Posts in Life
Harringtons Walkies on the Wild Side

I'm not sure I have ever told the story about the day we collected Mabel and Moose from their lovely white fluffy mummy Abby Lloyd in Wales. About 18 months earlier we had fallen in love with the prettiest West Highland Terrier I have ever seen (cover your ears Mabel). It sounds ridiculous but she was. This perfectly square face, cheek hair as white as the snow, and a tummy that was like stroking cotton wool. 

We had talked about looking at getting a dog or dogs, a matching pair, as Rich was looking to change his job to work from home. I did about as much research as I did when we were planning our wedding! What breed would be right for us, for us in 10 years when we hopefully had a family,  which breeds have health problems, the pros and cons of bigger dogs vs smaller breeds, breeders to avoid like the plague and those you could trust with your life, not just the puppy you were buying from them. You name it I researched it. 

And that's when we found Abby and all the other woofers faded into the background. We travelled to Wales one rainy Saturday morning after exchanging emails and a couple of phone calls and met the kindest couple and their four beautiful dogs and instantly felt a connection. Jan had an impressive list of awards for her prize winning Westies but it was her overwhelming warmth and love for her puppies that bowled us over. Fast forward 18 months to 13th August and we headed to London from Weston-super-Mare for a day trip to celebrate our anniversary with a tour of Buckingham Palace. It rained, just like it did on our actual wedding day, and we left London in the afternoon having oohed and aahed at the golden coach and State Banquet tables, not to head straight home but to head to bring our furry babies home!

We'd been on the end of the phone when they were born, "We have your girl!" "Mabel is here" and then "Ooh another girl, and another, oh wait the last one is a boy!" We'd been to see them a few times before they were big and strong enough to come home, and were completely in love with these tiny snowballs that fitted in your hand. I hadn't grown up with a dog but now I cannot imagine not having one or two as part of our family.

We miss their scuttling paws across the tiled floor when they are on a mini break at my in laws who love them as much as we do and help us when we need a dog sitter and they just co-exist with the boys without fuss. They are part of the furniture, simply just part of our dynamic. 

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They have travelled with us since they were a couple of months old, they come to friends' for sleep overs, they feel like Southbourne is their second home. They know every inch of my Granny's flat, they know that beyond the cliff is the zig zag path down to the beach hut, where they patrol "their" 30ft of the promenade. I am convinced they feel the same the same as we do about this stretch of coastline, they remember which steps lead to the hut, they have their own spots where they rest after tearing around in figures of eight on the sand. Mabel likes to sit on the little ledge and Moose sunbathes on the towels, watching the other dogs go by, deciding which one he wants to pop down to the beach and say hello to.  


They are hilarious, sensitive, loyal and two of the stars of the new Harringtons campaign with Ben Fogle to get us all inspired around the country to try new routes with our woofers. There was only one place we wanted to share as our favourite route and that's a wonderful hidden headland called Hengistbury Head a few miles along the Dorset coastline from our beloved Southbourne. If you didn't know it was there you would miss a treat.

There's a handy car park opposite a large area of open grassland where you'll find kite flyers of all ages at the bottom of Warren Hill. We park up as quickly as possible as the dogs go wild in the back, knowing exactly where they are, and head off down our favourite track. 


It has everything, moorland, heathland, the beach, a nature reserve, woodland and the Mudeford spit - famous for it's multi coloured beach huts and one of the best crabbing spots! There's gentle slopes or more adventurous terrain if you want to take in the spectacular views from the top of the nature reserve, but we are just as happy winding through the trees, veering off the tarmac path down to skim stones across the bay, ending at the sand dunes and the upturned rowing boats.

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It’s a place where you see everyone from newborns in slings wrapped up in blankets and padded coats with ears poking from the top of their hoods, to groups of friends with picnic blankets or a portable BBQ. From grandparents trying to keep up with their broods who have raced on ahead to the Quay armed with their crabbing buckets and fishing lines to kite flyers and bird watchers. I’ve always felt it’s a place where anything and anyone goes.

You start in the open grassland, with the tall whispy blades that shelter the golfers from the roadside dancing in the breeze, and end up meandering through the purple heather, past the grazing cows, rustle through the woodland with the carpet of oak tree leaves, past the bay with the bobbing birds and end up on a the sandy shores that look out onto the white Polar bear cliff face and the Needles. It’s everything Great Britain has to offer in one 45 minute stroll or 25 minute race if you are blasting through on your scooters!

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The track between the Hiker cafe and the land train platform is a well trodden path at all hours of the day. Early morning runners and cyclists watch the sun rise over the rowing boats and sailing dinghies, that are waiting for the warmer weather and all the beach hut owners to come back and decamp for the summer.

Then as the day goes on, you see parents and buggies, school groups heading for the wildlife reserve and dog walkers smiling to each other. It’s a place you can't help but be happy at, even on a cold and windy February Sunday! We have been here in rain and shine, summer and winter and seen the heather change from dark green to vivid pink come early autumn.

And now we are not tied to tea time routines it's so nice to stay out a little longer, see the sun set over the lagoons and finish up with dinner out at the Beach House. Sometimes we are all so motivated to get out before or just after lunch, walk off that big roast dinner, but dusk is just as lovely a time to explore. 

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It was bustling. That post lunchtime rush of people and every breed of dog you can imagine. There were moments of ebb and flow, when we stopped for the Westies to say hello to a new furry friend, when we veered off the main track to head to the pebbly shore of the bay, overlooking the pretty town of Christchurch.

We sauntered along the path that hugs the bay and as you take in the birds in flight landing on the still water, you can't help but want to slow your pace down, breath in the sea air and just take in the view.

You don't have to stay on the main path, you can dive off down to the beach and walk along the shore line. The visitor centre that you pass within minutes of leaving the cafe has all sorts of information about the area, the wildlife, the conservation efforts and the archaeology of the area but if you want to take your own route, just keep walking forwards and eventually you will come to the Beach House cafe and ferry jetty to Christchurch.  

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I love watching the landscape change through the seasons, when are down for New Year with friends, when we are bottling back from Mudeford on the land train over the May bank holiday weekend and in the summer months when the cousins all run along the sandy path barefooted and sun kissed. I have photos of the boys growing up on these walks. Jumping through the heathland, getting braver as they get bigger.

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We saw 5 fun things that you can look out for too on your visit:

  1. There are some beautiful wood carvings at Hengistbury Head. Our boys loved the carvings of the land train that they could climb on to see over the reeds and across the bay to the ferry jetty in the distance.

  2. Next up is “the best tree to climb in the world!” according to our boys. It’s branches are ideal for younger children and older ones. One minute it’s a pirate ship the next it is a tree house. We had trouble tearing our boys away!

  3. Amongst the ivy bound trees is a hidden treasure. Who doesn’t love a tree swing?! We all had a turn and there’s enough room in the clearing to really swing your legs and go high up in the sky!

  4. The lagoon is teaming with birds and you need to look out for migrating Dunlins and Ospreys that pass through the headland. Kestrels and Skylarks are just a couple the 300 species of birds that are known to inhabit Hengistbury Head.

  5. The rocky groynes that protect the beach from further erosion are an adventure in themselves. The boys made imaginary dens and caves and love to pretend there are all sorts of fish in the cracks beneath them waited to be found. 

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Whether you return to your car with windswept hair and rosy cheeks in the winter or with sticky hands from an ice cream that has dripped down the cone on a hot summer’s afternoon, I defy anyone not to leave without a sense of achievement. That either you’ve got all the kids out and in the fresh air, that you’ve taken your dogs for a lovely long walk or spotted a new breed of bird.

There will be something that you will remember that makes you happy. It’s a place you want to revisit and that’s the magic.

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If you get a chance to follow our route we have three tips for your visit!

Check out the other fab routes with Harringtons around the country to explore on your dogventure! 

*This is a sponsored collaboration with Harringtons and it was an absolute pleasure to be part of it. The dogs have even switched to their hypoallergenic food and won't touch their old favourite any more! 

Me and Mine - A Family Portrait Project • Catch Up

We are all friends here right? I hope good friends. Friends who stick with you even when you have gone a little awol. I'm hoping that by starting off talking about Christmas I might be able to distract you from the date of this post and the photos that will follow. Now you might think think I am about to pedal some Christmas in July event, a sponsored post full of baubles but no, I am mentioning Christmas because every year we do the same thing. We watch the Queens speech all sat around together and then we stand for the national anthem.

I remember one particular speech she made where she referred to her year as their "annus horribilis" and that feels a very appropriate start to this long over due Me and Mine post. Because for all the wonderful things that have happened over the last 6 months and all the exciting days out, birthdays, holidays and surprises still to come this year, it has been, quite frankly, one of the most emotionally difficult years for both our families. 

We rang in the new year with my father in law seriously unwell in hospital, recovering from a terrible fall that left him with a broken neck and several fractured ribs that took months and months and months to heal. And just as he was feeling back to his good self, my mum was rushed to hospital with two blood clots on her lungs. You know that phrase "drop everything and go" well that's been the story of the last few months while she recovered from her first stint in hospital. We had thought it was her first and last but unbeknown to everyone, there was another problem lurking in the background, something just as, if not, more serious.

I speak to my mum pretty much on a daily basis and it has never occurred to me that she would FaceTime one day last month, her voice all wobbly with tears, and tell me she had a problem with her heart. My niece Yazzy bought her a cuddly soft heart from Ikea for her birthday - a new one to replace "Granny's broken heart". It was a surreal couple of weeks. Frantic calls with my sister, group messages with my brother, feeling as far away as humanely possible in America, tag teaming hospital visits and I know the drive into central London to the Royal Brompton Heart Hospital like the back of my hand. 

It's almost like we were living in The Truman Show and someone had pressed a giant pause button on our lives. We couldn't think of anything else, talk about anything else, barely do anything else! I naively thought I would have hours in hospital to edit a big photo shoot from a week before that dreaded call but the minutes raced by in a blur of knock knocks at the door, blood pressure checks, heart monitor assessments and pots of tea. 

So the lead up to the summer was a case of holding onto our businesses and jobs by our finger nails, dropping as few of the spinning plates as possible, feeling that ticking clock chime louder and louder with end of term events, sports days and then bing, it was time for the boys to break up. 

It may sound like a ridiculous statement but I am working to not work. Trying to juggle lots of hats as a consultant, a photographer and small creative business during term time, to set up enough work to let me have time off when the boys are at home. I remember emailing Fiona one late July weekend after I'd read her new book and found her out of office almost more inspiring than the book pages themselves. It read something like this. "I am now on school holidays with my children and will be back at work in September." Almost two months away. And I thought right, that is my goal!

I guess I don't mean not working at all, I mean not working frantically, not taking on commitments  I cannot squeeze in the the boys with us and ending up being late on deadlines like I have been. Thanking my lucky stars my clients are in the same positions, doing their best to survive 6 weeks or more of Moscow State Circus standard juggling. 

I decided that this summer was going to be all or nothing. And I went for all. After the upset, the relief that Reg and Mum were getting better and all the nights I had been away from the boys, we set out to give them an incredible adventure. Bouncing from one place to the next, staying with best friends, family and ending the holidays in our favourite resort in Kos. There were still emails, calls and editing, but we fitted around them rather than the other way. They slept in in Spain, I got up earlier and caught up. My sister took over at backdrops HQ and drove to my house to pack orders and now is on first name terms with our lovely post office! 

We spent almost everyday of the school holidays together as a four, sometimes with extras but 99% of the time together. Me and mine.

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So here we are, heading into autumn, still a little sun kissed, definitely a little rounder, but happy. I look back at these snapshots and think wow. Stories still to tell on this blog but the absolute adventure I so desperately wanted for the boys. Parties, a trip to London to see The Diary of a Wimpey Kid film at the 20th Century Fox offices with Joules, the best family day out we have ever genuinely had day at Legoland, back and forth to Southbourne, musical beds with family and friends, a whirlwind 24 hours in London to visit the Google offices for the launch of the Google Home device, plane rides and iPad afternoons. We feel so incredibly lucky. We've worked hard and played hard!

They ran back into school, both wrapped in bear hugs by their friends and the drop off was a stream of cuddles and kisses with friends I have missed that I hadn't seen all summer. It's wonderful to be away but it's also really good to be home. We made lists of plans for our house, created endless spreadsheets and feel like we are focussed on the next three months and making progress in every area of life. Like in the film Inside Out. Looking at each island and making them better. Friendships, work, hobbies and most importantly family. 

The trouble with being an all or nothing person is the times when it has to be nothing. But the Me and Mine Project is a brilliant thing and I am so happy to be back with my three boys.

Go and see what Lucy, Katie, Fritha, Jenny, Alex and Charlotte have been up to this summer.

LifeLucy Heath Comment
24 hours in NYC - Holiday Moments • Featuring British Airways

This post was sponsored by British Airways

We have been fully in countdown mode at this house this week, counting last sleeps for Sammy as a 7-year-old, and texting every night back and forth with my brother who is going to be the best surprise present of all.

A few months ago Sammy became completely overwhelmed with emotion – one of those wobbly lip moments that descended into a full-blown stream of tears running down his cheeks, and fighting for breath as struggled to get out his words. 

And it was all over his love for his Uncle Pat and his family in America. How much he misses them both and his baby cousin and how, in typical dramatic fashion, he’s “only seen them twice in his whole life!”, which I had to remind him wasn’t quite true.

But I know how it must feel, that the handful of times he has had with them doesn't seem enough. The thing we forget when we are all grown up is that a few months feels like forever to their young minds. Those weeks and months waiting for your birthday and Christmas to arrive are just endless!

Well, the wait is almost over my darling and when you run out of school on Friday, swinging your book bag in one arm and your school jumper in another, you’ll be running into the arms of your uncle! Even just typing about it makes my fingers tingle and I can feel a lump building from my tummy right up into my throat. There will be tears and probably this time they will all be from me!

It’s quite an incredible thing really, when your holiday allowance from work is so precious, to give up so much of it to fly home. We give my brother a hero’s welcome, just like we did when we waved him goodbye, knowing he’d truly lost his heart to a girl in New Jersey. Just like before there’s balloons and bunting flapping above the front door, I will stock up our fridge with all his favourites – things he misses from US supermarkets like traditional pork sausages and bakery sausage rolls! You’d think we would want to pack as much in as possible when we have such a limited time together, but in fact the way we make those 36, or 48 or, if we are really lucky, 72 hours last the longest is by keeping him at home. Games in the garden, pottering around the house. I love it, he loves. But so often I think he’s really got the bad end of the deal.

He has a home-from-home back here at our house and, likewise, we are so lucky to be able to go and visit him and my sister-in-law in New Jersey, have a US postal address for internet purchases and a base for us to bounce off from too. Rich and I have been over almost more times than I can count on two hands which is good going in 7 years. We’ve stayed in all their apartments and houses as they’ve climbed the housing ladder, ending up in a beautiful house with a white picket fence and neighbours with basketball hoops on the drive. And we get to visit New York, even if just for a flying visit.

Before my niece was born we were so lucky to scoot across the pond and have a magical summer night in the city as part of our visit around the time of our ten year wedding anniversary. I was sorting through a whole heap of albums on the computer the other night and I realised I have never shared the photos! 

I adore having the boys and going on holiday with the boys, but there’s something so wonderful about a trip away just the two of us. We took the train and crossed the state border into Manhattan and in just 50 minutes we had swapped the Garden State for skyscrapers but this time there was no steam rising from the sidewalks. It was roasting. I’ve never really understood the concept of summering out of a city. My early working life never really allowed me to decamp to escape the heat of a sticky office, but it’s absolutely true in New York. The streets feel different. There’s a calmness amongst the chaos and the traffic and after dropping our bags at the hotel, ooh-ing and aah-ing at the incredible view from our floor to ceiling window, we headed off to find a bike station and we cycled off towards Greenwich Village. 

Now I’m not a hugely confident cyclist, I tootle through the village after the boys with a picnic in my bicycle basket and ding my bell, but I felt so safe. Rich is all about making the most of an experience, seeing as much as you can and I followed his tracks, across junctions, through heaving traffic and smiled up at the drivers of what felt like the most enormous trucks I have ever seen, as we stopped at a red light. There were several points at which one of us or at times both of us let out a “wooooooo hoooo” like we were 7 years old and blasting down a hill. The sun came out from behind each tower block like lighting bolts as we made our way up the grid of roads and we decided to eat our way around Chelsea down to Soho and across to the East Village. 

We stopped for a coffee, (and a cup of tea for me. You can take the girl out of Somerset but you still can’t get her off a nice cup of builders) browsed in a few little boutiques, picking up some souvenirs (doesn’t everyone bring home a set of intriguing bitters you have no idea how to use for their mini bar?!) and dived into a few picture-perfect bars, with rows of metal bistro chairs squeezed onto the pavement around a table just big enough for your cocktail in a mason jar. 

It was bliss.

And looking through these photos made me smile. Tomorrow is tortoise party day for Sammy!

The funny thing is we had always imagined we would celebrate our 10-year anniversary in Italy, in a lakeside hotel full of history, and disappear for a few days to do nothing. I’m so glad that didn't come about because that can wait for year 13, 14 or 15. Something to plan for, something to look forward to, to research, to countdown to.

That and the big plans of a mass family meet up somewhere in America for my fortieth … which may be a few years away yet, but in our family it’s never too early to start day dreaming!

British Airways Holidays has teamed up with HuffPost Travel to celebrate those amazing little moments that make your holiday unforgettable. Share your favourite holiday moment and you’ll be entered into a draw to win a city break in Rome.