Thursday, September 29

Things We're Loving Right Now


The girls loved making mud pies (my lovely but cleanliness-keen, worm-averse mother, standing just out of shot, was loving it slightly less).

We are all chuffed that our garden shed/studio/Dave's den/the girls playhouse is almost finished.

I am listening to Benjamin Francis Leftwich, which is the aural equivalent of the melty middle bit of a chocolate eclair sweet. I am also bit partial to roibos tea from my really small teapot, some cuter than cute vintage china from my lovely work colleagues, daydreaming about big plans for our little family, wondering why I never thought of getting baby bunnies involved in our wedding, and cuddling Blod.

Gwen is loving school, especially singing songs about Jesus (shudder) and eating her friend's ham sandwiches (double shudder). She is also chuffed to bits about learning to ride her bike.

Moll is enjoying making no-compromise demands for "a skirt and a top" every morning, inventing nonsense jokes (Example: "Why did the animal bonk his head?" "Because he ate the table") and going swimming with Bampa.

Blod is loving chasing balls, eating Moll's crusts and the sound of cheese being grated.

I'm not sure what Dave is loving, but it probably involves robots and/or the Apple Store.

Wednesday, September 28

Autumn Garth Walk


Number from the list is walk up the Garth mountain every season. Last Sunday, I did my autumn trip. It took me just 40 minutes from my front door right to the top and it was glorious.

The sun was shining. There was the cutest family on the trig point at the top (that's them silhouetted). I saw sheep and shire horses and happy dogs and ladybirds and lots of youths dotted down the hillside picking magic mushrooms.

Climbing up mountains makes me very happy.

Sunday, September 25

List 4/52 The Weekend List



Years ago, when it was just me and Dave, I'd always write a weekend list of all the lovely things we were going to do. It was to get me through five whole days of horrible working-in-an-officeness. It involved things like laying in, having a long, lazy breakfast with the weekend papers, going on a really long walk with Blod, stopping off at a nice country pub for lunch, seeing friends, going to the cinema, pootling about at farmers markets and coffee shops... ah, those were the days.

Fast forward about five years and we've forgotten about the weekend list. But I decided to revive it this weekend. And it was a great success. We did everything on it (well, D's making the Jamie meal as I type - and I can confirm that it most definitely does not take 30 minutes). We also fitted in making mud pies, harvesting beans and onions from the garden, drawing around our feet and decorating the results, and a lazy afternoon in the garden with a teepee (G&M) and a cuppa tea (me and D).

I know it's a bit sad, but I just function better when I've got a list.

Bring on next weekend's list of loveliness.

Friday, September 23

List 3/52 All the Books I Read Last Year


(With a three-word review)

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running - Haruki Murakami (Very, incredibly inspiring)
The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim - Jonathan Coe (Modern life insanity)
One Moment, One Day - Sarah Rayner (Sad but sweet)
Slumdog Millionaire - Vikas Swarup (Gripping, tragic, epic)
The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Homid (Clever, thought provoking)
One Day - David Nicholls (Why that ending?)
A Year in Provence - Peter Mayle (Too much meat)
Voluntary Simplicity - Duane Elgin (Lovely and lentilist)
The Hand That First Held Mine - Maggie O'Farrell (My 2011 favourite)
South of the Border, West of the Sun - Haruki Murakami (Not really sure)
How Not To F**K Them Up - Oliver James (Heard it before)
No and Me - Delphine de Vignan (Cute and sweet)
Starter for Ten - David Nicholls (Nostalgic and funny)
Room - Emma Donovan (Worth the hype)
Four Letters of Love - Niall Griffiths (Just so beautiful)
The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundral Christ - Philip Pullman (Food for thought)
We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver (Loved it, suprisingly)
The Pile of Stuff at the Bottom of the Stairs - Christina Hopkinson (Trashy but relevant)
The Importance of Being Seven - Alexander McCall Smith (My guilty pleasure)
The Vanishing of Esme Lennox - Maggie O'Farrell (Beautifully written page-turner)

I love libraries, me.

Thursday, September 22

A Poem: 20 Things to do With a Piece of Spaghetti


Make an incredibly droopy moustache
Drop it in the toilet and see if it goes splash
Tie it round your dog and use it as a lead
Fashion a fancy necklace (just add beads)
Knit it into a teeny pair of socks
Leave it in the garden to feed a famished fox
Pretend that it’s a wiggly worm and frighten your mum
Wind it round and round and round and round your thumb
Dangle it from your nostril like a long stringy bogey
Pretend that it’s sacred and present it to a Yogi
Pop it in your pocket in case you get peckish later
Use it to lasso a really small alligator
Stick it on your head as an extra bit of hair
Just go bonkers and wave it in the air
Lend it to a ladybird that needs a skipping rope
Donate it to some loved up elves wanting to elope
Use it as a bookmark, form a figure 8
Put it in an envelope and send it to a mate
Or you could just eat it
But that wouldn’t be half as much fun

Wednesday, September 14

List 2/52: Things I Saw Out of the Train Window Today


Piles of autumn leaves
Sunshine streaming through the window, highlighting patterns of dust on the glass
Blue and red flags blowing in the breeze
A older lady with lots of eyeliner and happy eyes
A girl with beautiful red hair
Lots of Himalayan Balsam
Happy horses eating grass
A discarded yellow plastic bag
Graffiti on every single bridge
A house with a tree growing out of the chimney
A cloud in the shape of a bird
A castle
The mountain silhouetted against a very bright blue sky
Big puddles/mini streams
Hundreds of sheep on the mountains

Sunday, September 11

Wellies and Welsh Cakes

Wellies, Welsh cakes and wigging out to The Bucket Band at the St Fagan's food festival.

Have I ever told you how much I heart St Fagans? Houses to hide in. Woods to explore. Logs to balance on. Pigs with bellies to scratch. Chickens to chase. Tractors to ride on. Gardens to run through. Hills to roly poly down. And oh, the freshly-baked cheesy buns. 

And all for free! If you're ever round our way, go there.

Thursday, September 8

List 1/52: Things To Love About Autumn


Because today, I'm feeling sad that walking through the fields with Blod at 9pm is officially over. And although the first day of school is done, now every day's a school day and we all have a lot of adjusting to do to the new rhythms of our days. And it's been raining for days on end.

So, to cheer myself up, some things to look forward to about the autumn.
  • Photographing all the lovely, lovely colours
  • The alchemy of making soup (and the magic of its comfort, tastiness, goodness and general toasty warmth)
  • Getting fluffy coats down from the attic
  • The odd sunny day where it's still warm enough to paddle in the sea
  • The summer beach dog ban ending on October 1st - that means Sunday mornings on Barry Island beach with Blod, a flask of chai and some cakey goodness
  • Putting the big, heavy feather duvet on the bed...
  • ... and cwtching up under it with the cold air coming through the open window
  • Pumpkins and squashes in season
  • Piles of leaves to jump in (watch out for hedgehogs)
  • Hedgehogs snuffling and truffling in our garden at night
  • Crumbles, crumbles, crumbles!
  • Little legs in colourful, stripy tights and boots
Do you know what, I think it's all going to be OK.

Tuesday, September 6

Gwen Goes to School

The day finally arrived. Gwen started school today.

After spending the second half of the night in our bed after a nightmare involving a witch trying to bite her leg, she woke up at 4.30am whispering in my ear "Is it time to put my school uniform on yet?" And again at 5.30am. Then again about 6. I finally succumbed at 7am and had a very long two hours to fill before dropping off time.

While there were a few tears from the other children, Gwenny was literally jumping up and down with excitement. A quick kiss and she was off into the classroom without a backwards glance.

Moll and my mam and I went welly shopping, coffee drinking and fish gazing at the garden centre to take our minds off things. Moll, delighted with the attention at last, quite literally talked non-stop all day long.

In the blink of an eye, it was picking up time. We collected a beaming Gwen, who rushed out of the door clutching a multitude of craftivities and paintings and colouring pages, shouting 'Un, dau, tri' (which is one, two, three in Welsh). She ate all of her packed lunch. She went to the big school assembly. She met two Lucys and a boy called Rhys King, who she calls King Rhys. They read Room on the Broom. She had a little cry at lunchtime when she had to play in the yard with all the bigger children and got a bit scared, but said she was OK after a few minutes.

All in all, a good day. Relieved, happy and very proud of my number one snail.

Monday, September 5

Way Out West

We've had the most marvellous holiday in the West of our lovely Wales.

Seven days of sunshine. Not a drop of rain. Hot salty, vinegary, ketchupy chips on the beach. Dates with my camera. Morning runs on the beach. Lots of sandcastles. Swimming in the sea. Cream tea in a cottage garden. Lazy mornings with big pots of tea. Early nights. Surfy, salty, sandy hair. A bizarre harbourside festival with dancing and paella.

And the highlight was our blissful beach barbecue on a balmy evening. We ate hot halloumi and griddled peppers and veggie dogs. We drank Hoegaarden out of the bottles and hid in big holes in the sand. We splashed in the sea as the sun went down and saw hundreds of tiny silver fish leaping out the water. It's up there with the most magical moments of my life so far.

I'm a lucky lady. 

(And we stayed two doors down from the childhood home of the artist Gwen John - one of the reasons why Gwen is called Gwen.)

Sunday, September 4

36 Things

Hey, ho, I appear to have turned 36. Officially on the road to the big 4-0. Blimey, let's not even think too hard about that one.

Anyway, after last year's birthday list, here's this year's. A few things on there carried over from last year and lots of exciting new things to do too. Here goes:

1. Cook a brand-new dish every month Yes - and discovered Jamie O's fab 30-minute curry feast
2. Lose 10lbs ER... got pregnant. Can it be gain 10 lbs?
3. Go to the cinema every month Done! Favourites were Midnight in Paris and Searching for Sugarman
4. Have a monthly lunch date with Dave Done!
5. Visit Jacob's market Done!
6. Go away overnight for our wedding anniversary
7. Sell some of my prints in my friend's pop-up shop Er... the shop stopped popping up
8. Declutter and carboot In progress
9. Bake a new bread every week
10. Go to Westonbirt Aboretum in autumn Done!
11. Make 52 lists In progress
12. Swim in the sea Done!
13. Climb the Garth every season Sort of done, until pregnancy SPD kicked in!
14. Photograph my grandmother Done!
15. Master 5 songs on the ukulele Done! Foundations by Kate Nash, Sloop John B, Ring of Fire, You and I by Ingrid Michaelson,Anyone Else from Juno soundtrack
16. Teach Gwen to ride a bike Getting there...
17. Continue the Mothers and Daughters project
18. Get some polaroid film and use it
19. Visit the 3rd Floor Gallery Done! 
20. Discover 10 new albums Ben Howard, Laura Marling, Florence and the Machine, Mumford and Sons, Frank Turner
21. Plant a passion flower
22. Write 5 new children's poems
23. Throw another impromptu party Done! Lovely fireworks party in the garden.
24. Sew something
25. Grow pumpkins
26. Film the children Done!
27. Blog every week without fail
28. Make bird feeders for the garden Done!
29. Take the children to sing carols somewhere
30. Drink hot chocolate on a cold beach Done!
31. Cook and eat a meal outdoors in winter
32. Try a Zumba class Done! (Well, I got it for the Wii)
33. Read 3 classic novels
34. Make a photobook Done!
35. Make elderflower cordial
36. Finish writing Dirty Daniel, the Stinky Spaniel (my children's book that's been a work in progress for about 8 years)