Uncategorized

New year…

fullsizeoutput_d23f

I’m not sure it really feels like New Year to me yet, for the first time ever I slept right through it, getting stomach flu on vacation was not quite the plan but it happened anyway, hot, cold shivers, violent headaches, stomach pains, nausea and the dreaded run to the bathroom, all led to me wanting to just sleep in bed for three days, but I didn’t, you are only on vacation for such a few days and I wasn’t going to let this thing keep me from getting out and enjoying Arizona, but I did let it allow me to sink into bed early each night and sleep on and off through each evening and night, including New Years Eve… so there were no tears of something lost and happiness of something new this year, just sleep and then more sleep.

IMG_1504 2

Although I was still kind of out of it on New Year’s Day, feeling a little better but not even 75%, we spent the day in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been privileged to go to… Sedona AZ… if ever you are lucky enough to travel to Arizona make sure Sedona is on your places to visit list, well that’s if you don’t decide to just stay there for a few days… everywhere you look the views are just stunning and surreal, sit in Starbucks sip coffee and the views are phenomenal, grab lunch at one of the many places to eat and the views are out of this world… my only criticism would be that some of the places are a little too touristy and the shops tend to be a little generic, but I wasn’t there to shop, even though we did do a little, obligatory teenage girl Sedona sweatshirt shopping, Mom and Florrie got handmade healing necklaces, oh and an unexpected find of summer Harlem pants… to just sit relax and take in that fantastic scenery that just surrounds you everywhere you look is just amazing and so calming.

IMG_2189-2

I don’t know why but I always feel a little apprehensive at the New Year… the thought of what a New Year can bring, has had me a little depressed this year. It is silly because really it’s just another day, but it really seems such a big deal… I was reading all these positive New Year posts on social media and I had to stop and give myself a good talking too, although last year was tough with my Mum getting sick there were lots of positives… three of my older sons all have good jobs now, we have had three vacations, one was unplanned to see my Mum, but we still got to see family and friends and see the new regeneration of a town we grew up in and our older children grew up in, our children are all doing well and are happy, Paul and I are in a really good place with our relationship right now and my Mum is through her chemo now and on the other side, she is the bravest person I know and I am very proud of her. So I think I need to start looking at New Year in a new light from now on… how exciting is this year going to be?

IMG_4129

No resolutions from me this year, another first… just intentions to be a healthier more positive me… I want to continue my healthy eating campaign… get back to the cardio and yoga I was doing until I damaged my ankle, no more excuses though, more meditation and learning to relax… and over this winter I want to stay in the warm hibernate by the fire and fuel one of my passions photography, I want to improve my skills, more reading and practicing, I want to be as good if not better than the talented people of the photography Facebook groups I follow.

But for now I am going to enjoy my last two days in Sunny Arizona… relax in the warmth, soak up as many rays as I can because on Saturday when we arrive back home it will be freezing and I need this warmth to last through until Spring… Happy New Year everyone πŸŽ‰

Advertisements
Uncategorized

‘Joy to the World…’

I always feel that this time of year is chaotic, the shops are full of crazy people filling their carts with anything and everything they can find, they spend as much money as they can on their loved ones… well my friends that used to be me, but not this year, I’m simplifying my life, I have set a limit for each child, all year they get things they need, I do not need to break my bank account to prove I love them with gifts and possessions, there are more important things in life like experiences, family time and love.


I want to teach my children about giving, not just about receiving, I want them to learn that this season is not just about what they want or need.  I don’t think anyone of my children actually need anything, they are loved, we live in a nice house that has running water, heat and a new kitchen (wink, wink), each one of them has a closet filled with clothes and we eat good healthy meals, most of the time, anyway.  In addition to all of the basics of life we have phones, iPads, computers and a lot of the luxuries in life many people just dream of… so I ask myself what can I really buy each of them that they don’t already have in one form or another…


What we do need from time to time is a vacation, not just a trip away but a vacation from just our day to day life, a day trip to the zoo, an hour in a coffee shop sipping a hot drink and just talking to each other, or even a longer stay in a new place, somewhere to rewind, relax and recharge… and all these things are really what Christmas should be about, not who spent the most money.


My plan this year is not to get stressed, my two younger children have been told Santa can only give five presents to each child, big or small, so Florrie wants a Baby Alive doll, Baby Alive diapers, a kitten… and then she struggles to think of anything else, Tate wants a Tonka cement truck, that is all… so really five gifts each is more than enough.  My teenage daughter’s list is the most difficult and the longest, trying to make her understand has proved the hardest, her list of four makeup products is $200 in itself, that’s without the rest of the list, usually I would stress myself out getting every item on her list but this year she has had to prioritize the things she wants most, and Blu is easy, computer games, a couple of items of clothes, even an IOU for future games that are coming out next year and he’s done.


As for my older children, well a few years ago we all decided to put names in a hat and just buy one larger gift for the name you pulled out, at first I was opposed to this but as time has gone on it has simplified my Christmas a little so I just have to think about Lewis this year, of course he is the most difficult to buy for, I just need a few hints… now if I can ignore everyone else asking me for ideas for their person it will be truly easier for me to concentrate on my one present I have to buy.

We will also be donating a gift this year at our local library, I feel we are truly blessed and there are so many people out there who are not as fortunate as our family… whatever your plans this Christmas, just remember the most important part of this festive time of year is spending time with your loved ones, not money, and if you can’t get that most wanted gift it really doesn’t matter, it will all be forgotten this time next year and they will want something else… just have FUN πŸŽ„πŸŽ„πŸŽ„

Photographic diary, Uncategorized

Summer is drawing to an end…

Well who agrees with me, Summer went so fast… One minute my children were finishing school and we were all looking forward to switching off our alarms and laying in bed in the mornings with no real plans for the day, then just like that it’s August, back to alarms as Heat Week kicked off, then early morning soccer practice every day, followed by thoughts of school buses, school supplies and back to school haircuts.

Summer for us always begins early, we are so lucky to have good friends with a beautiful pool… Once the weather turns and Spring is in full bloom, we are in the pool, and this has become over the years a big part of our Summer fun.  We usually visit two or three times a week, sometimes we stay for a BBQ too, but this year it’s been much more difficult to juggle with our kitchen renovation, we’ve managed it somehow and it has been so worth it, Florrie is now swimming without her armbands and Tate has gained so much confidence it’s crazy, he loves jumping in now and going under, it’s a pleasure to watch them.

 

We kicked off our Summer with some fruit picking at a local farm, it was a hot and dusty day, but we all had fun, ate way too many raspberries and Florrie discovered she loved fresh peas straight out of the pod… This made me very happy.

When we arrived in England earlier this year we discovered everyone was drinking Prosecco, what? It had become a craze, and I’m not going to lie we thought it was crazy, but as in all crazes we got hooked on our return home, this Summer has become a Summer of drinking Prosecco on the deck, with no kitchen to speak of we have grilled and grilled on our brand new BBQ and drunk copious bottles of Prosecco.


  

We Spent our Fourth of July at our friends pool, we had a BBQ too, then grabbed our suitcases and caught our late flight Down to Jacksonville, Florida for our 10 day vacation.  First stop the beautiful town of Saint Augustine, it was VERY hot, extremely picturesque and so busy, but we had a fantastic time, our condo was beautiful, the pool was warm and it was so much fun to swim every evening before dinner.  Next stop a flying visit to Daytona Beach on our way to Orlando, home to the Happiest place on earth… Disney World, it was extremely hot 103f, extremely busy but it was so magical to watch Florrie and Tate’s faces take in the whole experience that is Disney.  The first of our two days in Orlando was spent in Magic Kingdom and the second was spent in a slightly quieter Hollywood Studios, both very full long days, two days was more than enough time for me in theme parks, next year I’m taking a year off from them completely.


On our return from Florida the kitchen renovation kicked up a notch, permits were attained and contractors began to arrive, also Summer Birthday Season began with Jordan’s 26th celebration, a quiet one at home, followed by Farrel’s 22nd, Mabel’s 15th and Blu’s 17th Birthdays.  Farrel was flying to Arizona on his special day, so we had a Birthday Starbucks for breakfast before he left, then Both Mabel and Blu had soccer practice on their Birthdays so we celebrated around the coming and going that is August Soccer, Mabel with Hibachi and Blu with smokin BBQ.  Mabels friends also organized a surprise Beach party for her, which of course involved some parent help too… The sun shone, Mabel was totally surprised and had a fantastic time.

The first week in August came and it meant that my Mum was going home, with kitchen contractors in most days it was difficult to get out and make the most of her last few days here.  We did manage an afternoon at Dingmans Falls, it was a beautiful stroll through cool woodland, the Falls were relaxing to say the least.  The first weekend of August was Lumineers weekend, 6 tickets were purchased for the Stone Pony concert arena in Asbury Park, our car was loaded with beach stuff and people, the day did not disappoint even though we got absolutely soaking wet when a short heavy storm came in. I sat in the outdoor free concert on the beach with my Mum, Florrie and Tate, whilst the others all stood for hours and watched the show from inside the outdoor arena.


The last part of the Summer has been quiet for us, lots of swimming in the pool, eating Rita’s custard ice happiness, Florence’s absolute favorite, soccer practice, dinners with friends, contractors coming and going, trips to IKEA for kitchen parts, family BBQ and prosecco time on the deck, the Great British Bake Off on a Sunday evening, shopping with Dom for vacation clothes, including lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, Moms Taxi rides and let’s not forget the Sunflower Maze, a family tradition for us year after year, we love the sunflowers and getting lost in the maze, it’s always so hot in there so of course after numerous photos being taken I bribe Florrie with ice cream for just a few more shots, it works and I snap a few more before we buy sunflowers to take home and head off in the direction of something cooler.

…And that was our Summer 2016, almost over for another year, just a few more things to do on this holiday weekend. ✨

Photographic diary, Uncategorized

A much needed vacation…

We have been back from our vacation for a week now and I am ready for my next one… Seriously you don’t realize you need to get away from life until you actually do it!


The problem with a vacation is its never long enough, Saint Augustine, Florida 2016 flew by… It took a lot of organization getting all 8 of us on the plane, settled in our condo, driving around in our rental cars and then onto Disney World… I was a tad frazzled by the time we parked our car at the airport on Monday evening, I had been packing, organizing and checking everything was in place for our trip away, it took me quite a few days to relax and enjoy.

 
We were very lucky our condo was fantastic, it was set in beautiful grounds with a gorgeous pool.  Historic Saint Augustine was a 20 minute drive away, well worth the visit, we chose to ride the trolley car, just so we could see everything in the extreme heat wave that was happening whilst we were there, although I have to say riding the trolley car to get around and see everything wouldn’t have been my choice had it not been so hot, I love taking photos and this method of being a tourist is very restrictive for someone with a love of photography.

Not to sound like a tourist guide, but if you ever get the chance to go to Saint Augustine Florida take it, but be sure to avoid July and August, it’s hot and crowded, it is truly beautiful though!
I had planned our vacation with a trip to Orlando, specifically Disney World, this was such a mistake, in hindsight we should have done this first, it was so busy and so hot it was exhausting, we needed a vacation from our two days in Disney.  I love all things Disney, unfortunately some people in our party didn’t feel the same, it was hot crowded, but in my mind Disney is where we all become children again and seeing Florence and Tate’s faces were just the most magical experience in themselves… It was worth every moment of the heat and the crowds…

On our last day in Orland we chose a slightly quieter option, when I say slightly I mean very slightly… Hollywood Studios was our destination for the day.  We got to sit down in the cool quite a lot which was a bonus and we got front row seats for the excellent Beauty and the Beast show, being a huge fan this was so magical and to just watch Florries face was just amazing.


The question now is ‘where shall we go to next?’

Happy Summer everyone 😍

Photographic diary

Spring BreakΒ 

With Spring break already behind us, I am left mulling over photos of our first trip back to the UK in four years… It was exhausting to say the least, Florrie got sick two days into our trip, she started with a sore throat and fever, it then led to an upset tummy and a day before we were due to fly back she was complaining her ear was hurting.  On the flight  back Tate was not his usual self he slept most of the flight, then when we arrived home his fever started, he became very lethargic and sleepy which after an exhausting walk in doctor visit it was determined he was dehydrated, a couple of days later I visited our pediatricians office and was told he had a virus and an ear infection… As I said an exhausting time. 

 
Four years is a long time to be away, a lot had changed… But it was nice to be back, even if it was only for a short while.  We got to catch up with lots of family and great friends… Tate was a star meeting people for the first time.  It was a time for me to reflect on the person I once was, my values and pleasures in life.  I loved to shop in Windsor, take my children into Legoland, I loved to cook and create, these are all things I feel I have lost along the way recently, my life feels so crazy and chaotic I sometimes don’t even have time to tidy the house, enjoy what I am cooking or even look at the people around me.  Well it’s time to slow life down a tad, stop and smell the roses, organize and conquer. 

 We tried to balance out our time with family and friends, but what we forgot about was our own time, time to eat the foods we had been missing, time to enjoy the places we visited and mull over old times… I wish I had eaten the cakes in the window, instead of just taking a photo of them.  On further reflection we had a wonderful time, it was just like four years had not passed with friends and family, of course we had all aged, but our laughter was the same, our connections were the same… It was just fantastic to see everyone.   

 There is no denying I spent way too much money… But what do expect when you have Cath Kidston, M&S and Next to name a few, I didn’t manage to get to Cabbages and Roses, which made me sad, next time hopefully though, I also wanted some Emma Bridgewater China, but again that will have to wait for another time, hopefully by then I will have my new kitchen. 

 To all our family and friends we managed to see, thank you for an amazing Spring Break, it was so much fun, and to everyone we did not manage to see on this trip hopefully we will be back soon to catch up with you all x

Uncategorized

A perfect Easter afternoon…

What do you do when your Spring break is cancelled? You pick a day over your three day weekend and go to the beach… The sun is shining, the temperatures are finally above freezing and we have food for a picnic, so we are going in search of a vacation, even if it’s only for one day!

20140420-094819.jpg

We had a wonderful time at the beach, it was windy when we got there but after a while the wind calmed down and it was a very pleasant sunny 66f, making it perfect for our April beach day… This is my favorite time of the year to visit the Jersey Shore, it’s not so busy, the water is cold, true, but the sand is clean and usually empty, there are no fees to get onto the beach or to park your cars… And the weather is cooler than summer but just nice to enjoy the the waves crashing in… Perfection!

20140420-095300.jpg

Our Easter Saturday Afternoon began with the perfect parking spot, sad I know, but it really made my day! We bought a small picnic of chicken and cheese rolls, a salad and fresh strawberries, we sat on a bench, on the boardwalk overlooking the beach eating our home made lunch, Tate was sleeping in his stroller and Florrie was talking so excitedly about the sand and sea shells! After lunch it was time to hit the sand, and this in my opinion was the BEST part of the day, because my little Florrie for the first time ever walked on the sand and wasn’t scared, in fact she loved it, she went down to the water with her Dad and paddled her feet… It was truly COLD, according to Paul, but they did it anyway, but not for long! Whilst Florrie searched for sea shells, Paul and Mabel kicked a ball around! I sat on the boardwalk with my camera and people watched for a while, my Mum took some photos and we just enjoyed the moment!

20140420-100411.jpg

Frozen yogurt and a spot of shopping strolling along the boardwalk shops, perfected our afternoon… Then a leisurely sit in the Corner Cafe drinking coffee and eating more ice cream, chatting and listening to Florrie sing Let it go from the movie Frozen, this made our afternoon purely wonderful!

The moral of this little story is… Whenever you think it’s not quite the right time of year for the beach… Remember anytime is perfect for the beach, the sea, the sand, the boardwalk, all make a perfect day out whatever the weather!

20140420-101230.jpg

My dream is to one day live by the beach and spend all year, whatever the weather loving living right there…

Happy Easter!

Uncategorized

Life on the Jersey Shore


3 days, 2 nights away is just not enough time away in my opinion, it’s a wonderful break away from home but I need more time away to rest, relax and rejuvenate! We are here on the Jersey Shore near Long Branch, a place I have been to only once before with my children and my parents… I hated it last time, but I think I must have gone to the wrong place because this time I love it, the beach is so clean and vibrant, Pier Village is a wonderful seaside shopping, eating experience and the boardwalk is so nice, not tacky, just very pleasant lined with palm trees!

Now I have been to Florida and California, believe me I know these places have fantastic beaches but for New Jersey, Long Branch has it all for me, that’s why next year we are thinking of booking a room at the Ocean Place hotel for a week… No long drives for hours and hours, it’s 1 hour 30 minutes away from us, no flights to book and pay for, the hotel is right on the beach, there is a swimming pool for the children, and we are loving the outdoor pools right now, and most importantly the hotel has its own Tiki Bar… What more could you ask for, cocktails overlooking the ocean! The best thing about New Jersey too is the summers are usually hot, hot, hot, even if it does rain, the sun arrives soon after! Long Branch, NJ… Summer vacation for us next year!

Right now we are in a hotel about 5 miles away… The children are loving it here, the pool is outside, which is perfect with this beautiful weather we are having, we have a free buffet breakfast and our room overlooks the pool, so Blu and Mabel can play and we can still see them… Perfect!
Yesterday Blu and Mabel were in the water all day, they had a morning swim in the pool, followed by riding the waves at the beach, then after our cocktail at the Tiki Bar, well that was Paul and I, they had soda, then another evening swim back at the hotel… Needless to say they are still asleep this morning as I type this!