Wednesday, 30 November 2016

2 years to the day

I missed out on booking Laura for the twins' birthday this year.  I left it too late, having been convinced by Nik that we didn't need any more photo shoots since the bump-newborn-one package.  A week before, I panicked, I knew I'd regret it forever and got in touch but I was already too late.

Turns out I was right and immediately regretted not having got in sooner.  Laura has had a super busy November but luckily she had one morning where she could fit us in.  It was 15 days after the twins' birthday.  So the same day she first came to meet them 2 years prior.  We decided to start with another home shoot as we did for their newborn session and then go on our favourite walk down to our new favourite cafe at Oast Farm.

For the very first time, we had sunshine on the day of our shoot.  The sneaky peek images are stunning, I cannot wait to see the rest, but I'm not nervous, I can honestly say I trust Laura completely and can totally relax on a shoot with her, she's so talented and I know I'm going to love the photos no matter what.  It helps that she's also an amazing person who I'm lucky to also call a friend (although she may rethink our friendship after reading my utter fan girl cheesy comments!) and my kids adore her!  Even K who is extremely fussy about who can talk to him without him either hiding behind his hands or just having a full on meltdown.

Anyway, here is a little before & after (you know how I love those!) of the twins, newborn to the toddler years.  Two years apart.  To the day.  Thank you Laura!

Also how funny that they are on the same sides.  Entirely coincidental I swear!  We only have a few sneak peek images so far but as soon as I receive the rest in a few weeks, I will undoubtedly be putting them here with yet more girl crush thoughts I'm sure!

I've officially booked Laura for next year already.  I've worked it out and although it can seem a total luxury to pay for someone to come and take photos of you, the sheer pleasure of having the best family photos that we're all in, as well as being proper art, it's so worth it.  Plus, over a year, it works out at less than £25/month yet will last a lifetime.  I love that we will have at least one set of amazing photos to record each year (ideally their birthday) with us all in and without me getting stressed trying to take ALL the pictures ALL the time.

If you're thinking about booking a photo session, particularly with Laura, I cannot express strongly enough how much I think you should go for it!  You can always make more money, although I do know we are very lucky to have pretty secure jobs.  But you can never get these moments in time back.  You may have heard the saying, you don't regret the things you do, you regret the things you don't and in this case it is so true.  You won't regret booking Laura to freeze time for you.  I adore the memories Laura has captured of our family and know with certainty that I will treasure them forever.

To see more from our sessions with Laura, here is our maternity shoot, our newborn shoot and the twin's first birthday at the aquarium and on Brighton Beach.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Twin Love - Family by Bex

Tonight I lay down on the sofa while Iggle Piggle was entertaining my kids.  I shut my eyes after a long day at work and listened to the Tombliboos twittering away.

Next thing I know, I hear some heavy breathing next to my face.  (Priya is the heavy breather.)  Then I feel a knee next to my face.  She's climbing on to the sofa.  Not a squeak or a word.  She snuggles down into my front.  She's the little spoon.  I put my arm around her.  We lay there together.

For about 2 seconds.  She is two.

2 minutes later, she clambered up again, this time taking hold of my hand and pulling it around her.  Still not a word.  I still have my eyes closed.  She touches my cheek.  I look at her and she smiles, the kind that makes a noise and lights up her eyes.

Next thing I know, Kalyan has realised what is going on.  I hear his little feet, pad pad padding in his fast little wriggly run.  He crashes into the sofa and us.  Starts trying to squirm his way in.

These are the moments I adore.  What I live for.  The closeness, the way they love to cuddle and be close to me.

When I walked in the door after work, they were in the kitchen with Ma & Dadaji.  They both exclaimed and ran to me.  K was first, he threw his arms wide and squeezed me as I crouched.  Huge grins all round.  He then did what makes my heart skip.  He took my face in his hands and planted a kiss on my lips.  No prompting, no asking, he just kissed me and giggled.  Before being shoved out of the way for Priya to get in for her cuddle, she climbed on to my lap and sat down snuggling in to my chest.  This is life with twins.

Not long after K snuggled in on the sofa and tried to climb up, Priya began to kick, she didn't want to be ousted.  He started moaning and complaining, trying to find his space next to Mummy.  I controlled the kicks and helped him in, he laid back into my tummy and Priya protested until she realised she still had my head.  Cue prodding.  It didn't last, it never does.  They compete for their spaces, often wanting to be "dup" (up - Priya adds Ds to the beginning of most words, Dapple, Dummy = Mummy not dummy).  It can get very frustrating, with a ratio of two to one most days.  But we make it work and everyone gets plenty of cuddles.  Of course, I can cuddle them both together but that would be logical and two year olds do not do logical!  I sometimes wish for some space, especially when they won't let me make dinner and start going crazy, but really, I wouldn't have it any other way because without the desire to be held, I wouldn't get to experience the moments like I did this evening.

God, I love being a twin mum.

(Someone please remind me of this the next time they have a tandem tantrum.  Sometimes you don't want sound in stereo.)

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Country Lifestyle Luxury Gift Fair in Uckfield - review by Bex

I went along to a new Christmas Fair at East Sussex National in Uckfield today and found so many lovely stalls!  I managed to get around a fair few before the twins were fed up and we had to scarper mid-meltdown from K!  Before that however, I sampled some lovely produce, saw some beautiful jewellery, gorgeous clothing, plenty of cute Christmas decorations and a lot of local makers and sellers.  The fair is also on tomorrow from 10am - 4pm so if you have any Christmas shopping to get or just fancy a nice stroll around seeing what's on offer, I would definitely recommend it.  It's £4 entry on the door and you can enter a prize draw to win £50 in vouchers.

There were 67 exhibitors in all and I took a few photos of things that caught my eye but there were plenty more I was interested in so I hope to go back tomorrow morning if the twins are in a better mood!  If you can't make it along, they will be back next year in Tunbridge Wells on Fri 10th and Sat 11th November and back in Uckfield on Fri 24th and Sat 25th which will certainly make it easier for me to attend as I can leave the kids with Nik on the Saturday!

Lucy Bradshaw's pretty jewellery table was right outside the lift.

It was well organised with plenty of space, I had no problem getting the double buggy around.  The foodie stalls were all at one end with clothing and jewellery at the other and various gifts and Christmassy bits in between.  It certainly makes it easier if you're after something specific.

Clockwise from left: decorations from Katie's Originals, Natalia from Mols & Tati-Lois,
Clothing from a lovely stall the twins rushed me past, Funky bags from another stall I was unable to stop at.

You can see the nice wide aisles.

One of the produce stalls, Krissy of Sussex had a huge array of at least 50 different preserves and sauces of which I sampled quite a few!  They were lovely and all home-made in East Sussex using not just local ingredients but home-grown fruits and vegetables as well.  They also had a pretty punchy chilli oil!

Just a few of Krissy of Sussex's lovely preserves.

I also sampled some ginger wine which was nicely spicy, the twins enjoyed a cheese twist from Heathfield based Bay Tree Foods (after K calmed down!) and I saw plenty of other interesting food & drink items and my favourite local cheese man, Martin, was there from Cheese Etc... with some lovely cheeses including an interesting black cheese!

Clockwise from left: Ginger wine from Cheese Bomb Gifts, Wine Tasting kit from Drinks in a Tube,
Mince Pies and Cheese Straws from Bay Tree Foods, Fudge from Mini Mouthfuls
Martin from Cheese Etc...

One of the jewellery stalls I loved was cpinksilver by Christina Pyemont.  She makes her beautiful leaf shaped jewellery from real leaves which are painted with layers of sterling silver.  And another pretty stall was Mols & Tati-Lois with statement necklaces, beautiful decorations and funky lampshades.  There were also a very eclectic stall called Maven with both modern and vintage ranges from various designers including Fairtrade jewellery made by social enterprises in Africa.

Clockwise from top left: Leaf necklaces from cpinksilver, jewellery from Mols & Tati-Lois,
fashion necklaces and vintage brooches from Maven, fine jewellery from Lucy Bradshaw.

I also loved these gorgeous handmade bright felt kids costumes from tiredbear.  They had very well made dinosaur and unicorn tails, angel and butterfly wings, whale tails and dragon costumes.  I definitely want to head back for a closer look as I think the twins would love them!

Kids' costumes from tiredbear

Swann Forge had something a bit different on offer.

I love the ethos of the fairs, they only have high quality items that the organisers love and include plenty of local sellers so each fair is different.  They like to keep them spaced out so they're easy to get around and ensure you can really enjoy the experience.  I certainly did.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Cafe at Oast Farm, Buxted - Brunch Club review by Bex

Our second brunch club meeting was at Oast Farm in Buxted, the same place we did the apple pressing recently, in their newly re-vamped cafe.  Since they regained control of the cafe (which I believe was leased out previously), the Oast Farm family have done an amazing job at re-branding it from the rather ramshackle Strawberry Fayre to something more in keeping with the Oast Farm Shop.  The prices are reasonable for cakes and meals which are all homemade using good quality local ingredients (all of which can also be purchased in the shop).  I can also vouch for the tastiness having sampled quite a few things now, I seem to be becoming a bit of a regular and it's lovely when they recognise us and say hello or come over for a chat.

The coffee is lovely but they only have cafetiere coffee for now so you can't get cappuccinos or lattes.  I just have mine with a jug of hot milk as they don't have a coffee machine.

Again, I had an awesome time with my lovely friends and their gorgeous children, and since we were the only ones in the cafe, it was nice and relaxed as we weren't worried about the kids disturbing other customers!  Luckily the ladies who run the cafe are all utterly lovely and apparently like our kids so they didn't mind one bit when we took over the place and the kids got a little rowdy towards the end - licking windows and rolling on the floor!!  (It also meant I could take plenty more photos this time and capture all of the above madness!)

Curly haired M is not only a beautiful model (see further down for one of my most favourite photos ever) but also great with the twins, she was so sweet with Priya, stroking her hair and giving her cuddles, chatting away despite being largely ignored by my daughter!  She also coped well when they both descended on her for tickles after brunch!  (Although, she did teach them this herself at the last brunch club!)

As for the food, the same as at our last brunch club, I ordered a bacon sandwich for myself (with added mushrooms this time) and a full English for the kids.  One of the ladies offered to split it onto two plates for them and when she brought it over said they'd done two eggs so they had one each.  Of course, I tasted everything they had and the potatoes were gorgeous, really garlicky and crispy!  Priya was loving the black pudding and I was pleased at the lack of baked beans.  My sandwich on Flint Owl Sourdough bread was lovely too.

It's also pretty awesome when your kids love your friends, as demonstrated by Priya putting her arms up for Holly to lift her as soon as she walked in the door and then sitting next to/on Kate for the majority of our time in the cafe!

K on the other hand, only had eyes for M, chasing her round the cafe for tickles until he discovered the reflections in the windows.
Tickle, tickle, tickle

It wasn't long before there was some full on window licking!

But also some beautiful wistful gazing out at the trees.

We also found a great way to get the kids to co-operate for a group photo - stand some of them on tree stumps!  They did pretty well standing still although getting them all to look in one direction/smile/face the same way was still tricky, they did look pretty funny as the mummies danced around behind me though!  I really love this gang of ours!

We love The Cafe at Oast Farm and highly recommend it for a coffee and cake or a lovely warming lunch or breakfast, or in this case, brunch!  The staff are delightful and I particularly like their apple cake, served warm with yoghurt and their own honey.  Yum!

They are currently open Wednesday - Sunday and you can find their opening times and more information on the Oast Farm Facebook page.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Bexphoto - my passion by Bex

It's fairly obvious that I love photography.  I used to have my own website where I sold prints of my landscapes and nature photographs but since starting this blog, I spent more time writing and taking "snaps" than I did on "proper" photography.  Before the twins were born, I invested in a 50mm lens which re-ignited my passion for photography, albeit with different subjects - people and food mainly!  And now of course, Kalyan and Priya are my muses!

I am terrible at editing down my pictures to share on this blog, one of my many flaws when it comes to photography, and have mentioned this a few times when sharing FAR too many similar pictures of the twins - I'm just too emotional about them!

Anyway, I recently started up my website again, albeit on a free platform this time, with portrait and lifestyle photography as my new focus.  I am all motivated again thanks to my recent mentoring session in KL with the fabulously talented Clare Barker Wells, originally of AOW fame.  I've written a review of my experiences and a bit about what I learned over on the new Bexphoto blog.  Please do go and take a look if you're interested.  Hopefully I will be much better at limiting the number of photos I share on my posts here in future too!

Monday, 14 November 2016

Brunch Club - My Mum Tribe by Bex

When we first moved here, I struggled finding my people.  The ones who I could call in tears or for laughs.  The ones who "get me" and could catch up over a cuppa with the kids or a glass of wine without them!  These people need to be close by, I've pined over how it would be with the kids in Glasgow - Roz and I and our littles would have been so awesome together and I miss our good times so much.  Although we still call and text (although even that is not often enough, it's hard when life is so, so busy) and we even stay with each other once a year or so, it's just not the same as meeting up regularly.  I struggled to find my new Roz (although, of course, you're irreplaceable Roz!!), someone local to hang out with regularly like we used to in Glasgow, even just round each other's flats to watch a DVD or have dinner.  We even did New Year's Eve together :)

I've made friends fairly easily since moving here via toddler groups and the like but there's always been that little spark missing or they already have a busy life with their current friends so it's never progressed past fun play dates and the odd coffee.  Or in the case of the amazing Katie, Caroline & Fee - really awesome catch ups, but they're just that little bit further away with an hour and a half trip as opposed to 5 minutes.  Ditto with Gemma who is just hilariously awesome but over an hour away on the train (although luckily not that far from my in-laws so we've managed to have a good few catch ups thank god!)  I was pretty lonely for a while down here.

I've certainly tried getting out there.  I joined a book club, I started my own baking club, I joined the new WI and became a committee member.  I met some lovely people but just hadn't found that connection yet to take any friendships outside of a particular group if you know what I mean?  Being on the committee at WI has been awesome as our meetings are a lot of fun and usually involve wine!  Again, though I haven't yet found a close friendship, possibly as the rest of the committee were all friends before, despite making me feel completely welcome and included, I'm not really part of their friendship group, maybe because they all have older children.  (Although there is one who also comes to my baking club and we're getting on really well so I have high hopes there!)

I certainly don't want to sound ungrateful for all of these friends as I do value them and have fun with them, life certainly wouldn't be interesting without them all!  In fact, I thought perhaps I was being unrealistic and should be happy with having a few separate friendship groups for certain aspects of life rather than trying to find someone I could enjoy more than one thing with.  Especially when you add in kids.  I'm pretty sure I could have some awesome nights out with some of my friends from post-natal class but we're all so busy!

Back in February though, I was invited along on a Mums' night out in the pub by someone I had met at twin group but seen little of since as she started a course and couldn't attend any more.  Not only did I hit it off with her but also her next door neighbour with whom I ended up shrieking excitedly (drunkenly) about our mutual love of the same books (and cocktails)!  They also happened to be friends with another lovely lady I met at a different baby group who invited me on another Mum's night out around the same time.

I invited them all (and their husbands) round for dinner and despite me unfortunately being a bit ill on the day, we had a wonderful time and have enjoyed a few more social events together over the last few months.  Recently, however, I feel we've become closer and when I suggested to Holly that we arrange a little book club just for friends, she was up for it and we've now had two awesome meetings and a cinema trip!  That in itself I've found to be much more fun than the other book club as we're much smaller, less formal and drink a lot of wine in each others' houses!  What better way to really get to know people?  (We've actually called it TBCWW - The Book Club With Wine.)  A few of these ladies have made the extra effort to get to know me, include me in things and invite me round to their homes, with AND without kids.

Anyway, getting to the point, I feel like I've finally found my people, fellow Mums with young children who get me and like lots of the same things as me, have the same sense of humour, the same sense of fun.  They love books.  And food.  And wine!  They all live in the next village.  These are the people I can rant to, laugh with, depend on, phone for a chat or phone for hugs.  I mentioned it on instagram at the time but on a particularly trying morning with the twins, all before 8am, I strapped them into the buggy and started wandering the village.  I called Holly for a chat and she bundled all 3 of her kids into her car to drive round and find me just to give me a hug and make plans for later.

After a bit of group chatting among five of us on messenger, I took the plunge and asked if they'd be up for a brunch club, once a month with the kids but just us five so it doesn't get too chaotic.  Luckily they thought it was a great idea and were all up for it!  So once a month, I book somewhere for us to go and we get together for a delicious brunch, catch up and help each other out with all the kids (seven kids under four).

The first of these was in October, at a lovely cafe called The Grove in Blackboys, a village nearby which I'd heard good things about.  I knew they were child friendly with plenty of high chairs and toys to keep the kids entertained.  The food was lovely too.

We all had so much fun, Mums and kids and I can't wait for the next one on Friday!

So there we have it.  My Mum tribe and their awesome ticklish kids.  I love them!

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