Post For A Post Day • Featuring ipostparcels

I love reading interviews with bloggers, people who started their blogs at a similar time to mine and people who have been blogging for well over a decade and more. And the funny thing is the same answer comes up over and over again, when they are asked what’s the best thing about blogging. The friendships.

It almost doesn't make sense that you could form intensely close relationships with people you might never get to actually meet but it’s true. People who you talk to, often on a daily basis, who could be at the opposite end of the country, live on other continents, from completely different backgrounds and in completely different stages of life. But people who you feel really know you and you know them.

I’ve learnt from my school and uni days that when life is busy, when you are juggling jobs, family, kids or pets (I’ve spent most of the weekend stroking a very sad Mr Moose who is accessorising with a most irritating plastic cone following an operation at the vets) friendships become like elastic bands. They have to, you get stretched, commitments force you to drift apart sometimes but the roots of a true friendship, the type that lasts a lifetime, will always spring you back together. Best friends for me are the ones who can be there in a crisis, even when there might be months that felt like seconds that have passed between texts or calls. The ones you want to spoil for no reason at all, other than to let you know you are thinking of them and hopefully make a difference to their day that day.

My friend Zoe is that person. 

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I haven’t seen her beautiful face for well over a year and I’m not sure when the next time will be either. There’s exactly 408 miles between us but it feels like 400,008 to me. Like we need the stars of the entire universe to align one day for us to be in the same place. She is someone who I would and have rung in a crisis. A crisis of confidence, a family disaster and I hope she feels the same. We’ve FaceTimed and shared our real life vs our “Insta life”, she wouldn't care if I was in my pyjamas at 2.30pm and I am constantly in awe of her ability to juggle four children on a daily, no make that hourly, basis!

Zoe and I met through blogging, we sat next to each other at a fancy pants awards dinner and we were both a mix of giggly, nervous excitement, totally intimidated by the situation and the Queens of blogging who were sashaying around the ball room around us. From the moment we said hello we didn't stop talking. She is utterly charming with eyes like chocolate buttons and her fiery Scottish wit made me a little bit fall in love with her that night! I know that even if years pass and we don't get to see each other, we will always be friends. 

She’s a dreamer like me, romantic and sentimental and we both adore post. Proper, brown paper packages tied up with string type post. We both love being part of the blogging community, adore Instagram and all the 65,000 pictures that are posted each minute, but we both appreciate the thought that goes into wrapping something, a little act of kindness that isn’t a status update or a scheduled stream of tweets. Recent research has shown that half the UK (48%) say they’ve never sent a surprise parcel to someone they know - but, 84% of us say we’d be more excited to receive a surprise parcel in the post, than a text or DM on social media.

A real thing on Post For a Post Day. A day created by ipostparcels to encourage us all to take a day of rest from the whirlwind online world and think about someone and show them you were thinking of them by surprising them with a letter or parcel. 

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I knew straight away when I was talking to ipostparcels about being part of Post For A Post Day this September what I was going to send to Zoe. My sister and I had been chatting about how when you are having a hard week, wouldn't it be nice to send yourself a daily treat to open! But I wanted to send Zoe, (who is a dab hand at little ones’ birthday and party games) no ordinary parcel but a pass the parcel. Just for her!

I found all sorts in my desk drawer that I’ve collected from goody bags and bought her a few little treats; a note book with the words “Enjoy the Little Things” which has been the ethos of her blog for as long as I have known her, some seeds to grow in a pot at home, a few scrap book cards that might be nice for her Instagram shots and a book for her mini break away with her husband that she’s been dreaming of.

I hope she loves it because I love her to bits!

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On ‘Post For A Post Day’ on Monday 18th September – step back from the hamster wheel of hashtags and send a surprise parcel FOR FREE. ipostparcels are giving away up to 100 free posts per day all week starting today. Collected from your door and delivered to one of your favourites. A day to take a break from mass sharing - it could be as simple as sending a letter to your mum who lives down the road.

Who is your favourite? Why not surprise them. What will you send? Share a picture of what you posted and the story behind why you posted it with the hashtag #PostForAPost.

To post a small parcel (up to 2kg) for free on Post For A Post Day, just go here:

…and enter this code: PFAP in the voucher box.

The first 100 people to redeem the code each day between Monday 18th September and Friday 22nd September will be able to post for free, so get there quick!

* Post created in collaboration with www.ipostparcels.com

 

 

Me and Mine - A Family Portrait Project • Catch Up

We are all friends here right? I hope good friends. Friends who stick with you even when you have gone a little awol. I'm hoping that by starting off talking about Christmas I might be able to distract you from the date of this post and the photos that will follow. Now you might think think I am about to pedal some Christmas in July event, a sponsored post full of baubles but no, I am mentioning Christmas because every year we do the same thing. We watch the Queens speech all sat around together and then we stand for the national anthem.

I remember one particular speech she made where she referred to her year as their "annus horribilis" and that feels a very appropriate start to this long over due Me and Mine post. Because for all the wonderful things that have happened over the last 6 months and all the exciting days out, birthdays, holidays and surprises still to come this year, it has been, quite frankly, one of the most emotionally difficult years for both our families. 

We rang in the new year with my father in law seriously unwell in hospital, recovering from a terrible fall that left him with a broken neck and several fractured ribs that took months and months and months to heal. And just as he was feeling back to his good self, my mum was rushed to hospital with two blood clots on her lungs. You know that phrase "drop everything and go" well that's been the story of the last few months while she recovered from her first stint in hospital. We had thought it was her first and last but unbeknown to everyone, there was another problem lurking in the background, something just as, if not, more serious.

I speak to my mum pretty much on a daily basis and it has never occurred to me that she would FaceTime one day last month, her voice all wobbly with tears, and tell me she had a problem with her heart. My niece Yazzy bought her a cuddly soft heart from Ikea for her birthday - a new one to replace "Granny's broken heart". It was a surreal couple of weeks. Frantic calls with my sister, group messages with my brother, feeling as far away as humanely possible in America, tag teaming hospital visits and I know the drive into central London to the Royal Brompton Heart Hospital like the back of my hand. 

It's almost like we were living in The Truman Show and someone had pressed a giant pause button on our lives. We couldn't think of anything else, talk about anything else, barely do anything else! I naively thought I would have hours in hospital to edit a big photo shoot from a week before that dreaded call but the minutes raced by in a blur of knock knocks at the door, blood pressure checks, heart monitor assessments and pots of tea. 

So the lead up to the summer was a case of holding onto our businesses and jobs by our finger nails, dropping as few of the spinning plates as possible, feeling that ticking clock chime louder and louder with end of term events, sports days and then bing, it was time for the boys to break up. 

It may sound like a ridiculous statement but I am working to not work. Trying to juggle lots of hats as a consultant, a photographer and small creative business during term time, to set up enough work to let me have time off when the boys are at home. I remember emailing Fiona one late July weekend after I'd read her new book and found her out of office almost more inspiring than the book pages themselves. It read something like this. "I am now on school holidays with my children and will be back at work in September." Almost two months away. And I thought right, that is my goal!

I guess I don't mean not working at all, I mean not working frantically, not taking on commitments  I cannot squeeze in the the boys with us and ending up being late on deadlines like I have been. Thanking my lucky stars my clients are in the same positions, doing their best to survive 6 weeks or more of Moscow State Circus standard juggling. 

I decided that this summer was going to be all or nothing. And I went for all. After the upset, the relief that Reg and Mum were getting better and all the nights I had been away from the boys, we set out to give them an incredible adventure. Bouncing from one place to the next, staying with best friends, family and ending the holidays in our favourite resort in Kos. There were still emails, calls and editing, but we fitted around them rather than the other way. They slept in in Spain, I got up earlier and caught up. My sister took over at backdrops HQ and drove to my house to pack orders and now is on first name terms with our lovely post office! 

We spent almost everyday of the school holidays together as a four, sometimes with extras but 99% of the time together. Me and mine.

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So here we are, heading into autumn, still a little sun kissed, definitely a little rounder, but happy. I look back at these snapshots and think wow. Stories still to tell on this blog but the absolute adventure I so desperately wanted for the boys. Parties, a trip to London to see The Diary of a Wimpey Kid film at the 20th Century Fox offices with Joules, the best family day out we have ever genuinely had day at Legoland, back and forth to Southbourne, musical beds with family and friends, a whirlwind 24 hours in London to visit the Google offices for the launch of the Google Home device, plane rides and iPad afternoons. We feel so incredibly lucky. We've worked hard and played hard!

They ran back into school, both wrapped in bear hugs by their friends and the drop off was a stream of cuddles and kisses with friends I have missed that I hadn't seen all summer. It's wonderful to be away but it's also really good to be home. We made lists of plans for our house, created endless spreadsheets and feel like we are focussed on the next three months and making progress in every area of life. Like in the film Inside Out. Looking at each island and making them better. Friendships, work, hobbies and most importantly family. 

The trouble with being an all or nothing person is the times when it has to be nothing. But the Me and Mine Project is a brilliant thing and I am so happy to be back with my three boys.

Go and see what Lucy, Katie, Fritha, Jenny, Alex and Charlotte have been up to this summer.

LifeLucy Heath 1 Comment
24 hours in NYC - Holiday Moments • Featuring British Airways

This post was sponsored by British Airways

We have been fully in countdown mode at this house this week, counting last sleeps for Sammy as a 7-year-old, and texting every night back and forth with my brother who is going to be the best surprise present of all.

A few months ago Sammy became completely overwhelmed with emotion – one of those wobbly lip moments that descended into a full-blown stream of tears running down his cheeks, and fighting for breath as struggled to get out his words. 

And it was all over his love for his Uncle Pat and his family in America. How much he misses them both and his baby cousin and how, in typical dramatic fashion, he’s “only seen them twice in his whole life!”, which I had to remind him wasn’t quite true.

But I know how it must feel, that the handful of times he has had with them doesn't seem enough. The thing we forget when we are all grown up is that a few months feels like forever to their young minds. Those weeks and months waiting for your birthday and Christmas to arrive are just endless!

Well, the wait is almost over my darling and when you run out of school on Friday, swinging your book bag in one arm and your school jumper in another, you’ll be running into the arms of your uncle! Even just typing about it makes my fingers tingle and I can feel a lump building from my tummy right up into my throat. There will be tears and probably this time they will all be from me!

It’s quite an incredible thing really, when your holiday allowance from work is so precious, to give up so much of it to fly home. We give my brother a hero’s welcome, just like we did when we waved him goodbye, knowing he’d truly lost his heart to a girl in New Jersey. Just like before there’s balloons and bunting flapping above the front door, I will stock up our fridge with all his favourites – things he misses from US supermarkets like traditional pork sausages and bakery sausage rolls! You’d think we would want to pack as much in as possible when we have such a limited time together, but in fact the way we make those 36, or 48 or, if we are really lucky, 72 hours last the longest is by keeping him at home. Games in the garden, pottering around the house. I love it, he loves. But so often I think he’s really got the bad end of the deal.

He has a home-from-home back here at our house and, likewise, we are so lucky to be able to go and visit him and my sister-in-law in New Jersey, have a US postal address for internet purchases and a base for us to bounce off from too. Rich and I have been over almost more times than I can count on two hands which is good going in 7 years. We’ve stayed in all their apartments and houses as they’ve climbed the housing ladder, ending up in a beautiful house with a white picket fence and neighbours with basketball hoops on the drive. And we get to visit New York, even if just for a flying visit.

Before my niece was born we were so lucky to scoot across the pond and have a magical summer night in the city as part of our visit around the time of our ten year wedding anniversary. I was sorting through a whole heap of albums on the computer the other night and I realised I have never shared the photos! 

I adore having the boys and going on holiday with the boys, but there’s something so wonderful about a trip away just the two of us. We took the train and crossed the state border into Manhattan and in just 50 minutes we had swapped the Garden State for skyscrapers but this time there was no steam rising from the sidewalks. It was roasting. I’ve never really understood the concept of summering out of a city. My early working life never really allowed me to decamp to escape the heat of a sticky office, but it’s absolutely true in New York. The streets feel different. There’s a calmness amongst the chaos and the traffic and after dropping our bags at the hotel, ooh-ing and aah-ing at the incredible view from our floor to ceiling window, we headed off to find a bike station and we cycled off towards Greenwich Village. 

Now I’m not a hugely confident cyclist, I tootle through the village after the boys with a picnic in my bicycle basket and ding my bell, but I felt so safe. Rich is all about making the most of an experience, seeing as much as you can and I followed his tracks, across junctions, through heaving traffic and smiled up at the drivers of what felt like the most enormous trucks I have ever seen, as we stopped at a red light. There were several points at which one of us or at times both of us let out a “wooooooo hoooo” like we were 7 years old and blasting down a hill. The sun came out from behind each tower block like lighting bolts as we made our way up the grid of roads and we decided to eat our way around Chelsea down to Soho and across to the East Village. 

We stopped for a coffee, (and a cup of tea for me. You can take the girl out of Somerset but you still can’t get her off a nice cup of builders) browsed in a few little boutiques, picking up some souvenirs (doesn’t everyone bring home a set of intriguing bitters you have no idea how to use for their mini bar?!) and dived into a few picture-perfect bars, with rows of metal bistro chairs squeezed onto the pavement around a table just big enough for your cocktail in a mason jar. 

It was bliss.

And looking through these photos made me smile. Tomorrow is tortoise party day for Sammy!

The funny thing is we had always imagined we would celebrate our 10-year anniversary in Italy, in a lakeside hotel full of history, and disappear for a few days to do nothing. I’m so glad that didn't come about because that can wait for year 13, 14 or 15. Something to plan for, something to look forward to, to research, to countdown to.

That and the big plans of a mass family meet up somewhere in America for my fortieth … which may be a few years away yet, but in our family it’s never too early to start day dreaming!


British Airways Holidays has teamed up with HuffPost Travel to celebrate those amazing little moments that make your holiday unforgettable. Share your favourite holiday moment and you’ll be entered into a draw to win a city break in Rome.