Happy Campers

The summer holidays started in the best way for my little family and me. As you grow up and older, knowing what makes you happy is so important, as is keeping things simple and smiling as often as you can. I don’t mean the kind of smile that is meant for anyone else’s benefit. I mean the smile that grows on your face because you are smiling from within. And I don’t mean the happiness that you are told to feel, I mean the kind of happiness that comes from knowing yourself, knowing what you like and endeavouring to always have it.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

When we bundled in to the car with our battered, outdoorsy clothes and very minimal other things for a few days away, I couldn’t wait to get on the road and make our way to our happy place. The place with the white cliffs that overlook the sea. The place where you can fall asleep around the fire, that crackles from the wood that you found for yourself. The place that when you look up into the sky in the black of night, you can actually see the stars. The stars that go on for days and mesmerise you.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

The place that isn’t glamorous, it isn’t exotic or in any way luxurious…but it is where we fit! It is where we are happy, truly happy. It is where we are away from the strains of routine, away from the lives that we are conditioned to lead and away from all of the ‘busy’ that sometimes conceals what is most important.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

‘Tent Life’ isn’t going to be for everyone and back in my early twenties, before I became a mother… It wouldn’t have been on my radar at all. I was busy bouncing around different countries and places during annual leave. My passport, suitcase and best clothes were my favourite things. The life I lead now, my reality… It is so different from life back then. I’m not saying that I never want to step on a plane again, I do! I want to see as much of the world as possible, I want to show it to my children. I’m just saying, I’m glad that I am someone we are a family who can find peace, excitement and joy in being outside. We can find the humour in showering under droplets of cold water, hair lathered and standing in the cold, waiting for the water to come back to our cubicle. We can feel true delight in the high pitched whistle of the kettle, once it has boiled after about twenty minutes (way longer in stronger wind)…This means it’s time for our morning brew. Up to half an hour to make and three seconds to drink so it doesn’t get cold. We can feel good about sharing our bedroom with a variety of insects, even seeing the opportunity to whip out my nephews new microscope to take a better look at the ones we didn’t recognise. We can feel right at home in our tent, we can sleep well and we always feel sad to go back home, to the ‘real life’ one.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

I know that I’m probably not selling it to you and I’m not sure that I’m trying to if I’m honest. I’m just sharing something special, something responsible for many happy memories, many smiley faces and a freedom for my children that this scary world doesn’t always allow them.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Camping is what it says on the tin. Especially where we go. It is basic. But… what more do you need when you are spending time, quality time with the people that you love. You are not ruled by the ticking of a clock. You are not a slave to technology. You don’t have to tell your children to ‘wait!’ because, well, for what? They have you, in the moment, in the now…They have everything that they need. Your time, fresh air, space to run and to breathe and to laugh…To hop and skip if they want.

Camping might not be for you…but believe me, your fingernails might get dirty… your mind, your soul and your spirit however, will feel nothing but clean.

Love, Ria x

Happy Campers

 

 

 

 

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London 2016

The hustle and bustle of London is less than an hour away from my sleepy home town. London is everything that Faversham isn’t.

London 2016

It is a place for the dreamers, the hopefuls and it is rife with opportunity…yet, there is a hint of failure that hangs in the air, a little desperation, a lonely sadness. Faversham is a quiet place! People don’t come here to make their dreams come true…but it isn’t lonely.

I’ve spent time in London, before I became a mama…and not the touristy kind! Not like on this day when I came with my family. I’ve been present in a few scenes and London always makes me feel the same way about it. Like it’s the best place that I have ever been to… artistic, electric, historically superior and proud. It is somewhere that leaves me in awe and makes me feel excited in the pit of my stomach. At the same time, it could feel like the worst place… where humans sleeping rough is normal, expected in shop doorways where people walk past them and don’t notice them anymore. It’s a place where everyone rushes and nobody makes eye contact on the tube. Teenagers grow up quicker and surely, true friendships must have a special back story. I admire those who fall in love here, that’s a story I would love to hear.

Regardless of these things though, I can’t help but love it, love being there, being a part of it. Even though it is somewhere that I we could never really belong.

When we could, we avoided the tube and opted to walk, it was a nice enough day and the children wanted to see as much as possible. We allowed the buildings to tower over us. Allowed ourselves to feel small, a little insignificant for a while. We enjoyed the buskers, the different smells and the unfamiliar roar of collective sound.

London 2016

London 2016

We genuinely enjoyed the experience of The Natural History Museum. In Faversham, we have The Fleur De Lis which homes a penny farthing from back in the day (and some other local history)…nothing of this magnitude. It  was so interactive for the children and they have been talking about the history of dinosaurs ever since. It made a lasting impression and we will definitely go back.

London 2016

London 2016

We couldn’t visit London without showing Noah and Ellenah Buckingham Palace and the grounds surrounding it. It astounded them, the whole day did really. The idea that London is home to many other people threw them because it is worlds different to where we are from. They didn’t falter though, not once! Children are so resilient, more flexible and open to change, aren’t they? By the end of the day, they understood the tube, the pace and because they Noah asks a lot of questions (about the queen, brexit and what he has learned about at school) and I answer most of them… They understood how London nurtures creativity and diversity, does it unapologetically but can’t quite bring itself to welcome everyone with open arms. So forward in so many wonderful ways, so backward traditional in others.

London 2016

London 2016

London 2016

Our visit to Leicester Square was my favourite part, it always is. On this day, there was a jump rope team doing a few routines and getting the growing crowd pumped.  Further along were some Bollywood dancers filming a scene and on from there, past the little fountains, were a dance group who spun on there heads, flipped around and made fun of us all. Noah and Ellenah loved these guys. And as we started to walk to catch the tube ahead of our journey back home, there was a young girl with her piano, singing Alicia Keys songs…she was really talented. There is a togetherness about Leicester Square, a happiness…good vibes. It was the perfect place to end our family day out in London.

And, as much as we were happy to return home, to our country bumpkin lives, where we are surrounded by countryside, charity shops and childhood memories… We look forward to going back to ‘The Big Smoke’ soon. For more exploring, to have our eyes opened a little more and to make more wonderful memories, as a family.

With Love, Ria x

p.s. Do you have any recommendations on places we should visit next time. Maybe the calmer side of London? Something we are missing out on?

 

 

 

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Do You Remember?

Dear Matthew,

Do you remember when we first met? Do you remember how as you sat, waiting for your interview, our eyes met from across the room and (okay, I’ll admit it) I tried to find reasons to talk to you. There was something wonderful hanging in the air. Maybe it was because I was putting up a Christmas tree but I think it was because we were meant to fall in love with each other.

Do you remember how you got the job but by the time you had your first day, zesty, enthusiastic and I think, ready to meet me again… I had gone?!

Do you remember how we used to talk about each other to mutual colleagues. Do you think that maybe we missed each other before we even knew each other?

Do you remember when we met again? You couldn’t believe that all I seemed to eat were kiwi’s and I just wanted to be near you, talking to you and laughing with you. Did you know that you made me forget the heartbreak from a three year relationship that went wrong? Did you know that you made me smile so much? Did you know that you made me feel like the only girl in the whole world?

Do You Remember?

Do you remember that night, just me and you? Do you remember how we were set up and we had our first date? The most amazing first date! Did you know that the night before, in reply to a text, I said that nothing could happen because you were just too good for me? Did you know how little I had come to think of myself? Did you know what that night meant to me, the night that ‘we’ started something, our love story? Do you remember when you drove me home, you told me off for wanting to go travelling for a year? Do you think that already you couldn’t stand the thought of me not being around?

Do you remember that since that night we were inseparable?

Do You remember?

Do you remember how quickly we fell truly, madly, deeply in love? The love that conquers, the love that sometimes hurts but the love that lasts a thousand lifetimes!

Do you remember how we found ourselves on my old school field one afternoon and practiced long jump, belly laughing in the sand until it hurt?

Do you remember when for about two weeks, every night for dinner we ate crumpets with lashings of honey because we could?

Do you remember playing board games and card games and only having about four channels on T.V?

Do you remember when we had no heating that winter at my first flat so we kept each other warm?

Do you remember that night that I told you I was pregnant with Noah? We were young and it was scary…but the love was enough, right? Because you saw a chocolate weeto pop out of my nose when the pregnancy made me feel awful… and you saw me jump from the car on the way to work, be sick over the side of a bridge and on to a person below…and you still loved me…and you didn’t leave…even though I told you that you could!

Do you remember the day that he was born? When we became family? I do!

I remember everything about us. Our wedding, our beautiful Ellenah, our adventures…and the other bits that weren’t so glamorous, the bits that I would rather forget but can’t because they are important to us, who we are and how happy we are now.

Do You Remember?

I remember everything that has pushed and pulled us to here, right now.

Our marriage is five years old today.

Do You Remember?

We are completely different people now from those two crazy kids that fell in love so fiercely.

After eight years together, we have fought for every part of this love that we are so blessed to have. We have cried over it at times, tried to forget it, even tried to hate it…but we can’t, we always come back to it and will never stop saving it.

Because true love is always worth saving.Do You Remember?

Happy Anniversary Matt, I love you!

From Ria x

 

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Noah's 7th Birthday

It was a Saturday. Saturday the 2nd of July 2016…A special one! The day my son turned seven.

I woke up early, before anyone else…even the birthday boy and the sun was beating through my bedroom window. It was bright and warm and I lay there thinking of this day seven years back. I thought it would be a day, much like the others before it. A day when I felt heavy and hot in the closeness of summer. A day when I wondered if it could be ‘The Day’. The day when a tiny, new life would make me a mother for the first time and a brand new chapter could begin.

Noah's 7th Birthday

Indeed, my new chapter began as I gave birth to my little boy Noah, in the bedroom of our home. It was the first one that we lived in as a family. I met him for the first time as I perched on the edge of the bed and he was passed up to me, so small and fragile. And from that first moment I saw him, I knew I would love him for the rest of my life. I held him close to me, close to my racing heart and I felt so lucky. We sat there for a while, oblivious to the chaos of labour and delivery around us… oblivious to the paint pots, boxes and memorabilia from our ‘life before’ and having not long moved in.

It was just us. Noah and me on a brand new and completely crazy adventure. An adventure which has spiralled us through the happiest times, most exciting times, the most wonderful milestones and with a little bit of sadness to keep us humble, real and feeling blessed for how lucky we are.

And suddenly we showed up here. To his seventh birthday. In reality, we kind of rocked up, a little surprised and wondering where the time went. I know I did anyway. It feels like only five minutes ago when I snuggled him up in his fluffy, orange towel, breathed in his newborn scent and looked into his beautiful, alert eyes for hours at a time because it was all I wanted to do above everything else. I Just wanted to watch him and marvel at everything he did. And now, he is seven…which feels so much bigger. It feels like a new chapter has begun.

Noah's 7th Birthday

The night before I was emotional and wondering how I would stop myself from falling apart but when it came down to it, I was happy for him to go forth and be seven. Happy for him to take on his own ripple of life and all of the incredible things that come with it.

Noah's 7th Birthday

And the day was just lovely. His birthday weekend was actually!

Noah was surrounded by the people who love him, who have him and those, who in my opinion, are blessed to truly know him. Those people with their own life ripples, ripples that will cross with his throughout life, time and time again.

Noah's 7th Birthday

Noah's 7th Birthday

Noah's 7th Birthday

And Noah spent his seventh birthday weekend so very happy and loved… and falling apart didn’t even enter my mind. It’s almost like, when I think that I will falter the most and selfishness will fall from my eyes… when it comes down to it, I realise that Noah’s future is just too bright and exciting and I can’t bring myself to do it, to let them go. So a smile happens instead, many smiles actually…And I am so glad.

Noah's 7th Birthday

Noah's 7th Birthday

With Love,

Ria x

 

 

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His little tongue poked out of the side of his mouth and his beautiful, big eyes grew even bigger in anticipation. His little fingers shook with concentration and focus and the room was silent. I may have stopped breathing for a tiny while, worried that he would hear and I would throw him off. And there in the living room of our home, Noah tied his shoelaces for the very first time.

Precious Shared Moments

And like most milestones and the many wonderful ways that my children constantly surprise me, I felt the familiar burn of tears behind my eyes. And like most times, I didn’t let them fall but simply replaced them with the biggest smile that I can possibly fit on my face. A smile that often hurts eventually. Probably because it stays there for so long.

Moments like this remind me why I wanted to become a mother to begin with. To be there for these moments, to see them unfold, help them become. These moments fill me with so much pride, I could burst and it gives me a sense of togetherness with my two favourite people… and that feeling makes me whole and happy.

Precious Shared Moments

And there are those times, after a long day of to-do lists and elsewheres to be, when I lift my beautiful daughter with her smile that is so enchanting out of the bath and wrap her in a big, snuggly towel. I get to be there, to hug her and lose time in the smell of her damp hair and lovely songs that she sings to me in her post bath tiredness. I get to hold on to her while she is still little and lets me. I get to carry the weight of her sleepy body out of the steam filled bathroom and hug her until she is dry and warm. I get to look at her long, black eyelashes, stuck together by droplets of water and listen to her talk to me. We get to have that time.

This happens every day as a part of our routine. It’s easy not to notice just how special it is. It’s easy to take it for granted.

The truth is, Life can be so very chaotic and it’s so important to me to appreciate these little snippets of parenting bliss in the midst of life and all the busy that comes with it. It’s important to truly make them count. It’s important that I have these moments so that my children really know how loved they are, how special and wanted.

Precious Shared Moments

And like I say, it’s about togetherness, our bond… and not only how I feel about them. Not only about how I show it.

Precious Shared Moments

One of my most favourite moments is that glance at the clock, when it is so early and the rest of the world MUST be sleeping. And then two sets of feet meet each other on the landing. My bedroom door opens and my favourite faces in the world bundle through it. They’ve got books, which we will read together in bed as daylight rises and gleams through my bedroom window. Silence surrounds us and it feels like it is just us. Us and our stolen time. Almost as if we won against the expectations of the day, everything we have to do, achieve and give ourselves up for. Like we tricked the day.

Those mornings remind me how my children also feel about me. How they love me and how they think about me when they first open their eyes. How they need me. How we are a team, always on the same side.

Mornings like this are where I am something much more than a mama desperately trying to get it right, hoping I’m doing okay, always thinking I can be better. These mornings are my belonging, where I fit. It is where I don’t need to be anything other than Noah and Ellenah’s Mama…because to them, I am exactly enough.

Precious Shared Moments

These really are my precious shared moments. These and many before and beyond. Countless moments which make me feel blessed.

What are your precious shared moments? The simple, everyday moments that matter the most?

With Love,

Ria x

 

 

Collaboration

This video was sponsored by Cadbury Buttons but all views and opinions expressed in this video are my own and I only ever work with brands I truly love.

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