Bless the Weather

52 Project - February 2018

photographySiobhan WattsComment

5/52 - Reading with her dada, in a little pocket of light streaming in through an open shutter. I saw this picture in my mind, and ran to get my camera, hoping this would be the result. 

IMG_0077 copy.jpg

6/52 - Having a babycino at Vauxhall City Farm, a favourite place for us to hang out on a Sunday morning. It's not unusual for her to wake up asking "Rory see Paca" because she loves all the animals so much. 

IMG_0027 copy.jpg

7/52 - A very tired toddler, after waking early and not taking her midday nap. We were at her bestie River's birthday party, and they were having far too much fun to sleep. 

IMG_0208 copy.jpg

8/52 - is there anything better than a snow day? All our plans got cancelled, and we went out for a walk through the park to get a coffee and play in the snow. I had to bribe her with a cookie and kneel on the snow for ten minutes to get this shot, asking her to walk back and forwards through the bushes until I got something I could use. 

I'm so happy I am back on track with this project, it's so easy to forget to pick up my camera or to make excuses about why I can't photograph her that week. I firmly believe that it's the things we do everyday that make up our lives, bring us joy and fill up our hearts. 

Take a look at the other entries in this series here.

Patience, my friend

life & familySiobhan WattsComment
A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.
— Henri J.M. Nouwen

The dictionary definition of the word 'patience' is "the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious". It means that 'waiting' and 'patience' are two entirely different things. You cannot wait patiently for something, because the two states of mind are in conflict. You are either waiting, or you are patient. Waiting is a discomfort and a frustration. It's a place of stagnation, where an ever growing list of things and perhaps your life itself is put on hold until whatever it is you are waiting for manifests itself. It comes from a place of having a plan that doesn't quite come good, but still you hang onto the plan because you believe that was the path you were meant to take. Patience is a calmness, a detachment from any kind of plan because you know that it will unfold itself to you slowly. It's a state of positivity, of gratitude and of continuing to move forward in other areas of your life that you can control, while setting free the outcomes of the ones you can't. It's a trust in the process, the path, the universe...whatever you want to call it. 

The last year has been a sometimes difficult journey from waiting so desperately for something that it felt like our whole lives were on hold, towards a more recent place of patience and peace. I have frequently been annoyed and anxious about the ups and downs of selling our flat and buying another house. I've lost sleep, tears and time all in the name of waiting. It's not been great for my health, my happiness or my relationship. Through it all, I've been determined not to wish time away or to waste these precious days letting our future plans undermine out present days, but what I didn't understand for a lot of it was that simply by being in a state of waiting for something I was doing exactly that. What is for me will come with time. I must be willing to let it unfold at it's own pace. 

Patience is not the ability to wait. Patience is to be calm no matter what happens, constantly take action to turn it to positive growth opportunities, and have faith to believe that it will all work out in the end while you are waiting.
— Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Waiting for things is hard, but being patient feels easier once you get there. Patience feels like I can still keep moving forward, but waiting feels like I can't. Patience is acceptance, trust and faith, but waiting is anxiety, frustration and dissapointment. I am exercising patience in many areas of my life right now. Some because patience has been forced upon me, others because I have chosen patience as the best route to nurture the growing seeds. We live in a time where we want everything 'now' and quite often we can get it. Instant gratification is everywhere, and it gives us a false sense of how much time it really takes to do things. We don't wait for parcels or letters or information or all comes within minutes if we want it to. We only have to turn to nature to see that there is a season for all things, and that Winter is sometimes longer and harder than we anticipate. But still, there is a time to harvest and a time to be patient for the fruit to grow. 

I have to trust that in the snow storms, the cancelled flat viewings and the rescheduled shoots that there is something brewing for me and for my family. That perhaps it wasn't this new house, new town or supposed new life I was waiting for after all. It was for the deep, uncomfortable and transformative experience of learning what it means to be patient. To trust that the universe has my back, and to see growth in any experience that wears the mask of a setback. 

Sometimes it can feel like we are standing still, or even going backwards, but the truth is we never are going any which way but forwards. Such is the arrow of time. Onwards ever, backwards never. 

A Simple Guide to Indoor Photography - free download!

photographySiobhan WattsComment

I've been asking a lot of questions via Instagram lately about what area of photography my followers find most difficult, and overwhelmingly the feedback has been that they find taking pictures indoors really tricky. Whether it's the lack of available light, not knowing the right camera settings, or struggling with moving subjects and blurry images it seems that capturing our daily lives at home is something so many of you want to do but just aren't sure how to do it properly. 

Much of what I do as a lifestyle photographer of families and creatives involves shooting indoors, and as a result I have had to learn how to work in even the most difficult of situations. Occasionally I am presented with the most beautiful home or studio, with large windows and plenty of white walls to bounce light all around a room, but mostly what I have to contend with (in my own home as well) is the reality of our small city flats, cluttered surfaces and children who won't sit still. Part of the magic is learning to embrace what initially seem like limitations, but another part is of course understanding how to work within them to get the results you're looking for. But don't worry, because I am here to help you...

I wanted to create a free resource for you that can help you look at indoor photography in a different way. Instead of focusing on the constraints, I want to encourage you to change your perspective and start using light as your subject. Pay attention to it, if you haven't before, get to know your space and how the light changes throughout the day and throughout the year. Get creative with your composition, utilise windows and pockets of sunlight to create beautiful, memorable images of yourself, your home and your family. 


To download your free guide, you just need to enter your email address here, sign up to my mailing list and the guide will be delivered directly to your inbox. I can't wait for you to read it, and I really hope you find it useful. Do let me know what you think of it! Send me an email, leave me a comment here of DM me on Instagram. 

This guide has been created with DSLR users in mind, but if you're a smartphone user there are some tips on lighting and composition that you will find useful. You can just skip over the technical stuff that doesn't apply to you. 

What other areas of photography would you like some help with? Let me know in the comments and I'll add it to my list for creating new blog posts and downloads. 

Maker Portrait Session: Rebecca Desnos

photographySiobhan WattsComment

If there ever was a session that ticked all the boxes of who and what I love to photograph, Rebecca's shoot would be it. She's an earth conscious mama with a kind, open heart who makes the most beautifully dyed materials using things she finds in nature. Her passion and commitment to her craft are so inspiring to me, as is her light and airy studio that is as much of a feast for the eye as it looks in these photographs. 


It's such a pleasure to work with someone with an understanding of colour and visuals, it makes my job easy...more than that, it makes it a total delight. I have so much love and respect for Rebecca, for the work that she does and for how she keeps going with what she loves to do despite the demands of two young children. I know from experience that it's not easy to carve out time for yourself, to keep doing and learning and growing when you're tired and stretched too thin. But I also know from experience that if you can manage to keep yourself amongst the being a mama, partner, cook, cleaner and all those other things, the rewards you reap will be great. 


It was so wonderful to spend time in Rebecca's company, in her beautiful studio and to feel like we were a creative team. I always enjoy my work the most when it feels like a collaborative effort, we bounce ideas off each other, inspire each other and teach each other. It's a blessing, this job of mine, and on shoots like this it feels like that more than ever.


You can find out more about Rebecca's work on her website, but it's on Instagram she's most active, cultivating a community around all she loves to do. She self publishes a magazine Plants are Magic which you can buy from her website. It's a favourite in our household. 

If you're a maker or a creative entrepreneur and would like to find out more about working with me on a lifestyle portrait or studio session, I'd love to hear from you. Send me an email: and we can chat some more. 

52 Project - January 2018

photographySiobhan WattsComment
IMG_0195 copy.jpg

1/52: Eating her porridge by the window. She loves to look outside and watch people go by, and I love to get a little pocket of light on her face so I can photograph her. Those little hands, the curls in her hair...

IMG_0201-2 copy.jpg

2/52: Wiping the condensation off the window. The mornings are getting lighter, and I am savouring these slow, dark starts to our days. 

IMG_0037 copy.jpg

3/52: A little phase of jumping into bed in our guest room, and reading all the magazines. She made me do the same, and I was only too happy to oblige. 

IMG_0117 copy.jpg

4/52: A slow Saturday morning before we had a bath together. I saw her standing next to the bath, so I ran and grabbed my camera in the hope I could get a shot like this one. 

I let this project slip a little towards the second half of last year, and I feel sad about that. I wanted to make Rory a book for each year of her life, with a photo each week so she can watch herself grow and change. It's a wonderful challenge for me as a photographer too, trying to capture something different about her each week to make up a rounded project. It reminds me to pick up my camera more, capture the everyday and the things which don't always seem special in the moment but are always special when you are reminded of them after the fact. 

We are in a state of such change, just now, I have been over looking a lot about what makes our daily life and time together special. It won't be like this forever, me and my girl. It doesn't matter that our home isn't perfect, nor the light, not what we are wearing or doing. All that matters is that we are us, and that we are together. 

The Wildness Tonic Essays: My Forest, by Eva Maria Smith

explore & adventureSiobhan WattsComment

I am so pleased to introduce to you a new series that I have been slowly putting together over the past few months. The Wildness Tonic Essays is a collection of writings on the outdoors, and how being in touch with nature in a variety of different ways can bring us back to ourselves. First up, it's my dear friend Eva Maria Smith who has recently moved from her native Germany to Texas to follow her husband's career. I first connected with Eva on Instagram a few years ago, when her daughter Smilla was still a baby and I was pregnant with Rory. I'm endlessly inspired by her photography, her insightful words and her kindness and encouragement as a friend. If you don't know of her already, I know for sure you will be delighted to discover her now.


The older I get and the more I spread my wings and open my mind, like the great branches of the tall pines reaching towards the sky, the more I feel my feet on the ground, my roots becoming more important to me and stronger than ever, just like the roots of the tall pines burrowing deep into the moist mossy soil of my forest.


My forest – that is the stretch of woods by my parents’ house, my childhood home. If I have to describe it, I’d say it is the place of perfect green. Not the over-saturated green of fresh grass, but the rich mossy green, that is earthy and as honest as a color can be. My forest is not of spectacular size. It is not Montana, or Norway. Yet, it is filled with memories. 

I go to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in order.
— J. Burroughs

It is the place that my parents strolled hand-in-hand as a young couple in love. It is the place that my mother gently rocked me along in her womb, while my sisters ran ahead playing between the pines. It is the place where I napped in my stroller, soaking up the fresh crisp air. It is also the place that I walked grumpily and complaining all the way as a teenager, when my parents “forced” me on a Sunday walk. It is the place where I walked with friends, walked with boyfriends, walk with my husband. The place I’ve always taken my daughter, rocking her gently in my womb at first, then carrying her in a wrap, then chasing after her. The place I’ve always taken my son, rocking him gently in my womb at first, and now carrying him in a wrap. Sadly, it is the place I photographed for my father’s obituary two years ago.  It was his place first. A hunter, a mushroom gatherer, a man of nature, my father installed and fostered my love for the forest. Maybe that is why it becomes more important to me now that he is gone. It is a place to reconnect. Connect with nature. Connect with myself. Connect with the ghost of my father, who knows? 


The Japanese have a term - shinrin yoku (森林浴) – forest bathing. The intentional, mindful walk thought the forest that lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, boosts immunity and the mood.  Taking in the forest atmosphere improves the overall wellbeing. Research shows significant increases in human natural killer cell activity after forest bathing – lasting for up to a month. I have a term for that, too. “My forest”. 


Currently I live halfway around the world from my forest. I miss the green, the pines, the smell. I never know quite how much I miss it though until I set foot in it again. My forest means “home” to me. Just as my mother means “home” to me, or my sisters, or the house of my childhood. If a harvester came through and it took it all down, I fear my heart would be taken down with it. It took me almost thirty-two years to realize, that my forest connects me with my family, my home and my heritage. 

On a lighter note, my maiden name translates into “little tree”, and the town I grew up in roughly translated into “wooden home by the forest”. You see, maybe I didn’t choose my forest. Maybe I was born into it and it was meant to be my place all along. 

The place where I feel the calmest, the most at peace. My wildness tonic. 


Eva writes more about life, motherhood and nature on her blog: House of Smilla. You can also find her on Instagram (@houseofsmilla). 

Thanks for reading, and if you enjoyed this post and want to find out more about The Wildness Tonic and how you can get involved, take a look here for more information. 

How I got started as a photographer - part one

photographySiobhan WattsComment

Since I quit my full time job just over a year ago to pursue a career as a freelance photographer, I've received a ton of questions about how I did it. I understand that to anyone wanting to pursue photography as a career, it can seem impenetrable and more than a little intimidating. The question of how one becomes a photographer is both the easiest and hardest question to answer. The easy answer, and the one I should think every professional photographer will give, is to get yourself a camera and start taking photos. That's the foundation that all photographers have in common - they started with a camera. But that, my friends, is where the similarities end, and why it's such a difficult question to answer properly - because there is no single route into being a professional photographer. There is no qualification or rite of passage that will make you a photographer, and even more so to make you into one who will be able to successfully find fulfilment, satisfaction and adequate earnings from it.

The best way I can help you understand how to become a photographer, is to share with you a little of my journey so far. My story is not one of overnight success, nor of an upward trajectory along a focused path. It is a long and winding journey with many mis-steps along the way, of figuring out what I wanted to do and then of finally finding the courage to go out and do it. It's the story of a lifelong love of cameras and taking pictures, of an obsession with preserving memories and using photography to grab hold of as many moments in time as I can before they slipped through my fingers. 


Before you start reading, it's important to understand that I am not writing this from a place of having "arrived" but instead as someone who is on a journey of pursuing a passion and figuring out how to make it work for me and my family. It is my personal story of how I went from amateur enthusiast to professional, to my primary source of income being photography. I by no means make a full time living from it yet, as I balance my photography work around being a full time parent, and have only done this for one year so far. I have learnt a lot from my first year as a freelance photographer, but also from every step I have taken in my life so far to get here. That's why I am going to start you off at the very beginning...

In the beginning...

I remember the day my dad first showed me a camera. He took out a large, silver flight case from under the bed and opened it, revealing an array of lenses, filters, and other equipment neatly fitted between dark grey mountainous foam. The star piece was an Olympus OM-10, which I was too young to be allowed to use back then and was instead given a cheap 35mm automatic fixed lens black camera. And there began my obsession. I remember going for walks with my dog, capturing everything in sight and using rolls and rolls of film. I'd lie on my back and shoot upwards at the trees, trying to get a new perspective and understand the possibilities of this new way of seeing. I began to capture family holidays, my dog, my friends, any event I possibly could on film and fill scrapbooks with my adventures. It was the nearest I could get to a time capsule, that black piece of plastic and glass. 

In those days, I sent my film off to be developed. Green and white plastic Truprint bags, filled with rolls of 35mm film and a folded cheque. You'd tick boxes on the back of the bag to say what film was inside, how many exposures and if you wanted matt or gloss. I filled boxes of photos, albums and scrapbooks of all my memories, started a small collection of cameras (mostly junky ones and polaroids) and would buy photography books from charity shops, pouring over all the incredibly images and falling in love with monochrome photography especially. Alongside my growing interest in cameras and taking pictures, I was also a gymnast with a busy schedule. I trained at the local gym club for four hours a night after school, and was back in on the weekends too. There wasn't much time to pursue anything else seriously, and I don't remember it ever occurring me to do more with my photography. It was a hobby to me, one that I loved and did as often as I could, but gymnastics was my primary passion at that time.  


Starting to learn about analogue photography, cameras and the dark room...

When it came down to choosing subjects for my AS Levels at Secondary School (year one of A Levels which had been recently introduced in the UK) I decided to take Photography alongside Biology, Chemistry and English. It was a leap for me, because I had no aptitude for straight 'art' or drawing, but I was desperate to learn how to use a proper SLR camera and develop my own film in the darkroom. Those weekly Friday morning photography classes quickly became my favourite thing in the world, with the darkroom becoming my second home. I'd arrive at school early, and stay as late as I could, listening to cassettes of my favourite albums under the glow of the red light. It was my happy place, and often had to be dragged out by friends to go to my other lessons.

I loved so many subjects at school, science, the arts and sport especially. Honestly I think I could have pursued any one of them, but the problem I had was in narrowing it down and choosing a degree subject that would be something I would eventually follow as a career. The advice I constantly received was to choose, and to focus. Everyone else was doing that, so why couldn't ?. Compared with my peers at school, I often felt in the middle somewhere with my abilities. I wasn't a stand out student at any subject, but I was capable at almost all of them (ugh, mathematics, I am looking at you). I would have loved to go to Art school, and to study photography, but there were the 'art' students and then there was me. I didn't think I was a creative person, nor did I think I was good enough at photography to pursue it at that time. I had always said I wanted to be a scientist, and so that's how everybody saw me - my parents, my teachers, my friends and even myself.. Looking back, I wish I had chosen that moment in my life to take some time out, delve deeper into photography and work my butt off to produce a portfolio good enough to apply to art school. I don't think I really knew that was an option for me, because I truly believed that there was such a thing as creative people and non-creative people, and that each one belonged in their own box and couldn't cross over. So, I continued along the science path as planned, even though the clues were there that this wasn't right for me. 


In 2001 I went to university to study zoology, following another lifelong love and interest in animals and the natural world. I loved science, but found I hated sitting in lecture theatres all day or standing around in stuffy labs with hundreds of other students. So many of the other science students were very different to me, and I preferred to spend my time amongst the English, Drama and Music students playing pool and watching old movies. I was also a member of the photography society, and with my own key to the darkroom I ended up spending most of my days and nights in there. I shot only black and white film, mostly of my uni mates, nearby Windsor great park and the beautiful scenery around my university. Again, nothing I thought about taking more seriously at that stage, but despite all the other things I had to fill my time, photography was something I just couldn't quit. I spent so much of my student allowance on cameras, film and developing chemicals, papers and other equipment and started to delve deeper into the work and writings of the old masters of photography. I wish I still had some of the photos I took during those years, but a fire at my student house (started accidentally by me, but that's a whole other story) burnt almost everything I owned. All my photos, negatives, books and more.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.
— Steve Jobs (Stanford commencement speech, June 2005)

Losing my way, and finding it again...

After leaving university in 2004, I was completely and utterly lost. I had left early, without completing my degree, due to some mental health issues that I spoke a bit more about in this post. My last year or so at university was an extremely difficult time for me, and I still feel very sad about it, how much time I spent deep in the darkness of my own head without a rope to help me out. So I left university with no plans, no money, nowhere to live, and some fairly serious problems with depression, anxiety and insomnia. I ate a lot of rice, slept on a lot sofas and walked to a lot of crappy job interviews because I couldn't afford the bus. I delivered sandwiches on a bicycle, worked in fancy wine bars where I hated all the rude, entitled customers and did a few waitressing jobs before I found work as a barmaid in a little pub in Kentish Town. In that bar, I found a family of sorts, mostly musicians and creative people where I didn't feel so pressured to have a plan and a proper job. I learnt to play the banjo, joined a band and started running music nights all over London. I was suddenly surrounded by people who were doing something alternative, something for themselves. Most of them were pursuing a passion, a dream, without any sort of a plan. All they knew was that they didn't want a 'proper' job and a conventional way of life, and they were prepared to do whatever it took to keep doing what they loved. I adored them, I loved being in their company and I loved being part of that community. It was fun and free and inspiring and different, and it changed my world.


A year or so later,  I decided to go back to university to study Music Management and Events Management,  thinking I could get a qualification and some theoretical knowledge behind what I was doing, buying myself three more years of pursuing something I loved before I had to get a real job. I worked for a music promoter on the side to earn money, and went to uni during the day. I took a Summer internship on a small festival, worked with comedians and artists, writers and musicians. I learned a lot about running a small business, and became interested in the idea of working for myself one day. When my second degree finished in 2009, I was offered a paid events internship at a charity in East London. The internship soon progressed into a full time job as their music and events manager, and as the team was so small I was in a fortunate position where I could dream anything up and make it happen. It was a wonderful place to be, and the first time that my enthusiasm and endless stream of ideas and the energy I had to give to them was appreciated and valued. I took ownership over several areas of the charity and the cafe/event space we ran, including the marketing and social media. Alongside my other tasks, I started to teach myself how to build basic websites, write a blog, use Twitter and Facebook so I could promote our services and events to a wider audience. It was exciting, and I loved that job more than almost anything else I have ever done. 

My first digital camera, and starting a blog...

Around the same time as I started working for the charity, my parents gave me a digital camera for my birthday. I'd pretty much stopped doing photography a few years previous, I don't quite remember why...I guess life just took me in another direction for while. The gift of a new camera, and a new world of digital photography to explore and teach myself really was the beginning of the next phase for me. I started to take photos of the events I put on at the charity, using the images on our website and marketing materials. At the end of 2010, I started a blog of my own, and began to develop my photography, writing and social media skills for my own personal use as alongside doing the same for my job. I wasn't much good, to start with, using the kit lens on my Canon 450d, but the more I did it the better I became. I remember thinking to myself that one day I would need a blog, and so I had better start one and learn how to do it, so when that day came I would be ready. 

After a couple of years working at the charity, I became frustrated with some things about the job that I lacked experience to figure out and negotiate a pay rise. I left, thinking that was my only option, and took a job in the digital marketing team at Southbank Centre. I was so excited, at the time, to have got a 'real job' at a big organisation. It seemed like a stamp of approval, and I thought that was the start of my future in the arts organisation circuit in London. In reality, I was way too experienced for that job and I got bored quickly, but all the while I kept writing my blog and taking photos. My camera came everywhere with me, I started capturing more of daily life, the things I did at the weekends, the people around me, the trips I went on. It was just like when I was a child, documenting everything I did in a scrapbook, except this time my scrapbook was on the internet. I got up early before work, disappeared to quiet spaces on my lunch break and stayed up late at night working on my writing and photography.

Love what you do and do what you love. Don’t listen to anyone else who tells you not to do it. You do what you want, what you love. Imagination should be the center of your life.
— Ray Bradbury

After just 18 months at that job, I learnt just how limiting it was to have a small role in a large organisation, and I retreated back to work for the tiny PR/events firm I had interned for at university. Through them I got a full time contract with a theatre company, a small team but a global operation. The role was remote, so I worked from home and relished in the extra time this gave me to work on my writing and photography now that I wasn't commuting several hours a day to an office. I became obsessed with blogs (which were booming in popularity at the time) online businesses, creative people sharing their journey to building a life that they loved. Instagram was just starting out, and all of a sudden there was a very easy window into not only the lives of people doing what I wanted to do, but debunking this myth of 'the creative person' and who was and wasn't allowed to pursue a creative career. I found so many like minded people, with meandering careers and tales of lost years just like mine. People who wanted to be writers and artists and photographers and small business owners, but because of the twists and turns they had taken with their lives, studies and jobs they had been convinced they weren't capable of following their dreams. Suddenly, the narrative of my future changed. Everything I had been telling myself for years was wrong, and I started to believe that if all these other people were figuring it out, making it work...then maybe I could too. 

Have you enjoyed Part One of my story of how I got started as a photographer? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think. Look out for part two coming next week! 


Pin for later:


Rory is two

life & familySiobhan WattsComment

I'll be honest, the beginning of January is not the best time to have a birthday. It gets lost a little in Christmas and New Year and the energy to plan anything isn't really there...I felt terribly guilty this year for not marking Rory's actual birthday myself, because we were away for the weekend with friends visiting their new baby. Our friends were so sweet, they bought Rory a big '2' balloon and a cake which she somehow swindled us into letting her stay up until 8.30pm to eat. Needless to say we regretted that one at 2am!

IMG_0073 copy.jpg
IMG_0115 copy.jpg

I know she's only two, and she doesn't care when or if we celebrate her birthday, but this year it felt like it mattered a lot to me. I didn't want to get in the habit of neglecting to mark her birthday, because I think it's important to pay attention to these things as much as you can. It's not about cake or gifts or a big party, it's just about me making the effort and time to do something I think she would really enjoy. I am often caught up in my work, and I try to be mindful of not doing that to the detriment of my attention to my family. There's also a huge part of me that is of course a photographer and a memory maker. It's important to me to capture milestones in her life so that she can look back on them and remember what she was like and the things we did together. I love seeing the photos of myself at my different birthdays, blowing out the candles on the cake, and I want that for Rory too. So, the weekend after her actual birthday, I made her a cake and invited her bestie River over so we could make a bit of a fuss of her. I am so glad we did, because she loved it. She was so happy about blowing out the candles, sharing the cake with her buddy and playing with confetti balloons. She's been telling me all week about how her and River ate her birthday cake and played together, and it means a lot to me that I made a happy memory for her and all of us that were there with her.

IMG_0099 copy.jpg

So, my sweet Rory is two. And two year olds are a hell of a lot of fun. I feel so lucky to have this girl in our lives. She is so funny and clever and kind, full of energy and laughter and loves to perform a song or a dance whenever you ask her. As long as you clap afterwards, and if you don't she will most definitely ask you. "Clap, mama!". Oh this girl, she's the best. The words are coming thick and fast, and with them a whole load of hilariously funny glimpses into the workings of her mind. I bathed her last night, and she told me that the boat was doing a wee wee because the water comes out of this little tug boat in a spout. It's wonderful to be allowed to spend so much of your life in a state of play and exploration with a little person who lives for fun and learning and playing. 

IMG_0136 copy.jpg

There's a few challenges about this age, of course, as she's learning what she likes and doesn't like and how to exercise her will. She's strong minded, very independent and inquisitive - all good characteristics of course, but ones that can be frustrating when you're trying to leave the house. I'm learning how to communicate more effectively with her, speak in ways that make her feel listened to and empowered. I try to give her choices for things, involve her in as much as I can and empathise from her point of view. All these things significantly reduce any challenges about her age. I don't see her as 'naughty' or 'terrible' I just see her as her own little person who quite rightly doesn't always want to do what I want her to do. of course she'd rather play lego in the nude than come to the shops in the cold with me. When she wants something she wants it NOW and doesn't understand she has to wait. I find that for the most part, if I explain, give her some options "we're going to the park, would you like to walk or go in the buggy?" then she feels like she is getting to choose and that makes her happy. I'm not perfect, and I don't always have the patience to the best parent I can be, but that's normal and I'm always trying to be better. The hardest part of this age I think, is facing up to my own need for growth and teaching myself to have more patience. You need to find the child in you more than you think, focus on the learning aspect of everything they are doing instead of being annoyed that you're putting everything back in the cupboard for the tenth time that morning. Sure, they make a mess everywhere, but if they're having fun and learning then is that such a bad thing? Because that's all a two year old really wants to do, have fun and learn. 

IMG_0128 copy.jpg

Two year old Rory is top of my list of other humans I want to hang out with. There's no one that can make me laugh like she can. Her face, her voice, her run, the funny posh way she says "toast", how she still flicks my eyelashes when she drinks her milk, or for comfort if she ends up in our bed at night. Discovering the world alongside her, well it's the best. I live for her cuddles and kisses, the way she wraps her arms around me tight and says "squeeeeze", or "nunight mama, sleep well" before she curls up in her cot to sleep. It's such a wonderful age, and one I am sure I will look back on nostalgically when she's older and not quite so full of affection. Whenever Gav gets home from work, she shouts "more dada run Rory" as she runs into his arms and he swings her in the air. "Keeka ahh" is Twinkle Twinkle little star, she sings it in the bath and plays a tune on an imaginary piano on the side of the bath. She loves the dog like a sibling, and says  "Elkie nice" as she cuddles into her, resting her head on Elkie's back. It's all so sweet and wonderful. But don't be fooled by that face, she's smart as they come and hella cheeky with it. 

Happy birthday, my little Rory. You are, and always will be, my very favourite thing. 

IMG_0043 copy.jpg

Becoming a mother, and some thoughts on the first year

life & familySiobhan WattsComment

* I found this post in my draft folder, last added to about six months ago, and on re-reading it it didn't feel right to edit it to encompass the first two years, as it would be coming from such a different perspective.. Everything has moved on, and honestly I have forgotten so much about that first year that if I re-wrote it now all the corners would be rounded. Time takes the edge off, and this post very much needs them kept on. I hope you enjoy it, and will forgive me the time delay! 

I meant to write this post when Rory turned one, and already I'm sure I've forgotten more about that first year than I remember. Motherhood keeps you present and has a way of making the past quickly fall away. Things that you swear blind at the time you'll never forget are replaced by all the things that take up your brain the next day, and the next day, and the day after that. And now, we're more than halfway through her second year and it's slipping away fast. But I'll dig deep...

It's been almost seven months since Rory took her first proper steps all by herself, and it seemed to me that with those steps she walked herself right into toddlerhood. I wrote a bit more about it recently in this post, Nineteen Months. Everything about her was different, and overnight she just wasn't my little baby anymore. And yes, I know, in many way she will always be my little baby, but honestly I love toddler Rory so much that I am OK with it. That ever growing distance, her ever shrinking need for me, I am OK with that too. Because every step I see her take towards independence makes me proud of her, and proud of me. It means I've done my job, taught her the right things and made her strong enough to explore the world without me. I'll always be here for her to fall back on, but if she doesn't need me to always hold her hand then that's a good thing. 


2016 was our first year together, the year I met my Rory. It was the year that everything shifted, and the year I became a Mother.  I've heard it described as finding a whole new room in your house that you didn't know existed, becoming a parent. Having Rory has transformed everything, to the point that me before her feels like a different person. A foreign country that I'll never re-visit. The love, joy and purpose she has brought into my life is incomparable to anything else, and it's something you can't fathom until you have a little human of your own. Your heart now beats outside your own chest, you have a primal instinct to love and protect them that will eclipse the love you feel for anyone else in your life. Watching them grow, experience the world for the first time and slowly seeing them develop into a little person really is magic.

But that first year? It's hard, so hard. Some people talk about how hard it is, but so many people don't. It's not a year for your health, your relationship or your work to thrive. It's a year for merely surviving, in so many areas of your life, because the one person who gets to thrive in all this is your baby. And as long as they are thriving, everything else can wait its turn. There are the obvious challenges of sleep deprivation, parenting conflicts, financial pressures and recurring illness but there's the less obvious and less talked about challenge that comes from the transition into becoming a parent. Becoming a mother. It's something that happens slowly, but you're forced into it abruptly with the fact that one day you are just you and the next day there is a baby to care for. All day and all night. Their need for you is so strong, that no matter how much you love it and them and how comfortable you feel as a mother, it is sure to overwhelm you at times.


There is nothing that can prepare you for the amount of yourself you will have to give in that first year. Your time, your energy, your sanity...I remember days when I didn't know how I was going to get through from one side to the other. The tiredness got the better of me over and over again. And the days when I was sick? Well they were some of the hardest I've ever had. So many days were a struggle, as were plenty of our nights. I found myself envious and resentful of how uneven the divide was between the responsibility of a mother and a father in caring for their child. Ours is a traditional split, with me taking on almost all of the childcare duties while Gav goes out to work. I know for others the split is more even, and for some it leans more towards the father taking on the primary care. Most parents just can't do it 50/50. Looking back on those early days of parenting, I am so grateful of the time I got to spend just my daughter and I. Of being thrown in at the deep end and having no choice but to learn to swim. But at the time, it was difficult and I experienced many times of jealousy that my partner was getting to go out to work each day, eat hot meals with both hands, have adult conversations, push his career forward while mine was on hold, go out for coffee with colleagues, sit still in meetings and just be able to be himself. His time was mostly his own, and I was so envious of that. 


Becoming a mother affects you physically and mentally, in a way that just won't ever be the same for a man becoming a father. That's not to diminish the transition for them, nor underplay the challenge they may initially have in bonding with a baby they didn't grow inside them, nor can feed with their own body. A woman's experience of having a child is more visceral, because they undergo the most incredible process of growing another human being inside their own. It's magical, sure, but it's also uncomfortable and exhausting. Pregnancy leaves its marks on you, widens your hips and your rib cage, sometimes your feet, stretches your skin and makes your hair fall out. Then there's the birth, a process to be marvelled at and one I really do feel priveleged to have experienced, but they don't call it labour for nothing. Rory's birth was a tough three day process, with my waters breaking early and needing me to be induced, have an epidural and ultimately a forceps delivery. The moment she was born was the most powerful, emotional and best experience I have ever had, but physically I was left exhausted and bruised. Mentally I showed symptoms of PTSD for a few weeks after the birth, with disturbing dreams, night sweats and flashbacks. The dreams reoccur even now, usually when I think too hard about having another baby, and physically I still have some minor issues left over from the forceps delivery. 

Since becoming a mother, there's been many times I've bemoaned my new body. It's so different from my old one, and it's taken time to stop feeling so alien to me. My shape has changed, my old clothes don't fit or flatter the same, and I certainly don't have as much time to care for it as I used to. Enough time has passed now that my wardrobe has evolved, I am able to exercise regularly again and look after myself a little more because my arms are not always full with a helpless newborn. My experience of that first year, and certainly those early weeks and months is that in everyone's eyes the gratitude and love you feel for your new baby should eclipse any feelings you have as a woman and a new mother. Suddenly those two identities become wrapped up in one, that you barely have time to process it all yourself. And I am saying all this from the point of view of someone who didn't struggle with some of the more difficult parts of the transition. I had no problem breastfeeding, bonding with my baby and we were blessed to have no health issues for either myself or Rory after she was born. I can only imagine how hard it must be for someone that did struggle with those things, perhaps without support. 


In the first few months of Rory's life, I remember yearning to be able to leave the house all by myself. Without a baby, without breastfeeding clothes, without a change mat, a burp cloth or a rattle. Even half an hour alone to go out and get coffee, and feel 'normal' was something I wanted to do more than anything. I loathed it when health visitors, doctors or baby group leaders referred to me as "Mum", because it seemed like my identity had been wiped out over night along with the birth of my child. I dealt with that by over working myself, and perhaps not succumbing to those early days as much as I should have, But that was my journey, and you will have yours. While it's true that you will never go back to who you were before you had a child (that portal has closed, my friends) it's also true that in time you will find peace with the person you are to become. You'll find your own definition of what it means to be a Mother, and how that fits with you as an individual and as an adult with wants and needs outside that of your baby. In my experience, the new person I became after having Rory is someone I grew to love and respect far more than before she was in my life. But that takes time, so if you don't feel like that right away it's OK, and more people should tell you that. It doesn't take away from the love you have for your baby, or for being a mother, just because you need time to process this new identity and find yourself amongst it all.

In the days before Rory turned one, I felt so emotional thinking back to myself in labour that time last year. It took me back to all the thoughts and feelings I had while bringing her into the world, when I didn't know what she looked like, or know anything about who she was. I was exhausted, scared and so ready just to have her in my arms. I lost faith more than a few times that there was even a baby in my belly, it took so long to get her out. Those memories of her birth have become the birth of me as her mother, and all those things I know now about what that means. Me, in labour, the last moments of being just myself. And now, I don't mourn for that person at all. I feel a pang of sadness looking at photos of me before her, because she has grown into the sweetest, funniest, most brilliant little companion and I don't know how I got by without her laughter. It's hard, that first year. That growing into your new self, all while meeting the sometimes hourly needs of your baby. But grow into yourself you will, uncomfortably so, like a butterfly tentatively emerging from it's cocoon after a long and transformative sleep. Everything you feel is OK, because it's all part of who you were learning how to live with who you will become. Bickering flatmates, soon to become the best of friends.

if you enjoyed this post and want to read more about motherhood, click here for more posts in the series. do leave me a comment and let me know what you think, i'd love to hear from you.  

*all photos by Rebecca Caridad, taken November 2016.

2018, my year of intentional growth

life & familySiobhan WattsComment

I wrote a little in my Farewell, 2017 post about the years preceding my becoming a mother in which I was somewhat directionless and purposeless. Catching on to a new idea every time one popped into my head in case it was the one that would finally give me what I was looking for. The New Year was a time for me to dream big, make lofty goals and try to change my life. I kept thinking I needed to add more, and failed to realise that what I needed more than anything was space. I needed to slow down, quiet down and listen to the voice inside my own head and heart. Figure out what it was that I wanted and needed, instead of running in the fruitless pursuit of trying to catch up with people that had followed a linear, traditional career path. I wasn't getting closer to them, I was just burning out. It wasn't until I had a baby in the beginning of 2016 that I really understood what it takes to change your life. I understood that it begins with a shift in your mindset, because a change in thinking is the only thing that will change your doing. You can’t run someone else’s race, trying to keep up just for the sake of it and reach an end point that you haven’t given any real thought to whether that’s where you want to finish up anyway. 

It might seem strange to you that new motherhood could be the thing that helps you achieve more with your time, especially because you have so much less of that time than before. A new baby offers you very little leeway in your daily activities, they demand so much from you and so often that in the early days at least you might only be afforded 30-60 minute slots in a 24 hour period where you aren't responding to their needs. Breastfeeding, nappy changing, rocking…and repeat. Sounds intense? Well, it is. A new baby stops you from adding more of anything, and forces you to cut back on everything that isn't essential to your life. Some days it's just about survival. Cutting back teaches you about all the things you can live without, and you begin to understand what are your needs and wants away from the noise of what are everyone else's needs and wants.

You cannot change your life until you change something you do every day. By learning the laws and then living them, you will be on your way to reaching your potential. If you keep learning and growing every day over the course of many years, you will be astounded by how far it will take you.
— John Maxwell

This cutting back didn’t come easily to me, and I fought and fought against it for the whole of my first year of motherhood until I couldn’t fight any more. Last January, after spending 2016 trying to do so many things alongside having a small baby that I ended the year with a bad flu and Noro Virus, I dug deep and pledged to make 2017 my year of priorities. To be selective, and to fill my time with only what was essential. That pledge served me well last year, and I managed to build the foundations of a freelance photography business, continue raising my child and staving off almost all illness. For the first time in a long time it felt like I was getting somewhere, and without needing to be busy all the time. 

This year, I am not having my first baby or going freelance for the first time. It's a chance to build on the foundations and move gently forward in my personal life and in my work. I want to grow them as much as I can, while making sure there is intention behind everything I do. I want my actions to have impact, add value and all work together to move me steadily towards my goals.  I like to think of it as if I am in a swimming pool, each year improving my strength and honing my style so that every stroke I make gets me nearer to the other side. So that I enjoy the act of swimming more, instead of using all my energy to flail around in the water so I don't drown. If 2017 was the year I learnt to swim, then 2018 will be the year I put everything I learnt into practice. 

Some useful links and thing I've read to help me with my intentions for 2018:

Making the transition to intentional growth - John Maxwell
A Whole Hearted Year - Jen Carrington 
Goal setting for your creative business - Simple and Season
Unravel your year - Susannah Conway


These are the ares of my life that I am focusing on growing with intention this year:

Finding a better balance between work and motherhood
It's no secret that it's hard to make both these things fit, especially without childcare. Two years trying has taught me that I can't grow my business without some help, and so the time has come for me to look at my options. I don't need much, but I think a little more time and space for myself, plus some distance between Rory and I would be good and healthy for both of us. I am proud of and grateful for the two years I have spent raising my daughter, navigating all those milestones together and forming a strong bond that I hope will serve us well through the rest of our lives together. I am struggling now, to feel present in my work or during my time with her, and that's something I am looking forward to changing once we relocate to a new town. 

Moving house, and transforming it into our family home.
It's been a long process so far, but with any luck we are nearing the end of the selling and buying. Our plans have changed somewhat along the way, but we currently have an offer accepted on a house in the Hertfordshire town of Hitchin. We will be moving from our three bedroom flat to a five bedroom house with a sizeable garden, and I can't wait. It's a beautiful house, but the current owners have removed or covered up many of the original features that we love and want to put back in. I'm excited to make it our own and transform each room, and host some great parties too. It's the perfect space for parties!

Relocating from the city, and taking advantage of all that it offers.
If you'd told me a year ago that we would be leaving the city in 2018, I don't think I would have believed you. That move was further ahead in our plans, not something we considered doing for another five years. Hitchin is a reasonable sized town, where we can walk to shops and cafes and restaurants and the train station, but where we are a very short drive from some beautiful countryside. Living in a smaller town will mean I am a closer walk from everything I need, whereas in London it takes me at least 20-30 minutes to walk to amenities that will now be within 5-10 minutes. I want to make an effort to meet new people, engage in the local community, take part in leisure activities and learn to drive so I can take advantage of the countryside. 

Growing Bless the Weather, as a photography business and a blog
I still haven't mapped this out fully yet, but I want to grow my business, reach more people, produce better work, increase my income and really push myself to create more. Build on what I've done in my first year of freelancing and work towards a sustainable, successful business that inspires people and creates a community around it. I'm excited for this year, but still have a lot of thought to devote to how I am going to grow my business with intention. As a freelancer, It's so easy to get overwhelmed with workload, or stressed when everything goes quiet. Clear goals and intentions will help me see what needs to be done.



Are you making any goals or intentions for the year? I'd love to hear them. Leave me a comment below, and let's chat some more! 

A philosophy of food: why I choose a vegan, plant-based diet

food & recipesSiobhan WattsComment
IMG_0058 copy.jpg

It's been more than ten years since I decided to go vegan, and a few years before that since I became a Pescatarian, when I ate a mainly vegetarian diet but included some fish. That means it has been almost fifteen years since I have eaten any red meat or chicken. Back then, being vegan was considered an extremely unusual lifestyle choice to make. No one was calling it 'plant-based', there were only a handful of vegan recipe books, hardly anywhere served non-dairy milks or any vegan options for food or drink and there was no such thing as a food blog. The major supermarkets were just starting to bring in some 'free from' items, but mainly for those with gluten or dairy intolerances and so not many products were solely vegan or labelled as such. 

Fast forward a little over ten years, and there has been a huge shift in the conversation around our diets, and what they're doing to our health and the environment. We have an understanding and an acceptance that reducing our consumption of meat and increasing our intake of plant foods is a necessary step forward in our evolution. A step that many of us are taking, even if it's without the intention to stop eating animal products altogether. It's not unusual to see mainstream coffee shops, sandwich chains, restaurants and supermarkets offering clearly labelled vegan alternatives, with plant based eating very much rising in popularity. It feels less 'us and them' than it once did, and more that collectively we are all thinking harder about the choices we make when it comes to our diets. I read the other day that Pret a Manger's vegetarian offerings outsold their meat counterparts in 2017, and Sainsbury's new vegan cheese range outperformed expectations by 400%. Predictions are that veganism and plant-based eating is set to be an even bigger trend in 2018.

IMG_0003 copy.jpg

Despite being vegan for so long, I have a love/hate relationship with the word 'vegan'. I don't think labels help us a lot of the time, and I think with regard to food, nutrition and the environment, holding meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans up against each other doesn't do anyone any good. Don't many of us want the same things for ourselves and our families? To eat food that tastes good, that makes us feel good and that keeps us healthy? And if we could do that while having as little impact on the planet as possible, that would be pretty good too, right? When someone tells me they would be vegan but they can't give up cheese, I question their motivations for going vegan. It's not an all or nothing choice, and reducing your consumption of animal products does not have to mean becoming vegan, if that is not ultimately what you want. I firmly believe it is better to do something, however small, than do nothing because you can't do it all. There's no vegan exam, no certificate to get, no badge to be earned and despite what you might think, no vegan police. I'm not here to preach giving up all animal products, and certainly not over night, but what I will unashamedly do is urge you to think more about your food choices. Where it comes from, and at what cost to animal welfare, human welfare, the environment and your health. We can always make better choices, and those choices begin with educating ourselves about what we put in and on our bodies. 

Over the time I've been vegan, that word has been used a lot in judgment without understanding. Less so now, than ten years ago, but it is a weighty word that leads people to make assumptions about someone who decides to follow a vegan lifestyle, or about themselves and why they could never go vegan. I've also sadly seen it used a lot by vegans, in judgement against non-vegans, assuming that because something is vegan it is always a better choice. Each of our diets, and furthermore our ethical choices are a personal issue, and it is up to each of us to decide why we eat what we eat. We must respect other people's opinions, and in turn have our own respected. I choose to call myself a vegan, yet I use and wear wool (I make a point to seek out ethical options), I eat honey and am not as selective as I could be about alcohol and household products. Some of that is due to laziness, and some of it is due to making up my own decisions about some aspects of veganism. I say this, because pursuing a vegan or more plant-based lifestyle does not mean you have to be perfect or follow strict guidelines. What is important is that you arm yourself with the facts, and make your decisions based on your own values. 

IMG_0036 copy.jpg

I'm not vegan because I think it's the perfect dietary choice, or even the perfect ethical choice. It's not a black and white issue, and just because something is labelled as vegan does not automatically mean it is good for our health or the environment. Many plant and plant based foods are produced with a huge environmental cost, many 'meat free' products are little more than processed rubbish, full of salt and sugar with no nutritional value whatsoever. It's not enough to say we are vegan or vegetarian or any other thing which gives us an umbrella to hide under. Instead, what we must do is be more mindful of how and what we eat. We must ask questions, read labels, educate ourselves and really understand what is in the food we buy, where it comes from and at what cost to ourselves, to the animals, to the planet and to other humans that food has.  I am an animal lover and an environmentalist, but when my eyes were opened in my early twenties to the great cost on both of those things to put food in our bellies, I knew I my diet and lifestyle had to change. I couldn't reconcile my love for the natural world with my habit for eating meat and dairy, especially when I understood that those foods were not necessary to my wellbeing and survival in a Western country. And more than that, as much as they were detrimental to animals and the planet, they could also be damaging my own health in the process. 

.The reality is, the way we treat most of the animals that we use for food is beyond cruel. It's no secret that factory farming practices are inhumane, and that if most of us could see inside one we'd think twice about consuming the products that come from them. But so much of our eating habits are tied up in tradition, in what we ate when we were children, in how our families still eat now, in what's easy and convenient and socially 'normal'. The way we eat is perhaps our most ingrained habit of all, and many of us (myself included) were raised as meat eaters without understanding there was a different way. For me, the animal cruelty is the most pressing issue. The way we treat animals for our own gains, when it is unnecessary to do so. I'm not here to tell you to go vegan, or even to change your diet, but what I will certainly encourage you to do is to think differently about your food and where it comes from. What's in your food? Who makes it? How far does it travel? Figure out your own personal philosophy of eating, and delve a little deeper into the food in your fridge and on your plate. Try to make better choices that are kinder to the animals, to the planet and to your own body. 

Are you interested in going vegan, or eating more plant based meals? Is there something specific you'd like to know that I might be able to help you with? Leave me a comment, I would love to chat more about it.

Pin for later: 


Farewell, 2017

life & familySiobhan WattsComment
IMG_0736 copy.jpg

It's so strange to think how many years of my life went by without much of anything changing. This is before I had Rory, of course. I would feel like the end of the year was my chance to make a plan, to do something different and escape the monotony of a day job that I didn't want to be doing for much longer. I couldn't see a way out, but I'd fight and fight and fill notebooks with ideas and still never be sure what to do nor be brave enough to do it even if I did know. I'd change my life for the better where I felt I could. Exercise more, take time off, travel abroad, learn something new, meet up with friends more often...all the usual new year promises we make to ourselves. I got so used to what I knew. To that day job, to the comfort of working from home and the security of a monthly pay cheque. If it ain't broke, don't fix it, you know?

IMG_0745 copy.jpg

I was always happy with my life in those years, but I now understand what was missing was a sense of purpose. That what I did mattered, that it made a difference to anyone but the people I worked for. I earned more money for them, built their business and moved their goals forward...but what about mine? It wasn't enough for me to have a job and a passion that were separate. I wanted to wake up every day and know that every minute of my time was spent in the pursuit of something. A dream, a calling...whatever you want to call it. I was unfulfilled, and that led to so much scrabbling around doing busy work trying to find my way. I see now that those years were important, an essential step to understanding what I did and didn't want to do. At the time they felt like such a waste. 

I read back on my Farewell, 2016 post before I started writing this one, and it reminded me how uncertain everything was this time last year. I'd just quit my job, finished up a few months of having one day a week childcare for Rory and had absolutely no idea what was in store for me. It was exciting, but more nerve wracking and stressful than I anticipated. It has been a huge year for personal growth, understanding the limits of my abilities to balance everything. Have you heard the saying 'rocks before sand"? Well this year I tried to stick to that, filling my jar with the important things first, so there's space for the little things to permeate the gaps. If you go sand first, there's no room for anything else.

IMG_0493 copy.jpg

2017 has been a year of farming. Doing all that digging, turning over the earth and sowing seeds so that when the summer comes we can harvest. I have poured so much effort into the foundations of my business, and the rest of my effort has gone into selling our current flat in London and searching for another one outside the city. Next year, I am certain we will reap the rewards of all that effort, especially with moving home. It feels a little like we are on pause, just now, waiting for this new life and new start that is still just out of reach. I trust that it will all work out, that what is meant for us won't go past us, and that every bump in the road is an opportunity for growth. 2017  has also been a year of gratitude, and of holding on to the practice of staying close in my mind to what I am grateful for so I can keep calm in the more challenging moments. A lot of this year has been unsettling, and I needed that anchor. 

IMG_0498 copy.jpg

I have loved this year with all my heart. It has been full of the pursuit of everything I love, and I don't think there's anything better I could ask for than that. All killer no filler, if you will. But that doesn't mean it has been a year without challenges. But I've learnt that it's precisely because of the challenges that I have gained so much from it. A winding, overgrown path you have to fight your way through tells you there is treasure at the end. That it's a path worth travelling. If you want your journey to be smooth, well lit and signposted...well that's like the department store version of life. And I don't think anyone really wants that, do they?

I'm ending this year focusing on rest, hiding indoors from the rain and sleeping while Rory sleeps. No big plans and absolutely no work. These are things that can wait until the New Year has started, because a rested mind is like a freshly turned over patch of soil. The time is coming that my thoughts will be ripe for growth, but for the next few days we will stay dormant. 


Annual reflections:
I've been doing these reflections at the end of each year for the last three years. You can read my previous from 2015 and 2016. I really enjoy doing these reflections, they're wonderful to read over each year to see how far I've come and how much just little adjustments and intentions move you forward. Here are my reflections on 2017...

What 2017 accomplishments am I most proud of?

Balancing a 1-2 year old human and a 0-1 year old freelance photography business has been no mean feat, most of all in accepting my limitations within that balance. Learning not to see them as separate entities but as two parts that make me whole, and that as the demands of motherhood ebb and flow, so must my attention to my work. 

What are some takeaways from those triumphs?

That I am running my own race. That trying to keep up with full time parents or full time creative business owners is an unachievable and unnecessary goal. Instead what is required is some deep and honest soul searching to get in touch with what is really important to me, and how I can build a life and business that supports that. 

In which areas did I struggle most in 2017?

I struggled with being a woman in her thirties without a regular, independent income. While Motherhood might be the most important job in the world, the wages are terrible and the holidays are non-existent. This year I worked harder than I've ever done in my life, and earnt the least money. That was hard to adjust to after spending half my life so far working and earning a monthly wage. 

Which of these difficult situations did I overcome? (Or work to overcome?)

It took some frank conversations with Gav to explain how I felt, and to adjust our financial arrangements so that I felt more in control of 'our money' rather than my money and his money. I know some couples do this already before children, but we didn't. We only had joint finances to cover regular expenses, everything else came from our individual earnings/savings and we liked it that way. Works great when you're both in full time employment, works terribly when one of you gives up your job to raise your child. We talked about it, and figured out a new way forward. Pivotal moment for us, and me, for sure. 

Which friends supported me most this year?

I feel like my soul sister Lucy will top the list every year. She's just that kind of person. She gives so much of herself, truly listens to what you say and understands exactly how to help you in every situation. I don't know how I got so lucky to meet her, connect with her and have her be such a big part of my life these last two years. I learn a lot from her open heart, her generosity and her vulnerability.

Which friendships changed and shifted?

Sadly, I lost a friendship this year. I've found some friendships difficult to maintain since having Rory, and it has certainly shown up holes in relationships that were there before but went unnoticed. My instincts are to always patch things up, always be on good terms with everyone, but sometimes I think thats impossible to do without giving too much of yourself. Honestly, it's a sore spot for me and a low point of the year. 

All my other friendships I think deepened. I feel more respect and love for my friends than ever, seeing them navigate challenges in their work, life and family. As always, I feel blessed to call all these wonderful women in my life good friends. 

What are some new skills that I learned?

Parenting a toddler, does that count? I'm not sure I am particularly skilled at it, but it sure is something I didn't know how to do this time last year. My focus wasn't on learning new skills this year, but on improving the ones I already have. I've learnt to create more meaning in my photography and my writing, in my connections with clients too. It's been wonderful to be so focused on building on current abilities, instead of always looking for what's new. I'm excited to develop those further in 2018.

What are some things I’ve learned to accept about myself this year?

That I have a quick and bad temper, and how unacceptable I find that now I am a mother. Anger goes against how I want to parent, and it upsets me that I have to work through this personality trait. I feel like a fraud, sometimes, preaching kindness and love and understanding when sometimes I can be the opposite of all those things. I know none of us is perfect, but does that stop us from expecting that from ourselves?

Name 3-5 positive memory-making experiences from 2017.

1. The mornings spent with Lucy, co-working at her home with Rory and her son, River. We eat breakfast together, listen to music, burn incense, talk about life, the universe and everything. And get some work done too. 

2. Spending my 33rd birthday in a cottage in Cornwall with Gav and Rory. It was wild and windswept, but the outdoors and rugged coastline was just what we needed. 

3. Ending the year with the most beautiful family session I've ever had. For parts of the session everything was so quiet all you could hear was the click of my shutter. Such comfortable silence is a powerful thing. 

4. Rory taking her first steps in January, and buying her her first shoes in the February. We took her for a walk in Dulwich Park and it was amazing to be able to walk alongside her and hold her hand. 

5. Travelling to Germany in April to photograph Eva and her family. It was a special experience to be invited into a stranger's home (we only knew each other via IG before that) and to be so welcomed by her and her husband. I was humbled by their openness, generosity and friendship. We had such great and interesting chats, I wish only that we lived closer so our families could meet over dinner more often. A highlight of my year, for sure. 

Name a couple of negative memory-making experiences.

Losing the friendship I mentioned above. Selling our laborious, frustrating and unsettling. Hunting for a new place to live, because the novelty wears off fast. The pressure I felt at the start of the year to earn money and gain clients, instead of giving myself space and letting things evolve.

In which areas did I see the most personal growth and change?

This was a huge year for personal growth for me. Having a baby become a toddler, starting a freelance business and trying to move home are opportunities enough for growth on their own, but all together? Well you learn to grow or you drown. I discovered how to use a gratitude practice to anchor me, how to slow down and create space in my schedule to give me time to rest and time to work with clarity and focus. 

What did I learn about myself in 2017?

That it's alright not to be perfect, and to always strive to be better. That being a mother and a creative business owner represents a state of continual learning and improvement. 

What am I most grateful for in 2017?

I am grateful for all the opportunities that came my way, the serendipitous ones and the ones I sought out. I am grateful for the high standards Gav and I set for ourselves, for each other and from our life as a family, because it keeps us working hard to show up for each other. We both want lives full of love and happiness, support and freedom, understanding and empathy. We don't settle for anything less, and keep demanding that of each other.  

What did I gain in 2017? What did I lose?

I gained a certain level of comfort in my role as a mother, and as a creative business owner. I feel like that limpet on a rock, that shuffles and shuffles and creates a groove until they feel at home. This year I've shuffled uncomfortably in may ways, but now I've made a little groove.I can nestle in.I gained a confidence to run my own race, focus on what's right for me instead of worrying about what everyone else is up to and how on earth I might catch up.  I lost the friendship I mentioned above. I also lost a whole lot of time talking to estate agents and lawyers and filling in paperwork and house hunting!

What things do I want to leave behind in 2017?

The disconnect between Gav and I during parts of the year, that we worked hard to sort out towards the end of the year. It feels like I have my love and my best friend back, and it's scary how easy it is to fall into bad habits and drift away from each other without realising it. My non-exercising post baby body - I say that with kindness, of course, but now it's time to focus a little and get some much needed regular exercise. Can I also say house hunting? I'd like to not have to do that for much longer.

Which things do I want to take with me into 2018?

The enthusiasm and love for my work that I have finished up 2017 with. I feel surer than ever that this is my path and I just want to keep walking it. 

What are some hopes you have for the year ahead?

I want to get back into reading in a big way - I'm aiming for two books a month. I want to move home, to a new town and a proper house with a garden. Get some childcare for Rory a few mornings a week, enabling me to have some time to grow my business. I hope to go deeper with my creations, produce more meaning and connection through my photography and my writing. I'd like to work on my writing, at some point, perhaps this year. Take a creative writing course, start journalling regularly, move beyond just keeping this blog as a practice for my writing. 

IMG_0777 copy.jpg

Thank you, as always, for being here and coming along for the ride with me. It means a lot that you read what I write, follow along and support me, even if you do it silently. My aim is to encourage you, inspire you and serve you in whatever way I can, whilst ultimately doing this because I love it. This space is a great source of joy, creativity and comfort to me and I love to have you here to share it with. So thank you. Wishing you a peaceful, happy and fruitful 2018!

If you'd like to keep up with all my new posts next year, follow me on Bloglovin

A Holiday Playlist

at homeSiobhan WattsComment
IMG_0662 copy.jpg

You can listen to the playlist here.

My absolute favourite thing about the slipping away of Autumn into Winter is how the atmosphere changes. The light, the sounds, the smells...more than any season I think it's an abrupt transition, as soon as daylight savings hit we are plunged into more darkness and everything just feels like Winter. I reach for light and comfort, anything that gets me through the shorter days. 

I've been working on this playlist for a few years, but it's only now that I'm happy enough with it to share. I am a total perfectionist when it comes to playlists, because I grew up in an era where making mixtapes was an art form. You paid attention to how each song finished and the next one began, taking your listener on an emotional journey while also showing off just how good and eclectic your taste was. It could make a break a friendship, or a relationship. With the right mixtape, you could go far. Have you seen High Fidelity? That bit where John Cusack talks about making mixtapes...yeah.

I love Christmas songs, but I don't love the ones I've heard a hundred times. They just remind me of all the commercialisation of this time of year that makes me want to have no part in it. I've tried hard to make a playlist that will make you feel like Christmas, but that is full of the unconventional while remaining strangely familiar. I've steered away from the cheesy, the over played, and stuck to creating a vibe. There's some that you'll know, and some that perhaps you won't.

This playlist is designed to go with your morning coffee, over candlelight and cedar wood smells from your oil burner. It's designed to soundtrack festive family craft days, baking gingerbread biscuits and stamping potato stars on wrapping paper. It's designed to accompany your evening meals, party drinks, or slow evenings in front of a fire with your beloved. Whatever you're doing this Christmas, this is the playlist for you. It's on religiously in our house for the whole of December, we love it and I hope you will too.

If you want to stay updated with all my new blog posts, follow me on Bloglovin'.


Reflections on my first year of freelancing

photographySiobhan WattsComment

I finished up my last shoot of the year on Sunday, and when I delivered the edits to my client on Monday I broke down in tears. My emotions just came bubbling up out of nowhere, and I let them take a hold of me without any resistance. I wanted to feel every last bit of pride for all the hard work and dedication I've poured into the year and all the exhaustion, satisfaction, happiness and love that has come back out. It was a powerful feeling that I didn't expect at all. 

If you're new to my blog or Instagram, you might not know that I quit my day job last December when my maternity leave came to an end. Financially it didn't stack up for me to go back to work while paying almost my full salary for childcare. It seemed like a bad trade off, to stay in a job I didn't really like just for the security of a monthly pay cheque while paying someone else to take care of my baby. I wasn't ready to be away from Rory so much, and I definitely didn't want to go back to my job. I'd been taking on bits of photography work here and there for a few years, but not taking any of it too seriously and certainly nothing resembling having a freelance career. I'd hoped that during my maternity leave I could steer it gently in the direction of earning a regular income from my photography, so when the time came I could take a leap of faith and leave my full time job behind.  

I had this vision of how I would blend work and motherhood, working away while Rory napped, going on shoots when Gav had days off, taking Rory with me sometimes and spending evenings blogging, editing and catching up on admin. On paper, it was easy to split up my time like that and make it seem doable. To set financial goals, write lists of dream clients, ideas for blog posts and plans of how I'd market and grow my business. I wrote timetables of my days and weeks and decided how many shoots I'd need a month and how much I'd need to charge to earn the money I needed. All things that I was completely right to do, and it was a really sensible and thoughtful approach to starting my business. 

But, and this but is big...what I didn't account for is quite how much all of those plans would be thrown out of the window when the unexpected happened. And with a kiddo, the unexpected is a lot. Wakeful nights, teething, sickness, separation anxiety, those tiring toddler days that leave you too frazzled to think straight let alone manage to get any work done. And possibly the most frustrating of them all is when your kid just won't go down for a nap for whatever reason. There goes your nice couple of hours to work, and once you've spent an hour rocking, patting and walking your baby around to try and get them to sleep you'll find that all your energy and enthusiasm to work has gone too. That's the biggest challenge of working alongside parenting I think, the lack of time and energy to actually get your work done, especially if you don't have any childcare or family nearby to help out.

IMG_0036 copy.jpg

I'd be lying if I said I haven't looked back since quitting my job twelve months ago. I don't regret that decision one bit, but there's been times when the juggle has got a little too much and I've questioned if life would have been much easier if I had just gone back to work three days a week and found a childminder for Rory. I worked from home, so the thought of me sitting on the sofa by myself all day, working on my laptop with a movie on in the background and an endless stream of cups of tea has seemed appealing during some more difficult days. And yes, probably, things would have been easier on the whole, but my days would be far less joyful without Rory and the pursuit of something I love to fill them. And I can tell you that all the hard work and the ups and downs that come with freelancing are worth it a hundred times over when you are working on your passion and building something for yourself. I know that it won't be this hard forever. In a few too-short years Rory (and any subsequent kids we might have) will be in school and I'll have five days a week to myself to work again. And I'll be looking back on these days filled with nostalgia for when my babies were little and home with me all day. I soak it up as best I can, I approach my days with gratitude (for the most part) and I try to appreciate and make the most about where I am right now in my life and in my work. Because although it might not be the easiest thing in the world, it sure is all the best thing I could ever want for myself and my family.

I think that it's doubly hard to start a business from scratch while you have a small baby. I imagine it would have been easier if I'd been a few years in to either of them, rather than doing both simultaneously. A new business and a new baby require so much more from you than they give back, you have to pour so much energy and time in to them, whilst being adept at soaking up even the smallest rewards. It's exhausting. However, being able to work for myself, to steer my own ship and feel like I have control of my future has been wonderful. Endlessly so. Creating a business based on what feels right for me, after so many years of feeling trapped in a career and a job I didn't enjoy, has been liberating and I wish I had done it sooner. Everytime someone asks what I do for a living and I get to say 'I'm a photographer' my heart swells with pride. The novelty hasn't worn off yet, and I wonder if it ever will?

I'm really proud of what I've acheived in the last twelve months, both with my work and at home with my family. Most importantly to me, Rory is one kick ass little lady. People often remark to me that she's the happiest kid they've ever seen, and what more can I ask for than that? She's smart, she's hilarious, she's kind and she's happy. Mama done good. Alongside raising her, I've been trying my best to build a business. While there have been many moments of soul searching and struggling, I have been consistently working as a photographer since last December. I've hit all my (very modest) financial goals, I've created my best work yet, met some amazing people, been hired by some dream clients and finally have an online presence that reflects what I am capable of - both as a writer and a photographer. I guess you could say that I feel legit. I am a photographer, a freelancer, a business woman and a working mama. And damn that all feels good to say out loud.

It's not perfect, it's all a work in progress and we have good days and bad days. At times I've been in tears and close to quitting, worried about money and clients and feeling like I'll just never be good enough at any of this. At the other end of the scale, I've had some of the happiest most fulfilling moments in my life and work in the last year. Looking back on it, I'd honestly never change any of it even for a second. By far the majority of my days are happy, full of love and joy and the business of juggling a toddler, a dog, a business, a relationship and a home. It's full, it's crazy and it sure is always messy...but I won't settle for anything less.

IMG_0002 copy.jpg

There's so much I could write about freelancing, working as a photographer and balancing that with parenthood, and I'd love to hear what you'd like to read about. Are there any questions, or anything else you'd like to know? Leave me a comment and give me some food for thought for a future blog post.

Make your own herbal bath scrub

at homeSiobhan WattsComment
homemade-herbal-bath-scrub-11 copy 2.jpg

It's crazy to think that all those fancy beauty products you see out there, full of wonderful natural ingredients that smell amazing but cost and absolute bomb, can be made at home in your kitchen for just a few pounds. And instead of just getting one little tub for that, you can make a whole stash for your cupboard ready to gift out whenever you need. I find the process of making anything with my hands so rewarding, and I think people really appreciate your efforts when you put time and love into something for them. 

homemade-herbal-bath-scrub-10 copy 2.jpg

 I've written quite a bit so far this month about my efforts to be more mindful this Christmas, paying attention to what I buy, the companies I support and the waste we produce. It really doesn't have to be expensive or difficult to go an alternative route, and make a few things yourself that you can give to friends and family to show that you appreciate them. Last week I shared a recipe for homemade cocoa and orange bliss balls, and some inspiration to create your own wooden photo calendar


This herbal bath scrub is so simple to make, and it will fill your kitchen with wonderful smells. I love feeling like a modern day alchemist, grinding, blending and mixing up the ingredients before dividing the mixture up into little glass jars and labelling them. Knowing I'm making something that's free from animal testing and nasty chemicals, made by hand in my own kitchen, is wonderful. It makes me want to delve deeper into learning about different herbs, what they do and how to grow them. Imagine making your own beauty products with herbs you've grown in your garden and dried yourself? 


Sadly I don't have a garden right now, so I ordered my supplies from Aromantic, apart from the peppermint leaves which are just dried leaves used for tea that you can find in any health food store or online. The downside of this is that all the herbs come wrapped in plastic bags, which I understand is necessary for freshness, but it's a shame to have the extra waste when you're trying to make something that is zero waste. As always, we can do better at finding alternatives and producing more ourselves from scratch. Hence dreams for my own medicinal herb garden!


Herbal body scrub

200g rolled oats
75g almonds
2 tbsp dried lavender
1 tbsp dried peppermint
1 tbsp dried comfrey leaf
60g cosmetic clay

1. In separate batches, grind the oats, almonds and herbs in a blender.
2. Mix all three batches together until they are well blended.
3. Add in the cosmetic clay and mix well. Pour into jars of your choice (I love these clip top Kilner jars) and store in a cool, dry place. 
4. To use, take a teaspoon sized amount of the scrub and mix with enough water to form a paste before rubbing on your body.


This recipe makes enough for four small clip top Kilner jars. I've made a few batches this year, and have a cupboard full of jars ready to give as gifts. I like to add a little piece of raffia tied in a bow, and a hand-written label with some instructions on how to use it.

I hope you've enjoyed this recipe, and that you'll have a go at making your own this year for yourself or to give away. It makes your kitchen smell great, and is such a treat at bath time. Homemade beauty products with no nasties in, made in just ten minutes. 

Pin for later: 


Print your photos - a botanical inspired calendar with Inkifi

photographySiobhan WattsComment

This post was sponsored by Inkifi. All thoughts and opinions are my own, and as you know I only choose to work with companies and products that I personally use and buy from. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Bless the Weather. 

This year, I've been thinking hard about how I can give mindful gifts to my friends and family for Christmas. I want to give them something they will love and treasure for a long time, but that doesn't contribute to over-consumerism, create more waste, support giant corporations and ultimately end up in landfil. I want to teach my family that there is another way, that we can be more thoughtful about the gifts we give and what we ask to receive. That we can remove the pressure from having to empty our bank accounts on stuff we don't need, all in the name of a Merry Christmas. My chest tightens just thinking about how much waste we all create at this time of year, my family are far from perfect and have a long way to go but I want to do my best to make more mindful and informed choices. Not get caught up in the panic. I shared a recipe earlier this week for a handmade edible gift that you might like to try, if this is something that interests you too. 


I've given photo gifts a few times this year (still haven't blogged the photo book I made for Gav for Father's Day) and even managed to print out some photos to frame for our home. I pour my heart and soul into all the images I take, and it makes me so happy to see them on our walls. I've actually ordered one of these wooden photo calendars for both mine and Gav's parents already, filled with photos of us and Rory. The photos correspond to the month on the calendar, so our parents can watch Rory slowly age from one to two. When the year is up, they can cut off the calendar part and keep the photos to frame or stash away. Next year we can update the photos so they can re-use the wooden part. 


When Inkifi reached out about a collaboration, I knew I wanted to create another wooden photo calendar. Since I'd already created some with family photos, I decided to go with a botanical theme seeing as I take so many photos of plants throughout the seasons. I created a mood for each month by pairing the sunnier, summer photos with June, July and August. The frost covered plants and leaves were saved for November and December.


I have to confess...this photo calendar is for myself. It just looked too nice on my desk to give away, and as my office is surrounded by plants it fits perfectly. A tip for you is to lighten your images before you print, especially if you prefer to shoot dark and moody like me. Typically I don't have to as most of my work ends up on a screen (or buried on a hard drive, isn't that sad?), but for print the results are definitely better if you increase the brightness a little.


I love the quality of Inkifi prints. Their templates are clean, modern and easy to use, shipping is cheap and quick - unlike some similar US counterparts. December 14th is the last day to order one of these wooden photo calendars to arrive in time for Christmas, so you still have just under a week to get your order in. 

So, what will you create? A calendar full of family photos, memories from your travels or a theme like my botanical one? 


*if you're looking for a photographer to capture some memories of you and your family that you can share as a gift, please do get in touch! I offer full sessions which are great for photo books an albums, or mini sessions that are perfect for holiday cards, photo calendars or a print for your wall. 

Cocoa & Orange Bliss Balls

food & recipesSiobhan WattsComment

This year, I've allowed myself to think about Christmas nice and early. I want to build up to it slowly, with decorations and twinkling lights creeping into my home. There will be no hauling a box out of my attic in a frantic afternoon a week before the 25th December, no panic buying and no feeling stressed about something I've forgotten to do. Instead, I've given myself the time to be mindful, to plan ahead and to fully enjoy everything this time of year has to offer. And why not? I'm sure most of our reluctance to embrace Christmas early is because we so hate all the over-consumerism and the feeling that it's being forced upon us as soon as the last trick-or-treater has gone home to bed. I know that's why I typically leave everything until the last minute anyway.


Now that Rory is getting to an age where Christmas is something of importance to her (not quite yet, but soon) I think more and more about the memories I have of being a child. What stays with me is never about the things we were given, it's always about what we did. The experiences, the music, the lights, and of course...the food. Baking mince pies with my Mum, decorating the tree with my brother and watching the Snowman on telly on Christmas Eve. That's what I remember.


Making as much as we can at Christmas time is so important to me, not just because we can make thoughtful gifts that avoid needless consumerism and waste, but because of the memories we can make while we are doing it. I'm a big fan of edible gifts, at any time of year. Make something delicious, with love, presented in a glass jar that can be re-used long after the treats have gone. No one gets given extra junk they don't need, but instead they get something that they can enjoy, hopefully in a moment of quiet with a cup of something hot and spicy. I think it's extra special, when you know someone values you enough to give you a little of their hard earned time.


Cocoa & Orange Bliss Balls

100g (3.5oz) pitted dates
75g (2.75oz) almonds, skin on
75g (2.75oz) cashew nuts
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp melted coconut oil
3 tsp cocoa powder, plus extra for rolling
2 tsp orange extract

1. Soak the dates in boiling water for ten minutes.
2. While the dates are soaking, blitz the nuts in a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients, and the soaked dates when they are ready. Pulse the processor if the mix is a little sticky, the continue to blend everything making sure it's well mixed together.
3. Roll the mixture into twelve balls, using wet hands, and roll them in the extra cocoa to coat.
4. Chill in the fridge for eight hours, or freeze for one hour if you want to eat or gift them quickly. Best stored in the fridge too.

You can experiment with how large or small you want to make these, from tiny 'bliss bites' to larger balls depending on the kind of packaging you've got. Add a hand written label, and you've got a wonderful, delicious and healthy treat that both adults and children will love. 


As the days grow cold

life & familySiobhan WattsComment

I read the term "wintering through" somewhere recently, and it perfectly described for me that thing we all do as the days grow colder. We find our strategy for dealing with the dark and the wind and the rain, for the workloads and the germs, for the over-busy and the over-quiet. Heads down, we winter through. And if we adopt the right attitude, take care of ourselves and don't over load ourselves with work, nor fill ourselves with fear when things are still, we can find all the beauty in this season. There is much about it that must be endured, but so much more about it that can be enjoyed.


I am a lover of Winter, when the dark bookends to our days are full of divine pleasures. I wake early, something I have no choice about since I got one of those toddler alarm clocks without a snooze function. I pull on my wool socks and my aran cardigan, go downstairs and make the coffee. Everything is dark and quiet. I light the candles, pour water and orange essential oil in the burner and sit down. Sometimes Rory occupies herself, leaving me to journal, go through my emails and write my to do list for the day. More frequently, she dances naked on the table, shouting "mama, knee!" or making up a song about toast. I relent, and do her bidding, continuing to work with her on my knee (an occupational hazard) or making the breakfast. 


As the days grow cold, I see my home start to change. Out come the blankets, the sheepskins I rescued from a junk shop that I scrubbed and hair-dried for hours while heavily pregnant. Fairy lights creep in around the banisters and windows, I smell cinnamon and cloves and chocolate. There's shepherd's pie in the oven, leek and potato soup simmering in the pot, and the freezer is filling up with meals for when our small flat is overrun with family. Christmas is coming, but slowly. Just the way I like it.


At this time of year, it almost always feels like an effort to go outside. Especially when the going outside is preceded by half an hour of chasing a mischievous toddler around while trying to put clothes on them. It should be an olympic sport, it requires such skill, strength and patience. We have a dog, and no garden, something I complain about daily, but strangely it ends up being the thing I am most grateful for, because it gets us out the door. Even when the sky is grey, the wind is cold and the ground is wet, we still have to go to the park. Sometimes we catch first light, or last light, or the raindrops lingering on the leaves, a rat running into the bushes or a squirrel burying something in the ground. Life happens all around us, and it always makes me glad we left the warmth of our kitchen. 


As soon as Rory asks to go to the park, as she often does, I am quick to take her up on it. The outdoors is her playground, and who can blame her when there's so much to explore. She plays hide and seek between the leaves, chases squirrels and licks rain drops off anything she can. I hope she always wants to walk with me, to get bundled up in all her layers and go outside to look at the plants. I suppose if I still enjoy it at 33, she might like it for a little while longer yet. This blonde-haired, blue-eyed, rosy-cheeked kiddo of mine.


So here's to the cold days, and to leaving the warmth of our homes to get out into them as much as we can. If only for the way it feels when we come back inside. Boots off, kettle on...

A Journey of Gratitude - a guest post for The Fresh Exchange

life & familySiobhan WattsComment

Since I started working for myself, I've learnt to pay attention to the markers that sign post I'm on the right path. The things that tell me that despite the struggles, despite the difficulty in finding a balance between pushing myself and being kind to myself, that I can pat myself on the back and gently say "good job".

I've been a fan of The Fresh Exchange for a good few years, and just before Rory was born I connected on Instagram with Megan and we started to chat. We were pregnant at the same time, and experienced a lot of the same things while we were navigating our changing bodies, lives and freelance careers. I have a lot of respect for the depth of thought Megan gives to every aspect of her life. I'm very much a wing it and go with my instinct kind of person, and I envy the amount of research, preparation and reflection that goes into all that she does. I try to assimilate a little bit of it through her words, using her as my online teacher of a class in how not to be quite so impulsive. There's beauty in both our approaches, of course, but as my beloved once famously said to me "Siobhan, it doesn't hurt to do a little bit of research". 

When Megan reached out to me a few months ago about being a contributing writer, I felt very honoured. It's always wonderful when someone you admire lets you know they enjoy what you do, but when someone as conscious of quality as Megan asks you to be part of what she does, you know that she feels the time, the thought and the heart you put into what you do. 

It's a challenge for me, to write for someone else and for their audience. I am so comfortable here, with you. I write like me, and for people who know who I am and what I'm about. But writing like me for people who don't know what I'm about? That's hard. It took me hours or writing, and even more hours of editing. I dreamt about it, I agonised over it, I re-wrote it until I was satisfied. It was published a few weeks ago, and I'd love for you to read it. I hope you enjoy it, and that my words resonate with you and encourage to find your own way of incorporating the practice of gratitude into your daily life. It has magic powers, I swear it. 

Sunday mornings at the farm

explore & adventureSiobhan WattsComment

A new Sunday ritual for us, after a relatively slow morning at home, is to head out in the car to Vauxhall City Farm. It's just a twenty minute drive, which makes it the perfect distance when you have a toddler who is at risk for falling asleep mid-car journey when you need them to nap at home. Rory's naps are the only way we get any rest from 6am to 7pm, and when she does a good two and half to three hours every afternoon we're reluctant to give that up. Anyway....we LOVE the farm! There are horses, donkeys, goats, alpacas, pigs, sheep, ducks, chickens, giant rabbits and a whole heap of other little furry things to keep you and your kiddos entertained for a few hours. They've recently added a cafe and a buggy park which makes it even better, and means you can stay a lot longer than before as the farm is quite small. My only complaint is that the cafe food is so disappointing. It's your basic English breakfast or variations of that, with the only vegan option being some rather bland sliced avocado or some tinned baked beans on a piece of brown toast. It's perfect for Rory as she loves that, but having eaten there once I don't think Gav and I will again. It's cheap though, which is great, but they do need to up the flavour and have at least one good veggie/vegan option. Come on guys! I recommend having a coffee/tea in the cafe (I can't get over the cuteness of a soy babycino), but heading to the nearby Bonnington Cafe for some great and affordable vegetarian/vegan food and cakes.

Being at the farm fills me with so much joy to see how confidant and happy Rory is around animals. I was such an animal lover as a child, and volunteered at a city farm in East London where I lived until I was almost seven. It's really important to me I can share my enthusiasm for nature with her, and I truly believe that at her age there is no better playground or learning space for her than the great outdoors. She loves to roll in the mud and leaves, pick up anything she finds on the ground and get as close to all the animals as she can. A little too close sometimes as she put her wormy little fingers into the chicken pen when I wasn't looking and one gave her a nasty peck on the finger! But this time a goat licked her which she found hilarious, so I think she's on board with the farm again. It's a great place to go and visit, with our without children, although I think most people that go do have kids. A little slice of the countrside in London is always worth seeking out, I think.