At home with a drone

We talk, from time to time, but in intense conversations, about what home means, about moving back up North. In saner moments it’s acknowledged, the cons do not outweigh the pros. But when we’re there, enjoying the best of times, it’s difficult to remember why we traded the awesome landscape of the Pennines.

We have been so fortunate. We traded one landscape for another.

So, arguing the toss for the one view is difficult.
His Friends vs My Family and Friends.
It’s not an argument either of us can win.

One room with a view for anotherHome - View out from Rhoose PointBut this time of year, when the wind stops battering our home, and the South Wales Coastline becomes a thing of beauty.
Rather than the protagonist of the drama (a phone call about our 12ft trampoline landing in our neighbour’s garden is hardly the call you need when we’re away for the New Year), it is the beauty.  View out from Rhoose PointIt is the five minute walk which creates so much excitement in our little people, realising their spirit of adventure, creating happiness. View out from Rhoose PointIt gives us our path. 
To new adventures.

To a life which is ours.
To continually create.
To breathe.

To appreciate that we have survived the tougher days.
To enjoy the relationships and bonds which surround us.

And to remember to breathe it all in.
(And, of course, to love it all out).Home - Rhoose PointAnd in his case.

To add another string to the bow.

We have had so much frustration with this.

It won’t work on mobile view.

But we have decided, the soundtrack makes it, so please, boot up a laptop, 

And this, this is why I want to stay put.

And this, this is what’s putting the biggest rocket up my husband’s… This is what’s putting the twinkle in my husband’s eye and the fire in his belly!

This.

This is our home.

Living Arrows 2016 8/52

With a difficult week looming, Mr J decided the best thing for us was to take off to the beach.

Southerndown was his choice, and whilst the weather was too bitter for my ears, the children couldn’t care less.

The beach is their territory, their main grudge as we left was that we forgot the swimsuits.

Reassurances that we’d come back when the weather improves did nothing to cheer them up.

Promises of bike rides in the park in the afternoon worked a little better.Living Arrows - Sundays at SoutherndownLiving Arrows

Introducing Chase – our French Bulldog

It took us some time to decide which puppy to introduce to our home. I was really pinning for a King Charles Spaniel, literally a mini-Miller, but they seemed few and far between, and in many ways we wanted to be selective- making sure that we brought home a puppy that could cope with our family, rather than going with what was available and finding, as previous experience with a kitten, we had a pet which couldn’t cope with the pace (and volume) of family life.

Mr J did lots of research, also having his favoured puppies- from Labradors, to Labradoodles, to Dalmatians. I love how his heart gets carried away, leaving you diplomatically raising the first rule that Miller has to be king of the crew.

We eventually agreed that a French Bulldog was most likely to have the traits needed to settle into our family. And so the search began.
Like most things in life, it isn’t as straightforward as setting our your list of demands, there’s all sorts of things to consider like being KC registered, the age of the puppy, and the family the dog was born into.
We thought we would be willing to compromise on a few things, but, again back to the kitten, we knew that compromising wouldn’t necessarily be the best for our family. We wouldn’t be willing to compromise on our existing family make up so it really would be a case of making all the right choices so we’d get it right first time.

And, despite more than a few red herrings, we were fortunate that we found the perfect puppy for our family.Introducing Chase, the French Bulldog PuppyNamed Chase, by B, completely influenced by Paw Patrol. Chase joined our family on Nana Windows’ birthday. A sign we weren’t looking for but were grateful of.

And whilst he is B’s pet, the bond which was quickly established with CM means there’s a alight question mark. Probably for the reason CM was too young for a kitten, and is now – at six- the perfect age for a pet, means B is too young.French Bulldog sleepingThe bond between Chase and Miller was the one we were most conscious of, the need for success was paramount.

Of course Miller’s temperament would have allowed anyone to be introduced, but of how long his patience would stretch would be the decider. And as it was, Chase integrated himself slowly yet confidently. Gradually getting closer and closer to Miller, until one day he decided he would be most comfortable sleeping on top of Miller. It was a first and last.
French Bulldog puppy and Cocker Spaniel French Bulldog puppy and Cocker Spaniel French Bulldog puppy and Cocker Spaniel As well as integrating himself with the children and our other pets, Chase also found his way to integrate himself with our daily routines, and so the days where I work from home now have a new dimension.Working from home with a French BulldogChase has now had all of his immunisations, and so now begins a new chapter, of dog walking, puppy potty training, and full integration in our family.

Introducing a new pet to the family

Back last year I wrote about B really wanting a puppy for Christmas. And we all know about that rule! And along with the ‘not just for Christmas’ rule we have previous experience of introducing a new pet to the family, so we were a little more cautious.

Prior to having children, we had Fred and Ginger, our ginger tabby cats. Fred and Ginger are twin sisters, out to confuse every vet (and us initially) who thinks tabbies are boys. Completely independent, one is loving, one is aloof, they have been perfect pets.Ginger tabbie kittensMiller, our cocker spaniel, is a couple of years old than CM, and is the most placid dog in the world. He has perfectly adapted to children being introduced to his family, and just accepts all that life throws at him.Cocker spaniel puppyIn 2014 Jewelly was introduced to our family, because CM really wanted a kitten. This in itself was a really difficult process for us, to the extent there were two Jewelly’s, as we underestimated the difficulty of introducing a pet to a family filled with excitable children. Black Jewelly is a fighter, she holds no prisoners, and has incorporated herself into the family.

So, B’s request for a puppy was a bit of a difficult one for us. You couldn’t argue with his spirit, he didn’t think it was fair that Miller was the only dog in the house, Miller needed a fellow dog, and therefore B wanted a puppy for Christmas.

Part of this was easy to prepare for, we knew we were going away after Christmas so a puppy was never going to arrive as a gift. But we also had in our back pocket that the boys would celebrate their 5th birthday in January.

The more obvious part of the consideration was whether we actually wanted to add another pet to our family. With three cats and a dog we definitely have a full house.

When considering other pets we might introduce, we are limited, because of the cats.

Introducing a puppy would seem the best option, but then there are the knock-on considerations- the cost, the care and the impact, on us, and the other pets.

From one aspect the timing was as good as it was going to get. Now we have decided to stay in this house for the imminent future I would love to have new flooring throughout. And therefore from a practical perspective this would be the only time we could consider introducing a puppy.

Considering Miller was key, he is getting on a little bit, and the idea of introducing puppy seemed timely. A puppy to liven him up a little bit and maybe be a bit of a companion.

But what was key was that Miller would still need to be the boss, any dog we were to consider would need not only to be child friendly, and low maintenance, but also to keep Miller as king of his castle.

The next consideration was who would we be getting a new pet for. Whilst B clearly wanted a puppy, our experience of CM having a kitten was predictable- she loves the bests bits and conveniently overlooks everything else.

Whilst we put some hurdles between B and a puppy, such as taking Miller for walks after school each day, we acknowledged the reality would be we, or rather Mr J, would really be the owner of our new pup.

And with all of this in mind, or course we did!

Driving home for Christmas, a holiday in Todmorden

It had been four years since we had been back to Todmorden. The town we lived once we became a couple, the town to which we brought our children home.

Wanting to wave farewell to 2015, we decided the best place we could do this was in Todmorden. Some internet searches to find a perfect place for our family of 5 and Miller, our Cocker Spaniel, resulted in us stumbling upon a Sykes Holiday Cottage on the tops of Todmorden.

Whilst it wasn’t a drive I was happy to take, Mr J is a pro where Todmorden roads are concerned, and the cottage made for a perfect location for our break. A wonderful host was patient with our late arrival time, and the cottage had more than everything we needed to make a perfect ‘home from home’. And we were fortunate, Todmorden was hit by the flash floods on Boxing Day- the day before our arrival- and as always, hit badly, our home on the tops was unscathed- for which we were grateful.
It meant we had a week rediscovering Todmorden and spending time with friends, the perfect therapy.A view from our Sykes Cottage Sykes Cottages in TodmordenFortunately, Father Christmas had seen fit to send me Dr Martens rather than heels, and I managed to cobble together the perfect footwear for our week away.Essential Yorkshire bootsAnd the great thing about being back was not only the chance to catch up and spend time with some of our favourite people:Centre Vale Park, TodmordenBut also getting some much-needed fresh air, blowing away 2015 and welcoming 2016 with some of Todmorden’s best views.

Because I guess that’s always been the dilemma, we traded one view for another. The difference is our new view of the coast is sort of flat- completely spectacular but looking out rather than being in.

Todmorden, offers the Pennines.The PenninesAnd at 6 and 4 years, the children were ready to face the challenge, to see the places we had taken them as babes, of Gaddings Dam:Twin boys at 5 Gaddings DamOf Stoodley Pike:Walking up to Stoodley PikeView from Stoodley PikeThe best place to welcome in 2016.Conquering Stoodley Pike

We’ve promised ourselves we’ll get to Todmorden a lot more now, and hopefully reap the benefit of all seasons.

But for now, we have the memories.

Reflections on 2015

I don’t think I could have predicted how 2015 would have panned out. I don’t think anyone could have.
It’s been a really difficult year for us as a family. How the year started, the challenges we thought we were facing all paled into insignificance.

We are out the other side. No doubt stronger, but quite a bit altered.

And now, there’s no way I’d even dream of predicting what 2016 has in store.
I know, to some extent, what I’d like to happen.

I’d like to find a new challenge, to accompany the new job I need to find.
2016 will be the year I was made redundant.
I’d very much like to finish my employment and go straight into a new role. This is a huge ask, but the difference that using my redundancy to help pay off the mortgage would be my ultimate goal.

Because this is my ultimate hope for 2016. That we will end the year having paid off our mortgage. Words I’d never thought I’d type.
Because, with the downs of 2015 came the unexpected achievement of becoming debt free, unexpectedly. A series of upturns meant I finally paid off all the debts I have accumulated over the years. And so redundancy, alongside money Tony would rather have not received, should allow us to become mortgage free.

So, we also need to get better in 2016, better at financial management, better at saving, and better at deciding what our priorities are, as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.
West Yorkshire Pennine Way Signpost2015 saw us ending the year deciding whether a move back to West Yorkshire is in our plans. It was definitely not in my plans, but that’s the difference when you’ve moved back to your hometown, the shoe is on the other foot, and we’re no longer in his hometown, and after the year he’s had, that’s been tough.
The reality is it doesn’t meet our needs as a family to move back, and that’s a real difficult truth, because it’s trampling over someone’s individual needs, and it’s all well and good dismissing those needs for the sake of family, but it’s not that easy.
So, we need to decide how West Yorkshire becomes a bigger part of our life moving forward – the children were all born in Halifax, and despite their growing Welsh accents, they are (probably) technically English. And their heritage does need to be nurtured.

And for all the unknowns 2016 will have in store, we have plans, hopes, and a few dreams.

Easy like Sunday mornings with Cravendale

Weekends are still defined by a lie-in, and whilst that may be stretching it with children I like to have at least one easy morning over the two days. For the children, weekends are defined by relaxing the rules, not having to wear a uniform, not having to be in bed at 7pm, and having at least one meal in the lounge rather than at the kitchen table.

Some things don’t change as much, I am still caught in my mum’s words that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and I still believe the white marks I occasionally get on my nails are because I’m calcium deprived.

And so, weekends bring our compromise. I hold back on all my instincts and let the cereal bowls into the lounge from time to time, I haven’t got to the part where the children can sit on the sofa but they feel they’re winning as they sit on the floor with their bench for a table with a choice of cereal held back only for weekends, and everyone’s happy. Breakfast with CravendaleCravendale is a fantastic milk in our milk drinkers home. A perfect isotonic for our active children, Cravendale is filtered for extra freshness, so fortunately for our fast paced family life we are never likely to find our Cravendale passed its use by date, it also comes in skimmed and semi-skimmed, so whilst I’m happy for the children to enjoy their favourite milk I’m also happy that the milk I enjoy with my cereal and coffee is a little calorie-light. A Milk Drinkers Milk CravendaleBecause that’s the thing, on the weekend after the children have enjoyed their relaxed breakfast, this is most often the changing scene as I take the opportunity to enjoy a more traditional breakfast at home whilst the toys have come out and I don’t have to worry about being anywhere.Cravendale for mumsAnd carrying on our afternoon traditions, as summer turns to autumn I love movie-time with my three, and of course that in itself captures its own new traditions and for us that’s getting our patchwork blanket out, our special milk mugs, and a snack on the sofa.

There is something wonderfully perfect about snuggling up with a mug of milk to watch a favourite film.A mill drinkers milk CravendaleThis post is an entry for BritMums #MilkDrinkersMilk Linky Challenge, sponsored by Cravendale.