A rural retreat.

Last week we headed over to the most serene little corner of the countryside. We wound up driving down that bumpy country road last Wednesday after a completely last minute decision. I was supposed to book us a lovely sunny holiday abroad before the holidays even started, but one day turned into two, and before I know we’re four weeks in and I still haven’t found anywhere that doesn’t cost two grand for a week in a 2 star at best. So I went to plan B. Camping.

I have to admit, I wasn’t overly sold on sleeping out in the elements. I mean, it would have been fine was it just me and Sam, I’m low maintenance, cup of tea, a good book. I’m right as rain. The girls however, rather ashamedly are big on their electronics – though our ‘iPad’ break of last year is still standing!- Mischa’s gasp of “But mum, how will we watch TV?!” Sold me on it. I spent my youth wandering the local woodlands, playing on rope swings, nursing nettled legs. My girls are slightly more sheltered. I let them run free, we regularly go out and about. But the actual freedom of spending the whole day from morning till dinner time “playing out” isn’t something my two have really managed to live through yet.

So, we went back to basics. Well, I say basics. I ended up booking a luxury teepee at the rather gorgeous looking Kings acre glamping. We got a really good last minute deal on Pitch up, £129 for 2 nights. And after creating a mini meal plan of very delicious and non-boring food we cook cook over the fire. we spent no more on £180 for the entire trip!

So, after receiving a very lovely email from Jess (the co-owner) giving me all the details for our stay, I got us packed up and off we went on our journey. The trip took less than 1 hour 10mins from Preston (if any locals are interested.) and the actual campsite was really easy to get too, they’ve even put up little signs to guide you to them.

Once at the site, we parked up and was led to our gorgeous little home for the few days we had the “Little owl” tent, which consisted of a large double bed, two fold out single futons, bedside tables, a chest for storage, a fire pit and enough comfy outdoor chairs for us all. It. Was. Perfect.

We jumped right on in, unpacked, and sat on those chairs out in the sunshine, looking over at the welsh valley views and hearing nothing but the sounds of birds and gentle winds blowing through the acorn tree above. I would go into loads of detail about what we did there, but truthfully, we did nothing for two days. We lazed and ate, we sat by the lake and read. I lay with a cold beer and watched the girls run around freely with the two adorable and completely friendly resident dogs. it was everything I could have hoped for. My only regret is that we didn’t book an extra night!

So, that was it. our little family trip away. If you’re wanting to do something similar before the summers out, here are a few of my best tips.

  • Make a meal plan. For our trip I pre cut and mixed Chicken fajita’s and Garlic n’ herb steak, potatoes and veg. I kept them in a those takeaway style foil trays, in a cool bag with a constantly frozen ice pack. We ate the chicken on the first night (for obvious reasons) and the steak was so beautifully marinated for our second night. I also made cheese and peppered ham pizza pockets wrapped in foil for lunch, you just literally throw them on the fire, turn after a few minutes, unwrap and enjoy.

 

  • Take a washing up bowl, liquid, sponge and a tea towel. Simple, but it just makes clean up after meal times quick and easy.

 

  • Take carrier bags for your rubbish. Again, simple but make sit easy to keep everywhere tidy. (don’t forget to find out if your camp recycles before you start just throwing everything into general waste.)

 

  • Find out if your camp can supply firewood. If they do, use it. Our lovely hosts dropped off a massive wheel barrow of wood for only £5. otherwise we would have been left with the random coal bag we brought. Which will cook the food, but won’t give you a glorious camp fire to spend you’re evenings staring into.

 

  • Don’t forget to pack entertainment for the kids. We where lucky a few of our campmates let the girls play with frisbee’s and footballs, but really I should have been a bit more organised than telling them they can pack one rucksack with toys – Mischa brought a star cushion ?! Next time we’ll be bringing some more outdoor games.

 

  • And finally. This is a biggie, but if you can… turn off your phone. Completely for the whole trip. It was the best thing I did, I was completely present for the entire thing, I had no idea what was happening in the world, and even though I had my camera I wasn’t spending the whole time creating Insta worthy shots. It was just us, our little garden and the sweet silence of the countryside. Perfection.

 

You can see all the shots I took below. I did narrow it down from about 900 photos!

 

 

 

I’m already so excited to book our next trip to kings acre. Bring on the Easter holidays!

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

A very happy birthday.

This will be my third year of doing this birthday post, I kind of love looking back to the previous year and seeing what was important to me then, and how I’ve managed to accomplish my list for goals through the past year – or not like it stood last year!- ha ha

So here’s my list of resolutions from last year-

“Pass my driving test. I’m gunna’ get it done this year.”

I can confirm, that this year I DID IT!!! I finally passed my test back in June, which was SO surreal after years of on/off practice, a whole lot of money, I finally just pushed myself to get it done, and I passed first time, so yay! Driving has completely changed my life, people don’t lie when they say it gives you so much independence.

“Maintain the perfect online/offline balance.”

Again, I think this year I’ve managed to crack this one. I genuinely no longer care about online acceptance, follower numbers, or getting that constant stream of posts up. Sometimes life can be really hard, things happen and I kind of realised, ultimately its just an online world, its okay if I don’t have it in me to put up a front for the sake of sharing a blog post.

“Stop finding reasons NOT to pitch potential articles to local newspapers/magazines. Just do it.”

I’ve kind of done this, but also not really. I haven’t found any reasons to not pitch articles, but also I’m just not overly bothered about this too much right now.

“Build that vegetable patch.”

Another ‘kind of win’ resolution. Though the vegetable patch hasn’t been built this year, we did spend Spring getting the entire garden fixed, it had major drainage issues so it was a three week job outsourced, they had to dig massive channels, fill them with drainage pipes, gravel and cover the entire thing up again. it was a very messy job, but it no longer floods! Also, we do have a giant sweetcorn crop, carrots and beetroots growing in pots on the decking.

“Continue along the path of inner peace and contentment. Kind of a joke, but also kind of not. I used to be all about the rage… i’m pretty zen these days… unless I’m hungry, or tired. Ha ha”

I’m going to say that this year I smashed this goal. Some of you may remember back in January I did a brief post on my absence, on how my Mum who had been missing for two years had been found dead, she’d been purposefully hidden by someone for all that time. As you can imagine it has been crazy, so much about me changed on January 16th, So many things that I used to obsess over, or freak out about just went away. I had two options when dealing with that situation. I could implode, revert back to the self-destructive mode that blighted so many of my teenage years. Or I could breath, take myself away from the situation regularly to access how best to rationally react. I did the latter. I focused on each day, I concentrated on keeping normality for my girls, to making sure my household stayed unaffected from the insane-ness of everything. I started running again, I at times rather selfishly made my mental health the top priority. And in turn, I made it out of the other side in tact. I won’t lie and say its all over now, it isn’t, its far from. There will always be a lot of unresolved issues around my relationship with her, how it all turned out the way it did and why he did what he did with her. But, I’m strong enough to tackle them as and when its time too. See, inner peace. I’m basically Buddha! HA HA.

Anyway, heavy stuff out of the way. Resolutions for my 26th year.

  1. Feel the fear & do it anyway. I never used to fear much, I was quite ballsy in my younger years. Like the time when I was 16 and I moved to Peckham with my best mate, I got a job in a back street caf & spent a while pretending to be a grown up. Or the time when I married my boyfriend of 3 months and moved to Cyprus with him when I was 17. See, Ballsy. But since I had kids, they make fear EVERYTHING! I’m not wanting to go back to my borderline-insane days, I just want to bite the bullet with more things, step out of my comfort zone.
  2. Progress with my photography. This also comes in with the above. New places and new people scare me. I prefer to be invisible, but I want to be a better photographer. No, I want to be a brilliant photographer. So I need to work hard, I want to be able to walk into a shoot and say ‘This is what I envision and this is how we’ll do it.’
  3. Keep using exercise as a way to deal with stress.  I haven’t always dealt with stress all too well, but during these past 12 months, when I’ve been pushed to my absolute limit, I started developing migraines, breakouts, insomnia, anxiety became a constant cloud and my old pattern of not eating when under intense stress had started to creep back up. Luckily I recognised that these are all how my body (and mind) reacts to these situations. So I started running, I started taking regular spin classes and resistance training. I needed to fuel these sessions properly and so my diet improved, I needed to be motivated and hydrated and so my alcohol intake decreased (quite massively – I mean I wasn’t an alcoholic, but all those ‘oh I’ll just have a glass or two’ adds up!) Just exercising to try and expel the pressure turned into quite the lifestyle change. One I hope I will continue to use to keep me ‘balanced’ – This post is seriously making me sound like a right crack pot!! ha ha.

 

And thats pretty much all I want to accomplish this year! Nothing overly extraordinary, but resolutions I know will help me excel into my next year of life. I’m actually really bloody excited to see where I’ll be when I’m writing this post next year!

So, now thats done, I can fill you in on my birthday, well actually my birthday week would be rather more apt. It started last Monday with a trip down to London. I was invited by the incredible Style at home magazine team, to take part in their Christmas tree challenge (for the December issue.) Basically, they paid for me to come down to the capital, stay in a swanky hotel, then spend the day watching how a massive feature like this is made up. I was given a gigantic collection of (un-released) Christmas decorations from Hobby craft and given free range to Christmas our location house up to be photographed. And if that still doesn’t make you super envious, I was given a makeover by the amazing Alice Theobald, given a £100 gift card from hobby craft and they all repeatedly thanked me for the pleasure of my company – like it was some sort of massive favour I had done for them!?!

I also happened to mention how much I LOVED this giant pom pom wreath that was from the set – to which I was told the guys at hobby craft have said I can keep it!! I totally wasn’t hinting!! ha ha but yes, I am so excited for you to see the feature and so ridiculously thankful for the Style at home team for going out of their way to get me down! it really was a dream experience!

 

 

So, after that whirlwind couple of days, it was my actual birthday! And I woke up to the most incredible gift ever! I am now the super proud owner of a Nikon d750 AND a Sigma art 35mm lens! Lucky, lucky lucky!

I spent my birthday just faffing about with my new camera and chilling out, before I met up with a group of my favourite people for dinner at Tangs, an amazing Chinese restaurant that also gives you a private karaoke room after dinner. We drank wine, we sang, we danced and I spent Friday laughing my (rather sore) head off at the memories!

All in all, I’ve learnt four things this week. 1. My family are mental! seriously. 2. The Nikon d750 is everything I imagined and more. 3. Watching a giant set being built in someones home for a national magazine shoot is beyond fascinating and 4. I am an extremely lucky lady!.

Here’s to another year!

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

A new venture.

I mentioned briefly over on the Facebook page about my new little venture and anyone who follows my insta knows all about it. But I thought I’d bring that info over to the blog with a little more detail. Last Autumn I started my Level 3 in photography, that along with over 3 years of practice has amounted to me finally setting up my own photography business. I’m still learning as I go, every day brings new challenges – though thankfully all have been in a good way- but overall I think, I might have just found my job.. ‘the one’

It all came about once I had finished my course, that combined with the fact that Izzy starts school full time this September means its finally time for me to head back into the working world.  I had three options. 1) Continue further education by going to university to study photography. 2) Start up my own business. 3) Find a completely unrelated job and keep photography as a hobby. I obviously went for option 2.

I thought it would be the easiest option. And though I’m not technically wrong – I’m not right either. I know a lot of you have followed all the way from when this used to be a handmade childrens wear site. Back when my 18 hour days were spent locked in a sewing cupboard trying my best to build something from my love of sewing. It was hard, no… thats an understatement. it was exhausting, it zapped my energy, my creativity, I was wracked with ‘mummy guilt’ constantly. And so I switched to blogging as a way to both keep me sane and give me time to run my house and mother my kids in the way I wanted too.

This is a business, so yes. Yes it does take a lot of time to run. But my sessions are pre-booked, my editing expected and planned for and other than that its all about building online. Which I both enjoy and do anyway with blogging stuff, so its no where near as full on as it was last time.

In the four weeks its been since I made the Facebook page live. I feel I have achieved so much, its pushed me to plan better, to apply myself harder, to use my imagination as much as possible and actually, after hearing and seeing reactions on shoots I’ve been doing. To believe in myself a little more.

Im sure a bad day will crop up soon, one where I ask myself why I started another business. But I’ll remind myself of the old saying…. “its not work if you love what you do.”

So what does the future hold? I hear you ask – probably- Well, I will say honestly, I’ve no idea. I know its not wise to start a business up with no real plan, but thats what I’ve done and what i’ll continue to do until I feel I’ve got to do otherwise. I’m keeping it very simple, get those sessions booked in, stay creative with each and every one. I rope in people when I want to try something new and share my shoots on social media. Thats it. My one real plan for the future is to get the website up and running for Autumn so I can share it all in one place.

Highlights of the past month, have been Going over to Ravenous in Preston town centre for an early morning menu shoot!

 

Shooting my amazing sister giving birth to my niece – yep that was every bit as terrifying as you could imagine!

 

And, I think being asked to shoot one of my oldest friends kids amongst the fields that we used to wander round as youngsters. It was a day full of many laughs!

 

So far its been a pretty amazing Summer! And Autumn is already looking pretty special, from organising a giant look-book shoot in Manchester with a children’s wear brand, shooting what I hope will be many posts photographs for a local fellow blogger, to a family christening and SO much more in between. Its all pretty amazing really!

So, thats what I’ve been up to!

I’m keeping to a pretty relaxed blogging schedule at the moment, with the plan to post just once a week, I can tell you now though, next week’s post is going to be pretty brilliant! I’m off to London later tonight for some AMAZING blog work – all will be revealed next Monday!

 

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.

 

 

Home life project: August edition.

I have really let the blog go this summer. It makes me sad to see it so neglected! In my absolute defence though, I’ve been busy setting up my photography business – how exciting is that eh!- And with the girls off school, its become a ginormous weight off to just not panic about blog posts. And technically, I’m all about living with the seasons – isn’t that what summer is about? just blowing lives pressures away and living freely amongst the sunshine?! I’m clutching at straws here aren’t I! ha ha.

Anyway, I have been updating once a month with a home life project post, and this month is no different. We’ve made it to August, already! The year is flying by!

A lot has happened over this past month, like I  mentioned above, I’ve just started up my own photography business, so every day for me revolves around getting the best photos I possibly can. The brilliant thing about this project, is actually. It doesn’t take much – if any- thinking time. You just shoot. Just follow and shoot. Which exactly what I’ve done this weekend.

For this months session I photographed our Sunday. Soley because I knew it would be as close to staying at home all day as it ever would be in these increasingly busy times. So after a relaxed morning at home, I did a little work and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon pottering around doing some cleaning, getting that Sunday roast cooked and dying izzys hair blue. Yep really – though, It is only. wash out one, so nothing to be alarmed about!

We entered the early evening by watching movies, the girls then went mental and started wrestling each other, before shower and bed time.

And that was that. A beautiful Sunday.

 

 

 

I would have liked a little more sunshine – what with it being THE MIDDLE OF SUMMER! But, this rainy weather isn’t all bad. Its kind of making me all excited for Autumn.

Robyn,

The little woman pretends.