As we get older our memories inevitably fade with time. Of course I can remember lots of parts of my childhood but slowly they are becoming hazier, little snippets get lost here and there, or things I can actually remember become a little less clear and vibrant in my head. Indeed that's why I have been writing this blog the last four years, I want my children to have a full record of their childhood- not just photos, but words, videos and feelings too. I have visions one day of reading it together, sat round a kitchen table, and laughing and crying as we reminisce about the old days.
I do have a few vivid memories of mine. I can't remember exactly how old I would have been but old enough to still enjoy getting lost in my own little world of imagination, making up games and stories, and generally enjoying my own company. It may even have been over a few different Summers, but I remember so clearly so many simple times just spent in the garden with my Mum and Dad. It was in our childhood house growing up, a house which I could literally picture it like it was only yesterday we lived there, not almost twelve years ago now. I remember my Dad used to wear these beige shorts and big gardening boots with yellow laces, and would always do the gardening without his t-shirt on if the weather allowed it. He would be busy doing whatever jobs he had on his list, while my Mum had an old faded flower gardening cushion that she used to lean on while she weeded and planted things in the flower beds. She would be in and out a lot, making cups of tea or lunch for us all.
Our house was the last house on a cul-de-sac and the garden stretched round from front to back rather than having a specific front and back garden, and I remember constantly running to and fro playing and having fun. I remember once my Dad tackling a wasps nest that had formed in an old pile of compost and my Mum and I just seeing him run past terrified with a huge swarm of wasps chasing him. I remember playing for hours outside in that garden, I had a little garden shed that my parents made into a little cottage for me. It was before the days of these gorgeous specific wendy houses, instead just a bog standard shed from B and Q, but they went the trouble of carpeting it for me, putting shelves up and curtains and generally making it into a really fun little place for myself and my friends to hang out.
I remember my Dad making me own little 'garden'- in reality it was just one of the flower beds but he even got me a sign made that said 'Katie's garden'. I had a little garden frog ornament which I remember choosing from the garden centre even now and I helped him plant flowers and shrubs in there. It's funny, but that's exactly why I do this ordinary moments project- because these are the parts of growing up which I remember so vividly. Of course I remember the holidays, or the days out, but I remember these simple times so fondly. I had a wonderful childhood, there were a couple of years where there were problems and I had to see things children probably shouldn't see, but for the most part my parents made it so special for me and even though they eventually separated I look back on these simple days with happiness.
Which brings me to my ordinary moment for this week. My mum has a beautiful large garden nowadays and as the weather has slowly been getting warmer, when we go over there for our usual Monday morning date we have been spending a lot of time outside. The girls have been showing a keen interest in helping her in the garden, watering plants and generally enjoying doing that usual thing of digging and making a downright mess. So we thought we would channel their interest into some good and my Mum suggested the other day that we go and get them some gardening tools. So we headed off to our usual garden centre, of course stopping for cake as that is obligatory when we go there and we picked them out a little bag of tools. I thought one between them would suffice but my Mum said she would treat them both to one and their little faces quite honestly were a picture- I genuinely haven't seen them so excited about anything before. They were absolutely delighted to have their very own gardening bag each. Again proving exactly how it is the simplest of moments which are the most magic.
So off we went back to Grandmas and we changed into our scruffs, before setting to work. They spent hours watering all her plants, digging and planting, and just generally running around happily, before it was time to stop for an al fresco lunch in the sunshine. Of course we play outside constantly, whether that's in our garden, Grandma or Grandpa's, or friend's gardens too, but for some reason as I sat back in my chair and felt the sun on my face and watched my two little ladies delight in something so incredibly simple, I felt a really pang of nostalgia back to my own childhood.
(Some phone photos of our day)
Cuddles with Grandma at the garden centre. We are so incredibly lucky to have her and the girls absolutely adore her.
Posing with their new tool kits, wheelbarrow and gardening gloves. They were just so excited to have these new things.
Some serious plant watering action going on here.
Al fresco lunches in the sunshine.
I started this project almost two years ago to record little snippets of our life that I didn't want to forget and on the day I started it I wrote this...
'The simple things in life are often the sweetest. While the fancy days out, weekends away or holidays are fun, it's the ordinary moments I will miss when my children are all grown up. The snuggling in bed reading a story. The giggles as they run around my overgrown garden with the grass that desperately needs a cut. Even the naughty ones. The ones we all have.
The simple. The exciting. The imperfect. The Ordinary Moments.'
I know that I will remember these most simple of ordinary times the most when my girls have long flown the nest.
As I type this it's 6.30am on Saturday morning. It's really rather early for us, the girls generally get up any time after 7am and for some reason that extra half an hour seems so much earlier, especially on a weekend. My parenting skills aren't the best this morning, I have told them that they aren't allowed up until 7am so they are entertaining themselves in their room quite happily while I write this and allow myself to wake up a bit before the onslaught of a day of parenting.
That's the thing, at the moment these two little ladies of mine are really rather full on. Of course they have quieter times, we are pretty lucky that luckily we can turn their switches off every now and again and they aren't hyper non stop, but for the most part our days are filled with non stop activity, noise and even on the days where we do nothing at all, it always feels hectic and busy. Quite simply though I wouldn't have it any other way. As I said on this post recently, I am loving the age they are both at and although at times it's stressful, we are having such fun raising our two little people.
May is another month that has just completely whizzed by. I say it every month, but actually I think this one might have been the quickest of all. We started off the month in Lanzarote on holiday which was just wonderful. Other than that it's actually been quite a quiet month, for once we haven't really had any plans at the weekend which has been most welcome. We have had the odd thing on here and there, including a lovely night away with our besties at Alton Towers, but other than that May has passed us by in a blur of routine and mundanity. Happy, fun and hectic mundanity though. We have been working really hard as usual, even over the weekends, but as I write this we are pretty much up to date and can hopefully enjoy a weekend together without too much working on the side. June brings us a really busy month, then July is ridiculously busy too, before it all calms down just a tad in August.
I feel like at the moment we really are on the countdown to Mads starting school in September. I said at the start of the year that I was determined to make this year and this Summer especially, a year full of memories, to enjoy every moment with her before we end this era of our lives and start on the next chapter of the new one. I still stand by that and what adventures we have had so far. Our Summer hopefully will be just the same, spending lots of time together enjoying each others company, just doing what we do best- being together. Let's hope the weather is kind to us and we can have a few weeks of lots of sunny and happy times.
Our photos this month were originally going to be from our holiday, I felt very organised because we got them right at the start of the month, but then I just had to add a couple more too as we did our annual visit to the rape fields at the end of the month too...
A passer by took this photo for us when we were having a stroll one evening in Lanzarote. I'm a bit of a grump when it comes to handing my camera to other people, while of course it is lovely that people offer, I find they inevitably cut off limbs or my camera is in manual still and I forget to switch it to Auto. But this kind man actually managed to capture a shot of us which I really love. So thanks for that Mr German man.
The girls are eating those horrible sticky lollies which every single restaurant handed out after dinner. As much as I missed our holiday when we returned home, I didn't miss those lollies!
Silly famliy selfies are often the happiest.
Even better when pulling funny faces- Mads is such a joker, she is rarely serious.
I had to include these because I just love them. Although my legs didn't love running back and forth in this rape seed to turn the self timer back on continuously.
I think these might be some of my favourites we have ever taken. But then I am pretty sure I say that every time. Look how much we have changed since last year.
Happy smiles- I really do love these photos. And that light. How often do you think I go on about that beautiful golden light? It's definitely my favourite to take photos in.
This month I am sending you over to have a look at Lucy's blog Capture by Lucy. Just yesterday she had a wonderful camping party for her son (she has the best birthday parties ever- I wish she was my Mum!) so I am sure there will be a birthday themed Me and Mine from her this month!
Here is the second part of my adventure to this beautiful resort...
Carb overload. The food at Ikos Oceania was absolutely delicious. I think often there can be a little bit of preconception when it comes to all inclusive holidays but Ikos is working hard to put an end to that by redefining the luxury all-inclusive experience with their concept 'Infinite Lifestyle'.
After settling in on the Thursday afternoon, the Friday was spent out and about. Our first stop was the Petralona Caves, about half an hour away from the resort. A large cave discovered in 1959 where they also discovered human and animal remains, this natural structure is fascinating to visit, and was really interesting for me as it's not somewhere I would have gone having such young children. I didn't take any photos while we were there as we weren't allowed to but here are the rest of the ladies on the trip waiting to get on the litle train that would take us the short distance to the caves.
It was a pleasure to spend time with this group of journalists, travel writers and bloggers. Some of the other ladies on the trip were Tina from Loved By Parents, Mimi from La Vida magazine and Gretta from Mums do Travel.
We were treated to a tour of the factory where the wine was being produced which was fascinating, before visiting their on site museum where they have the world's biggest corkscrew collection. It doesn't sound particularly thrilling but honestly it was so interesting, you wouldn't believe the different kinds of corkscrew you can get.
Before it was on to some wine tasting. (that's more like it!)
I used to be a massive wine drinker before having Mads, but I have weirdly gone off it a bit since being pregnant and it's not come back. Still it was great to enjoy a glass or two of the award winning wine- a fair few of our group took some home to enjoy back in the UK.
More awkward posing, it's a lot easier to pose when you have a child in the photo to take the attention off you. And I call myself a blogger!
The sun setting over Ikos Oceania. The resort is built into a cliffside and as such the views are spectacular.
Friday night was spent in Ikos Oceania's a la carte Italian restaurant Fusco, where the menu has been created by Michelin-starred chef Andrea Fusco. The decor was gorgeous, I loved the white washed brick walls and industrial style lighting.
As I mentioned in my previous post, the whole resort has recently undergone an extensive refurbishment and as such is absolutely stunning. The decor throughout was modern, clean and really calm, with lots of whites, blues and greens.
At Fusco we were treated to yet another array of delicious taster plates to try, including this rather tasty chicken and chilli pepper dish. I came away from the long weekend with jeans feeling a little tight around the waist- I dread to think what would happen if I was there one or two weeks.
Chilling out in the lobby with Alison- it was fantastic spending time with her over the course of the trip.
On our final full day, the Saturday, we were lucky enough to be one of the first few people to see the new Ikos Olivia resort which at that stage hadn't opened to the public, although it's since welcomed it's first guests. It was an honour to see this beautiful resort, which is modern and with an amazing selection of accomodation for families, with the introduction of private villas. I can guarantee that we will book to go back there with our girls one day as it was just a perfect family hotel. I felt very envious of the first guests tweeting me to say that they were off there and could I send them a photo.
On the Saturday afternoon we got to sample a bit of sunbed relaxation, which I must admit I was absolutely looking forward to. How beautiful is this pool? I think that the infinity pool at Ikos Oceania might just be one of the most beautiful I have seen. Look at that view in the distance.
The resort offers pool and beach side waiter service (and of course drinks are included in the price) which was just a wonderful luxury. It was wonderful taking a bit of time just to relax and sip on my mojito.
So beautiful. In fact all the grounds were absolutely stunning, some of the most immaculate and landscaped I have stayed in, with flowers everywhere and lovely attention to detail.
Could you ask for anything more from a holiday pool? We also got a gorgeous massage in the resort spa which was lovely. In fact it was one of the best I have had.
Our final evening was spent dining out. A really great bonus when you stay at the Ikos properties, is that you get to 'dine out' at a local restaurant for no extra cost. The food at Ikos Oceania was so gorgeous that you could never get bored, but still if you are there a week it's definitely nice to mix it up and have a change, plus of course it's great to experience an authentic Greek restaurant.
We ate at Erodios restaurant by the harbour and were yet again treated to an array of salads, meats and other dishes, including the most delicious fried feta cheese and also these zucchini fries- yum. Ikos organise transport for you to and from the restaurant as well so it's definitely worth visting a local restaurant at least once. Plus these dine out experiences also benefit the local community which of course is a great thing.
As well as eating breakfast in the hotels main restaurant Flavours for breakfast, we also ate lunch there on the last day. I snuck in three puddings, after all I was about to go home, it was compulsory really.
One last photo with the ladies from the trip and the hotel managers. All the staff were incredibly friendly and you can see why guests return year after year. Even better that they now have a beautifully refurbished hotel to enjoy.
Just in case you missed my last post, here is a video of my time at Ikos Oceania...
Overall I had a fantastic trip to Greece with Sovereign Travel and Ikos Resorts. The resort truly is beautiful and I was really impressed with the facilities that they had on offer, especially for families. The kids club looked incredible, but even if you don't fancy putting your kids into childcare, there was still a huge array of things for them to do. The soft play area was fantastic and there was a lovely outdoor playground for them as well. For older kids there was a range of activities for them to do as well, but really when you go on holiday what do you need except for a pool? And what beautiful pools there were on offer, the infinity pool was truly stunning, and there was a dedicated kids pool too.
My room was stunning, large and beautifully decorated. My one slight issue would be that if you had a family then there wouldn't be a separate area for the kids to sleep, this is a big part of what we look for in holiday accomodation. However having seeing my friend Alison's room, she had a different layout with a little lounge area, so that would be perfect for younger families. I would make sure you specify on booking if you want this kind of accomodation and I am sure the hotel will help you work out what's best for you. The rooms had great extras, with premium drinks (hello Diet Coke!) and a Nespresso machine too.
I would definitely recommend Ikos Oceania and the new property Ikos Olivia to anyone who is looking for an All Inclusive family holiday with a difference. It's definitely opened my eyes to the fact that you can still experience luxury while enjoying the benefits that an all inclusive resort has to offer. Ikos Oceania offers luxury, attention to detail, excellent family facilities and more in abundance. As I stare out of my dreary office window, I would give anything to be back in that infinity pool- but this time with my little family splashing away beside me.
Sovereign (01293 731566, www.sovereign.com), the luxury specialist, has a week at Ikos Oceania from £1899 for a family of three on an all-inclusive basis. The price includes return flights from London Gatwick to Thessaloniki with easyjet and private resort transfers. All Sovereign customers also benefit from complimentary lounge access at No 1 Traveller Gatwick and the premium security lane, as well as a private cocktail on the beach and a farewell gift. Price based on departures 25 October 2015 with a saving of £411 per family. For further information on Ikos Resorts please visit www.ikosresorts.com Lounge provided by www.no1traveller.com
A couple of months ago I filmed a video of a week in our lives. I really enjoyed doing it as I know that it will be such a treasured thing to look back on when the girls are grown up. We often document the days out, the holidays or the special milestones, but sometimes neglect to take a note of the every day. That's indeed why I started my ordinary moments project, to remember the good and bad parts of our daily life. I suppose in a way these videos are an extension of that, it's nice to be able to record the regular parts of our life.
I decided to make another one for the week just gone by. It's a lot longer than any of the previous videos I have made, but I love that we now have this record of just an ordinary week. I am thinking about doing them once a month, just picking a week each month to document and film. I am absolutely loving filming videos at the moment, I have been doing them of days out and special days for a fair while now, but it's fun doing other kinds as well. Just like with teaching myself photography, I love learning about using my camera for video, although I have a lot to learn. I find editing them really therapeutic too- just putting on some headphones, listening to music and getting lost in the world of my little family.
If you are new to this blog, aside from all that we are also having a year of adventures with Subaru. We have had our lovely white XV for almost six months now and it suits our family life perfectly. With this video you can see just how much we use our car and how much fun we have with it. Because at the end of the day a car isn't just for long trips to fun places- it's about the day to day times- using it for the school run, to do the food shop, to pick up emergency Calpol supplies for little girls who are under the weather, it almost becomes another part of the family.
So back to our week. We started the week in Alton Towers which was exceptionally wet but fun all the same. We then had a couple of days of work, which was overshadowed by finally finding out the school Mads would be going to, before having a lazy bank holiday weekend. The weekend was just what we all needed and we had a great time, especially on Saturday when we went into Cambridge for the day and just chilled out in the park, had some lunch at Pizza Express, and just generally had a nice time doing nothing in particular. They are often my favourite types of days.
So here we go, it's slightly longer than my usual videos, but here is an average week in this beautiful life we are leading raising our little girls. It's always hectic, sometimes stressful, but a lot of fun...