I thought I’d do some monthly favourites blogs, so here are some of my favourite things from the year so far:
- Waitrose’s ECOlogical fabric conditioner.
- Pumphreys’ selection of Swiss Water decaf coffees. Find them in the Grainger Market. A North East institution.
- Urtekram rose shower gel.
- Cloth sanitary pads*
- Bonne Maman strawberry jam (on homemade bread)
- Doves Farm organic wholewheat spelt flour (for making said homemade bread).
- Hawthorn leaves emerging :)
- ClassicFM (not a fan of commercial radio in any other setting but the music is worth having to flip stations occasionally!)
- This YouTube channel, which is just fascinating.
- My new FitBit Charge 2, a mother’s day surprise from Mr VP and Baby VP. Nothing says ‘get your rear into gear’ like a buzzing wristband!
- Apple cider vinegar because of its health benefits. I use the Biona variety.
- Faith In Nature lavender bar soaps. We don’t use liquid soaps any more at Chez VP, and these are some of the nicest bar soaps I’ve come across! Proper, old-fashioned soaps with just the right amount of old-lady-knicker-drawer about them ;-)
*more about these coming!
Have you noticed I’m sort of blogging again? I didn’t want to come out and say “I’m back!” until I knew I was going to come out to post more than a couple of blogs. But here I am and after fighting with some pretty major writer’s block, I feel a bit more able to tackle all the things I’ve been wanting to write about. It feels nice! I don’t know exactly how many posts or how often I’ll be able to do it but I miss it so much that I’m going to endeavour to do it a bit more.
I started taking some supplements a couple of months ago, to help make me feel a bit better and they seem to be yielding results. I’m not really a sun-worshipper, in that I tend to remain fairly well covered in the sun and am definitely not a fan of hot weather on the few days a year we get it, so it’s almost certain I’m vitamin D deficient. I started taking DLux (1000 i.u.) twice daily, a vitamin B complex and also zinc, as having a toddler means I usually end up getting whatever bugs are going round! So far, so good.
Pretty quickly I stared to notice a difference and combined with making sure that I am careful with my diet (especially sugar consumption), I know that I will continue to feel better soon. I always notice that I start to feel better when I see the light sky in the mornings. My mornings now begin an hour earlier than I am accustomed to, as Baby VP’s schedule shifted around 16 months, but I quite like the long stretch of day that it gives me. It also means that by 9pm I’m usually to be found laying beached on a horizontal surface, totally exhausted, but in a good way.
I cannot wait to get out to the beach again, now with a toddler who can run up and down on the sand :) We’ve already had a few beach visits but there was less running and more trying to stay upright as BabyVP felt the force of the north easterly wind! We have a bucket and spade ready and I’m looking forward to sandy sandwiches and coconut suncream. Until then, I’m making do with plum and cherry blossom on the trees. Bliss!
The hedgerow at the bottom of our garden has in the last week unfurled its beautiful green leaves. Suddenly, almost overnight, the branches are clothed in a thick velvet fabric of such density and verdancy, just as they were those twelve (!) years ago that we bought the house. I look back at those years and that person I was then; I daresay I wouldn’t recognise her at all, in her naivete and youthful exuberance. I daresay she wouldn’t recognise me, either, though I know she’d love the life I’m trying to create for our family.
Spring is the happiest time of year. I used to like winter a lot, but now for me no other season is as wonderful or magical as spring. As lovely as autumn is, it is tinged with a sorrow at losing the lovely days of spring and summer and succumbing to the indoors for a few months. Spring on the other hand beckons you out, holds your hand, wafts sweet scents of newly cut grass and may blossom on the breeze. It has the season’s first strawberries and birds nest-building and long, long, long overdue sun.
Today was one of those dreamy spring days. It was warm, a whopping 14C and almost entirely windless. We had a late-for-us start followed by me making pancakes for everyone, with extra blueberries for Baby VP whose idea of the perfect meal is a blueberry (or twenty).
Mr VP has started the long, arduous task of DIY – painting the dining room and the bathroom amongst other things – so while he got on with that, I took Baby VP out and we went to the beach for a walk. It was so busy there that we actually struggled to find parking – something that hardly ever happens at this particular beach, so you could tell the weather was exceptionally nice. The ice-cream van had a line ten deep for oysters and 99s and Zaps. We walked and she and I and talked about the things we could see; why the water looked so blue and about the people, the birds and the sand.
Spring is a hopeful season. I love it and can’t wait to get out for some more walks and get to see some more places.
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.
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.
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!