There's no place like home.

I know a lot of you are here for the sewing – but while I’m overseas I am on a forced break from sewing and my mind is wandering to lots of other things so please excuse my ramblings.  Next month I’ll be back into the sewing, but for now I am enjoying this opportunity to step back and reflect.

Green England

It is wonderful to be back home, back in the place where I grew up.  Back amongst these rolling green hills and dry stone walls.  Everything is so familiar, the smell of the fresh air, the sounds of the voices with their northern accents, the hot cups of tea.  It’s a little like being enveloped in an enormous security blanket and cuddled.

I would never have guessed at 18 where my life would take me.  If you had told me that I would be living in Australia, I simply wouldn’t have believed you.  I’m not the sort for big steps and dramatic changes.  I love home and I love my family and I wouldn’t choose to leave.  But somehow it happened, almost by accident. I never intended to emigrate, but here I am and I can’t possibly regret the decisions that led me here.  I have a home that I love, better friends than I probably deserve and a husband and children who I adore.  Who could ask for more really?

But; while these trips back home make me grateful for the life I have in Australia, I also find that they make me mourn, in equal measure, the life I could have had in England.

Sometimes I feel consumed by sadness at this thought.  England will always be home, but my life is now so fully invested in Australia that I sometimes think that I could never properly be whole again.  It feels as though my life, and my heart, will always be split in two.  But this feeling is one which only really gets me when I am already feeling tired and vulnerable.  More often I am able to see it as a blessing.  Because until you miss something you can never fully appreciate it.  I am constantly missing one of my two homes and my heart is full of gratitude for each of these beautiful places and for the lovely family and friends in both.

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Rockpools and Childhood Memories

We just got back from a lovely weekend away at Blanket Bay in the Otways. It was the first time we've camped with the kids and it was really great to get away for a few days.  Yesterday morning my friend and I went for our usual Sunday morning run and on the way back I got a little lost.  Not literally lost, just lost in my own head.  I've had this while running before, and I know that many people say how they get into 'the zone' and stop noticing that they're even running. Well this morning I got so completely lost (metaphorically speaking) that I think I could have kept running for days, Forrest Gump style.

It was rather like being in a meditative state - or at least I imagine it was, I'm hopeless at meditating usually - but for some reason I went back to the house I grew up in.  It was a huge house (or at least it seemed that way to me at the time) and while I was running I took a little walk through it, remembering the rooms and the furniture, the memories I have of each little space.  The bay window in the dining room where Mum would do her sewing and fix my favourite toy (Mouse), the breakfast bar in the kitchen where my sister and I would sit eating our cornflakes and watching 'Barry the lodger' eating his bacon and eggs.  The cellar, dark and damp with the secret door into it from the drive way, which used to be for delivering the coal but which was now hidden under a honeysuckle bush and which we could climb in and out of if we ever found ourselves locked out. There were so many things which came back to me on this mental tour of my childhood home, things I hadn't thought about for such a long time. 'Seeing' the wardrobe in the spare room took me back to a birthday party where we played Sardines, 'walking' around the garden reminded me of early morning Easter egg hunts in our nighties, wellies and hand knitted jumpers. The air was so fresh, there was dew on the lawn and the wood pigeons' soft calls carried through the still air - it felt so real that I could have been back there.

I was bombarded with an avalanche of memories; eating tiny wild strawberries from the rock garden at the front of the house, pouring salt on slugs (forgive me- it was at my mum's encouragement), crushing tin cans for recycling with my dad, building castles of stones in the puddles that formed in our back yard, watching my mum digging the veggie garden from my swing, the 'Dolly Tree' in the middle of the lawn where my sister would perch all of her soft toys, writing letters to the Queen, to Santa, to Blue Peter and posting them in the letter box in the wall of our garden. I remembered making rose perfume from petals and water, and pots from dried mud that we tried to sell to the unsuspecting ramblers who walked past the end of our drive.

So many memories, of so many seemingly inconsequential things. Such unimportant things that turned out to form a huge part of who I am. Things that have almost accidentally shaped me into the person I have become.  My parents could never have imagined how important to me they would turn out to be, they were just ordinary, everyday things. There are probably a hundred other things like that from my childhood that we used to do which I have forgotten. I have no idea why these are the ones that come back to me so strongly.

Once this flood of memories had subsided I naturally moved to wondering what the things that my own children remember will be?  I imagine that even if I tried to guess I could probably never even come close.  In a way it's a frightening thought, it's certainly an overwhelming one, to know that every moment, good or bad, may turn out to be one of those key things that your child remembers, a moment that shapes them in one way or another.  It doesn't do to think too much about it, you could drive yourself crazy that way, but the occasional reminder of just how much influence we have over them with the things we say, and, probably more importantly, DO, can only be a good thing. Particularly if it causes us to be a little more considered in our actions.

It's a strange thing how your children have the ability to bring out both the best and the worst in you.  I hope that it will be the best that shines through when they look back, I hope they won't remember the times I was grumpy, the times I yelled, but I'm going to try to be less like that, just to make sure.  I'm sure I won't succeed, not completely anyway, but even if I manage to be just slightly better I think it'll make a difference.

I have no idea what the most significant memories for my own children will be but I hope very much that weekends like this will be among them. I hope they will remember exploring rock pools, collecting shells and noticing all the tiny things; that they will remember cooking dinner on the fire and toasting marshmallows, remember the sensations of the warm sun on their backs, the coolness of the waves lapping around their feet, the salt on their skin, I hope they will remember the perfect quiet of the morning before everyone is awake, the awe-inspiring wonder of a sky full of stars, and the joy of being lulled to sleep by the sounds of the ocean.  Sorry if I've gone way too poetic for you, the great out doors does that to me - I don't get to experience it nearly enough these days, and that's something that we're going to try to improve on now that the children are old enough to enjoy weekends away camping!

What are your favourite childhood memories? What memories do you hope your children will treasure when they are older?

Growing Up!


I discovered today that the children’s playschool teachers are going to move Jacob up to the kinder room in a couple of weeks – I’m a little emotional about this news. On the one hand, I’m really happy for him – it’ll be an adventure and he’ll get to be with the big kids and in the same class as Ella for the year, and I’ve no doubt that he’ll learn heaps and absolutely love it, but there’s a little part of me that is crying ‘but he’s my baby! He’s still 2! He can’t be in Kindergarten!’ 

It seems to me that one of the most unexpected things about mothering is the way in which watching your children grow is like a series of tiny bereavements.  While we delight in their achievements, in their growth and development, there is always a part of us that aches for the baby, the toddler, the small child they once were; the tiny person who is lost forever, who we will always miss enormously while we sit here loving and marveling at the amazing new child who has emerged.  I suppose it’s just another reminder of how we need to treasure every moment, how we ought to aim to let all the frustrations just wash over us and cling tight to these wonderful moments which will one day be just memories.

I’m feeling rather tearful writing this and am suddenly consumed with an ache for my little ones.  I’m going to go and pick them up from playschool now  - don’t worry, I’m pretty sure that this sadness will have passed within about 10 minutes of our arriving home, when I will be yelling, tearing my hair out and wondering exactly how many more years of this I’ll have to endure before they can leave home!

For my little sister as she prepares to meet her baby...

Dearest Ruthie,

As I write this, I know that you are at the hospital working very hard to bring your little baby into the world.  I'm writing because I am finding it very difficult to be so far away and so unable to do anything to help you. (Although I have to admit that even if I was right by your side there would be very little I could do to help you right now!)  Still, I wish so much that I could be there over the next few weeks to help you with the mountains of laundry that you're about to experience and to cook you nourishing dinners and delicious cakes to sustain you while you nurse your new baby.  

But I can't be there right now so I will have to offer what help I can in the form of advice and support.  I have been thinking a lot about how I felt after Ella and Jacob were born, trying to remember what I struggled with, what helped me most, but to be honest much of it is a blur of emotions.  Here's what I can tell you:

There will be times when you will look at your baby and feel like you will burst with love.

There will be times when you will want to put your baby out of the window.

You will feel elation and despair and everything in between, possibly all in the space of 10 minutes. 

You will cry for no reason.

Parenting can be difficult and stressful but also beautiful and amazing, often all at the same time.

You will be a wonderful mother.

I will always be there for you, to listen to your worries. I will be awake when everyone else around you is asleep. I am only a phone call away.

I am so unbelievably excited about your new arrival! Partly for you, because I know what an amazing roller coaster ride you're in for and partly for myself because I can't wait to have motherhood in common with you. I feel like it will be such a wonderful bond and I know that seeing our children playing together is going to be so special.  

I love you enormously and have complete faith in you. You will do a fantastic job of raising this brand new person and you will help them to be the very best version of themselves possible. 

You can do it!


What will your story be?

Who am I?

Where is the meaning in my life? What is really important?  How can I make a difference in the world? These are all questions that I have been thinking about a lot recently.  There are a lot of things in my life recently which have been steering me towards these questions; the death of my grandmother, my sister's impending first baby, the role I have with my own children, the ways in which becoming a mother has changed me, these first steps that I am taking towards doing the things I love and starting my own business,.

This is me with my granny when I was about 6 months old.

I have always known that my Granny Olive was a pretty special lady.  I have also known for a few years that she wrote a book about her life experiences.  I'm not sure why I never asked to read it until now.  I think it was a combination of my failure to realise that getting a copy was as simple as asking my mum to email it to me, and my own self absorption in my busy life as a new mum.  I regret it so much now.  I have just finished reading her story and I wish so much that I had read it years ago, there are so many things that I would have liked to talk to her about, so many questions I could have asked.  It really started me wondering what my story is going to be? What will I have to show for my life by the time I (hopefully) reach old age?  What lessons will my own grandchildren learn from me?  Will they be proud of the person I was, of the things I have done?  Will they see a life lived with love and compassion, a life lived with courage, strength and joy?  I hope so.  It's so easy to keep on plodding through life, to get bogged down with day to day tasks and forget to stop and look up, to look around and appreciate how lucky we are to be living in this moment.  We could all do with taking a little more time to notice the special moments in every day, talking a little more time to consider our actions and think about how we can enrich the lives of those around us, of those we love.  I don't believe that living a meaningful life requires doing remarkable things - I think it is more of an achievement to do ordinary things in a remarkable way.  

What do you think?

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