Living a colourful life #capturingColour

I was packing on Monday evening for my trip away with Graham and Brown (which I cannot wait to tell you all about!), rooting through my wardrobe and the baskets full of washing ready to be ironed, that haven't quite found their way to the ironing board yet. And I realised just what a mis match of colour there is in my life. I have one black dress for serious work meetings or evenings out where I want to blend into the background more, but everything else is a rainbow of emotions, print and pattern.

I am at my most confident in colour, which to some must sound quite strange. The brighter the better in my book. Wearing my yellow mac and coloured scarves for the school run gives me an instant smile and a confidence to say hello to anyone as I race up from the car park to the school gates.

It makes me feel sunshiny. Does that sound as ridiculous as it seems to type?! But it's true. 

We've been redecorating our hallway over the last week, the sad walls full of crumbly holes have been filled and skimmed and we have freshly painted brilliant white walls from top to toe. The yellowy tinged skirting and door trim have been refreshed up with a new coat of paint and the nice, but not anything particularly special, wooden doors have also had a ghostly transformation. 

It's like someone has turned the lights on. But as much as I like this new fresh feel it does lack a little soul. So all week I've been playing with our furniture, moving bits from around the house in and out to see what felt like the right fit. I adore my bureau I found in an antique shop for a bargain price and instead of giving it a chalk paint makeover I've decided to leave it in it's varnished wood state. I need to source a lovely lamp once the pictures are all rehung on the new walls and that little corner will be complete.

It needs some colour which at the moment I am bringing in with florals arranged in little vases and some colourful cushions on the window seat. But I feel it still doesn't completely feel like me, like us. Rich's fondness for orange doesn't seem quite right with the grey accessories and I go back and forwards trying to choose the perfect wallpaper for perhaps under the stairs behind the bureau. Maybe we need something lighter behind, softer against the heavy wood rather than the bold floral prints I am drawn to over and over again.

We have greys and blues and a hint of autumn with seasonal blooms but I can't help but want to bring in a tone of pink or green somewhere. Something warm to balance the steely cool colours.

I am in love with these images from my Inspiration for our Forever Home pin board... the mix of vintage and modern, the statement light, the industrial textures mixed with the soft fabrics, rough hardwearing homewards, seagrass matting... ooh I just need to save that big budget to tick off my wish list!

You can follow along and see what I've got in mind for our renovation here... 

Whilst I love the calmness that white brings I need to be surrounded by pops of colour. It helps me think, sparks my creativity and the house changes from splashes of mint and coral in the family dining room to navy, golds and other hues of blue in the lounge.  I look back on the photos I share every day with #capturingcolour and could pin point at any one time how I was feeling. A busy, frantic day full of deadlines has a lonely single image over an 8 hour period, busy, bursting with textures and colour, a day when I'm feeling refreshed and energised will have a palette of greens, trees, leaves in the garden and other days where I am feeling less sure of decisions will have more white, a stillness that shows I need time to reflect. 

I'm sat typing this is in a pair of pillar box red capri trousers, my favourite navy slip on espadrilles which should really be packed away for next summer, and an enormous billowy white and navy neck scarf. I'm in a nautical combination of strong, but serious colours ready for a more rigid day of routine. Manageable deadlines, military timings to get everything done before the school pick up but with a playful (dare I say it rather girlish) hair clip pinning back the right side of my hair. And that's what my mood is today, hectic but under control with a hint of cheekiness. I need to be creative today, I have product photos to take that require humour and whimsy. I am like a pot of paint. The same colour inside and out!

And when I scoured the #capturingcolour gallery the other night ready to share my favourites and then got slightly weigh laid, do forgive me, with chores before I headed for an early train, I could feel I needed to immerse myself in the richness of the season. Energising greens, sumptuous flashes of red and calming blues.

I cannot believe the gallery now has over 20,000 posts linked up - that is amazing thank you so much for joining in!!!!

I loved these beautiful captures this week from the #capturingcolour gallery

Each week I share my grid of favourites and link to one account on the blog. I hope that I feature all sorts of accounts, inspiration from all over the world and people who make me want to reach for my camera. Check them out on my Instagram feed

I'm thinking of starting a monthly styling challenge as part of the #capturingcolour gallery. For the last week of the month to have a daily prompt, different daily themes to capture and get our creatives sparks flying. What do you think?!

7 days of styling for those who love to capture colour.

In the meantime go and find Candy Pop. I went through the gallery, as I do each week blindly choosing photos that jumped out at me and it was only after they loaded that I realised 4 were by Natasha! I have had the pleasure of meeting her recently and I only wishes we had had longer to chat! Her feed and love of colour is inspiring. Find her. 

So come and join us, tag your colourful images with #capturingcolour. Anything goes! Are you all about the pastels or bright pops of pink or are you a lover of cooler muted tomes, I'd love to see.

#capturingcolour is a monthly theme on Instagram. Tag your colourful photos to be featured next week. I will share a round up next Monday :)

Me and Mine - A Family Portrait Project September

We live in a little village in the countryside. A village full of farming history and the most spectacular viewpoint over the fields of corn and cows and bales of hay. Our house was one of the original dairy farmers homes and his daughter who once slept in the boys' attic bedroom, still lives in the village in the cottage behind us. Every year the village holds an annual Harvest festival lunch to honour all the farmer's hard work and take stock of the year gone by. And that's what I feel September has been in house too. Hard work, reflection and planning for the year ahead.

I feel like I have waited a whole month to share these photos on the blog. And every time I look at them, they make me take a sharp in take of breath. Big boys, in big boy school shoes, with big boy long socks and little boy grazed knees beneath their shorts. 

We said we needed a reboot in September. 

Time to get back into routine, get on top of the rolling to do list that had to be sidelined somewhat during the school summer holidays and make definite decisions about the next 12 months.

When you work from home there are so many distractions especially when the house has it’s own never ending to do list! So we decided to get the lovely team of decorators who made over our offices (which I still need to show you!) back to give the hallway a new lease of life. It connects our lounge and family living space, both of which feel like us. We’ve painted, decorated and changed the way the rooms are used from the previous owners. In fact September was the anniversary of us getting the keys and on the very day, the lady who lived here for the past 30 years came back to the village for the first time. She popped in for a walk around the garden she adored, approved of all our updates and renovations and it was heart warming to see how much she obviously cherishes the memories they made in these four walls. As she left she said “I knew you would make changes and I knew they would be lovely, because you just love the house so much!” 

So we have plans for the next few months, to get the house ready for winter so we don’t spend another 3 months going to bed in hoodies and socks! But we have held off until we felt the boys had started to settle at their new school.

A year ago Sammy started at the village school about 20 minutes away. For the first 3 weeks we tag teamed living in a B&B during the school week a few miles from the school until we completed on the house. Incredibly our confident boy settled into that crazy schedule with ease and within weeks had made firm friends. We knew moving him again for the third time in 3 years was going to be a challenge but we also knew it was the best decision for him long term and quite remarkably our floppy haired 6 year old has sailed through another change. He’s had a party invitation, a play date after school and every morning I chase after them as they run into school. Yes run! Every day is a new adventure, Ollie came home yesterday with tales of tennis, cricket and badminton and Sammy has joined the swimming club and started learning the violin. Eeek. We may need a hip flask to get through the concert at the end of the half term!

capture by lucy 4.jpg

They both have found friends, we joke in the playground that they all look the same. Bouncy hair that always looks in need of a brush, shirts untucked great huge school bags that look like tortoise shells on their backs. It feels like they have the world at their feet. So many from the primary school go on to the feeder secondary together and I knew I had made my own firm friend when one of the mums text me in the first week saying I can’t wait to watch our boys grow up together.

It may sound silly but I feel like I have found a best friend. We even wore an identical outfit on the school run the other day and have been blasting each other with messages in the evening even though we will see each other the next morning!

I can be myself, blast in my print leggings and yellow mac like a giant bumble bee, hair off to a photo shoot, development meeting or blog event in a rush and no one bats an eyelid. They’ve all accepted me into their gang just as I am. 

And our boys have made us so proud. There’s so much they do at school that we know nothing about really. I am like the Spanish Inquisition in the car on the way home but sometimes they aren’t very forthcoming! I am desperate to know their day minute by minute! But I guess it’s rather nice that they have this world without us, finding their independence.

Bar a slight incident with Ollie, a pair of pants, and the school toilets begin blocked, we’ve and nothing but encouraging reports. Nice table manners, kindness to classmates, enthusiasm for learning new sports and strong bonds being formed already. 

We take an extra minute some days as they head to the lower school hall to read books before it’s time to head to their classrooms to scan the walls for their artwork (“Mama” said Ollie the other day, “They call painting art! But it’s painting!”) and snap a photo. I know we will get it all in a folder at the end of term but it just makes our hearts burst at their observations. The big front tooth on Sammy’s self portrait and his interpretation of what you love” was a story about him and his little brother, when everyone else drew just themselves.

We had a feeling over the summer that we were letting them down in some way, hoofing them off to kid’s clubs to keep on top of work, battling with them to try and explain why some mummies work and some don’t. But when I see how they are flourishing I know we haven’t done such a bad job. I said to a friend yesterday, “We are all just doing our best and learning as we go.” I’ve never had a 6 year old before and the different type of tantrums and attitude that goes with this new phase. We are all figuring parenting out!

Life feels good. The boys are thriving, soaking up everything their new school has to offer. The tea brand has just popped up on two of the nations best loved and respected websites in their Christmas hampers and everyday I look in wonder at my emails and enquiries for new photography clients and collaborations for the blog.

I am off to Honeybuns today to finish their Christmas photography and next week I am off to Manchester for the night for an exciting stay away. More on that asap! I have realised how much I have been absorbed in work in September and I miss my friends so much. So we have booked up our calendar until Christmas with lovely catch ups, weekends away and on Friday I am off for 2 nights to Southbourne with my lovely girlfriends from Weston. Hooray for sunshine and glasses of bubbly at the beach hut! 

This month I want to send you to one of my fellow mama's of blue ones! Oh tiny blue babies make my heart ache. Pop over to Alex's blog. She writes with such passion, about her family and her boys. She too is married to her sweetheart and they had a terrible scare this weekend. I am just so glad all is ok. 

Come and share your family photos with us, life is so precious and I will treasure all these photos.

Musical Beds - Sleepless school nights • Featuring Slumberdown

I will admit we have a cosy bed. We have a king size big enough for the two of us plus a small one, we have a thick duvet whatever the weather, which feels like a quilted cloud nestled around your body come 3am, and brush cotton covers that are as smooth as silk. It's warm and cosy and the ultimate treat for our two young brothers.

They love nothing more than a night in our bed, with me. Not with Rich, he finds them too wriggly, like little hot water bottles with tentacle like legs that wrap around him like a spider's web. They like to be with their mama, quite literally on me, using me as a pillow, a safety net a cuddle blanket. 

They love my mis matched pyjamas, my old bobbly t-shirt that feels familiar and loved. 

I sit with them stuck to my chest with the light of the iPhone and a packet of baby wipes to take off my make up and try one handed to put my hair in a messy bun, the other pinned around them like like a protective shield. There's no bad dreams anymore, the horrors of the night terror phase have passed and they aren't waking up cold, they just like to be in our bed. 

We had thought that it was just a phase, and every now and again we get a run of a good few nights with no footsteps down from their attic bedroom, no blurry eyes at our door and a little voice. But I don't think it is a "phase" I think they want to be close to us.

Starting school, being away from their home for much longer days, busy weekends seeing friends and family makes them crave time at home, ironically in their own beds. But not their own bed, our bed. We can be locked together for hours and hours and yesterday when the alarm went off, Sammy was still snoring like a grizzly bear. I crept to the bathroom, cleaned my teeth and as I tiptoed back in, he stirred, stretching his arms up high above his head and cried out. "I put my arms out for a cuddle but you weren't here!"

I look at the big boys going into school and wonder how much longer my boisterous boys will long for a night in bed with their mama. It doesn't feel indulgent to let them creep in, it feels quite special. Like we have this secret code, a look they give me, with such twinkle in their eyes. A look that is saved especially for me, that only we get to see at 5am, or 6am or 7am whenever they first start to blink like newborn kittens.

Even the dogs are desperate to get in on the action!

Over the summer we had lots of days out and a good few trips away and they stayed on and off with my in laws. They love it with them, they have their routine and a couple of times they have just flopped when they came home, almost depressed to be back!

And when we get them home we always let them have a treat night in our room. We drag their stinky bed up to the bedroom but by 3am I feel a couple of paws on the duvet, begging to let them up on the bed. 

I am such a pushover. But you can literally hear the happiness, a great hurrumph from Moose as he collapses into the goose feather!

So we now have the perfect bed for dogs and boys! With our princess and the pea set up. Hotel like pillows, which cup your head like you are being cradled as a newborn, we've even decided to make over the bedroom next to give us the space it deserves! No more bare boards and unloved walls without our favourite photos and pictures, baskets of clean washing strewn all over the floor. 

It's a real haven for our small boys and we want to make it a haven for us too, not somewhere to crash out in when you close the laptop lid. We foolishly ripped up the carpet when we moved in, in my hurried attempt to sand and paint the floorboards. I hired a sander, struggled and gave up. And for almost a year I've looked at a half finished floor which still has the remnants of the underlay backing all around the skirting. So a quick makeover is in order before the winter sets in.

Our Slumberdown Airstream Mattress Topper has saved us from buying a new mattress, at 6cm thick it feels like we sleep on a giant pillow! Our little hot water bottles are even feel less of a problem as it's Airstream Technology is designed to keep you cooler through the night. So instead of hundreds of pounds on a new mattress we can spend that on carpet!

It's a half-way measure – a sort of temporary makeover – until we have the budget to strip the lining paper, touch-up the plaster, and re-paint properly. Our heavy dark wood furniture that we bought to fit our old bedroom dominates the smaller room and detracts from the beautiful old beams that span the width of the room. Would it be too stark to blast the walls with white? Be brave and paint the dark wood? Persevere and paint the floorboards? Help!

And do you know I'm not going to rush them out of our bed. I'm going to enjoy these cuddles, those midnight glances and wry smiles. My baby went to school this month and already any last hint of the toddler years is vanishing before our eyes.

So if their happy place is our cosy bed, how wonderful. Yes I could do with an uninterrupted night, and so could they, the new school routine of swimming and sports every day means that bedtime has been brought forward almost an hour during the week, but it takes seconds for them to settle and they sleep through til morning.

Has anyone else found their routine changing since they started back at school? The new regime after those weeks and weeks of summer holiday laziness have hit us hard! There just doesn't seem to be enough time, especially on days when the boys stay for after-school club until 5:45pm, to squeeze in homework, reading, and relaxing! In bed and asleep by 7pm is tall order for our pair of boys in their twin beds, and the novelty of starting school is keeping Ollie chatting way past lights-out time.

New school mums – are you finding the same? What's working for you?

So what would you do? March them back or let them cuddle into you?! I don't know whether I'm helping or hindering their precious sleep by letting them snuggle in. When Sammy started creeping in at around 3 years old I never thought he'd still be doing it at 6. Should I save this "treat" for a Saturday night? Or can it not be a treat, can it just be what it is, that they want the warmth, the security and the love.

Sometimes I think it would be an idea to have a double bed in their room too! 

I'd love to know your sleep routines in your house, is it musical beds with you too?!

I am a Slumberdown Mum this year, testing their range of products and sharing our family sleep patterns and problems! You can find Slumberdown's wonderful products in the following Stockists.

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month September • #CapturingColour Gold

I love the connections we make through the internet. It brings people together, unites people for amazing causes and points you towards like minded people. One of those people is Anna. With her wild locks, divine cheekbones and effortless eye for detail she has a gallery to fall in love with. Her creative captures, her ability to freeze and recall a moment draws me in every time.

And for the past week we have been united in our quest for gold. To spread the word about our niece and nephew and raise valuable funds for research into childhood cancer. Last year we lost my cousin's little boy, my second cousin technically I suppose, but to me he was my nephew, a to lose him will always be the most painful experience my family has ever experienced. 

Anna's little 2 year old niece is fighting a battle too, at Great Ormond Street Hospital, against Leukaemia. My heart aches when I scroll through Anna's feed, her love for her niece so raw and unconditional. 

And then I feel this love for a complete stranger, a little boy called Max. Like my nephew Skye, he looms against cancer. He has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for childhood cancer research through play, encouraging everyone he can to create loom bands. And this month he had the support of a very famous celebrity, who is using her powers and influence for good. 

For every post of tweet shared on Instagram and Twitter celebrating the month go gold with #honestlovesmax Jessica Alba's business The Honest Company has donated $1 to the Max Love Project in America. And last week Anna and I joined forces to turn the #capturingcolour gallery gold to show our support. 

I raided my gold props, might have realised I have way too many pairs of gold scissors for a normal person, and looked for autumnal flashes of sparkle wherever I went. Anna has down the same, devoting almost all her feed on Instagram this month to the #gogold campaign.

And my heart was filled with joy at all the lovely people who took the time to tag their golden captures.

But my favourite this week has to be from Lynne. She owns one of my favourite online stores Papermash and shares my passion for all things Rifle Paper Co. And her image, quite coincidentally encapsulated both Anna and my motivation for this gold week.

Before Skye died he set up Blue Skye Thinking. A charity which my cousin and her husband have vowed to keep going, not only in tribute to their extraordinary boy, but to help even just one family not go through the agony they face every single day. Lynne's photo combined the blue sky with the golden camera clips. A wonderful #capturingcolour moment. 

The boys headed to school with more than a little glitter on their hands, the gold ribbon in support in a glitter tattoo. Luckily their teachers thought their pride for their cousin was more important than the no tattoo rule.

If you want to get your own pack of glitter gold ribbon tattoos you can find them here on the Blue Skye Thinking Shop as well as some amazingly thoughtful Emily McDowell cards. If you know someone who is having a hard time with the C word then these are the cards to send. 

I love the different themes and the weekly challenge for the #capturingcolour gallery but I also love how people are using the hashtag just to celebrate colour of every shade. 

So from now on, there will be one week at the end of the month for a weekly challenge, and the rest of month will be to bathe the gallery in anything colour you like. So show me what colours excite your day, do you need a canvas of white to calm you down, or in the mood for soulful black, or are you a fan of candy pink?! Each Monday I will continue to share a grid of favourites, I hope that it helps share more amazing accounts to add to your feed.

And if you do spot any gold, there are 2 days left to join in with #honestlovesmax and raise $1 for every post tagged.

I love spreading love. Love and kindness. It is good for the soul. And if you haven't signed up for the surprise project swap pop over now, sign ups close in 2 days! 

#capturingcolour is a monthly theme on Instagram. Tag your colourful photos to be featured next week. I will share a round up next Monday :)

The one with TV Star George Clarke, a screwdriver, Prosecco and kisses • Lifestyle Wall

We live in an old house, a very old house, with crumbling walls, peeling lining paper everywhere you look (bar the teeny tiny corners I snap and share on Instagram of course) and a funny layout upstairs designed by the previous owners, that gives me a wonderful shoe cupboard if I had super small feet like a pixie. 

We have big plans for the house that we have nicknamed the "forever home". It started as a house for forever and it is slowly becoming a house that will take forever to finish! Owning a listed house makes you fall in love with the fabric and history of the building. You know before you turn that key in the door that it's going to be a labour of love and you have to really love it. 

We have grand plans to knock down the leaky conservatory, create a real heart of the home, family kitchen, move our en-suite bathroom and create a false wall behind our bed in the master bedroom and change the configuration of the family bathroom and cloakroom that works for now, but is in desperate need of updating. The thick 3 ft deep walls that surround the rooms like armour need to be re-skimmed and repainted and we are slowly working our way around the downstairs, bringing the tired walls back to life. But the internal walls that are cracked and littered with gaping holes from pictures and photos long since taken down, need to go!

We don't really know where to start, other than a nervous walk around our washing strewn house with a listed building officer, sharing our hopes for the future, plans to move internal walls and watching him nod and snap away on his camera. 

So when I was invited to spend the afternoon learning about the Lifestyle Wall with British Gypsum's Rooms Made For You I was intrigued. Ok, I lie. I saw that George Clarke was an ambassador for the product and immediately thought an afternoon with George... he's on my laminated list! Ba ha ha!

I travelled up to London to the Good Housekeeping Institute with both my mother in law (she's been a Good Housekeeping loyal reader for as long as I've been alive) and my mother (she's been a fan of George Clarke for as long as I can remember) green with envy, and wondered what was in store.

After a quick (I'm so used to meeting a celebrity, oh wait no that's not true) handshake with George outside the venue as he chatted to a colleague I went to meet some fellow bloggers at a coffee house around the corner, so as not to walk in alone. Giddy schoolgirls was to be the order of the day.

The team from British Gypsum couldn't have been more welcoming and after a couple of glasses of Proseco and a few sweet treats we all sat down to listen to an introduction to the product - the Lifestyle Wall and then it was George's turn to take the stage.

I'd be lying if I said there wasn't an air of anticipation in the room when he took to the floor. He's the sort of celebrity that perhaps you think might not be as charismatic or charming as he is on screen, but no. What you see is what you get with George. He is passionate about his family, his practise and his work. And the products he promotes. It was so refreshing to hear that he doesn't just endorse every product that lands in his inbox, that he has to actually believe in the product he promotes. 

I was every consumer they described. We have mirrors that have fallen down, great huge gaping holes where we've tried and failed with the "right" plasterboard screw. I am not sure our marriage would survive a gallery wall.

I'm serious.

We have picture ledges in our house so I can rotate my favourite prints and photographs. It saves so many arguments. 

But this product is different. Quite frankly I think even I could hang off a wood screw if the wall was made from this Gyproc Habito structure. Now say that after 3 glasses of Prosecco.  

It was great to take part in some blogger challenges, watching some of my favourite friends Katy and Kate get to grips with a screwdriver and watch as we all flashed our cameras at George and his bulging biceps. This product is 5 times as strong as plasterboard and it took 5 times our normal strength to screw a fixing into it! Not to mention that it can withstand knocks and bumps from boisterous boys and over zealous little girls. 

This product is different. It is better. It would absolutely change my home. I love displaying photographs, we have some huge pictures and an enormous driftwood mirror that needs 3 of us lift, that are languishing in the garage in search of a new home. But the walls can't take it. We need to slowly rebuild it, and as we do I know exactly what we need, the Lifestyle Wall.

I long for beautiful smooth walls like these. A kitchen that demands contemporary open shelves and a hallway free from the interesting sand texture paint in an attractive shade of lemon that currently adorns the walls.

Towards the end of the afternoon, after trying out the product for ourselves, hanging a gallery of photographs and chatting with the team from British Gypsum and George about my days as a Land Buyer for the national house builders and their thoughts on the product, George signed copies of his new book More Amazing Spaces and I joked to him as he signed my copy, "Could you dedicate it to my mum, Vivien. In my whole blogging career this is the most impressed she has been!"

It was a pleasure to spend time with people who are passionate about the products they create, you can see the years of development that have gone into creating an innovative concept for the everyday home.

And when it was time to go home, I shook hands with the lovely people who had invited me to the event, the staff from British Gypsum and finally George. Who said, "Oh let's do kisses!" And we promptly exchanged a kiss on each cheek. Cue a gaggle of female lifestyle bloggers including Lori. Kerri-Anne and Fritha oohing and aahing in the background!

Can you spot your favourite interiors bloggers?! Thank you so much for the invitation to learn more about the Lifestyle Wall. It's on my wish list for our new bedroom next year, and perhaps I will keep my marriage and get that gallery wall after all...!

It would also be so handy to have a piece especially for photography, so any one who is looking for a more robust exhibition stand or flexible shop wall should take a peek! 

You can buy the brand new Lifestyle Wall from the following retailers. 

In collaboration with Rooms Made for You