Starting School - Me and Mine - A Family Portrait Project August

I am not remotely ready for September. I'm not ready to accept the hot balmy days, where everyone photographs their temperature gauges on their dashboards, are long gone. It's like we have a ticking clock over our heads, and the countdown has started. In 10 days I will dress two boys in new school uniforms, little corduroy shorts and long socks which will see them through from summer to winter, and thread their skinny arms through the rigid straps of their new school bags that look as big as them. 

I feel guilty for wishing away some time over the summer, when the boys are wrestling each other to the ground, when marbles are flying across the floor and when dirty great footprints are all over the carpet as they run in from the garden. At times I tear my hair out. Their behaviour makes my heart melt and makes me want to cry in equal measure. There have been days over the summer holidays when I've rung Rich in floods of tears, in between the lovely photos of picture perfect beach trips and plane rides, completely exasperated with the demands of juggling working from home (full time hours just don't fit in, no matter how hard I try) and trying to not be totally reliant on an iPad or Netflix. We've said to each other, oh roll on when they are back at school, but we keep almost forgetting Ollie isn't going back to school, he's going to school.

Ollie, our boy who isn't really like me at all. He doesn't fill the gaps like his older brother, he's doesn't thrive under pressure or enjoy being centre of attention. He's reserved, speaks when he has something to say and has a twinkle in his eye that only a few people really know about. He's not a performer or a showman like Sammy. He adores dressing up and hiding behind the curtains pretending it's a stage but crumbles at the school nativity and buried himself into my lap at the pre school sports day. 

Over the past few months he's been at pre school 5 days a week. I've realised he's missed out on all the special days I made time for with Sammy, he's just been swept along in our wonderfully crazy summer of 2015. Our boys have spent almost 24 hours a days with each other, they eat, play and sleep together wherever they go. And as much as they bicker, they are actually inseparable. Neither of them will fall asleep in the bedroom on their own, they have their little rituals and quirks, in jokes and old jokes that only they understand. Bar the kids club on holiday they have literally not been apart.

And Sammy can be such a force, that Ollie's voice gets lost. We spent a few days in Southbourne this week with our best friends and their little girl, who was born just a few months before Sammy. They are sweethearts, best friends and this time Ollie really became part of their gang. Like three musketeers, they waded into sea whilst we gasped at the cold foam splashing against our ankles. They ran down the zig zag path to the prom, and we dragged them back up, squashed into our red wagon that lives at the flat. We had fun and games at bedtime with them all wanting to top and tail on the top bunk bed and they proudly set up a shell shop on the sand, shouting to anyone who walked past "Get your lovely shells here, free shells here!" I'll be sharing our time away over on the Mamas and Papas blog soon and I am so pleased I get to document these special trips to the place I love the most. 

Ollie just fits in, and I am desperately hoping that's what happens on the 9th September. Unlike so many he's saying he doesn't want to be a big boy and go to big school! He has a party invitation for 2 new class mates this coming Saturday, a chance to see all the new faces whilst running around a village hall instead of nervous big bottom lips when we all wave them goodbye. It's a milestone moment, a real end to the baby years. Rich always said I would get broody when he went to school, that my baby was an official big boy. In a uniform and clutching a P.E kit.  But in all honesty I'm not. He's ready for this new chapter and so am I. To see him flourish and come into his own, not live in Sammy's shadow all the time but make his own friends and find his own way. 

I feel so sorry that I've slipped into "second baby" habits. The record albums I bought are still waiting to be filled, the countdown to school has been lost in amongst our hectic lives. Even this blog has changed so much since Sammy went to school, there are fewer posts dedicated to Ollie and the things we do together. They stayed stored on the computer and on my phone camera roll. This blog is very much a team effort but sometimes my team are hidden behind the scenes, their playroom taken over with flowers and photo set ups. I've never shared my pregnancies or the boy's birth stories. Perhaps I should share a little more about our family life behind the photos, although I will spare you Ollie's birth video, as beautiful (I know it sounds strange but it's true) as it is! 

So this post is for you my baby boy. 4 years ago almost exactly we sat on the same stretch of beach. Cradling a babe in our arms. The boys are mimicking my childhood with their trips to Southbourne and it makes my heart ache seeing them stand in the same spots as I did, digging the same holes, jumping off the same groynes and using the same towels! My mum and Auntie are very resourceful and don't throw away things easily!

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Grow up our Super Mario loving boy, but not too quickly. 

Come and share your family photos with us. It's amazing that even though there are times when it feels as though you haven't got a minute to breathe, that we all find the time for these Me and Mine posts. And it's all thanks to Lucy who dreamt up the idea which is hurtling towards it's third year. 

Lucy is on a countdown too, school and a countdown to being a family of 5! Pop over to her blog and see what her babes have been up to this month. From one Lucy and Rich to another! 

A Collector's Tale • Steller Stories

A while ago some of my favourite bloggers started sharing stories on a new app called Steller. I've been intrigued ever since but never seemed to find the time to download it and understand what it was all about.

Well wasn't I missing a treat. Imagine an Instagram post being a 20 photos long. A miniature blog post with beautiful imagery, whimsical story telling, a feast for your soul. I've needed something to help me clear my head when it feels like the world is spinning. And this is it. 

It makes me want to travel the world, cook outdoors and share all the stories that I've left untold on this blog. There's always too much of life to share, family life, home life, people and places I capture for work. But I feel like this is a wonderful outlet for some of them.

So pop over and get lost for a while. You can find me @capturebylucy.

Here's a peek of what I shared earlier tonight, my visit to a house where time has stood still.

I woke up this morning to find Steller had republished my story as one of their Editor's Picks. I feel like I have a whole new world to explore.

The photos I have shared were from a set I took for Pretty Nostalgic magazine last year. It was so lovely to see them in print.

Best Family Holiday in Greece • Mark Warner Holidays Lakitira Part One

I always think that it's not until the suitcases are finally back in the loft, the tans have faded and the spamming your friends with photos is a distant memory, that you can truly reflect and appreciate a holiday. When we came home from Kos in July we were raving about the holiday to anyone who vaguely mentioned our sun kissed skin. Everyone was in the "holiday mode" swapping stories and making frantic to do lists before they jetted off or ventured closer to home on a stay cation. We blasted friends and family with "Oh it really is the best family holiday resort ever! We would go back in a heart beat and ooh do you want to look through the 1000+ photos and videos we took?1"

Our holiday tales would have got lost in a wave of posts with blue skies and toes in the sea so I wanted to see how I'd feel at the end of the summer, an honest post of reflection. Was it all too good to be true?!

This post is the start of our adventure in Greece, a series of post sharing our first impressions, our lasting impressions and everything in between. I want to share with you all what the rooms are really like, not the empty brochure photos, which as lovely as they are, never show you if there's room around the sink for all your lotions and potions, how crowded the pool is during the school summer holidays, how expensive the drinks are and whether our fears about a week of buffet food (oh please don't let it all be beige!) came true.

There's too much to fit into one, even two posts! So this post is my introduction to our first family holiday. The very first time in 6 years we have been away on our own, without friends or family. I would love to say we missed them but this time together was an eye opener. We realised just how much, as a family, you need that quality time together. I worried that holiday childcare was going to defeat the object of that illusive quality time I read about on other people's blogs, we feared it would feel as though we were shipping the boys off and would feel guilty for having and dare I whisper it, wanting some time to ourselves! As you can see, it didn't suit us at all...!!!!!

I was anxious Rich would get itchy. Restless with a week in a resort instead of our usual routine of renting a car and daily trips out. We have been extremely lucky to have had some wonderful holidays, family homes from home we know and love. But this felt like we were in for a week of real luxury. No driving, no cooking and ready made gangs of friends for the boys. How could it possibly be anything other than bliss right?!

You can tell I had high expectations as we checked in at Heathrow! I'd read other bloggers posts about the Mark Warner experience, I'd even read some blogger reviews of the Lakitira resort itself, and had my hopes set sky high for the same emotional connection to this little corner of Kos. 

The boys were thrilled that Granny took us to her work (Mum is ground staff for BA at T5) and she waved to a few colleagues proudly as we waited at the check out queue to drop our bags. It was funny looking at all the other guests waiting to do the same. I spotted a few children wearing similar clothes to the boys, recognised a lovely Mini Boden hoodie that we had in the suitcase and everyone smiled when you caught their eye. It felt calm, mind you at 5am, I suspect half of them felt like I did, bleary eyed and wishing the flight time was a little more sociable! 

The BA charter flight sets the tone from the very start. I quite liked being greeted with a "Good morning Madam", so British and proper. We kissed Mum goodbye and headed through security and straight to the gate which was a short train journey ride from the main terminal building. Along with another family we trundled off in one direction, realising a few minutes later that we had followed each other on auto pilot and gone in the wrong direction! We laughed and scampered back hurrying the children to the right gate and instantly bonded over rolling eyes and a few "well at least we are not the last ones on the plane!" Little did we know that a sweet holiday romance between Sammy and their daughter would blossom over the week and they'd spend the return flight home cuddled up together in one seat!

I'd packed enough activities to last the 4 hour flight and flicked through half a magazine whilst they watched an episode of something on the iPad (Which unbelievably for our technology loving boys stayed in the bag until the flight home!!!) and before we knew it we were soaring over deep blue seas and white surf lapping the edge of the Greek Islands. It's a sight to behold. Quite magical in fact, and that's when the Mark Warner dust started to sprinkle over our heads. 

The terrain is so different to Spain which we know so well, flatter almost and the sea a different shade of petrol blue. Not turquoise and lush like the Caribbean but more soulful, richer, more refreshing. Our boys adore the sea, we have to plead with them to stay out of the sandy waters in Southbourne in the winter and Rich grew up sailing the Solent and wake boarding in the reservoir next to Thorpe Park. The first thing we did when we arrived at the resort after commandeering the cool kids seats at the back of the bus (or rather, the spacious air conditioned coach, with only a handful of guests and no raucous "Are you ready for your holiday? I can't hear you..! I said are you ready for your holiday?!") was leave our bags with the waiting line of red shorts and white tops with their hands behind their bags like sun kissed soldiers and dip our toes in the water. The crystal clear water and have a peek at the beach bar which was built into the sand.

Our rooms weren't quite ready when we arrived so we headed to one of the 3 main restaurants in the resort for a buffet lunch. When you first arrive somewhere new, you scan everything wildly don't you?! I was worried I would miss something, and studied the map in the Reception to try and familiarise myself with the different bars, locate the kids beach and suss out where the boys would head to the kid's club the next morning. Saturdays are a day of rest for the childcare staff and all the clubs and water sports at the 2 beaches are closed. When you spend a week watching the staff drag the boats up and down the shoreline, bounding around helping tiny tots on and off windsurfers and digging giant holes in the sand to make one child smile, you realise you are lucky they only have one day off! 

You could spot the 2 weekers, the lucky devils, casually walking through the restaurant in their kaftans and coverups, nodding and waving to new holiday buddies across the tables. I wondered whether we'd be lucky enough to meet some pals ending the week swapping Facebook details and emails, just like my family did when we went on all inclusive resort holidays in the past. We noticed children who had clearly settled into the holiday routine, helping themselves to mini puddings, chatting to the waiter (who worked tirelessly and formidably for the whole week during both lunch and dinner service) and hopping table to table desperate to sit with their Junior and Kidz Club co-hauts. 

Buffet food can be a sea of beige but this was a feast for bottomless tummies. We started at the well stocked salad bar and then headed to the hot plates, where a daily range of 3 or 4 meat and fish dishes were complimented with pasta, rice, pizza and vegetable dishes. It felt as though they catered for a British audience, despite the other guests who were not part of the Mark Warner package. Our red fabric wrist bands tied us all together in a sort of not so secret society, like being the majority supporters taking up 3/4 of a rugby stadium during a cup final. 

Within half an hour or so our rooms were ready, our suitcases delivered at the door and we excitedly opened the door and the boys raced upstairs. The thing that struck us as we walked around the resort was the varying architecture of the hotel accommodation. No high rise blocks, no imposing mass of apartments over the pool, but simple white painted cottages in the village area nestled between brightly coloured floral beds with the taller more inform shaped buildings tucked behind the tennis courts and overlooking the manicured bridge gardens. 

We had a pair of adjoining rooms on the first floor of one of the village cottages. I have to say I was glad to see the stair gate at the top of the marble stairs, even though our boys at 4 and 6 probably didn't need it, and we draped our hoodies from the aeroplane over the top and set about exploring.

I am in awe of anyone who manages to take a photo of the perfectly made up room when they arrive. Our boys ran straight to the beds rolling around, laughing and giggling, begging to change into their swimming shorts and jump in the pool! Instead I want to share over the next week or so, the things we loved about the room. The little things like a handy space to open your case and unpack it, enough hangers not to have to double up your "holiday dresses" and a ledge at the end of the bath wide enough for your shampoo and shaving kit, so you don't end up balancing them precariously every time you take a shower. 

We couldn't blame the boys for being so desperate to race to the pool, it was hot and the pool was alive with the sound of excitable children making up swimming races and sat up at the Barefoot Bar slurping slush puppies. It's always interesting to visit a resort during the school holidays, to see how busy the pool actually gets, whether you have to be up at the crack of sparrows to secure a sun lounger and whether you can sit on the edge with a book without it getting soaked by teenagers practising their dive bombs!

The pool was open from 9am until 7pm but as the week went on we realised that people often dropped their towels onto a couple of sunbeds on their way to breakfast. Not once could we not find a spot after the 9am mass exodus from breakfast to the children's club drop off points. There was always a few loungers left by the smaller shallow pool and a few on the grassy area towards the shop. It was nice to have a shop on site and 3 days in we had exhausted our aerosol suncreams and needed to raid their Factor 50 range along with two water squirters and a lilo!

Even though they were reasonably priced you didn't fight a flotilla of inflatables as you went for a dip. There was a slight influx of children at 12.30pm when the morning child care session ended whilst the rest headed to lunch with their families and then a post 5.30pm pick up of older children would descend for diving competitions and ball games, whilst the younger children were invited to eat high tea in the Italian restaurant until 6pm. 

The first night began with welcome drinks and a debrief from Mark Warner's management staff. Everyone is invited to congregate at the Greek Taverna restaurant for sparkling wine, soft drinks and a heart hello from the enthusiastic Club Manager Jono Kelly. There was no need for a microphone as they all took it in turns to warmly boom their informative introductions to their respective departments, taking us all through the different activities, restaurants and childcare facilities. You picked up on the camaraderie between the rival department heads straight away.

We loved the banter between them, the diving team confident they had the best water sport on offer and the picture perfect sailing team with their bleached braided locks and deep tans smiling broadly at the new set of lily white guests. We couldn't fault the attention of the staff. On that first night and through the whole week. The management should be extremely proud of their team's commitment to every guest's holiday experience. A well spoken, well mannered young team of trustworthy individuals. And by day 3 we were texting our soon to be 18 year old surf instructor nephew, selling him the idea of applying for a position when he finishes school! 

We ended up collapsing into bed early on the first night, tucking the boys into the crisp white sheets and leaving the suitcases half unpacked for the next day. A mix of over excitement, a 4am wake up call and the 3 hour time difference ahead made for 4 exhausted Heaths! 

But we woke up ready to face a full day, the boys slept all night with the air con gently humming in the background and I opened the curtains (as I did every morning for the whole week) and exclaimed "Ooh it's a sunny day today!" We tootled into the main Terrace restaurant for breakfast and were spoilt for choice. Row upon row of breads, pastries, cereal jars that stretched towards the ceiling and over 20 choices of hot food from the full cooked breakfast options. Yes I counted! Made to order omelettes which Richard immediately made his holiday essential of a morning, and freshly made smoothies or juices and water. And no silly tiny glasses we've experienced before! Hooray! Proper half pint sized glass you could refill as much as you liked.

As the week went on we realised there were some guests far more organised than us, seasoned Mark Warner fans who slipped into the routine with ease from the moment they arrived. We newbies trooped in at 8.45am and a couple of times, decided to give the boys breakfast first and then go back after we had dropped them off at their clubs for a quiet and more civilised breakfast with less demanding requests for sugared pancakes! We'd spotted a friendly face or two who seemed to do the same, with their little boy the same age as Ollie and their little younger girl. We exchanged smiles and joked that we'd never make the 9am drop off and luckily for us, as the week went on, we all became as close as our inseparable boys in the mini club!

It's not just the place that makes a holiday, it's the people and I don't just mean the staff. Part of a holiday for me is the joy of chatting to people around a pool, listening to their stories and sharing a few drinks of an evening. And it felt like we had been sent on a holiday with a ready made group of like minded friends! People just like us, chatting about their hectic lives, their different jobs, funny anecdotes about previous Mark Warner holidays and the more people we met, the more we realised we might just be the only ones who were first timers! 

We became social butterflies for the week, I wanted to chat to as many people as possible, hear their thoughts on the resort and others they have visited and tell them about the great campaign the company run with their blogger ambassadors. Their feedback was invaluable. Almost everyone we met was on their second, third, fourth or more Mark Warner holiday. One lovely family has been loyal to the brand for over 9 years but last year thought they might try something different and rented a beautiful apartment in Spain. They said never again!!! The kids desperately missed all the activities, all the friends they were used to making and the grown ups missed their time to be themselves! To take bikes out, to play a game of tennis and sit by the pool for an hour whilst they watched their youngest from a far having the time of their lives learning to sail and wind surf in one morning. 

The best thing about the holiday is that everyone is in the same boat (excuse the pun) it appeared as though 99% were families, no one batted an eyelid at the regular hearing of "Are you sure you don't need a wee?" and "I told you you needed a wee, come on then, this way!" and the Mark Warner pros took us under their wing. I hadn't realised just how much like a British pre school the Mini Club would feel like for Ollie. At Lakitira they have created a home from home for children who attend a nursery or pre school environment. I just wished that the website shared some photos so I could have shown Ollie beforehand and put him at ease.

Luckily for anyone who might be tempted to book this resort if you find this post, I arranged with the childcare manager to pop in and snap lots of photos to share in a post dedicated to the childcare facilities next week. We've always had the boys with us in the evenings, or tucked up in bed upstairs as we sat and ate on the patio downstairs, so even after a week, the novelty of wearing pjs whilst your mama and dada are all dressed up didn't wear off! We gave the boys a choice every night, to eat with us or eat earlier and head to movie club at 7.30pm with their friends. Guess what they chose 5/7 nights?! What a testament to the movie night set up. Happy kids, all snuggled together reading books, watching a family favourite, then bedding down in fleecy sleeping bags and dropping off on camp beds before their parents crept in and carried them home to bed. It is a winning combination. We looked around at 8pm and there were no over tired children moaning in the restaurants that they are bored, no children on their parent's phones and the need for the dinner table to be overtaken with iPads and colouring books to keep them quiet. All the things we do normally!!!! There were some older children chatting to their parents, families from other parts of Europe not on the Mark Warner package and a couple of long tables away from the main seating area in the Italian restaurant taken over by the teenage Indie Club. We talked to the boys, listened whilst they recalled every second of their adventures out on a paddle board and were taught a new song every day (the one about a gorilla picking his nose particularly impressed Sammy - Mark Warner you totally know the way to a 6 year old boy's heart!) at high tea. We sat and had a drink with them as they ate fish, chicken, sweetcorn, peas or broccoli, rice and pasta, pizza and bolognese. If they had a few chips at lunchtime we were mean and said they needed something different at dinner and we didn't feel at any point like we were missing a family experience. There's a reason why it's an award wining formula!

You can see why there's too much to cram into one post, or two! My role as an Ambassador is to really show you what it feels like to experience a holiday at Lakitira. I want you to feel like you have read the first chapter of a holiday book. A taster, a scene setter. I think you are going to like what I share with you next...! And all good holiday reads have a happy ending, right?!

I firmly believe what makes a happy family holiday is stimulated, contented, happy children. They aren't interested in the interior decor of the room, whether it has a state of the art shower and complimentary mini bar. It's about children who talk about the holiday for months to come and in our case, are emailing and messaging their new friends desperately hoping we can all book for the same time next year for a reunion!

We lost our hearts to Lakitira. When we landed at Heathrow and walked through boarder control the officer asked us if we'd just come back from the Mark Warner holiday as he was off to a nearby resort the following week and was regretting not booking with Mark Warner. We didn't want to ruin his excitement but simply said, there's a certain magic you experience with them that we've never had before. So next year make sure you book with Mark Warner! 

A month down the line we are still raving to anyone who will listen about our time in Greece and wishing we were back there. Now that's the sign of a truly great holiday don't you think?! I have lots and lots more photos to share, but at the risk of this post taking even longer to load, I will save them for Part 2!

If you are looking for a last minute break check out Mark Warner's fab deals to Lakitira. And if you are not tied to school holidays, make sure you check the prices for September and take advantage of the sunshine whilst we traipse the boys to school in the rain!

If you book your holiday before the 30th September 2015 Mark Warner are offering a £50pp discount on your total holiday price using the code LucyBlog50. That's almost your upgrade paid for for full board!

Disclaimer *I am a Mark Warner Ambassador this year and everyone we spoke to say their holiday was 100% worth every penny. Once you got MW you never want to go back!*

ps. I think Mark Warner need to start a new hashtag #mwmagic ;)

T&Cs: Get an additional £50pp discount on all Summer 15 & 16 bookings made by 30 September. Not valid for free child place and can’t be offered in retrospect.

The Summer of 2015 • #SummerGoodTimes

I am sat at the dining table as I write this (and not in my newly painted office on account of the floor and desk still be covered in props and magazines and paper that I took to BritMums and hastily emptied out of the boot) looking out of the window up into the blue skies and feeling thankful that it seems the summer has returned to the UK!

This blog has been a rather quiet place over the last few weeks, our feet have barely touched the ground and I am wildly racing between photo libraries trying to keep my laptop from crying under the weight of thousands of images I've taken in the last couple of months.

I scroll through my camera roll on my phone and almost can't believe all the things we have done this summer. The work I have felt so lucky and grateful for, the experiences we have had with the boys because of this blog and the family celebrations that have taken us to Paris and America! I have so many photos to share with you, stories and tales behind the glossy photos (Yes my husband is the one in 3 people a day at Heathrow who tries to travel to the US without a valid visa and almost gave my mum a heart attack at check in) and places I have discovered that I want you all to know about!

For me it's all the anecdotes that make the sentimental memories. The perfect times are great but it's the mishaps, the laughs and the "it could only happen to us" incidents that I will look back on with a happy heart. Sheltering in the rain in the beach hut on my birthday last week with the boys and my niece dancing in the rain, poking her tongue out to catch some raindrops, watching my brother and sister in law look completely relieved walking through the crowded Gare du Nord after getting very last minute tickets on the Eurostar to get home to London when their flight was cancelled and looking at Rich on the plane back from Greece, smiling that we had 3 boys in the 2 seats next to us playing games, on account of a new holiday friend squeezing in with the boys and his lovely mummy and daddy up at the front of the plane relaxing!!!

One of our adventures this summer started off as the perfect mini break. We headed to one of my favourite hotels in Bradford on Avon near Bath where I did some photography work 18 months ago. Woolley Grange is a sanctuary for families, nestled in an area of unspoilt British countryside. We'd been counting down the days until our stay there after our first trip had to be postponed as Sammy had come down with a sick bug that was working it's way around his school. 

We had watched the weather forecast all week, hoping for a sunny day to use the outdoor pool and sit outside the orangery with cocktails and mocktails and arrived to blue skies and a delightful suite with adjoining rooms. The boys went straight for a bounce on the enormous bed in our room and we hurriedly unpacked our swimming things ready for an afternoon pond dipping, trampolining and swimming. They raced from one activity to another, too excited to stop for any length of time and we promised that we would do it all again the next day when it was time for dinner. Our room has a magical pointed bay window which overlooked the pond and the beautiful front lawns.

Woolley Grange understands that nights away as a family are about keeping everyone happy. We joined a couple of other families in the main restaurant giving their children an early dinner and the boys tucked into their pizzas with glee as we had a pre dinner drink and a starter to share. By the time it was bedtime they were worn out from swimming in the indoor pool and were desperate to watch a movie in our bed.

We had never used a hotel listening service before, we have always had the boys with us or in bed at a holiday apartment or villa so I felt terribly nervous as the lovely hotel manager talked me through how it worked. Once the boys were settled we went down to join the other couples in the intimate, candle lit restaurant and we joked that you could spot the first timers like us, as each of the couples took it in turns to go up and check on their little ones, like we did every 10-15 minutes! We couldn't fault the staff, the food and the promptness of the manager when he popped into the restaurant to tell us he could hear one of the boys.

We scurried upstairs and poor Ollie spent the next couple of hours being poorly before we made the decision at 11pm to head home. He was so upset to have to leave, but when your small ones are sick you just want to be at home. I can't praise the manager on duty enough that night. He was so sympathetic, so kind when we were trying to pack up and deal with Ollie in the bathroom, and reassured me that I wasn't to feel terrible for letting them watch a movie whilst we and dinner! I'm sure it doesn't happen all the time but he dealt with it all like a pro, and calmed my frantic nerves.

The next day Ollie felt much better and was so disappointed to be stuck at home instead of swinging on the tree swing! But that is life, you can't ever predict when you might be ill. Mini breaks have to wait! Lucky I had these photos from my time before - we know we are in for a treat at breakfast when we go back and the boys are desperate to play in the wendy house!

We are so lucky that Woolley Grange are going to have us back soon and hopefully this time everyone will be fighting fit.

I am working my way through all the photos I took in Greece, it's almost impossible to choose which ones to post to make sure you get to see just how fantastic the resort was. But I will do my best! So the blog is going to turn fifty shades of blue this week, with clear blue skies and deep blue seas.

2015 is definitely our Summer of adventure. So sunshine, please stay with us so we don't feel like it's over already!  

Our stay at Woolley Grange was part of the #SummerGoodTimes campaign with Boots.

Linking up with The Ordinary Moments 

Joules Competition #capturingColour

If you love capturing your adventures then this is the competition for you. Every week I host a weekly Instagram hashtag and encourage everyone to join in and share their colourful captures with #capturingcolour.

This month I am teaming up with the fabulous team at Joules and we want to celebrate getting outdoors. A couple of weeks ago we took the boys to a beautiful walled garden at Pythouse in Tisbury and wandered through the cut flower beds, snipping a bucket full of home grown stems for Granny. We were testing out some items from their new collection, The Walk, and I can't wait to see the photos on the Joules blog soon.

Joules are offering a lucky follower a £50 gift card and one of their lovely Home Fragrance Room Diffusers of their choice. 

To enter all you have to do is share a photo on Instagram and tell us where you are walking. Are you close to home, in the garden or having an adventure abroad? Get as creative as you want, share a scene or just a snippet, anything goes! I love seeing toes creeping into the bottom of a photo, small people exploring through big trees and just a hint of where you are. 

I am amazed each week by the different stories people share and tell with colour. The gallery has grown to over 17,500 posts and I find it so inspiring to look through all the compositions, the way people capture light and movement. 

This past month has seen us walking along the Champs-Élysées, racing through London Waterloo, dragging suitcases along station platforms, wobbling over white pebbles in Greece and feeling the sand between our toes as we ran into the sea. It's been one of the busiest Summer's we've ever had and we are packing in as much as possible before Ollie starts school in September. 

And last week was full of blue skies, lush green grass, flowers of every colour of the rainbow and the most delicious food I have ever tasted. It's a strange feeling, when you share so much of your daily life on the internet, to not share even a peek from a whole week of work. But I am hoping you will all be excited when the book comes out next Easter! We sounded like broken records by the end of the week, all crowded around the laptop saying in unison "Ooh that's nice, no wait that's really nice!" The challenge of a recipe book, or any book for that matter, is that every image is a hero shot. Each page needs to stand up against the one before with even the incidental imagery holding it's own amongst the magic winning shots. 

I loved the fact that one minute we were in a field of long grass, balancing cables and the tripod on uneven ground and the next minute tucked away in a beautifully lit corner of the owner's farmhouse. We had to create every season through the course of the week, conjuring up a wintry morning on what was actually a glorious day and in contrast trying to capture a summer's balmy afternoon under umbrellas, sheltering from stormy skies! 

And the gallery had scenes from different seasons, people joining in in from wintry Australia to sunny seaside resorts in the UK. 

Each week it gets harder and harder to create a grid of favourites. I scroll through and just see what catches my eye. It's funny because my subconscious must be drawn to certain hues each week because when I open all the tabs once I have selected 9 and they all seem to compliment each other!

And my absolute favourite form last week was this image by Elizabeth. So simple, beautifully composed and perfect even natural light.

It made me realise how much I have missed playing with flowers from our garden being so hectic in the last couple of weeks - on the list for next week! 


Follow Elizabeth's inspiring feed here

So what are you waiting for? Join Joules and I for the month of August and snap your seasonal walks. Show us your sandals or super wellies! Rain or shine we want you to get out and about. I'll be sharing our birthday/anniversary trip to New York this week, there's something about being in a city that makes me just want to walk and walk and walk. We fly on Thursday morning and have booked a lovely hotel in the Lower East Side so expect a cliché Brooklyn Bridge shot or two on Friday!

You can find Joules on Instagram here.

The competition is open from 3rd August 2015 - midnight GMT 31st August 2015. A winner will be announced on the 1st September. You can enter as many times as you like. Tag your photos with #capturingcolour.

Gift cards will be valid for UK only.