Category: Holiday

Labour of Love x

Looking back to last year, I think my kids have both grown a foot, if not 5.  It means a new summer wardrobe has become a necessity rather than a want, and whilst one of life’s delights is shopping for children’s clothes, it becomes a nightmare once they develop tastes of their own.  You like one thing..they like something else…that is inevitably for someone older..or tackier..

We’re trying a new approach this year.  I’ve set up a Pinterest board where we can select our choices and hopefully come up with the crossover clothes we both like.

So far it’s working..we’ve agreed on all of these. Which has slightly blown my mind.

And I’ve allowed a few exceptions to creep in. Normally this swimsuit would not make the cut..But I know Bella will make it work and she loves it. But I didn’t think she’d go for slides…

Or culotte shorts. How wrong was I? (All pics Pinterest)

My girl is growing up. Little sigh.

Laters, Kate x

Camping x

It’s been half term already and we’ve been camping with friends.

Living the simple life in a field, blowing giant bubbles.

Can you tell we enjoyed it??

We weren’t far from the coast.


And next to the site was a high ropes playground..

Including a terrifying giant swing!

Truly the stuff of nightmares!

As was our departure.  Not a sight you want to see…..we lost the car keys in the long grass on the first day.  But it was OK as we kindly got driven back to London to fetch the spare set.  Except we got hit by a super-storm…Damp got in (She’s 19 years old) and short circuited the electrics so the spare key wouldn’t work…and the manual key? Was part of master key that got lost! At least once we got in we were able to drive away, which was more than the car behind us – they’d lost all their keys, including their house keys and had to be towed away from the campsite!

 

Laters, Kate x

Cornwall x

We’ve blown away the winter cobwebs with a week with family in beautiful Cornwall.

We were incredibly lucky with the weather.  Each day the sky was kingfisher blue, though it was a matter of how hot your blood was whether you braved the cold of the spring sea..

The surf gang preparing to face the waves. Note Grandpa Jack behind in three coats, hat..and eventually gloves!

And in!

Cousin love.

This was the natural rock pool close to where we were staying on Treyarnon Bay, large enough to swim in…

(There was this framed postcard of the very spot at the cottage. Shows it even better.)

Watergate Bay and meeting with friends.

The perfect natural slate plate for the perfect hot dog: Barbie on Constantine Bay.

And then a cheeky seagull actually stole a hot sausage off the barbie!

Impromptu wine chiller.

Bruce heading to the surf.

Sophie-bond-girl-extraordinaire following suit.

Charlie and Lexie.

Finding sea diamonds.

At a diamond place.

Laters, Kate x

Snow Babies..

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I’ve read that personalities can be divided into two camps – cowboys and farmers. The cowboys are the restless ones, always roaming and seeking new pastures whilst the farmers solidly plough the same field over and over again. Our ski holiday embraced everything cowboy: Constantly on the go, incredible scenery, crisp air, the smell of wood smoke, peace (piste…and pissed as well) as well as a true sense of wonder.

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A fusion of manmade and natural – an icicle chandelier.

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We were in La Rosiere on the French side of the Aosta valley, ski-able into Italy. And by all accounts, were lucky to have snow.

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They were using snow cannons when we first arrived, but as the runs were in full sun it still made for great conditions.  And then it snowed.

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I’ve never seen this before – three rainbows, one on top of the other, made by the sun refracting through ice crystals in the air.

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It always amazes me how slopes look flat in pictures!

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We decided Charlie is really a secret snowboarder!

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And what did I wear?? John’s old two-piece from the eighties! Maybe not quite pure vintage swagger, but on a ski slope..the joy is no-one cares!

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And now I suppose it’s time to return to farming…and wrestling with the Einstein quote that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

The silver lining is our holiday proved that perfectly decent wheels can aways be reinvented..

Laters, Kate x

Hastings..2016

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It was pure fluke we arranged a  holiday in Hastings at the exact time of their 1066 celebrations to mark 950 years since the famous battle which changed English history.

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The enactment put on by English Heritage was epic, both in terms of scale and quality:  The sheer attention to detail was a joy to behold with every costume cared for down to the last buttonhole.

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Running up to the battlefield was a row of shops to supply us and any soldiers with their daily needs: boar hides, leather satchels, knives, jewellery, bone needles, hand loomed blankets, buckles and beer all hewn and authentically made so that seeing enactors interacting genuinely felt like a step back in time.

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On either side of the battlefield were the camps of the Normans and Saxons, true living and breathing hives of activity.

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From cooking food and tending livestock to weaving and making music.

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The day was packed with individual events, including a falconry show.  This is the closest I’ve ever got to a real golden eagle.

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And so the battle began..

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(The irony of the jester watching on..)

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It was fabulous!

Laters, Kate x

Bella Bella x

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So this post was originally written two years ago, to celebrate Bella’s eighth birthday.  On the day of her tenth birthday, I don’t think I can improve on the sentiment contained, except to say the words grow more concentrated with each passing day x

We’ve been in the garden county of Kent for the first week of half-term (it’s a two week break for us)  – and I thought I was prepared for the black hole of social media that this part of the UK has historically proved to be by taking a dongle with us, but even that was no match for the rich eiderdown of life that seems to squash the very lifeblood of the internet to nothing in these parts. On the plus side, life without the internet is a lot simpler..more old fashioned..and in the end, there was really nothing for it but to embrace the holiday spirit and go with the flow..it’s been a great break!

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We also celebrated Bella’s eighth birthday..it’s hard to believe, it seems only yesterday I was holding that tiny baby, watching the face of Big Ben tick round that first night we spent together in St Thomas’ hospital.  I look at her now and have the most enormous chest restricting rush – she is my open-heart production – vibrant, living, learning..I never used to worry so much about life, now there’s more grey..I’ve become an observer, teacher and pupil too. it’s weird – you think your helpless child will be totally reliant on you and you have your experience and the need to guide and help, but it’s just not true.  Instead it’s a constant balancing act that I don’t think anyone can get totally right: You want to lead, but you don’t want to helicopter. You want to love and cuddle, but you don’t want to smother.  There’s an undeniable pleasure in growing together in habits, tastes and socks…but the easiest thing as a parent is to see your child as a mini-you where you now have the ability to correct all the imperfections..or to see the person they are now as the character they will always be and deny them the space to grow..thoughts like that just end up passing the negativity down the food-chain, or so it seems to me..but then who am I to say?

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I know I don’t want her to be the child that has everything – but even deciding that is choosing a course of action, adding an intrinsic quality, another detail.  I don’t believe that love is materialistic, instead I believe adversity supports initiative – one of the greatest gifts a parent can bestow.  To that I add manners, self-respect and confidence  – far more important in real life than examination certificates.  I want her to have the space to find out who she is away from any expectations of mine and to be able to express that in any situation.  I want her to have the confidence to stand up and say her opinion whether it’s right or wrong.  I want her to make mistakes, whether it’s in her maths homework or something bigger, to learn there are always solutions if you look hard enough and mistakes are part of the stepping stones of life and shouldn’t be avoided…sometimes they lead you forward.IMG_0474

Life is as delicate as a falling feather but should always be a glorious caper..I hope she has a wonderfully misspent youth with sunshine smiles and audacious bursts of laughter, she is my joy, my love, my heart…and I hope that when the time comes, I have the sense to set my treasure free..

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Does mother know best? You dream about it..but ultimately kids appear from nowhere and have wills of their own and you’re just ordinary people trying to get through life the very best way you can, showing them life and hopefully a way of looking at things that opens the door to where the magic lies….

 

Laters, Kate x

 

 

 

Special Spetses x

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This is where we’ve been, so this re-cycled post seems fitting..

 

My connection to the island of Spetses goes back two generations when my grandparents were first offered land there to build a holiday home away from the pollution of Athens.  They’d travelled to Greece from the highlands of Scotland following the depression – the story goes that my Grandfather, Robert Mackenzie, a Classics Scholar, was offered a job sweeping the floor of the EMI factory.  Something went wrong with one of the machines and he fixed it..and then rose quickly through the ranks to become managing Director of EMI in Greece at a very special time: it was the cheapest place in Europe to record and make records and consequently drew talent talent from across the board from the Beatles to Maria Callas.  My father was born there, although he was sent back to boarding school in the Lake District at aged five..it used to take him two days of travel by plane with a pit stop in Rome to get home, all in a converted Lancaster Bomber.

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In my grandparents time, this house was the inspiration for John Fowles’s book, The Magus – he taught English at the once famous school (now a conference centre) on the island, said to be the Greek equivalent of Eton, he would walk all over the island in the quiet of the winter months in search of solitude and ideas.  The house was owned by an eccentric millionaire and was then (before the great fire: another story) hidden from view by layers of huge pine trees.  As a child, I went there for tea with my Grandmother to be shown faberge eggs and ancient seals.  I don’t remember it, but I do remember the millionaire ended up in jail for forging an ancient land deed..with a biro.

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Just down the valley  is the bay where my parent’s house is…virtually unchanged. This picture is taken from the balcony of my sister’s parents-in-law’s house….Greece lies deep within the family blood and it’s special to have a proper Greek family that has linked the time and generations together.

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My sister’s In-law’s house is next door to Madame Pourri’s on the hill – she’ll be ninety this year and is still going strong with a swim every day…….she was evacuated on the same boat with my grandmother and my father as a small child when the Germans invaded in the Second World War…first to Egypt, then eventually to South Africa.

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They spoilt us with a treat normally reserved for Easter…roast lamb..my absolute favourite!

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Bella and Charlie are now the third generation to enjoy this special place and it’s unique atmosphere, where even walking on water is possible…

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Spetses is famous for it’s pine tress, crystal clear waters and the coloured stones on the beaches: yellow, green, pink..each one a gem.

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It’s very much an Athenian resort island with a siren call to all the big yachts of the Mediterranean and a play ground for the super rich….but always over seen by Laskarina Bouboulina…an incredible lady with seven children from Spetses who became an General of the Greek fleet and an Admiral of Russia and led the Greek navy in the battle of independence against the Turks….Greece will always be a land of beauty, mystery and contradictions where anything..absolutely anything is possible…

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Leaving, as we arrived on a speed boat – we were all sad to go, but we had another adventure ahead of us..to the island of Lefkada…and we’ll be back….it’s only au revoir..

 

Laters, Kate x

Oh the joys of packing…

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When the kids were babies I soon realised that to avoid the crying of souls (mine) I needed to be excruciatingly anal about packing, particularly as it’s not and never will be an art form that comes naturally to my psyche. The truth be told:

1. I hate it.

2. Even the impending thought of it gives me brain-swell.

3. I AM a self-proclaimed light-packer. Until I pack.

4. I could just take cut off shorts, a white t-shirt and flip-flops..but why suffer clothes envy if you can avoid it?

5. How DO you take the minimum clothes for the maximum occasions?

6. I’m continually haunted by the idea it’s all wrong anyway.

7. There’s a profound anguish that the weather is undoubtably going to go through an unprecedented solar flux and be the opposite of what I’m reasonably expecting. Even though it never happens.

8. Will it really be hot/cold at the equator/in the mountains because it’s not hot/cold here (delete as appropriate).

9. How can I pack the stuff I’m wearing now?

10. What do people mean when they ‘throw a few things in’?

11. How do I know I won’t be invited to tea with the Queen or Beyonce or Karl Lagerfeld?

12. Why do I always have the most cases? I packed light..

13. And why do they never shut?

Burnt too many times, I learnt to make furtive lists on the computer in the hope that nothing vital in my then sleep-deprived-likely-to-find-hairbrush-in-fridge-state like nappies, nappy sacks, first aid kit, tranquillisers..would be disastrously and time/happiness sappingnly forgotten and there could be hope yet for my marriage.

Those days are (almost) gone, but the discipline has proved invaluable and certain rules still stand:

1. Start packing 5 days in advance and wear tea towels if necessary.

2. For a week or more pack 5 sets of underwear plus 3 of each for the rest (t-shirts, shorts etc)

3. Summer holiday for me…just dresses, the ultimate capsule wardrobe…beach dresses..other dresses..end of.

Until this year..

wideleg_playsuit jumpsuits_greatesthitsWhen my two vintage jumpsuits leapt into the suitcase..they were easy, different, could be dressed up with a pair of gold gladiators or worn with flip-flops and radiated just enough visual flair for a laid-back edge.

Minimalistic packing is over-rated..Long live the jumpsuit!

Laters, Kate xxx