Olive Dragonfly Blog – Bex Maini and the twins in March

Bex Maini & Twins (Olive Dragonfly Blog)

Similar to last month, I have been super busy and had some more very exciting photography related news this month!  I can finally reveal all about Phlock!  I also have my Shoot & Share contest results and the twins and I have been on a few adventures including another epic trampoline party at Fun Abounds, a delicious Sunday Roast in Tunbridge Wells and another near Lewes, a picnic, a windmill, a garden centre, a paint shop and a soft play as well as my plans to start water based family photo sessions including underwater action shots!  Keep reading to find out more…


Phlock Live – Photography conference

Similar to last month, I have some more very exciting photography related news this month!  I can finally reveal all about Phlock!  Phlock Live is a brand new photography conference, specifically for female photographers and based in the UK.  I have always wanted to attend some of the similar style conferences in the US but it’s just so expensive when you factor in travel and time away from home.  I am so excited that there will be something like this in the UK!

Not only that but I will be teaching there!!!  They asked me!  I still can’t quite believe it as I have no previous photo teaching experience (unless you count a camera club talk on underwater photography way back in 2007) but I was one of only five photographers contacted by founder, Laura Wood, whose work is simply stunning!  I’ve long admired her so to receive a message along with four other UK photographers around the country is just astounding and a huge confidence boost!  It’s still in the early stages of organisation and we’ve been helping with the ideas behind the scenes.  (Phlock was actually one of my name suggestions!)  We’ve got an amazing list of sponsors and potential speakers we hope will be involved and will be announcing more soon so if you’re a photographer with an interest in learning and mingling with some of the best in the UK industry, watch this space!  You can follow Phlock on Instagram here, I recently did a takeover sharing some info about me and what I’ll be speaking about come March 2020!


Sunday roast at Framptons in The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells

This is my new favourite place to go for a roast dinner!  I love the food here and it’s got a really cool vibe with the rustic decor and vintage finds dotted around upstairs.  I went with the twins and my in-laws while Nik was working and we all loved our roasts, I had lamb and everyone else had beef – SO delicious!   It’s expensive but worth it in my opinion.  Check out my full review over on Olive Dragonfly Blog now.

Sunday roast at Abergavenny Arms near Lewes

We met friends at the Abergavenny Arms near Lewes recently (not to be confused with the one in Frant where Nik started driving to, in the opposite direction), and had a lovely afternoon.  They’re dog and child friendly so it was perfect for us and our friends with their fur baby.  The pub is traditional style with a lovely beer garden out the back.  It was a bit cold and windy the day we went so we sat inside where it was nice and cosy.

They had a good choice of things on the menu and I couldn’t resist a super unhealthy but absolutely scrummy starter of hot pork scratchings which were basically deep fried bits of pork belly with a spicy soy based dip – YUM!  So bad but so good!  No-one else had a starter but we ordered some olives and bread to keep the kids appeased and give everyone something to nibble on while I indulged.

They had a few choices of meat on their Sunday Roast menu and I went for the beef which was served medium rare, just how I like it.  It actually came well done but was still nice.  For pud the kids had ice cream and brownies, Hemina and I were both disappointed they’d run out of our first and second choices of pud so she had the treacle tart and I had a brownie too which were both delicious.

Service was friendly and efficient despite them being very busy, it was a lovely relaxed afternoon!  We had a voucher deal that Hemina found so paid £25 per couple for 2 courses and added on extras like drinks and 3rd courses.  It was great value for what we had!


Monkey Madness in Lewes

I’d only been to Monkey Madness once before, soft plays can get pretty expensive when you have two kids to pay for plus an adult entry, then inevitable snacks, drinks, etc as you can’t bring your own in.  Luckily, when a friend suggested it on a recent blustery day, they had a deal on so it was only £9 for me and the twins to get in.  The last time we went they were only one so it was a very different experience now they’re four and can properly climb and go off and have fun on their own in the giant climbing frames!  Plus it was a term-time Tuesday so it wasn’t too busy and there were no big kids charging around to be fearful of.

Image of slide by Bex Maini, Bexphoto

We stayed there all morning and for a while after lunch too.  Kalyan has been asking to go back to “hotplay” ever since so we’ll have to check when their next deal is on.

Read the blog for my full review including the food.


Shoot & Share – results

The results are finally in for the big Shoot & Share contest I entered in January!  I am thrilled that I achieved three finalist images this year!  Altogether I received 23 images with awards from finalist, Top 10%, Top 20% and Top 30%.  I still haven’t achieved my goal of getting in the Top 100 for any category but given that over HALF A MILLION photos were submitted this year, being in the top 500 of two of the categories is nothing to sniff at!  I’ll be trying again next year of course and working hard this year to create some potential Top 100 images 😉

You can see my other awarded photos on my Bexphoto blog: https://www.bexphoto.com/single-post/2019/03/22/Shoot-Share-2019—My-results


Trampoline Party at Fun Abounds

After never having been before, we’ve now been to three birthday parties at Fun Abounds in the last 6 months!  It’s SO much fun, the twins always have a blast and even I did this time too, I managed to fit in a wee workout on a trampoline providing some hilarious entertainment for the twins!


Day out in Eastbourne with lunch at Fusciardi!

Another Tuesday, another playdate with Priya’s bestie!  This time we went to Eastbourne seafront with the kids’ bikes.  We got there first so we played down on the small sandy patch where the tide was out, K loved throwing stones into the sea while Priya practised writing her name in the sand with a feather.

It was actually fairly warm with the sun shining so when everyone else arrived we had a pleasant walk along as the kids cycled on the flat straight path next to the beach.  It wasn’t long until hunger kicked in so we stopped at Fusciardi’s for lunch.  I’d never been before but had heard good things about their Italian gelato which my friend Steph verified and now I can too!

We all had a lovely toastie of some kind (normal, ciabatta or croissant) which came with a nice salad garnish and then treated ourselves to gelato of course!  The kids all had chocolate and I had salted caramel – both SO DELICIOUS!

The seating area was bright and colourful with modern seating and lighting and the ice-cream bar looked suitably tempting!  A lovely place to visit, we’ll be back!


Colour Chase Challenge – Pink and Teal

I finally finished off my pink images for February and have just collated my teal images for March.

Up Country garden centre & cafe

I’ve driven past this place so many times but it was only when a friend suggested it for a play date that we actually went and found out how much fun it is there!  They have an old double decker bus for kids to play in and a small park as well, plus a vintage tractor inside by the cafe.

I took my new, lighter, smaller camera along to try it out and I love it!  You can see more photos from the day here.


Chailey Windmill

This was a random quick pit-stop on our way home from the garden centre as it was such a glorious day and I spotted a sign for it!  A quick walk and we were there, a beautiful old white windmill against a gorgeous blue sky.  The small museum underneath was closed (it’s apparently open 3-5 on a Sunday) so we didn’t hang around, K was too hot apparently and somewhat whingey so we came home to play on bikes and scooters for a bit before heading out for a Sunday Roast at The White Hart in Buxted (see below).


Swimming classes with Rebecca Love

Back in the day before it got too difficult with various work schedules and weekend plans, we used to take the twins swimming every week.  We started when they were just 12 weeks old and they loved it!  We went to Rebecca Love who’s based at Oaklands pool between Uckfield & Lewes, it’s a privately owned pool and kept at a very warm 32 degrees, perfect for babies and toddlers!

Sadly we weren’t able to keep it up past a year but I was thrilled to get to spend some time in the pool with Rebecca again in February, she hired me to take some professional photos of her working to show off the fun and variety in her classes on her new website she’s working on.  I had SO much fun, I ended up staying all morning rather than just the two hours we’d agreed upon.  I loved capturing all the fun, splashing and skills the kids were practising!  SO much so, I’ve since invested in some new equipment so I can offer family swimming photo sessions!  This very pool is available for hire so I will be offering limited sessions in the school holidays when it’s not used for swimming lessons.

It’s the perfect way for me to combine my love of family photography with my old hobby of underwater photography which I dabbled in during my scuba diving days pre-kids.  You can find out more via bexphoto.com or join my mailing list to be the first to hear about it when these session launch at a special introductory price!  😉


Picnic at Oast Farm shop

Nik had a day off last week to do some admin work from home so we all ventured down to our local cafe, forgetting that it’s closed on Tuesdays, oops!  Luckily Judith was in the shop and happily made us a cup of tea and coffee when we bought some things from the shop to have an impromptu picnic outside.  She also brought us out a knife and chopping board for our cheese so it was a rather posh picnic in the end!  lol.  We’d brought our blanket anyway on Kalyan’s insistence (sunshine often means picnics and ice-lollies in our house!) so the kids sat on the grassy area while Nik and I sat at one of the outdoor cafe tables.

We’d chosen a brown sourdough (good old Flint Owl bread), ham, brie (which was properly ripe and squishy – SO delicious!), cherry tomatoes, quince cheese (homemade by Judith), crisps for the kids (Nik and I are trying to lose some weight) and a sausage roll for Priya.  It ended up being quite the feast and we thoroughly enjoyed it!


Marchand Son – Paint wheel fun!

Oh my gosh I am in love with Simon’s paint shop, Marchand Son in Lewes!  Read my blog post to find out more about the paint wheel you can use to make art and the parties you can book for kids!  I’m definitely booking this for my twins’ birthday this year, I had SO much fun making mine, I know they’ll love it too!


Hello Yellow Update:

I’ve taken some new portraits of lovely local businesses in Lewes joining in with my charity project for Young Minds.  This one below is of the lovely Victoria who runs From Victoria, the cutest little plant & gift shop in The Needlemakers in Lewes.

Do get in touch if you’d like to take part, get yourself a brand new head shot and help me raise funds and awareness for Young Minds charity!


Mother’s Day Flowers

Although I do always love the flowers Nik picks out for me, this year, I really wanted to create my own rainbow bouquet!  I love flowers, learning names of the ones I love and arranging them.  I sometimes think in another life I would have loved being a florist!  Maybe one day, maybe when I retire I could get a job in a pretty little flower shop.  Anyway, for now, I make do with being creative with my own flowers and this year I went to both of Uckfield’s lovely florists, The Flower Shop and Miss Bloomsbury.  It helps that they’re just a few doors apart on the High Street so I was able to pick and choose my stems from each to create my perfect colourful arrangement which looks beautiful on our new bar cart in the dining room!

Read my full blog post to discover exactly which flowers I used and the total cost.


Next month:

I’ll be back a week later than usual as we’re off to the Algarve with family to celebrate my father-in-law’s 70th birthday!

I’m sure I’ll have plenty of Easter fun to report when I return as we usually join in some of the local events for Easter as well as some activities of our own.

I’ll also be reviewing two amazing places to eat in London, one central, one in Greenwich which we visited over Mother’s Day weekend but I haven’t had a chance to edit my photos or write about that yet!