Monday, 7 January 2019


Over the years with three boys we're gradually working our way through childhood accidents and diseases like they are tick boxes in an i-spy book of raising children. In fact sometimes when I have seen the doctor in the same week with all three boys for three separate reasons (and that has happened on occassion) I worry that they think I am an awful mother or worse still they name a chair in the waiting room after us. 

We've negotiated our way through chicken pox and shingles, slap cheek, nits - that was a joy when we discovered them whilst camping with no running hot water! Then we had the joy of worms - I thought nits were bad, never, ever google 'threadworms', the images still haunt me to this day. Now as the boys are getting older it's the turn of growing pains, with the eldest suffering from Osgood Schlatters disease, which until he was diagnosed he had little sympathy from me. Who knew being hyperactive had a downside, well this joyful disease causes pain in the knee as the tendons don't stretch quick enough over the bones causing friction and pain after exercise - great if you're a sports loving boy. 

I will stop at this point and declare that I am not medically trained and my knowledge is gleaned from the internet, doctors and physiotherapists and my interpretation here may not to 100% accurate. Also although it took a while to get the diagnosis the NHS staff have been absolutely fabulous.

I digress! In September boy two started playing rugby again after taking a year off. Later in the afternoon he retreated to the sofa in pain, we teased him for being unfit! Over the next few days his heel got increasingly painful and he was unable to put any weight at all on it. We couldn't get a doctors appointment they said it was probably sport related so go straight to the Emergency Department, where we waited for three hours to be told it was plantarfaschitis. It got worse and stopped him sleeping over the next week so back we went, waiting for three hours and was advised it could be a fracture but they didn't want to Xray as he was young so issued us with crutches and told us they would refer us to physiotherapy. 

About three/four weeks passed and we heard nothing, we returned to our doctors to ask if we had been lost in the system. Yes we had, there was no referral, so we were given a number to self refer to physio (who knew you could do that!). By this time walking on both feet was painful and so we returned to the doctor for stronger pain relief, although that knocked out the 12 year old. We tried everything the physio suggested but nothing worked, but she did diagnose it as Severs disease, much like Osgood Schlatters where the tendon was rubbing against the bones of the heel which hadn't fused together fully causing pain. There's always relief when something is given a name - don't you think? 

I'm now lost as to how many weeks it was, he hadn't been able to walk around school properly and couldn't get to lessons that were upstairs, he was deemed a 'fire risk'. He was managing about half a day in school in a room in 'learning support' on his own, mainly doing computer based work, some teachers even forgetting to send him work to do and not seeing his friends. 

He also had started to crawl around at home, the pain in both legs just too much to walk on. It got too much for me when he had to play in a concert and we literally had to get him there by wheeling him in a cart. We finally managed to get into the local doctors showing how he couldn't walk not even with crutches and we were referred to an orthopaedic consultant straight away. Who said it was a severe case of Severs and put his lower legs in casts to be changed every two weeks. 

And here we are. 

I realise how lucky we've been up to this point with childhood illnesses that come and go but nothing that challenges us long term. At first it was a novelty, spirits remained high. Now it's taking its toll. If you can't walk very well, living in a hilly market town isn't good, and you realise how inaccessible everywhere is. You plan parking and try to get as close as you can to everything by turning up early. You arrange lifts to and from school for ease. You make sure there is always someone at home with him. 

Despite not being in as much pain he still can't get around school, play any sports, go to scouts and be the generally active chap he used to be. It is terribly frustrating and really getting him down. It seems really selfish of me to say that I am hating the amount of appointments we have to take him to as well. 

I don't know why I'm sharing all of this with you, maybe because I'd never heard of this before and if your child had similar symptoms don't be afraid to get it checked out. It has been 18 weeks and we've just taken one step at a time learning as we go and trusting that there is light at the end of the tunnel and his achilles heels won't turn out to be his achilles heels! 

Sunday, 2 December 2018


I hate the commercial side of Christmas so I always try to make gifts for family and friends if I have time. It also helps me budget and not panic buy things at the last minute and it is something the boys can get involved with too if they wish.

I usually make winter spiced firelighters to give as gifts, but this year thought I'd make some candles as well as I already had most of the 'ingredients' needed.

So although I'm no expert, here's a quick 'how to' if you want to have a go at making them yourself. Also if making them with children, please be careful when melting the wax as it is very hot so best for an older child or grown up.

You will need: 

500g of soy wax (£4.50 from Amazon)
A packet of wicks (I used this pack as it had double sided stickers to hold the wicks in place - 100 pieces £6.99 from Amazon)
Essential oils - I used Neals Yard Mandarin & Cinnamon to blend a wintery spice aroma that I bought last year to make the firelighters
120ml Amber Jars - (99p each from Baldwins)
1 old saucepan
Wooden clothes pegs


1. Secure the wicks to the bottom of the jars using the double sided stickers
2. Gently heat the wax in the saucepan - my saucepan is small with a spout which makes it really easy to pour the wax
3. Slowly the flakes of wax will dissolve and you can add your oils - I use approx. 20 drops of each oil.

4. Pour the wax into each jar - using the clothes peg to hold the wick upright in the middle whilst the wax cools.

5. Store in a cool dry place until solid - you may have to add a little more liquid wax if the middle of the candle sinks.
6. When dry, trim the wick so that there is about 5mm wick above the wax - too much wick results in a large flame - and screw on the top.
7. Finally label the candles if desired? We used some Avery kraft 7110 labels and downloaded the template from the Avery website - which gives you a word template of 18 stickers to design. I had high hopes of my youngest drawing or writing the labels for me, but the boys soon lost interest in what I was doing so I just kept them plain. You can also get these warning labels for less than £2 to stick on the bottom of the jars too.

These cost me less than £2 each to make (as I had the essential oils already) and I think make a lovely gift for family, friends, neighbours and teachers.

Sunday, 4 November 2018


With good weather forecast in half term and eight children to entertain ranging in age from six years old to fifteen, my friend and I headed to the woods for some good old fashioned fun. We lost track of time playing 40-40 out (the game where one person counts to 40 by a tree, the rest of you run and hide and then once the counter has finished you have to get back and touch the tree), tree climbing and den making.

Jenny made the biggest den (pictured above) and I heated up some butternut squash soup to keep us all fuelled. It was just the medicine I needed and really must make the effort to get outside more.  

Monday, 15 October 2018


All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.
an extract from Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas

I'll always hear Richard Burton's voice when I read Dylan Thomas as when I was studying his poetry for my A-levels I had a cassette that I'd fall asleep to of Richard Burton reading his poetry in the hope that I'd absorb it. I think the Welsh language and accent is beautiful and the place names are otherworldly and landscape just wild and wonderful.

When my Instagram friend Gemma @thatchedinwales started sharing her journey of renovating a traditional Welsh crog loft I was hooked and envious in equal measure and this summer was over the moon when she very kindly invited us to stay in her magical cottage, Glan yr Afon.

Glan yr Afon sits on a drovers road, next to a river crossing, once a ford but later the bridge was built in 1766 that still remains today. The place name 'Penbontrhydyfothau' means 'the bridge by the ford where the river comes up to the hubs of (cart) wheels' - I love how literal a Welsh place name is!

We visited in a typically wet summer holiday week, and took full advantage of long lazy days, wet days on the beach fuelled by hot chocolates and ice cream, late brunches of locally produced bacon and sausages, five hour long games of Monopoly and films on internet TV! 

If these ancient walls could talk, they'd speak with a deep 'Richard Burton' welsh accent, don't you think?

One things for sure, we'll be back very soon to the nicest Welsh cottage we've ever had the pleasure of staying in and in the words of Dylan;

And the stars falling cold,
And the smell of hay in the snow, and the far owl,

Warning among the folds, and the frozen hold,

Flocked with the sheep white smoke of the farm house cowl,

In the river wended vales where the tale was told. 

from A Winter's Tale

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

44 things

My annual tradition inspired many moons ago by Hula Seventy to put together a list capturing things I'd like to do during my forty-fourth year before I reach forty-five *sobs at how old I'm getting*

    1. Illustrate my favourite walks
    2. Give the garden a makeover 
    3. Make shadow boxes with the boys
    4. Buy flowers at Columbia Road flower market and lunch at Campania & Jones 
    5. Catch mackerel from a boat and barbecue them on a beach
    6. Go to an auction and bid on something 
    7. Learn to make ice cream
    8. Discover the hidden terraces and back alleys of Bath 
    9. Visit Paris 
    10. Have a picnic on an allotment 
    11. Make some guerrilla art with the boys 
    12. Go to a thought provoking talk at Cheltenham Literature Festival 
    13. Build an outdoor pizza oven 
    14. Go star gazing and learn some constellations 
    15. Make a scarecrow 
    16. Read more books 
    17. Take the boys roller skating
    18. Climb a Welsh mountain
    19. Make wild hedgerow gin 
    20. Dust off the Polaroid and take more pictures on film
    21. Explore London by bike 
    22. Drink cocktails at Wiltons music hall 
    23. Wild swim under Welsh waterfalls
    24. Stop biting my fingernails 
    25. Make fortune cookies
    26. Pick apples in an orchard 
    27. Press edible flowers and herbs into homemade pasta 
    28. Go to a Northern Soul night  
    29. Decorate a gingerbread house
    30. Continue my adventures with Giffords Circus  
    31. Stay in a chalet on a beach 
    32. Give blood 
    33. De clutter the house - properly this time! 
    34. Go and see the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A  
    35. Camp in the bell tent more
    36. Travel on a sleeper train from London to Penzance 
    37. Visit a photo booth 
    38. Visit old stone clapper bridge in Exmoor 
    39. Support my eldest through exams 
    40. Grow cosmos purity my favourite flowers 
    41. Eat Jelberts ice cream (best ice cream ever!) 
    42. Open an honesty shop 
    43. Go ice-skating at Christmas  
    44. .....

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