The sun arrived this week and we have been outdoors ever since. This week’s photo was taken earlier today on a family bike ride in the forest. It was beautiful to see the rays of sunshine flooding through the trees and to admire the shades of green lighting the forest.
So it looks like we’ve skipped a whole season and summer has started today. It’s been the hottest April day since 1949 and it’s been blissful. Its strange to think a month ago we were snowed in!
The sun can change everything so here’s a list of things I’ve done today on our first hot and sunny day of the year…
I’ve dressed the children in their summer uniform, I love the cuteness of summer uniforms, a gingham dress for Little Miss and grey shorts for Little Man. We didn’t need coats today either.
At work, I changed my lesson plan and took my class outdoors to do their lesson. It was spontaneous and fun and turned out to be a really good lesson, sometimes you just have to go with the idea and embrace where it takes you.
Instead of heading home, I took Little Man for an ice cream and a walk whilst we waited for Little Miss to finish her music club after school. We admired the blossoms and looked for other signs of spring, Little Man played in the little brook and I may have dipped a toe into the water.
As soon as we got home the children changed into shorts and t-shirts after school. Is there a simpler outfit and I love all it symbolises, sunny days and outdoor playtime.
During the afternoon, Mr S had set up Swingball in the garden after it had been stored away for winter and we all played it in the garden before tea.
After tea, Little Miss and I went for a walk on the beach, the outdoor café was busy with people enjoying a drink in the warm weather and the beach was filled with people enjoying a bonus play. The atmosphere was so relaxing and happy.
When we got home, I sat in the garden and read. My summer soundtrack were the birds chirping and the hum of people happy pottering around in their gardens and outside.
There is no doubt that I am a summer person and a day like today just fills me with happiness and sparkles. Here’s hoping for a wonderful summer in 2018.
During the Easter holidays, I spent some time at my parents’ house sorting through old photographs. I love seeing old photographs of friends and family and wanted to find a few favourites of my parents and grandparents to make copies for my collection.
In the big box of delights was a battered old album from World War 2, it begins with this joyous photo of my grandfather, Gramps and then contains fewer photos of him and more of daily life in the RAF. I was intrigued by this album as so little is known about his military service, I know Gramps was ground crew in the RAF, working as an electrician, his life long career and that he was based for a time in the south of England but that was all the information. I was always puzzled how a Scotsman could end up in a base in the south but thanks to his meticulous notes on the back of photos and the Internet I have been able to piece the early part of his military service.
Gramps began his military service in Drem in Scotland, close to where he lived. The photos all show 609 Squadron and following research I understand that this squadron spent time in Drem, Scotland, the north of England, before moving to RAF Northold for Dunkirk and then Dorset and Hampshire for the Battle of Britain.
609 Squadron was a Bomber and Fighter squadron and I have been brought to tears learning about the squadron, the heroic actions of the pilots and the high number of fatalities. Gramps wrote details on every photo and I have been able to research some of the individuals featured in the photos. Its been heart-breaking research and it makes me think that the reason that Gramps never spoke of the war was the sadness at so many colleagues killed in action. Gramps was so kind, loving and caring, a devoted family man and loyal to all his friends. He was quiet and dignified and I think his silence was his respect to his colleagues.
These photos show F.O. Ian Bedford Nesbitt Russell in Scotland a few weeks before he was tragically killed supporting the allies at Dunkirk. For me it is the difference in the pictures, a relaxed young man in Scotland on the airfield and then the pilot leaving on his final flight. In doing the research I learnt that Russell was a young Australian from Melbourne. I am sure that Gramps would be very proud to know that his eldest grand daughter now works as a paediatrician in the same city.
Another photo shows Sgt Alan Feary whom was killed in October 1941, his grave is not too far from our home and I would like to visit it and pay my respects to one of my Gramps’ colleagues I have seen a number of the photos including this one from the album on the Internet so I am presuming that they were distributed to many of the staff of 609 Squadron.
Whilst the photos have really brought the history of the second world war to me and I have enjoyed researching 609 squadron, I still know little about Gramps’ war service. My parents are visiting family in Scotland soon and I am hoping that they will be able to find either his service number or NI number so we can request his service record. This really is a fascinating photo album and illustrates the sacrifices made by Gramps’ generation for us all, they will never be forgotten.
This week’s photo was taken on a harbour tour in Portsmouth on Wednesday. The ship is HMS Queen Elizabeth, the navy’s newest aircraft carrier. It’s size is incredible and the engineering and technology on board mind boggling.
Being quite small and having quite wide feet, clothes and shoe shopping can be frustrating and disappointing. However, I love a bag and am always on the search for the holy grail of handbags. Buying a new handbag makes me happy and is my guilty pleasure, ‘guilty’ as I don’t always reveal the true price! My best handbags are an everyday green leather tote from Boden, I no longer use it daily as the leather is worn and battered after years and years of use but the colour, size and style were perfect and a beautiful vintage silver bag I found in a charity shop which I use for special occasions.
My current favourite is a large, navy bag from Clarks, I would prefer a better material but the size, colour and style suit me well. I also keep a small, bright bag in it which is perfect for keys, a purse and my mobile for the school run etc..
My bag is my mobile office and I try to have all I need in it. Today my bag contains
A zip Filofax for keeping myself organised and plans. It also doubles as a card holder for loyalty cards, stamps, membership cards etc..
A small cosmetic bag full of essentials – NYR
A spare shopping bag – Eden Project print
A purse containing cash and my bank card- Cath Kidston
A pencil case containing stationery essentials – Emma Bridgewater
Water bottle, sometimes I swap this for an insulated cup if I’m likely to want a hot takeaway drink.
Sunglasses for driving or if I feel a migraine coming on.
My Kindle, I am often waiting for a child to finish a club and have learnt to fit in 5 minutes reading wherever I can.
I also have a pack of tissues in the bag which is missing from the photo.
My cosmetic bag is key and gets transferred to my gym bag, rucksack for days out etc.. It is my mum kit!
Bach Rescue Remedy, because some days just become a rescue remedy kind of day.
Hair bands, I have short hair but my daughter always needs one.
Inhaler for my son.
NYR travel rollerstick, I get bad travel sickness and roll this on pulse points for journeys.
Liz Earle face spritz to refresh my skin and a little pick me up.
NYR defence hand spray (this is amazing, it lasts for ages and feels and smells so much nicer than the antibacterial gels)
In the summer this bag will also contain a mini bottle of sun tan lotion.
I like feeling organised and in control with a well packed bag, I can deal with problems as they arise and use any unexpected free time well. I suppose my bag is my super hero’s cape, wearing it I can do anything!
I had hoped to write a weekly update on my little #ecosparkles2018 project but the reality is that whilst I am making changes I’ve not been recording them, so here is an update for the last couple of months and I will then try to write a monthly update.
I am discovering in this project that its not about buying a few green accessories but making lifestyle changes. It is more about being creative, reusing items and reducing consumption. It is also about sharing your green values with the services you use, nobody has minded when I’ve used a reusable cup for a takeaway drink, or that I’ve asked for a paper bag instead of plastic packaging or in a café when I have asked for plastic straws not to be put in the children’s drinks and enquired whether glass bottles are recycled, people are happy to do simple green acts when customers request them.
Over the past two months these are some of the green things we have done in the Sparkles household.
We have had a Smart meter installed and it has had an immediate effect. It is now a family challenge to try and reduce the previous day’s total for electricity and gas and it has made us switch off items not being used etc.. This challenge is easier as we are approaching spring, I have no doubt that the daily cost will increase in colder and darker days.
I always have a water bottle on the go in my bag. It is easier to fill it up than I expected, there are public water fountains in the community which I had never noticed.
Mr and Miss S have planted the seedlings in our garden, we have a variety of fruit and vegetables now growing ready for summer harvesting.
I bought some gym clothes to replace my very worn top and leggings (they were becoming indecent!) I found some which are made from sustainable, organic cotton in Decathlon at a really good price and I’m delighted at how comfortable and practical they are.
All our toiletries and cleaning products are now eco friendly and not tested on animals. I have also replaced plastic brushes and cloths with bamboo products.
At work I am now leading the Eco schools programme and I am full of ideas and inspiration! Not only is my home going green so is our school!
As well as the above I am really proud of my zero count on some key products, every little helps.
So this has been my update and I look forward to now sharing a monthly post on how we are becoming a greener house in very simple steps.
As the children become older, I find my role in the holidays changing. From doing and being with them all the time they are now trying new experiences independently. This holidays they’ve been climbing and on a tennis camp on their own. Well nearly on their own as on both occasions I’ve been on site as it’s been too far to simply drop them and go back home, it’s a 20+ mile round trip to our nearest sports centre, that’s rural life! I like that the children are trying new skills and doing things they enjoy but I’m also trying to keep a balance too so there are family trips which we all participate in and then relaxed times at home for Lego building, DVDs, play dates and baking. As Mr S has been home I’ve also had a date with each of my children, we’ve been to my gym where we’ve swam and enjoyed a jacuzzi and sauna.
This holiday has given me some unexpected time for myself, the sports centre has a nice café and with my Kindle and note book for plans I’ve been able to relax and think whilst the children have been busy. As the children get older, holidays are becoming more relaxing and restful and we’re all feeling the benefits.