According to my husband, the last post was a little on the smug side. Sorry if it came across that way. Believe me, the fact that my daughter watched (under duress) a blackbird splashing in our extremely tiny pond (essentially a particularly severe puddle) is just about all I have to be smug about.

The chickenpox is hitting hard, my morale mainly rather than my still feisty and cabin-fevered children. That coupled with the worst of Cornish mizzle has left me feeling pretty much like a total failure of a parent today.

Knowing we would be stuck in quarantine all week I ordered my daughter an absolutely gorgeous book, all about the changing seasons and the wildlife around us. I imagined us sat curled up in a blanket, having bonding mummy-daughter cuddles and exclaiming over the beautiful illustrations whilst learning new facts about our incredible world. She literally turned one page, looked at it scornfully and asked if she could play on my iPad again yet?

From the moment I have become a mother my daughter has done a pretty good job at skewering my romantic idealism. Pretty much nothing has gone to plan for the last six years. I suppose that’s probably not a bad thing, but it’s definitely not always easy.

In desperation to try and get her unglued from a screen I found myself flicking through a book about arts and crafts projects you can enjoy with your children. Full of photos of gleeful children and their masterpieces. The few times I have tried to engage her in crafting or drawing or cooking, and now, heaven help me, homework, has pretty much always resulted eventually in her losing interest within three seconds and me finishing it by myself. So instead of giving me exciting inspiration the book just left me wondering how i am so completely incapable of engaging my daughter’s interest in any way. Am I trying too hard to try and force her to be what I want? Am I in complete denial of who she really is? Should I just embrace her desire to watch back to back Tintin movies 14 hours straight?

I don’t know, but I know this is going to be a long week…

The model

As a parent I am very much aiming to lead by example. More Do as I do than Do as I say.  Believe me there are many times this does not go to my lofty ideals, like all the times my daughter exclaims “Oh for God’s sake!!” if I ask her to do something she doesn’t want to. She does too good a job at following my example perfectly on those occasions!

At the moment I’m hoping that by showing them how important it is to us to be outside in nature, to try and support our local wildlife and to grow some of our own food, one day they will remember the importance of those things. Maybe even one day to find the joy on them that I do.  Even if yesterday I almost lost my mind when out planting some new arrivals, whilst they badgered me and badgered me about going inside until I stropped  and sulked and stamped my way inside with the job half finished. And today whilst me and my husband scaled precariously balanced ladders in the rain to erect new bird and bat boxes (right now is National Nest Box Week) to try and encourage more flying visitors to our home, they sat indoors watching Tintin films.

At the same time both children know how vegetables grow and have eaten sun-warmed raspberries straight from the cane. They have fed our chickens snails we’ve found on our plants, and then collected the eggs that those snails eventually become. When asked what herbs are my daughter replied “they’re plants you grow in the garden that makes cooking taste nice.” They have seen worms wiggling in the compost and can tell the difference between a honey bee and a bumble bee. They watched a blackbird take a bath in our pond this morning and have found an old warty toad hiding in the damp shadows. I think those things matter, maybe more and more now in a world where they also see me and their Dad looking at our phone screens every ten minutes.

So whilst they may learn some expert bickering skills from their parents they will hopefully also learn a little bit about saying sorry when they’re wrong and discussing what they’re upset about and finding a way to compromise.

There are so many things I could set a better example of. Of being brave, being open and friendly to new people, knowing how to say what you mean, and ask for what you want. And at the same time they set a pretty good example to me a lot of the time and slowly I’m learning to be a better person (some of the time!)

In other news our wild primroses are starting to bloom and the willow fedges are definitely alive!

Oh, and we’re on chicken pox lock down, not that you’d realise it from this blissful little picture!


Not sure I can survive half term take two, complete with house arrest! Maybe I might even be able to coax them into the garden by the end of the week…

My body, my choice

I have wanted children from the furthest back I can remember. As a small child I planned to have ten! Five boys and five girls and I had their names all planned out (all with a distinctly 80s flavour). Whilst endlessly single, in my mid twenties, I genuinely started investigating options and finances for IVF if I was inevitably still single once I hit my thirties.

Thankfully by the time I hit thirty I was married to a very lovely man and was seven months pregnant with my first child. We went through the standard screening procedures offered in this country looking at risk factors for genetic disorders. Prior to having these tests, and getting back the letter telling us we were low risk, we had already discussed and decided that whatever the results of that letter I would not consent to further invasive tests, and we would definitely continue with the pregnancy. Receiving the low risk letter felt strange, it didn’t reasssure me at all, I had heard too many stories of people being told they were low risk and going on to have a child with Down’s syndrome. The whole thing just felt kind of unpleasant. Again we had the twenty week anomaly scan, with the understanding that it might help us prepare for any issues that might arise, and maybe start any necessary planning to deal with any abnormality that was found, but still certain we would continue with the pregnancy regardless. Again the twenty week scan returned with an all clear.

I was totally naive. I know that now. Having had my first child and being thrown into a pit of completely not coping with motherhood but somehow surviving, I cannot begin to imagine how much harder it would have been to throw in serious disease or disability. And yet I stand by that choice. Before medical school I worked with children with severe disability. I saw, from my rather cosier view point, the level of care those children needed, and with my naive brain, the impact it had on their parents. I work in the health service now and see on a daily basis the effect that our medical interventions have on people, and believe very strongly that often the treatments we encourage these people to endure are really not in their best interests. We continue to inflict painful interventions with unpleasant side effects on people who are quite clearly dying. As a health service I feel we should get much better at saying, no, this is enough. And yet, for my child, growing inside my body, well whatever those screening tests had shown I wanted to at least give them the chance to live.

In the second pregnancy after long discussion we decided to refuse all early screening tests. We had the twenty week anomaly scan but again, with certainty that we would continue the pregnancy regardless of the findings.

These were my choices though, in discussion with my husband. They were the ones I felt were right for us. Since having children I understand far more clearly the enormous physical, mental and emotional toll they bring. I understand how they impact on every single aspect of your life, career, finances, relationships, interests, prospects, wider family and social status. I have sat there in the middle of the night having not slept for days, with a snotty, miserable child and dreamt of my old life and questioned my life choices. I’ve had moments where if I could wish them away I quite happily would.

And these are my desperately longed for children. I have always been in favour of easily accessible abortion for all women. Since having my fabulous, exhausting and much loved children I believe in it even more fervently. Absolutely no woman should be forced to have a child they do not want, a child that they do not feel they have the resources to look after. Losing that power of choice has enormous implications for not only their lives, but that child, and if they have them, their partner, other children and family. Surely if we talk about high impact healthcare, providing safe access to abortion, alongside good counselling services, for all women is right up there in terms of quality of life indicators.

Of course, preventing unwanted pregnancy to start with is even more crucial. In a world where sex sells, where the majority of young teenagers have seen internet pornography, and where arguably the most powerful man on the planet feels that ‘pussy grabbing’ is acceptable, then anything which limits women’s ability to access expert advice on contraception is frankly ludicrous and surely hypocrisy of the highest order.

Despite everything I have written I found myself in the position,many years ago, of taking the morning after pill. I completely stand by that choice also and do not regret it for a single second. It is my body and ultimately I get to choose.

None of us can control everything that happens to our bodies, nature has a way of surprising us at every turn, but within those constraints we should always be allowed to make informed choices about how we deal with that. It is terribly sad  that there are many women in the world today who are not educated about their bodies or their contraceptive options, and are denied access to safe abortion. What I find utterly disgusting is that powerful men in one of the richest countries in the world, go out of their way to make it even harder for these women. I cannot help but believe that if the burden of pregnancy, birth and childcare fell upon those men, that things would be very different.

So while my choices may not be right for everyone I am so thankful that I had the ability to make them for myself, and I will always support the rights of other women to do the same.

Hornwort’s School for Frogs

I seem to remember quite a lot of time spent in our garden as a child. I read a lot of Enid Blyton and was always imagining fairies, elves and magical animals getting up to all kinds of adventures. I’d use petals, leaves and pond water to mix all sorts of magical potions and delectable fairy treats. I have vivid memories of watching frog spawn grow into the tiniest, completely perfect frogs, finding knobbly old toads hiding in dark corners, searching under leaves for snails to join my snail club, and the only time I have been face to face with a hedgehog.

Its a very different world that my children are growing up in. If they want to know something they ask me to look it up on my phone. If they want a new toy they know that the postman could arrive tomorrow with it in his van. As they grow there is internet grooming, sexting and social media bullying for me to freak out about. There will be developments I have yet to even dream of. I will have to find a way to navigate these changes just as my parents had to face the dawn of the internet and mobile phones. And yet, there is still frogspawn ready to turn into tiny, perfect frogs.

There are so many reasons that I love our garden, many of which I have already shared with you. A big part though is allowing my children to interact with and experience the flow of the natural world. I am afraid I would never classify myself as an animal lover, but I am making real efforts to encourage wildlife into our little corner of the world, and getting immense pleasure from it.

I wrote yesterday of my newfound appreciation for the local birds. Today I put up my first bird box, and hope that is another step towards encouraging more to call this home.


We have some fabulous old established trees, with hawthorn, elder and holly with berries to help sustain them over winter. Our enormous old lime tree, whilst being covered in bee friendly flowers, also has the most wonderful tangle of branches that are just crying out for nests to be built. We have lots of ivy too, a fabulous late food source for bees, berries for the birds, and great evergreen hiding places for all sorts of creatures over winter.

We have some wonderful homes for all sorts of little wildlife. I bought a bug hotel, but almost feel it is superfluous, with our leaf mold corner, our pile of sticks corner (affectionately called the hedgehog house, though no sign of any actual hedgehogs) and our fabulous old Cornish wall full of tiny hideyholes.

Today I built a frogitat, an underground maze of broken terracotta pots, stones, sticks and leaves, hidden under a mound of earth next to the pond, which will hopefully give the neighbourhood frogs that extra encouragement to stay a while in our friendly home. It has been named Hornwort’s, after the pondweed currently oxygenating our new pond and a nod to the current familial Harry Potter obsession.


Add in the huge array of bee friendly flowers I have planted in the last year, the veggie patch, the compost heaps, the fruit trees crying out for pollination, the bird bath and feeders, the unmown lawns full of clover (and hopefully a few wildflowers this year) and some messy bits (a bit more mess than I would really chose) and I am hoping that our garden will be a wildlife dream. It will never be picture perfect but I am hoping that it will provide some experiences, knowledge and memories for my internet age children. I hope that they grow up feeling a part of the natural world, not removed from it. And whilst they may not grow up with Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy, God or Heaven, I hope that they may still experience that little bit of magic!

Goodbye rain

These last few weeks my mood seems to be entirely related to the levels of rainfall. Yesterday was apocalyptic, with our whole garden turning into a lake and our poor chickens looking very sad about their new watery home. Today, despite a few sun-filled showers, it has been essentially dry and bright outside, and I have similarly felt optimistic, motivated and energised.

The weekend before last the family joined in with the RSPBs big garden bird watch. When I say family it was essentially me and my husband keeping eyes fixed out of the two windows overlooking the two gardens while the kids played Lego and occasionally came and peered uninterestedly as a magpie flew away. I absolutely loved it though and have since found myself whiling away my time staring out of the window, keen for another look at the family of long tailed tits fluttering around the bare branches of the hawthorn, snaffling the few remaining berries. I have put loads more feeders and food out for them now, keen to encourage them in, if only so I can watch them. I have even dragged out a free pair of binoculars we got from the National Trust years ago, now I just need to work out how to focus them! I am writing this sat out on the front step with the sun on my face, and tea in my hand, and I can hear the birds all around me, even if I can’t see them hiding.


From my viewing station up in the sitting room I have seen them tucking into the food I’ve put out, hopping around our fabulous trees, and most excitedly today, drinking from our new wildlife pond.


Makes it feel worthwhile. The next plan is to build an underground frog nest next to it to encourage some hoppy visitors. Got an exciting delivery today of a beautiful Japanese Maple to give the frogs some beautiful shade come the summer.

Also included in the delivery was the basis of my next big project, two roses and a clematis to grow up my enormous, ugly, shady back wall. First I have to tackle the terrible waterlogged clay in that spot, and get a friend over with his super drill to get something up for them to climb. Keeping my fingers firmly crossed that my plans to hide the eyesore work out, but they may well drown so keep your fingers crossed for me!

In non-garden related news I am actually going out-out this week!! Big news. Off out with two lovely ladies for dinner and a theatre trip. So excited about this, can already taste the cocktails I’m planning to order! Also, equally newsworthy, is that my stormy daughter seems to have turned into a little beam of sunshine as spring approaches. I can barely remember the last tantrum, she is following rules, being kind, generous and fun with her little brother, and seeming really settled in herself. It has been such a wonderful change. There have been some big questions and hard conversations to have. Last nights was an indepth chat about the holocaust, how everybody I’ve known has died, and whether I believe in heaven. It’s hard to know, but think I answered to her satisfaction, for now… She has also started swimming lessons, and loving them, and for the first time ever went out for the evening with a friend and his mum, without us!! This is a huge leap forward, she had an amazing time, and won second prize in the Harry Potter quiz they went to.

Obviously the boy is giving us a hard time instead, having a very whingey and clingy phase which is pretty exhausting, but I’m sure he’ll catch up with the sunshine soon!

Hope you’re all enjoying these first signs of Spring arriving as much as I am. It’s all up from here!!



Money, that’s what I want

I’ve been feeling a bit spendy recently. I’m normally pretty restrained. I have always spent within my means, avoided loans, paid those I have been unable to avoid as early as possible, and never really bought things just for the sake of it. But now… Well I think a thoroughly depressing, wet January, years of buying things for the children as surrogate treats for myself, of buying birthday and Christmas gifts just for the children, and a long six months of being on seriously reduced salary has given me some sort of buying mania.

It started when our fridge freezer broke. We had no choice but to buy a replacement and stick it on the credit card. So I figured since I’d already flogged the card I might as well buy myself a tablet as well, after all my ancient laptop had been slowly dying for the past year. And then there were so many beautiful pieces of jewellery that I’d had my eye on for ages, and new projects I had been dreaming of for the garden. And there was that work course I really wanted to do. And my old stethoscope is held together with tape. And…

It has been a kind of strange experience spending all this money. I don’t think I actually enjoy it very much. I can’t help but get a massive wave of guilt and anxiety with every purchase, despite the fact that I finally received a big chunk of backpay that I have been owed for ages. I think the guilt ends of outweighing my buying pleasure, but still I keep thinking about more things that I want.

My inbuilt money-pinching is probably a good thing. It has probably saved me from years of debt and stress. But then the wonderful Iris Bluebird goes and holds a special valentines crystal jewellery sale night. What am I supposed to do?!


In the zone

I like being well within my comfort zone. It’s all warm and squishy and nice. I have previously identified security as one of my greatest motivators in life. I’m ok with that, genuinely. I know I will never be one of life’s great leaders, innovators, explorers. For a long time in life I think that craving for security actually meant that I was too scared to try new things. I think it probably still does…

Writing this blog has in many ways been inside my comfort zone. I have written a diary since I was thirteen, and writing this blog is not so different. Somewhat outside of my comfort zone though is the idea that anybody in the world could end up reading it! More than a thousand people read my last post which was a bit of a weird one for me, since none of my others have been read by more than a hundred. I’m really grateful to anyone who gave it a read. Sorry if it came across as a bit of an entitled whinge. I felt pretty humbled to realise that people in India and Nigeria had read, countries where there are much bigger feminist issues than me getting called a nurse. True to form one of Trump’s first actions as President was to outlaw funding to overseas charities which have any role in providing abortions. As if it’s not enough stamping on women in his own country, let’s further reduce women’s access to safe healthcare and choices about their bodies everywhere else too. Anyway, enough about that awful man for now, and another huge thanks to all those women who marched.

Staying forever in my safe zone doesn’t feel much like it sets a good example to my children, particularly my daughter, who I want to feel can pursue anything she wishes in this life, if only she is brave enough to try. I think this might have to be the year I learn to drive, if just to show that Mummy can learn something new, even when I find it really hard.

The other steep learning curve for me right now is the garden. The fact that I seem to go on about it all the time may fool you into thinking I know what I am doing. In fact it is the total opposite. They say as you start learning you don’t even realise that you know nothing. Gradually you learn things and start figuring out what a huge amount you do not know.  I am very much at that stage, still in the not even knowing what it is that I don’t know phase. True wisdom is knowing a lot, knowing what you don’t know, and being aware that there will always be more to learn.

At the moment I am completely making it up as I go along,voraciously reading books and the internet, alongside barrowfulls of learning as I go. I have loved every minute of it, but in the misery of winter, with all the summer flowers gone, I have definitely started to learn that I need to think about plants that bring joy in these frosty days too.

All of which meant a good excuse to go to my very favourite garden centre now that payday has finally rolled around. I was very pleased with my beautiful new witch hazel, along with the other evergreens I bought to bring colour and shape amongst the mud.

I have planted it behind my bench so when I sit enjoying my coffee in the winter cold I can enjoy the colour and the beautiful smell. Carry me through until my beloved spring rolls around again.


So here’s to learning, to new experiences, to stepping outside the comfort zone occasionally (even if it’s just tiny steps) and to hopefully setting a better example to my children. Thanks again for all your support guys with this little foray outside that comfort zone, really appreciate it!


Toddlerwearing to the Rescue

imageI grew to love baby wearing with my original velcro baby. It meant survival in what I found to be a desperately difficult time. When my second child was born I didn’t really think twice about it, of course I was going to use slings! Over and over again a sling has come to the rescue, with grumpy children, ill children, teething, sad, tired children, and even children who have got their only clothes soaking wet and filthy and I somehow have to get them home, half naked!

Tonight a sling saved dinner. Usually my husband does the majority of the cooking, because he loves it, and because he’s more likely to not have two children climbing over him. Tonight, I was desperate to try out a new curry recipe, but my very tired, sad, tearful toddler was not about to give me the chance without a full blown meltdown.

I asked him if he wanted to go in the sling, and straightaway he ran to the cupboard, got one out, and wrapped it around himself, shouting “up up”. As soon as he was on my back he was happy. And I made dinner so I was happy. Win win!


Smelling the spices


Playing with my fabulous baby wearing necklace.


With our curry cooking!

It made cooking dinner a pleasure. Didn’t mean my daughter agreed to try any of it, or eat something healthier than poppodoms and digestive biscuits, but you can’t win them all!

This is the end

And so it seems we have reached the end of an era. After five years, two months and about a week, we no longer have any children in nappies. At all. It feels good!

I had absolutely no intentions of using cloth nappies. The few I had come across on babies at work seemed incredibly bulky and awkward and it seemed way too much like hard work. But during my first pregnancy my husband was pretty keen on the idea for environmental reasons, and I started investigating, and I totally admit to getting drawn in by how stupidly cute the designs are these days. I had a lovely friend who used them on her baby, and let me drool over hers, and then I was hooked. I had bought loads by the time my daughter was born.

She started her days in pampers though, first when I got taken off to theatre just after she was born, and then her first nappy change was done by me, alone in a dark ward, balancing her on my still completely numb lap, whilst what seemed like fountains of meconium poured out of her, all over me with my blood covered inco pad and catheter. I couldn’t move to reach my bag which had newborn cloth nappies and wipes, along with some eco-disposables to use for ease. I pressed my buzzer for help, and I sat there waiting, surrounded in my blood and her poo, until somebody came, threw a Bounty bag at me, told me it had everything I needed, then left. So Pampers and wetwipes it had to be. It wasn’t long after that that I self-discharged at two in the morning. Pretty much as soon as I could feel my toes again.

For the first few days we used our eco-disposables whilst we all settled back into life, but around day five, here she is in her first cloth nappy. I enjoyed the moment far more than she did!


We got on really well with cloth after that. Got used to the cycle of washing and hanging out and putting back together. There were some of the brands I’d bought which really didn’t suit her body shape, with her narrow little thighs, and those got out away pretty quickly.  The ones that suited her, mainly TotsBots and BumGenius were great though, and hardly ever leaked. We used disposables sometimes when away on holiday, but mainly stuck to cloth.

She toilet trained, with some stress on all our parts, at around two years, nine months, and came out of night nappies too at about three and a quarter, just after her brother arrived.

I am quite proud to say that my son has never worn a disposable nappy. He went straight into teeny tiny newborn cloth nappies. Even when our washing machine broke we kept strong with the cloth, though this did involve me hand washing pooey nappies in the bath, not something I ever hope to repeat.


I have talked before about Elimination Commnication which we used from when my son was eight months, and ever since he has been nappy free in the daytime at home, with remarkably simple success. To keep life easy though we always used nappies when we went out, and nappies at night time. More and more though we found those nappies were consistently dry when we took them off, and he was beginning to be really peed off when we tried to wrestle him into a nappy at all.

The main barrier to getting rid of the nappies entirely were his nudist tendencies. He was a star at going to the potty when he was naked from the waist down.


However, put pants and trousers on him and he seemed to lose all ability to know when he needed to go, and would consistently wee in his pants. I enjoyed seeing his little bare bum around the house, but couldn’t quite bring myself to do the school run with him like that!!

These last few weeks though, just as he turned two,  things just seem to have clicked. He is now dressed all the time, with pants, and still sitting on the potty great. He is in pants at night too, and no accidents so far. It is lovely not having to think about nappies anymore. About time! He may regress at some point, and I won’t be throwing the nappies away yet, but really pleased with this step forwards, all with very little stress for any of us, which makes a change!

Gardening for the Soul

I don’t have many memories of time spent just me and my mother when I was child, but most Sunday mornings we would make a cup of tea, and usually in our dressing gowns we would walk around the garden. We would amble at the very slowest of snails-paces and she would point out to me every single plant, she would tell me its Latin name, and make some comment about how it was doing, where it was in its life cycle, how the seasons were progressing. Now I had absolutely no interest in gardening, couldn’t ever remember  a single one of those names which sounded more like magic spells than flowers, didn’t even much like tea at that age, but these were some of my most cherished childhood moments.

Whatever the weather or time of year we would be out there, sometimes with wellies and coats over our dressing gowns, gripping the hot mug tightly to warm my freezing hands, or basking in the summer sun. They seemed to last hours these parambulations, but that is probably the warped clock of  childhood, with large chunks of silence whilst my mother found the next plant that interested her. It was just her and me, and it felt magical. As I grew into a miserable teenager I still always agreed to the Sunday morning ritual, though I grew less and less interested in anything she was telling me.

It was many years later when I had my first experience of gardening myself. My daughter was around six weeks old and for some strange reason my father gave me a ‘grow your own potatoes’ kit. It seemed like the last thing I wanted to be doing at that precise point in my life, but I got a strange enjoyment from growing these potatoes, and although we didn’t get many, the resulting meal we cooked from them was one of the finest I’d tasted!

The next Spring we pushed ourselves further, and despite living in a rented house where we weren’t allowed to plant anything, we filled the patio with grow bags, and grew a whole host of herbs and veggies. It was wonderful seeing my daughter pottering around and getting soil between her fingers, and it felt like such an achievement to have created actual food!


Since then we have bought our own house with our own garden, and somehow those years of garden walks have percolated my soul. Being out working in the garden makes me feel whole and connected and productive. It brings something to my life that I don’t get in any other way.

Our house was a new build, and when we moved in it was essentially a bare, turfed expanse. We were blessed to have one edge bordered by an old Cornish wall and established trees and I loved the wild plants covering it. The rest however was very much a blank canvas. We were quick to get some raised beds in and seeds planted to emerge the next Spring. We planted hundreds of bulbs and got three fruit trees new homes with us. This process felt essential as part of us rooting ourselves into this family home, a statement of our intent to live and raise our family in this space, this ground that we had bought.

Over the subsequent years we have had highs and lows in our garden. It has made me acutely aware of the passing of the seasons, from the midwinter mud bath where our whole garden seems to be a swamp covered in sludgey fallen leaves and broken twigs from our trees, to the glories of summer, with our land overwhelmed with life, growth and fecundity, as we can sit in the sunshine and hear food growing around us.

This particular moment in the year is one that is most precious to my heart. This time two years ago I was eagerly awaiting the birth of my second child. I had planned a home birth with the birth pool installed in the kitchen. The kitchen has French Windows leading out to the garden, and with the bare trees of winter we look out onto all our neighbours. Once the leaf buds start to burst these neighbours start to become fuzzy and then get excluded entirely, until it feels as if we are living in the middle of our very own countryside idyll, miles from everyone. In the weeks leading to the birth I watched these leaf buds intently, as the pale silver green leaves unfurled, each one making me feel more safe and secluded. By the time my boy arrived it felt as if I was in my very own green womb world, where anything was possible and all life was just beginning. It was a beautiful feeling and I can’t help but get a little overwhelmed by that memory every time I notice those new leaves emerging, and I wonder if I will carry that feeling with me every spring now.


Our blank canvas is now far from blank, and the wild of the old Cornish wall tries to encroach on us with brambles and weeds, and we are learning to find a harmonious balance with them. We have gained some chickens and they definitely add to the inherent chaos of nature. Our garden will never be neat and ordered, landscaped and formal. It is ramshackle and wild, fertile and productive.

My son’s umbilical cord is now feeding a cherry tree, rooting him forever to this spot in the world where he began. My daughter chose a hazelnut tree to grow alongside it in her honour. I look forward to watching them grow and fruit as my children do too, and I’m already practicing my parambulations, tea in hand, telling them all the Latin names.