Choosing the right name for your baby

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose,
By any other name would smell as sweet.

It’s probably going to stay with your child for the rest of their lives, be an inherent part of their identity and possibly be the first label attached to them that people may judge or stereotype them from.  It’s something you often decide before even meeting them for the first time let alone getting to know their personality.  So it’s no surprise that choosing your baby’s name is no small task.

Fortunately (or not if you’re a bit rubbish at making decisions like us) there are lots of different ways of coming up with the perfect choice…

Names MeaningMeaning

Many parents simply start by considering the names they just like the sound of and seeing if they can agree on any but for some the meaning behind the name itself is just as important.

“We chose a boy and a girl’s name as we didn’t know what we were having,” explains Michelle from Time and Pence.  “The girl’s name we just liked but the boy’s name had a special meaning.  We had been told we couldn’t have children then after three failed IVFs I conceived naturally.  It was a boy and his name means ‘a gift from God’ so I think it was meant to be.”

“We chose George for a boy because it means farmer in Greek and my husband is a farmer,” says Emma of Farmer’s Wife and Mummy.

Elevated Mum’s Ngozi chose her children’s name based on her “religion’s beliefs, culture and the meanings of the names.  I always believed the meanings of names can influence a person’s character.  I also gave all my children three names so no one felt left out!  Chukwuemeka (male) means God has done so much in Igbo, a Nigerian language and Daniel means God is my judge in Hebrew.  Chinonyelum (female) means God be with me in Igbo and Kyla means victorius in Hebrew.  Chika (female) means God is superior in Igbo and Nathania means God has given in Hebrew.

“Our girls have meaning behind their name which are two fold – because they were both IVF and for old family names,” says Carrie from Flying With a Baby.  “One means ‘answered prayer’ our first miracle baby and her middle name is named after my grandmother, the youngest’s name means ‘mighty in battle’ as we were told she was inconceivable, then not viable and to expect a miscarriage, then told that she was possibly an ectopic and then she had a CCAM issue.  She made it through and is healthy!  She also has a family middle name.”

Names familyFamily connections

There’s no escaping that extended families can often have a huge influence on the decision-making process of new parents.  From following long running traditions, to honouring special relatives to receiving lots of suggestions whether they were asked for or not!

“My boys’ names are all family names,” says Victoria Hockley.  “Oldest’s first name is after my grandad with my dad and father in laws names as middle names (James Ian Michael).  Then the youngest is after my husband’s grandad with my husband’s name and my grandad’s middle name as his (Freddie Andrew Tinline).”  And, as is often the case with family names, they often stretch back even further than at first glance.  “Tinline was my grandad’s mum’s maiden name.”

“My son is named after my dad who passed away whilst I was pregnant,” says Laura who writes at Edinburgh with Kids.  “We had considered a few names with the same initial we liked (Tobias and Theo) – didn’t decide until he was born but Thomas just looked like the right name for him, it was more meaningful and a good fit!”

“For the first names there was no real story behind them,” says Jenni who writes at The Bear and the Fox.  “We chose names we both liked and that were pronounced the same in English and German, as we are a bilingual family.  But for the middle names we chose something meaningful.  Out first son’s middle name is Thomas, after both grandfathers.  Handily they had the same name, so we didn’t have to choose one over the other.  For our second son, since we’d already honoured both grandfathers we chose Fox which is the English translation of my German surname (Fuchs).”

And Wildflower and the Bear’s Nicola also found her family’s nationality an influence.  “My husband is Welsh so both of my kids – Dilys and Edwyn – have Welsh names,” she explains.  “We both wrote out lists of names each and looked at which ones we had both written down which was helpful to narrow it down.  I also love looking up the meaning and history of names and like it when names match, so if I had another child their name would definitely be Welsh too!”

If you already have older children then maybe they can make the decision for you.  “My eldest actually came up with my daughter’s name,” says Emma-Louise of Even Angels Fall.  “I was really struggling on what to call her and asked him (he was two at the time).  He said Car.  I said you can’t call a baby car so he said Car-leeeee and I loved Carly and went with it!  Love telling them the story now, it’s sweet her brother named her.”  You might want to make sure you have a back up plan though.  “I decided to see if my daughter could name our youngest,” she continues.  “The only name she came up with was Salad, so for the pregnancy, that was his name (he’s since been called Benjamin by us, but the word salad still makes me smile).”

And older family members can prove useful too.  “My mum chose both my boys’ names,” says Toni from This Mama.  “Me and my partner couldn’t agree at first, especially with the surname Kuehl.  It’s so hard to get names to sound right, if we were having a girl my son wanted to call her Molly which with our surname would be pronounced molecule!  Both times my mum suggested a name and straightaway we were like yes, that’s it, that’s the name.”

“My eldest was named Jack after my grandad.  We didn’t even consider another name,” says Jennifer from Mighty Mama Bear.  “My daughter was named after a character in a Shirley Hughes book series, Alfie and Annie Rose.  My dad used to read me the books when I was young and I always loved the name.  As I got older the name always reminded me of those evenings being read stories by my dad.  I now read them to my daughter!”

Names MediaMedia and cultural influences 

It’s not just literary sources that can supply inspiration either.  For All About a Mummy’s Amy music provided the answer.  “My youngest daughter Iris is named after our wedding first dance song: Iris by the Goo Goo Dolls..  Whenever she hears it she gets so excited saying it is her song.”

For Mother Geek’s Tina it was a television series – “My daughter was Alicia from the day we found out at the 20 week scan.  Then my mum (Alice) started telling everyone it was after her (which it wasn’t).  We were watching Alias during the pregnancy and, when baby arrived, neither of us thought she looked like an Alicia, so we called her Sydney (the leading lady in Alias).  Her middle name is Robyn because I love Batman and Robin and her older brother was always called Batman by family and friends due to him having so many Batman costumes/tops.”

Emma, aka The Cheshire Wife, looked towards royalty for help.  “We like regal names and it was George or Edward.  He came out and my husband (Henry) said he’s a George.”

Names CWho doesn’t love a theme?

If mum and dad don’t necessarily share the same cultural tastes then a theme could be as simple as a, b, c.

“All seven of my children’s names start with a ‘C’,” says Claire from Big Family, Big Fun.   And their middle names are all after family members.  We alternated the family names so one baby would be named after a family member from hubby’s side of the family and the next would be named after a family member from my side of the family.  The first two were accidental, they were just names we liked, didn’t even think about the fact they started with the same letter.  Eldest was going to be called something else literally up until the day he was born when hubby suggested another name and it stuck.  Then when I was expecting number three people started asking if that one would have a ‘C’ name too.  We didn’t think they would.  I was convinced I was having a boy and had the name Jamie in mind.  But we had two girls’ names we liked too, Bethany and Courtney.  Courtney just happened to start with a C also.  When she made her appearance and we realised she was in fact a girl, I said to hubby to pick whichever of the two girls’ names he preferred.  He chose the C name.  From then on it was deliberate as each baby we said would be our last and we didn’t want them to be the odd one out.  Our angel baby was also given a C name, Charlie, for the hospital’s book of remembrance.  So we have Callum, Chloe, Courtney, Cameron, Caitlin and the twins Cassidy and Cody.

“I also didn’t find out what I was having for three out of the seven (I knew numbers two, five and the twins) so we just had a name picked out for each.  Callum was actually going to be Liam or Megan.  Chloe we knew was a girl so didn’t really have a boy’s name.  I had liked Becky or Bethany though.  Bethany then made it on to number three’s list.  Cameron was either Cameron or Caitlin.  We then kept Caitlin for number five (although had considered bucking the trend by going with Harry Christopher for the boy’s name but we found out she was a girl around halfway through so Caitlin it was).

“We were originally told both twins were girls.  They would’ve been Cassidy and Connie.  When we later discovered one was actually a boy, they became Cody and Cassidy, with Cassidy getting both the original names to make her Cassidy Constance.”

Names TDHNot any Tom, Dick or Harry

Many parents want to avoid when popular becomes common.  “We knew that we didn’t want our daughter to be one of many with the same names in her class so we looked at the online lists of 100 most popular baby names and tried hard to avoid them all!” says Jodie from Maidenhead Mum.

Josie from Me, Them and the Others, agrees, “We were keen to have names that weren’t common so they wouldn’t have another child with the same name in the class but we also didn’t want them to be too rare as I always wanted to meet someone with the same name as me as a child and never did.  We both liked old fashioned names and so looked at the top names list for each name we liked and discounted things that were in the top 50ish and outside the top 150ish.  We ended up with Stanley and Eliza but it’s turned out that Stanley is regionally very popular and there are multiple Stanleys at the school although none in his class luckily.  Definitely worth checking regional popularity if you don’t want something too common!”

Names waitWhen its right to wait

Where we’ve had names picked out for the minis during pregnancy before, the decision isn’t proving as easy this time but if we wait until after mini number four has arrived we’ll be in good company.

“Neither of my children had a name until they were born,” says Becka from Mummy Est.2014.  “I really struggled with boys’ names.  In the end both names came from a baby book (same book as I kept it after my eldest).  We narrowed it down to two names each time and then waited to see which name suited our sons best when they made their entrance.  They are Jared and Finley.”

“I didn’t want to find out the gender of either of my rainbow babies,” says Vicki from Blossom Education.  “I’d had a very traumatic time with a molar pregnancy and subsequent chemotherapy treatment.  Falling and being pregnant felt like a dream.  I did discuss names with their dad but it wasn’t until they were both born that we made out final decisions.  I often wonder how people feel when their baby is born and the name doesn’t really suit them.”

“We had a list for girls and boys but didn’t actually choose until after they’d arrived.  It took a couple of days to lock down first and middle names,” says Helen who had double the decision to make and offers help on her blog Twins, Tantrums & Cold Coffee for Choosing Names for Twins – 6 Ways.

If you’re having a surprise but still wanted to choose just one name ahead of time then one that suits either gender could be the way to go.  “With my daughter it was the first name I picked – Rowan.  Over my pregnancy I went through liking a lot of different names and then seemed to circle back to the original name.  It is a unisex name as well as we were not sure if she was a girl,” says Faith from Raising Moonbows.

And, whilst most people might be concentrating on other things during labour, perhaps it might be the perfect time to reconsider any previous naming dicussions.  “We decided on the name Dylan months in advance but when my wife was asked about his name during labour she could not remember through all the painkillers and kept calling him Robbie!” says Steve from The Diary of Dad.  “We saw it as a sign and by the time he was born we had to stick with it.  We still have the cards and gifts from before the birth with the name Dylan on though!”

Names AgreeAgree to disagree

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to overcome in the decision making process is both mum and dad agreeing on a choice but even a difference of opinion could provide inspiration.

“My daughter is Amabel, it’s the original name from which Mabel comes from,” explains Nicola from Happy Tums.  “I wanted Mabel as it was my nan’s name but my husband didn’t like it.  When I found Amabel he was convinced and now we call her both names!  But everyone finds it really tricky to pronounce as everyone is used to Annabel!”

“We decided on my daughter’s name as soon as we had the gender scan,” says Victoria who writes at Lylia Rose.  “Driving back in the car I said I liked Isabella for a girl and my husband said he preferred just Bella so that was perfect.  My daughter is Bella!  For my son we could never agree on a name.  When in hospital, during labour, we went through lists of boys’ names saying aloud to each other any that we like to see if the other agreed.  We literally did this for hours until we reached Reuben and it was the first name we both really liked so settled on it.  My husband is Ben so we really liked that it had Ben within the name too!”

“We had the deal that if it was a boy my husband would choose (from an approved by me list, of course!) and if it was a girl, I’d choose.  I knew I was on to a good thing though as there was no way he’d watch me go through a pretty tough birth then not let me have the choice!  Just as well as we ended up with three boys!” says Helen from Twins, Tantrums & Cold Coffee.

And sometimes perhaps it’s best if your partner doesn’t know where your inspiration comes from.  “My other half refused to discuss names beforehand in case something went wrong,” explains Emma who writes at Bubbablue & Me.  “I had a huge list of girls names but only two boys names.  Oliver because I liked both the short version too and it went with our surname but was just too popular.  The one I chose that we ended up with was a favourite name of mine since I knew a boy I fancied who played in the same orchestra when I was in 6th form.  I don’t like one of the short forms as it’s the same as a girl’s shortened name, so specified the alternative which was out of a Mills and Boon book.  Luckily my husband said yes to that name I preferred after I said we needed to decide once he was born.  He doesn’t know why I liked the name in the first place though!”

Is there a story behind why you chose your children’s names?  Why not share it in the comments below and also some suggest what you think mini number four’s name should be?

What special extras do you need to pack in your hospital bag?

With more and more babies arriving in my due in September Facebook group, the need to finish packing my hospital bag is ever more pressing.

BabyInHospitalWith all three of the current minis never making it to their full 40 weeks gestation you’d have thought I’d have learnt to be a bit more prepared by now.

But, not only am I not yet fully prepared, I’m also only remembering things that I’d like to take with me because of reading other people’s lists and suggestions rather than because I recall for myself how useful they were last time – such as taking in your own extra pillow for example.

The one thing I do remember from each time, however, is wishing I’d taken a straw.  So this time, after ordering a set of reusable metal straws, it was one of the first things I put in.

But with birth experiences varying so much and the lack of sleep you experience afterwards not helping short or long term memory recall it’s no wonder women might feel the need for a list or two for inspiration.  Here are just some of those extra things beyond the obvious clothes and personal care items that were particularly important to some of my fellow bloggers…

Phone ChargerJodie, otherwise known as Maidenhead Mum, says “I ended up in hospital for four weeks when pregnant with my son, flip flops were essential for walking around the ward and an extra long charging cable is ideal – your bed isn’t always right next to the charger and your battery will drain a lot keeping in touch with people, watching Netflix… and eventually taking photos too.”

And Rebecca of Mummy Est.2014, who shares her list at What shall I pack in our hospital bags?  Mummy, Daddy, baby and big brother, agrees “the most important item to me was phone charger.  I spent three days in hospital and it meant that I could take my own photos of baby (so didn’t feel pressured to pay for the Bounty photos), text and keep in contact with family (send photos to those who couldn’t visit) which was important as it can be bit lonely on wards sometimes and hormones go everywhere so I was grateful to talk to friends when baby was asleep”.

ToMAtoesA Suffolk Mum’s Issy also thinks “it’s great to also have a little bag with things for dad/birthing partner too. I ended up in hospital a lot longer than I thought as I had pre-eclampsia, so it would have been handy to have a change of clothes, snacks, drinks etc for my husband too.  If you can it’s great to have a couple of different size clothes for baby too.  Newborn is great, but so many babies are diddy, if you’ve had a friend with a prem/tiny baby, borrow a baby grow to pop in the bag just in case, so their first outfit doesn’t swamp them if they are little.”

Big Family Organised Chaos’s Mandi agrees but from the opposite perspective – “Or a size bigger!” she says.  “I took the newborn sleepsuit all my seven babies came home in but the first size baby vest was too small for my 9lb 6oz boy!!  Thankfully the sleepsuit fitted him but only for the journey home!!!”

Tape MeasureOn the subject of size Jo, who writes at A Rose Tinted World, says she wishes she’d taken a tape measure.  “When my little girl was born I never thought to measure her length at birth and our hospital didn’t do it.  It was only a couple of weeks later that we realised that we didn’t have that measurement.”  After a 30 hour long induction Jo ended up having an emergency c-section she obviously wasn’t prepared for so she shared her tips to help others at Post C-Section Tips

Josie from Business for Mums  and Jennifer from Mighty Mama Bear may have been inspired by the recent overly clement weather when they came up with their suggestions.

“I so wish I’d had my handheld fan with me,” says Josie.  I gave birth the first time in a heatwave and wished I’d taken it so my other half could have just held it on me.  I then didn’t take it the second time because it was winter and still regretted not having it because labour is hot work whatever the season!”

Jennifer’s chosen item was a recommendation from a friend – “A frozen bottle of water.  Stick a bottle of water in the freezer as your due date approaches and take it with you when you go to hospital.  The wards and delivery suites are kept so warm and the ice cold water (which obviously starts to melt as it gets warmer) felt amazing.”

Bed SocksTeam Stein blogger Charlotte also has the temperature in mind but from the other end of the thermometer – “Stretchy bed socks as after surgery my swollen feet get very cold, even in a heatwave!” she says having recovery very much in mind also suggesting  “Taking arnica tablets from day one to aid healing.  I really felt it helped my recovery after my fourth caesarian section.”

Bethanie, of Northumberland Family Diaries, is currently getting ready for her own imminent arrival too.  “Recommended to me by my hypnobirthing coach was something that has a comforting smell to you, something that will calm you down and help you to relax.  For example I am packing my NEOM night roller (lavender scent) and one of my son’s cuddly toys.”

“Lip balm sounds silly,” says Jennifer from My Mummy’s Pennies, “but it was recommended by a friend and was great to have as the hospital really dried out my lips!”

Lip balm, a handheld fan and flavoured water were also on Helen’s list.  Writing at www.twinstantrumsandcoldcoffee.com she recommends to “Also pack baby’s stuff in a separate bag to yours as it’ll be your partner trying to find baby clothes etc and they’ll either mess up all your stuff by rifling through or not have a clue!  I also had two full sets of different sized clothes (well actually four as I had twins second time round) and I packed each of them in carrier bags within the bag and labeled them so as not to get confused.”

SnacksUnsurprisingly food and water are top of the list for three other bloggers too – and having my own snacks and drinks was definitely appreciated when I had a longer stay than anticipated with my eldest.

Busy Mum Lifestyle‘s Rosie says “Snacks, sweets drinks – we ended up being in fir days and I was being induced so hubby couldn’t leave.  Snacks were a life saver!”

Holistic Mama’s Laura writes “As a Doula the one item I always recommend to pack is your own mug for your tea/coffee.  As nothing worse than having to tolerate a plastic cup, especially when they are super flimsy!”

“A sports style water bottle,” says Amy from All About a Mummy.  “After my C section I couldn’t reach overto pick up the plastic cup of water.  Having the water bottle with me on the bed without fear of spilling was a godsend!”

And The German Wife AK’s suggestion was on hand for when she and her new little bundle were ready to leave the hospital.  “I loved our snugglebundl, it was so handy to have to bring my daughter home and for a good few months after I used it daily so far I have gifted four of them to my friends and family my cousin who had an emergency c-section said it was her favourite gift (she’s currently using it with third newborn).”

What special item did you pack in your hospital bag?  Let us know in the comments below…

A-maize-ing art

So many events have been cancelled or at least virtually modified this year that it’s absolutely lovely to read about two events we’ve enjoyed in the past managing to take place nearly as normal.

With a few Covid-19 tweaks – it’s obviously even more important, if not essential, to book ahead for days out now – both Doddington Hall and Uncle Henry’s have been pleased to announce that their respective biennial sculpture exhibition and annual maize maze WILL be taking place.  And both events take place predominantly outdoors with lots of space as well as fresh air.

UHMaizeMaze

The Maize Maze at Uncle Henry’s opened on July 18th and 2020’s design very appropriately pays tribute to the NHS.

Open daily until August 30th, the maze at Grayingham (DN21 4JD) is spread over five acres and contains a hidden letter challenge.

At £8 per person (under 2s free, £25 for a group of four), there’s also a 9-hole crazy golf course and jumping pillows to enjoy too.  Click here to book tickets.

SculptureDoddingtonDoddington Hall (LN6 4RU) is “thrilled in this most extraordinary of years that we can welcome you to our 5th biennial Sculpture Exhibition“.

Open from July 25th to September 6th, the 390 works of art from 68 artists from the UK and overseas will be placed around the gardens and in the Stable Yard Gallery with a safe route to follow.

Garden admission applies (no extra charge for the exhibition): Adult  £7.50, child  £3.50 and family £19.  Click here to book tickets.

Are you visiting any events as “normal” this year?  Let us know in the comments below.

How to cope with number four (or more!)

We have some exciting news in the Malpi household that we’d been waiting to share with our friends and family since before lockdown.

We finally gave up on trying to tell everyone in person and went digital to let those closest to us know that mummy’s weight gain was not purely down to lockdown snacking but slightly more localised than that.

Mini Malpi number four is due to make its appearance in September 2020!

IMG_4517
Photo: Emilija Photography

What a year to be making an entrance into as if 2020 wasn’t going to be unforgettable enough!

It’s been an interesting time to be pregnant.  I feel so much for those who are experiencing everything for the first time.  But, whilst it’s not a new experience for us, I do also feel for my husband who is missing out on all the scans in what will be our last time enjoying this prenatal period.  (We’re only going for a fifth if he carries it next time and apparently he’s not terribly keen on the idea…)

Obviously we understand the importance of keeping everyone involved as safe as possible – with a medically vulnerable 3-year-old and a pregnant mummy in our household we’ve been trying to stay hidden away as much as possible for the last few months – and it is also yet another reason to be hugely thankful for the NHS and those that work within it.

IMG_4518
Photo: Emilija Photography

One of the best pieces of advice I received when Faith was very young and I was still trying to work out exactly what it meant going from two to three children was to keep it simple.  Sadly not my forte but I still often refer to it in my mind on days when I’ve particularly overcomplicated things or even just on the normal 100th pre-lockdown day in a row I’d spent driving round in circles dropping off and picking up everyone else.

But what will life with four be like?  Who to ask but those who are already in the throes of dealing their own quartets?

Jemma, who writes at Thimble & Twig, says “We have four and absolutely love it – my hardest time was genuinely 0-1!!!!  Top tip is to spend lots of time outside – the kids seem to be play better together when outside and to do one load of washing a day!  Oh and slow cooker meals are a lifesaver!”

Rachel, who writes at Coffee, Cake, Kids, also has a top tip to share: “We have four. It’s… interesting.  It’s noisy.  It’s chaos.  It’s expensive and it’s bloody brilliant.  I adore my little tribe.  Top tip: get your comebacks ready because the comments you get having a big family come from every angle. ‘Yes, I do know how babies are made’ is something I found myself repeating a lot in the early days!”

And Big Family Organised Chaos’s Mandi has often experienced such comments too: “Yes we do have a TV is also common!!!”

My husband’s comeback to that is that its having a TV that distracted the minis long enough for their sibling to be thought of in the first place, but we should definitely listen to Mandi whose tribe doesn’t stop at just four.

“We have seven and I’d say the biggest life challenge was going from one child to two, after that adding an extra one just seemed easy!” she says.  “Finding a vehicle to transport them all was tricky and logistics of all the different nurseries, schools, colleges (and now uni) is a minefield, but lockdown has been amazing having all seven together and I’ve genuinely loved every minute as they’ve all helped each other.”

Deborah, from Country and Heart and Home, also didn’t stop at four and recommends using a buddy system.  “We had six and it was always easier on trips when the kids would buddy up.  Usually an older one with a younger on days out etc.  The bonds between them all are amazing to see.”

Katie, from Mum’s Family Fun, also has advice about trips away: “Trying to find accommodation when going away anywhere was either impossible or cost an absolute fortune.  We discovered Air BnB and it opened up a whole new world to us.  I definitely recommend it for family trips.  There’s places on there to suit all your needs.  It’s brilliant.”

Unsurprisingly the comments large families receive aren’t always just about simply the numbers of children as Eddie of Yorkie… Not Just For Dads knows.

I’m a stay at home dad.  Between me and my partner we have five girls.  Four at home with us and my eldest daughter at weekends and extra time in the school holidays,” he explains.

Having been asked multiple times, including via his social media, about what it’s like being dad in a large family and living with daughters he decided to write a whole post in answer to his commenters.  “Is it difficult?” he writes.  “Absolutely.  Being practically the only male in the house other than an attempt to make up the man numbers by the way of pets, doesn’t really count does it?”  In Question for Dad – How do you find it and manage with 5 Daughters, Eddie clearly has to think about the question to start with, it is after all his norm, but then he’s also quite honest about how much the thought of their teenage years terrifies him…

If your family size adds up to more than 2.4 how do you cope?  If you have any tips and useful tricks please share them in the comments below!

Find out more about “a wobbly and magical friendship”

Newark Book Festival 2020

NBF1Like a lot of events scheduled for this year, the Newark Book Festival has had to make a few changes to its original plans.

But due to the hard work of its organisers and guests it’s now getting ready to present readers with not just one short story but a whole five chapters of 2020’s programme.

Chapter One will take place virtually this month (July 10th-12th).

Alongside authors such as Kate Mosse, Jess Kidd and Frances Brody and debates on crime through the ages, gothic and historical fiction and celebrating the Bronte 200 anniversary, younger readers haven’t been forgotten either.

The first event on Friday, July 10th, will be a story time with Helen from Diddy Signers. Hosted by the BeanBlock Cafe’s Facebook page, the Makaton-signed reading of Five Minutes Peace by Jill Murphy will take place at 10am.

Claire Barker - author imageOn Sunday, July 12th, recommended for ages 6 to 10, children are invited to join in adventures with Picklewitch and Jack.  Taking place from 1.30pm to 2.30pm, tickets to the event are available via www.iaminprint.co.uk/newarkbookfestival.

The author Claire Barker will bring to life her creations that share “a wobbly and magical friendship”

“Picklewitch has a nose for naughtiness, a taste for trouble and a weakness for cake. And unluckily for brainbox Jack – winner of the ‘Most Sensible Boy in School’ for the third year running – she’s about to choose him as her new best friend…  This is a story about fitting in and finding a special friend where you’d least expect it.”

There are two titles in the series currently available and a third – Picklewitch & Jack and the Sea Wizard’s Secret – is now due to be published in June 2021.

And if you run out of questions to ask Claire about her work you can always ask her about wrestling sheep, battling through nettle patches and catching rogue chickens on her farm in Devon.

Find out more at Newark Book Festival. 

#30Days Wild Days 24 to 30 – Flowers, water and more butterflies

The last week of #30DaysWild went by quickly with changing weather, lots of work commitments and attempts at home learning that were, well, variable in their success.

Flower PartsSome of the tasks sent home from their school helped in our daily challenge as our eldest was set the task of learning the names of some garden and wild plants, the parts of a flowering plant and identifying trees and the parts of a tree.

We vicariously enjoyed others’ natural adventures through the CBeebies programmes Down on the Farm and Let’s Go For A Walk.   A not incredibly successful attempt at getting our youngest to sleep one night led to a marathon binge watch of CBeebies Bedtime Stories and the discovery of a beautiful book called The Rhythm of the Rain by Grahame Baker-Smith that celebrates the water cycle flowing from a pool on a mountainside, through sparkling streams, over waterfalls, through rivers and into the open sea – and on to our ever-growing book wish list.

Creating butterflies in our arts and crafts projects has featured highly in our last two month’s activities – Day Six, Day Eight, Day Nine, Day 23 – so we couldn’t pass up another opportunity to make some more of the winged creatures when we read about The Butterfly Project the Different Light Collective is running in association with this year’s SO Festival.

TheButterflyProjectGiven the current Covid-19 situation, the SO Festival has cleverly rebranded itself as the SOfa Fest for 2020 as it goes online rather than on to the streets of Mabelthorpe and Skegness but it’s still keen to be as interactive as possible.

The Butterfly Project is a creative community engagement project asking people to design and send in their own butterflies which will become part of a short film by award-winning artist Barret Hodgson.

“The project is about being a small part of something big, something special that celebrates creativity, community, beauty, freedom and self-expression.  It reflects the idea of being trapped and eventually released, of going from caterpillar to butterfly and also represents the idea of the ‘Butterfly Effect’ – one small action here can lead to a much bigger impact elsewhere.

The finished short film will show the butterfly images from individual members of the community gradually coming together to form one giant butterfly – a creative and beautiful expression and demonstration of how we really are all in this together of how when we all work together we’re stronger and can achieve more.”

Our own “small actions” saw Luke (a big fan of the recent The Great British Sewing Bee series) choosing to have his template cut out of felt so he could sew on different fabric remnants to decorate it whereas Willow headed straight to the glitter, glitter card, stickers and pompoms to design hers.

The PDF templates are available to download from Different Light’s website but be quick, the deadline for submission, which can be via email, is Sunday, July 12th at 4pm.

What a lovely colourful and collective way to round off our 2020 #30DaysWild experience.  We may not have managed something every day of June this year but then some days we did more than one thing and it’s certainly once again given us the chance to think about the importance and influence our wild world has on us and that we may have on it.  Here’s to 366 (ish) days wild.

Click here to find out more about #30DaysWild. 

#30DaysWild Day 23 – Natural art

Taking advantage of the nice weather we headed into the back garden to do some art work.  Last time we got the paints out during lockdown the necessary clean up involved washing part of the sofa as well as showering minis number two and three so relocating to the patio area made much more sense today.

Using some of the things we collected on our walk in Greetwell Hollow, we did some leaf rubbing, used leaves to make prints and, adding some sticks into the mix, created more butterflies too.

I got my bonus point for it linking to home learning work set by their school and also took advantage of the time to complete an art task set a week or so ago when I was still refusing to get the paints out again.

Painting with bubbles definitely appealed to Willow, so much she says she wants to do it again soon.  Any ideas where I can hide the paint?

Click here to find out more about #30DaysWild. 

#30DaysWild Day 22 – Colourful walk

Yesterday was all about daddy’s day (honestly he really did want to spend it clearing out the loft…) but today we managed to get out for a walk around our estate which gave us plenty of opportunity to enjoy the colourful fruits of our neighbours’ labour with all the beautiful flowers in full bloom gracing their front gardens.   

I didn’t have much opprtunity to take photos though as mini number two decided to take one of her favourite mermaid books out with her and needed reminding to look when crossing roads…

Click here to find out more about #30DaysWild. 

#30DaysWild Day 20 – Greetwell Hollow

Not to be put off by yesterday’s less than successful attempt at discovering somewhere new we headed out today to try somewhere even more local that I’ve been meaning to visit for some time but it’s taken a pandemic lockdown for me to finally get there.

I’d assumed (correctly) that Greetwell Hollow Nature Reserve just outside Lincoln wouldn’t be the best to investigate with a pushchair so it helps that Faith is now walking a bit more although the uneven terrain and heat meant that she was quite happy being carried for a lot of our stroll too.

The “interesting wildlife haven and geological” Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust site is a lot bigger than we first realised (13 hectares – there is a map available on the charity’s website for people who are better at planning than we are) so we only covered a very small area of it leaving plenty of reasons to go back again.

“The limestone grassland in the valley offers a wide range of wildflowers including bee orchid and the scrub offers great homes for wintering and nesting birds. The stream that flows through the centre of the reserve supports wetland plants and attracts wintering snipe, moorhen and heron.  In the rough limestone grassland with hawthorn scrub, traveller’s joy is a scarce plant in the area, and dwarf thistle and field scabious can be found.  Bullfinch is a characteristic bird.”

Mummy thought it would be a good place to collect some natural art supplies for a future project but the minis found out it was actually good for playing what’s the time Mr Wolf and, thanks to an impressive stick find, asking if there’s room on the broom.

Click here to find out more about #30DaysWild. 

#30DaysWild Day 19 – Fiskerton Fen

Day 19After our new lockdown discoveries of Starmers Pit and Ashing Lane Nature Reserve we were feeling emboldened today and headed out in the car to pastures new once more.

And you can’t beat a personal recommendation can you?  So when my friend Rachel Eldridge suggested Fiskerton Fen is a lovely place to go with lots of wildlife the pin was placed firmly on the map.

Sadly it was only a metaphorical map and we drove, not only through two downpours, but also past the entrance of Fiskerton Fen twice before finding it.  Then we discovered there was a height barrier to the car park which we couldn’t get in with the roof rack on.  Not our most successful journey.

Thankfully Rachel took some photos of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust’s “wet feland landscape with open water and reedbeds” on her last visit so I can share what a lovely place it looks to be for those who travel without a permanent storage box on the top of their cars.

The Trust highlights that the reed-dependent animals “include some of our rarest species including the bittern and marsh harrier. Greater water parsnip, once common in Lincolnshire but now almost extinct, has also been introduced.”

And it could prove a perfect choice to visit during next week’s National Insect Week (June 22nd – 28th):

“Surrounding the wet fenland is grassland with thickets of blackthorn and hawthorn scrub. The wildflowers of the grassland such as field scabious, knapweed and St. John’s wort provide nectar for butterflies and a host of other insects. The scrub provides shelter and song posts for birds such as yellowhammer, corn bunting, linnet and tree sparrow.”

Click here to find out more about #30DaysWild.