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May 2015

Pre-School creations for Father’s Day

A few weeks ago the team at Photobox asked me if I’d be interested in getting Theo to use his artistic skills to draw a portrait of his Daddy to put on one of their products as a Father’s Day gift. Although I thought it was a lovely idea, my initial reply said that I wasn’t entirely sure he’d be up to the job! At three and a half his drawings tend to be rather abstract, but it turns out I had under-estimated him!

When we actually put some time aside to sit down together, with a photo of Daddy as a guide and Mummy to give him a little bit of steering (“Draw a circle for Daddies face”) he managed to create something that really did resemble a human face (you can decide for yourself whether or not it ressembled Daddy!)


Of course he is still a little impetuous with the felt-tip pens, so after he’d created his two masterpieces, I scanned them in to the computer and did a little bit of tidying up… mainly removing the red scarf that Daddy had decided to wear across his nose and the pencil guidelines I gave him for the size of the iPad cover we were aiming for. Stupidly I hadn’t prepared myself with a set of washable felt-tips, so the ones he used are actually permanent pro markers, but we escaped relatively unscathed!

Once we uploaded them to the Photobox site we were also able to add some text overlay and pick our products. We chose a folding iPad cover which fitted with Jim’s existing iPad back and an iPhone case. Jim says he already gets sympathetic looks on the train as the back of his iPad is covered in stickers, so we thought embellishing the front would really complete the look!

A few days later our creations arrived…


Theo and I thought they were great, but the real test was to see what Daddy thought of them!? Although Fathers Day isn’t until June 21st, we decided to give these to him early. Would they be a 5 minute novelty or would he actually like them as much as we did?

I am pleased to say he loved them and has been using them ever since. We had such fun creating them and it’s lovely that Theo was able to be properly involved in making a gift for his Daddy. This might well be the beginning of an annual tradition. What can we personalise next?

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Weald & Downland Open Air Museum


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
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Modern Oak & White Nursery

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.

modern oak and white nursery

(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.

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Family picnic on West Wittering beach

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.


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.


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!


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?


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.


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…


Linking up with…

Living Arrows
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A game-changer…

A game-changer…

by Clare Mansell

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…


… 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.

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