the last day of summer

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We had a heatwave in London last week, up to 30 degrees on one of the days and it was so hot. I love the Summer, but in the city things can get too humid and claustrophobic to bear it. I crave space on sunny days, anywhere you might catch a breeze and some leafy shade. I avoid buses, tubes and main roads at all costs because they are the absolute worst places to be in an inner city heatwave.

I called a few friends to see if they were free for a picnic in the park, but all my daytime buddies were busy. I almost had lunch in the house as normal, I almost wasted that very last day of summer by staying indoors. Instead I took Rory to the corner shop, bought everything I thought we should have for a picnic, filled a big basket of food and headed to the park. Just Rory, Elkie and I. Determined to have a mini adventure of our own, on that last day of summer.

I lay on my back under the tree with Rory on my belly. I told her all about the trees and how one day she would walk in that park with me asking questions about everything, and that I would tell her that eating your lunch outdoors is where it's at. I told her that although it's great to plan and to cook all your own food, invite your friends and make your meal look beautiful...that sometimes the best kind of lunch comes from the corner shop, eaten with your dog on a blanket in the park. When you haven't planned any of it at all.

take me to the mountains - ten days in puivert

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We're not long back from a ten day long trip to Puivert in the South of France, where we stayed with my parents in a house they bought last November with their retirement savings. They are only a few years away from finishing work, and wanted somewhere they could spend time with family and possibly consider moving to in a few years. I was heavily pregnant when they bought the house, and then deep in the trenches of life with a newborn baby when they went for a holiday earlier in the year so I hadn't been able to visit before now.


I hadn't had this much build up to a trip away in quite a while. From the time my parents bought their house last November, we started planning a visit with Rory. We talked about going over at the end of March for my Mum's birthday, but when the time came it didn't feel right for us. She seemed too small, her sleep too erratic and my energy...well, nonexistent. After a tearful phone call to my parents we decided it was best for all of us if we waited until later in the year when we felt ready. 


The months leading up to our holiday were tiring and stressful. Our attic renovation had taken twice as long as we'd hoped, and cost us a lot of extra money. Thankfully we had already booked our flights to France, because we were feeling the pinch and most likely would have decided against going on holiday for financial reasons. As the time to leave got closer, my to-do list got longer and I was feeling stressed and worried about a whole heap of things. Looking back on it now, it seems so silly to have been worried about it all but when you're tired and stressed everything seems like a much bigger problem. Travelling with an eight month old, getting to the airport on time, surviving the heat, sharing a space with my family and their friends, forgetting our passports...you name it and I worried about it. I'm not at all a worrier by nature, but since having a baby I have started to worry a lot more and get quite bad travel anxiety too. I'm sure the more I do it the more relaxed I will get, but there's so much more to think about than when you only have to worry about yourself!


Anyway, I'm telling you the back story to our trip because it sets the scene for quite how much I needed a holiday. I needed time with Gav and Rory away from the chaos of our flat and the city. I needed sleep, time to do nothing much at all and time to walk by myself amongst the mountains. Oh the mountains. And the light...! Give me some golden dusky light, some sun on my skin, fields of corn and the sound of cicadas and I'll be in heaven.

Do you ever take a trip that you feel changes you in some way? I feel quite emotional looking at these photos, because I really feel different now that we've come home. This year has been a rollercoaster, of the best kind but a rollercoaster nonetheless. The summer is over, our attic is almost finished and Rory is hurtling towards the end of her babyhood. Our trip seemed a celebration of all that we've come through to get to this point, a celebration of the end of so many things but also the beginning of some exciting new ones.



My parents' house is in the village of Puivert, in the South East of France about an hour from Carcassonne. Right in the middle of the mountains. It's exactly what you need from a village when you're on holiday; a small shop, a swimming lake, a few restaurants, a cafe and a craft brewery with live music every Sunday. For supermarkets, markets and shops there are the nearby towns of Quillon and Mirepoix which are well worth a visit. Mirepoix being my favourite, a very picturesque medieval town with bakeries, coffee shops, junk shops and even a vegetarian restaurant.  All the local towns have markets on different days, although often it's the same market in each town. One thing I wished I had done before we went is to research when the local 'Vide Grenier's' were on, as I imagine these attic clearances are the perfect places to score some french treasures. Something to save for next time...



Our holiday was a perfect balance of activity and relaxation. Ten days is a good amount of time to go away for, especially when you have a baby that takes a day or two each side of your travel days to adjust. We spent so much quality time with Rory, and it was wonderful to see how much Gav has bonded with her after being with her every day. We swam in the lake, visited the local food markets, hiked up to Puivert Castle, read our books in sun with a glass of wine, walked through the mountains in the early evening sun. What more could you ask for?





Travelling with an eight month old baby can be challenging at times, adjusting to different time zones, climates, people, temperatures, beds and so on. It's so much easier to stay at home and stick to what you know and what you're all comfortable with, but of course that's not where the greatest rewards are to be found. Rory did so well, despite our reservations. I had prepared myself for a baby that wouldn't sleep, couldn't deal with the heat and screamed at all the other passengers on the plane...but she turned out to be pretty much the perfect baby for the whole holiday. The heat tired her out a little towards the end of the day so we had a few grumpy bedtimes, but apart from that it was plain sailing in baby land. I feel so much more confidant to travel with her now, she is clearly an adventure gal who loves the mountains. Just like her mama. I do have some tips for travelling with a baby to share with you, but I'll do that in another post.

We're planning on returning to Puivert at least once a year, and I'm so looking forward to making new memories there each year as our family grows. I feel very lucky we have a new place to call our own, that we can put down some roots in France and spend a good chunk of the summer there with the people we love. So much to look forward to.

* My parents have a two bedroom holiday let attached to their house in Puivert which is available to rent. I don't have a link to share with you yet, but I will have one soon. If you think you might like a holiday there next year do drop me an email and I will put you in touch.

52 Project - August

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31/52 - Mealtimes are her favourite thing at the moment, she just eats and eats, pretty much only taking a break when she sleeps. She loves the butterbean, parsnip and carrot puree I made her this week and is slowly learning to feed herself with a spoon. The dog is often collateral damage, as is my sofa.


32/52 - Very happily sitting up all by herself now, with the occasional backwards tumble. She looks more like a proper kid every day, which both delights and terrifies me.


33/52 - Out for brunch with her daddy, who she just loves to spend time with. They have really bonded these last few weeks which is so good to see. Oh, and Rory's eating again.


34/52 - taking her first dip in the Puivert lake, on our holiday to the South of France. She loved being held in the deep water so she could kick her legs and splash the water with her hands.


35/52 - Moments before she put this whole purple flower in her mouth and ate it, in the grounds of the castle in Puivert. We had just hiked up the hill with her in the midday sun, one of my favourite memories from our trip.

*I'm a bit behind on this project, so I've started again even though I've missed a couple of months. I've decided to do a monthly round-up of photos because weekly was a bit of baby photo overload for you I think!

MOMENTS, CAPTURED

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1. My niece, Freya, at the Lambeth Country Show. She's an ice cream fiend, so she's easy to bribe for photos. Will work for food.

2. Shooting images for Fowlds Cafe, they have the best coffee in South London. Enjoying getting back into work, it feels good.

3. Morning light on the plant in my new attic bathroom, which is finally finished.

4. Having a go at propagating one of my succulents, in an attempt to rescue a plant that isn't fairing so well.

5. Rory's tiny, messy hands while she eats. The sight of her sitting in her high chair and her little legs dangling underneath gets me every time.

 

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