How do I get my kids to ride a bike?

c.1983/4

I am 5…6…maybe 7 years old. I am wobbling down one side of the cul-de-sac on my second hand red bike. Dad is holding tight to the back, running along with me. I am calling out to him.

‘You’re doing it!’ he calls. I notice his voice sounds further and further away.

‘Noooooo!’ I call, ‘waghhhhhhh! you let go!’

But I keep pedalling and I realise… I am a cyclist!

It all seems simple in my memory. Learning to ride a bike. Hmmm, fast forward to 2014 Continue reading

What’s your favourite childhood memory? #REBUILD

Me and my brother, my children

Mine has to be collapsing in a fit of giggles with my brother in a Danish supermarket over a packet of biscuits named BUMS! I’ve always been close to my brother and it was amazing when life replicated the same birth order and age gap in my children. When I watch my kids plotting things together it takes me right back to my childhood.

My brother and I still find ourselves falling apart with laughter over the most inappropriate things. People often ask me what the secret to us remaining close over all the years is. I’ve no idea. I think the shared experience of holidays, day trips and adventures really helped though. We were lucky to have parents who were able to help us see the world, to have adventures and experience new cultures and to have the time and space to simply enjoy our childhood together.

This week we got a letter from Luqman, the boy we sponsor through Action Aid. His life is different, but throughout his letter is so much evidence of the positives sponsorship brings to his community. Sponsoring a child through ActionAid is about helping their whole community.

Action Aid recruited some special people to highlight how important happy childhood memories are. This triggered some great ones for me.

Sarah Alexander visited Sierra Leonne, this video shows how children in conflict countries are still so in need, even 11 years on from the conflict.

I saw very similar scenes when I visited Ghana, but Ghana is a stable country by comparison, the thought of what children have seen in Sierra Leonne, and since experienced, makes me really wonder about their childhood memories. Little things make a huge difference though, windows of play opportunities, a bottle of bubbles goes a long way to creating happier memories.

I’m joining ActionAid in kicking off their #REBUILD campaign. You can help:

  • Please share this post wherever you can, on Twitter using the hashtag #rebuild.
  • Write a post or a status update about your childhood memories #REBUILD
  • Please consider ActionAid child sponsorship, if you can, £4 a week can make a real difference to another community. We’ve found it opens up a whole world to our children too.

Garden: A Retrospective

I was reading Jen’s blog, Love Chic Living, her garden makeover post really inspired me to look back over our garden. Digging our patch meant a lot to me, I was really finding things a challenge at the time, and taking on another project that could so easily fail was a bit of a risk. Dad suggested I wait til the kids were both in school, Mr A kept insisting I check for slugs. Nobody wanted me to be disappointed. Continue reading

Little Legacy: The Legend and Story of Mum

Legend, from I’m a Mum and a…

Today I am curating the Story of Mum online tour. The idea is, as a curator, you choose something from the Story of Mum Gallery, and contribute something yourself. I chose Legend as an image (above), from the I’m a Mum and a...exhibition, because it jumped out of the gallery at me, it had such power. Continue reading

The garden pond project

As we fell asleep in the tent last weekend Miss L demanded stories. Having forgotten to pack books, I began to patch together some stories from my childhood. Out popped the frogs.

I must have been 6 or 7, at the bottom of the cul de sac at the end of our road was a small park. It being the 80s, we were allowed to go down there as long as we were in a gang. I remember arriving to find the thick grass around the park alive with tiny frogs. Continue reading

A little legacy garden update

How was your heatwave weekend, did you make the most of the garden or outdoor spaces? We barely left ours.

Although, I’m actually typing this from a friend’s amazing garden where I am on ‘listening out for newborn duty’. All visits to a new mum must involve supplying lunch, helping with jobs, and packing the new mum off to sleep while the baby sleeps.

Continue reading

Tragic flowers, digging borders and slug swoops

We managed to pull together a small posy of flowers to take to see Mr A’s Grandma yesterday (I know, how very vintage, for someone who constantly bemoans the vintage thing). But I am wishing we had more flowers in the garden. The white climbing rose bush is lovely and flowers all summer, but the peonies as always decided to flower in a thunderstorm and now lie in a tragic mess on the tiles. Poppies are springing up left right and centre, but just like the peonies are gone in a flash. I’m waiting for all the wild flowers I planted.

I’m living in fear of slugs devouring all my efforts in the garden. The garden has taken on a whole new significance to me this year, and I will be pretty devastated if my efforts are demolished in one slug like swoop. Mr A realises this, and keeps asking what I am doing about slugs. I was relying on luck and eggshells until a friend posted a picture of one about to attack a plant on facebook last week, at which point I reached for the slug pellets.

The swing seat Mr A bought makes us all very happy, but we could do with somewhere to eat. I was thinking about a picnic bench on the lawn, although if we could just extend the decking, I would really love this cube rattan garden furniture from Internet Gardener. I also fancy one of these wooden planters to stop an alcove in the decking becoming a dumping ground, and to disguise the window from the decking into the bathroom.

While we visited Great Grandma I spied a greenhouse in her neighbour’s garden, and I was instantly taken back to the sickly sweet smell of tomatoes in my Grandad’s greenhouse. I wanted a potting bench and a greenhouse.

Mum’s tomato sauce recipe and my Grandad in the greenhouse

We’ve dug a big trench, me and Mister G. I’m not sure what we are doing with it but it is the one garden job G really enjoys. Me wielding a spade, and him the hose to soften the ground. The idea was a border to disguise the concrete fence and soften the hedge side of the garden. Jen was telling me about roll out ready made borders you can buy, which sound like a really easy solution. Or Dad says we can transplant lots of the herbs and plants we have already. I’m also toying with the idea of just planting lots of wildflowers.

So that’s a little update from us. How’s your garden growing?

Commissioned post

Two tales of Legoland…30 years and 30 minutes #maddayout

That’s my Dad in Miniland at Legoland Windsor, Father’s Day 2013.

That’s my Dad in Miniland, Denmark c1984.

My photography skills improved a little, or maybe it’s just technology.

It meant a lot to take my Dad to Legoland, nearly 30 years on. To take my kids, just a little bit younger than I was when I went. To take a glimpse into my own childhood, to remember and be reminded how it felt to be a child and to see being a parent in a whole new light.  Continue reading

To call a spade a spade

My Grandad’s old spade hangs on the wall, to remind me that greenfingers do run in my family, that gardening is a huge legacy and I really want to learn more about it. Watching my Dad, another keen gardener, with L, or seeing the way my brother grows chillis and tomatoes on his London balcony, I always thought the green fingers had bypassed me. Then, in my typical bull in a china shop, Gemini fashion, I decided to attack the garden one day.

This is what it looks like in the Estate Agents documents, from when we nearly sold it last year. Neat and tidy but a bit bare. Glad we didn’t sell it, but we need to ‘reown’ it.

I decided we were having a veg patch. Mr G was put to work on hosing the turf, while I dug. Each time I dug it got a little easier, instinct and Mr G’s excited shrieks kicked in. I’ve watched my Dad digging enough times over the years. We even found an old horseshoe which sent Mr G on a fabulous journey of the imagination and had history mad Miss L speculating.

We added the old boat shaped sandpit as a raised bed

We stuck canes in as we had seen my Dad do, to keep the neighbours cats off. Then we forgot about it (told you, I am a Gemini, master of unfinished projects).

Until my Dad gave us a Kew Gardens seed and soil test kit. We tested the soil in a series of test tubes and realised it was perfect for growing stuff. So we filled the old sandpit with the wild flowers that came with the kit and added the broken old watering can and the old horseshoe for decoration. I hope it brings our crops luck!

Then Mr G and I found some pea seeds in a tin in the shed. As I was planting the peas I could see my Grandad in my mind, hear him, telling me how to do it. I could see his big hands, the dirt permanently engrained in the creases, gently pointing where to go. And the peas, they only went and grew!

See, all that information I’ve absorbed from watching the professionals in action is there, just a bit buried. I’ve had two rather fast growing little ones to look after and there hasn’t been much time for plants in my life.

We bought some more seeds, and me and Miss l went for it.

We thought some windmills would brighten it up and some log roll edging to keep little feet from jumping onto the seeds as they grew.

It still felt a bit flat, so what we needed was a scarecrow. I looked around for some ideas and discovered hessian ones last longer. You can see how I did it in my how to make a scarecrow post.

Costings

Seeds – £17 (bumblebee wild flower mix, peas, carrots, broccoli, beetroot, lettuce)

Tomato plants  – £3 in the sale

Scarecrow materials – £10 online/petshop

Log roll edging – £10 Asda

Windmills – £4 for 8 mini ones Asda, larger ones National Trust £6 for 2.

What do the images in your home mean to you?

I read a list of decluttering tips that made me rather sad recently. It suggested going back to the Victorian trend of reserving photo frames in your home only for people who are dead. For me images in my home are about capturing life: adventures, moments, people and feelings you want to remember.

When I was asked to review a next day delivery canvas service from Your Image 2 Canvas, I immediately knew I wanted pictures that would remind me of our outdoor adventures. Pictures that would bring the outdoors inside and encourage us to continue to get out. I haven’t quite decided where to put them up yet as we are in the midst of a huge reorganisation, so I thought it was appropriate to photograph them outdoors. Continue reading