For my birthday this year, I decided to gift myself a family photo shoot. Laurence and I are often behind the camera. We rarely think of getting someone to take photos of all of us.
I’d wanted to do one when Talitha was around a year but we never got around to it. In many ways, it feels like it makes more sense doing it now that both girls are here.
A few of my friends have had their photos taken by Bristol family and newborn photographer Annie Crossman. We liked her work and have met her before (she used to lead the children’s work at our church) so knew she was friendly and great at putting kids at ease. So it was an easy decision to book her.
The shoot ended up being a bit emotional for me (not that it takes much these days!). We both feel settled that our baby days are going. As settled as you can be without being able predict the future, obviously.
Of course, if we were to be surprised with another pregnancy, we’d be overjoyed (startled and nervous too but I’m sure we’d get there). But two finally feels like a good number to both of us.
Part of me can’t imagine never going through pregnancy and birth again but another part of me is looking forward to what comes next as our children grow up.
The last time we had a photo shoot was our engagement shoot before our wedding. It’s strange to think how much has changed in six short years. Having children together has been so good for our marriage.
Yes having a baby can practically drop a bomb on a relationship but, amid the chaos, there is so much fun. I told Laurence the other day that when we were at Legoland, I enjoyed seeing him enjoy Talitha enjoying herself. He confirmed that I sounded like a weirdo but it’s true. Loving them has added a new dimension to loving each other.
If you’re in or near Bristol and looking for a great family, newborn or maternity photographer, I really recommend Annie. We really enjoyed our shoot with her and are so pleased with the images. I’m not sure I can justify buying a birthday treat for myself every year but I’m certainly glad to have gone for it this time.
After dreaming about it for the last ten years (so I’m a bit of an over-thinker) and never getting around to it, partly because I’m rubbish at spending money on myself, I finally got my half-sleeve tattoo today.
It’s Mehndi inspired (I’m borderline obsessed with henna patterns) and it features a hummingbird. I guess there is a bit of meaning there. Trinidad and Tobago is the land of the hummingbird. Hummingbirds are tiny but fierce and free. Mythologically, they represent eternity. That’s probably quite fitting for a tattoo. But, honestly? Hummingbirds are just pretty.
For my birthday, Laurence surprised me with a mock up of all my ideas, which he’d sent over to Iain Sellar whom he’d booked a session with. Iain is an illustrator and now tattooist that Laurence worked with some time ago at a design agency. He is such a lovely, gentle guy and clearly gifted. He works at The Black Lodge in Portishead. What Iain did with the design is nothing short of masterful. I actually got quite emotional looking at it.
The session took about two and a half hours, though of course it felt, um, a bit longer than that under the needle. I actually went freezing and started shaking halfway through, likely not helped by stupidly eating barely anything beforehand. Laurence had to go get me some M&M’s and Iain turned the heating up.
I’m ecstatic that the tattoo looks better than I’d even hoped. In fact, this is what I wanted – I just didn’t know it yet. Now I have to book another session to get some shading done. Cracking through this 30 things to do before I’m 30 list!
EDIT: A few months later, here it is all coloured in:
A few weeks ago, Laurence’s parents treated the family to lunch at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, in Bruton, to celebrate a birthday. It’s a modern art gallery and restaurant with a truly exciting garden. I’d love to visit again for the garden alone. I don’t feel like I fully took it in and so much thought has gone into what to plant where.
Laurence and his brothers went to school in Bruton and it amuses the family no end that what they’ve known as a somewhat sleepy little Somerset town is becoming a hotspot for art and culture, and really quite fashionable.
We started off with the Roth Bar & Grill. The food was all beautifully presented and so tasty. It seemed a shame to choose a burger and chips when so much else was on offer but it’s what I fancied and I didn’t get a touch of food envy, for once. We smiled to see Charles Dowding’s salad leaves on the menu as Laurence recently did an organic gardening class with him.
After lunch, we took a look around the art gallery. It struck me that the installations were just the type to capture a three-year-old’s imagination. They were big, dramatic and open-ended. Talitha especially loved a room full of big, colourful pom poms. She and her grandmum spent a long time there and she’s been talking about it ever since.
We also walked around the garden for quite some time. It was in that transitional bit when the seasons had not quite yet changed. I thought I’d mention the dress that I’m wearing as it is the biggest bargain I’ve found when it comes to maternity/nursing clothes.
It’s the Money Penny breastfeeding dress from Mama Feels Good which comes in purple and black. I love the fit (it kind of drapes), the material is comfy, access to nurse your baby is easy and it can be dressed up or down. And get this, I got it for £9.99 though it’s currently selling for a few quid more.
Also, a few people have asked about the ring sling. It’s a size 2 Girasol wrap I got converted to a ring sling by Geeky Sweetheart. Definitely one of my favourite slings. I love ring slings made from wrap material. They just have a longer life to them.
It may have taken a while to get here but now it’s certainly time for layering up. Despite having grown up in a hot country, cold weather style is one of the things I look forward to as Autumn and Winter approach.
Anyway, there is a story to this jumper. A few weeks ago I was having a Very Bad Day. Like, what-am-I-doing-with-my-life kind of bad. I even ended up throwing a mini hissy fit over not having any jumpers that were warm but not too warm. I know. What dignity.
Laurence kissed me goodbye and went off to a work meeting.
It turned out that his meeting was in a quirky little cafe near St Nicholas’ Market, smack in the middle of Bristol, called The Bird Cage. Along with coffee and cakes, they have a few racks carrying vintage clothes. He spotted this jumper and bought it to cheer me up.
I think he was surprised by how the gesture touched me. It told me that he’d listened to my ridiculous little meltdown over my wardrobe that morning and that he’d thought of me, even after he’d left the house. He’s far more into style than I am so it was a bit sacrificial of him to buy something for me rather than himself.
Also, we hardly ever buy each other anything. Neither of us are that fussed about gifts and so I think we’ve given each other a free pass on the gift thing. We didn’t even exchange anniversary gifts this year! This made the presentation of this jumper all the sweeter.
I just had to include this picture. Trust a small child to bring you back to earth. Every time.
Laurence has been working from home this week, which has been a little weird. He’s there but not really. He has this fancy shmancy start-stop-clock-app thing (me – a technophobe?) to keep track of his hours. If I’m in, I physically have to restrain myself from handing him the baby.
So, to his relief, the girls and I have been going out lots. Yesterday, that meant a trip to Blaise Park in North Bristol.
House of Fraser sent us the outfit Talitha’s wearing, to feature, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to snap away. I find activities like walks and trips to the park a little boring without adult company so my camera gives me an added bit of purpose. I feel guilty admitting that. I know I need to learn to be more “in the moment”.
Here’s a closer look at the print on that skirt. I want one in my size!
My mother-in-law gave Talitha this sweet little basket last Christmas and she loves taking it collecting, especially now that there’s so much to collect in Autumn. I think we’ll make a leaf garland.
At first she wasn’t sold on the cardigan as it’s not a “colour” but she’s now quite taken with the buttons. She says they look like sweeties. I think these pieces are so versatile. I look forward to seeing what other pairings they make throughout the season. Come to think of it, though the colours are pretty autumnal, this skirt would easily make a great Christmas piece too.
Our trip to Trinidad and Tobago called for new sunglasses. How could it not?
Going with two small children may have meant that I didn’t spend the holiday sunbathing by the pool, sipping cocktails, but the elegance of these London Retro frames afforded me a little bit of glamour every day.
Sunglasses Shop sent me this stylish London Retro Nancy pair in black (RRP £50), and I’m wearing them everywhere as if I’m still on holiday.
They’re just a little bit quirky without being over the top. They were also dark enough to prevent me from squinting out at Laurence windsurfing at Pigeon Point without obscuring my eyes. I feel somewhat awkward talking to someone wearing sunglasses so dark that you can’t see their eyes.
I love that along with frame colour and shape, you can also search the Sunglasses Shop website by your face shape and even your hairstyle. The lenses are also available in prescription should you need it.
By the way, that gorgeous beach behind me is Parlatuvier in Tobago, quite a sight at sunset. If you see me wearing these sunglasses around Bristol, I’m probably imagining I’m back there.
Yesterday I finally wore one of the first truly new items of clothing I’d bought in a long time, as in, years. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve bought even second hand clothes in the last few years too. The result is that many things in my wardrobe either don’t fit, don’t reflect my personal style or are worn out beyond hope of repair! Nice.
I feel like I had a real release from the tyranny of appearance, for lack of a better way to put it, when Talitha was born. I didn’t worry so much about what I wore and I even went through a phase of not wearing makeup – a very big deal for me. Now I feel like I can enjoy clothes without being ruled by them.
So, this month, I had fun adding a few new pieces to my wardrobe. This is one that Laurence bought.
The dress is from Howies. I wouldn’t normally go for this colour but I actually really like it. The simplicity of the design is new to me too and I’ve never worn a dress with pockets before.
The brogues are from Clarks (similar here). I bought them with birthday money from my parents last year (yeah, I don’t often buy shoes either…).
The scarf is from Accessorize, a recent gift from a university friend who recently stayed with us. She always comes bearing lovely gifts. It was a really windy day yesterday and I forgot to take a cardigan so needed something to keep warm!