Since we moved back to Sussex two and a half years ago, one of the seasonal markers I look forward to every year is seeing the rapeseed in bloom. The farmers rotate the crops so you are never quite sure which field is going to burst into yellow flowers until it actually happens and then I try and dash out as soon as I can to take some photos. The first photos aren’t necessarily the best ones, but if you hesitate the weeks slip by and you miss the moment entirely.

Last year the rape was literally the other side of our garden fence, but this year it’s not quite so conveniently located. There is some a little way down the lane, but to access the field you need to go down a track with ominous signs telling you to keep out, so instead we headed north where the explosion of yellow borders the main road.

We turned my photographic expedition into the morning walk and took the dogs and Theo’s bike with us. Somewhere along the route Theo started complaining that his eye was hurting and of course the more he rubbed it the redder it got – not brilliant for the photos I was hoping to take, but we thought it probably wasn’t serious and we’d look at it when we got home.

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I took a few pics of Theo and then recruited Jim for a rather important annual job – the updating of my social media picture! Two years ago on a weekend walk Jim took a photo of me standing in a rape field and I have used it as my online face ever since. It’s distinctive and rather memorable, but it has created a problem! At blogging conferences people don’t instantly remember my name or blog, but they do often remember me as “the woman with the yellow field behind her” – aaahhh! So now I feel trapped into only updating it when the rape is in bloom.

So the sky was grey, the harbour behind was devoid of water as it was low tide and Theo has one rather red and blotchy eye, but at least I got a current photo of me with-a-yellow-field-behind!

If the weather perks up and the flowers last and perhaps most importantly if I’m feeling brave enough to ask Jim to take a photo a second time, we might try another run at it, but for now I’ll have to settle with this…

rapefield15a_1600Oh and if you are wondering, we returned home and on a whim decided to try Theo on half an anti-histamine to see if it would help his irritated eye. It did, which yes probably means that he’s allergic to rape fields – Ooops!

Linking up with…

Living Arrowssnowingindoors Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
  • April 27, 2015 - 3:32 pm

    North East Family Fun - I love this idea of taking a photograph in the same place at set periods of time – imagine how fab they will look together framed when you have a few 😀ReplyCancel

  • April 27, 2015 - 3:33 pm

    Sisley White - What gorgeous photos! I hope you’ve got them both framed xReplyCancel

  • April 27, 2015 - 3:39 pm

    Kate B - Poor Theo, I’ve been suffering with hayfever this week too. Love the photos. I love the gorgeous yellow rape colour too. Popping over from Country Kids :)ReplyCancel

  • April 27, 2015 - 3:56 pm

    Carin - Poor Theo! Hope it isn’t an allergy since you live so close to the rapefield. Gorgeous photos though. And I love the idea of taking photos using the same kind of background over several years. xReplyCancel

Last week we finally completed the work on a big makeover project in our garden that we started nearly two years ago.

When we bought our house a huge swathe of the garden was taken up by a large flowerbed. There was also an overgrown Christmas tree obscuring our view and a hedge which had been consumed by brambles. Beneath it all were paving slabs, bricks and tree trunks – it was a mess! From the moment I saw it I desperately wanted to turn it back to grass to give us more useable space, but we had to wait another 5 years before we were able to move into the house ourselves and even think about tackling it.

The first job was to get the hedge out. When we started I honestly thought we’d finish the whole thing by the end of that month and rather optimistically described it on this blog as “June’s big gardening project.” Once we started it became apparent it was a massive job that was going to require a digger, a rotovator, many hours and lots of money. I started taking photos from the same spot in the garden to chart the progress and you can see not only the garden changing, but in the second set of images, you’ll see the house radically alter in the background too!

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And here’s what it looks like looking back towards the house. Last year we added a first floor to our bungalow and gave it an external makeover. You can read more about that here.

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Jim did all the labour himself and spent many back-breaking hours of his weekends and leave working on it. I’m very proud of him and so impressed with how it’s turned out. Of course it’s going to take a little while for the grass to settle in, but it’s made a massive difference to the appearance of the garden already AND we had some incredible news last week which really has been the icing on the cake…

Do you remember this post I wrote at the beginning of the month with the accompanying video? Well we only WON the competition and we have had an amazing time selecting our £1500 of garden furniture from Debenhams. In fact we were so giddy with excitement that we actually splashed out on turf instead of sowing grass seed just so that we can get use out of the garden a little earlier! It just goes to show as I mentioned last month, it really is worth having a go with blogging competitions, because sometimes amazing things can happen…

Joining up with Mammasaurus…

Mammasaurus How Does Your Garden Grow
  • April 23, 2015 - 12:04 pm

    Helen - Wow! Your bungalow looks just incredible. The change in the garden is equally impressive – I wouldn’t know where to start! I do not have greenfingers…can we borrow him for when we move?!ReplyCancel

    • April 23, 2015 - 12:13 pm

      claremansell@mac.com - Thank you for making me smile Helen! We didn’t know where to begin either, it’s been a steep learning curve for all of us! :-)ReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2015 - 12:09 pm

    fashion-mommy - It all looks so fabulous – you have worked so hard on it. Well done for winning the competition too.

    #UKBloggersReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2015 - 12:19 pm

    OneDad3Girls - Wow what a transformation, it looks like all the hard work has paid off.

    Well done on winning the competition tooReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2015 - 12:41 pm

    Claudia - wow!!! what a transformation! well done. congratulations looks beautifulReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2015 - 4:06 pm

    Mammasaurus - Oh my days what a difference and what a gorgeous home you have!
    I remember thinking back to when we started our extensions how it would all be done in 4 months, now 9 months on there’s still finishing bits that need doing. Gardens have a habit of throwing surprises at you, random lumps of metal and dis-used soakaways in our case – all takes time and expense to remove. Mind you it’s always worth the effort in the end.
    Now I’m off to look at your house project posts!
    Thanks for joining in Clare – and well done on the comp!ReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2015 - 4:56 pm

    Carin - Wow, awesome transformations to both the garden and the bungalow. And big congrats on winning the competition!ReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2015 - 9:15 pm

    karen - It’s looking fab Clare & a. Huge congratulations. That’s. So exciting xReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2015 - 9:38 pm

    Donna - It looks so good! What a fantastic space for kids to play xReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2015 - 9:49 pm

    Ness - What a difference a good bit of lawn makes! I just want to run backwards and forwards on it!ReplyCancel

  • April 24, 2015 - 7:19 am

    Carie - oh it looks incredible! It’s such a transformation and well done on winning the competition!ReplyCancel

  • April 24, 2015 - 11:32 am

    Merlinda Little ( @pixiedusk) - Really look better! I have seen the past post about this and its so nice to see how it is now! #hdyggReplyCancel

  • April 25, 2015 - 2:28 pm

    Vickie - Wow what a truly amazing transformation! Your husband’s hard work has definitely paid off.

    Congratulations on winning the contest too! I hope we’re due a wonderful summer so that you can enjoy your beautiful new garden.ReplyCancel

  • April 25, 2015 - 11:21 pm

    chickenruby - congrats on winning the competition, i remember my parents taking on a project like this and took 4 days to remove one set of roots, they then hired a digger and finished removing the hedge in a dayReplyCancel

I returned from my trip to Malta at lunchtime today and before I start to share photos and stories of the last few days, I really need to round up a few loose ends…

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You might be wondering where my video round up of the month disappeared to or indeed what happened to my promised explorations of youtube? To be honest, March was not my most productive of months. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was ill for a while at the beginning of the month and it completely robbed me of my energy and motivation. It’s been a slowly steady climb back to feeling like myself and only in the last week or so have I actually felt truly 100% again (but hurrah to that finally!)

As a result a few of my regular and planned posts for the last month or so slipped through my fingers. I’ve only just sat down this evening to edit March’s One Second Every Day (amazingly the one thing I did manage to do was still grab a second of footage each day) and although I had great plans for a youtube experiment as part of my Going Pro series, it hasn’t quite happened yet, so you’ll have to be patient with me. I have done half of the work, but March has rolled into April and suddenly there’s only a week left before May.

But without further ado, here is March’s one second every day…


And on an unrelated note, there’s a Facebook only giveaway happening on my page later this week. If you aren’t already joined me over there, please pop over to ensure you are part of it.

  • April 22, 2015 - 10:48 am

    Carin - Glad to hear you’re finally starting to feel better Clare. I can’t wait to hear more about Malta, but in the meantime..lovely video of March. xReplyCancel

  • April 22, 2015 - 2:58 pm

    Nancy - Clare – so glad you are feeling better. I just love these one second a day videos. I think they will be such a wonderful family story. I am digging up old movies/videos of my parents wedding 50+ years ago and a few from summer vacations and converting them to computer friendly technology. It is amazing the memories they bring back.ReplyCancel

  • April 27, 2015 - 3:16 pm

    Jenni - I just love the idea of the one second video every day, it seems somehow achievable but actually tells so much when you look back. Amazing, I love it!ReplyCancel

Scroll down to the bottom of the page for reader offer…

I may have mentioned once (or several hundred times) that I have a thing about liberating your digital photos and using them to create real tangible products that you can hold and keep, so when Postsnap asked me to review their app which allows you to create a real personalised printed card on your phone I couldn’t resist…

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The app is free to download and you can choose from a variety of very nice card templates. I picked the simplest they make which just allows for some text overlay and a full-bleed photo. Pictures can either be taken “live” with the camera or from your photo library. I use Flickr to store all my images so I screen grabbed one of my pictures from there and imported it into the app via my photo library.

I particularly like the idea of being able to use the app to take a photo and create your own holiday cards to send directly to friends and family via the UK postal system when you are abroad. Emails are all well and good, but there’s nothing quite like receiving a surprise card through the door.

The other feature I really liked about my finished card was a subtle one, but a goodie. If you choose a landscape format image the card actually stands up like it’s a portrait card (if that makes sense?) with the fold across the vertical not the horizontal, which means it doesn’t slowly collapse when you stick it on a window or mantelpiece… I know, I’m easily pleased!

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READER OFFER! If you fancy trying out the Postsnap app. Simply use the code MAYBUSHPOSTCARD at the checkout before 30th April to claim one free postcard

A friend who is expecting her first baby recently asked my advice about preparing for the first few days at home with a newborn. The frightening thing is that 3 and a half years on, a lot of the details of that early time at home with Theo has got a little bit foggy, but certain things do stick in my mind.

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In those long slow final days of pregnancy I remember developing a slight obsession with the idea of running out of nappies or food. I had read somewhere that you were likely to spend a lot of time at home initially and that people would be popping in all the time and eating up your biscuit supply, so I bought a ridiculous amount of biscuits and did a lot of cooking for the freezer before my due date. I don’t think the apocalyptic predictions of a shortbread famine or being unable to get to the supermarket ever happened but it was good to be prepared and have one less thing to worry about.

Living up in the Scottish Highlands did mean our local amenities were a little limited, but one of the most useful facilities for us was our local Boots pharmacy. We used the Minor Ailments system which enables you to get medication and advice for babies for free by nominating a “home” pharmacy and so in those first few weeks we spent a lot of time consulting with the kind and patient pharmacist about nappy rash, colic and cradle cap. Despite the fact he must have had the same conversation with parents day in and day out he never made us feel as though we were wasting his time.

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One mistake we did make was being a little under-prepared with clothing when Theo arrived. We’d been warned by other parents to expect baby clothes as gifts, but not that the number of clothes you are given often doesn’t always keep up with the speed a baby gets through them, so we did get caught out and I had to send Jim out on a panic mission to buy more babygrows. Of course with the very best of intentions he came back with a pack of “newborn” babygrows for a baby that weighed nearly 9lbs and they only got worn once before Theo grew out of them – another lesson learned!

And one thing I would definitely do differently if I were to do it again and that would be to spend time practicing putting the pram/buggy up and down! It feels silly doing it before you have a baby, but I wish I’d spent time getting comfortable with the mechanism before I tried to do it on my own with a tiny baby in the supermarket car park!

This post is written in conjunction with Boots Baby who are celebrating 125 years of helping to care for the nations babies…

  • April 13, 2015 - 11:36 am

    Donna - That photo is just gorgeous! Boots is one of our baby related saviours too – through pregnancy, baby days and childhood xReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2015 - 6:34 pm

    Kacie Morgan - Good tips! I’m nowhere near ready to have kids yet, but I’m sure this post will ring true with a lot of Mum’s!ReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2015 - 7:24 pm

    Fritha Strickland - great tips and now I feel really broody! oh that squishy face!! xReplyCancel

  • April 13, 2015 - 10:23 pm

    Nancy - Okay my advice:
    – get your haircut around 8 1/2 mos – no you won’t do it post and all those mom and baby photos – you don’t want to look like a train wreck
    – do not bring your itty bitty jeans to the hospital to wear home post – you won’t fit and it is demoralizing to try
    – say yes to help – if they offer to make a meal etc do it.
    – you and the baby are not on show – don’t feel you have to entertain everyone who wants to see a newborn – be choosy and you don’t have to feed them
    – buy ahead for clothing – Clare is right – they grow fast
    – I saw a really neat thing – my friend (who babysat my little ones) has just had a baby photographed her baby every month with a sign stating her age on the same beautiful quilt – multiple babies and I hate to admit it but I don’t remember which one was which unless there is a sibling in the picture
    – take lots of photos – #3 still feels upset that there weren’t more of her
    – it will become a fog of sleep deprivation so sleep when that baby does
    Signed Mom of 3 now 19 years to 25 yearsReplyCancel

    • April 15, 2015 - 11:19 am

      claremansell@mac.com - These suggestions are great Nancy, far better than mine!ReplyCancel