A field of wishes

Everything changes in this village in May. It's like fairies fly over the rooftops in the night and blast the gardens and hedgerows with bursts of colour and poof, you wake up to carpets of Forget-me-nots and Wisteria that seems to have blossomed without a whisper, but in spectacular style.

All the lanes have started to feel like a maze, green walls that let just a peek of sunshine through them, leaving dappled sunlight all over the pot holed roads. It's quiet but alive all at the same time. You can hear the boys on the trampoline, the neighbour's boys doing exactly the same on the opposite side of the road, you can hear dogs calling each other every now and again the rumble of a tractor hurtles by. 

We've been so caught up in the house, the inch thick dust, the midnight staring competitions at the laptop trying to decide on window handles and taps for the bathroom sink, that we've almost missed what's been blooming around us. It's felt like there hasn't been a moment to stop, there's a room to pack up, un pack and repack, as we make progress with filling, sanding and painting the tired walls so battered and bruised by the new pipework. I think we are only just starting to appreciate that when you take on an old house, there is always something on the list left to do. Some things can wait until your children leave home and some need your immediate attention. But the ones that are most fun are the ones in between! Not the vital foundations of the house, the things that are pretty, but they have to wait for a little longer.

But we decided on Saturday that everything in the house could wait, packed up a picnic and dragged the bikes out of the garage. Ollie has an obsession with dandelions at the moment and every time he spies one he clutches it so tight, you can see he's wishing with all his might. Of course we never get to find out what he wished for because "Mama, then it won't come true" but you can just about make out his hushed little voice and the murmur of something Minecraft related.

So off we tootled in search of a field full of wishes. 

We stopped to say hello to the horses at the bottom of the hill who I suspect are quite spoilt with small people passing by. They trotted over with glee at the sight of our two with hands full of lush green grass, normally out of their reach. They are so magnificent and overwhelming all at the time but the boys didn't flinch. They spoke to the three beautiful creatures in front of us like they were old friends.

Their fuzzy soft noses tickled the palms of their hands, and the boys roared with laughter at their loud huffs into the air. I love their whiskers, so wiry but delicate and their eyes feel like so soulful, like they can understand you.

We found the perfect spot to stop and my muddy boys hopped the gate and scampered off into the distance while we set up the makeshift blanket (who needs a blanket when you have a tablecloth) and watched them literally skip through the buttercups and dandelions. It was completely and utterly idyllic. 

Until they discovered the next door field of cows and darted over to say hello to be greeted with a full on mating show by a very rampant bull!

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I wish that there were more days like this. We panted back up the hill and decided to abandon the jobs left over from the morning's to do list and race down to Lyme Regis for the afternoon. In one day we had more family time together than we've had in months. Everything has been off balance lately and we needed sea air, a cycle and chicken sandwiches to set ourselves right.

I love these photos because they capture the boys just as they are. Sammy and his impossible to contain and quite frankly control, exuberant personality, a smile as bright as his neon glasses and Ollie's competitive streak fighting against an overwhelming desire to be adored by his big brother. The grazed knees from running through life at 100 miles an hour, the little fingers who see a wilting flower and pick it for their mama. The pursed lips that have got blowing for a wish down to a fine art but can't quite master a whistle.

Our boys are the very best of friends. They eat together, sleep together, fight and wrestle together, but they are very rarely apart. And when they proclaim their frustration for each other in a barrage of poo related put downs I tell them really calmly how lucky they are to have each other.  We can see they can sense the unsettledness that has swept over the house as quickly as the dust sheets covered the furniture. It's remarkable we are all still speaking to each other at the end of a day sometimes. There have been tears and tantrums but we are in it for the long haul. The house is testing us, almost like testing our love for it. 

I had my camera but I sat back and watched more. Snapping life as it happens, rather than corralling my brood to face the tripod. I still want those photos, every time we drive pass a beautiful field of yellow rape seed Rich knows I would love to stop but I must remember that these everyday snaps are just as precious. These are the photographs that fill our digital album. I look at our big traditional albums and scrapbooks and they are filled with happy moments. Firsts, family and friends, sun kissed skin in holiday outfits and cocktails in one hand, but life is what you live in between those special anniversaries, birthdays and milestones. And that's what a blog is, an evolving album for the movement of millennial parents writing about life as a family. 

I need to remind myself that perhaps the everyday moments might be just a nice to read about, in between the bigger adventures. That these simple pleasures tell our story as much as the parties and the plane rides. Perhaps even a little better.

Linking up with The Ordinary Moments 

If you haven't already voted there's just a little time left to vote for your favourite bloggers in this year's national parenting blog awards. I owe so much to these awards and the people who nominated me. 

You can find me in the Photo Shortlist for the Brilliance in Blogging Awards which closes at midnight 17th May and I am thrilled to be a Finalist in the Photography category of the MADs.

It would be an honour to be at those award ceremonies amongst some incredible photographers. 

A postcard to Juliette

It's hard to explain to people who don't know our family about our dynamic, but for those of you who do know us, this post will come as no surprise. I can remember the day I said goodbye to my brother Patrick a few days before he went to live in America and start a new life with Carlotta. We'd been out in Maidenhead, something I don't think we'd ever all done before, dolled up to the nines the evening before, for a leaving party and laughed so much on the dance floor I thought my sides were going to split. It was a perfect send off and even typing just a little about it, makes my chest ache, thinking about the tears mum, Natty and I had rolling down our cheeks on that Sunday afternoon. But without doubt it was the best decision he ever made because it led to Juliette.

A small girly we had all been talking about pretty much since they met. The daughter that was meant to be. 

With Juliette it's not been 9 months of excitement, it's really been years. When they imagined themselves as a family it just was natural to talk about a pink one being part of the picture. 

We were in America for my brother's 30th birthday last year when they played us his holiday video from our trip to Paris, which ended with a little extra something coming home in the suitcase. A pregnancy test. 

We knew that Rich and I would be lucky enough to be on mum's staff travel and with the help of my very kind in laws we would be able to fly out to meet our new niece when she was born. I love first visits, hearing the new parents relive the most incredible moment when everything changed in an instant. The drama, the tears, feeling like you were there. On the day she was born we had all been on a group text, Pat was giving us regular updates and I don’t think mum, Natty or I had stopped holding our phones in over 8 hours. In between text updates we were Face Timing each other and were all on tenterhooks when we got the “Omg… push time! 10cm” and a few seconds minutes later “This is amazing” messages!

It felt like all our hearts were in our mouths and then up popped a photo of Carlotta holding this tiny person in the hospital blanket. We were in the middle of the local pub and I blurted out to the waitress “Ahhhh my brother’s just had a baby!” with tears in my eyes and we hurriedly got the bill and raced to the car park to FaceTime my sister who had popped a bottle of pink bubbly already!

But it's not the same as holding them in your arms, studying their little faces, debating who they look like, being part of the newborn bubble.

It’s weird how you can feel so far away and so close all at the same time. That 6 years of keeping close through messaging, Skype and Face Time, meant that it was completely normal for us all to have been on the end of the phone. In fact, often when Pat and Carlotta have visited for big birthdays or a few days at Christmas, the boys act as though they saw them last week, there’s no real dramatic home coming, it’s just normal to all be together again. 

Parenthood is a challenge, whether the first few days seem like a blissful haze, or complete chaos, at some point it hits you that life will never be the same again. Carlotta has Natty and I on the end of a text, whatever time of night and we all felt like we lived those early days together.

A long week passed and finally it was time to get on a plane, and land in the garden state full of pink magnolia and blossom trees. I was so proud of how my brother and sister in law have taken this new chapter in their lives in their stride, sharing her with us and being so open about feeling vulnerable and making it up as you go along. They are not fazed when she cries, they work through their routine of tricks to settle her back down and just like the four who came before her, Granny’s singing works a treat.

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It sounds extraordinary to fly to America for just 48 hours, but in fact our time meeting the newest member of our family was almost the opposite. In a good way. It’s like she was just meant to be here. Slip into their ready made unit after the fanfare of a baby shower and the build up of 6 months of excitement planning and discussing another pink one joining our brood. 

The house was calm and content. Almost like life was normal with a little swinging chair in the corner. This tiny little fair haired poppet was just with us, greeting us at the front door in her daddy’s arms. It’s funny but I felt like we almost tip toed in. You forget what life is like with just one, compared to the mayhem and noise of our house with excitable boys and Natty’s with Yasmin bouncing off the walls with that toddler unquenchable enthusiasm and excitement for everyday life. 

There was really nothing to do except be with them and take her in. The house was up together, there wasn’t a mass of school uniform spilling over the laundry basket for mum to attack with her fairy godmother magic like she does when she gets to our house, we just sat on the sofa with this teeny girl stretched out on my legs and talked.

We passed her around like a precious parcel and whilst the boys got on with some DIY on Saturday afternoon fixing the garage doors, (see I told you it was a normal weekend) Carlotta, mum and I played babies. Snuggling, snapping and taking it in turns to feed her and love her. 

Carlotta is like me. She keeps scrapbooks and photos and our hearts melted when we set up a mini shoot on their bed. We were giddy looking at this sleepy princess, totally oblivious to our cooing. I'd taken just my camera so we improvised by using a soft fleece blanket and their duvet without any covers on it! The backdrop didn't really matter as this sweetheart was the star of the show. 

We had known for a long time that this sweet one was going to be a Juliette, and that her middle names would be a tribute in some way to her great grandmothers. With her initials going to spell JAM my brother nicknamed the bump Jammie and Natty could not resist sending them this ridiculously cute strawberry summer outfit! Carlotta's mum is an incredible seamstress and overnight whipped up a fabric green strawberry patch for her debut in front of Aunties' camera!

The cuteness made your legs turn to jelly. Perfect bud lips, English rose complexion and not hint of the dark hair that dominates our family. She is her own girl.

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I am so happy to post this on my sister in law's first mother's day. Nothing can really prepare you for motherhood. No one can tell you exactly how you will feel, that really you just learn every day. But having people to share the journey with makes life a little easier. And that's how I feel about my nieces and nephew. That Pat, Carlotta, Natty, Andrew, Rich and I are all navigating parenthood together, that even though they aren't mine, they feel like mine. That we have this not so secret society where we can one minute be deliriously happy and the next fall apart at the seams. This core group who love each other fiercely, people you couldn't be without. 

Oh sweet Juliette, my newest of nieces, I've had this note in draft for far too long. You are starting to smile, starting to know day from night and we are all counting down to the summer, talking about dates, flights for your Christening and your first trip to Southbourne, even if it's just for one day. Your big cousin is desperate to hold you, doesn't realise you will be a much bigger girl by the summer, and I look down at the little gate at the bottom of the garden and picture the 5 cousins all together, the start of a new generation. 

I can't wait to have an ordinary few days with you, like you live around the corner. Rolling in the garden, on the same mat Sammy learnt to move on, sleeping in the cousins' bedroom at Auntie's house (best not tell Yazzy) and simply being part of the gang. Snuggling in the boy's beds for bedtime stories, sharing a bath, if we can squeeze you all in!

You are a lucky girl because you have two homes. One where you will grow up, with a little American accent and one where there will always be a big welcome home. 

Long distance love is hard, but we feel like we know you, even though we don't see you every day, every week or even every month, because you are part of us. 

Linking up with The Ordinary Moments

Me and Mine - A Family Portrait Project April

Well this is quite frankly a spectacular failure. Of course it could get a tiny bit worse and this post ends up being published after midnight and then it's an epic failure, but I am determined that in the next 120 minutes this will go live! Every month, along with lots of others, I post a Me and Mine update.

We've been posting a monthly photo of our family units for over 3 years now and never ever has one of mine been so late. But I think that completely sums up the state of life at the moment. 

The plumbers have turned off the new boiler for this weekend for stage 2 of the heating renovations so we needed to ship out! Our home away from home in Southbourne is one of my most favourite places in the world. I love it at any time of year, in the Winter when the sea looks ferocious but a cup of tea huddled in the beach hut makes you laugh like drains and in summer when the days seem to last forever, you forget your shoes walking back up the zig zag path to the flat and your skin feels sun kissed by the British sunshine that feels that much sweeter because it’s so unpredictable. I am so grateful for a sunny weekend at this seaside. 

We just about managed to pack up after school on Friday and get down for the sun to set over the groynes. A perfect calming pastel pink sky to end a frenetic week with. We got to the steps of the flats and Ollie ran up and shouted "I love Southbourne!" as he burst through the familiar door. There's something special about this not so special looking flat. A rather ugly c1960s block, with no redeeming features on the outside but an inside filled with childhood memories of 3 generations. We won't be back here until the summer when we have a week booked with my sister, bringing Logan on his first ever holiday, just like all the other little ones in our family, so being spoilt with a red sky at night made it feel like the sun was waiting to cheer us up the next day. Like a welcome home. 

We've made the last 24 hours feel like a week. Busy doing nothing. A wagon ride into the high street for bread and cakes, a cheeky hot chocolate and round of Connect 4 in one of our favourite cafes and the rest of the day at the beach. Scooting under stormy skies and dodging the showers that we could see out at sea. 

After 5 attempts this is my Me and Mine for April. Someone with their eyes closed, Ollie's face hidden by Sammy trying to steal the show. I look at this and see two mini mes. Ollie who despite not looking anything like Rich did when he was the same age, but looks the spitting image of his Dada, is like a little shadow, in awe of everything Rich does and I got to join in their bubble for a little while on the beach. You realise that all they really want is you. All of you, no phone in your hand, not talking to a stranger passing with their dogs on the beach. Just you and a bat and a ball. 

Then there's Sammy who looks, sounds and shouts just like me. He has my rollercoaster of emotions on a daily basis, you have to soak up the highs to get your through the frustrations of the lows and I am no different. He is counting down to his birthday month, constantly talking about his party at the end of May and is full of a new phase of attitude. We have hit the eye rolling, the stomping up the stairs, I am just waiting for the slamming doors bit and we will be set for pre teen hood! Is this normal for 7?! Help!

To say we've all been unsettled over the last 4 weeks is an understatement. The boys are antsy, we are itchy. Everyone is out of routine, each room is still packed up into the middle with a few bits of furniture unearthed from the mountain of dust sheets. We had the old AGA boiler (all 40+ years of it) taken out this week and wow, the dirt and grime behind it was revolting! 

But in a bizarre way all of this disruption is brilliant! It means we are a step closer to putting the house back together. The rooms feel warm for the first time since we moved in and instead of barricading our bedroom that  has literally been ripped apart and is in the process of being rebuilt (cue more dust sheets and dust on our bedside tables that you could write a book in) to stop the draught chilling the house to it's bones, we have an even, warm temperature, where you can walk around in a t-shirt. The luxury!

I have been taking some behind the scenes photos to make a scrap book but the best thing about having a blog is that you have a digital journal of your emotions, a visual story of the progress and you get to share it all. Share the excitement, the planning and the big reveals. 

A weekend in Southbourne was just what we needed, we just need to relax. Does that make sense? You know when it takes you a few days when you've been wound up like a spring to gently unravel, but you don't have that kind of time?! It's been a lovely day, still with the odd temper tantrum moment (from all of us) and we ended the day with dinner at home, Walking with Dinosaurs with two boys snugged on me in an armchair under a duvet whipped off one of the bunk beds and a second night of a lounge disco. Hats off to Rich for improvising with his iPhone torch and several pieces of clear coloured Lego bricks. We had disco lights and everything!

Tomorrow we are going to head to Moors Valley Country Park, climb wooden spider's webs, ride the little land train and eat ice cream.

Happy Bank holiday everyone!

P.S. I did look back through all my photos in April and found one of the four of us. This one. It's been an extraordinary week for me and my blog. I was bouncing around the room when I found out I have been shortlisted for a Brilliance in Blogging award in the PHOTO category and am a Finalist in this year's Mum and Dad (MAD) Awards in the PHOTOGRAPHY category

Everyone in the categories would love to win, of course they would, and I can honestly say holding one of those awards changes your life. If you haven't voted you can scoot on over and cast your vote for your favourite. 

I am so proud to see some of the Me and Mine co hosts listed in the awards this year and I am honoured to be among such talented bloggers, parent bloggers and photographers. Make sure you pop over and see what Lucy, Alex, Jenny, Fritha and Katie have been up to this month. There's a new member of the Me and Mine gang this month - welcome to the world sweet boy and congratulations to Katie and her precious new family of 5. Little boys get me every time, enjoy all the newborn snuggles, I could barely carry Sammy to bed tonight!

Come and share your family photos with us, link up your blog posts or if you are not a blogger tag your photos on Instagram with #meandmineproject. It's an ace gang to be part of :)

Phew 9 minutes to spare!

How to Grow Your Own Cut Flower Patch • April

Hooray for April showers because we know what that brings... May flowers! I think we've seen more raindrops pouring down the window panes than beams of sunlight streaming through the curtains this month, but at last the grass had it's first proper cut of the year yesterday. The liquid sunshine has brought the garden back to life and suddenly shoots are bursting through the soil bringing colourful patches to the flower beds.

I wish I had the green fingers of the previous owners, whose hard work we get to enjoy for a second year but it's made me determined to put my stamp on a little area. The Peonies they planted years ago are coming up thick and fast, the Forget-me-nots around the patio have covered the flower bed like a blue carpet and a patch of Tulips have sprung up for the first time. But I can't take credit for those because the only Tulips I've bought are in an old bucket by the front door! The Anemone bulbs we planted last year are teasing me with just one lonely fuchsia pink flower sprouting in the rockery but I love it none the less! The Wisteria has bloomed so early this year and I reckon that by the time the boys head to secondary school the whole back of the house will be blanketed by purple in May. Just 5 years to wait...! The Sweet Peas have started to cling onto the bamboo frame and my cut flower patch is now looking a touch more up together than it did back in March

I've decided to keep half for vegetables and half for flowers. The boys loved picking the french beans, strawberries, carrots and raspberries last year. We even had a few potatoes and I've left the raspberry, courgette and pumpkin plants where they are and a new set of beans are in and already starting to climb. 

I've bought a few flowers which already are in bloom, which I will plant this week and my seedlings from the Cut Flower Workshop with Georgie are doing nicely. Georgie - you will be proud - I didn't let them die!

So even though the patch may not be a feast for the eyes just yet, there is so much colour in the rest of the garden. I even found a teeny tiny patch of Bluebells for the first time! Not a wood, I think there are just 12, but I was so happy! Simple pleasures right?! There's every colour of the rainbow and yesterday I snipped a posy for my desk.

For my next Rose and Grey Styling Challenge I had to dress their wire locker shelf and it was the perfect display stand for my rainbow garden indoors before it gets a permanent home on my office wall. I rummaged around for my bud vases and old bottles, used a few small bowls and I love that you don't need a big bunch of flowers to make something special. 

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The Cowslip looks at home flopping over a textured ceramic bowl, and the white Cherry Blossom looks so fresh next to the Bluebells. Sometimes only one of something can bring you as much joy as a huge bunch and the single Tulip opened in front of my eyes in the warmer space inside. 

So what have I got left to do this month? I need to plant my Dahlia bulbs in pots and cover them up until they've sprouted, I will sow some seeds that now we are past the frosty weather can go straight into the ground and I need to order some autumn flowering bulbs and get them in the patch. The thing I learnt from Georgie is it's all about doing little but doing it often. Bitesize chunks. And in another week or so I will plant my tray of seedlings. 

They may only be little but they are mighty and it honestly feels fantastic to know I have managed to grow them!  

So what would be on your wishlist? Gladioli and Delphiniums are on mine!

Real Life vs Insta Life • Spring - A Clifton Photo walk

When I started typing this post up I thought that perhaps I've given them the wrong titles, and that maybe "Behind the Scenes" would be better. Because the hint of sarcasm in the vs could lead you to believe that the photos you see lean more towards the fabricated than the fleeting moments that are captured at any given time. But there is always a story behind the finished story. For me styling photos is such a pleasure, creating a mini scene amongst chaos or not, (sometimes the house can look quite together, but only sometimes!) is my way of relaxing and I cherish the times I have when I can get lost in a little world of props and flowers, using my favourite old baking tray and snap away. 

I look at the people I follow on Instagram and there are some accounts who have made a full time businesses from their snapshot photos, sharing their every days, their travels and adventures all snapped in beautiful light and all with a post edit glow that makes each one stand alone. There's a sense of love and dedication in every single little square, that that photo has been chosen for you to enjoy and that's exactly how I feel. That each one is the next page in my visual storybook, I share what we are doing that day, or where we might have been that week, perhaps it might be some flowers or something I've snapped that sums up how I feel from a while ago, but each one means as much as the last.

I had the pleasure of meeting one of the Instagrammers I follow Julia last month who has grown an eye popping following of loyal and engaged fans who adore her flat lays, her florals and her eye. It felt like I was in the presence of greatness, with someone who was humble but had found her home in this creative space. Confident in her style, but free with her advice. We chatted about using the best camera you have available, that it's not cheating to use a dslr instead of the camera you can whip out of your pocket and I don't know why, but when I read that she has re-cropped and reposted an image deleting the ones that didn't sit right with her a day or so after, it made me realise that taking absolute ownership of your Instagram gallery with the same fierce pride and love as your blog is a good thing. 

So many of us will be styling our photos without even realising. That almost on auto pilot you will move a touch to the left to crop out something less pretty in the background. Hands up if you've ever got out a piece of white card and set up a mini scene on it?! Yep! Me too :)

I end up in contorted stances, on my hands and knees, even on the floor, to take photos at different angles! I know my eye is always drawn to the detail in a situation, and the photos I share where there's just a hint of a scene rather than the whole story are always the ones that get my lovely followers double tapping. 

It's become second nature to lug around my Canon, I sling it over my shoulder without a second thought and no one bats an eyelid when I snap away at family gatherings. I shoved it into my hospital bag as I raced to be with Natalie when she was in labour with Logan and I will always treasure those precious first photos I snapped when he was cocooned in his white blanket in a hazy newborn snooze as the sun came up. It was so special to be my sister's second pair of eyes and whilst she was struggling to stay awake I could take some photos for them which we all have on our window ledges. 

In fact when we took the boys for a run on the beach last week I lost count of the number of other parents who had a bigger camera around their necks. I love that there's this generation of us who have fallen in love with photography, friends of mine have cameras on their birthday and christmas lists, and there are so many moments I have stored on my laptop, that I print out at a later date. 

So here's a few of my behind the scenes from the last month or so, nothing that constitutes rocket science just conscious cropping and some tidying! And of course you don't have to have a DSLR or point and shoot - just don't feel you have to be shy if you do! 

I've shared all of them on Instagram and they've all come from my DSLR. It's not for everyone to upload photos to a Dropbox file and then share them from their phone but it works for me. I do share photos from my phone but mostly I use the camera I love the most. And I am not alone feeling like this which makes me breathe a huge sigh of relief!

I headed to Bristol last Wednesday to spend a couple of hours on the Clifton photo walk organised by Lori and Laura and I looked around at all the different cameras and felt like one of the gang. Phones, point and shoots and DSLRs all capturing different scenes and stories. 

I looked around at this group of passionate writers, photographers, vloggers, parents and friends and thought wow. What company to be in. People who have taken a leap and followed their hearts, turning hobbies into businesses, contributing to making blogging a profession to be admired and valued. Lori who lives and breathes her Mama meets cool tagline, exuding the most genuine and uplifting spirit every time I see her, Fritha who must have barely taken a day's traditional maternity leave, a superwoman whose real life has become blog life and who treasures her family unit. We talked about how you can't blog without the support of those around you, not just our "Instagram husbands" who have to painfully put up with endless requests to take photos but who are there, at midnight when you are still staring at a laptop, who forgive you when your head spins off and you shout at the top of your voice and who are there to celebrate and share all the wonderful things that blogging brings you. And Natasha who I can talk honestly about work opportunities and worries without any sense of competition, like we've known each other since school. Her confidence and determination inspires me to the point that I wish I could just get in the car and drive to her house to sit on her sofa for a long cup of tea and not stop talking for 4 hours.

One of the things Natasha said to me last Wednesday, really struck a chord. About doing less, but doing it better. And I guess that's what I am going to concentrate on. My love is for photography. Visual stories that capture my attention, that I want to share with you. My heart is in my photos, the colours, the compositions, the people and places that fill the frames. 

It's easy to feel left behind with blogging. It's easy to say to yourself you can't do everything and be everything to all people but it's harder to believe it. Consciously not let yourself get weighed down with the pressure to keep up. It feels like the world has just discovered Snapchat right at the time when I feel that I have really found my home on Instagram! I signed up to a video course in January as I am determined to go out of my comfort zone this year and understand how to edit all the video clips I take that get left unloved in an album. Not necessarily to share them right now, but to find my way of creating mini movies for the boys for the future. 

Being an all or nothing type of person has it's downsides. I am either full force or stilted like a rabbit in the head lights. And that can make you just not try. But at the same time the upside is that you practise at what you love the most, and hopefully you see yourself improving. A couple of weeks ago I felt like I had a huge opportunity, shooting images for a new Summer catalogue on a beach in Devon with a team from Moshulu. I got to the beach about an hour before we were due to meet and wandered along the sand covered in a blanket of pebbles and took a deep breath. There was no where to hide on the beach. No shelter, just a vast expanse of space, with the sea air whipping against my face. It felt like a big moment, my first fashion catalogue shoot with no one else to be other than myself. Just me and my camera.

I feel like I am on a never ending journey with my photography, I look back at photos I took last year and can see my style evolving and feel so proud of how far I have come. There's so much blood sweat and literal tears that have gone into the images that get uploaded to my blog. 

So I was over the moon to see the Finalist's announced for the MAD Blog Awards 2016, celebrating parent bloggers from the UK. My heart leapt when I saw my name under the Photography category! Recognition from your peers is a huge deal. These are the awards that without a doubt made a difference to my whole working life. Thank you so much to anyone who nominated me. The other 4 finalists are more than worthy winners and I can't wait to see them all at the awards ceremony in September. 

If you haven't voted yet you can head over here and cast your vote!