33/52 :: Margate

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#1 Wind and water; possibly two of your most favourite things. After playing by the sea we got unbelievably soaked by a massive rainstorm. You were beyond exhilarated.

#2 Far less sure about the waves, which were crashing against the steps, than your brother. I’d promised you a play on Margate’s sandy beach but a high tide put a stop to that plan.

We love to visit the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate. It satisfies something for each of us every time. On this occasion the boys loved Spencer Finch’s ‘Cloud’ installation, and the cool #summerofcolour viewing filters designed to be used when looking at the Mondrian exhibition. There were yoga mats available for laying on when looking at an overhead installation. In the hands of my boys these became the equipment for an entirely different game, but thankfully nobody seemed to mind.

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Refuelled with cake and ice cream from the Turner cafe, the plan was to head down on to Margate’s wide sandy beach to have a run around. The sun had made a reappearance after a morning of drizzle and the boys remembered finding loads of hermit crabs there last summer. Only this time the tide was high and the beach was non existent. But they made their own fun, as they always do, by running along the steps and wave dodging. Before too long, a huge bank of black clouds rolled in and the heavens opened. The 10 minute walk back to car was long enough for us to get utterly drenched. It was the type of rain where it’s best to just embrace the fact that you’re going to wet through and enjoy it for what it is. Boy1 found the whole experience massively stimulating. He quite literally loved it. Me and Boy2? Slightly less so and to be honest, when the thunder and lightening started banging and crashing right overhead I was pleased to be back in the car.

Margate, you might be down at heel and rough around the edges but you are yet to disappoint ❤️

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// Joining in with lovely people over at Practising Simplicity and I Heart Snapping #52Project #livingarrows //

32/52 :: fossil hunting

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#1 You squidged your little finger between two rocks and for the rest of the day that pinky stayed sticking out.

#2 ‘These are fossil-finding hands!’. And they were; you found loads.

I had a spectacularly bad day earlier on in the week. Nothing in particular was wrong, just one of ‘those’ days. I basically lost it with myself, and then with The Man. The children were inevitably (shamefully) caught in the cross-fire. The day was declared a total write-off so we made a plan to take the boys fossil-hunting on a local beach the following day; something we’d been meaning to do for a while.

Despite weather warnings about the tail-end of hurricane Bertha, we ventured out. I’m quite convinced that The Man suggested we head for the coast because (and not despite) of the forecast wind and rain. Yes, it was bracing! But it was just what we (I) needed. I can confirm that fossil-hunting is officially addictive. It was hard for me to know whether to keep searching or carry on snapping.

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I seriously take {and post} too many photos, don’t I? Sorry but I’m not that sorry 😊

// Joining in with lovely people over at Practising Simplicity and I Heart Snapping #52Project #livingarrows //

We Love :: The Fableists

Every once in a while, though not nearly often enough, something comes along that makes you stop dead in your tracks and think. And this video from kids clothing brand, The Fableists, did just that to me. Apart from the fact that it’s a beautiful piece of film-making, it’s message is hard hitting. Watch it right now and I’m sure you’ll be moved…

I love kids fashion; I’m borderline obsessive (to the detriment of my own wardrobe). But is it OK for something to look good, if it’s not actually ‘good’? The Fableists is a brand with a huge heart and decent morals. I’m talking organic, fair trade, fair wear, sweatshop free, sustainable, and low or no carbon footprint (this is just a snippet of their ethical mission statement). These are seriously cool clothes made for, not by, kids.

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Their film was enough for me. Then I discovered that I love everything in the current collection. I particularly like the utilitarian styling and, with a couple of exceptions, the range is brilliantly unisex. And when I found out that they had a whopping 50% flash sale on I ordered Boy1 the baseball top and dark denims. They arrived today and I’ve fallen even further in love (photos to follow!).

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I pretty much only buy anything in sales these days. We’re a single income family so every pound counts. But as Canterbury residents gear up for the grand opening of a new Primark store, you won’t find me joining the stampede with my elbows out. I’ve proven to myself, having two boys, that the organic clothes I spent decent money on with a clear(er) conscience are still going strong…and many are being passed along to friends. Our new Fableists threads arrived with a hand-me-down passport, encouraging us to do just that. In an all too often throw away age, these clothes are made to last.

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In their own words:

““Like so many people, we were concerned with the growing throw-away fashion trend that led to such tragedies as the Rana Plaza collapse. Making a change in the way consumers shop and perceive clothes in terms of buying, using and disposing of them, will make a huge difference to family health, the lives of others, the planet and will help to create a positive movement. But we are also adamant that our clothes look the business. The Fableists is a label with a vision.”

Like what you see? You will LOVE it when you actually get your hands on some (whether you buy The Fableists new, or get some pre-loved). And the great news is they’ve decided to extend their HALF PRICE flash sale for half term! Simply enter the code ‘Fableistsfifty’ during the checkout process. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll feel good about it, too ❤

all images copyright of The Fableists

Beautiful Young Soles

No, it’s not a typo. It’s a fabulous new British brand of footwear for children. And they are delicious.

I stumbled across Young Soles purely by accident. I love the work of photographer Flannery O’Kafka who was commissioned by Young Soles to bring to life their very first collection (A/W 2014). Whilst I’m currently itching to buy the boys their Saltwater sandals for summer, come the Autumn I’ll be after some of these absolute beauties. As I’ve said before, I’m a sucker for well made, traditional footwear. If they’re also unisex even better. Whilst Young Soles do have separate boys and girls collections, I think there’s scope to play around here as there’s not a hint of garish pink in sight. Boy2 wore classic T-bars last spring and summer and I’d have no hesitation in doing the same again.

Feast your eyes upon these…

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In their own words…

Blending retro-cool with classic British heritage styles, our shoes are designed in East London and made in Europe using the highest quality materials.

Acknowledging trends and giving them our own twist, we always ensure we stay true to our brand, whether its borrowing from childhood memories, music, or a style movement, there is always inspiration to be found.

Built to last with all the features parents should expect from a child’s shoe, our lasts follow the shape of the foot with a wide toe and narrow heel.

We love the smell of natural materials, we use soft and supple leather to make our uppers and linings, allowing the upper to mould to the contours of the foot. Our lightweight and flexible outsole mixes traditional detailing with contemporary materials, chosen for growing feet and first steps.

I, for one, cannot wait!

All images courtesy of Young Soles and Flannery O’Kafka, shot on location at Benjamin Barker’s Barber Shop in Dundee.

8/52

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#1 & #2 Climbing, always climbing. For once you were scaling something intended for the purpose. A really kid-friendly way of reaching an underwater viewing pod at the Aquarium. This was definitely your favourite bit; we had trouble moving on.

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#3 Up close and personal with your new favourite creature, the Zebra Shark. It seemed to develop a similar curiosity with you in return. And I agree with you totally; it’s spotty, not striped.
#4 Hanging out in a mini viewing pod. You were still and mesmerised rather than highly energetic like your brother.

The Nausicaa Aquarium in Boulogne is really worth a visit. For us, living so close to the Eurotunnel crossing means a trip here is actually cheaper and probably easier than visiting a sealife centre at home. A £20 return crossing, half price entry and a tasty french meal before heading home at bed time ticked all the right boxes. A wonderful learning opportunity and a pretty mesmerising sensory experience all round.

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Linking up and joining in with Practising Simplicity & the Living Arrows project.

Welney’s swans

We’re visiting Norfolk again; our last chance to say farewell to Nana and Grandad’s house – the house I grew up in. They’re moving out at the end of this week, all being well. Being back has reminded me that when we were here just a few short weeks ago we visited Welney Wetland Centre. It is literally on their doorstep so it seemed like the perfect adventure.

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//image source: Welney Wetland Centre Facebook page//

Every winter swans migrate here in their thousands. They put on a stunning display each evening after dark when the conservation centre staff provide supplementary food. You don’t have to be a wildlife enthusiast or a bird lover to appreciate the drama and beauty, especially as the main hide is enclosed and heated (yeah, this is my type of wild!).

The boys loved it as much as I hoped they would. Feeding time is around 6:30pm so the excitement began simply by leaving in the dark to take the short drive along the bumpy fenland road. This is real isolation for the uninitiated. The boys were busy looking out for the barn owls often seen along this stretch of road but didn’t get lucky on this occasion.

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//image source: Welney Wetland Centre Facebook page//

Nowadays the Welney centre boasts a rather stunning architect-designed eco visitor reception; a far cry from the very humble shed they had back when I used to visit as a child. It was a very windy evening which made the walk across the new bridge that links the centre to the hide even more exciting.

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We’d not told the boys what we’d gone there to see so when they walked into the hide and were faced with swans as far as the eye could see, the gasps were audible. It’s one of those things that you really need to see yourself to appreciate.

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They listened pretty well to what the conservation officer said during her talk, and came up with some thoughtful questions, too. It made me realise, again, just how much Boy1’s confidence has grown and how much more he learns by seeing and doing.

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Boy2 was completely over the moon with the way the swans were fed (with corn from a floating wheelbarrow kept buoyant with a spare tyre). If he doesn’t invent something sometime during his life I’ll be shocked!

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We are lucky to have family living just a couple of miles from this wonderful experience. Given its out-of-the-way location I doubt Welney WWT Centre would be on most people’s to-do list but I urge you to make the effort during the winter months when the swans grace Welney with their presence. My boys came away tired but describing their visit as an ‘exploration’ and an ‘adventure’.

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