A Postcard From Europe 2016 Family

A postcard from Bad Wildbad


It wasn’t perhaps my brightest idea, but every now and then you should do something that scares you, shouldn’t you?

Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard

Bad Wildbad, a fifteen minute drive to the north of Enzklosterle has the honour of being both the location of the nearest supermarket, and the nearest place to pick up 4G signal on your phone, big steep valleys in the middle of nowhere not being renoun for their phone signal.  So for much of both this year and last year’s trip it was where we went to Edeka and where went to plan our next steps. But every time we came out of the mountain tunnel and rounded the roundabout I’d wonder why there was a funicular train sat in the middle of the roundabout.  The answer of course is that Bad Wildbad’s pride and joy is the Sommerbahn; a little railway right up to the top of the mountain behind.

And so on our last Sunday in camp we set off, walking down into the middle of town, on a beautifully warm sunny morning, to climb a mountain the really easy way.  We knew our three were too little to manage the climb up, but thought that they would be ok doing the downhill version, so the plan was to pop up, have a quick look around the top of the hill, and then walk back down again.

Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard

We were in for a surprise.

Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard

As we climbed out of the station, all of Bad Wildbad appeared beneath out feet.  It is a stunning view, and well worth the ride for that alone.  But the top of the hill? Well I think in my head I expected something a bit like the top of a Lake District fell; lots of walking routes and the Sommerbahn station, but as soon as we stepped out we realised that we may have underestimated.  There’s a hotel and a restaurant and tourist information and about half the town seemed to have come up for their Sunday morning stroll.  There isn’t exactly a top either, the Black Forest doesn’t go in for distinct peaks so much as rolling mounds of mountain so there’s never exactly one point that marks the summit, and lots of places where you can look out across the valleys.

Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard

But everyone seemed to be heading in one direction, towards a little wooden hut, and the start of a decking walkway out into the treetops.  People were going with buggies and little kids in backpacks and it seemed like such a lovely idea; to stroll out among the tree tops and have a good look at the view.

Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard I will claim to this day that I was lulled into a false sense of security by the German mamas and their buggies.  The truth is that I am not very good at outdoor heights.  Indoor heights are fine as long as you’re not asking me to stand on a pane of glass and look down through my feet, but outdoor is where I start to feel, shall we say, a little tense.  It’s not vertigo exactly, it’s the fear that my glasses will fall off and I won’t be able to get down because I am quite spectacularly shortsighted without them.  A short walk not too high up off the ground really shouldn’t have been a problem, I was absolutely fine on the one at the Eden Project, and I barely thought about the height before we headed off to explore.

The slight hitch in this otherwise excellent plan was twofold.  Firstly, there is a lot more wood easily available in the middle of the Black Forest than in Cornwall, so the walk was higher and longer, and went out over quite a drop (20 metres off the ground at the highest point), and secondly, this was the day when we forgot the sling.  It shouldn’t have been a problem; Pip is a pretty good walker and if he doesn’t want to walk then we pop him on our shoulders.  Except that having him on my shoulders way way up high off the ground seemed like a completely crazy plan, and letting him walk, whilst keeping his head below the parapet, also involved him trying to rattle the wire mesh fencing below.

Now I know that they’ve probably tested it so that you couldn’t drive a tank through that fencing, it’s a German tree top walk for goodness sake, but apparently my subconscious did not get the message.  I became utterly convinced that given half the chance my beloved baby was going to somehow throw himself off the decking. He was understandably less than thrilled at being clutched to his mother in the tightest hold known to man and started wriggling to get free, which made me clutch him all the tighter.  Oops.  Fortunately, H is much better at heights than me, so he and Pip enjoyed the view and I walked on with the girls holding my hands, far more for my comfort than their own.

I may not have taken many pictures, and spent more time than is ideal swallowing down my fears, but I did enjoy the view, and it is a brilliant tree top walk if you’re not being irrational.  As well as the main pathway (wide smooth, completely wheelchair and buggy accessible), they had little detour routes at various points which seemed to involve an adventure playpark high up above the trees and only a wire mesh beneath you.  By the time we were headed back inland, and with the return of terra firma not too far beneath my feat, all my worries evaporated, we found one of these alternate routes which we thought the girls could manage, and they and John scrambled through to their evident delight.

And then we turned the corner.

Space for the Butterflies - the tower at Baumwipfelpfad Schwarzwald

And no, that’s not quite the bottom either.

Baumwipfelpfad literally means “tree path” but this is a tree path with a difference.  The end of the Baumwipfelpfad Schwarzwald is a path that goes up and up and up in an every expanding spiral until you find yourself 40 metres from the top of the hill, with the forest rolling away beneath your feet.  I gulped.

Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard

It is a point of honour for me that I made it until the penultimate layer, and I’m certain that Pip and I didn’t really miss out on that final bit of height.  John, Kitty and Elma made it all the way to the very top, and I’m told enjoyed the view; though he did later tell me that to take a photo over the edge he just held the camera out and hoped for the best.  It is an incredible view and I would have regretted not climbing up, almost as much as I was glad to be heading down.

Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard   Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard

And had I not had Pip with me, getting down could have been very quick – for an extra €2 you can go down the slide.

Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard

Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard

Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard

Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard

Yes, seriously, a spiral slide from a couple of layers down, all the way to the bottom.  It looked like so much fun, and the gentle murmur of the tower was every now and then overlaid with a muffled whoop and someone went spinning down.  To go back when the children are bigger and we can all slide down is definitely on my travel wish list.

Space for the Butterflies - a postcard from Bad Wilbard

Even if I make no promised to be any less scared.

If you’d like to read some of our other postcards home from this year’s adventures check out:

Enzklosterle and the Black Forest


Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip {the ordinary moments}

Not my everyday


It’s been one of those weeks when I’ve spent more time attached to my laptop than with the family, when I got to Friday and couldn’t remember the last time I’d taken time just for me, and not been parenting, working, or crashed out asleep. I forced myself to leave the laptop at work over the weekend and it wasn’t until at least half way down the G&T at my colleague’s leaving drinks that I stopped twitching about its absence.

I’ve been thinking a bit this week about my ordinary moments.  Prompted a little by wondering what to write about this week, given that the weather has been grey and the dark has closed in around either end of my working day and I’m back in those months of very limited photo ops, and in part prompted by writing my Me and Mine post for September.  Even though our photos were taken in our garden, on the at that stage unfinished playhouse, with a slide and a rather muddy looking paddling pool probably visible in the background, I loved them for what they represented, the joy in just being together as a five, and time that we’d had to fight for agains the competing calls of work and actually getting even a teeny tiny bit of sleep.

When push came to shove and I had to consider what was motivating me to bribe and corrupt a slightly unwilling and under the weather family to haul themselves outside, it was the yearning to record us, just us, just how we are, in the simplest possible way; the moments that feel like they are our everyday ordinary.  Kitty practicing her jumping on and off the swing as taught by a new school friend; the way that Elma looks when she spots you peeking around the corner, or Pip and his constant and never-ending love for all things sport.

Space for the Butterflies - the not so everyday ordinary moments

Except they’re not my ordinary moments. Not really.  And neither are most of my pictures that I share here as part of the series of ordinary moments.  If you wanted a picture of my ordinary moments, how I spend most of my time, most days of the week, it would be me at work with laptop, me on the train with laptop, me on the train telling someone that the train is late, me on the train home trying to stay awake, and me at home with the laptop.   Now I like my job, don’t get me wrong, but it mostly involves me sitting at a nice brown desk doing my job, and occasionally falling over our nice blue files which blend in perfectly with our nice blue carpet tiles. Photogenic it is not.

Space for the Butterflies - the not so everyday ordinary moments

I love and treasure every moment that I get to be parenting, and the truth is that the moments I share each week are the highlights of my week; the time I have snatched back from the busyness of the everyday to make sure that what I cannot give my children in quantity, we make up for in quantity.  Perhaps they are everyday in the sense that they are rarely extraordinary (exceptions for MADs finals and meeting an Olympic Medal and its owner; neither of which will ever be anything but exceptional), just tiny snippets of family life, but few of them are truly everyday, at least not for me.

Space for the Butterflies - the not so everyday ordinary moments

I see pictures and videos of what they’ve all been up to, and I hear from the girls about school and nursery, and from Pip about hockey, and when I work at home I can hear them all pottering about the house, and in an ideal world I would of course be both entirely present with them and able to feed, clothe and house them, but that’s unrealistic even by my standards of optimism.

Space for the Butterflies - the not so everyday ordinary moments Space for the Butterflies - the not so everyday ordinary moments   Space for the Butterflies - the not so everyday ordinary moments

This week’s highlight was spending some time sitting in the garden in the sunshine while all three little ones closeted themselves away in their playhouse with a packet of felt tip pens and a worrying aura of silence; cue lots of very colourful legs and tummies.  We played hockey, the littlest two dug in the mud for a bit, and Kitty pulled a chair over next to me and cuddled up while we read Penguin and You Can’t Take an Elephant on the Bus.  We didn’t go out anywhere, we didn’t really do anything special, even the promised plans to make ginger cookies were shelved because we ran out of time to both make them, and wash the mud/glue/felt tip off Pip before supper.

John came home while all three of them were making the most spectacular racket in the bath; the sort that has water all over the floor and up the walls.  Kitty was singing Jingle Bells at full volume, Elma appeared to be eating the bubbles, and Pip was doing the biggest kicks he could manage and babbling with glee at the same time and it was a while before we noticed his head poked around the door. The kids shouted “DADDY!!” as one, and he had to duck back around the corner to avoid the volley of water that followed.

Tiny moments, ordinary maybe; cherished beyond measure.

Joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments



Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip Siblings

Siblings 2016 {October}


Some of my absolute all time favourite photos from the Siblings project are the pictures taken at the same place each year.  We take these pictures to record and notice the changes in our children month on month, and it’s lovely to look back over a year and see what a difference each month has made, but it’s the ones taken in the same place that really ram it home how fast they’re growing.

One of our favourite parks has a big saucer swing; it’s been the perfect thing for rocking little tiny babies too little to sit up in the big swing, and now it’s just right for three big kids who all want pushing at the same time when even the two toddler swings are too far apart for me to push both at the same time, let alone reach around the corner Mr Tickle style to push Kitty as well.

Space for the Butterflies - the Siblings Project

The last set of pictures from this swing were from November, so it’s not exactly a full year ago, but wow what a difference 11 months has made.  Gone is my teeny tiny little baby, just starting to walk, and looking so little next to his sisters, and in his place is my blond fluffy-haired boy, giggling at the girls as they swoop back and forwards, and fixing me with a very stern expression if I should even suggest that anyone might want to get down.

Space for the Butterflies - the Siblings Project

He’s grown through the wellies that Elma was wearing in the November pictures and into the ones she only just handed down now, luckily he thinks pink waterproof trousers and purple Cinderella wellies are the height of toddler aspirations.

The littlest two snuggled in together while Kitty was doing her best Tarzan impression around the rest of the playground, to the point that I thought they might almost fall asleep.

Space for the Butterflies - the Siblings Project

Kitty had some other ideas though; she’s tall enough now that her knees hang over the edge and she can get the saucer swinging higher and higher by herself. Space for the Butterflies - the Siblings Project Space for the Butterflies - the Siblings Project

However much these little siblings of hers can wind her up and run off with her Lego, she loves them as only a big sister can (equal parts adoration and button pushing).  She can make them giggle like they’ll never stop, and have them chasing each other around the house in a heartbeat.   Space for the Butterflies - the Siblings Project Space for the Butterflies - the Siblings Project

And Elma, my little middle girl; she is the glue that keeps that trio together; big enough to follow along with Kitty’s plans for make believe, and little enough to be Pip’s very best friend and still play at the level that he can keep up with, even if he does still rugby tackle her to the floor half the time he tries to give her a hug.

Space for the Butterflies - the Siblings Project

The older they get, the more we’re moving out of the baby stage; we can go out without the buggy or a sling if we’re not going too far, and much as I loved the little baby stage, it is so much fun to see them now as they become more and more independent and more and more their own little gang of three,

Two little sisters and their brother too, in October:

Space for the Butterflies - the Siblings Project

Do go and say hi to my lovely cohosts; Lucy at Dear Beautiful, Katie at Mummy Daddy Me, Amber at Goblin Child,  and Keri-Anne at Gingerlilly Tea; and to show us your sibling photos just link up below or come and play on Instagram under the #siblingsproject and tag @siblings_project_



Finished Handmade Knitting

Handmade for me


Back in the summer a lovely friend asked me if I ever actually made anything for myself.  As it turned out the last time that I did made anything specifically for me, if you don’t count quilts because they get scooped up by everyone, was when I was expecting Elma and I made myself a maternity jumper. It was, well still is, gorgeous and one of my favourite knits, and one of these days I might just have to reknit the front and turn it back into an ordinary jumper for me; but not just yet.  Perhaps because it was such a success I haven’t felt the need to make anything more for my collection of hand knits, or perhaps I’ve just been busy.  With three ever growing little ones and a husband who likes hand knit socks, to say nothing of friends and family, my needles have been anything but empty.

It’s true too that I’m not lacking any woolies; I have a vast collection of socks, from the pre-children era when I could turn out a pair in a week with a bit of effort, cardigans that I love, and enough hats and scarves and mittens to keep a snowman warm if only I could find them all. 20161014-dsc_0233

But a surfeit of socks is no reason not to add to the collection, and when I was routing out some yarn to make John’s final pair of Christmas socks (last Christmas, finished this June), I found a very special skein of yarn, and set it aside for me.  All socks finished and all babies clothed, at least for now, and with a hankering to knit something soft and soothing, I went back for that sock yarn.

The yarn is Socks that Rock Mediumweight, which is enough to make it special by itself, but this skein was a present from the lovely Marisol that she brought home from the very first Sock Summit.  And yes that does mean that this yarn has been in my stash since before Kitty was born.   20161014-dsc_0248

The colourway is Seal Rock, long since discontinued, but a beautiful mix of water, seaweed and rock and just a touch of sunlight.

For my first attempt I started with 48 stitches on 3mm needles but if you saw the soon-to-be-frogged sock on Instagram you’ll know why it had to go; the colours were swirling very very slowly, clumping all the purple together to make it look like I had a massive bruise down the front of my leg.  As at the time I started them I did actually have a massive bruise down the front of my leg (thank you car crash), it had to go.  I started again on 52 sts which makes beautiful thin stripes and big fluffy socks.


They’re not the socks you’d wear for everyday under shoes; these are the socks you cosy up in of an evening or potter round the house in on a Saturday morning when the kitchen tiles feel icy to just got out of bed toes.  In short, they are exactly the socks you need for October.

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

Family Photography {the ordinary moments}

Underneath the spreading chestnut tree


We promised ourselves that this year we’d be less busy.  Standing at the end of the summer term we were all exhausted in that way when you can’t remember the last time you just had a quiet morning to potter around at home. Which is probably because we couldn’t.  With school five days a week and church on Sunday that only left Saturday and the girls had back to back ballet classes starting at 9am.  It was yet another day when we had to get up and out of the door and it made it feel like so much more effort than it had in the preschool era.  By the end of the term Kitty was needing serious persuasion to actually go, though she enjoyed it when she got there.  We looked for other classes within the ballet school trying to find an after school for Kitty and an after nursery school for Elma but there was nothing that would work with our timings.  And it made it a horribly hard decision; do we take the girls out of ballet basically just because we’re tired?

It sounds really selfish when you write it out on paper like that doesn’t it. If it’s something that they take pleasure from, surely we should be encouraging that interest? And how hard could it be to get two children a couple of miles down the road for 9 when you usually leave the house before 8?

When you’re shattered from working a fairly intense job, in what at times feels like every waking moment during the week, and faced with prospect of moving to two classes now separated by half an hour, but still starting at 9 as Kitty moved up and Elma stayed put, the answer was “too hard”, and we withdrew them from their classes.

Darling daughters if you read this in years to come and you secretly harboured ambitions of becoming ballerinas then I’m very sorry. Space for the Butterflies - Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree

The summer holidays are unbound by time constraints by their very definition but as the calendar flipped over into October and term got underway I know we made the right decision.  The girls dance around the house just as before and if they miss their ballet class, it’s not showing.  We all have that one precious morning where John or I can sleep in; where we can take our time getting up, and we can decide to do whatever we want, and however slowly we want.  Of course being us, we never do take things slowly and September has been full of visits with friends and family, birthday parties and my wonderful trip to the MADs, but it’s felt good nonetheless.

Space for the Butterflies - Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree

Now we’ve made it to October and we’re starting to settle into our routine for the hockey half of the year.  If John has a home match in the afternoon we all go to watch unless it’s absolutely bucketing it down with rain, and sometimes even then, and then we all go back to the club afterwards to catch up with friends and watch our children run around with everyone else’s children. It’s usually noisy and fun, and it’s been the autumn/winter half of my year ever since John and I met.

The away matches we rarely bother with.  Those days are my days.  Days to have my three little ones together, just like the days when I was at home with them all the time.  We’ve not spent so much time apart since that we don’t just fall back into the old routines, just with ever larger children.  And so last week, after we’d waved John off we already knew what our plan would be.  A beautiful sunny day in the autumn always means the park, and preferably the park with the conkers.

Space for the Butterflies - Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree

While the conker trees at the hockey pitches are still in full fruit, the ones at the park seem to be a little further on in the cycle and to start with I thought we might struggle to find any; it all seemed to be a sea of empty brown shells. But then something caught Kitty’s eye nestled in the grass and then another and another and we realised that while the biggest conkers may have gone, all the little ones were hiding in the long grass.  And with that they were off.

Space for the Butterflies - Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree

I’m not sure Pip exactly realised what were supposed to be looking for, but Kitty and Elma kept him well supplied, and as long as he had one in each hand he was happy, while they scampered about filling their pockets to overflowing.

Space for the Butterflies - Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree

And when there was no more room in any pocket, we set off for the playpark, scattering a shower of conkers every time they flew around the roundabout.  It was lovely to see Kitty’s increased confidence and having seen her swinging off all sorts of things I can completely believe that she can do the monkey bars at school. Pip and Elma ran around together, a fair match for each other now, such is the change from last year’s barely toddling baby.

Space for the Butterflies - Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree

It was just what we needed after some busy weekends, and just exactly what our ordinary Saturdays should look like; simple perhaps, but pretty perfect too.

Space for the Butterflies - Underneath the Spreading Chestnut Tree

(no I’ve no idea why she’s making that face either!)

Joining Katie at Mummy Daddy Me for The Ordinary Moments