Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Greg can turn any situation to his advantage. This is one of his 'Thank You' cards that he's been making today, managing to get a knight drawing in without any difficulty.

He's been scything around the house most of the holiday, with wild hacking and thudding noises as he decapitates his victims. I was just about ready to explode yesterday as it gets on my nerves after a while, but I put my head around the door and what I saw stopped me in my tracks. Greg swording violently (obviously), Lewis laying on the settee with Miranda (dressed in Nursey outfit) applying bandages to various parts of his body....

Turns out they were involved in unrelated activities, but the picture was magic....

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stuck in

Gran gave Greg a box of Michael Morpurgo books for Christmas, and he's been stuck into a few already, in between the Percy Jackson and other assorted books he's currently reading. I was surprised yesterday in the British Museum to discover so many things he knew about Greek Mythology, and characters such as Poseidon, Zeus and Hades just from reading the Jackson books.

Lewis has been reading many of the Morpurgo books himself, and is already a big fan. He currently has his latest book out from the Library. I have to be honest that because he runs around brandishing a sword all the time I'd assumed they were just a load of warrior nonsense...

I myself have been reading Morgurgo's 'Escape from Shangri-La' which Greg finished earlier in the day, and it's a great book. I'm trying to keep up!

Monday, December 27, 2010

British Museum

We had a reallyearly start this morning as we wanted to pack in a full day at the British Museum. The doors were just opening and we had the Egyptian gallery to ourselves, but it soon filled up with people. Greg had prepared a list of interesting list of objects from our History of the World in 100 Objects book, and we grazed our way around, looking for some and stumbling across others. You could go here every week and still be learning interesting stuff when you were in your wheelchair.... Greeks Romans, Assyrians, Persians, Mayans, Saxons, Vikings .... and more. The look on Greg's face when he realised he'd found the Sutton Hoo Warrior Helmet was a picture (that I did not capture unfortunately)

We had lunch in the main cafe, and what excellent and reasonably priced nosh it was too, even jugs of iced water to boot.

After kicking out time we trawled around Covent Garden and back along Regent Street to see the lights. Carnaby Street again was best for christmas decorations, and we had supper in the Masala Zone which everyone enjoyed, even Miranda. Food fairly good and excellent service...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Forest Snowball

"How can you tell when a snowball comes from the New Forest?"

"When it's peppered with pony poo!"

Lewis was most disappointed to discover that the Point to Point was canceled due to the weather. Everything is frozen solid, and although we've had sunshine and the temperatures are not that low, it's certainly not doing any melting.

The forest looks fantastic, but the animals are not too impressed. I watched a poor pony trying to get a drink, but sliding back and fore on the ice. It gave up in the end!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Christmas Day spent in the traditional manner, on the beach for a bit of fresh air, then a slow and over-indulgent lunch! Games, book reading and lazing in front of the fire.

After putting the little ones to bed Lewis joined us for Cheese, his grown up remarks about food quality nearly brought a tear to my eyes!

It's almost five years to the day when I took my all time favourite picture of Mippy...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Miranda managed to stay up for a few games before dinner, and long enough to get her stocking ready. We have been playing pontoon and singing Christmas Carols with the boys in front of the fire. Father Christmas' mince pie has been put in front of the fire and the glass of red wine prepared hic

Don't get up too early now boys will you...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas!

It's that time of year to wish y'all a Merry Christmas! We're planning on sitting tight and chilling out, so where ever you are hope you have a great time time...

And lets hope that 2011 is a good one for us all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What's your flavour?

Caroline's been out today toiling, and I've had the day at home with the kids. Miranda wanted to play Ice Cream Shop, one of her activities that she's done with Mummy during the summer. Sadly the sign had come off the 'service hatch' causing her to get quite upset. I thought nothing of it until some time later, having set the thing up and lost sight of her, I was wondering if I'd wasted my time.

She reappeared with a piece of paper "It's OK Dad I've made a new one..."


Ice Cream Parlour

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Greg watching the birds

We've had a few lazy starts this week, finding it difficult to get out of bed before 10.30 most mornings. I think it has something to do with Miranda being under the weather...!

Anyhow today we visited the Museum in Poole for a change, and we had the place to ourselves. There's such an interesting range of things to see there. Greg was transfixed by the bird videos i the "bird hide", although the section about the Speedway track he also thought was fab.

We had supper at the Thai restaurant in Boscombe (Thai's Smiles) on the way home, and the food was fantastic again. I asked Lewis for marks out of ten - "Ten"

Monday, December 20, 2010

Page turner

The weather forecast was hideous, and with the prospect of either heavy snow or very heavy snow (with nearly bare cupboards), we thought maybe we should get a few provisions in, just in case!

So whilst Mum was in Waitrose we went to the Library to change some books. Miranda came out with 23, nine of which we have read so far today. She's still not feeling up to much so a few books were just what she needed!

The weather forecast turned out to be wrong, as we've had heavy rain which melted all the snow, but hey ho - such is life.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Where have those pesky mices gone now?

Miranda is quite under the weather, moping around unenthusiastically. These two mice are her current faves, made I think by Mummy. They are always hiding somewhere, and especially so when you are looking for them...

I thought we'd better have this photo on the blog to cheer her up tomorrow, although I sense she's on the mend any how.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wipe out.

We were mid lay-in when Gregory bounded in to tell us that it had been snowing. So we are back in a winter wonderland, and as it's the first day of the Christmas break, we had a nice breakfast and a walk from home out onto the forest.

Miranda unfortunately a bit under the weather, but she managed all right, although she had a nap when we got back.

The road along the shore was sheet ice about two inches thick, so we may be holed up for a little while yet.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Antidote to Christmas

It's been a tradition for some time for the photo boys to go to the Isle of Wight on an expedition (to avoid the last Saturday before Christmas). This year we went on the Friday instead but had a great day shooting from dawn til dusk and beyond - then to the cosy sanctuary of the pub in Shalfleet. It was as cold as I've ever known it, so the glow is just that little bit rosier...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Rarer than hen's teeth

When Gran was here I managed to snaffle a few photographs from her camera, and this one she took when we were in Wales on our recent visit. Remarkably all looking at the camera and almost smiling!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Silage time

Not sure exactly when I started making my own Christmas cards, but nevertheless all the kids do likewise! This is one of Lewis' little vignettes of the farming life that he aspires to.

The house is all quiet and back to normal tonight as Gran has gone back to Wales after a few days here, I think we're all having an early night.

Miranda performed in the school production this morning, she was the Angel Gabriel - if you can believe it!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Downhill rapidly

Just before breakfast this morning with Lewis serenading me, and Greg and Miranda singing. Gran was quick with her camera, but she hasn't mastered video on it just yet or we'd have the sound too!

We've had a nice weekend in London on our own, whilst Gran stayed at home with the kids. As we were staying at the Bloomsbury Hotel, we spent Sunday at the British Museum brushing up on our Egyptology as Greg is doing them next in History.

Lewis's card this morning featured a drawing of a Mountain Biker descending rather quickly, hence the title...

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Ice cold

Lewis has just got home from Sea Scouts, it's strange him coming home alone, long after dark...doesn't seem quite right.

Greg had his cello concert in school today. Twenty eight of them on violin and cello, must have made an interesting noise. I put some Erik Friedlander on earlier in the evening, and I asked him who it was


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Star Award

This came home from school today, along with a very excited Miranda "Daddy I've been given the first STAR Award in School"

Apparently Mrs Cullen had given out the assignment and was going to write it on the board for them to write on the paper. But Miranda got there first!

So today it's Mippy blazing the trail...

Monday, December 06, 2010

Top Banana(s)

You can tell from a mile off when he's got good news, he exudes self confidence, and today I could tell by the excited voice I'd be having a visit into my workroom to share it! Lewis' had had his first report from Secondary School, and it confirms that he's doing very well across the board, and it was great to be able to share his obvious pride. There are times when parenting seems like very hard work with little reward, today was not one of those days...

In fact this actually happened twice in one day, as Greg brought his English homework in to me this morning before going to school, very chuffed with his story that he'd planned and written. And so was I too...

Miranda I think gets enough praise, but I might just put a picture up of her "written piece' from the weekend tomorrow. A Clue...?

......wspnotm...thewos a lttw red hen

Got it yet?

Sunday, December 05, 2010


Decided to go into Southampton today and were surprised to see so many people in their jamjars on their way to the Art Gallery. It was bumper to bumper all the way in.... wherever they were going it wasn't to the last day of the fantastic Bridget Riley exhibition. Southampton Gallery is always good, but the collection today was just fantastic. Not only a Riley show with old work, new work and loads of WIP sketches, but several other superbly curated collections of Modern Art.

We also paid a visit to the Maritime Museum, which is also fascinating. Main thing I discovered today was that the view of the River Itchen that I faced for a few years when I had an office at Kemp's Quay would have looked over the  Day, Summers & Company Boatyard which built huge boats despite the apparent shallowness and narrowness of the river at this point. Although it's fair to say that some amazing superyachts are being produced here now, it's also home to one of the biggest (and fairly interesting to watch) piles of scrap metal in the UK.

Miranda's Munch-like picture from this morning, the subject is Raggy her Rabbit!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

My Gregory

We had a drawing session after lunch today. The weather was foul, and to be honest I could have done with a snooze, so pencils at the ready, we did portraits instead. This one is Miranda's version of Gregory; she was really hootering as she drew his hair!!

Main reason for the exhaustion was our bike ride out over the forest this morning. The ice thick on the ground despite heavy rain overnight - in place hard crunchy ice that was difficult to penetrate, in other place you could fly over the hard stuff but ran the risk of falling off as it was so slippery. Lewis had several nasty falls, grinding his bits 'n bobs painfully. A few times I thought we'd have to abort our ride it was so bleak, mist, ice, wind and rain - not a person on the ground all morning.

Nevertheless we did make it back the promise of a hot lunch kept him going, after three hours in the saddle. When we got back we had one of the finest lunches in recent memory - mushroom and butterbean soup, sweetcorn muffins and cake. All homemade.

Friday, December 03, 2010

It'll be all white on the night

When Miranda was very small Christian gave her a Book of Letters - a sort of scribbling book with lots of letters and numbers inside. She has used the book a lot over the last few years for drawing and the like - but now she's also writing in it! I wonder when she'll be doing the blog herself...

The snow is still thick on the ground here, although we're forecast rain overnight. It's been very cold and even the road along the shore into Hythe has about two inches of ice across the whole surface - very treacherous indeed. Normally it's just the bit of road outside the house that stays icy, but this time I think they have given up! Also still a deep layer over all the fields. Walking back across the playing fields the scene was just like the famous Frank Hurley photograph of Shackleton's fateful mission to the South Pole. Didn't have my camera with me, so no photo of my own!

Really sad to hear of the passing of Gregory Isaacs, who for one reason or another reminds me of that first term at Farnham Art College, way back when... at just 59.

Night Nurse

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Night night

They were wrapped up in bed tonight when I got home, but I thought I'd better pop my head around the door. That characteristic squeaking noise let me know Miranda was waiting for a kiss goodnight...

The whole of Hampshire a blanket of snow now, all very pretty. I wonder if we'll have a snowball fight tomorrow?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Another few from yesterday before the snow disappears completely. And as I'm in London tomorrow, they'd better go up now. This captures some of the scampiferous fun that these two got up to, playing hide and seek whilst dinner was being cooked last night.

Had a roaring fire tonight in the hope of keeping the chill out, makes all the difference. All the excitement of the weekend has finally caught up with us and I think we all had/are having an early night.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

On thin ice

 Just got back from a weekend in Wales which looked fantastic with a thick layer of snow. Yesterday was Dorrien and Kalinka's wedding, and today was spent sledging down the field at Gran's house with the Ottolola clan.  It was just fab, nice and warm in the sun, slippery as hell on the field. If you want to know how slippery just ask Caroline who tried sledging through the chicken wire fence at the bottom of the field. We even had Gran on the sledge although I didn't get a photo!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


There's a marked difference between Miranda first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Now it's dark in the morning she's very sleepy to begin with, but conversely she loves to burn bright before she gives way to the night time.

A big hug or a raspberry on the cheek; don't do it, it AGAIN Daddy!

Here she is sheepishly trying to persuade me that she doesn't want her photo taken. As if...

There's one of my photos published today on Aline Smith's blog LENSCRATCH

 This one's an alternate take that I may never get around to posting.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


It's been a lovely day here today but very cold. I had a bike ride down to the Marina lunchtime to get the old cardiovascular system going, but now a great deal of life there, just boats being pulled out.

When Lewis got home from school he was complaining bitterly about the temperature - frostbite he reckoned!

And a picture of Gregory for a change - anyone would think that he'd gone on strike...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pen and Ink

I scanned this a few weeks ago, having found it on the inside of a card that was being sent to Grandma!

This evening I found her register left on the living room floor with coloured pens lying next to it. She has assembled a small pad in which Lewis has written the names of all the children in her class. Miranda has been hatching in the present and absent marks with some diligence...

Sunday, November 21, 2010


At bedtime Miranda proudly showed me her Book Token from Juliet - "Look Dad it's my first Book Token!" What better prospect for a girl just starting to read and write...

We helped put the animals away down at Barry's tonight which we've not done for a while - there's always so many other things going on. Miranda did her best corralling those chickens, but it's tricky for small kids to understand the pack dynamics of small critters. Barry has however nearly managed to train Rose (the sheepdog) to do the job, so there's hope for the rest of us.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Took this before we headed west for a jaunt on Miranda's birthday. We had a nice blustery walk on the beach at Hengistbury Head followed by a picnic on the beach. We popped into Bournemouth for a hour or so at the Russell Cotes Museum, and then had a walk around town to see the lights etc. We stopped inh Boscombe for a very nice Thai supper, one of the best we've eaten. Miranda was very tired by the end and fell asleep instantly we were in the car!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Four no more...

From today I will no longer have a four year old, as it's Miranda's birthday tomorrow. She had a few friends around for tea today, and they had fun dressing up, blowing up balloons and shrieking loudly. They also made soap (yes soap not soup) I discovered later at bathtime, now that's not something you get in too many party bags is it?

She went to bed in a very excited state...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hythe Castle

We're going to traveling to old haunt of mine from my youth shortly - Dryslwyn, which is a trip down the Towy valley that we used habitually visit when I cycled very keenly as a teenager. Reason for the visit is a wedding, which will be lots of fun, but the reason for the post is I've just been doing a bit of local history and discovered a great website which tells the story behind the destruction of Dryslwyn

"The English assembled an army of over 11,000 men to suppress the revolt in a campaign that culminated in a siege of Dryslwyn castle that lasted over three weeks...."

Greg will be fascinated to see the images of the huge Trebucket balls that were unearthed at the site, and are on display in the Museum at Carmarthen...a visit will be necessary I'm sure!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hot off the Press

Miranda is standing behind me pressing the keys on her laptop (it's my old G3 Powerbook c1995 which no longer even powers up, but gives her hours of fun), she tells me she's doing the blog, so I'm thinking maybe I'll do likewise...

She dabbs away at the keys saying the sounds of the letters, and even makes an "Apple Sunrise" noise as it starts up. "What did you just write Miranda?"

"I'm not writing I'm doing my sums..." she says!

There's some amazing video on the BBC site of where we very recently had a fab picnic on the banks of the river in Lostwithiel

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Russian Dolly

Whilst Lewis was marching with his fellow Sea Scouts on Remembrance Sunday, Miranda was busy drawing with me. Her writing is really coming along too, and she loves demonstrating her abilities.

Seeing her words reminds me of the Woody Guthrie /Vladimir Randunsky Books (which I think my sister Juliet gave us as a present from America) with their fabulous illustrations - My Dolly puts her hat on! Maybe I should try to get her to illustrate a book for me before it's too late and all that naivety has gone...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Love Hearts at The Store

Miranda is sitting on my knee, and when she sees the [photo she says "Wow that's really good Dad, do you think I look like Jennifer Jones!"

And I say " Yes! She won't leave me alone!"

I took this one just before lunch today, and Miranda also took some of me, so maybe I'll be on tomorrow....

I'm trying to think of something interesting to say but she keeps blowing raspberries (rather than love hearts) on my cheek!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I found this picture in Lewis' bedroom, and we've not had one of his pictures for a while.

It's a combination of his current interests; lorries (obvious really I know) and boats starting to appear too!

Last night I showed him the copy of "Ocean Going Wayfarer" by Frank Dye that I was given by my Uncle Jeremy when I got into sailing the Wayfarer. Lewis has just started with a Wayfarer, although it's come to an end of the season pretty much.

I was describing some of the journeys that Frank Dye made across to Iceland and Norway, and you could see Lewis making calculations about how challenging the trip must have been. I was so gripped I re-read the book myself after he'd gone to bed...

I was greatly saddened to read that he'd died earlier this year aged 82

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Tuesday, November 09, 2010

I've seen the other side of you Babe

We've been reading Biff and Chip stories from the library again, and last night's tale was all about Measles. Every time I post an image of Miranda I see that little mark on her forehead, the one that says "I've had Measles!" and I'm occasionally tempted to Photoshop it, although I don't think I ever have. Many bits of filth I have removed in my time, from their grubby faces but imperfections are part of what makes us unique, and it's great to reflect on an age of innocence when we did not care one jot for such blemishes.

Monday, November 08, 2010


We have been amazed to see that Costa coffee are opening in Hythe; ...surely I've been thinking, their Property people must got the wrong Hythe? Even a plumb position next to Waitrose is not going to pull 500 latte buyers a day.

Maybe I'm wrong and we'll soon have a Jamie Oliver restaurant too, in which case Lewis could apply for the stand-in personality, because he's probably good enough with the kitchen utensils and damn if he doesn't look just as cool!

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Side brakes

Out walking in the forest this afternoon with the kids and we found this little small holding with an array of old tractors and machinery. Not sure what the tractor is but it reminds me of my teenage years when I used to drive tractors around on the Convery's farm and the mud used to shoot up in the air from the back tyres, on account of the very narrow mudguards!

You should have heard Lewis and Miranda jabbering away as they peered through the gate at this one. They could talk tractors all day....

Saturday, November 06, 2010

What do you call a girl with leaves on her head? Miranda!

It's been the perfect autumn day, bright sunshine, black storm clouds occasionally and clear blue at other times - although quite still mostly. The colours in the forest are very dramatic this year, and I've managed to get some photos this afternoon

Thursday, November 04, 2010

A game of two halves

One of Lewis' thank you cards that I don't think I've loaded before, but it seemed appropriate as he's recovering from a knee injury that's meant he's missed football and also a cross country event this week. He's been very disappointed about this but has wisely listened to the advice.

The picture relates to his sports teacher at Waterside Primary whom he liked very much

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Thick as thieves

When these two get together it's near impossible for them to be serious - one or the other will act the clown which usually escalates until,like a ball rolling out of control down hill it crashes into something!

Greg was very pleased with himself today because he'd been awarded a leaf for this homework last night - all that effort paid off!

Another big result that I noticed earlier was he's started talking his clothes off at bath time and folding them on the chair in his bedroom. This follows a warning I'd given him a few times about the ragged pile I'd previously seen. Naturally I commented, and he smiled.... "I'm doing it every day now!"

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Multiple Identity

If you follow my Flickr stream you'll know that I quite like multiple exposures, particularly when they are made "in-camera"

This one I made on the weekend walking in the forest, and part of the attraction is that there's so many variables that it's almost impossible to predict what's going to happen - it takes you back to the days when you needed craft skills to make a photograph, and you can have great fun applying the theory and scratching your head at the results...

Greg spent ages tonight doing his homework, which was some research on the use and significance of the cross in different religions - it seems that one of the spin offs of Lewis diligently applying himself long and hard now he's at secondary school is the Greg is keen to keep up with his lead....

Monday, November 01, 2010

Changing Places

The Beech and the Chestnut have changed markedly in colour, the Oak and the Ash less so. This was from yesterday as Miranda and I larked around in the fallen leaves and the others shouted

"...come on you lot... hurry up!"

Miranda collected a big handful of leaves which she was going to make into monoprints, however she managed to loose them all, much to her annoyance when she suddenly realised. She was all for coming back to get them a second time!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Autumn breezin'

Our walk this morning looked like it might be a wash out - the rain was getting steadily heavier as we approached Wilverley Plain. We had packed a picnic but thought it unwise to carry it with us; the black clouds, wind and rain telling us we for in for a soaking!

No sooner than we set off the rain stopped and we had a great morning's walk around the enclosure, the colours were fantastic.

This double exposure was my favourite people pic of the morning, and I prefer it in good old black and white too - you might get a colour pic later in the week!

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