TOASTtravels : words from the wild

web40

A couple of weeks back, on a day punctuated by sudden, soaking downpours, I dragged poor James Melia out to a ruined barn in the middle of the moors. I’d spotted it from the road months ago – in particular, that arched doorway. I get a greedy, coveting sensation when I see an amazing photo spot, and I decided there and then that this ruin was to be mine.  Mine in the photo sense, anyway.…

Read More

Notes for my daughter: books to read

image

Dear Orla, You might not enjoy them or even finish them, but the following books are all worth trying. These are the books that helped me understand the world – and possibly even myself – a little bit better.  If I get hit by a bus and turn into a tragic absent-mother-figure, I hope you can read your way down this list, and feel like you got to know me some more. Stargirl – Jerry Spinelli. Despite…

Read More

in bloom

image

We’re at that tipping point of summer; the days divide themselves between hot sun and thick, oppressive cloud. When it rains, the air grows cold, and you can tell autumn is just around the corner. You can almost smell it on the wind out here. But for now, summer holds on. I took these photographs in my friend Fiona’s garden a few weeks back on one of those cloudy, heavy August days. She’s a florist,…

Read More

talking to a toddler about Death (& Miffy)

image

Orla appears to thinks Miffy is Death. Or Deff, as she says it – like he might have a twin brother called Jeff. It’s been a bit of a difficult month, you see… It started a few weeks back when our lovely old house-chicken Matilda died. It was a sad and shocking loss, and in the days that followed Orla came to me with a lot of difficult questions. Where had Tilly gone? Was she…

Read More

notes for my daughter – Songbirds

image.jpg

You were born with a mind like a faiytale forest, filled with every imaginable species, and some even beyond that. A rainbow of feathers, a cacophony of song. & every day as you grow, we lose a bird or two. Like conservationists, we try to choose what is most important, to focus our limited resources for preservation. So we protect independence, say, but maybe creativity takes a hit; we nurture self-belief, but something quiet and…

Read More

first aid

image.jpg

  There was a day when Orla was teeny, and I’d been sent some lovely cappuccino cups for my first ever Instagram giveaway. We opened the parcel together behind the front door – she was in her ‘wow’ stage and wanted to see and touch everything. I lifted the lid, & before I even realised one was broken, she cut her finger on a razor-like shard of porcelain. She bled and bled and bled. My…

Read More

live with less: a little reminder

image

A little lesson I re-learned this week, with help from my little muffin, & from Peppa Pig. Last month I bought Orla a Peppa Pig Playhouse on a whim. She’d found a Daddy Pig figure in a charity shop the day before & wanted it so desperately, & then I spotted the full set on sale & it seemed like a sign. It became an immediate favourite – hours of pretend play, putting George in…

Read More

sunshine & roses

image

I found the post below in my drafts folder earlier this week. My own words surprised me, because right now it’s all so different – Orla is in a ‘sunshine child’ phase, & we’re skipping along pretty happily in one other’s rhythm. It’s joyful, & all too easy to forget the days when it isn’t this way – especially if I edit them from my postings here. & so with that in mind… Having one…

Read More

stuff that works: toddlers

new-1

Parenting a toddler is awesome. She is adventurous, hilarious – ‘bubble poo’, ‘no please!’ & ‘cold toast’ (bread!) – and endlessly affectionate. During my recent coughing fits, she drops whatever she is doing to come and tenderly pat my back. I find little plastic pigs in my shoes in the morning. She collects things in her day and says, Daddy will like that!, & saves them to show him. But she is also, of course,…

Read More

Parenting: What I (un)learned in the first two years

me and orla uk lifestyle-7

She is two; fiesty, messy haired, hilarious. She is a changling and a hurricane, a swirl of snot and sugar and soft, sticky kisses. She hears owls in almost everything – a squeaking tap, a squeal of breaks, a pigeon on the roof. “Wowl singing, mummy!”, & I never have the heart to set her straight. Below is a list of what I unlearned in the last 24 months. I could have listed what I…

Read More