52 Weeks of Happy (52/52)

And so, the final week of this excellent project is here. These are my final four happies.

∆ Ikea at 9.45 on a Friday morning. Glorious.

∆ A reflected view of Louis’ ‘grown-up’ bedroom. Goodbye bunk beds, hello simple-to-make bed, bookcase stacked with good reads and an ordered toy cupboard to make an OCD sufferer proud.

∆ Xav’s rocket for space week at school. I think he was spinning me a line when he said parents had to do it but hey ho, I do like a bit of craft.

∆ A fitting last photograph for this project. Turning my 52 weeks of happy into a photobook. This is the layout for the shots from this time last year.

And so goodbye 52 Weeks of Happy and thank you Jen for kicking off such a wonderful project. It’s been fun.

PS: Should you be so inclined, you can see all 52 of my weeks of happy here.

52 Weeks of Happy (51/52)

I’m consoling myself with the thought that although there is now only one week to go in this project, I will soon be able to make a photo-book of an entire year’s worth of happy things. Jen, you have set in motion one of the nicest projects I’ve ever been part of - thank you!

My happies for Week 51:

∆ John Altman cookies. WHAT a find. Spencer brought them back from his recent jaunt to Amsterdam. They are worth seeking out. The green apple and almond were great, but the grapefruit and butterscotch were something else. Unbelievably good and in very dinky sizes so not too eye-wincingly calorific either.

∆ Re-arranging stuff and bringing this handmade cup to the fore. We bought it in St Ives a couple of years ago and I love its form. It’s rubbish for keeping any sort of hot drink warm (too wide, too much surface areas), but it is a thing of beauty nonetheless.

∆ Conker bootie. I love them when they’re so shiny. These are Xav’s - he has given some of them names. One is called ‘Botty’.

∆ Speaking of the small one, the last two photographs are connected. We have a new routine for homework this year and Xav loves practising his maths. Louis not so much, but the Usborne Junior Maths Dictionary (pictured) is a big help. If only I had one of those when I was at school….

So that’s me? How about you? We upgraded our iPad to iOS7 about 10 days ago (don’t do it!). We’ve been in black-screen-boot-up-fail limbo since then and had to make a Genius Bar appointment to get it fixed. For some reason, I can’t comment on other blogs on my iMac, so without the trustu iPad in tow, I’ve been rather absent in the comment boxes on your blogs, but trust me, I am visiting and will be back to commenting now the iPad is up and running again! Another reason to feel happy…

52 Weeks of Happy (48/52)

I must confess, although this is MY week 48, I’m not ACTUALLY sure if this is the ‘official’ week 48, but it’s there or thereabouts I reckon… close enough for jazz as they say.

Still, regardless of the week, here are my happies to go alongside Jen’s at Little Birdie and those of all you other marvellously happy people out there.

∆ Xavi came out of school clutching this wonderful little bunch of gardening club bounty. The fresh mint sprigs smell amazing and his little face was a picture - he was so proud.

∆ Doesn’t it feel like autumn has arrived? The unfamiliar practice of turning on the lights and drawing the blinds is strangely comforting at this time of year and my little window seat is a cosy place to perch after dark.

∆ The farmers’ market was back in town on Saturday. I can’t believe it is a year since I wrote this. Although it was drizzly and cold, I spent a very pleasant hour nattering with friends and buying venison, handmade pork pie, local cheeses, cured ham and some incredibly spicy pakoras.

∆ Bat Xav is back! He and his brother have been putting on little plays for us. This was the start of a particularly active performance involving lots of (imagined) somersaults, high kicks and cushion fights. I’m not sure we entirely 'get’ the story arc of these shows, but they are quite amusing.

So if I’m right, we have just four weeks to go with this project. I shall miss it. I hope we get to do it again next year.

52 Weeks of Happy (43/52 to 47/52)

Please forgive the bumper catch-up-catch-all post for 52 Weeks of Happy. Unlike Jen and lots of the other bloggers joining in this weekly project, I fell hopelessly out of the blogging habit over the summer holidays. But now the new term spirit is upon us and I have resolved to ‘try harder’ and catch up with my classmates…

But how to catch up? I have missed five full weeks of posts! I thought about bombarding this post with 20 different photographs, 4 for each week of happy, but even I would lose the will to read to the end of such a mammoth post, so in the end, I opted for this collage, which you may have seen if you follow my Instagram feed.

It sums up the last five weeks perfectly.

Lots of happy times. Lots of fresh air and countryside. Staying up late gazing at starry skies. Cooking on camp fires. Board games galore. Happy, close brothers playing together for hours on end. Beautiful sunsets.

Summer was wonderful. It was a full five weeks of happy.

52 Weeks of Happy (42/52)

Woo hoo, I’m finally up to date with 52 Weeks of Happy!

This week has been all about the last few days before term ends - frantic for me trying to finish work, lazy for the boys as their teachers take on a more, how shall I put it - ‘leisurely’ approach to learning.

We’ve had sports days, end-of-term dance shows, birthday parties, circus trips and the 2nd Ashes test. Oh yes, there has been plenty to be happy about this week!

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∆ A little camper van picnic before the start of Giffords Circus on Sunday. We listened to the cricket and were tantalised by the oohs and aahs coming out of the big tent as the early performance drew to a close. It was lovely and the day was made even better knowing we had impromptu guests from Sweden to return to for an evening catch-up. Happy days.

∆ Snakes and Ladders on an upturned plastic crate in the sunshine. I came last but it’s the taking part that counts isn’t it?

∆ Another shot from Giffords but I love how this one came out. Save the power lines, it could almost be a sepia-toned photograph from days gone by; a young boy playing with a ball as the traditional circus rolls into town behind him.

∆ I had to include this one as the circumstances surrounding Xav being in his vest and pyjama bottoms at 5.30pm on a Monday evening made me chuckle. He came out of school looking like he had been up a chimney. He was almost entirely covered in a mixture of dust, dirt, sand and suncream. Even the creases under his eyes were blackened. I had to stand him in the sink to wash him down. I peeled his socks off only to find his feet were completely filthy underneath them and his pants were encased in dirt, His explanation? “Play time got a bit out of hand today Mum….”

So there we have it, I am FINALLY up to date. I hope you have all had lovely weeks full of happy moments. When the chaos of the end of term and holiday packing has subsided, I plan to sit down with a cup of tea and my iPad and come visit you all, it’s been too long. x

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52 Weeks of Happy (41/52)

Well hello again Happsters. Following on from yesterday’s catch-up post for this series, here is Week 41, which I should have posted around 16th July.

If I’m honest, I didn’t find much to be happy about during that week. The weekend was ruined by hurtful people and I felt very low for days afterwards. It was the first week since we started this project where I have really found it difficult to celebrate even some small happies.

But perhaps this little retrospective is a good thing, because looking back I have found some happies from later in that week. I just didn’t know where to look for them at the time.

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∆ Spence and I volunteer in the bar at the boys’ cricket club on Friday evenings. It’s hard work but we love it. Spence had a gig that Friday so I was on my own and after all the families went home and I rounded up my feral children, I turned around to see the most glorious soft sunset over the fields to the back of the club. I live in a beautiful part of England and right then, my heavy heart soared a little.

∆ Saturday afternoon was a hot one. I went upstairs and found this boy. Crashed out. He slept right through dinner and woke at 9pm for jam sandwiches and a big glass of milk.

∆ Sunday lunch at my parents. It had been such a tough week and spending the day with my mum and dad in their gorgeous garden, eating outside and listening to the cricket, was just the tonic I needed to feel better about everything.

∆ My Dad’s humour. He does make me chuckle. And he hugged me so tight, it made all the sad thoughts disappear.

One more post tomorrow as Week 41 gives way to Week 42 and I heave a sigh of relief at finally being up to date!

Do you follow my blog with Bloglovin? Go on, be a devil!

52 Weeks of Happy (40/52)

I’m playing catch-up with 52 Weeks of Happy so over the next three days I’m posting the last three weeks of happy things. That works, right?

This post is for Week 40, which by rights should have been posted around July 9th.

*Adopts spooky lady voice* “Let me take you back, let me take you right baaaack…”

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∆ Xav inadvertently created a little vignette of him growing up on the notice board in his room. He put his ‘favourite pictures’ up there and they made me smile. A shot of him on his 2nd birthday, his Foundation stage school photograph and his latest artwork - Broccy the Broccoli.

∆ New books. And these Usbourne ones are particularly fine. Who said lift the flap books are just for babies, I have learned more about our universe in the See Inside Space book than I have done anywhere else, and it has a brilliant star map booklet at the back. A brilliant book.

∆ The warmer weather sees the climbing rose at the front of our cottage burst into life. Just a couple of weeks ago there were no buds but lots of strong new green growth. If I took that shot today it would be a riot of pink. It seems everywhere it’s possible to squeeze a rose, it’s done it. There must be hundreds of them decorating the front garden!

∆ Louis went off to Cub camp. I was so proud of him. Two nights away at a 4,000 strong gathering of the Oxfordshire scouting groups and by all accounts, he had a blast. He didn’t change his socks all weekend.

More tomorrow as I roll seamlessly in to Week 41. How time flies eh?

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52 Weeks of Happy (38 and 39/52)

A bumper two weeks worth of happiness this week as once again, I find myself playing catch-up.

Happies for week 38:

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∆ Celebrating Midsummer in our village with a party on the green. We supped prosecco and ginger beer, chatted and laughed the night away. The moon lit a path for us as we wended our way home just before midnight, happy boys skipping along, full of toasted marshmallows and memories of their evening of carefree adventures. How summer in an English village should be.

∆ Country dancing at school with the morris men and the maypole. We celebrate Midsummer in a big way in West Oxfordshire. The boys both danced beautifully and my heart swelled.

∆ Another weekend, another festival, this time Rock at the House at Wivenhoe. A weekend away without the boys watching countless bands in a marquee and a beautiful room for the night a mere stumble away. VIP access all areas passes. What’s not to love?

∆ Dodgy at above festival. Each time I see this band, they get better. Too scared to invoke my AAA privileges though and go backstage to meet them. Spence went (said they’re lovely) - ah well!

Happies for week 39:

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∆ The decluttering is well underway. I am planning a little post about it sometime soon but it does make me happy to look around our sitting room and see only the stuff I want to be there. It’s a long process but it will be worth it - ridding ourselves of so much stuff we no longer need is so cathartic.

∆ New lamp. Floorstanding, From Habitat. It’s beautiful. And it was on sale. Score.

∆ Those of you who follow my Instagram feed (thank you) will have seen this one already. I went to see The Who play Quadrophenia live on Friday night. Quadrophenia was one of the first albums I bought and I played it endlessly in my early teens. The show was completely awesome. 10,000 people managing to make the vast shed of a venue feel like the back room of a pub. Immense. If you can still catch the tour, do.

∆ Summer has arrived in our part of the world. Recent days have been sticky and balmy and after-school play has involved making potions in the garden and barefoot games. Long may the good weather continue, especially this weekend when we have Cub camp and Cornbury Festival to go to.


So happy people, there you go. My happies for the last two weeks. What’s been making you happy?

Ooh, one more thing, if you feel so inclined (and I hope you do!) you can hop on over and follow my blog with Bloglovin now Google Reader has passed on. Thanking you muchly x

52 Weeks of Happy (37/52)

∆ Louis’s camp blanket. He’s going to a big once-every-four-years cub camp in a couple of weekends time (whilst the rest of us are at Cornbury). I’m a little nervous about him being away from home and us out of easy reach for three days but he assures me he will be fine. In preparation, I spent a rather relaxing few hours sewing 30 of his badges onto his new blanket. I think I went a bit far with the massive felt Louis but a boy has to know which blanket is his right? I think he was pleased with it. I found it neatly folded up at the bottom of his bed with all his toys sitting on it.

∆ Xav is having a very productive week ‘working’ at his new desk. He was poorly on Monday but spent a great deal of time carefully writing his Thank You cards whilst I worked alongside him.

∆ These two. Matching shirts, matching laid-back attitude to life.

∆ Our front garden. I posted this picture to Instagram this week asking if it looked as if the buttercups were part of a deliberate planting scheme. They look ok right? We didn’t have them last year but they’re seemingly everywhere this year. I like them so for now, they’re staying.

I hope you’ve all had a happy week too. Isn’t time flying by? We have a little Midsummer party in our village on Friday night. I’m hoping the weather will stay fine so we can sit and chat, listen to a bit of music and marvel at the lateness of the sunset.

52 Weeks of Happy (36/52)

The sun shone, the skies were blue, the evenings started drawing out and the swallows returned to soar and dive above our cottage. Tractors began rumbling up and down the fields and hedgerows seemed to grow in front of out eyes, falling over the narrow track roads in glorious abundance.

This week, as the tell-tale signs of early summer in the country began to show - it has been easy to find happy things in every day life. Hoorah for that.

This week’s happies:

∆ A perfectly fragile dandelion clock. Crouching down on the side of the path, holding the little stem and waiting for the wind to die down was worth it, just for this shot. I did a little cheer when I downloaded it.

∆ Xavi’s sunflower plants grew in time for his party - yay!

∆ Xavi normally comes to wake us in the morning but on his birthday he stayed in bed and shouted down to us to ask if the secret squirrels had finished wrapping his presents and if it was safe for him to come down yet. Secret squirrels were responsible for a lot of my birthday surprises when I was a kid and I am happy they have made it into our family folklore now too!

∆ Finding time in the day to stop and go for a walk. Just me and the sound of the country. Yes, I have work to do but an hour a day to just walk is making me very happy indeed. I hope I can stick to it.

Have a happy week everyone. What with all that has been going on here recently with holidays, birthdays, parties and festivals, I don’t feel I’ve had nearly enough time to visit my favourite blogs. I am sorry if I have neglected you or if you have written a comment which I have not replied to. I do read every one and love to get them so please keep them coming and I will do my best to get over and visit your sides of the t'internet soon I promise! x

35/52

Is it week 35? I am not sure. I think so but the pile of washing, the ENORMOUS to do list, the looming week of meetings, photoshoots and birthday parties to prepare for have rather befuddled my poor brain this morning so forgive me if I’ve got it all wrong!

This week’s happies:

∆ Please close the gate - we are so lucky to live in the midst of the beautiful West Oxfordshire countryside. This view is 100 paces from our front door. It makes me happy every time I see it.

∆ We had friends over last weekend to make sausages with the boys (more on that soon). After their culinary exploits and a barbeque to taste their produce, they whittled sticks to toast tiny marshmallows. A happy, lazy Saturday evening.

∆ Peonies - I adore them. And they look so striking in my Fish Pi pottery vase, bought on our recent trip to St Ives.

∆ Camping at Hay Festival with Louis. Again more on that soon. It rained the whole time we were there, but it was great fun.

Hope you’ve all had a happy week too. x

52 Weeks of Happy (34/52)

I’m late with this one this week. I’m having to publish two posts in one day which I hate as it means one little post will be overlooked (so please pop by and say hi to the earlier post too if you’re reading this one!).

I’m so grateful for this project though, it’s become a happy habit and although I have to look hard for the happies some weeks, it’s only ever surface problems that make them difficult to find.

Looking back over the weeks of photographs that have built up since we started this project, I realise how very lucky I am, what a blessed and easy life we have compared to some and how most of our happies have come from experiences and moments, not possessions. This makes me happy.

This week’s happies:

∆ Looking around our rather untidy house and smiling. It tells the story of impromptu play dates, burgeoning hobbies and a rather cobbled-together make-it-up-as-you-go-along-life being lived. After 18 months, the boys properly regard our cottage as home and I can’t imagine us living anywhere else now.

∆ Making Xavi’s party invites. Oh, we have such plans for a beautifully simple outdoor celebration. Please don’t let it rain.

∆ I got new glasses this week. I don’t wear them but I smeared moisturiser in my eye which triggered a whole series of optician appointments, a changed prescription, new lenses and therefore new glasses. I made this picture and sent it to my husband to make him laugh.

∆ Drying washing on the line. Finally the weather is behaving. Long may it continue.

52 Weeks of Happy (32 & 33/52)

I missed last week’s happy post (having too much fun on holiday) so this week is a bumper two-week special…

My happies for week 32/52:

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∆ Returning to Porthmeor Cafe for several breakfasts with the boys and savouring the views (and the food - excellent as always).

∆ Watching Xavi’s excited little ritual each morning as he stood on a chair in the kitchen to grab his sign then hung it on our front door as we headed out for the day.

∆ Saltwaters and sand. Made for each other.

∆ Having Dennis, our campervan, lowered at the same time as his annual service. Soooo much easier to drive now!

And here are my happies for week 33/52:

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∆ Precious ‘memory stones’ carefully carried back from the beach and home in the boys’ overflowing buckets. Each one is special and has a name. So too do the crabs’ legs they insisted on hauling up the A30. Those are currently stinking out the carport…

∆ Beating the rain on Saturday morning and walking with my mum, dad, Spence and the boys down to the remains of a Roman Villa from 4AD near our home.

∆ Commander Chris Hadfield’s amazing, awe-inspiring and jaw-droppingly beautiful Space Oddity from on-board the ISS. Watching Louis glued to the screen and knowing THAT moment, right there will influence the career choices he makes in his future.

∆ I know this project isn’t about material happies but the arrival of my Kelly Moore 2 Sues pro camera bag had me dancing a jig like no-one was watching in my kitchen. I’m still as excited as a five-year old about it now!


I can’t wait to see what’s been making you all happy these last couple of weeks, I have a lot of catch-up blog reading to do!

52 Weeks of Happy (31/52)

“The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.”

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A lot to put a smile on my face this week. But equally, just as much to induce a quizzical / frustrated / ‘oh bugger’ expression as well.

These were the happies:

∆ Flow Magazine. A celebration of paper and print. It’s simply beautiful.

∆ Packing for our annual pilgrimage here tomorrow. I say that. I haven’t actually done any packing yet, but I have been thinking about it and it will happen. Honest. My mum and dad are coming to house-sit and I know they will do a few little jobs too - bonus!

∆ The disco ball at Birmingham’s Glee Club where we saw World Party on Tuesday night. Us and about 200 others. A most intimate and brilliant affair.

∆ Dennis up on the ramp, being lowered, serviced and MOT’d. Love the guys that built him, love visiting their garage - it’s a vintage memorabilia collector’s nirvana.

And working on the whole 'problem shared’ principle, these were the frustrations:

∆ Finding mice in our garage and realising they have chomped their way through most of the stuff in there, including the special box of precious baby clothes I kept back from when the boys were little. They’ve shredded, eaten or weed on it all.

∆ Having to put up with the radio blaring away for 7 hours a day from the painters across the road. Full volume Radio 2 ALL DAY, only silenced when one painter decides to speak very loudly on his mobile in the garden. I am ready to throttle them.

Still, it could be worse. We can rid ourselves of the mice and the painters and their damned radio will soon be gone.

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52 Weeks of Happy (30/52)

Stuff that has been making me happy this week. As always, keeping in mind the quote that “the happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.”

∆ Booty from Record Store Day. A limited edition gig poster, signed by the artist and featuring MY HUSBAND’S BAND no less. Being a supportive musician’s wife is so much easier when the graphic design is so pleasing on the eye.

∆ The obligatory photo of the bluest of blue skies round our way on Saturday. Plus a shot of the forsythia I am going to forage from for tomorrow’s Nature in the Home post.

∆ Oh Saltwaters, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways (and colours….).

∆ This Sunday, for the first time in EIGHT YEARS, we managed to watch the F1 coverage ‘live’ or rather as it was being broadcast on the BBC. No recording it to watch it later. No fast-forwarding or pausing to see to a child. Properly watching with no interruptions. As a fan of F1 since childhood, this was a surprisingly big deal for me.

Have a happy week y’all. You can find the lovely lady who kicked off this whole project here x

52 Weeks of Happy (29/52)

It was our last few days of the Easter holidays last week, so we made sure we had a lot of fun. Most of it was homemade, but we had a few trips out in Dennis the campervan to blow away the cobwebs here and there.

As ever, I’m joining in with Jen at Little Birdie and a whole host of other good people to celebrate the simple things that bring us pleasure during each week. It’s a great project and it’s never too late to join in you know!

∆ A stash of reading. I return time and again to The Wonderful Weekend Book and have been planning a few Cool Camping weekends away with these trusty, well-thumbed tomes. And my mum lent me the top two books which I’m very much looking forward to reading.

Jumping Clay. Oh my word, the boys LOVE it. Until last week we didn’t know what it was but they went to a holiday club where they were introduced to the stuff and they haven’t looked back. Small, brightly coloured bouncy people are popping up all over the place now.

∆ Louis had a pal for a sleepover at the weekend and they had a great time. So much so that there was plenty of time for me to actually sit down with a warm cup of coffee and relax with an interiors book for AGES! The three of them played so well together and had such fun. I love it when our home is full of other people’s kids making it their home too.

∆ Said sleepover pal brought water bombs. Much fun ensued in the sunshine on Sunday morning. Xav’s attire did make me chuckle. I wish I could get away with that look…

Have a happy week y'all.

52 Weeks of Happy (28/52)

Joining in with Jen at Little Birdie and a whole lot of other nice people, inspired by the quote below.

“The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.”

∆ Xavi went to a pottery painting party (ten 5-6-year old boys - madness) which Louis totally derided until he spotted the decopatching kits. One very peaceful afternoon of craft ensued. We discovered if we can get past the gaudy colours, decopatching is quite cool.

∆ Xavi is taking such care watering his little pumpkin seeds.

∆ We spent a beautiful day at the weekend in the company of our very good friends in the town where we used to live. Lovely food, excellent company and a trip to our once local park where Xavi (a previous non rider) got on his little pal’s bike and just pedalled away. No stabilisers, no wobbling, just proper balancing and pedalling. Proud! Also at said park, we bumped into A Crafty Chai who I knew lived locally but had never met. We fell in love with Poppydog and had a good old chat in the late afternoon sun.

∆ Our little pop-up art project is gathering pace! We have the beginnings of website, we’ve been on the radio and we’re starting to put a programme of events together for our first pop-up. Watch this space!

So, now over to you - what has made you happy this week?

52 Weeks of Happy (27/52)

As ever, I’m joining in with Jen at Little Birdie and lots of other seekers of happiness in the every day, inspired by the quote that “the happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.”

My happies for week 27/52:

∆ Can you see their feet? The school holidays make us happy, a chance to unwind, have leisurely breakfasts and stay in pyjamas all day if we want to.

∆ I bought a new crochet book this week and some creamy-natural yarn. I’m going to master doubles and slip stitches. At the moment, I think I am sort of making it up so it’s time to do some proper research. That granny square blanket to keep us warm in the camper van won’t make itself you know…

∆ Having a bit of precious solo time with Louis whilst Xav was at a party this week. He’s growing so much now. None of his trousers fit him and he has an appetite like a horse. It only seems like yesterday he was a little gurgling bundle in blue.

∆ Sometimes all you need to do when it is snowing (yes, snowing in April) is curl up on the sofa and watch a DVD.

So those are mine, what are your happies for this week?

52 Weeks of Happy (26/52)

Halfway! A whole half-year of posting a weekly set of pictures to honour the maxim that “the happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything.”

In a six-month round-up type-of-thing, you can see all my previous posts for this project here. And you can see more happies over with Jen from Little Birdie, who we have to thank for this lovely project.

And so, on to this week’s happies…

∆ This little boy. He’s had us worried in the last few weeks, causing us more than a few sleepless nights and a tear or two but he seems to have turned a corner. He’s an amazing ‘human bean’ and has been a great source of happy this week (along with his brother of course!).

∆ His homework. So neat. So funny. So legible. He’s coming on in leaps and bounds and it’s great to see.

∆ There might be snow on the ground but I’m forcing it to feel like spring in our kitchen. It’s nearly Easter for heaven’s sake.

∆ For the first time in ages, we had a really relaxing Saturday and Sunday. Sports clubs were cancelled, there was only one party to go to and five out of six of our weekend meals were eaten all together as a family, around our kitchen table. We had proper down time and it did us all good. No DVDs, no screens, the boys listened to their Horrible History CDs and played together whilst we did the housework (I KNOW!) on Saturday and on Sunday afternoon we even experimented with natural dyeing eggs for our Easter branches - I will share the results soon.

Not pictured but also cause for much excitement this week - booking tickets to see The Who play Quadrophenia in my home town in June and Spence’s band possibly playing at the same festival as one of my most favourite bands this summer - woo hoo!

So those are mine, what were your happies this week?