Saturday, 26 July 2014

Fruits of the sea

After our few days camping in Dorset and Cornwall last week, we stopped by at our very lovely friends in Dartmouth for a couple of nights.  Ed is a bit of a foraging legend, especially when it comes to coastal fodder, so we were really excited about the prospect of some fresh seafood.  Oh my, were we not disappointed!  Welcomed with an amazing dinner of smoked pollack and spinach quiche (pollack caught and smoked by his own fair hand, with home-grown spinach) eaten in the great outdoors.
Our hosts had kindly taken time off work the following day, so we had a great walk along the coast to Blackpool Sands for lunch at the Venus Cafe (seriously yummy food here), then a cheeky bus trip back (oh how the boy loves the bus, second only to trains!).

The chaps then nipped out to check Ed's pots (two crabs, two lobsters - winner!), then a late-afternoon trip down to Bantham sands for a spot of prawning and a tea-time picnic.  

Actually the  menfolk did most of the foraging whilst Milly and I splashed around in the shallows and did a lot of digging with the boys - I love playing on the beach so much and sand is such a treat after our usual southsea stones and shingle!  I did try to catch a few shrimps but managed a grand total of 7 before the boy wanted me to do more digging!
But the prawners did considerably better, just enough to cook up on the beach and delicious with bread and butter.  Mmmmm, prawns...

Back home with happily tired, prawn-full and filthy toddlers.  With them bathed and bedded, it was time for lobster and bubbles for the grown-ups.  
A heavenly end to a perfect day in the company of great friends.

Kate x

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Life under canvas

Last week we spent a few more days under canvas (well, poly-something anyway - I still dream of bell tents!).  A couple of days on the Dorset coast, by the "moonfleet" I remember so clearly from the book dad read us as children.  An amazing campsite, with far-reaching vistas across the Fleet, as well as a well-equipped play area with the best views from the swings anywhere in the country I reckon!
Do you remember the director's chairs I renovated a couple of weeks ago?  Well, disappointingly (but entirely unsurprisingly) they wouldn't fit in the car, so we sat on our less-stylish clicky chairs (functionality over form).  But I did manage to bring along a little deckchair stripe style.  The chairs were previously slung with some very dirty old and faded canvas.  
After removing it I popped it in the washing machine, and it turned out the underside wasn't too faded after all.
Perfect for some outdoor bunting to brighten up our non-bell tent, along with the camp flag I made earlier this summer.

After a couple of days in Dorset, we squeezed everything back into the car to head west to Cornwall.  Another great site near Falmouth with acres of spaces and in walking distance to the beach at Maenporth - perfect for an energetic toddler!

I don't have the words to express just how much I love camping.  Sharing this with PLH and the boy is so much fun; it is oh so worth the effort in packing to go and the mountains of washing when returning home (although many sites do seem to have a washing machine these days - we haven't quite got around to using them).  Quite nights sat outside eating yummy food from the BBQ (or gas stove), chatting, reading, playing cards and watching the last rays of the days light away.  Heaven.

Note:  I should mention that it was not all sunshine - we did have a little rain and a fair bit of Cornish "mizzle" on our last day which resulted in lugging a wet tent home to dry out.  But then being out in the elements is just part of the fun isn't it?!

Kate x

Monday, 21 July 2014

Naked lavender

I spent yesterday afternoon and evening in a lavender field in the company of 20 women of all different shapes and sizes, and one amazing photographer in the shape of Jennifer Murray.  We arrived, we enjoyed the views, we drank prosecco, we chatted, we laughed.  Then, after a touch of natural make-up by a pro, Jennifer got snapping, in the beautiful evening light, permeated by the scent of lavender and serenaded by the humming of the bees on wildflowers.

I didn't take my camera along; I was a bit intimidated about being in the company of a real photographer.  But I couldn't resist taking a few snaps on my phone.  I am uber-excited about seeing the pro shots, but I'm not sure I'll be brave enough to share, as we weren't wearing a lot...

Not at all the kind of thing I would ever have thought I would do, but Jennifer's photography is amazing, so natural and beautiful and set in my favourite place - the great outdoors.  I was extremely nervous about the idea, but actually getting your kit off in a field is exceptionally liberating!  We women are all so different in the way we look, yet we are constantly bombarded by a single image of what it is to look like a woman.  Tall, stick thin, with no bumps, curves, moles, stretchmarks, cellulite or other "imperfections".  With the aid of photoshop even the models don't look like the images they portray.  I really feel it is time we reclaimed the female image and I want to be happy with the way I look, especially post-baby (more about this in another post coming soon). 

The thing is, by hiding away, by not wearing swimwear on the beach because we feel uncomfortable (see this excellent article), by bemoaning the way we look in front of others, we are reinforcing that ideal - that women should look like the images in the magazines.  I don't want the boy to grow up thinking that all women "should" look like the airbrushed versions of the female form that permeate our society.  And should I go on to have daughters, I don't want them to feel the pressure to conform to this impossible ideal. 

Women are beautiful, in all their forms and we need to turn away from the images and learn to love the bodies we live in.  So having a few scantily-clad photos taken in a field is hardly going to change things (especially if I'm not brave enough to share them), but it was a way of helping me to feel good about myself and accepting about the body that I have.

Jennifer Murray doesn't just take nudies of lovely ladies(!), her photo documentaries and family and child photography are seriously beautiful.  Go check out her facebook page!

The lavender fields are near Alton in Hampshire.  There's a lavender shop there and it's well worth a visit at this time of year when the flowers are in bloom, and there'll be no bare ladies to interrupt your view!

Kate x

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Matilda's Mouse

A month or two ago, the beautiful daughter of a very lovely friend of mine was baptised.  I wanted to make something special as a christening present for her, so I decided upon some alphabet bunting to spell out her name, Matilda.
This time, M is for mouse...
A is for aeroplane...
T is for tree...
I is for ice-cream...
L is for lizard...
D is for duck...
...and A is for apple...
It's been quite some time since I've made any more applique bunting, but I have some very belated new baby presents to get stitching so watch out for some more soon!

Kate x

Monday, 7 July 2014

For the love of stripes

Over the weekend I undertook a little "upcycling", renovating this pair of director's chairs that once belonged to my great-granny.  I remember them in my grandparents conservatory, but  they were my Granny's mother's before that.  Apparently they used to have a bus converted into a caravan that they holidayed in - how cool is that?!
Faded and rather filthy
Very faded and dusty, they were in need of some new covers - of course it had to be stripes, my enduring pattern obsession!  Some time ago, during some online stripe-searching, I came across Deckchair Stripes, a website full of stripey loveliness.  Stripe heaven, with deckchair canvas, interior fabrics, trimmings and a whole lot more.  A whole lot of procrastination later, my package arrived on Friday - complete with some stripey sweets! 
With a good clean, a coat of varnish and the new canvas, these chairs make my heart sing!  

They're pretty darn comfy too!
Far too pretty to keep in the shed for outdoor seating only;  I am keeping my fingers crossed they'll fit in the car for our summer camping trips (toddler paraphernalia may have to be scaled down!). 

Kate x