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Storytelling Sunday – Dressing Up is a Family Activity!

The first Sunday of each month = lots of lovely bloggers telling tales of wonder, perhaps with a photo or two. To see more stories visit the Master Storyteller (Sian’s) post here. This month I’ve chosen to follow Sian’s suggested theme of dressing up!
My first memories of dressing up are from my granny’s house. She had a whole, huge wardrobe in the second bedroom, full of dresses, bags, shoes, and most importantly, beads, which we could dress up in to our heart’s content. My sister hadn’t come along yet (she’s 9 years younger than me) so my little brother had to adorn himself in necklaces instead (not that he seemed to mind):

And at least his necklaces were mostly blue! 
I’m going to miss dressing up at my granny’s house. She passed away in January this year, and my Grandad just moved out of their house last month. I didn’t return back after he started packing up, as I couldn’t bear to see the memories being dismantled. Most of the dressing up items went to charity shops before we realised things were going, but thankfully I’ve got a few vintage dresses that my granny gave me a few years ago, so I shall treasure them!
At home we didn’t have much to dress up in. I remember making a TV costume out of a cardboard box to win 3rd prize at a local fancy dress contest! But that wasn’t ‘pretty’. I had a bridesmaid dress I wore to my auntie’s wedding when I was four, and I managed to squeeze into it until I was about eleven, so it was my standard dressing up outfit! We didn’t have any ‘boy’ costumes as far as I can remember though, so again my little brother had to go girlie, in an old party dress of mine and a pink wig – don’t tell him I showed you this photo! (The girl in the middle, called Cheryl, was my best friend for years – but we lost touch and now I can’t remember her surname. I’d love to know how she’s getting on in life):
My brother always liked to pose with crazy faces in photos, which is something my daughter loves too. In fact she’s not that fussed about dressing up, unless I tell her she can pose for lots of silly photos, then she’s happy:
She’s not allowed to put things on her brother yet, though she’d like to dress him up! And he’s too young to put things on himself. Except for maybe a plastic drawer, after he’s tipped all the toys all over the floor – it makes a good hat:
So I don’t suppose it will be too long until he’s dressing up in beads and princess outfits that my daughter has outgrown!
After all, anyone who’s seen my 30th birthday photos will know that in this family, dressing up is definitely encouraged!:
Thanks for reading! If you used to dress up, do you still love it? Would you grasp any excuse to put on a costume, or do you dread the suggestion? I know that just because I love it, it doesn’t mean that everyone does!
Have a happy Sunday! x
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Storytelling Sunday – Starting School

I know it isn’t Sunday, but I wanted to wait until my daughter started school to share my story this month. So I’m joining in now with the lovely bloggers that have shared stories at Sian’s blog – you can see her post for September here
Waiting until the end of the week meant that I could show you these photos of Little Miss, posing for a photo shoot before she went to school on her first day yesterday. I have a lot more photos from the shoot – she loves to pose right now – as long as I let her take some silly photos as well as the smiley ones:

She had a great first day. Her biggest worry before school was how she was going to play with her two best friends both at the same time – she knew one from nursery, and one from play-group, but they both started school with her. I explained that they could all play together, but she said “but who gets to be in the middle?” I think there’s been enough other friends around that it hasn’t been too much of a problem so far! 
She was certainly a lot more confident than I was on my first day…
I was clasping on to my mum’s hand as she led me in to the classroom, which seemed so big, but crowded because of all the children inside. Most were milling around an art table. My mum pulled me over and talked to another little girl, called Stephanie. She had bunches (two pigtails) in her hair – I only had one ponytail. I wanted bunches.

“Time for me to go now” said mum, and I started to cry, begging her not to leave. She stayed as long as she could, but the teacher must have ushered her out. I noticed. I waited. When the teacher’s back was turned, I ran.

Out of the classroom, out of the school building, everything blurry through my teary eyes. There were no mums left around, as far as I can remember. I didn’t care, I just wanted to get home to my mum. I ran out of the big school gates, and halfway down the road (on the pavement), and finally caught up with mum, grabbing onto her skirt and bursting into tears all over again.

You can imagine that mum hugged me and told me off, then marched me back into school, and gave the teacher a piece of her mind for letting a four year old run out of the school on her own. I don’t remember, all I recall is desperately not wanting to be there, and wishing mum would take me home. I sulked most of that day. 

But Stephanie was nice to me. As were others. And eventually I settled in. I never ran out of school again, though sometimes I wanted to – my school years were not always enjoyable. Like the day when I wet my knickers and had to wear a pair of BOYS ghost-buster pants all day long. I hated that! But I loved bits too, especially the actual lessons – I loved to learn. And though I don’t have a photo from my first day at school, I have lots of others, and I’m very smiley in them:
Sian has mentioned a couple of times that my daughter’s smile is the same as mine, but I’d never really seen it until I found this photo of me!
I hope that Little Miss continues to enjoy school, and always has the problem of too many friends! x
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Storytelling Sunday – A Good Gift

Today I won’t be putting my feet up and reading all the lovely blogs that take part in Sian’s Storytelling Sunday – because instead I shall be earning blisters on my feet wandering around Disneyland Paris, having a lovely time I hope! If you’d like to read more tales today, then head to ‘From High in the Sky’ here, and enjoy. I shall enjoy having a read when I return!
Thinking about going to Disneyland Paris has made me recall previous holidays to theme parks. Today I thought I’d tell you one of the stories that I’ve remembered…
It was 2002, apparently the year when I decided bum-bags (fanny packs to those in the USA) should really make a fashion comeback, and I donned one with pride on a three week holiday to Florida, with my then boyfriend (now husband) and In-Laws to be. Here’s a photo of me and hubby looking ever so stylish at the entrance to the Universal Studios theme park:

The holiday had it’s ups and downs, as we’d only been together a year, and spending three weeks away in a different country with your boyfriend’s parents who you don’t know that well is bound to come with a few niggles! But we were having fun for the most part, and enjoying the parks. 
On this day I was feeling a little grumpy though, as it was incredibly hot, and I wanted to go to a waterpark, but hubby’s family don’t ‘do’ waterparks. I did enjoy the rides at Universal, especially Spiderman, but I was annoyed because my neck was hurting (I get quite a sore neck sometimes) so I couldn’t go on the ride again, or on any of the other fast rides. So we were wandering around, looking at things to buy.
I spotted a stall stamping designs on to silver pendants. I walked over and had a look at the patterns, and I immediately fell in love with a picture of a winged horse flying into the clouds, as it reminded me of a picture I had on my wall at home, and it made me dream of magical things. You could get a second picture stamped on the back of the pendant too – I thought I’d like a triskelion symbol on the back. I showed boyfriend the designs I liked. Then I saw the price. Way too much for us to afford. So I sighed and we moved on.
Later that day, as we were leaving the park, I had a change of heart. I hadn’t stopped thinking about the pendant and I decided I should just blow all my spending money on it. I turned to go back. But boyfriend talked me out of it. He said I should save my money as I might see something else I’d like, that I’d regret it if I got it. I argued a little but then gave in, and we returned to out accommodation, with me in a bit of a huff in a ‘I know you’re right but I still don’t like it’ kind of way!
I was a bit grouchy all evening, because of the heat, my neck pain, and the thoughts of the pendant that I didn’t have. Until I went to bed, and there, under my pillow, was the pendant: 

Lovely boyfriend had snuck off and bought it for me when I wasn’t looking, hence him having to talk me out of buying it, I’d have had two! I was very impressed with his cunning and gift buying skills.
I will be wearing the pendant this weekend, I always try to wear it when I’m away from home. I think of it as my travelling charm. Everytime I wear it I smile to think of the way it was purchased, and how much I love my husband for his wonderfullness! 
Have a lovely Sunday, x
NB: I’d like to add that I’ve read through this story and I’ve realised it makes me sound like a spoiled brat. I’m not that bad honest! I do get grumpy from time to time, but not usually over ‘stuff’! 
That is all!

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Storytelling Sunday… My Disorganised Husband

It’s time for Storytelling Sunday, as begun by Sian at From High in the Sky – see her post for today and the linky list right here. Pull up a chair, grab a cup of tea, and read stories from all around!
I asked my hubby what story I could tell this Sunday -one that could relate to organising (in case you’re new here, I have a little bit of an organising theme going on this weekend – 22 posts so far since Friday afternoon!). Hubby said I could talk about how organised he used to be, compared to what he’s like now. 
But all I keep thinking about are occasions from the past where his organising skills were not the best…
  • In 2003 we went to Edinburgh, flying from Bristol Airport. But we almost didn’t get there, because hubby (then boyfriend – we married in 2008) forgot to put petrol in the car – there was a tiny amount left in the tank, but because we lived on an incline the petrol was all tipping to the wrong side when we tried to drive away to the airport. So, despite the fact it was about 4am in the morning, we had to phone a friend to drive us to the airport! (Thanks to Rosie for recently reminding me of this incident!)
  • In 2004 we moved into a new flat – our first home together as a couple, as we had shared with friends before that. We were proud of our rental flat as it was brand new and all shiny and well finished. The landlords had been very adamant that if we put up any picture hooks or anything, it would all have to be put back to the perfect finish when we moved out. We decided to put up some hooks on the back of the bedroom door, to hang our dressing gowns on, and I left hubby alone thinking he was perfectly capable to manage this task… until I came back 10 minutes later to see he’d put the hooks on the wrong side of the door! He’d been holding the door open, so, from where he was standing, the hooks were inside the bedroom! We took them out and tried to repair the door as best as possible, but it was always noticeable and certainly not the perfect finish the flat had started with!
  • And in 2005 hubby decided to organise a trip away for valentines day. I was a little ill about a week before, but still looking forward to our escape – I knew where we were going away, but not the destination. I was hoping maybe to Paris, and I may have dropped a few hints in this direction. We drove all the way from Bath to Gatwick, with me getting more excited all the time, and we pulled up in a car park opposite the airport – I started to gather my things. Then my love says ‘oh, we’re not there quite yet’, and drives to a hotel… right around the corner. Our romantic escape was at Gatwick. Ho hum! Sure, it was a nice hotel and all… but not really the location I was hoping for! (He did tell me afterwards he’d been planning to get a last minute trip to Paris, but because I’d been ill he changed his mind. We’ve still not been there together!)

My husband, not the world’s best organiser… but I love him anyway!



I hope you enjoyed my Sunday story. Remember that a comment on this post, or on any of my posts from this weekend, will count as an entry into the Grand Giveaway {NOW CLOSED} – but only if you’ve registered your interest in winning that here!

See you in an hour! x
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Storytelling Sunday – Creative Creatures

Hello. Welcome to Storytelling Sunday! Put up your feet, listen to the rain drumming on the windows, and sip your rosé wine (okay, that’s what I’m doing while I type…). To join in, or to read many more tales, pop over to the master blog, with Sian From High In The Sky and read away!
Today I want to tell you the story of Creative Creatures, the business I co-run with my friend Rosie Bird. We tutor Creative Writing and Art workshops, mainly for children, but we’re now in the process of winding the business down. We’ve been running the business part-time under this name for nearly four years, though we’d been doing the courses occasionally for about 6 years before that.

I’m feeling a little sad that our business is drawing to a close, as I’ve had so much fun working with someone as equally silly as me:
We have so many happy memories to look back on!
We began the courses together after meeting each other at University (we both studied Creative Writing and English Literature). Rosie had been helping her Dad run children’s music and art workshops for years, and I had been helping my mum with children’s art workshops. So when a friend of Rosie’s (the lovely Beth Webb) offered to train us up, by us assisting her with her writing workshops, we jumped at the chance.
Soon after, we ran our very first workshop of our own, back in 2002, called ‘Funtastic Fairies’. It was a weekend residential course, teaching gifted and talented children age 7-11 the art of writing. We sneakily covered up technical lessons with layers of fairy stories, taking part in a treaure hunts, glow-stick walks in the dark, and of course, making fairy wings (this is a recycling fairy I think. All the children design their own fairies and wings):
This course proved to be very popular (in fact, a bit too popular, we’ve run the course so many times we’re a little weary of it by now!) and it meant we were able to book this and many more courses at Kilve Court in Somerset:
They were our original employers and have supported us really well over the years, letting us design new courses (including ones about fantastical creatures, smugglers, or basic bookmaking), and they’ve put up with lots of mess in their classrooms!
In 2008 we decided to try and make the courses a full time business, so Rosie (and her very nice then-boyfriend, now-husband) moved down to Dorset to be near me, and we found the local, brilliant, Leeson House to run more courses at (this is a glimpse of the house, I like that you can see a snippet of the lovely view too):
With lots of these weekend courses running throughout the year at Kilve and Leeson, we branched out into other events. We tried running workshops in schools, libraries, art galleries, and at street festivals:
We even tried joining in a couple of things where we didn’t get paid, in the hope it would bring in future business. One of these was an art-installation type of event, where we were up on pedestals creating art from old books (more photos on a previous post here), our art was, of course, story based:
No matter where we were working, we were happy to be working together:
I’m so lucky to have been able to try this dream out with such a wonderful friend! Unfortunately, the business has never made enough money to make it viable for us to carry on, mainly because of the credit crunch and schools cutting back on spending. So Rosie had to go back to full time work, and what with me having two little kiddies to chase around after, we decided it was time to call it a day, at least for now. 
In fact, the reason the reason I’m posting this so late tonight is because I’ve been away this weekend for my last weekend workshop. I have one more workshop to run, during a week in July, and then I’m done. Rosie will be running a few solo courses over the next year, but after that she’s calling it quits too. 
We’ve had such a fantastic time, not just because we’ve been working together, but also because we’ve been inspired over and over again by the amazing, imaginative work that children can create.
I’m going to miss Creative Creatures, but thankfully, Rosie lives just down the road from me. So though we won’t be working together any more, we’ll still be seeing each other lots! And, now that we won’t be working so many weekends, perhaps we’ll be able to sneak away for a fun weekend instead… here’s hoping!
P.S. Did you see my Announcement Post about a blog event I’m having at the end of June?
Happy Sunday to you. x

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Storytelling Sunday – How we began

The first Sunday of each month sees bloggers from all over the world join Sian at From High in The Sky, to blog a story. Be it funny or sensible, happy or poignant, there are many tales to be shared. You can join in and tell a story of your own, or just sit back and be enveloped by the yarns of others!

It’s our 4th Wedding anniversary this month, which means we’ve been together now for 12 years. So I thought I’d share with you the story of how I met my husband…

I was working in McDonalds, as a Supervisor. You can picture me in a maroon polo-neck t-shirt, wearing a blue badge with my name on, and several gold stars for knowing how to flip burgers and being polite to customers. My friend who also worked there (wearing a dark green t-shirt for general staff) told me about this guy that fancied her. The conversation:

My friend: “Do you want to come out tonight? There’s this guy that really likes me, but I’m not that keen. Want to come, and keep me company so you can see him?”

Me: “Yeah, why not?”

Fast forward to later that night, all traces of colour-co-ordinating baseball caps are removed to reveal our glossy hair, though we do still smell faintly of gherkins. We walk into Tom Peppers, the main pub, with it’s sticky tables and carpets from all the drinks that have been spilt, and a palpable sense of release in the air as everyone forgets about the day job, and takes advantage of the buy-one-drink-get-one-free offer.

I sip a Bacardi and Coke and follow my friend to the table where her mates are all sitting, and one guy stands out straight away, maybe because he’s 6ft 4″.

“That’s him” my friend whispers.

“Yeah, I see what you mean,” I say, “he’s not much to look at is he?”

Hmmm… wait a moment. This is maybe not the fairytale love at first sight story you were expecting?! But it’s the truth! I was not attracted to my husband when we first met. Perhaps because I was kind-of seeing someone else.

The guy I was seeing was an idiot though. And as I became closer to my friend, started hanging out with her more, and therefore kept meeting the tall, cheeky guy that liked her too, me and him became friends. We lived near each other, so he’d walk me home after a night out, and he’d tell me the guy I was with didn’t deserve me. That I deserved better.

And then one day, about 6 months later, we went out on a drive. I grew up in Essex, where one of the main forms of entertainment after the age of 17 is to go out for a drive, with the car crammed full of people, and my future hubby was a bit of a boy-racer. So I was squished in the back seat while we drove through the dark night (probably on the hunt for some food), and I couldn’t stop staring at him. He was driving, so no chance of him catching me while I gazed at him!

The next night we kissed – I’m going to say ‘under the moonlight’ because that sounds much nicer than ‘in the smoky corner of a busy pub’. And that was the beginning of a very happy romance:

Thanks for reading, I hope you don’t mind that it wasn’t a romantic fairytale, but a tale of true love, none-the-less!
(P.S. conversations are possibly inaccurate. It was over 12 years ago. And you get the gist!)
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Storytelling Sunday – Australia ~ Moments That Last

Hello, and welcome.

Every first Sunday of the month many bloggers join Sian at From High in the Sky, to tell tales and read stories. If you’d like to join in then see Storytelling Sunday here, and then dive into a world of enchanting, amusing, and intriguing tales.

As I mentioned in my Month in Numbers post for February, my sister was here for a long visit last month, after returning from her travels in Australia. She was inspired to go on the trip because I did, and she’s wanted to ever since I told her of my adventures there, with my friend Mehalah. It’s been a long time coming – my trip was 11 years ago when I was 18 (she’s 9 years younger than me, so she went at age 20). And since my travels in Oz took place before I began scrapbooking, I thought I’d share a few of my memories today – the moments that have lasted in my mind.

1. The first time I saw an emu ~ my great aunt took us away for a couple of days, and when we arrived at the caravan park, we drove (slowly) past an emu, with me gawping up at this bird that was so much bigger than the car we were in. I snapped this one that was sitting down later. It made me feel small and young, and a little bit scared to be around such a big animal that I’d never seen before. Though these feeling were probably assisted by the fact that I’d not long got off my first ever aeroplane journey, to travel for the first time without parents or a school teacher!

2. Snorkelling at the great barrier reef ~ I had never been snorkelling before and I was immediately hooked by the beautiful underwater scenes. It’s a kind of magic to see so many colours under the water. We had a short ‘test’ dive that day too which I did not enjoy, it made me feel panicked to have to think about my breathing. I’m on the right:

3. This pool ~ was at a hostel in Mission Beach, where we stayed for Christmas. It’s memorable for me because I had such fun with new friends here. And the moment that has stuck with me was from swimming in it at 1.30am, under the stars, and one of my new friends teaching me how to find the Orion constellation. Whenever I see Orion now I think of that moment, when I was shown it on the other side of the world, by a friend who was from Canada. It symbolises for me the vastness of our Earth.

4. New friends ~ I made lots of great friends when travelling, a couple of whom I still talk to on Facebook. I loved it because until then I hadn’t really met many people ouside of my little bubble of school friends. It was amazing to chat to so many people from different countries and of different ages. It definitely helped to bring me out of my shell.

5. Horse riding ~ Our only adventure away from the coast, we spent a few days on a cattle farm. We rode horses, rounded up the cattle, and learnt what life was like for the family there, away from the sunshine coast. Quieter, more basic, but still very stunning.
6. Fraser Island ~ Ah, Fraser Island. I saved the best until last. So many little stories could be told about our few days camping there, like how I lost my only shoes and had to walk with sarongs tied to my feet because the sand was so hot, or about having to take someone with a torch to watch your back if you needed to go ‘use the bushes’ in the night – otherwise a dingo might bite your bum. But the real thing about it all was the impact the place had on me – there was beauty at every turn. Even beauty from off this world – at night we’d sit and watch the amazing sunset, and then, when the stars came out, I could see more of them than I’d ever seen in my whole life, because there was no light pollution there. The view of the milky way blew me away. The awed feeling that I had in my heart that trip has always stayed with me, whenever I’m staring out of my windows at rainy buildings, I can shut my eyes and be back at that beach, with adventure at my fingertips:
There we go, my story of my travels in Australia. Thank you to Mehalah who’s idea it was to go on the trip, and who was brilliant fun to travel with! 
Sorry this was such a long post, wth lots of little stories in one, thank you very much for reading if you’ve made it to here. I’m pleased to say my sister enjoyed her adventure just as much as I did. Obviously her trip was very different, but she has many magical moments to remember like I do. I’ll definietly have to get this into a scrapbook!
Bye for now, x