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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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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Faversham Hop Festival is so special to me. I have grown up with it. It is a strong link to my childhood and many happy memories. Some of my earliest memories actually. I have a photograph of a young, blonde girl standing in the crowds of people singing, morris dancers jigging, stalls of wonder and joy. The girl was nervous to the core because she was holding a baby owl… that girl was me! I remember feeling so worried at the time, that it might not like me… it may fly away…scratch me even! I felt unnerved about many things back then- weary, unsure…shy! Thankfully the owl didn’t do any of those things, it was actually lovely. I remember treasuring that photograph for such a long time after that day, like it was a huge achievement, a reminder that I could be brave… And honestly, I have loved woodland creatures ever since.

A Little Ria (Aged 6)

Hops

Over the years, Faversham Hop Festival changed for me. It changed from a family day out where I could spend my pocket money, choose friendship bracelets and beads from the hippie stalls and somewhere that I would search out old, musty, second-hand books that I would escape in. A place that I would awkwardly bop along to the bands and tunes that would cascade over my oldie-worldie home town… somewhere that I would hold baby owls!

 

Cider Stall

Chutneys + Honey

It became one of the main social events of my year as I grew in to early adulthood. It was there that I bumped in to old friends who I hadn’t seen for ages, fell in love, danced with abandon, laughed until I couldn’t breathe, fell in love…again, discovered vodka, lemonade and lime (my tipple of choice to this day), wore flowers and hops in my hair, stumbled upon ‘Hop Fest After Hours’ when the crowds dispersed… Lock-ins were a must, flame and chain throwers hustled the stragglers gathered in the market place and conversations in to the night were had up on my old school bridge with someone special.

I’m sure grateful for that time, space and freedom to grow and learn. It has mattered somewhat, to the person who I have grown up to be.

And…

Now it has changed again.

Maria Noell

This year, I was a mama in the midst of ‘The Hop Festival’ chaos. I went VERY easy on ‘The Tipple’, appreciated the stalls once again, spent time with friends and people I truly love… I bopped along to the bands and sang along a bit, wore hops in my hair and smiled…much!

Great Friends

Katie + Me

I felt balanced out. Like I was reliving a bit of every phase of growing up, with it ending up exactly as things should be.

Noey Bon Boey

I witnessed the festival secure a firm spot in the children’s hearts and memory banks, as they played hook the duck, adventured in the fun house and ate ice-creams. All while they listened to the tunes and bands cascade over their oldie worldie home town.

They will look back on photographs of themselves and these days…much like I do the one of me and my baby owl. Their faces so innocent, fresh and excited. Their big eyes taking in everything around them and living life without a care in the world in the world.

Els Bels

They may not remember how their soft, little hands clutched mine as we weaved through the crowds or how I smiled at them for smiling at life around them…or how I stroked Ellenah’s bright, blonde hair gently off of her face so that it wouldn’t end up in her ice-cream…or how the sun beamed over Noah’s smile as he flew into the air on the bungee trampoline… But I will! They are my memories, for my memory bank…and more that I will never forget.

Els & Daddy

Springy Noah

I cherish these memories. I flourished in these times of The Hop Festival and I enjoyed them fully for every reason they should be… for that reason, I would never trade in my here and now to do it all over again.

Back then it was exactly as it should be and it was preparing me for this version of my life. And, I wouldn’t change a single thing!

xoxo

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Originally Written On 08/10/2015

And… We survived another night… our final night to be exact!

And when we opened our eyes that morning, it was really sunny… frustratingly so! But, a lot can be said for some sunshine on such little time.

I woke up first and again looked upon my sleeping cherubs. They are so peaceful when they’re sleeping and so very beautiful…well, always really!

Not long after we woke up, all kinds of chaos was going on. With an exit time of 10am (otherwise known as ‘Early O’Clock’), we got ourselves ready and started throwing things in to the back of the car. Once again the beast was rammed of way too many things, although I have to say…not everything made it back home. R.I.P to our gazebo and tents. As much as they homed us in the storms and did an okay job (not the gazebo, that was totally rubbish)…they were incredibly battered by the end of it and honestly, they were NEVER going to see another camping trip again.

With 10am fast approaching, my sister checked our booking sheet to find that we were in fact running two hours early and didn’t really need to leave until 12pm… Nice One! Thankfully looks can’t kill and laughter fixes most things. On the bright side, we were ready, up and early to spend some more quality time with the family before we embarked on our looooong drive home.

So we said our ‘Be Back Soon’s’ to Longthorns Farm, the horse who eats elbows, the alpacas and the honesty shop… and made our way to my sisters lovely, big house again for yet more brews and to start…or attempt to start our goodbyes.

That didn’t last long until we thought ‘Sod it!’ and we made our way to Lulworth Cove instead, with my Nephew, Zack in tow.

It didn’t feel right to give kisses goodbye just yet. Our camping trip was drawing to an end too soon and a void was growing in the pit of my stomach. I’m lucky to live in the same town as the majority of my family and for that reason, it will never feel okay that some are missing and I can’t pop to their house to borrow a DVD, raid the biggest sisters wardrobe, tell her happy news to her face and let her supply me with wine, hugs and advice when I feel lost. I know that I miss something that I have never had. But, I miss it all the same… and I didn’t want to leave her there and drive away.

Anyway… Lulworth Cove!

Looking a little dishevelled but feeling zen

Lulworth Cove was kind of magnificent.

As we drove along the country roads, I was expecting a pretty, little bay where we could collect seashells (which we would later paint and put in mason jars!). As we came to the end of the windy country lanes and the road opened up to our destination… my jaw dropped and I felt a little in awe of this place. Actually, I felt just ‘little’ really! We parked our cars in a field that was overlooked by cliff tops and when I say it was breathtaking… I feel upset with myself that I can’t find a better word. The people walking to the top were tiny like ants and they followed each other in perfect formation. They were so high up, it was like looking at another world.

Lulworth Cove is incredibly quaint and pretty. There were lots of places to buy ice-creams and buckets and spades. There were idyllic little gardens along the way, lots of foliage and plenty of cute little windmills that caught my eye as well as the breeze.

I felt like I should be walking around barefoot, playing the banjo and singing songs to the passers by. I have always wished that I was a punk rocker with flowers in my hair. Maybe I belong there?!

As we all walked the paths together and the sunshine hit our faces, the salty sea air washed over us and we knew that we were close to something special. We could hear the water hit the shore. There was a calmness in the air and I suddenly realised that nobody was saying a single word to each other. I couldn’t remember the last time I heard ‘Voice’. I think we were all enjoying the peace…the silence… this new place that had welcomed us with open arms.

The word ‘beach’ doesn’t fit the rugged shores of Lulworth Cove. It felt like the immense, white hills and cliffs with their blankets of green, were protecting a precious secret. I don’t want to describe it as the same paradise as you probably would the picturesque beaches of The Caribbean. It would be an unnecessary comparison. It is up on a pedestal for every reason that The Caribbean isn’t. It is jagged and rough, untouched and un maintained but completely beautiful all the same and truly unique.

We walked along, looking for a place to stop and breathe. We practically climbed over the edges of rock and pebbles…and the wind blew us. we dispersed from each other. Some of us sat, closed our eyes and allowed the world to carry on elsewhere…without us for a while.

My Beautiful Free-Spirited Big Sister

The men amongst us threw stones… obviously! They had a pretty smashing time too.

The Fellow

My Gorgeous Nephew

I shimmied around, taking photographs of some of my nearest and dearest in such a stunning setting…making sure to document our beautiful memories.

My Beautiful Son

And every now and again, I would make sure that I was in some of them, ensuring that I too would be a part of this day.

My Boy & Me

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Sisters

It’s a rarity to get a photograph of this young man with a smile on his face. Okay, so we may have had to tickle one out of him but it’s so nice to see anyway. And that is what Auntie’s are for, right? Even though we are all looking a little dishevelled…this perfectly imperfect picture is going in a frame. I adore it.

Perfectly Imperfect

The children explored and did what little children do best…got extremely muddy and soggy. They wore smiles on their faces and danced with freedom. They don’t need much, children. Other than your time and love… pop them on a beach to roam and exercise their imaginations and they still wouldn’t want to leave at the end of the day.

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This just felt like such a happy day and one I think that we will all remember for a long, long time.

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Alas, our time in lovely Dorset had come to an end. We took a slow walk back to the car, making sure we absorbed everything that we could from this trip. I know that I stole a few glances at my Nephew, hoping to myself that he wouldn’t grow anymore and feeling proud of the person that he has become. Cheering him on in his life decisions and feeling excited for all of the adventures ahead of him. Knowing that it will be hard to leave because I will always wish that I didn’t have to. My little (actually not so little anymore) Zacky… I hope over the next bunch of years, we get to have more days like that one.

We drove Zack home to do the goodbye thing. The egg in my throat. The tears hiding behind my eyes. The hard bit. I bloody hate goodbyes.

When we got there, I sat on the front lawn with my niece, discussing her plans. I watched her talk about her dreams and I watched her smile and I saw the girl under the fabulous, crazy hair and bold lipstick. That girls doesn’t know how beautiful she is. She will. And when she does… she may even conquer the world. I’m excited to see her dreams unfold.

I suggested that maybe we shove the biggest sister in the boot of the car and take her back home… I was only half joking!

A point came I think, that it was now or never so we did the hugging thing and the goodbye kisses and it was hard and it hurt a bit.

And…then we hit the road.

And somewhere between Dorset and home, I realised… we didn’t collect a single shell (that we would later paint and put in mason jars!)

xoxo

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