VP and Baby VP, the Archers omnibus on in the car (to my absolute flummoxing, I’ve discovered that Mr VP is not only a closet fan of the Archers but if I miss an episode it turns out I can rely on his almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the goings on in Ambridge to set me straight! *insert wide-eyed surprise-face here*).
And so we walked. Away from others, though as it was pretty early (for a Sunday), there weren’t many takers for a brisk walk. Just myself, my girl and Mr VP. Blue skies, white clouds, oystercatchers, a huge stretch of golden sand to explore and beachcomb on and the deep blue North Sea.
On the way back we saw a couple of unfamiliar birds flitting back and forth in the hedgerow. It turns out that they were stonechats. A new one on us!
Sunday 22 January 2017
January is always an odd kind of month. Grey and dreary yet simultaneously promising a new, fresh start. This year has been no different. Days of frosty-white mornings; fern-patterned car windows and slippery pavements and days like today; grey and mizzly with not even the tiniest ray of sun to be seen. The short hours of light making everything feel a little less productive as the world beats a hasty to retreat back into darkness. That being said, January this year is flying by – I cannot believe we’re almost at the end. Almost one-twelfth of the way through this new year of ours.
I’d like to say that I’ve been Very Productive in this hibernation-state I’ve been in recently, but while I have managed to do a good deal of housework (and, even better, house de-cluttering!), my priorities and interests seem to be focused on feeding/entertaining our newest member of the VP family. I mean… who’d rather tidy and clean than play with Duplo?! Exactly. Who’d rather load the dishwasher than make cheesy spinach, carrot and sweetcorn pancakes for lunch!?
As a result my camera doesn’t get used much at all these days, though I know I must dig it out and get going again because I miss cataloguing the smaller, more mundane bits of everyday life (like aforementioned cheesy spinach pancakes, which are not only a supremely easy way to feed a hungry mum a toddler but which also include lots of yummy vegetables! Win!).
So that’s where we’re up to so far in January. I’ll try to dig out my camera to take some photos of my newly-created bullet journal (an addendum to my Filofax, which is also something I have shamefully not blogged about – sorry, I’ll hopefully do a dual-post!) and also some food we’ve been eating recently. I hope everyone’s January is going well :)
Monday 2 January 2017
The deep of winter is pulling me inside, making me want to spend my days in the comfort of central heating and cups of tea (though seldom drunk hot!). We were all floored at the beginning of December by a really nasty bug, which for poor Baby VP (now very much ToddlerVP!) became croup. A single dose of steroids later and she was back on the road to health but I know it made me feel rough and it was scary to see her unwell.
December is gone, as is 2016, in such a blur. We were still wrapping gifts at 11pm on Christmas Eve, as Baby VP slept upstairs. Christmas was lovely, though done at a different pace. There was the opening of gifts; the rapid breakfast-out-of-the-way to do so I could get the kitchen cleared for Operation Turkey. It was lovely, for the most part calm and following our new cadence as a family. Mum came over and played with Baby VP, I cooked, Mr VP hovered between helping and playing as needed. We ate Christmas lunch very early indeed and I was so glad that we had a dishwasher to do the job that was usually relegated to whoever didn’t cook lunch (usually Mr VP!).
I’ve written about it before, but I really do love this in-between time. A time when things sort of close down and go a bit quiet. We have a huge to-do list; an A4 page of things we really need to get done before Mr VP goes back to work. Unfortunately as the end of Mr VP’s holiday time off approaches is here, we are still staring-down a big check-list of things we haven’t done. But that is life! 2017 is here and is so bright and sparkly and full of promise and of things we must do, want to do and will do. Some things we won’t manage, of course, but isn’t it about the adventure rather than the destination? Most important of all is remembering to spend time together, enjoying every moment together as a family. I don’t usually do resolutions as such, but this year my goals are to write in my paper diary more, blog a bit more often and spend every moment being present in the moment. Hopefully three things that are doable! As for the list of to-dos… they can wait a little longer.
Tuesday 15 November 2016
The jays that otherwise-invisibly inhabit the woods behind the house have been more active in the last few weeks. I sometimes see a magpie-shaped bird flying out of the trees, with a pinky, buff-coloured chest and know it is not a magpie or a wood pigeon but one of their majestic blue-flecked cousins. Often heard but seldom seen, except now. Coming out of the house the other day, with a well-coated toddler in one arm and a changing bag in the other, I looked down to see an acorn. Quite odd, given that most of the trees around us are ash or Scot’s pine. I knew who’d left this precious little arboreal offering. It reminded me of reading that jays are responsible for planting more oak trees than squirrels. A couple of days later, I saw one flying right over our house. I knew a jay had dropped it, just for us.
Another day I was driving in the tail-end of the afternoon and already it was starting to get dark; to soon, too early. I was driving to run some errands, baby and husband esconced in the warmth of the house, playing on the floor. I drove a while and noticed that in the valley nearby, the fog was starting to form. It was as yet confined, the sides of the hill keeping it contained. Thick, grey wisps moving slowly, hanging low in the air.
A little further in my errands, I came around a corner and the view was lovely; very wintry, very familiar, very hygge (a new word in our collective lexicon for something I’ve been trying to do for as long as I can remember). A row of old Victorian terrace houses in silhouette, with chimneys peeping out, some of them smoking, the ladders of smoke climbing heavenward. Behind them the sky, almost dark, held the remnants of the day’s sun; lemon-yellow with a teeny bit of blue, edged with grey clouds. The church in the distance with its castellated tower watched regally from its promontory, back-lit by the same lemon sky.
A different day, this time grey and wet, with the first really cold chill on the breeze. Driving down into a little valley with a river at the bottom – it sounds like we live somewhere hilly, but we don’t, just a few river valleys – we pass under a canopy of trees. High enough so that the branches just skirt tall double-decker buses and thick enough so that it’s quite dark at the bottom. As it was windy, the trees were blowing and it looked for all the world like we were driving into a snowstorm, except these were yellow and brown ash leaves fluttering down before us. I called to Baby VP in the back of the car and told her to look at the leaves falling. I watched BabyVP in the mirror looking around her with a smile, before going back to the song we were singing.
I found a new classical piece, or rather, new to me thanks to ClassicFM. The piece is Kol Nidrei by Max Bruch. The ending, the last two minutes, is something quite magical.
Today we went for a walk around our local town. After a coffee with granny and sorting a few necessities, we all headed off for a walk in the park. Most of the trees are now bare, the leaves thick and yellow-green, red and brown at our feet. Soon to become soggy and slippery. We stopped by the swings so that Baby VP could get her fill of laughter and we could revel for a moment in her joy. A robin came to sit on a nearby hedge, watching us intently. He flitted from branch to branch, eager to see if we would drop something or reveal a tasty grub in the leaflitter. As we moved around the park, he followed too; his bright red chest and quiet, subdued tweets mingling with the human giggles and goosanders and ducks nearby. A cormorant swooped through the trees above. I’m always surprised to see a cormorant so close to trees and town, but he has become a bit of a regular face. No rough seas or isolated lakes for him! Sensible bird.
It never fails to surprise me that so quickly the nights can get so long and the days so short. You’d think that by now, in my 31st year, I would have learnt the seasonal changes, but each year I am stumped at how quickly November becomes dark, December darker, and January icy-cold and grey and dark. And equally, how February starts to bring the first hints at the longer days to come. How quickly it all comes and goes; how quickly now, with a baby, life is flying and time is not an endless stretch any more, but sand that slips away before I can catch it. Breathe and appreciate every single moment.
Friday 11 November 2016
It has been a while (the longest blogging hiatus in my 11 years of blogging!) but I am not really sorry for my absence. Even though I said I’d be back in March, I found that as my world had shifted so completely when I had Baby VP, I felt I needed to rearrange my life and priorities and spend time just enjoying the first year of her life. We’ve had all the ups and downs you expect but I just felt the need to take a step back, cancel all of the extraneous stuff and enjoy the time we have together, because this time will only come once. Not just in Baby VP’s life but in our life. And this last year has been the most emotional, tiring but also wonderful, amazing and rewarding year of our lives. It is amazing, that I suddenly have a one year old who is independent; wanting to do her own things and discover the world around her in her own way. I am in awe of her every single day.
They say a baby changes your life and I laugh to think of it now, because that’s like saying that childbirth is a bit painful or jumping out of a plane is a little daunting: it’s the world’s biggest understatement ever. It took me until Baby VP turned one to realise that I have to start taking care of myself again (not least because a mummy who looks like she’s been dragged backwards through a hedge just isn’t de rigeur). I ventured out to get my hair cut the day before Baby VP turned one and went for a brilliant sleek bob with a new hairdresser. My hairdresser said he’d never seen such a transformation. I agreed. In the maelstrom of having a baby I think I forgot that I probably need to sort myself out at times, too. Lest I end up walking out of the house looking like a family of starlings has taken up residence in my hair. I want to feel a bit more together and I am now to the point where I do (though not every day and certainly not all the time!).
We even went on holiday, to lovely Scotland, where I feel equally at home with my even-more-northern kinsmen. It was wonderful.
So I would like to take a pause here and apologise to everyone for not replying to emails/texts etc. It’s not you, it really was me! But I’m trying to carve out a little time to get back into blogging (and photography – my poor camera had barely been used in the last few months!). Emails will be responded to (definitely yours Marie) and I will make more of an effort. I hate being a ‘bad friend’ and so I will pull up my socks!
Anyway, that’s what’s been going on. In the last year we’ve gone from a gorgeous but immobile little baby to a full-on, mobile, giggling and talking toddler. How that happened, I have no idea. There’s a saying going round: ‘the days are long but the years are short’ and never has a truer word been spoken. And truthfully, it’s been the best year of our lives.