17 November 2015

Photography walk with Sarah Mason

Sarah has taken lots of photos of us over the years.  She did our bump and baby shoot, pre-wedding and then our wedding too.  I love Sarah's style of photography and every photo she has taken of us I utterly adore. 

I often find myself scrolling through her Facebook and Instagram feed (seriously check her Instagram feed out, it's beautiful) admiring her latest captures and not too long ago whilst scouring Facebook I noticed she was organising a photography walk.  I instantly signed myself up along with my friend, Steph.  The aim of the walk was to bring together people interested in photography, no matter their experience or equipment and share hints and tips. A chance to spend some time with a professional photographer willing to share her knowledge and advice and help other create beautiful photos of their own.  This in itself I think is truly wonderful, there are too many people in the world who aren't willing to share their expertise in a bid to keep them a secret.  Sarah is the complete opposite and is the type of person who restores your faith in humanity. Therefore this wasn't an opportunity I was willing to pass up. 

So last Saturday, in the pouting rain, we set off to Hebden Bridge to meet Sarah, Suzy and the others who had signed up for the walk too. 

Photo courtesy of Sarah Mason
Luckily the rain passed pretty quickly, well they do say that the sun shines on the righteous don't they?  

We wandered down to the canal and Sarah instructed us all to put our cameras onto manual mode.  My camera hasn't been in manual since we first bought it.  All my photos have been taken on auto in a vain attempt to grab some nice shots of Luca as a wriggly baby, through to a crazy toddler and now my little pre-schooler who careers around like a whirlwind wherever we are.  Turning it onto manual was a bit daunting to say the least but also very exciting. 

Sarah then took the time to chat to us about ISO and aperture and how to use them.  These are all things that I have read about and things I know in theory but have never really practised or put into use.  Plus having someone there to help you when it doesn't exactly go as you'd planned also helps.  We wandered down the canal taking shots and experimenting with changing the aperture and ISO settings and seeing the difference in the shots we got. This below is my favourite shot from the day. 

5 November 2015

Our 1st Family Holiday Abroad.

In March we booked our first family holiday abroad and crossed one of the goals off my yearly to-do list.  We couldn't have picked a better time to book it. The weeks before turned out to be very stressful ones so by the time our holiday came around I could not wait to board that plane and get away from it all. 

We flew the day after Luca's 3rd birthday, in the early hours of the morning. We needn't have worried about setting alarms as we were all woken by my parents dog, Lyla, having a meltdown as there was a huge thunderstorm, whilst their chocolate lab, Dibble, lay on the rug in front of the fire looking very confused by all the commotion going on at such a ungodly hour.  

After a very wet drive to the airport we queued for hours to check in and get through security and by the time we got through to the lounge the last call came to board our plane.  So much for eating breakfast at the airport!!!  Luckily this bad start to our break didn't last. 

Once we were into the airport lounge and Luca could see the planes on the runway his excitement level went up a notch or two.  We had spent a few weeks telling him all about aeroplanes, taking off and landing but I really had no idea how he was going to react when it all actually happened.  

Turns out he LOVED it!!

I also had no idea how he would behave on the three hour flight but I am pleased to tell you all he was as good as gold and made me a very proud Mummy.  He slept for quite a lot of the flight too so caught up on some of the sleep he lost from such an early start.  

Thankfully there was no messing around in Faro airport and we were through and picking up our hire car in about 30 minutes. After wrestling the car seat into the car (it only took four adults to work it out) we set off on the 40 minute drive to our villa in Castro Marim, Eastern Algarve.

2 November 2015

First half term at pre-school.

So today is Luca's first day back at pre-school after the October half term and I thought now would be a perfect time to reflect on his first half term at 'big boy' school as he likes to call it.

Back in September before the school runs started, I blogged all about my worries associated with Luca starting pre-school and the reasons, the many, many reasons, I just felt plain old scared about it all.

That first day has been and gone now, and despite my crying all the way home it went perfectly smoothly.  When we arrived he did seem a little nervous but he also seemed really excited too.  After settling him in for a few minutes and noticing he was pretty enthralled by the sand and all the sandcastle moulds, we asked him if it was ok for us to go.  He looked me straight in the eye and simply replied "Yep".  After a quick kiss we left him for his first day alone at school and I burst into tears. I'm such a softie.

25 September 2015

The countdown to pre-school.

As I write this it is four sleeps until Luca starts pre-school. How crazy is that?
My tiny little boy will be going to pre-school. 

The thought of it makes me feel sick and like I could burst into floods of tears. He's just not old enough or big enough to be going is he? He's still my baby and the thought of him going to pre-school terrifies me. 

I'm really worried. 

I'm worried about leaving him all alone in a class with lots of other children and only three teachers.  

I'm worried he won't make friends. 

I'm worried he might get left out or picked on. 

I'm worried that he isn't ready. 

I'm worried he's going to feel like I'm abandoning him when I drop him off at the school gates and I'm not the one who picks him up again when it's time to go home.  

I'm worried that he's not going to like it and cry when I drop him off and I won't know how to deal with it. 

I'm just worried.

Of course I know all these worries are ridiculous. To start with, of course he is big enough and old enough or else he wouldn't be going. I'm just in denial that my baby isn't a baby anymore, in fact he isn't even a toddler anymore. *sobs*

When we went to visit his school for a taster day all the teaching staff in his class seemed lovely and more than capable of looking after a whole class between them.  They managed it more than adequately whilst we were there, flitting between us all and making sure we all had enough time with them to ask questions etc.  We also recently had a home visit from his key worker and Luca told us when she had left, "I liked playing with that lady." That's got to be a good sign, right? 

I also know that he will make friends.  He is popular at his childminders, all the other kids seem to love him and whenever we go to see any of my friends and their children he always gets along with them just fine.  He's a lovely, kind and gentle child, but he is also funny, charismatic and endearing.  All qualities I hope will mean he isn't ever left out or bullied but I'm worried if he does get picked up that he won't stand up for himself as he doesn't tend to do that at the moment.

He is more than ready, I know this too.  He is inquisitive and always asking me questions or telling me new things he's learnt.  His childminders have already told me that he is more than ready for pre-school and will relish it once he's there. He tells me every time we go past his school that it will be his school soon. I'm not quite sure he fully understands what it will entail but I'm sure he's going to love it, never mind like it. When we visited for his taster day he couldn't wait to get into the classroom and explore. He flirted from corner to corner looking at all the toys and things he could do. Although he dragged me around with him it was to show me the things he'd discovered, not because he needed me there with him. He is very independent and I'm hoping that this will stand him in good stead.

My biggest worry of them all is that he might feel abandoned by me. I've spent so much time explaining to him that I will drop him off on a morning and he will play and have his lunch there before someone picks him back up again. And that Mummy can't stay. I think he understands and doesn't seem to be fazed by this. Although it may be completely different when the time actually comes and that's the bit I don't want to have to deal with. I don't ever want to leave him upset, ever.  That's the real bit that I'm worried about, that he won't run off without a care in the world like he does now at his childminders. The fact he loves being there makes it so much easier for me to leave him everyday and go to work but if that's not the same with pre-school I'm not sure I'm going to cope well.  It will also make the guilt of not being the one picking him up afterwards even worse.  I'm hoping this will be where that independent streak of his will shine and will make me forget all these worries in an instant. I hope. 

God only knows what state I am going to be in on his first day, but I'm sure he will settle in just fine and will really enjoy this new chapter of his life. 

I hand on heart believe he is ready to start his learning journey and hope that he will follow in my footsteps and really enjoy learning for the rest of his life. I know my worries are mostly unfounded but they are still there niggling away at the back of my brain. 

It's a new door opening for Luca but it also feels like a door closing for me.  The apron strings are getting shorter and shorter and I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet. School really symbolises that he's not my toddler anymore and reminds me how quickly time is going. I want to cling onto every moment with him at this age but I know I can't. I have to look on the bright side though and the savings will will make on childcare should bump our savings up at a much quicker rate.  Which means we can hopefully buy a house a bit sooner and then start thinking about baby number two. Surely that's a silver lining if ever there was one?

Until then though I'm going to cherish every last moment with this little boy that I feel so lucky to call mine.

27 July 2015

Remembering why I blog.

Life has been pretty stressful of late. Ok that's a bit of an understatement. Life has been very stressful of late. 
I've had problems with a family I worked with and had to make some big decisions career wise, which is pretty scary when your self employed. We've had a poorly pet. My mum has developed some health issues which unfortunately are chronic and my grandfather has died.  On top of that we have also had some good stress, like Luca turning 3 and our first family holiday abroad. So as I'm sure you can tell blogging hasn't really been top of my priority list, although I have thought about it a lot.  

However, we have recently returned from a lovely week away in the glorious Portuguese sunshine and I've come back feeling refreshed and ready to start again with a new, sunnier outlook. 

Blogging is my hobby, something I love and a way to record our life and adventures together as a family. I have been put off slightly though after reading too many posts aimed directly at bloggers, you know the kind, the ones giving advice about how to go pro, how to publish an amazing post etc. I love these kinds of posts, I love that the blogging world is so open and honest and willing to share hints and tips so that we can all succeed, I really do. However I think after reading to many of these posts I've been left feeling a bit deflated about this little old blog of mine. I felt like blogging had become pointless for me as all the things people suggest you should be doing as a blogger I'm not and I felt under tremendous pressure to live up to some of those amazing blogs out there. After a step back though and a break I've remembered why I blog, it's not for anyone else, it's for me and my family. Obviously we all love a post comment but that's not the be all and end all for me. My blog has brought me some wonderful friends and if nothing more ever comes of this little old blog of mine I will be more than happy with that. I'm not blogging to make money or change the world, I'll leave that to those fantastic writers out there who are already doing an amazing job. 

I'm blogging to record our memories so that Luca can look back in years to come and see how life was for us then. I'm blogging because I enjoy it and surely that's all that matters. So I'm back, (I'd like to say with a vengeance but that's probably not going to be the case, as my laptop is prehistoric) and will soon be sharing some pictures and tales of our first family holiday abroad and an impromptu weekend away with Luca.

Until then my lovely readers (there must be at least 2 of you somewhere) I will bid you farewell. 

12 May 2015

Making a house our home

As I've said before I am desperate for our own home and we are in the process of saving up our deposit, it's on my to do list.   I cannot wait to get stuck into decorating exactly how I want and as outrageously as I want which I can't do in our rented apartment.  Recently I have fallen out of love with our little nest, I think purely because I want our own place so badly, especially now I'm starting to feel a little more broody.  There is simply no space to spare here and so a baby is just out of the question.

Instead of letting myself get down in the dumps over it I have had a stern word with myself and learnt to love it once again. No, our home may not actually be our own but we have put our stamp on this place and  learnt to be creative with the space we have (which really isn't much).  

So here are my top tips on how to make a rented house your own, and therefore a home.

My favourite accessory for every room is candles!  You cannot have too many candles.  They come in so many shapes, sizes, colours and scents that you will be hard pushed to find something you don't love.  They quickly inject a little bit of style into a room whilst also adding warmth and comfort no matter the time of year.  At the moment my favourite is a church candle that is housed in a big lantern I was very kindly gifted by a client.  I do also love our white vase/plant pot style ones, they lined the aisle on our wedding day and now have pride of place in my bedroom.

3 May 2015

Easter Weekend in Snape

Taken a while to get this post done but at last, here is how we spent Easter this year. 

Good Friday, was my birthday and in the afternoon my parents, Aunty, Grandma & step-Grandad (aka Nonna, Papa, Boppa, GG and Chips) all set off for a long weekend away leaving us home alone. Don't feel too sorry for me though, my lovely brother, Frazer and Abbie, his girlfriend, took Luca and me out for some lunch and then we had a girly evening in. After lots of chatter, a few cheeky drinks, gorgeous food and a generally lovely day I was just drifting off to sleep when my phone rang. It was my mum ringing to tell me the B&B they were staying in had a cancellation if we wanted to join them. 

No brainer really!

So on Saturday we packed up our bag, showed my brother how to medicate my bunny and set off for North Yorkshire.  
We were staying in Snape, near Bedale.  It is only an hours drive from us but feels like a million miles away.  Snape is a picturesque village with a small stream running through the middle lined with daffodils.  Little bridges cut over the stream all the way along and big beautiful trees stand regally along the roadsides. There are also old water pumps dotted along the stream just to add to the charm of this place.  

9 March 2015

Fairburn Ings

After seeing You Baby Me Mummy's photo on Instagram of her little lady feeding the ducks, I realised I've never taken Luca to feed the ducks.  I decided this must be rectified soon and as Ant was off work the very next day we went on the hunt.  

After taking to Facebook to find the best places to feed ducks near us we opted for Fairburn Ings.  This is an RSPB reserve and a stop off for lots of different birds during their migration.

It has been a place I have visited many times as a kid but I haven't been for such a long time.  It has changed massively since I last went, it is now a conservation site with a cafe, children's play area and volunteers on site to answer any questions you may have.  There are walkways all around including wheelchair and buggy accessible ones, and little areas set out for different activities, like the duck and swan feeding platform and the pond dipping areas.  For £2.50 entrance fee per car there is quite a bit to take in.  

We headed for the cafe first to buy a bag of duck and swan feed, £1 for a big bag, as bread is bad for them.  We then grabbed a hot chocolate as it was quite nippy out and sat and watched the cameras set up in the nest boxes around the area.  It was quite interesting to watch some of the birds building their nests and I want to go back when they have laid their eggs.

We then headed outside and went for a stroll around some of the walkways and peek out of the hide.  We were lucky to get quite close to a few birds on our little walk and Luca got very excited to see a robin so closely.  

6 March 2015

The 'Music' Me

I've linked up to Mama & More's All About You linky a few times now and it got me thinking. I love to hear all about my parents and grandparents life when they were younger and seeing photos of them and what they wore, what they did etc. so I've decided I am going to start my own little series that is all about me.  This will hopefully be something that I can show Luca when he is older and give him am insight into my life, whilst also giving you all a chance to get to know the 'me' behind Little Luca & Me.

First up I've decided to introduce you all to the music me.  Music is such an important part of my life, I could not live without it, so it felt like a good place to start.

Music has always been a HUGE part of my life and some of my earliest memories are of going with my Grandma to watch my Papa perform with his band, he played the saxophone and the clarinet and could sing (not at the same time, he wasn't that talented).  He was very musical to say the least.  I also remember him singing to me as a young child, old war songs, lullabies and nursery rhymes such as Bless 'Em All, Tie a Yellow Ribbon, My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean and Daisy Daisy .  Songs which have never left me and I sang to Luca as a tiny baby to send him off to sleep. Songs that to this day make me feel relaxed and safe.

4 March 2015

It's booked!!!!!

At the start of the year I wrote my to-do list for 2015.  Number 6 on that list was to go on a family holiday. Well guess what, we are!  We officially booked our flights yesterday and so now can safely say that in a few months we will be jetting off to sunnier climates and I cannot flipping wait.  Our last holiday abroad was before I was even pregnant with Luca, when me and Ant spent two weeks in France and the weather wasn't exactly kind to us.  I'm a cold person so I crave sunshine and heat and I cannot wait to feel it on my skin.  We are only going for a week but a week is better than nothing and it means we haven't sacrificed too much of our savings (see number 5 on my to do list).  

So in a few months we will be sunning ourselves in the Eastern Algarve in Portugal in this gorgeous place.