Saturday, 28 September 2013


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013

A: Choosing a new book
T: Choosing a pumpkin

Choices, choices. One of my children is decisive; the other finds it impossible.

Today's been good. It's been a while since we had one of those days: the uncomplicated ones, the ones that make you remember what you wished for and grateful that you got it. This morning, A went to a party so Ben and I took little T out for lunch. It's rare to have that solo time together with him and he's blossoming so much; it felt like a gift. Then, we bunked off A's swimming class, instead heading to the bookshop and out for a meal together. Going out to eat with T is hit and miss at the best of times. Today, it was a hit and he was a total pleasure. We sat at those Wagamama benches alongside another family with two sons, probably ten years older than ours. Both kids and the mother spent half the meal on their iPhones. I found it really sad to see; I think it contributed to how grateful I felt for my boys talking, all sparky, and wolfing down their noodles. (I don't mean that to sound judgey, more that I'm fearful of what's to come if that kind of family meal lies in my future.)

After supper, we headed to the penthouse of central Bristol: Cabot Tower. There, we explored the view of the city spread out in front of us, and giggled at the graffiti declaration of love to some other Bristol Lottie. Back on the ground the boys chased squirrels and gathered autumn leaves.

See what I mean? These are precious days.


Joining in with Jodi's 52 project.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week in 2013

A: "What do you mean, a real tattoo? This IS a real tattoo!"
T: Helping daddy fix a bike

So late this week, after a weekend of debauchery and subsequent feeling sorry for myself. I spent Saturday night in a Somerset field, celebrating friends' birthdays. It was a hoot, but I am clearly too old for this category of hangover.

Joining in with Jodi's 52 project. Last week I loved:
The Stork & The Beanstalk
Lamb Loves Fox


Tuesday, 17 September 2013


The cantankerous old plum tree at the end of the garden has fruited this year (it tends to have a rest every other year), and these past weeks we've been harvesting and baking. I have a little helper - A - who has been up and down the branches, collecting the most juicy, purple fruits in his pyjama-top makeshift 'apron'. 

As we walked back down the garden path towards the house, he turned to me and asked what we were going to make that day. 'Crumble', I replied. 

'Plum crumble... Why isn't it called plumble?'. 

Why, indeed. From now on, that's all it will be called.


400g plums
125g golden caster sugar
1tsp cinnamon
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp mixed spice
75g butter
50g caster sugar
15g demerara sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas mark 6. 
2. Wash the plums and remove the stones. 
3. Cut the plums into quarters and then in half again. 
4. In a large bowl, mix together the 125g caster sugar and cinnamon, before adding the plums. Give it all a good tumble around to make sure the fruit is evenly covered in the spiced sugar.
5. Pour the sugared fruit into a 3 pint ovenproof dish.
6. Sieve the flour and mixed spice into the large bowl from before. 
7. Add the butter, cutting through the mixture with two kitchen knives and/or rubbing the fat into the flour with the very ends of your fingertips. Bash the side of the bowl every so often to bring any large lumps of butter to the surface. When the mixture resembles damp sand, you can stop rubbing and stir in the remaining 50g of sugar.
7. Pour the crumble mixture over the fruit and pat down loosely. Top with the demerara sugar.
8. Cook in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes.


Sunday, 15 September 2013

All change

For the past year and a half, I have been working harder than I've ever worked before. Back then, I made the decision to rekindle a possibility, long abandoned but forever mourned. 

After I graduated, I spent a few weeks and months doing work experience with London journalists: The Independent fashion desk, The Observer style team, Just Seventeen and More. But the lure of the homeland proved too great; I headed back to my beloved Bristol and the boy residing here (both of whom are still my true loves).

My third love - writing- never left me. After a few years of working in film, marketing, web, and the arts, I decided I would try to make a go of a fully fledged freelance writing career. Fast forward 18 months and here I am. I left my job at the art gallery last month, and have been self-employed and writing ever since. Through hard work, some fortuitous contacts, and (I hope) some talent, I am finally doing what I've always wanted to do, and have landed some amazing clients. Come say hello to me over at Mollie Makes, where I'm doing the do with their digital channels. And the book, too. 

Phew... So imagine me tap-tap-tapping away in the scene above, slippers on, cuppa on the go. Not lonely (yet). Happy.

Debenhams sent me these lovely flowers to make my new 'office' a little more cheerful. Beautiful, aren't they? If you fancy ordering a bunch of their 'Birthday flowers' for you or a loved one, they've offered a 15% discount for readers of Oyster & Pearl until 30 September. Enter 'blogb15' at the checkout. 


Saturday, 14 September 2013


A: A golden halo in the magic hour
T: A precious moment stolen; a hot cup of chai in peace

All quiet on the blog front this week. Along with two other authors I have been writing a book; last week we submitted our manuscript to the editor after months and months of hard work. I think it's pretty fair to say that I am exhausted. Newborn baby exhausted. Fuzzy fog and deadweight limbs exhausted. Shaking with tiredness, at one point. You get the picture.

This weekend will see an attempt at rest. Trouble is, once you've been up late, up early, firing on all cylinders for a while, it's hard to go back. And the other deadlines don't disappear, either. This isn't a moan: I couldn't be more thrilled with all this interesting, enticing writing work. I just need to find a way to make it all work. Make the work work.

Joining in with Jodi. Last week's favourites:
All three of these, but especially the first.
This character.
Bewitched by this.

Saturday, 7 September 2013


A portrait of my children once a week, every week in 2013

A: Year 2
T: Preschool

Aw, big week. How did my children get so big? We're shifting gear, back to the morning rush, the lost bookbags and forgotten forms. I can't say I'm a fan. Every morning we vow to get better at night-before preparations, but every evening we forget.

Joining in with Jodi's 52 project. Last week, I loved this little Frida; a Bali behind; and this beautiful light.

Friday, 6 September 2013

The end of the summer

In May I made a Lucky 13 playlist, keeping my fingers crossed I wouldn't jinx anything. Everyone was all giddy about that Daft Punk song, the long range forecast was good, and things looked sunny.

Although we might not have packed everything into those six weeks, we certainly gave it a go. A few things remain on our summer wish list, but some can still be done in autumn; others, we'll roll over to next year. Next year! Hurry now 2014.

My favourite thing? Well, for all the French sun and the day trips and the hanging out with our friends, my very favourite thing this year was dressing these two up as Marty McFly and Doc Emmett Brown. I laughed until my face ached.

Turns out I didn't jinx anything. Summer 2013 - you were one to remember.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

An education

For all the spelling tests and the maths questions and the reading levels, there is a kind of education that doesn't come from school. Recently, a friend told me about this TED talk, where Ken Robinson questions traditional school-based education and proposes that creativity will be a key skill in the future, one that isn't currently taught by the national curriculum. Although we praise A for all his educational efforts, the things that really impress me are the ones he comes out with spontaneously: his wordplay, his art, and his jokes. The creative stuff...

The performers at Giffords Circus have it in spades; they are one of the most creative, comical, and mesmerising collectives I've ever encountered. After our visit last year, we were counting down the days until this year's trip, and it didn't disappoint. 'Lucky 13' is a show that dazzles and delights, with classic circus acts and hilarious tricks that left me crying with laughter. Tweedy the Clown leapt into the audience and came to sit alongside A, who could not have been more thrilled. Everything about Giffords is a triumph: of aesthetics, of comedy, of good, old-fashioned entertainment. This is quality stuff. See it if you can.

And on the way back out of Minchinhampton, we drove down the road across the common where the cows were grazing. One animal walked out onto the tarmac, and we stopped to wait for her to pass. Absentmindedly, I said 'Why did the cow cross the road?'. Quick as a whip, A answered 'To get to the udder side, of course'. 

That's what I'm talking about.


Giffords were kind enough to give us a press pass to review this show. As always, views are my own. Easy to write nice things about such a flipping brilliant show.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

A long time ago...

Long ago when we were kid and fancy free, we drove this beautiful death trap - a 1972 Fiat 500. Her name was Dinky Donut.

I think of her sometimes, when I see original Fiat 500s on Instagram (where they seem to feature often) or the Ikea illustrations advertising home delivery. Those days were fun. And although people often say that classic cars are expensive to keep, we didn't find that to be the case. Classic car insurance worked out cheaper than we thought, and there is such a basic engine in one of these things that not much can really go wrong.

I can't imagine trundling the kids about in Dinky Donut. They'd love her, sure, but our needs are different now. I miss her all the same.

Have you driven a classic car? If money was no object, what would you choose?

* Sponsored post - I was compensated for writing this post, but all views and content are my own. Plus, I love classic cars. Here's my Sponsor page for more info.

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