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I’ve mentioned it before, but one of the things I really love about living back in the south-east of England is having so many amazing things on your doorstep. Big shops, theatre, Goodwood racecourse, four international airports and really good places to go for days out.

On Friday afternoon Theo and I spent a couple of hours at one of my favourite local spots, the Weald & Downland Museum. You wouldn’t think a bunch of old buildings would hold much interest for a three year-old, but there’s loads to keep them entertained. The site is massive (40 acres in total) and the 50 exhibition buildings are all pretty kiddy proof so he can run in and out of them exploring. There’s also a huge selection of animals on the site from geese to pigs, horses and sheep… Oh and the staff (volunteers actually) are all lovely.

wandd2wandd3wandd4It was a pretty miserable afternoon weather-wise and I didn’t think we’d stay that long (I was actually there to film some footage for a video I was making) but Theo spent two and a half hours exploring the place and declared that he wanted to stay forever. I was exhausted, but he just kept going, dragging me with him!

Anyway the good news (for Theo at least) is we will be back. I took a leaf out of one of my friends books and took out annual membership, which actually only costs £31 (a day ticket is £12.50.) Theo is free until he turns four, so we will be making the most of it this summer!

Living Arrows
  • May 25, 2015 - 7:21 am

    Carie - oh it looks beautiful! And it sounds like a lot of fun too, £31 for annual membership is a bargain.ReplyCancel

Read

I’ve picked up some really disappointing books recently, so it’s lovely to finally find something which is easy to read and has a good plot! The Faerie Tree is by a Sussex author and is partly set on the banks of the River Hamble which is about half an hour away from where I live.

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Don’t be fooled by the title, it’s not a fairy story, but a mystery and a romance in two different times twenty years apart.

Watched

Last week Jim and I decided to revisit the Final Destination film series. We’ve both seen bits of the films, but never a whole one. We started with the first in the series on Saturday night and loved it. It’s briliantly silly and the characters all suffer rather spectacular and ridiculous deaths.

Wore

I’m gradually adding bits and pieces to my maternity wardrobe as the months go by. One of my best purchases so far is this stripey dress from M&S. It’s £30, but I bought it with a £5 promotional discount and have worn it loads since it arrived

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It washes really well and is extremely comfortable. Just the kind of stuff that M&S used be so good at, but have fallen a bit behind with over the last few years. I

Heard

I haven’t listened to a lot of new music over the last few weeks, but I am looking forward to exploring everyone else’s choices in the linky this week.

Made

More shorts for Theo. It’s lovely now he’s old enough to come round the fabric shop with me and choose the material he’d like. He loves pink at the moment and I did have to gently steer him away from the pink and purple fairytale castles towards the peach bicycles just to give them a bit of longitivity. I suspect next summer after he’s started primary school, pink might not be quite as cool anymore!

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It was also the week for our monthly Clandestine Cake Club gathering in Chichester. It’s such a fab bunch of women (and one man) who meet every month and the cakes are always great. Our solo man put together this (very) short film of Wednesday’s event..

And Lastly…

I discovered a fantastic new hair stylist by accident this week (my regular one was away) He’s only 20 and although he’s been working in salons since he was 13, he’s only been cutting hair at my hairdressers for a few weeks. He encouraged me to go much shorter and to have a few extra layers put in and I’m really pleased with the result.

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Linking up with Morgana at But Why Mummy Why

  • May 22, 2015 - 8:48 am

    Louisa - Your hair looks fab. I’m trying out a new hairdresser next week and am pretty nervous about it!
    I love the shorts you made, the fabric is gorgeous. I’m after a shorts pattern for my kids. Which one did you use if you don’t mind me asking?
    Have a lovely week xReplyCancel

  • May 22, 2015 - 10:02 am

    Morgana @ butwhymummywhy - Oh, those shorts are lovely! I love the colour and pattern of the fabric.
    Your hair looks fab, I’m in desperate need of a trim but haven’t got round to it before the holiday.
    I remember watching Final Destination as a teen! There are loads of them now aren’t there?
    Have a lovely weekend xxReplyCancel

  • May 22, 2015 - 1:13 pm

    Claire @ Clarina's Contemplations - Love the hairstyle, and glad your getting some lovely maternity gear in. With less than two weeks to go, I, finding less and less fits me and feeling like I’m wearing the same three outfits on repeat! When are you due?ReplyCancel

  • May 22, 2015 - 1:35 pm

    Dawn - Wow, love the shorts! I’m just starting to get into sewing and made my girls some skirts recently – I was so pleased with them! I’ll definitely try shorts next now that I’ve seen how lovely yours are! xxReplyCancel

  • May 22, 2015 - 1:43 pm

    Alexandra @dontcallmestepmummy - The hair looks great, well done you for going with the recommendation. Your dress looks Amazing with the blue tights and shoes. I really love it xxx I really like those shorts. Pink was originally a boys colour, for the royals, but then there was a princess who wanted pink and it all changed around (according to my husband, who doesn’t wear pink, just likes to inform me of random information) xxx enjoy your weekend #littlelovesReplyCancel

  • May 22, 2015 - 4:19 pm

    Charlotte @ Educating Elsa - Ooh those shorts are lovely. I wonder if I could use that pattern to make Elsa some. I hate that girls styles are always so fitted for the little ones and I’d much prefer something a bit looser for her.

    I love that dress. M&S is hit and miss for me but they do lovely basics.

    Have a great week xxxReplyCancel

  • May 22, 2015 - 7:15 pm

    Alice - Wow, love the shorts, were they hard to make? Those cakes on the video all looks AMAZING…making me peckish now 😉 hope you have a lovely weekend xxReplyCancel

    • May 22, 2015 - 8:58 pm

      claremansell@mac.com - No, not difficult at all. I really must do a post about making them!ReplyCancel

  • May 22, 2015 - 9:07 pm

    Triona - Love your stripe dress, and the shorts are so cute, how lucky is your little boy that you can make home all this fab clothing!! I want to be part of this secret cake club – so jealous! Your hair is stunning! Hope you are feeling well, have a great week xxxReplyCancel

  • May 23, 2015 - 7:24 am

    Kerri-Ann - That looks like a great cut, I agree with the young stylist! It’s hard to put your faith in them but great when you do and it’s a success. I love a striped dress. Great length too! I am in LOVE with those shorts. The colour and the print is super. Enjoy your weekend x #LittleLovesReplyCancel

  • May 23, 2015 - 10:48 am

    lynn - Stripes and denim jacket, very on trend. I love your new hair and I know a little boy who would be jealous of Theo’s shorts. Great post.ReplyCancel

I’ve been doing some tentative thinking over he last few weeks about how we might transform our spare room into a nursery. We virtually have a blank canvas as the walls are white and the only “colour” in the room comes from an oak door and the wooden beam which runs the length of the vaulted ceiling.

Oak and white are a combination that many of us have in our homes,  particularly as wooden floors grow ever more popular and mid-century furniture designs appear again on the high street. I like the inclusion of wood in a home as it gives warmth and a connection to the outside and works well with many other colours. Oak furniture is also pretty timeless. The oak chest I have included below would work equally well in an adult bedroom as a child’s nursery.

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(1) Aspen Solid Oak Blanket Storage Box – £263.99  (2) Geometric Print download, £3.23  (3) String Lights, similar from Cable & Cotton (4) Loha Yellow & White Rug £395 (5) Charles Eames RAR plastic rocker, £55 (6) Aspen Double Wardrobe, £574.80 (7) Sable Floor Lamp, £169 (8) Handmade Quilt (but I’d make my own!) (9) Solid Oak Wooden Elephant, £28 (10) Mothercare Summer Oak Cot Bed – £199

Other images : Cozy, Cottage, Cute / Chic Deco

For my nursery mood board I have mixed my two basic colours with mint green and yellow to give it a gender neutral and contemporary twist. This look would work well for those who find they are putting together a nursery with inherited items that are a mixture of wood or white finish. In fact we have exactly this situation, as the small amount of furniture we have to pass down from Theo is a mixture, with a wooden cot and a white changing table.

Of course there had to be a quilt included too which gave me a good excuse to introduce geometric patterns to the overall design. I’ve been meaning to make a triangle quilt for ages and with this one you can see the angular shapes of it echoed in the rug and print

Are you planning a room revamp this summer? If so well you be including wood in your scheme?

This post is my entry to the Oak Furniture King competition at The Oliver’s Madhouse.

  • May 20, 2015 - 8:14 am

    Kaye - I absolutely love this moodboard!! I love the minimal look that white brings to rooms, but you are right, the oak certainly livens it up
    xReplyCancel

  • May 20, 2015 - 8:39 am

    Jaime Oliver - oh how exciting we loved developing our spare room into a nursery :-)

    I am with you on the warmth of oak and the flexibility of being able to use any colours.

    Thanks for entering and good luckReplyCancel

Last week I decided to splash out on a little extravagance for our family by purchasing an annual car park pass for West Wittering beach. Although parking in the winter is only £1 a day in the summer it rockets up to £8 at weekends and £6.50 during the week. In the past we have avoided the beach for most of the peak season and parked further along the coast in East Wittering, but by doing so we were depriving ourselves of a lovely place to visit in the summer, so we decided to just bite the bullet.

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Saturday was the first day of our car park pass, so we decided to take a little picnic to the beach and have hot chocolate and biscuits in the dunes. It was a little windy, but we found a sheltered spot to spread our blanket and Theo and the dogs had a great time burning off energy running around.

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There was another purpose to our visit too. We were road-testing some clothes from Fat Face’s Go Play Outside range. I thought it might be a little problematic finding something for me that would accommodate my growing bump, but I inadvertently stumbled across THE best non-maternity item of clothing for pregnant and non-pregnant women in their knitted kimono. I have been living in it since it arrived 10 days ago!

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Theo’s Half Neck Sweat has also been a bit of a revelation. We’ve been having battles recently with hoodies and t-shirts that sturbbornly won’t go over his head when we want to take them off, where as this one has a wider hole and comes off without a fuss. Why didn’t I think of that months ago?

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Like a lot of husband’s Jim was a slightly reluctant model (you’ve got to pitty the poor partner’s of bloggers!) but his shorts and hoodie are brill and look like they’ll be as hard-wearing as this range promises.

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Now we have our car park pass I think we are going to be spending a lot of time at West Wittering over the next few months. The picnic was a huge hit for Theo even if it was rather basic. So I think we’ll have to come back and do a proper lunch. I’ve even ordered him a bucket and spade, now all we need is some slightly warmer weather…

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Linking up with…

Living Arrows
  • May 18, 2015 - 8:50 am

    Carie - oh what A gorgeous spot! Definitely worth sucking up the cost for an annual pass, and the clothes look lovely too!ReplyCancel

  • May 18, 2015 - 9:22 am

    Isabella Wong (Life as a Petite) - These photos are so lovely and so precious! It’s crazy how inflated prices get when it gets to summer…but I’m sure you guys will make the most out of it and have lots of fun too :) xReplyCancel

  • May 18, 2015 - 9:46 am

    Working mum Blog - Ah to live near a beach. The Sand dunes reminds me of a beach I went to in South Africa. Interesting to see that we have such a beautiful beach in the UK.
    The parking fee has put me right off though! I understand that it gets busier during peak season but an increase of that much is something I personally don’t agree with.
    On a separate note, you are looking fab in your outfit! xReplyCancel

  • May 18, 2015 - 2:19 pm

    Alexandra @dontcallmestepmummy - What a good idea to bring your own hot chocolate. These are just fabulous photos, what a beautiful spot. You look AMAZING too #livingarrowsReplyCancel

  • May 18, 2015 - 3:14 pm

    gemma stevens - These are such gorgeous photos and such a beautiful beach. I love how white the sand is. #livingarrowsReplyCancel

  • May 18, 2015 - 7:26 pm

    Carina - We’ll be heading there during the summer holidays, it’s on our beach list, may bump (see what I did there) into you sometime! Parking sounds cheap compared to Brighton!ReplyCancel

    • May 18, 2015 - 7:29 pm

      claremansell@mac.com - Yes it’s not bad for a one off visit. It just makes for an expensive dog walk if you only pop in for an hour! :-)ReplyCancel

  • May 18, 2015 - 8:59 pm

    Karen - Gorgeous photos Clare. It miss living close to the beach it’s lively in all weathers xxReplyCancel

  • May 19, 2015 - 9:04 pm

    Sian - Ah love the family shot! I love West Wittering beach – I went with an ex 10+ years ago – would love to take my family there though it’s a 2.5 hour drive for us. Maybe one day when the weather is great and we can set off at 7am! Great clothes too – love the kimono. Jim did great despite being reluctant!
    #livingarrowsReplyCancel

  • May 21, 2015 - 10:01 pm

    Nayna Kanabar - What a lovely place to visit, the beach looks absolutely beautiful.ReplyCancel

  • May 23, 2015 - 4:23 pm

    Hayley from Shutterflies - Gorgeous photos, Clare. It looks like the perfect spot for a picnic, I can see the attraction! You look great xReplyCancel

Yesterday was a big day for our family. Anyone who has any involvement in the military will know that every two years your life is suspended whilst you wait with baited breath for news of your spouse’s posting. Months before you will have sat down together and completed a wish list of jobs and locations and then between times tried desperately hard not to waste energy thinking of the consequences of each and every one of those possible options.

It doesn’t always make for the happiest of family lives and so two years ago we made a decision to try and create some stability out of this chaos, by moving into our own home. I have written before about how that meant choosing a life where we live “apart together” and the compromises this has meant. This time around the news would mean one of three things. A new weekly commute of equal distance, a new weekly commute that involved a flight or just possibly a daily commute.

Last night as we waited for news I realised I was completely mentally unprepared to hear the option that involved a weekly flight and I set about belatedly trying to prepare. Yesterday morning I got up and tried to carry on through our morning routine without obsessively checking the phone every few minutes, but then finally the news came…

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… Jim’s next job is going to be 18 minutes away from our home.

It’s an absolute game-changer. There is still another year of weekly commutes ahead which will be broken up by an extended period of leave over the summer and Christmas, but when the latest addition to our family arrives, we will only be a few short months away from all living together under one roof.

My dad summed it up nicely this afternoon when he said “So you aren’t going anywhere until at least 2018″ which is as damn near stability as we are ever likely to get.

As I thought about the many and varied consequences of the news this evening (like the fact we’ll only be filling in ONE box when asked for our “address for the last three years”) I started thinking about what home means to us and it means lots of things, like being part of a community, having a place where we can paint the walls (it’s a military thing!) and being able to mark the height of a growing child on the door frame of his bedroom

Principality Building Society are running a competition at the moment asking bloggers to illustrate a well known quote that sums up what their home means to them and after mulling it over for weeks, yesterday I suddenly found the line that summed it up “a shelter from storms.” It’s especially appropriate as we are so close to the sea and this week it really does feel like our home has protected us from the tempest of military life.

You can find out more about the What Does Home Mean To You competition here

  • May 15, 2015 - 7:51 am

    Lucy @ The Two Saving Sisters - We’re a military family and I totally get it! That’s amazing and I’m absolutely delighted for you. It’s like the best possible present. Ever! Congratulations, like all Military families – you deserve it!ReplyCancel

  • May 15, 2015 - 10:05 am

    Em @ snowingindoors - Congratulations! that’s brilliant news, I’m really happy for you guys :)ReplyCancel

  • May 15, 2015 - 10:15 am

    Terri - Wow what brilliant news congratulations you must be so happyReplyCancel

  • May 15, 2015 - 10:27 am

    Robyn @ The little woman pretends. - Such fantastic news! Congratulations xxxReplyCancel

  • May 15, 2015 - 10:30 am

    fashion-mommy - What brilliant news, so good that you will be so close together, and as a family.

    #UKBloggersReplyCancel

  • May 16, 2015 - 8:54 pm

    jan - isisjem - Just catching up on my blog reading. Firstly congratulations! and secondly wow! what great luck to only be 18 minutes away. I’m 5.5 hours away from my other half and have been waiting for at least 3 years to find out if the Army are getting rid of him or not…All they’ve done so far is move the goal posts and move him further away. I’m lucky if I see him once a month – but luckily we don’t have small children to figure into that equation!ReplyCancel

  • May 16, 2015 - 10:55 pm

    Donna - I can’t imagine life as a military wife but living minutes from Sandhurst RMA and working in financial customer service I hear a lot of stories form families in your situation. It can’t be easy xReplyCancel

  • May 19, 2015 - 6:17 pm

    oana79 - Oh, I am sure the news brought enormous relief, especially with a little one on its way! I am happy for you all.xxReplyCancel