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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Return To Sheldon Spa

So to end ‘My Weird And Wonderful Week’ quite perfectly, on Sunday morning, Matt and I escaped for three whole hours to Sheldon Spa in Faversham- my secret place, my hideaway. Last year for my best friends hen day, I visited for the first time and immediately knew that I wanted to come back with Matt for a romantic morning of peace and tranquility. Matt turned thirty years old quite recently, so I booked in for a belated birthday treat. It was just as lovely as I remembered.

We came with a little breakfast picnic of pastries, blueberries and smoothies and hung out on a lounger for a few minutes to have a morning cup of tea and some refreshing lemon water to start our relaxation.

The pool was so warm like a bath and we were actually really good and did some lengths before we hit the sauna.

The sauna was incredible. I suffer with a sun allergy and after we had some incredibly beautiful weather recently, my skin really suffered and it hadn’t yet managed to soften up properly and get back to normal. The steam and heat really cleaned out my pores and my skin felt incredible after using it. We sprinkled some eucalyptus oil on the stones before pouring (perhaps a little too much) water over the top and it smelt so beautiful. I felt like I could really breathe and let any worries of the previous week simply float away, completely out of my system.

We managed about seven or eight minutes in our first burst and then moved on to the jacuzzi where we chatted and let the bubbles massage our (pretty tired) bodies. It was just lovely!

I managed to read some of my book as I hooked myself on to the side of the pool and treaded water. After being a part of the promotion on Thursday, I really wanted to get lost in it and honestly it is so good so far. Once I am finished, I will do a book review and let you know a more detailed opinion for anyone thinking about reading it. As I read, I did tell myself off a little. I definitely need to make more time to read. It’s the perfect escape from reality and… it reminds me how much I really hope to write a book of my own one day. That would be my dream come true.

Matt went for his treatment which was a half an hour back, neck and should massage…and I read the whole time that he was there.

Then it was my turn (and I had the same treatment). The massage was amazing. I felt so pampered and relaxed after and I think I may have fallen asleep for a little while. I obviously needed it. I probably needed to catch up on the sleep that I lost when I was full of worry in the past week. When it was finished, it took me a while to regain my place in the day… I felt like I was somewhere else completely. It was amazing.

It takes a lot to leave me short for words, but I was too relaxed to speak.

Return To Sheldon Spa

It was so nice to have a little space in time to be completely selfish for a change. It was nice knowing that Noah and Ellenah were safe and happy so that I could feel much less guilt about taking some ‘me/us time’ on their time.

Sometimes it is so hard for me to listen to what my body really needs. What I really need, as a person.

The truth is, I want to give everything that I am to the people that I brought in to the world. When I say that they are my everything, that’s no joke. The parenting thing, I’m totally in it, one hundred and ten percent! The reality though, is that I can’t give EVERYTHING because then there would be nothing left…no good bits, no patience, no understanding, no empathy! And, I would be half the person that they deserve. I want them to have the best.

In this video HERE, I talk about ‘Me Time & Motherhood’…but I am terrible at taking my own advice.

It’s only when I went to collect the children after the spa and Ellenah had a melt down about who would help put her shoes on, I realised that I felt way more confident in handling the situation and myself. That little bit of time away stripped everything back and gave me a fresh start and a fresh voice.

I mean, I can’t be nipping off to the spa every day for a little talk with myself, can I?…I’ve gotta get real and knock that wonderful idea on the head.

But, surely I can save a little piece of myself in other ways. For the greater good?

How do you mama’s revive yourself and you sanity to be the best mum you can be?

With Love,

Ria x

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My family and I must be mad. We must be! There is absolutely no other explanation for us all bundling into our cars, packed with sleeping bags, thermals and the warmest of winter woolies… to go glamping… at the end of November. We could have been warm. We could have been dry. Our hair could have been clean for goodness sakes. Instead, we dragged ourselves in to our cars to drive in to the middle of nowhere, to ‘live’ for a couple of days. We didn’t have any form of technology or any fancy appliances. Instead we had fresh air, long walks, basic cooking and swampy grounds around a campfire that was under siege from heavy rain. We were under siege from rain and wind…constantly! The strange thing is, I say we dragged ourselves in to our cars…we didn’t! We jumped in gladly, practically shouting ‘wahoooooo’ as we set off. If it were at all practical we would have thrown glitter and confetti around and called this shin-dig a party. We enjoy this madness, it’s our thing, what we do best. The time of the year and the weather forecast is kind of irrelevant really.. we’re used to it being a bit shit… we’re hardened campers at this point

Maria Noell

Maria Noell

My little bunch and I pulled up to Blackberry Woods first and parked our cars in complete darkness. I’m not going to lie, considering we set off last… the whole scene felt a little bit too much like ‘Wrong Turn’ and I was wondering where my siblings and the rest of my family were. I tried to call… my signal was out! We waited in silence… I locked all of the doors! And finally we saw car lights and the rest of us filtered in… I breathed again. Yes, this camper is shit scared of everything, ha!

We made our way through some very muddy woodland lanes to find our glamping field. And when we layed eyes on it… we laughed. This was no ordinary glamping trip… One of my sisters and her family were staying in a bus, the other bunch in a helicopter and my niece and her boyfriend in an old gypsy wagon (which was just the cutest). Me and mine, we had a very old dutch caravan which was pretty cute and very warm! We got ourselves checked in and that was it, we grabbed some wheelbarrows to start hauling our belongings in to our little homes for the weekend. The kids were weaving between lodgings and we were getting settled in.

Maria Noell

Maria Noell

Maria Noell

Maria Noell

We were too late for firewood that night so we ate dinner and all gathered in the bus for some camping chit chat and talks of life while hatching a mini plan to live at Blackberry Woods forever. It had been a long day and I had a poorly girl so it wasn’t a late night. We hit the hay at a reasonable o’clock, all feeling eager to see what everything looked like in daylight… and we weren’t disappointed.

Maria Noell

The next morning was cold. Really cold. So we got dressed pretty sharpish and once again gathered in to the bus (the only place where we could cook inside) and did the cooked breakfast thing with a strong brew, fresh from the teapot. Perfect! The children played together and practically flung themselves around the bus (there was a little soft play area upstairs). In all honesty, by the end of the trip they were absolutely filthy and rather ferrel but that was okay by me. They weren’t stuck to a computer screen or constantly asking to play games on my phone so I was pretty happy.

Word reached us of a Christmas Fair at a community centre, in a village not too far away. So we embrace the camping clobber, I threw on a backpack and we set off. The walk was long but we walked slow. Breathing and being in the day. It was nice. Good for us… and the kids were troopers. This was after we explored the rest of the glamping/ camping area of course, which was so lovely. They had used their resources to make seesaws and swings which was a nice touch too. As was the little play area which the children loved. I was most excited to see the treehouses that they are building though, which they are hoping to have ready by next summer. The Christmas Fair was busy and we happily ate some homemade cakes over tea’s and coffee’s before we headed back to build a fire and get cooking.

Maria Noell

Maria Noell

Maria Noell

Maria Noell

Maria Noell

Maria Noell

Maria Noell

Maria Noell

Matt and I prepared some pasta in our little cooking area, you really can’t beat cooking outside and (again) we regrouped at the bus to eat, which was where the hustle, bustle and the fire was… and the mince pies and marshmallows which we dipped in to the flame from the fire. My evening ended early because of the poorly little one , we went back to hang out in the warmth of the caravan where we had cuddles in abundance and she made a picture of her time at glamping which was cute. Noah and Matt followed soon after because the rain became quite bad so we enjoyed the time in our little bubble, laughing and talking. We went to sleep early because we were so comfortable and cozy. Saying that, I was the last to doze off and before I did, I shifted back the curtains to watch the fire across the field, burning brightly and holding its own against the rain and like the night before, I looked up to look over the stars. This evening didn’t have as much clarity as the night before but it was still peaceful staring up in to the night sky, so vast and beautiful. So simple. Something that you overlook in your normal lives, something that you probably don’t even think of…but you should!

We ended the trip the next morning, smothered in mud and grime but with happy, fresh faces. And after taking some photographs and wheelbarrowing our belongings back to the car… we looked back over the field at another batch of happy memories made. Our children happy and grateful of the freedom to roam and explore. Us, happy to see the children so content away from the world being built up around us, away from the bad news that we are exposed to everyday and the dependancy on technology which is born in them today. It was nice to see how other people live and how maybe, just maybe they are on to something…

Maria Noell

Maria NoellBig Love & A Glamping Win

Ria

xoxo

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Sunday is my absolute favourite day of the whole week. There is something about waving off the week just past and the sense of new beginnings in the week ahead. It has its own scent, full of optimism but calm. If Sunday were a scented candle, it would be made up of Rosemary, Peppermint and a little Lavender… and it would be awesome!

A Beautiful Day With My Family

Sunday is family day. A day for adventuring, making memories, exploring and feeling free from the chaos of every day life. A day that we are more relaxed with routine and tend to wing it sometimes when it comes to parenting.

On Sunday 4th October, my little bunch and I headed out early, when the sun was shining brightly over our quiet market town. We went for a spot of breakfast. While we were there we pulled a plan together for the day ahead. Matt suggested ‘Shorne Woods Country Park’ which isn’t too far from us. I had never heard of it but considering it was a beautiful Autumn day, I didn’t need much convincing to spend some time roaming around outside.

Matt absolutely got it right. The country park is incredible to walk around and I was sold as soon as I came across the sensory garden. It was quiet and very pretty, even this time of year when natures colours darken to the reds, browns and yellowy greens. It felt like there was still so much life here. And most of it was still covered in a beautiful morning dew. It was just lovely to be a part of it.

Morning Dew

Feeling Posey

It was so lovely to come across some sculptures and art dotted around. It was good to have something unique to look at, marvel at really. I especially liked the spider one, I thought it was pretty amazing and I’m sure I read that it was by a local artist, although…don’t quote me on that! The children enjoyed looking at these too, especially Noah who really enjoys learning about art at school. It’s good to be able to get outside and for him to see something with his own eyes and to identify why it is art, a creation. And he could touch some. He could decide which materials were used and allow himself to be fascinated.

Sensory Park

My Beautiful Boy

Local Art

Goof-Bot

Ellenah enjoyed using these resources as part of her games and they fuelled her imagination to create many stories from our day out exploring.

Trouble!

There was a pretty epic park. Lots of wood and happy faces. The play area was big, not like some parks where you get the standard set of swings and a climbing frame. Here there were children frantically climbing, changing direction , swinging around like monkeys and really laughing. Our two were no exception! Although, they were ready to set off quite quickly once we told them that we were going off of the beaten track and we soon disappeared through t he trees.

Fun On The Swings

I Really Am Blessed

Eventually we came across some fishing lakes which looked so calming and peaceful. It was nice to see Dads fishing with their sons and making the most of a lovely day. Our little pickles threw in a few stones to make the water ripple. So, sorry to anyone trying to catch a fish in that moment… our stop there was very brief. Not only to stop them both ruining your fishing experience but I feared that if we didn’t move quickly, they were going to get in the water with them. It looked that lovely.

Beautiful Walks

Little legs grew quite tired then and bellies rumbled as we neared the end of our walk. So we sat on a little wooden bench just past the lakes and had a little rest. It was  a sun trap there so I let the sun beat down on me for five minutes as I watched the world go by. It was also the perfect place to set up a tripod and attempt some family photographs (because I never feel like I have enough!). But, It’s always the way isn’t it, the natural ones are always the best. I love this one below. I can imagine that when Ellenah is older, maybe with a daughter of her own.. .she might whip this picture out from a dusty old memory box and she might say ‘ Ah, this is me and my mama when I was a little girl!’…

Mama & Ellenah

And then there’s me and this one. It’s been a hard time of late. Growing up, being adults, being the best parents we can be and trying to stay on the same path has been really hard. It can be exhausting and sometimes painful but you know what they say ‘life’s problems wouldn’t be called hurdles if there wasn’t a way to get over them!’…

And because ‘every cloud has a silver lining’… lately, we have been busy making the most wonderful memories, for us and the children… and somewhere in between, we have been finding our way back to each other…

Just A Girl

With Love

-Ria

xoxo

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