As the girls have got bigger I’ve always tried to involve them in what I’m doing around the house.  Kitty dropped her nap just after she turned two and then Elma followed a similar path, so it’s been a while since there’s been a distinct ‘nap time’ in this house that I could use to run around to do the chores, or even just sit down for a minute by myself.  And even when I have occasionally had two of the three snoozing at the same time, I always want to take the chance to have a little one on one time with whoever is left awake, not immediately abandon them in search of the loo cleaner.

So we do chores together.  I wash up, Kitty dries the cutlery and Elma puts it away, both girls fight to be the one to clean the loo because the magic toilet brush makes it change colour, and they’re my best helpers sorting out the dried laundry into the baskets for each of us. It sounds like slave labour I know, but honestly truly they love it.  I think they just take a huge satisfaction out of doing real meaningful work.  Most of their play at this age is copying the things they’ve seen in their day to day life or their Sunday film, so it makes sense that doing the things they play, only this time for real, is even better.  I don’t make them help, I ask and if they say no then I leave it at that, but we do make it all fun, we take it in turns to choose the music or what we’re going to sing and generally we all end up together anyway.

I’m hoping that if I can get them into the pattern of helping out now, just because that’s what we all do, then it might continue on a little longer into childhood, maybe, possibly even as teenagers – mothers who have walked this path before me, tread softly, you tread on my dreams!

So far, it’s all going well, well actually that’s a bit of an understatement, because this week, the girls showed me what they really can do.  One of their first ever jobs was to help me pull the wet laundry out of the washing machine, as anyone with a toddler knows, it’s less a job and more just what happens when you open the washing machine door in their presence, and recently I’ve been able to ask the girls to empty the machine between them and bring the basket out to me in the garden where I’ll be taking in the dried laundry that’s already there.  Until one day when Pip, umm, needed to be attended to in the vicinity of the changing mat and he and I headed for the stairs while the girls were still filling the basket.

And a couple of minutes later, as Pip and I walked into the garden, there, in full view, in daylight, large as life, were two laundry fairies.

Space for the Butterflies - Laundry Helpers

I quite often use the top of the slide to balance the laundry basket when I’m pegging out but Kitty had pulled it underneath the washing line and was stood at the top, reaching up to peg a sock on the line, while Elma untangled clothes and handed them up.  And from the look of the washing line they’d clearly managed to get quite a few things up to dry before we arrived.

Space for the Butterflies - Laundry Helpers

It was one of those moments of such sisterly harmony that I almost didn’t want to breathe for fear of disturbing the moment, not to mention the fact that they were doing a pretty good job with the washing.  But Pip squeaked in delight at seeing his sisters and the spell was broken.  So we finished it all together. Space for the Butterflies - Laundry Helpers

And it was a different sort of reminder of just how big my girls are getting. I see it so often when I look at how tall Kitty is, or I hear it when I’m chatting to Elma and I realise that she can say her sister’s full name now, but the getting bigger is so much more obvious than the gradual acquisition of skill, and it’s the latter that really hammers it home.  The girls can hang the washing out, what else are they going to turn out to be able to do?

Space for the Butterflies - Laundry Helpers

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Linking up with Jodi with a portrait of each of my children once every week for 2015.

Space for the Butterflies - The 52 Project

Kitty: You used to be so scared of cats that you would freeze on the spot if you saw one on the far side of the road, so to see you happily walk up to Bob and give him a stroke made me so proud of how much you have grown in confidence to conquer your fear.  And once you’d made friends he became your best friend.  You helped your Auntie feed him and then took him on a walk up to the strawberry patches, following his lead as he either hunted out the best ones or more likely looked for the cosiest spot in the sun for an evening nap.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/200, f/3.5, ISO 100)

 

Space for the Butterflies - The 52 Project

Elma: this picture says so much about you as your are now; my most determined little girl, quite content in your own little world and following your own plan – and very very happy to be exploring the strawberries once again!

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/160, f/3.5 , ISO 100)

Space for the Butterflies - The 52 Project

Pip: No one else could find wood chip quite so appealing – I’ll add it to sand in the version of the list of your favourite foods that we don’t show to the health visitor.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/125, f/5.6, ISO 100)

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Space for the Butterflies - The Pocket Handkerchief Garden

Our garden is bearing fruit. Twenty-two fruit so far to be precise. We are right in the middle of the strawberry harvest from our original strawberry plants and it’s lovely to look out at them every morning and see a gleam of red hiding under the leaves.  Sometimes it turns out that it’s the label from one of the plants with a big picture of gigantic luscious strawberries that frankly have yet to materialise on the plant in question, but it seems that despite abandoning them for a few years, and neglecting them off and on this year we have a lovely crop.

Space for the Butterflies - The Pocket Handkerchief Garden

And there’s nothing like sneaking out into the garden for an early morning strawberry straight off the plant.

Space for the Butterflies - The Pocket Handkerchief Garden

From the looks of things we will be harvesting small handfuls for another week, maybe a couple of weeks if we’re lucky and then they will be done for the year and it will be time to turn out attention to strawberry patch B.

Space for the Butterflies - The Pocket Handkerchief Garden

This week I had the opportunity to compare and contrast our plants with their siblings, planted in the same week on my aunt’s farm, and actually watered in the first week of their acclimatisation rather than left to their fate while I went on holiday, and despite the occasional thirsty moment, my plants seem to be holding their own.  They look about the right size so if all goes to plan our second crop should start at the beginning of August.

Space for the Butterflies - The Pocket Handkerchief Garden

Whenever I think of harvest it always means September; Harvest Festivals, a field blushed golden with ripe corn, lots of “all is safely gathered in” and getting ready for the winter.  But I think the Pocket Handkerchief Garden is having a July harvest this year.  My Rainbow Chard is thriving now that both cats and birds have been kept at bay and I have lots of lovely baby leaves to go into a salad with the cut and come again lettuce in a pot on the edge of the patio, and over next to strawberry patch A, I’ve been watching my garlic and onions.

Space for the Butterflies - The Pocket Handkerchief Garden

 

Space for the Butterflies - The Pocket Handkerchief Garden

Kitty and I planted them on a chilly day in October, and all through the winter they grew and grew despite the weeds, the wind and the neighbour’s cat, and I think we might be nearly ready to pull some up.  The onions are starting to loose their colour and the foliage is dropping, and I think I’m right in thinking that I need to wait until they are completely dropped which I think could be another week or two.  The garlic on the other hand has definitely started to flop, and I think we might be nearly there.  In looking around for some garden reading this week I came across Garden Betty who has some great posts on growing all sorts of veggies; her advice is to wait for half the leaves to have died off, but as some of my garlic only has three leaves I’m going to stop soaking them with water for a couple of days and then have a cautious lift and investigate to see if any of them are ready.  I do hope they will be, I’m about to run out of garlic in the kitchen and it would be lovely to start using our own home grown utterly uncertified but actually organic garlic instead.  And I have serious intentions of making one of those oh so cheesy French stereotype braids of garlic to hang in the kitchen; all I need is for there to be enough garlic worth keeping.

I’m also thinking about what to do with the space once the garlic and onions have come up.  Is there anything that I could plant in say, late July and still have a late September crop? Can you have late carrots or parsnips or something?  It would be lovely to get another crop out of the space this year; after so many attempts at growing our own veg that were far more intention than action and fizzled out accordingly, I’m having so much fun with my growing this year and I know that by this time next year I will have (a) more garden space and (b) a plan. Once you sit in your garden eating strawberries fresh off the bush, or swap the leaf your baby is desperately trying to chew for a leaf of rainbow chard, there’s no going back.  I think I may be hooked.  And have a new hobby.  Because clearly I had too much time on my hands!

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Our trip to Cornwall was utterly wonderful, but H and I came home absolutely shattered (perfect timing with Blogtacular that weekend then!).  We all loved playing on the beach, and in the hotel pool, and running around on the headland in the sunshine, and I’ve been wanting to go to Eden for so long it was amazing to finally get there, and to find it was everything I’d hoped it was fantastic, but by the end of the trip I think we were both largely being fuelled by fudge, and I know I had a snooze on the long trek back up the M5 and I rather suspect that when it was my turn to drive, so did H.

The reason for the exhaustion, beyond the sea and sunshine, was sleep.  Or rather a lack thereof.

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I never thought that we were particularly bound by a schedule; we’ve always tried to tune into the children’s natural rhythms and use that to loosely plan our days but I suspect that the side effect of three children is that you almost unwittingly end up with a very distinct routine.  And when it comes to bedtime that goes supper, bath, story, milk for those still nursing and then night night.

We tried to stick to it as best we could but with the girls having naps in the car as we drove some decent distances around the west country and then being so excited by Grandpa and swimming pools and hotels and interconnecting rooms and all the rest of it, they either really struggled to calm down for bedtime or were just so overtired that they got a second wind.  And little master Pip Squeak rather fed off that energy.

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It’s not terribly easy to persuade a baby into being sleepy when he’ll nurse for a few seconds and then pop off to have a nice little look around, and then some more milk, and then another look, and you can see how it goes.  In the end on one night I took him out for a walk wrapped up in the sling and he was asleep before we reached the top of the hill and on the other his exhausted sisters had already been put to bed by H before the rest of us came up from supper so it was a little easier.

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But with Pip we also had the challenge of the travel cot.  At first I thought his hatred was directed specifically at our travel cot, it’s a nice innocuous green with pictures of apples on it but perhaps Pip doesn’t like green or apples; but then he showed similar distain for the hotel travel cot and we knew it was the genre he objected to.  If we were lucky we’d get him asleep and lying in the cot, but it never lasted very long and the usual reaction to my trying to lower him down was a howl of dismay from a boy I could have sworn was utterly and completely fast asleep.

I think I may have worked that one out though, I think our boy just likes his home comforts and isn’t terribly impressed by a travel cot mattress after his nice comfy spacious cot at home.  This theory is largely promulgated by the occasion one night when he was roaring indignantly as I went to pick him up.  I lifted him out, the wailing stopped instantly, and when I laid him down on my bed, just while I got us sorted, he produced a beatific smile, closed his eyes and promptly went back to sleep without another word.

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Suffice to say there were some long nights, for us and probably for anyone staying in any of the rooms near us.  But I feel that there’s something we’re not doing that we could do to help.  That or I’m just desperately hoping it’s not a phase I just have to go through.

So as we love to travel, and are planning all sorts of adventures for the summer, I need your help, all you experienced travelling Mamas, and more specifically your top tips for encouraging little ones to go to sleep in the summer.  I’m contemplating getting some travel blackout blinds, we try to keep to the routine as much as possible, but I’m going to stop short of getting Pip a travel double bed with memory foam mattress – what am I missing?

Thanks to Mattressman for the prompt for this post. If you are interested in collaborating on a post, please take a look at my Work With Me page

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When the idea for the Eden Project was first conceived I was in my late teens, still living at home in Devon, and from the publicity behind it, the features on the news the pictures in the local papers it was clear that this was the most exciting thing to happen south of the Tamar since they invented the pasty. And we’d talk about plans to go and have a look once it was opened, but by the time the last plant was in the ground and Eden opened to visitors I was finishing university, leaving home, starting work a world and a few hundred miles away in London.

Mum and Dad went, my sister went, various members of the extended family visiting on holiday were taken down for a day trip but we never made it.  It was high time for that to change.  And to be honest having seen so much coverage from when it was new, with exposed clay walls and everything shiny new I was interested to see how it had changed 10 and a bit years on as well as excited to see how it felt as well as looked.

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And the answer is that it’s deceptive.  You can’t see Eden from the outside, it is well and truly hidden away, instead you drive down the winding approach, park the car, catch the park and ride bus, all in faith that there really is something more than a big empty clay pit at the end of it.  Even when you get to the entrance you can only see a sliver of biome behind the buildings and it’s not until you go through and stand high up on the cliff edge that you get that first breathtaking view, with the terraces falling away below you and the sun shimmering off the biomes.  It is quite amazing.  And also smaller than I expected.

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I thought it would feel absolutely huge, the biomes way away in the distance, but to be honest the first impression I had was that it was cosy.  I remember the pictures of the giant trucks driving around in the bottom of the pit as it reached the end of its working life, looking like little matchbox toys against the vastness of the empty pit, but the foliage has flourished, the trees and bushes and hedges grown, and like a house that seems to have massive rooms until you move in and put all your furniture into the corners, the foliage has filled in the gaps and covered the pit with a thick quilt of green, bringing all the edges nearer.

And it makes that cosy feeling deceptive.  From the top everything looks and feels nearer and smaller than it actually is.  Even the biomes seem big but not that big, because you’re just seeing a side of them and not the curve up and away over the top.  And it was only when we got to the Humid Tropics Biome that we could actually get a feel for how big it truly is.  It is enormous.  And the answer comes not so much in your noticing the enormity of it than the fact that you don’t notice it.  When you first go in it’s all about the biome.  For starters the temperature just shot up and you can see the ‘bubble wrap’ on the outside and the hexagons going up up and away and that’s what you look at.  But then the plants take over, you spot bananas, and a stream and a little house and notice the birds the the insects and the amazing beautiful flowers and you find you’ve forgotten that you’re basically in a giant greenhouse.

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It’s that that I think makes Eden so special, and sets it apart from the big glasshouses at Kew and Edinburgh, there you never forget that you’re in a glasshouse, but at Eden the biome becomes background and you’re just in a rainforest.  A really hot rainforest.  The heat is deceptive; when we first went in I thought it was warm but rather nice and then as we climbed it got hotter and hotter and hotter and I think it says everything that they have a cool room at the top in case the heat has got to you, and we took the children in there for a few minutes, especially Kitty who was really starting to feel the heat.

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But it’s worth the climb, there’s a walkway out above the treetops at the very hot and you can see down the whole length of the forest, and get a sense of how big it really is.  We climbed up to the waterfall, and rather enjoyed standing in the spray for a little while before wandering down, past the section on tropical agriculture which I loved, I had no idea what a cashew tree looked like, or a baobab, and having seen the latter makes it all the more impressive that someone once looked at it and thought “I bet that tastes nice!”.

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H took the girls on ahead as by this point the heat was becoming too much for them and Pip, Dad and I next met up with them in the ice cream queue.  I can forgive the excellent marketing by Eden in putting it right by the exit because it was completely delicious.  I think between five of us we tried most of the flavours and there wasn’t one that we didn’t like, and the coconut and baobab was awesome.

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The Mediterranean biome is smaller and whilst lovely it does have less of a wow factor than the rainforest, in part I think because having travelled in Spain, Italy and Greece it feels more familiar.  It was also a little overrun with school groups at the time, and teenagers aren’t exactly known for being spacially aware of people smaller then themselves so we beat a hasty retreat before the girls got trampled again.

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And while Dad went off to explore at a slightly faster pace than tiny feet can manage we headed down to the soft play in the Core to give the girls and Pip a little out breath and a chance to romp around at their own pace.  With three children in tow we knew that we were never going to get to see all of Eden in one visit and so after we finished exploring the Core (and some great hands on machinery to turn!) we went to find the barefoot path.  The girls love having “muddy feet”, they’re forever taking off their shoes and would always rather be barefoot, it’s the one personality trait that I can be absolutely certain comes straight from me.  Unsurprisingly it was a massive hit; I lost count of how many times we walked it.

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The day rattled away and suddenly it was time to head home, time to cross the Tamar again and go in search of a really great fish and chip supper.

But that’s not quite all from our Cornwall holiday; just for fun, I made a little film:

You can read all about the adventures at the start of the film in my Postcard from Pentire and Postcard from Fistral Beach

 

 

Happy Me and Mine Day! It’s the end of the month so surely it should be time for another picture of my family in our garden?  I seriously considered making it the theme for this year, and with my newfound gardening obsession I can see an appeal in tracking my garden across a year as well as the family, but we like variety and so this month we’ve really switched it up with pictures of the family, in a garden.  Just not my garden.

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I haven’t actually told you all about our adventures at the Eden Project, that postcard will arrive tomorrow, but it was absolutely wonderful, and everything I’d hoped it would be.

And as we had my Dad with us on holiday it was easy enough to hand over the camera for a few pictures with someone actually looking through the lens, rather than our usual hit and miss work with the remote trigger.

These pictures were taken on the tree top walk at the very very top edge of the Humid Tropics Biome.  If the name doesn’t give it away, it’s a rainforest. And it’s hot.  Very hot.  Which might explain why the children are all up in our arms or perched on H’s back.  They were hot and tired and tired anyway from three days of excitements and being away from home.  Kitty was curled into H, Elma I think was trying to snooze and was utterly determined that she was not going to look at the camera and it’s only my little Pip Squeak reaching out towards his Grandpa, possibly because he hopes that Grandpa will free him from the sling and let him out to prod and explore all of these exciting new shapes and smells.

And even though you can’t quite see everyone and the children are sleepy or just plain bemused, I love them for being I suppose semi-candid, and very much a snapshot of our family as it is right now.  We’ve got a great double buggy but when you add luggage for a family of five to the boot of our car, the buggy isn’t going to fit so so often we go out and about with slings, Pip in the Close and Elma, or even Kitty in the Ergo when they’re tired and want a ride. I have so many pictures of H wearing Elma with Kitty sat on his shoulders, knowing that Pip was snuggled up on my front grabbing at the camera strap while I took it, usually with both of us ankle deep in mud as we try to install a spirit of adventure in our little three!

It just seems a very fitting portrait of our little family, in June.

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But I can’t go without showing you a couple of outtakes.  These were horribly over exposed because I forgot to alter my settings or shove the camera into auto before I handed it over but I’ve done my best to pull them back from the brink because they are truly wonderful photos.  Not for the composition, or the sharpness, and very clearly not for the exposure, simply because facing forwards we had absolutely no idea what Little Miss Kitty was doing with her face …!

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A cheekier monkey you never did see!

dear beautiful

 

Living Arrows: a little moment of the week to pause, savour and treasure:

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

Space for the Butterflies - Splash Pad

This week we had our first “swim” in the splash pool.  Around here they fill them at half term but we’ve just been too busy in the last few weeks to venture out for a dip.  It wasn’t a very sunny day, the clouds blew in and out but the breeze was warm and it felt hot and sticky and oh so very tempting to at least sit with my feet in nice cool water so it was an easy yes when the girls asked if we could go.

And I’m so glad we did because for the first half hour we had it entirely to ourselves.  That’s a splash pool miracle if ever there was one; even if it is term time this is a popular park and the baby park was full of little ones bumbling and crawling around.  Kitty and Elma jumped straight in and with Pip on my back I waded after them.

The girls waded, sat and kicked spray high up in the air, Kitty crawled along under the water and pretended to be a sharked Elma did big splashy steps sending ripples running to all four corners. It was bliss to hot tired feet, and calmed and cooled all our spirits.

And from the wriggling on my back I think Pip would rather like to have had the chance to jump in too – next time sweetheart, next time!

 

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Space for the Butterflies - the next step

This week Kitty had her first settling in session at school. She was at nursery in the morning but when we picked her up after lunch she was fit to burst with excitement.  With her whole pre-school year dipping in and out of nursery as they all try out their new schools in her mind she’s been longing and waiting to go for EVER, but it was finally her turn.

The school invited her to a Teddy Bear’s picnic for the afternoon and as we walked along the road she held Dully (her bunny) in one hand.  To start off with we held Dully between us, swung her, told her about road safety (I suspect Warwick the Bear has been doing another round of the local preschools) but as we got nearer and nearer Dully was switched to the other side and a warm little hand held on to mine a little more tightly.

“Is Dully excited?” I asked.
“Yes! Very!” came the reply.
“Do you think she might be nervous too?”
“Maybe a little bit.”
“Are you going to help her make some teddy bear friends?”
“Yes, I think so.”

We stood at the school gate waiting for the teacher to come down and unlock, stood in a little circle of parents and grandparents chatting with a sort of nervous newness and rather quiet children holding very tightly to their teddies, while Kitty held even tighter to my hand.  But the gate was unlocked and the door opened and I signed to say the school could have her and off she ran with barely a backwards glance.

Space for the Butterflies - the next step

H was working from home and as the youngest two were having a snooze I picked her up by myself.  I was at least ten minutes early because after years of going almost everywhere with at least one child I have unrealistic expectations of how long it takes to go places, and when they were ready to come out she was lined up at the front, I could see her through the glass and she gave me a little wave before the door opened and she sprinted straight into my arms.

The next time she goes it will be September, and it will be for real.

Space for the Butterflies - the next step

And suddenly the momentousness of this change started to hit me.  Most of the time I don’t think of Kitty as being little; she’s tall and she’s my eldest and with two little siblings that rather emphasises the older/taller/more mature side, but stood there with her hand in mine my tall strong confident little girl suddenly shrank in my mind and was my baby all over again and I wondered how I was going to let her go.  She’s been in nursery since she was 10 months old because we both work, but she’s always been within the family more than she has been without, and now that will change.

I don’t know what she did for her hour at school.  Not really.  I know she got a name badge because she was still wearing it when we collected her and I heard about chocolate cupcakes “with flour on top”, a picnic blanket with Peppa Pig on that she didn’t sit on, and that they didn’t do any singing, but the rest is, and will remain a mystery.  And that’s how it should be.

This is the first big milestone where her story will start to part ways with mine. I so hope that she loves school, that she makes friends, that it’s a place that will nurture and support her, and that there she will spend a good chunk of her childhood, but my ability to influence that is, quite rightly, limited.  It is for her to forge her own path, as much as we provide the love and support behind.

I love that she had a great time, I loved walking home with her and spending even a smidgen of time one on one, and I really loved sneaking in a quick trip to the play park on the way home but when it comes to September I think I’ll be with Dully, equal parts nervous and excited.

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Linking up with Jodi with a portrait of each of my children once every week for 2015.

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 Project

Kitty: No watermelon is ever going to smile as broadly as you do.  This was taken at supper after your first session at school and it was lovely to see you happy and confident.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/80, f/2.8, ISO 100)

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 Project

Elma: Our first trip to the splash pool this year.  As we were running around the house getting bathing costumes and towels ready you came running after me to make sure I packed your swimsuit “with the pink handles”.  I can remember your sister playing in this pool in that cozzie and it seems like it was yesterday.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/640, f/4 , ISO 100)

Space for the Butterflies - the 52 Project

Pip: Oh that cheeky grim.  That means that any second now you’re going to high tail it to the wall and sit there on all fours rocking back and forth while I hold onto you and wonder whether I can get a little baby pen for the garden so you can explore in peace.

(Nikon D80, 35mm 1.8 lens – 1/500, f/4, ISO 100)

I really can’t believe I’m half way through this project already, it sounds so trite to say so but they’ve all three grown so much while I wasn’t looking, especially Pip – he just looks so little here now looking back and at the time we thought he was looking ever so grown up!

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Fistral Beach is quite simply, stunning.  It’s a long straight sandy stretch reaching from Pentire at the south west end to the tale end of Newquay proper at the northerly end and if you stand with your ankles in the surf and stare straight out to the west the next land you’ll see is America. Well possibly Canada but certainly that neck of the woods.  It is the UK’s most famous surf beach and yet for all that it hasn’t been spoiled.  Coming from the south coast where we rate beaches by how difficult they are to get to and how likely you are to find anyone else there, it was lovely to find that apart from a little surf shop on one end and a little cluster of surf shops on the other end, there was nothing else to take away from the joy of the beach, and 750 metres of sand in the middle backed by rolling sand dunes that let onto the golf course on the top of the hill.

As we walked down the hill in the morning we could see the waves rolling in but as the tide came up to the high watermark the surf died down so we made camp, remembered just how chilly life can be on a beach in a northerly wind especially when it’s sandblasting your calves, and hightailed it off to the surf shop to hire a windbreak so we could enjoy the sunshine properly – well that and the built in comedy of watching the RNLI courses run through their paces on the beach in front of us.

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The girls set to in building a giant boat sandcastle with Grandpa (his speciality) and christened HMS Surf by Kitty.

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Definitely shades of my own childhood, I remember making so many boats, all with a bridge big enough to use a spade for the steering wheel, a good bow and lots of seats in between.  Where Fistral Beach really came up trumps was when Kitty and I set off for the tide line to find shells to decorate with and filled a little pink bucket in next to no time and the whole boat was decked with white polka dots.  Where it fell down a little was the quality of the sand; above the watermark it was too dry, and if we’d tried lower down it would have been too wet.  Very Goldilocks.  But whilst the finished craft was possibly the most structurally unsound boat on the beach that day, the girls did enjoy taking trips down to the water and back to fill up a bucket, carry it lovingly back up, and try to pour it over the sand to wet it without washing it away.

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And all the while Pip entertained himself with tasty fistfuls of sand.  In days gone past the girls have both done the hand-sand-mouth manoeuvre, make the most unimpressed and disgusted face ever seen on one so small and never tried it again.  Pip still made the face, but then went straight back for another handful.  Distracting him from eating the entire beach became a Herculean task, and was inevitably only partly successful.  Let’s just say we had some interesting nappies when we got home!

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And as the tide started to ebb the surf came back and H and I took the girls off to hire wetsuits and a couple of boogie boards.

And that’s where my photos take a bit of a break.  Because given that it was early June and the sea wasn’t that warm, the surf shop were hiring out winter wetsuits.  Full length, thick, tight.  Getting into them was possibly the funniest thing I have ever tried to do.  For a while I was waddling around like a penguin because I just couldn’t get the neoprene to go any further up my legs, even though my arms were in and the zip done up.  H seemed to manage a little better and before too long we were hitting the waves, with Grandpa left in charge of all three little ones.  From watching the sections of the beach with full board surfers it did look like a lot of fun but we both went for boogie boards mostly because we knew we couldn’t leave the children too long, and we’d get more surfing this way.  And actually it was brilliant.  The wetsuits were the best decision ever, even though I went swimming in the sea in South Devon in just a cozzie the sea has not warmed up in June and it was definitely a quick dip.  With wetsuits on we genuinely didn’t feel we were getting wet for the first 10 minutes, and by the time the water had soaked through we were already warm, it meant we could stay in long enough to remember how best to catch a wave, and oh how I love that feeling when the water catches you and flings you forward.

Dad braved the waves with wooden board and just bathers to show us all how it ought to be done, and then while I reassured Pip that I hadn’t disappeared forever, H took Kitty for a go while Elma took her Grandpa off to jump in every single tide puddle she could find.  I’m told she found lots and it would be hard to say who had the more fun of the pair of them.

But putting wetsuits on and off is tiring work, to say nothing of the surfing in between so we packed up and headed to the north end in search of somewhere a bit more sheltered and a promised ice cream.

Up on the top level, with big windows set in a swoop looking out over the bay we found Rick Stein’s Fistral Beach Canteen.  It had amazing ice cream, sorbet, piping hot chip butties and a very good treacle tart and we sat at a big table while we watched the surf build and the wind skit across the waves, while the salt dried on my skin, our smiles grew ever wider, and we mentally reversed our ideas about the merits of restaurants on beaches!

What more could you want from a surfing day.

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PS – Proof of a little south coast swimming before breakfast!

The Pentire Peninsula: Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade life

You can read about the first part of our adventure in A Postcard from the Pentire Peninsula        

Ok this really is it. I definitely promise that this is the very last time I will ask, but if you’ve been utterly immune to my entreaties so far and yet you do still intent to vote in the MADs awards, please (a) vote now here, it closes today and (b) vote for Space for the Butterflies for Best Baby Blog – thank you!