Olive Dragonfly – Bex and the twins latest adventures

Happy New Year!  I hope you’ve all had a wonderfully festive Christmas holiday and haven’t succumbed to the January blues yet!  It’s only day 3 after all.

Hopefully tales of my colourful Christmas will cheer you up in this dull, cold weather.

Advent Calendar

The lead up to Christmas is one of my favourite times of year and we had so much fun with our Advent Adventures!  We saw Panto in Eastbourne (see more below), went ice-skating, painted decorations and snowmen pictures, bought our tree and decorated it, ate pizza outdoors by the fire at Wilderness Wood, donated to Book Trust and our local food bank and had some more simple days too with some Christmas films and cosy days in with Christmas jigsaws and hot chocolate, building dens, decorating a gingerbread house and wearing Christmas jumpers.

This year I wanted to change it up a bit with our tree and have a whole new theme.  It’s probably no surprise I went for rainbow colours as I am now utterly obsessed with the spectrum of colours in my life.  Plus, it was a big trend this year so finding decorations and baubles was easy!

I’m absolutely thrilled with the result, it makes me so happy and really brightens up our living room, I’ll miss it when it’s gone.  I got baubles from John Lewis, eBay, Festive Lights Ltd, Oxfam, St Peter & St James Hospice charity shop, B&M Stores, Paperchase and Amazon.  Most of them were real bargains (as low as 25p each) and we had our usual Tesco tree lights – 400 of them.  The kids enjoyed getting to decorate the purple and pink layers.

I even adapted a Christmas Tree headband from Hobbycraft to match!

And of course, I had to make a wreath to match!  I bought a pre-lit wreath then used my hot glue gun to add my rainbow baubles.  I adore it!

Beaded Snowflake craft course – review

I got a gift voucher for my birthday last year for a website called Craft Courses and finally booked a couple of lessons.  I opted for snowflake beading to make some cute decorations for my tree.  I loved it and had it not been so far away, I’d go back for a different course.  Check out the blog to see my rainbow snowflake and learn more about The Little Craftery in Worthing.

Paper cutting craft course – review

The other course I chose to do was in Kent but I managed to time it with a visit to London for a photography get together and then meeting my friend’s gorgeous newborn twins (born 4 years and 4 days after my own)!

I stopped in Kent on the way home for this three hour course cutting patterns in paper and card.  It was hard work but so much fun!  I managed to do two of these star cut outs, each with a different colour behind them to show through, and a couple of snowflakes.  I also bought a much more intricate template of a Christmas tree to do for next year once I have some new blades for my craft knife.

Cinderella Pantomime in Eastbourne – review

I can’t quite believe this was our first ever panto!  Nik was able to join us for this theatre trip to see Cinderella and we all had a great time, Kalyan loved the toilet jokes and Priya was entranced by the dancing especially.  Highly successful visit and we loved the humour too, it was great fun with great music from The Greatest Showman and of course, Baby Shark!

The ugly sisters were my favourite, again loads more photos on my blog, and the show’s still running until 13th January so you can still book tickets.

Ice skating at Calverly Park in Tunbridge Wells

This year’s trip to go ice-skating was a huge success as well, the twins both loved whizzing around on the ice!  Unfortunately Daddy is not quite up to whizzing as he can’t skate so my wrists took a battering trying to steer them both but we loved it all the same.  The weather was perfect and we stayed on the ice for the entire allotted time.  Highly recommended as a winter activity in Tunbridge Wells, I’m so glad hubby managed to get this action shot of us!

Christmas Gift Baubles

I wanted to give my Bexphoto clients a gift for Christmas to thank them for letting me into their lives in such real and honest ways.  I made baubles with my favourite photos of their families on a miniature retro polaroid style print.  I also had cards printed with my logo changed to say “Thank you!” so I could write them personal notes which I hand delivered with their little boxed gifts.  It’s been lovely receiving photos of their baubles in pride of place on their trees 🙂

Work night out at Proud Cabaret, Brighton

I actually had a few work parties this year!  There was a ladies only curry night in Crowborough with my dental practice, an afternoon exploring the South Bank with photography folk (since we’re all self-employed some of us don’t have “official” work parties), a night out with the Uckfield Matters girls for cocktails (which has been postponed and I am excited I still have that to look forward to) and my main work night out with the dental practice which this year was a meal at Proud Cabaret in Brighton.

Photo credit: Diana Hagues

I had my hair and make-up done by Emese of My Beloved Make-up, she did an amazing job!  She came to my home, trimmed my hair, curled it with straighteners and did my make-up just how I’d hoped!  The cabaret show was amazing and even the food was good which it often isn’t at these big party nights.  I have to admit I was a little worse for wear after starting early at the B&B, I really can’t keep up with the twenty-year-olds anymore!  We had a great evening boogieing after the main show and stayed out til the early hours so I was grateful to be staying over so I wasn’t woken by two little humans the next day 😉

Christmas Eve Box

I started this Christmas eve tradition before we even had kids.  I always buy us a new Christmas garment (jumper/pyjamas/scarf) and a festive DVD to watch along with some tasty treats like popcorn and ingredients for hot chocolate.  This year I bought us all pyjamas with a Christmas lights print which I adore!!

We watched Home Alone this year and the kids loved it, Kalyan loves a baddie and he really enjoyed the burglars getting their plans foiled!

In the morning of Christmas Eve we went to Oast Farm for breakfast, it was lovely, just the activity for a day off together before the chaos of Christmas, we walked down and back again so got some nice fresh air before going to see friends in the afternoon.

Christmas Day

Due to a family emergency our plans changed a few days before heading to London to stay with the in-laws so we actually ended up having a quiet Christmas at home again this year.  It was lovely to stay cosy indoors without having to worry about packing everything but of course we missed seeing everyone on the day and Ma’s epic feast for Christmas dinner!

I received this epic hand-crocheted rainbow cardigan from my in-laws as a Christmas/birthday present!

Nik prepared a lamb roast for us which was amazing, the twins had a ball opening stockings and presents under the tree, as expected, and we had fun playing with some of their new games and jigsaws from Granny while wearing our fancy clothes and enjoying a tipple or two (I took it easy on the cocktails this year)!

 

 

Boxing Day in London

As we weren’t able to all meet up on Christmas day, those of us who could, all met up for a pub lunch on Boxing day so the cousins could exchange gifts and we could all catch up.

We had lunch at The Garrison near London Bridge which was lovely, relaxed but with delicious food and a lovely Garrison Spritz cocktail with gin, elderflower, chambord and fizz.

As you can see, Priya had had enough by this point.

Buxted Park Hotel – Afternoon Tea

After Christmas we made some spontaneous plans to fill our days as a family.  It was lovely knowing we had the rest of the week to enjoy all together so there was no weird “Chrimbo Limbo”, we made the most of being on holiday.  I was only at work for one morning and they all met me for lunch in Bill’s in Lewes afterwards too before I hit the antique shops!

The next afternoon we went for a walk/trike/bike ride to Buxted Park Hotel to enjoy Afternoon Tea.

We booked on the day but ended up having a bit of a wait (45 mins) for our food for some reason.  I wish I’d gone more prepared.  Anyway, it was worth the wait!  The food was amazing and plentiful!  We had 5 different sandwiches, two kinds of scones, cake, brownie, panna cotta, shortbread and our drinks.

Spa Valley Railway

The next day (the 29th), we went to Spa Valley Railway for one of their Mince Pie special days.  We’d booked tickets on Groupon the day before which had some restrictions but was only £12 for the four of us and was still valid for these special days after Christmas.

We arrived early and I loved taking photos as they prepared the steam engines for our journey.  Paul was very kind and let me take plenty of photos of him and his battered old teacup.  I love the results (you can see loads more on my Bexphoto blog), he was pleased with them too when I sent the link and has asked for copies for their magazine which is nice.

My Birthday Lunch – Sunday Roast at The Peacock Inn

As my birthday fell on a Sunday this year, I fancied booking a lovely Sunday Roast and invited some friends to join us.  We all went to The Peacock Inn in Piltdown as I’d heard good things and wanted something casual but a bit special.  I got a bit dressed up too in my red jumpsuit again and since I didn’t have a badge I wore the little crown I bought Priya for her birthday!

The food was lovely and we had an excellent time with lovely friends!  Priya loved sitting next to her favourite person who we hear about every day, Bella is requested every day!  They make a cheeky pair and luckily I love her mum, we get on so well 🙂  She even got me a special badge made with my own Bexphoto logo and rainbow ribbons!  It’s awesome and there’s a matching key-ring too – LOVE them!

Birthday Cocktails

In the evening I had a few girlfriends round for cocktails.  Although it was just a cosy night in on the sofa with hubby catering for us (he’s a star!), we all got glammed up for fun and I loved it!

We ate reduced party food from Waitrose (the advantage of having a birthday at this silly time of year!) and nibbles with our choices of cocktails – I’m a geek with a spreadsheet having listed them all and the ingredients needed beforehand!

He outdid himself, setting up a “bar” in the kitchen which looked lovely with my new vintage and charity shop finds of crystal glasses and cut glass decanters, he even wore the waistcoat from his kilt suit!  We loved it and I received some gorgeous presents like photo frames and rainbow post-its and my favourite Flipz!  I’m so lucky!!

Wilderness Wood on New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is usually a quiet one for us anyway but this year hubby was working during the day so I made plans to meet a new friend at Wilderness Wood.  The kids had a ball getting to know their new buddy who is also starting school in September.  It was lovely watching them play and of course we had a nice lunch in the cafe too!

I enjoyed trying out some a new creative technique too with some panning of the tyre swing to get this effect:

Great fun!

New Year’s Eve

For the evening itself, I hung out with the kids watching Zog and started taking down our tree as it was already dropping decorations.  I tried out some more new creative techniques with a double exposure in my camera (see below) using the tree lights to add another layer.  Nik was working so we just had a quiet one and I caught up on some personal photo editing once they went to bed with the TV in the background and a glass of fizz.

Next month and goals:

I genuinely have no specific plans for January, Nik is away for a couple of conferences so we’ll just be taking it easy as I ease back into work and start putting plans into place for Bexphoto this year.  My goals for this year include setting up a course for mothers who want to learn to take better photos of their own kids (I’ve also written a free download of tips for new subscribers).

I had planned to work on being healthier last spring (January is never usually a good time for me to work on new routines) but various issues conspired against me but this year I really do need to get organised and start exercising regularly again and making healthier choices.  You will be hearing about my new rainbow clothes too as I just couldn’t fit everything in this month and my collection is still expanding!  (For a sneaky peek at a few of them, check out this month’s Uckfield Matters magazine.)  Mostly though, I want to be doing more of this: