Is there a good time to get a dog…

This is a question I’ve been asking myself for some time now. Since losing Reuben (our beloved German Shepherd cross) a year ago, we have been a dogless family. It’s been a little breather for us, especially me, whilst Monty travels and works away from home so regularly. To not constantly worry about the dog – whether it’s walked sufficiently or sat alone at home whilst I’m at playgroup has been a lovely respite.

However, we both feel the time has come to find a new dog (or dogs) to join us at Orchard View. Reubs was a rescue dog from Holly Hedge Rescue Centre in Bristol. He was huge, hairy, excitable but a gentle bear of a dog especially around little one’s. He was also incredibly handsome and strong – we all ran many miles together over the years.

We’d like to take on a rescue dog if possible, we all know that there are thousands of dogs in need of homes all throughout the country. But with small children, a cat, hens, ducks, sheep and the fact that we’re surrounded by farms with cattle and horses in most fields – this new dog has to be the right one. And you can never underestimate the time, energy and love a dog needs from you. It is like having another child to consider all the time so some serious thought has to be put in to owning a dog for sure.

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Reubs & Isla

So we are supporting Holly Hedge this weekend, at their grand opening of a new kennel block, lovingly dedicated to Reuben. Here we can talk to the volunteers and staff about finding a suitable new member of the Halls household – once we’re back from our sojourns this summer. If you’re local to Bristol – please come and join the fun in Long Ashton – the Holly Hedge event is open to all – http://www.hollyhedge.org.uk/default.aspx

Dogs are and always have been devoted companions of man and woman alike. The house was so deathly quiet without Reubs in it – it’s time to fill our home with barks and yelps, hair and muddy footprints. I’m sure Reubs would approve of our decision – but I can promise you, my lovely boy, you will never be forgotten.

If we all give one hour a week…

We could make a substantial difference to our schools. I’ve heard recently that our local primary school, which Isla and Molly attend, have had to drastically cut their budget for 2017/2018 by tens of thousands of pounds. This means losing additional support staff, our forest school teacher, and so much more. Our Government is not supporting our schools sufficiently – this is obvious, but do we as parents do enough?

In some cases, if parents have full time jobs, of course it is difficult to commit time to our schools. But those that have a little bit more flexibility could do so much to help enrich the environment our little one’s spend the majority of their time within. Be it painting the grey walls in the playground to running summer fetes.

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Me supervising whilst drinking tea – I promise I did paint and not just drink tea..

When Isla began school last September I volunteered to join the Friends group, a small selection of Mums and Dads who organise fundraising events in aid of the school. I agreed to organise one event per year – feeling like I’m contributing to the collective effort but still retaining time for my work. Last month I became the Friend’s secretary and my friend, who I initially roped into organising our ‘one’ event a year, became the new Chair. We are now in the throws of organising a mini festival after our sports day taking place this Friday (please let the sun shine!).

I didn’t expect to get so involved with this little group of proactive and energetic parents, but I’m incredibly pleased I did – especially now. When our schools are at breaking point, we can not stand by and not step in. Friends groups, PTA’s and other fundraising committees need your help urgently. So don’t be shy, please put your hand up to join in. One hour a week could make a massive and lasting difference – I would thank you and think you rock, but your children would thank you even more. Not it’s over to you!

My pop up to Bristol & our local pop ups…

I’m in sunny Bristol today, we have an office here, and although it’s a trek from Dartmouth I really enjoy driving up and being with our lovely team (especially when Suze brings us crumble chocolate cakes from Lanzarote). However, this enjoyment is fleeting as our brilliant ‘nanny’ Hannah will be leaving us at the end of July.

She has been a god send, really, and I’m not sure what I will do without her. For one day a week she’d get the kids ready for school, take them in and collect them. She then feeds and entertains them until I returned for bedtime. It was only one day a week, but that day was my day. Now, it looks uncertain about what I’ll be able to juggle – realistically.

It’s a very common dilemma many parents face, mums and dads alike. Without local grandparents for additional childcare, or extremely early breakfast clubs and even later after school clubs the return to work can be so hard. I’d hope to find a childminder or nanny locally who can take on Hannah’s role but it’ll be tricky.

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Me about to eat a chocolate crumble cake/at work…

However, last week I met some inspiring and talented ladies, who with young families, have established their own businesses, thus giving them flexibility to be a very present figure throughout their children’s lives. These women produce stunning silver jewellery, unique ceramics, beautiful watercolours, bespoke cushions & leather bags and source homewares from Africa – to mention just a few. Unfortunately I’m not so talented and can’t set myself up in this way due to my lack of creative skills or aptitude for building such imaginative businesses.

I imagine that the majority of us have local pop-up shops and stores so I urge you to seek them out – our current pop-up shop is taking place at Stokeley

I aim to visit on Thursday – to support small local businesses, especially working mums but also to be inspired, perhaps I need to relinquish my fears about starting something on my own and consider something new. My days in Bristol maybe numbered but perhaps something good will come of it.

Consolidating and looking back & to the future…

It’s a big day for the UK, it’s voting day and whilst I’d like to say that we aren’t a hugely divided political household, we’ve had some robust conversations about which party symbolises what we truly & realistically need in the future. I’m not going to comment online about who I’m voting for, it’s a personal choice – but I urge you all to use your right to vote. It’s a wonderful privilege, which we share with some of the world, but certainly not all of it, especially as women. So use it wisely. I wait with anticipation for the outcome…and I’ll be taking both my children with me to vote after school, so they can begin to fathom the way our political systems operate in the UK. And to witness that every single vote can and does matter.

Today has made me stop in my tracks. It’s the 8 June, we’ve already lived through half of 2017. I’m trying to use today to look back on how we’ve spent the previous 6 months. Fortunately my Freeprints arrived today, I try and print out photos rather than store them all on my laptop, and from the pile of pictures before me I can see we’ve managed to squeeze in quite a bit. We’ve had some highs, and a few lows. The country too has been through so much, especially within the last few months. Be it good or bad this is life.

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Happy times

And, when I look at the photos I’ve chosen to print out they’re all of us as a family, spending time with friends and family, travelling and taking part in friend’s weddings, raising our ducklings, developing our home and exploring more places where we live and a little further a field. It’s what I imagine life should be, I know I’ve not taken photos of me hoovering the living room or cleaning out the muck from the goats house but it appears that we’re leading happy lives and that’s what matters. I feel very grateful, and very lucky. I hope that the next 6 months brings happiness and contentedness to us all…and perhaps, a new Government…!

No tele day…

It’s 08.45am and a record has been set. I’m not sure how proud I should be feeling about this, as it says quite a bit about how our mornings generally begin, but we have not put the TV on yet. 

I’ve checked my weather app (I’ve one optimistic and one that’s pessimistic so go for the average) and today is the last day for a whole week of sun and settled early summer weather. 

So the TV is staying resolutely off. We’ve already had the peacock Queen and Princess performing a song and dance routine. The saucepans, cake tins and bowls have been utilised as a uncomfortably loud drum kit. I’m constantly man managing and mediating between the girls as to how many turns each may have on the single hula hoop we own. 

It’s exhausting…I’m sitting in the garden trying to type this on my phone. However the girls are now arguing over the swing…one is slightly higher than the other and that one is obviously the better. But, after a few minutes peace resumes. I can hear the morning bird song, the babbling of a little stream which runs besides our garden. I can even hear our neighbour’s peacock call echoing down the valley. The squeaking of the swing set provides a constant rhythm…there’s no Paw Patrol theme tune and no guilt. 


As always our children need to discover their own ways and methods to entertain themselves. I may not get the cleanest kitchen I’d like but I’ve engaged more with my little ones. School will soon begin again and these times will become few and far between. So the television can stay off today…at least until it’s time to make tea.