Wednesday, 27 November 2013

This, that and the other.

Weekends and half terms are precious times. These are times, when as a family we are so very grateful that our breadwinner is a teacher and weekends and school holidays are for just relaxing and re-charging. We're a simple family with pretty simple tastes and moments like cuddles in a warm bed with little ones and laughing for minutes and minutes at funny faces pulled is what I think we do pretty well. A few weeks back during half term we spent as much time as physically possible outside enjoying the elements. Walks in the woods not too far from home, a wood we visit frequently that transforms radically with each season and change in climate, a wood that makes our hearts tender and nostalgic in that kind of way that Christopher Robin described The Hundred Acre Wood. My eldest and I are reading 'Return to the Hundred Acre Wood' at the moment and we both keep sighing with satisfaction at having our own very special place, a place with twists and turns and that is mostly familiar with exception to the odd corner that springs a surprise each and every visit. Just a few weeks ago we were thrilled to find our woods covered in mushrooms and fungi, we even happened upon a foraging group who adopted us and excitedly began imparting their knowledge gathered over countless hobbyist weekends and over many years. The photographs that my hubby casually takes are beautiful, magical captures of our special place. Perfect for triggering memories in the future, I hope, of the stories we told and the small worlds we imagined, with a kaleidoscope of funny creatures, inhabiting these worlds within this not so big wood. The one that feels so much huger in our minds and in our hearts.

Porcelain Mushrooms. Oudemansiella Mucida. Clowes Wood. Photo by Stuart Tonge

Candle Snuff Fungus (identified by @mingscout) Photo by Stuart Tonge

Photo by Stuart Tonge

Photo by Stuart Tonge

During half term we also decided it was time to take a little break, so we packed our bags and headed off for a mini adventure in the Peak district, which at this time of year is truly stunning. We wrapped up warm, threw on our wellies and walked and walked without hardly seeing a soul and it was bliss! Some of my favourite and most precious memories from this trip are of the squeals of delight from the kids when 'Dad' drove down the hills fast and made their tummies turn. When hearty laughter had sucked nearly every last breath, when Dad would pump his leg up and down when our old banger of a car would struggle to climb the very steep derbyshire hills. He would instruct those boys of ours to 'Lean forward! I'm not sure we'll make it otherwise!' and they would look thrilled and terrified all at once! My hubby put on the best show and had us all reeling with laughter. The kids thought it was hilarious when he got the car stuck in the mud (I a little less so!) they thought it even funnier that 'mum' should be a little stressed about it and surely I could see that this 'is all part of the adventure' as my eldest hailed buzzing with adrenaline. All was well, we found some donkeys right after that and all three boys of mine went rather soppy over those donkeys, asses that they themselves are!

Walking and food and more walking and more food were basically the order of the day. We spent time in the great outdoors getting cold and windswept and on occasion a little wet, mostly from the youngest in the family splashing us when jumping in puddles! Once we had worked up a sweat, we felt we had earned hot chocolates, coffees and large countryside portions of cake or indeed ice cream sundaes. We would rest our legs and fight over last pieces of cake and spoonfuls of ice cream like the keen foodie family we are. I demonstrated to my hubby just how much I love him, by leaving him the last piece of the best treacle sponge on this planet! Head to Ashborne if you too would like to experience it!

Seeing these three bursting with energy and thriving in the outdoors with no one else around, I was reminded of a scene from one of my favourite films 'La Haine'. Three characters walk past a billboard where some text reads: 'The World Is Yours'. The text is graffitied and changed to read 'The World Is Ours'. The world in that moment truly did belong to these three members of my family and so to capture the moment in La Haine style, I asked them to grab their balls and look like the world was theirs. I love, love, love this photograph!

There was colour from balloons outside a fabulous toy shop we visited. But my favourite colours above all at the moment are of this beard and this afro and another boys goldilocks, the same colours as autumn leaves! What a joy it is to be surrounded by these.

Bunk beds stirred much, much excitement. The boys and I posed for our future black and white album cover. There was obligatory jumping on a bed that does not belong to us! And then there were more hot chocolates and all in all, it felt like we were away far longer than we actually were and it's made us restless for more of our humble adventures because this one was just the best and that's exactly how we like the holidays to be.

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