My Visual Stories #2

I kind of love sharing this sort of post. I've got myself into a bit of a spin over the last year or so thinking that every post has to have a recipe, craft idea, something helpful or something for you to takeaway. It's hard as a blogger to resist reading the thousands of "Top Tips" posts, I know I've shared a good few of those myself but these posts with a random collection of words and photos don't tick any of those boxes. This is just from me to you.

Sharing snippets of my week, with the people I love.

Over the last couple of weeks I've been working on new product shots for a lovely graphic designer, which involved twirling ribbon over and over until was just right. Moose was not a good assistant and kept wandering in and making a nest out of the props! I tend to work on one job at a time, with another queued up on my desk. The light was just beautiful that day, perfect even sunlight blasting over the conservatory and the colours popped all by themselves!

Rich has had a few ideas for the tea company new blog and so we've been recipe testing, buying props and I've been researching how you make that super shiny donut glaze... I can't wait to finish them over the weekend and share a sneak peek. For once we worked really well together. That may sound sarcastic, and I don't mean it to be, it's just that usually when we put our heads together creatively it's more of a recipe for disaster. He's methodical and strategic and I have a vision of the final photographs and run with it like a bull in a china shop. We've worked from home together for almost 6 years (that's a story for a whole other post) and it is a challenge. We can spend almost 24 hours together in some weeks and it's a fine balance between bouncing an idea of each other, being a dreadful distraction/interruption when you are trying to concentrate and one of our greatest achievements all at the same time. 

To be able to support each other in our very different working lives.

Ok, so Rich might do the lion's share with his technical helpline, physical support moving all sorts of prop boxes and I constantly borrow his hands, to hold/pour something or other in a photo but I like being useful, having a role to add value.

We've lived this sort of island work life for a few years now. But you feel less alone with someone tapping away at the other end of the table. In any given day the house can be a hive of activity or like today completely still as I am on my own whilst he works in Devon.

Last week was a whirlwind week in contrast to the stillness of today and if you ever see me post on social media that I am driving to London virtually slap me. Hard.

It is not a good plan and the only saving grace of a 9 and a half hour round trip to the Country Living Show last Thursday with one of my bestest girlfriends was that we have never had so much time together, just the two of us, and we talked non stop! Over the last couple of years I've found myself saying yes to more work and no to more friends. Getting into a self imposed spiral of worry that I couldn't afford the time off to meet one of my oldest friends for lunch or meet up with a new friend I've met online or at school. I got myself into a ridiculous mental state - the busiest of busy fools and made an absolute conscious decision at new year to make more time for the people that matter. We've never been ones for a massive circle of friends. We have a small number of really close friends, couples we've gone through University with, neighbours who are like family and antenatal class lifelong family friends. Not everyone had children at the same time, but we all just pick up where we left off no matter how long it can be between visits. No one lives near us, so instead of catching up at a park or soft play, our friends dates become weekends away, overnight stays and plans on the calendar 3 or 4 months in advance. 

Friends who don't bat an eyelid at the boxes of props all over the playroom, who know how much joy I get from planning the boy's birthday parties and can tease me any time they want for emptying pre made supermarket salad post into silly little patterned bowls.

I love our friends and Emma and I scooted around the fair, picked up a few treats (How cool are these dressing up horses that we spotted on a stand in the gallery - and how perfect for Yasmin's pony party next month?! Sold to the blogger in the yellow mac!) stopped for a sandwich and then headed home. We came out of the conference centre and looked up at the most colourful corner of Islington and joked that we were in the centre of London, in the middle of the afternoon, with all these lovely streets around us but we had to be sensible and head home!

I was cream crackered on Friday morning as we drove to school, in lycra I might add, wow what a sight! These legs haven't been running in a year so it was a miracle that the gym wear fit at all! I thought my heart was going to burst as I watched Ollie race ahead for the Sport Relief mile. He tore off without us past scores of other pupils, parents and teachers only to be so pleased with himself for going so fast that he didn't concentrate on where he was running and went smack into a tree! You couldn't make it up!

I bolted over, cutting one of the corners on the field and scooped up this tearful mess with a very bloody hand that he'd cut on the bark as he slipped and headed to one of the teachers on steward duty to steal a tissue which we made into a makeshift bandage. 

After a few minutes he got his confidence back and shouted "Come on! We have to win this!" Totally oblivious to half the school who had crossed the finish line, all sitting on the wall cheering for each and every runner as they ran under the blue banner and were presented with a sticker. 

The atmosphere was fantastic. There were older children doing wheelbarrows all the way around, some three-legged competitors a teacher juggled bean bags and a few in an adults jumper running as a pair! Great traditional fun for a fantastic cause. 

After we got home I zipped to a pop up event by the Somerset Collective who were also raising money for Sport Relief, and browsed through the stalls of homemade chocolates, jewellery, clothing, prints and more. I bought a couple of lovely bits and met one of my Instagram pals who was selling her fabulous neon wooden necklaces. 

The weekend started with my sister and her family arriving from the South East for the mammoth task of knocking out our bedroom wardrobes and en-suite bathroom. I fully admit I am a sentimental hoarder, but I hadn't quite realise how much rubbish I have stored away amongst the more precious memories. Broken bits and bobs, odd jigsaw pieces that never found it's right home again in 2 house moves and birthday cards from all the boy's parties. The excess was quite alarming! My sister is almost the opposite to me and it was like having my very own Marie Kondo forcing me to make ruthless decisions about what needed to stay and go. We laughed and laughed until there were tears rolling down our cheeks at old photos, pre school artwork and hilarious pictures and filled every last inch available in the skip and loaded the car with 8 bags for the charity shop. 

The small boy was a dream all weekend and we carted him around in his "basket" Natty stopping to feed him every couple of hours with the big cousins all playing together around the chaos. 

Rich and my brother in law Andrew did an amazing job upstairs. Painstakingly taking apart the stud walling, had to work around electrics that weren't in helpful places and got rid of as much of the bathroom as possible. Natty and I brought them drinks and snacks and we gasped when we saw how different the space was when it was all down and opened up. We have a lot to fit back in, and it will definitely feel more cosy than contemporary and spacious when we've finished the renovation at the end of April/ beginning of May, but it's given us a blank canvas to start again.

I've take a few before photos to show you in another post and Andrew, being a cad designer, has mocked up some 3D layouts which give us a real feel for how the room could work better. The Heaths need storage - even with my slimmed down wardrobe. So the next stage is for the plumbers to come in after Easter, remove the existing pipework and replumb for the new bathroom. Whilst I am dreaming of pretty tiles Rich is reminding me we have to agree the positions of the toilet! I think we should replace the space you see below with a shower room behind the head of the bed and find a new space for wardrobes along the opposite wall and bring the window to the left of the photo into the bedroom. You'll have to let me know what you'd do when I share all the before photos over the weekend. 

So I didn't really have any time to open the laptop. No new post in quite a few days. But I did manage, with the tremendous help of my sister, to clear my office. Boxes of paperwork that needs shredding and recycling have all been carted out and I can see where I need practical storage, not more little baskets as Natty shouted, for props and start the spring with a more organised work space and get away from the dining table. Separate work and home.

I realised that in almost 6 months I haven't shared our office space on the blog, and it's on a long list of draft ideas that are half written, or have half the photos and no words. I looked through the basket of notebooks (yes I hoard those too) and thought oh dear, so many ideas that I've let slip. There are times when you can let yourself get consumed with an overwhelming sense of failure. When you blog you are surrounded by numbers and peers. Events you didn't get invited to, opportunities in Facebook groups you know nothing about and it's so easy to let all those anxious feelings get the better of you. To become enveloped by a wave of comparison and often feel a pressure to change the way you blog to keep up with a current trend or style. I am determined not to let all these to do lists disappear and instead have rewritten a new list with renewed enthusiasm. 

I owe my second career to the blogging community. I look over my blog over the last few months and there's no pattern, no schedule, I write when I have something to say and that may not be every day, it may only be a couple of times a week some weeks, but it's what I really want to say. I have the chance to collaborate with brands I admire and products that make me squeal at the postman and then race to school for pick up time. It really is living the dream. It's cheesy but true because the only limit is your own imagination and creativity. It's your space to write what you like!

Being a blogger is like sharing your whole life with best friends you might never meet and the best thing of all is that there is plenty of room on the internet for everyone to blossom.

And that should be celebrated. So if you love reading a blog, make sure you nominate them for a MAD Blog Award and in the BiBs this year. These awards have catapulted a generation of entrepreneurial working parents into mainstream media. It's not back room blogging in the dark of night, it's men and women fronting national campaigns, raising thousands of pounds for charity, changes people's attitudes towards disability, internationally recognised writers, vloggers and photographers sharing their heart break and happiness with the world. People you relate to, people who you feel you really know. 

I will be nominating my favourites and they aren't all the most popular or the ones with the most followers. Awards season can feel like one big popularity contest but it's not. Because we all get to decide. So be proud to tell your followers you'd be thrilled if they nominated you. Show them how much it would mean to you! Because I know I would be over the moon to be nominated this year. It's not desperate to share that you'd love to be nominated for an award, be proud of the blog you write. I put my heart and soul into mine, the blog is our lives. It's a team effort from me, the boys and Rich and it would be nothing without them. This may not be a post full of styled floral flat lays or a craft post I can pin to a Pinterest board but it's full of me and the story of my week that was. 

Happy week everyone, we are counting down to tomorrow afternoon when school finishes and the big phone call from America to say our new niece is on her way. Come on baby Marini we all want you here now so Granny can book the flights. Thank goodness for staff travel! Auntie can't wait to cuddle you in a couple of weeks!