Friday, 29 April 2016

Coeliac V Stomach ulcer - Tummy Troubles (4)

So I have this bulbous stomach issue - more on that later. Anyway, they went in looking for coeliac disease, and came out finding an ulcer. Consequently I was left high and dry, given Omeprazole to heal the stomach lining and told to lay right off the booze. I have. It has been an impressive ten weeks now - give or take the one night I fell off the wagon (in a most dramatic way).

Tomorrow they go back in again (down not up) to see if  said ulcer has healed. And how do I feel about that? Hopeful. Fingers crossed that the hard work has paid off.


Thursday, 28 April 2016

Warwick Castle Maze - A review


Warwick is a castle that thrills and delights, leaving you in no doubt of the mighty battles it has borne, those that fought and fell, those that lived like kings, not forgetting those that suffered such horrible histories. Of course, if you've visited Warwick Castle, you couldn't fail to know all of that. It is magnificent, and with so much going on you could easily spend multiple days there... amongst other things, watching the Birds of Prey show, visiting the Knight's Village, seeing the Trebuchet in action (flying fireball), touring the castle, or mingling with its inhabitants (meet the marvellously informed poo man, and the entertaining, if slightly bonkers, Countess Greville: I live here. I'm loaded). 

However, if you haven't visited for a while, you might not yet know about its most recent reason to return... its fabulous brand new attraction that opened at Easter: 
The Horrible Histories Maze...

Tuesday, 26 April 2016


It's evening when we arrive. 
Light may be fading, and we are all tired, but our welcome is a bright and cheery sight...
Bunting triangles deck the sky, 
Zig-zagging a nautical blue and white, at height, 
Tacking cheerily back and forth across the Dorset twilight. 

I can’t wait to see the place I harbour such affection for tomorrow, bathed in sunshine. 
This place, this British town, beside the seaside, beside the sea.

Out the car, 
Smell the tide.  
Shout hooray,
Bleary eyed.
Look to the harbour. 
And fishing boats,
Resting now, 
Heave up and down, 
Stern and bow. 

The sailing masts talk to each other in tinker. 

Before long, you'll hear quiet.

Kids tucked in and snoozing, and from where we sit, Simon and I,
Drink in the view. 
The sea sparkling. 
Daylight dimming.
Lights like a row of tears all a-blur, flicker in the water. 
Gold bulbs: The corn on the Cobb.

Eventually slumber hijacks us too, and as I slip into sleep, I’m sure I hear the breeze through the open window whisper welcome back.

Next morning, we are up and out. 
It’s a stones throw to the sea to throw stones. 
To find stones. 
Stones that are hundreds of millions of years old.

The RNLI station is selling bait and buckets, and before long we are there beside the boats, camped out on the Cobb dangling all our hope on a string. We race our catch back to the water, and then move on to the beach; the white sands already in reach. 

Caw caw the noisy gulls cry, riding high on the breeze… 
Esme looks up momentarily, then grabs the freedom she can taste.
Letting go of my hand, running ever closer toward a dazzling blue sea. 
Sofia follows suit, losing her hat in the process.

Ocean’s edge you’re inviting, we four splash there with you. 
Then lie and relax, then swim again. 
(It's what we’re here to do). 

Oh and buckets and spades and sticks and shells, digging down deep to create. 
And our sand covered toes play peepo; all lay hiding in wait. 
Then we bury each other one by one and Daddy almost disappears. 
How we laugh before eating sandy ice cream.

Grab the nets we’re off to explore. 
Under rocks, over pools, along the seashore. 
Washed up this, and tossed there that. 
A crab leg, a Blenny, Sofia’s lost hat. 

'Hey', shouts Esme, 'let’s fly our kite,' and we run to find our spot. 
We wind it out and up it goes and I'm the one that's blown away. She makes it dance so beautifully. 
Meanwhile, Sofia you scream and scream as you wait impatiently for your turn.

Just as well it's only a short walk back to our retreat. 
Time for food, but what shall we eat? 
Look the fish shop has our tea… a pint of prawns. 
Method: Cook with garlic, lemon and salt. Drink with wine. Try not to gulp.

As sunlight fades and twilight rests her head once more upon the bay, 
I gaze, and think no wonder I, we, love coming here.
Year on year. 
No. Wonder. 
And the kids sleep endlessly; all that endless sea air.

Simon and I revel in the fact that we are out of contact. 

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Happy birthday, Your Majesty

Aruna Seth is celebrating the Queens Birthday with special limited edition Union Jack Swarovski covered wedges. Only ten pairs of these unique shoes have been hand-created, with each wedge embellished with over 3,000 Swarovski crystals. 

Fancy footwear indeed.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

One Cat Farm Glamping site, Wales - A review

If big skies and a sense of freedom are what you are looking for in a family getaway, then perhaps you've forgotten how good a camping holiday can be? Did I really just write that? Don't be ridiculous, all too often camping with small kids equates to disaster - but GLamping on the other hand...

Life As It Is was invited to One Cat Farm in West Wales over Easter, and my goodness, what a surprisingly rejuvenating break it was. I fell in love with the great outdoors all over again. Of course it helped that the weather was good and the family that run One Cat Farm are super lovely, but who on earth could fail to embrace the fresh air and starry skies that this quiet valley setting offers?

Friday, 15 April 2016

Fundamentals of family life... - A poem

...Staring up I don’t recall skies quite like this since the Australian Outback. My God, the stars look in touching distance. And underneath the starlit skies, I’m reminded how magical life can be.  
When all around us is a conveyor belt of madness most of the time, it’s too easy to forget. Yet here I am, stripped bare of everything technological and left only with the warming campfire in front of me. It is long awaited bliss. 
The girls are nearby, sound asleep inside their comfy beds within the cosy den. A grass-roofed eco wood hut that equates to the best nights sleep possible. It is quiet and warm thanks to the insulation. 
I’m in a hidden Welsh Valley approximately three miles from the colourful Georgian coastal town of Aberareron. I’ve been transported back to the fundamentals of life spent together as a family. 
And it is all really rather welcome.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

15/52 The GraceFaith year long art project

Choosing a favourite piece of art, each week of the year...

I asked the girls to draw something to do with One Cat Farm that they loved (where we've just been on hols). They both drew the den. And who could blame them? I loved it too.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Unplugging to reconnect with a basic love of life

I think there is something truly wonderful about your mobile phone going on the blink the same day that you leave for a holiday.  Maybe that’s just me? Yet as I’m headed westbound out of Paddington on a train to Bristol Parkway, I’m feeling like my holiday has already begun. You see, I no longer have the annoyance of work buzzing in my handbag. No, now it’s just me alone, sat smug having survived the platform scrum.

Actually, I’m doubly smug, for I’m doing this first leg of the journey alone. Darling other half is currently somewhere along the M4 corridor with the chaos that is our 7 and 4 YO girls in tow. See what I mean about feeling my hols has well and truly begun?

I’m not going to need the phone where are headed. One Cat Farm promises to have no WiFi and thank heavens for that. This holiday is all about being in close proximity with the family in idyllic Welsh countryside, staring at the stars. It’s about unplugging oneself from the technological madness that most of us inhabit each and every day, and reconnecting with a basic love of life.

Can’t wait to see how it goes…

A natural born camper?

Turns out I'm not a natural born camper. I much prefer the five-star treatment. Here, let me put you in the picture: me and camping

Then of course, last summer I went on a trip that was officially labelled GLamping but was horrified to realise there was no ground coffee available. I would usually have taken a cafetiere with me in these circumstances, but had been thinking glamorous camping would equate to strong coffee on tap, along with a ready made bed to get into. What a fool I was - no I didn't take bedding either.

So yes, camping is my idea of hell. But now that LIFE AS IT IS has been offered a GLamping review opportunity, and now that the kids are older... (7 & 4), now that there is heating on offer... and proper beds... and now that I've long since given up my coffee addiction... okay then, I'll give it a go. Who couldn't resist the lure of - and I quote - snuggling up in your very own den in a hidden valley - along with views like this...

One Cat Farm in Wales here we come.