The end of August is always a funny time for us.  It’s the winding down of the summer holidays and the simultaneous gearing up for the return to school. It’s the tail-end of the summer and the looking ahead to the beginning of autumn.  And it’s also our anniversary.  The very last day of August, the 31st.  Chosen, perhaps subconsciously because it isn’t easy to forget!

This year, 2018, James and I will have been married for 11 years.  If 10 years was a milestone, 11 years feels like we’ve entered into a comfortable period.  We should know what we are doing by now…surely to goodness!  And it is something which we are often asked about.  I suppose it comes from being married in our early 20’s, there was a small expectation that we would grow apart rather than together but I have believed from day one that we were a team and I know the same for James.  We have worked hard to ensure that our goals and dreams align with each other’s, and have grown and matured together.

I am not going to write out a whole list of ways to keep your marriage going but as it’s something I often get asked about, I wanted to share my favourite piece of advice.  This is something that we haven’t always been great at, but something that we have tried to incorporate into our married life as much as possible.  And that is to constantly try new things together.  I don’t think life should stop when you reach a certain age, or when you’ve been married for X number of years, or your children are grown up…or any of the excuses we might think up for ourselves. I think that life should continue to be exciting and interesting and it’s certainly something we’ve found has been hugely beneficial to our marriage.  Whether we are celebrating 11 years like today, or 25 years…whether we are making the most of right now or embracing life after 50…there are many reasons to keep trying new things and ensuring that we don’t become stagnant in our every day.

wedding photo

We started a little tradition when we began dating, to keep things from becoming ‘samey’ of going through the alphabet.  We took it in turns, and we had to plan a date which began with the relevant letter of the alphabet.  So I went first and we went to see ‘Aladdin’ at the panto, then James took us to somewhere beginning with B.  These dates didn’t have to cost a lot of money, if any…it was more about being creative and trying different things together and it was a whole HEAP of fun.  With trickier letters we’ve maybe had to stretch the rules a little bit but it has occasionally pushed us from our comfort zones, made us have to think, and forced us to make that little extra effort when we’ve perhaps not really felt inclined.  We’ve continued this with regular date nights and although children and work and life commitments do sometimes get in the way, it’s important to us to carve out this time together.

Believe me, I know that it can be so much easier to come in from work and collapse on the sofa.  After you’ve put the kids to bed the simplest thing is to stick the TV on and unwind by watching your favourite shows.  And that’s amazing.  We’ve done that so many times over the years, binge-watching box sets.  But it’s also fun to venture out for new things.  Whether that’s a bit of vintage roller-skating or enjoying a simple indoor picnic chatting to one another.  Finding half an hour to go for a walk in the woods, or booking a class and learning a new skill.  From the tiny moments to the big; it’s all about not letting things go stale.

Is this mind-blowing advice?  Possibly not but I know from my own experience how easy it can be to fall into the every day routine, and then wonder why you’ve begun to feel bored and dissatisfied.  And I don’t think that is how life should be!

And if there is honestly one piece of advice that I could give to newly married couples that would be it.  Life will throw all kinds your way but try to find that time to spend together, to laugh and be silly, to try new things, to fail at new things, to experiment and experience.  And I really think you’ll enjoy it.

This is a collaborative post.
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Another month has come and gone in the blink of an eye.  We are well into the school summer break now and we continue to be blessed with gorgeous sunshine most days.  This is certainly turning into an unusual summer here in the UK; I can’t think of the last time we had such a long stretch of beautiful weather.

As you might well have to come to expect from us now, we haven’t had a spare moment to ourselves in July.  In fact, we have a 10 day stretch coming up where we have nothing but family time planned in and I can’t wait.  No outside commitments, no work, no DIY or other day-to-day stuff…just the four of us having some mini adventures together.  I hope the sunshine stays around because it will be absolute bliss!

Since we last checked in, the major thing we have ticked off the list was a review trip to the Northumberland coast.  I am currently editing and sorting content and photos although I did manage to get my vlog up last week.  We were invited to stay in one of the Ross & Outchester Cottages and had an amazing time.  Do go and check out the video if you have time, I feel like it really captures the essence of our visit.  If I add in the fact that we visited the second biggest used bookstore in the UK, flew broomsticks at the castle used in some of the Harry Potter movies and squeezed in some beach fun with the drone, I hope that will be enough to convince you.

Ross Sands Beach

Calling broomsticks alnwick castle

Barter Books

I have to admit that by the end of July, the kids were really ready for the summer holiday to begin.  There is something about the sticky weather and school days that just lead to grumpy, grouchy children and that was certainly the case here.  Both Meg and Eli were exhausted when the final day of school rolled around but unfortunately they didn’t have much time to recoup as the day they broke up James whisked them off for a three day camping adventure in Cheshire.  Camping really isn’t my style so I stayed at home which was strange in itself.  I think we worked out that it had been almost a decade since I had been in the house entirely on my own overnight with no husband or children tagging along.  I made the most of it by doing what I love best…hibernating and reading!  Although I did venture out for afternoon tea on one of the days just to prove I’m not a complete anti-social hermit.

Right after the camping trip, Meg and Eli went down south to spend a week with my parents.  I honestly can’t say how much they loved it, and how helpful it is for us too.  Knowing that we don’t have to worry about holiday care for the entire six weeks is a real relief but also knowing that the kids get to spend some quality one on one time with their grandparents is also a blessing too.  My parents didn’t let up the pace either and the kids were here there and everywhere during their week long visit.  Meanwhile James and I spent most of our evenings twiddling our thumbs and wondering what we did before we had the kids to take up our time.

One of the evenings I was lucky enough to be surprised by James with a date night and we headed into Liverpool for food at the Baltic Market (which I highly recommend) along with a round of Ghetto Golf.  Naturally I was crowned the winner despite the super strong gin cocktails I was thoroughly enjoying along the way.  It was a good night and if you are local to the area I’d definitely recommend both the Baltic Market and Ghetto Golf; lots of fun to be had.

Baltic Market

Ghetto Golf

We have started August strong with a mid-week wedding down in the beautiful Cambridgeshire countryside…but I will save that for the end of the month.  For now, I will leave with thoughts of a quieter 10 days or so.  A girl can always dream!

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Cast your mind back to the beginning of the year; remember when I said we were planning on keeping our heads down and having a quiet year…those have quickly become famous last words!  I feel like we are ricocheting from one thing to the next at the moment with no sign of things slowing down.  It’s partly why I really enjoy sitting down and writing these posts.  I can capture our month, look back and reflect and remember that amongst all the chaos we do make some amazing memories at the same time.

June kicked off with possibly one of my favourite trips, ever.  We were invited to explore the island of Guernsey for the weekend by Condor Ferries.  It was a total whirlwind of three days with barely any down-time as we wanted to really squeeze every second we could from our time there but it was definitely worth it.  Not only did we have a great time, but Guernsey isn’t a place we’d necessarily have thought about visiting before but I’m so pleased we did.  If you ever get the chance to go, snap it up.  You won’t regret it.

rousse tower cannon guernsey

Pirate Cove Guernsey

Meg gets a special mention this month too as she headed to a local sports tournament with her school, called Quad Kids.  It was held at the nearby university and involved the children taking part in four different sports, including the 400m for Meg’s age group.  I was quite surprised when school asked her if she’d be willing to take part, and she said yes.  Meg is absolutely brilliant at gymnastics, and in fact, most sports that she takes part in.  We have been asked a number of times for her to compete in things; her gym club constantly wants to put her forward for stuff, when she went swimming her instructor asked us to put her into galas and so on but what she lacks is a sense of competitiveness.  She doesn’t cope well under pressure either so I was absolutely gobsmacked when she took her place at the starting line for the 400m and then proceeded to fly around the track.  I’d honestly thought she’d hold back and not push herself.  I was gutted for her (BIG sense of competitiveness over in my corner…) because she was out in front the whole time and just got pipped to first place at the last minute but I was so proud of her for giving her all.  I would never want to push Meg to be something she isn’t, but to see her try her best, really try her best, was a brilliant moment.

Along the lines of sport, I can’t avoid mentioning the World Cup, which is currently taking over our lives.  I don’t mind really; I tend to only watch big football tournaments and I have been known to get quite competitive about it but this is the first year that Meg and Eli are really interested and it has brought a whole new element to the watching experience.  Eli in particular is feeling all the emotions about England and it’s hard to not keep reminding him to not get his hopes up.  This is England after all!  Yet at the same time, surely anything could happen?!  I won’t pretend to be an authority on the subject but I do think we have as fair a shot as anyone this time.

We’ve also been blessed with some absolutely stunning weather this month in the UK.  I keep waking up thinking that today will be the day the rain clouds return but so far we’ve just had glorious sunshine and blue skies.  Both kids have got tan lines from their school uniforms and James has been working hard to clear the garden so they can be outside soaking up every moment.  He recently cleared a mountain of ivy from the side of our garage and it once again brought home the scale of the project we’ve taken on here; everything has just been left and it means a whole lot of work for us.  I try to tell myself often that it will be worth it though!

I’ll end our round-up with a quick mention of my latest addition.  I have wanted another tattoo since I had my first done, about 6 years ago but I know what a slippery slope it can be so I decided to wait until I was absolutely sure of what I wanted.  In the end it still came to a quick decision between two but I love the one I have ended up with.  One of my all-time favourite bookish quotes is from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S.Lewis.  It is ‘courage dear heart’ and the tattoo has been inspired by that.  I’ve been asked a few times whether it hurt and whilst it wasn’t comfortable, it’s so fine and delicate that it only took a couple of minutes.

This post contains a sponsored link.  However all thoughts, words, and opinions remain my own.
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We are lucky enough to live in a rather picturesque part of the country.  Granted, we don’t always get the nicer, warmer weather of the south of England but we are within a short driving distance of beaches, woodlands, countryside and plenty more.  It’s funny though, despite the fact we live so close to such beautiful places we don’t always take advantage of them.  In fact, for the past few years we’ve almost managed to miss bluebell season only remembering at the very last minute to head out and experience them!

So this year I was determined not to make same mistake and when we had some free time on a mild Saturday morning, we headed to the nearby Fairy Glen in Parbold and had a wander to see what we could find.  I’ve mentioned the Fairy Glen before on here, it’s a lovely little place and one I would definitely recommend exploring if you are local to the area or visiting.  Our trip was one of those days where everything just works together and works together well.  I was on my own with the kids which is usually a cue for one of them deciding to play up but they were both more than happy to don their wellies and come on an adventure.  Even the dog managed to stay out of mischief and we achieved the most blissful walk.

crossing bridge wild child

Eli at waterfall

creek fairy glen

It was made even better, if that could be possible, by the discovery of a fairy door nestled away in one of the trees.  Meg was over the moon and insisted that we find and leave some flowers for the fairy in case they needed to find their way back.  Naturally we tried to find flowers which had already been plucked from the ground, rather than destroying any perfectly pretty flowers ourselves.

Once we had reached the bluebells we had a quick look around and then decided to slowly amble back towards the car; I think you can cross over a style and head further into the glen and we certainly saw a number of people armed with picnic baskets heading that way but we’ve never headed that way, I definitely think that’s something we should do next time as I’m curious where it all leads.

fairy door fairy glen

bluebells fairy glen parbold

The kids waded back through the water and it was definitely the right time to go as it had started to get a little busier.  I think people had initially been caught out by the warm weather but we really got to make the most of having the glen to ourselves.  Meg nearly went over once or twice in the creek, and had to empty a whole torrent of water out of one of her wellies when we got back to the car but overall I think we achieved a wonderful and magical walk down among the bluebells.

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You might be forgiven for thinking I had dropped off the edge of the planet…this little blog of mine which I swore I would be more consistent with at the start of the year has fallen victim to the many other pulls on my time just lately.  It’s so tricky to keep up with all the different social media platforms and Youtube in particular has quickly eaten into a lot of the time I would have spent writing.

That said, there is still something I love about the written word, and about sharing photos that I have captured and I do plan to be a little bit better at getting on here and sharing those everyday moments as well as the progress we are making with the house, the many thoughts spiralling in my brain and so on, and so on.  Famous last words indeed.

chilling on screens

We cruised through April, hibernating and chilling out when the weather was bad (which was most of the time) and bravely heading out into the fresh air when it wasn’t as bad.  I honestly feel as though the month went by in the blink of an eye and I couldn’t really tell you what we did.  Apart from James’ birthday.  Which I only kind of remember.  Whoops.

Then May was a busy month for our little team with both Meg and Eli celebrating birthdays, and mine as well.  We are now responsible (*ahem*) for a 7 and a 9 year old and honestly…considering that half the time I still feel about 18 years old, it’s a little scary to think that we are racing towards those double figures.  We had a joint party for them this year at our local laser quest and it was really good; I’m not sure how long the novelty of joint parties will last but combining it certainly made it less stressful for us, and they seemed to have a great day.  That said, I don’t think we will do laser quest again…as usual I got far too competitive and I think I terrified some of Eli’s friends with my intensity.  Not a great mama moment.

birthday cake smarties

For me, I saw in my 31st birthday in style this year; by getting my wisdom teeth removed.  As I write this I am still not 100% recovered but I am gradually getting there.  I did film some footage of my experience but I am still pondering over whether it is something which needs to see the light of day.  Let’s just say that chunky cheeks were not a good look for me!  I had three teeth removed in total; the two bottom ones and one top.  The bottom ones were impacted so really needed to come out, but it also meant having a general anaesthetic and needing stitches.  I don’t remember much about the day the teeth came out themselves, other than when I was coming round afterwards.  Apparently I was obsessed with the fact that the guy going in for surgery after me was having 6 teeth removed because they were rotten but my own first memory of coming round is of thinking I had accidentally fallen asleep whilst I was waiting for them to take me down to surgery.  I actually remember berating myself that I needed to wake up or they wouldn’t do the operation!  Madness.

Finally, I think the only thing left to share are some photos of our time enjoying the blue skies and sunshine over the past few weeks.  Since the start of May we’ve had some amazing weather, which isn’t something you can often say about the UK.  It does seem to be coming to an end but we’ve really tried to make the most of the sun whilst it’s been here and I think the kids sun-kissed freckled faces are testament to that.  I’m really hoping it isn’t the end of all the nice weather though…this past week I’ve missed out on sitting outside with a good book and a glass of wine, which you’ll know if you’ve been around here a while, is one of my all-time favourite ways to wind up my day.  Fingers crossed, eh!

Escaping in Fairy Glen

blue eyes

Walking through water in fairy glen

Muddy hands

ice cream faces

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