We are a small, happy family of four. My husband, a baby, a dog and me. My husband works on a yacht. A large, luxury megayacht which tends to be based in some fairly fabulous places. The thing is, where the boat goes, we go! When she was was just eight weeks old our daughter, Coco, boarded her first trans-Atlantic flight and since then we haven't stopped. This is a blog of our rather unusual yet adventurous life. No two days are the same.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Shhh - time for sleep

I have a terrible feeling that Coco is weaning herself down to just one daytime sleep! Is it wrong that his upsets me so much?

She has always been a brilliant sleeper, 12 hours at night and two good sleeps during the day, one in the morning one in the afternoon. The one in the morning is at the perfect time for me to get showered and dressed, have a quick tidy, make a cup of tea, check emails and read/write blogs, maybe even do a bit of work! (shock horror!)

However, during this week the morning sleep started going down to just half an hour (not nearly long enough to do everything I am used to doing). This lasted for a couple of days and then she gave up on it altogether. I was hoping that it was because we had been confined to the house and she hadn't used up as much energy as normal but we are back to our usual frenetic selves and still, as I write this I can hear her up in her cot chatting away. I just popped my head around the door and she is sitting playing with Bedtime Buster and telling him, what sounds like, a very interesting story. Perfectly happy but definitely not asleep!

I'm not ready for this yet! I love having her up and about of course but I still need her to have both of those sleeps!

Oh well, I have a wardrobe of lovely clothes and it looks like I am never going to be able to get dressed again. Well, something has to go from my morning schedule and it can't be the blog!

This week has mainly been about books. Angus has been away so I have indulged my book craving, had some early nights and devoured Larsson's 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'. It was very good if not a little harrowing in places and I loved having that reading time again.

The rain meant that Coco and I have done more daytime reading than usual which she seems to have enjoyed more than I expected. She is getting much better at sitting still for long enough to read a book (without the help of a bottle of milk) and loves turning the pages. Yesterday, we stumbled across the added bonus of being able to meet a real life Spot for a bit of paw shaking. Coco took it all in her stride but seemed reasonably impressed.

Right, she is definitely not going to go to sleep - time to get her up and I'm still not dressed!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The sun has got his hat on...

....I am definitely 'hip hip hip hooraying' as it has felt like a very long week!

Coco and I have been going stir crazy stuck in the house with the rubbish weather. The poor girl is completely fed up with just having me around. She is going to be elated to see Daddy at the weekend. I had no idea how easily a one year old can get bored when confined to a small space. Even going out to the car ended up in us both being soaked so I was wracking my brain for things to do to keep us both entertained.

In the house we played with balloons, played with bubbles, stacked blocks and knocked them down again, read books, sang songs and watched Peppa Pig. We attempted using crayons but they are still considered a tasty snack so we'll wait another few weeks before getting them out again. We made the effort to go for a couple of walks but it was just so wet! We went swimming a few times which gave us both a welcome change of scene but the pool was freezing! Seriously, Coco's teeth were chattering after just 15 minutes. We hit the library and met up with some lovely friends, again a welcome diversion. I have yet to take Coco to an indoor playcentre and this week seemed like the perfect opportunity to try one out but, unfortunately, they don't seem as popular over here in New England as they are back in the UK.

However, after four days of constant rain, the clouds parted and the sun came out. Coco and I turned our faces towards the blue, blue sky, shook off the dust, stretched our stiff limbs and went out to walk away some of our pent up energy at Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge, a favourite family walking place this summer.

Coco walked nearly the whole way with just the odd carry; amazing seeing as she is so new to this one foot in front of the other thing, and I was suddenly struck by how her independence is increasing daily. This photo summed up our summer really... sun, sea, smiles and self-sufficiantcy!

The day went from good to great when some friends rocked up this evening (to pick up their scrummy baby boy who I'd looked after for a couple of hours) with a bottle of champagne - just for the hell of it - and it was pink! Yippee!

Tips on indoor activities / games to entertain a one year old would be gratefully received.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Probably the most gullible person in the world

That's me! I'm renowned for it. I call it trusting but everyone else seems to think I am an excellent target for a good wind up. The main perpetrator of abusing this credulous side of my nature is my beloved husband. It is like a sport for him trying to get me to believe his stories. You will often hear him sitting with a pint of ale or a glass of wine and a group of our friends telling them about, "the funny time when Louisa believed that..." or "we managed to fool Louisa into thinking that..." after such stories my humiliation is always the cause of much hilarity.

One of the best, (until the other night, but we'll come on to that) was many years ago when we lived in London. We were taking one of our frequent walks in Richmond Park when Angus turned and said, in a very serious tone of voice, "Did you know that there are 17 different types of deer in Richmond Park?". Now, you do have to understand that Angus is frighteningly good at having little bits of interesting trivia up his sleeve which he relishes peppering our conversations with frequently. I have no idea where he gets it all from and no, it's not all made up. His father was a brilliant historian so the story that followed about Henry VIII insisting on 17 breeds of deer (I don't even know if there ARE 17 breeds of deer) in order to vary his hunting bla, bla, bla, seemed utterly plausible.

The story was told, and then forgotten. It wasn't until about seven years later when Angus was in Richmond Park with a friend of ours. The friend pointed out a herd of deer grazing in the distance and confidently said, "Did you know there are 17 different types of deer in Richmond Park?". It turns out that I had told someone, who told someone else who told our friend and Angus's big fat lie got right back to him! Who would have thought it! So if you have ever hear about the 17 deer breeds in Richmond Park then I'm sorry to tell you, it was a complete load of rubbish spouted by my dear husband.

The other night we were walking home whilst devouring another Ben & Jerry's ice cream (Peanut Brittle this time - divine!) and we were comparing Boston and New York, which one we'd rather live in and so on. Angus, again completely seriously said, "Do you know why it is that so many of the Italians in New York are called Tony?". I am absolutely sure that many of you reading this are already thinking that you can't believe I fell for this, but he is so convincing! The story had so much detail, all about Ellis Island, the ships arriving from Italy and, here's the bit, "when the Italians arrived they had TONY (To New York) stamped on their foreheads and so became Tony." Again, I could see how it could have happened!

I fell for it hook, line and sinker. Angus could have dined out on my believing this one to be true for years. However, thankfully he had consumed just a little too much wine earlier in the evening to be able to keep his usual composure and a during a brief lack of concentration, a small smirk slipped out and I was on to him. It was a close call but I pulled back my integrity at the very last moment.

Please tell me that there are other gullible numpties amongst my readers and that I am not alone.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mainely... we have been celebrating Birthdays!

You will have to forgive me, I am feeling a little shell shocked and fragile after the last few days. Coco and I have just returned home (Newport home) after a fantastic trip up to Maine for Coco's 1st Birthday. It was the most perfect few days. The hotel was lovely, the weather was gorgeous, Coco was on fine form and everything went beautifully smoothly.I just didn't expect to feel like this. Everyone tells you that the 1st Birthday is a 'real milestone', and to be honest, I didn't take it all that seriously. It's just a birthday after all, right? Wrong! It is SUCH a milestone. It felt incredibly significant and I now feel terribly melancholy about the fact that my baby is growing up. I'm not usually overly sentimental about this kind of thing but this feels like a really big deal!

I am so pleased that we made an effort to mark the occasion properly. The celebrations - which lasted for an impressive 24 hours - began on Friday afternoon with Coco's first ever bike ride. As first bike rides go, I can't imagine that it gets much better than Acadia National Park. The scenery was breathtaking and the cycling not too challenging - a perfect combination for nearly 1 year old beginners! We did have to make the difficult decision whether to let Coco choke herself with her helmet strap (literally!) or travel unprotected; we opted for the latter but rode with extreme care and caution.

During the evening we met up with some of the boat crew for cake and champagne at the Bar Harbor Inn, a traditional hotel with a lovely terrace overlooking the harbour. Coco relished all of the attention and fought tiredness to keep her guests entertained as well as consuming a huge amount of chocolate cake! We are hoping that there isn't any significance in the fact that all of her party guests were male?!

The evening ended with a delicious meal at a little restaurant a bit off the well trodden tourist track. Cafe This Way offered an interesting menu and relaxed atmosphere for us to kick back and relax with Gabe while Coco slept peacefully in her buggy.

As the big day dawned, Angus and I were far more excited than Coco. She took it all in her stride although she did seem to love the present opening. From her In The Night Garden magazine to her enormous moose, each present was met with the same intrigue and appreciation. Angus and I were in a state of bizarre confusion. A year? Are you sure? Where did that go?

Finally, just before Angus had to rejoin the boat for a guest trip, we managed to squeeze in yet more cake (this time it was my less professional attempt which everyone was forced to enjoy) in a little party of our own, just the three of us, sitting in a sunny park.

With the Birthday celebrations complete it was time to wave goodbye to Bar Harbor, Maine and travel the seven hours back to Newport. It was the first time for ages that I really struggled to leave Angus - and Bar Harbor, I loved it there. It felt like we were enjoying a well needed holiday which was over far too soon. Ho hum - I did have a good little chortle on the way home every time I saw a 'beware of the moose' sign. I'm not sure why I found them so funny but I really did.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Busters

Today we nearly had a major family catastrophe! First of all I need to introduce you to the Busters. The most important Buster is of course Brother Buster - our dog at home. Then there is Big Buster and Baby Buster - two equally as cuddly fluffy yellow labs who are supposed to resemble Brother Buster. Next in line there is Blue Buster - he is the newest Buster and was bought as backup in case we lost the beloved and final Buster in the line-up... Bedtime Buster. 

Today we nearly lost Bedtime Buster. He is Coco's special toy and is never far from her side. A gift from some friends when she was born, he has accompanied us on all of our travels and she has not had one single night without him. Generally, I strictly enforce the 'Bedtime Buster stays at home' rule to try and avoid him being dropped / left anywhere. Why I wasn't on the ball today I don't know. Actually, I do know. It was all my fault. BIG confession time now... I was distracted by Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream. That'll teach me. 

I am sure you have guessed how the sad story goes, at some point during our walk this afternoon (while Mummy was chomping away on a disgustingly good ice-cream), Bedtime Buster escaped from the buggy and it was feared that he was never to be seen again! Sheer panic swept over me when I realised he was missing and I hotfooted it back in the direction we had come from. I was overcome with a wave of relief when I saw a forlorn, grubby looking Bedtime Buster draped over a wall at the side of the pavement. Thank you kind passer-by who picked him up and saved him for us. Phew!

There was something I should have shared with you yesterday and I was reminded when I took the photos off my camera earlier today. If I don't do it now it may be forgotten and that would be a travesty as it is an event which is more than blog worthy and deserves recording even if it is mainly in pictures. With just a few days to go until Coco's first Birthday, Angus thought of the very best present from him to her - a boat ride! She adorned a life-jacket and hit the high seas with Captain Daddy...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More hours in the day - please

I have to find a way of increasing my productivity. I have been thinking about it all weekend. I know in my last post I said that it didn't matter if we don't own a house - well it doesn't - however, (I realise I am about to contradict myself) we do need some kind of permanent base.

In just three weeks we are packing up and moving again. This time, back to the UK for a couple of months as Angus is going to sit his captains exams. Everywhere we go we have to rent and because we rent for short periods of time, we need furnished accommodation that even includes bedding and kitchen utensils. In short, we usually end up with holiday rentals which are gorgeous but very expensive. On top of this, we already own a whole house worth of 'stuff' but it is in storage.

We want to know that whenever we are in the UK we have a home to call our own, we can go into a wardrobe to find our clothes and Coco has a proper cot. She has slept in a travel cot all her life! Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining at all, we love our life and it is the life we have chosen, but adding a home into the equation would make it perfect!

So, back to productivity. To be able to do buy a house, and continue living as we live, I need to increase my income. Not dramatically, just a little, which means more writing. It isn't just finding more time to do this, it is motivation and inclination! One of the things I have struggled with a bit since becoming a mother is organization. Right at this moment, there are toys all over the floor, I am still in my pyjamas and the house is filthy - I know, I am sitting here blogging! But blogging is my little bit of 'me' time and I see it as writing practice as well as being fun which is kind of work isn't it? After all, if I make my living from writing surely practising is a good thing?!

What I need to do is set some achievable objectives. So here we go:
- I will not waste whole hours of the day on Facebook! (I don't mean to, it just happens. I'll put Coco down for a sleep, have a 'quick look' at Facebook and the next thing I know Coco is waking up again!)
- As soon as I have article ideas I will write them down. (Sounds obvious but I don't do this at the moment and I end up sitting for ages trying to remember that groundbreaking idea I had a couple of days ago. Again, more time wasted.)
- I will work in the evenings. (Somehow I need to energise myself so that once Coco is in bed I can sit down and do a couple of hours hard graft, especially when Angus is away.)

This seems so lame, why haven't I managed to get my act together? More ideas about increasing the number of hours in the day would be gratefully received.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Pinch Myself

This is what I have to do sometimes. Just pinch myself to check this life is real. Am I this lucky? I was driving back from Nantucket a few days ago having taken a day-trip there with my Mother-in-Law. Angus has been working away this week but the boat was going to be visiting this historical island for a couple of days and I don't have to be asked twice to go on a day-trip there. It is beautiful and I am a little obsessed with the whole whaling history - I just find it fascinating.

Anyway, I digress, we had a fabulous day on the island made famous by Herman Melville's 'Moby Dick', with a boat trip, delicious lunch, a couple of hours with Angus and a look around the Museum of Whaling. I was driving home with Coco fast asleep in the back, Grandma Flowerpot dozing next to me and the most stunning sunset-sky ahead of me when I was suddenly hit with an overwhelming sense of well-being.

I didn't dream in a million years I would have ended up marrying my best friend. I feel so completely loved and adored by him and I hope he knows I feel exactly the same way too. To top it off, we now have this edible little girl who just makes my heart sing. So what that we don't own a house. Who cares that we live out of a bag most of the time. It doesn't matter that we aren't together 24/7. Is it important that my career isn't quite where I hoped it would be? There is still time to make all of these things happen and I really believe that it all will. There is no reason why we can't have it all. I realise it isn't always like this, but when it is, isn't it important to stand back, take stock and say "thank you"? Ah - big sigh. Very happy. Lucky, lucky me, I treasure every moment of this precious life.

We have wracked up the miles this week. Not only did we cover Nantucket but also managed a fleeting visit to Vermont where we ate enormous amounts of maple syrup and Western Massachusetts where we learned all about the Shakers. I need to do a separate post to really do justice to this road-trip so watch this space. Vermont diaries to follow shortly.

I wish you all happy moments this week xx

Video below as promised.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Load of Cobblers

At the beginning of this week I didn't think we were going to make it back to the US. I was feeling so rough that the idea of packing up and getting on a seven and a half hour flight with an 11 month old baby filled me with absolute dread. However with the help of Grandma Paintpot, who drove us to the airport, and Grandma Flowerpot, who flew out with us, we have made it and it actually wasn't too bad. Coco and I are still ill which isn't so good. We are functioning but slowly, a bit uncomfortably and with the help of four hourly drug cycles. Unfortunately, as I waved Angus off on a week long trip this morning and he was complaining of a sore throat. Whoops - sorry love.

We have managed to squeeze a fair bit into the time we have been back despite blocked noses. Our discovery of the week was Sweet Berry Farm (www.sweetberryfarmri.com) - a delightful PYO farm, cafe and shop just outside Newport. On a scorching hot day it was blissful to be out in the countryside enjoying a delicious lunch in an environment that just felt healthy. Some places are like that don't you think? You can't quite place your finger on it but it is rustic yet clean, homemade yet professional, laid-back yet organized. We have somewhere at home called Pythouse Kitchen Garden (www.pythouse-farm.co.uk) which I absolutely love and it reminds me very much of there. Not as 'English' obviously but the same 'shabby-chic'.

After our yummy lunch (baby spinach, asparagus, pine nut, sun-dried tomato, sweetcorn and mozzarella wrap!) we ventured out into the orchards to pick our own peaches and blueberry's. I have never picked either fruit straight from the tree before and it was quite a thrill to see the peach trees laden with fruit. To pick something straight from the tree and take a refreshing bit was simply lovely. It somehow felt very rejuvenating.

Needless to say, we now have an enormous amount of peaches and blueberries to get through so last night I made a Peach Cobbler for dessert. I haven't done this before and combined several different recipes I found online to finish with the one I will share with you now. It was so easy and so delicious I might just have to make it again in a few days time!

Peach Cobbler for G-Flowerpot

3 fresh peaches sliced
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
5 slices of bread (brown or white)
115g butter melted
150g sugar
2 heaped tablespoons of self-raising flour
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence 

- Lay the sliced peaches over the bottom of a square oven proof dish measuring about 25cm across
- Sprinkle the cinnamon over the peaches
- Cut the crusts off the bread and cut in to quarters then 'tile' over your fruit leaving no gaps
- Beat the remaining ingredients together and pour over your dish spreading the topping equally to cover the bread
- Back in a preheated oven at 175 degrees C for about 40 mins until the top is golden brown

I could only get hold of some squirty cream last night (which I haven't had since I was a child and I don't think I have ever bought!) which was fine but it would be delicious with vanilla ice-cream.

Finally, I am going to to have a baby-brag. Not only does Coco do me proud with her amazing behaviour on all the long-haul flights we make her endure (this was her ninth!) but she has added to her first year achievements by officially walking! Having done nothing much since those initial first steps she now totters about the kitchen like a pro. Video to follow shortly.

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Happy Ever After

So much has happened in the last couple of weeks that I really don't know where to begin. I have to warn you now that I absolutely can't do it all justice, the last 10 days have been a blur of happy activity! I am going to keep it brief and include lots of photos. So here we go...

A delightful overnight in Boston with my gorgeous husband, drank a bit too much wine and bought very funky sunglasses - for him I might add.

An uneventful flight home with Coco being an absolute dream although we were both a little bored by the time we landed at Heathrow. However, we were met by a very overexcited Grandma which cheered us up no end!

Bridesmaid dress fitting - it had to be taken in a LOT - which is obviously a good thing. Lunch with another set of Grandparents and Auntie Vicky. Coco and I were very pleased to see all of them before they dashed off on their world travels.

Remembered Grandpa, which we do all the time but especially over these few days.

Hen Party! - A weekend of fun and frolics at Park Cottage, one of the best ever.

Coco had an absolute blast with Auntie Bridgie and seemed completely unfazed by her first night away from me. Thank you Cowan-Deyes's for giving me the weekend off x

A joyful few days with nieces - it is always such a pleasure to spend some time with them and I hardly saw Coco!

A night in London to enjoy the impressive preview of Katie's new album. Stunning venue, electrifying performance - surely the recipe for success! Yes, I was Coco free - again!

Pub lunch and a long overdue catch-up with a special friend.

A long journey up to Anglesey but SO worth it for the wedding of the year! First of all there was some soggy hard work...

Followed by some last minute preparations...

But the final result was the most beautiful bride in the world...

And a sublimely happy couple...

Coco loved her first wedding...

And thank you Mums for coming to help with Coco. I mean, I couldn't be expected to look after her by myself! We have pretty much forgotten who each other actually are over the last week! Mummy who?

Ilm couldn't have been a more perfect bride, she was elegant and gracious and so in love - it was a complete honour to be a part of her special day. I just hope her motley band of bridesmaids lived up to expectations.

Now it is back down to earth with a bang - and a stinking cold - to pack our bags and head back across the Atlantic for more adventures with our baby, our buggy and the boat.