Sunday, 28 August 2016

Baby's First Romper

I have been on a bit of a sewing frenzy the last few weeks, so it's high time I shared some of my creations! Every time I think about starting something new, e.g. preparing a blog post or actually getting stuck into some creating, the hands on projects always win over! So I have produced a bit of a backlog of sewing projects that I'd love to share.

This is hands down my favourite and therefore it gets to go first! It's baby's first romper suit!

It's been absolutely baking August here in Blightly (so unusual!) so I figured a little light romper would be exactly the thing to welcome baby home in. (Okay, so I know full well this little munchkin isn't going to give two hoots about it's first outfit! But, I have a sneaky suspicion that I sure will!)

I used a lightweight cotton in neutral, unisex colour way that I dug out of my fabric stash (great think about baby clothes is they don't need so much material - perfect for recycling old men's shirts etc!). We can always mix it with a blue or pink vest or cardi down the line once we know if it's a boy or a girl (or we can add green or yellow for that matter. In fact, I'd probably prefer one of those!).

I created my own newspaper pattern by drawing around each panel of an existing romper we were lucky to inherit. I simply added a seam allowance around the outside of each panel as I went along. Then I tried to follow it's structure to make this one. Sometimes it's a little tricky to work out what order to sew things up in, but a spot of unpicking here and there never did anyone any harm did it?!?! ;)

I changed ups few things, for simplicity's sake! For example the original had button fastenings not the front, which I switched for simple tie straps - in fact I love the cute little ears on the knots at the top of each shoulder so I think that worked well! Also, the original had a single strap that split half way up the bag, which I simply switched for two separate ones going directly from the waistband. Again, don't think we've lost anything there.

Since we have no clue what sort of size our sprog will arrive at, I was paranoid about spending hours slaving over something that would never fit! I also have no clue whether the template romper was large/small for it's size, so I was generally pretty generous with my pattern adding a fair cm to the important spots to make sure it gets at least ONE wear!!! Figured it can always grow into it...

For comparison purposes here's a shot of them both side by side:

So there you have it, one gorgeous little romper that took me days to make but will most likely get puked on within moments of being worn! Haha. Guys that's just something I will have to get used to very quickly... :)

Monday, 22 August 2016

The Great British Seaside: Margate Photo Walk

What is there NOT to like about the Great British Seaside?! I LOVE everything about it. The wind, the rain, the plastic buckets and spades, the rock, the melting ice creams, the scampi and chips, the wind, the rain, the freezing cold water, the grey sand or pebble beaches, the wind, the rain, the deckchairs, etc. Okay, okay, so it takes a little getting used to! And those folk who haven't spent day of their childhoods huddling behind wind breaks on exposed open beaches, shivering as they eat ice cream filled with blown sand, or using trainers as buckets to get the water out of their tent, may not have a clue what I'm talking about! But for most British kids, trips to the Great British Seaside are a rite of passage, it's made us who we are and it's now in our blood!

Margate is a lovely little example of a quintessential Great British Seaside town. It's got a large sandy beach (a rarity!), a fun promenade, lots of little cafes and fish and chip shops. What's more it's got a particularly arty, retro vibe with the renovated Dreamland fairground area, a host of vintage stores and the Turner Gallery. All in, it makes a GREAT destination for a day-trip from London and that is exactly what we did.

I'd been meaning to visit Margate for YONKS, so when I spotted that Xanthe and Betty Magazine were hosting a photo walk in my number one destination seaside town, I leapt at the opportunity! (Well, not quite, my giant belly is hindering my leaping abilities these days). I dragged along my sister and we made a full day of it. I've written before about Xanthe's photo walks (see here!). They are great fun, a wonderful opportunity to meet like-minded folks and filled with experimentation, exploring and education.

Here are my five key must haves for a quintessential British day out at the seaside along with some of the wonderful colourful snaps I took during the photowalk:

1. Seaside Grub

Fresh fish and chips, tangy vinegary cockles and winkles, melting ice cream, rock sticks as hard as nails! There are so many treats that you simply MUST indulge in to make a trip to the seaside complete. We indulged in a shared newspaper full of fish and chips sat on the prom as soon as we arrived in Margate - you can't do a photowalk on an empty stomach! ;)

Later we also had a super delicious ice cream - mint choice chipped mango sorbet. Yum! But Margate had so much more on offer, and all worth sampling!

2. Paddling (or swimming for the very brave!) 

No trip to the seaside is complete without braving the water. Remarkable, when it's windy and rainy, the water actually feels relatively much warmer!! Luckily, on this trip we were blessed with sunshine so a paddle in the shallows was no hardship at all. Phew!

And embracing the grey murky water, just like these seagulls!

3. Sheltering from the wind (or rain, or sleet, or any other extreme weather events!)

British beaches are always littered with wind breaks and umbrellas. And not simply to keep our white bodies from burning as might initially be assumed. No, these perfofrm another very important function - they create a small space with respite from the whipping wind and blowing sand. Worthy of note is the fact that no matter how wind-tight your barriers, you will still find sand in every crevice, sarnie and ice cream to provide that added crunch!

4.  Plastic tat

In most homes these days (including ours for the time being), plastic tat is banished completely, or at the very least restricted to the play room! But I firmly believe that a day trip to the Great British Seaside demands that we push all these rules to one side. What about a plastic mini cricket set or a bright gaudy volley ball for games on the beach? A trip to the beach would not be complete without it...

5. Arcade Games

Most traditional is the cheap and garish 2p or 10p machines ubiquitous to every pier and promenade in the UK. My sister is a 2p machine fiend, always has been since a tender young age! Whenever we went to the beach as kids, Izzy would collect 2ps for days in advance and make a bee-line for the arcade machines as soon as humanly possible! Margate is a little bit more special as Dreamland actually has a vast collection of vintage games machines that are both fun AND look good!

Dreamland is a wonderful step back in time, it's an old pleasure park that is chockablock with vintage rides and games that have been restored and opened for the modern day seasiders! It's only a few hops from the beach and is a retro feast for all the senses, and as you can imagine, a treasure trove for a photowalk... :)

Whether it be Margate or any of our other wonderful seaside towns all around this British island, its still not quite the end of the summer holidays and this coming week is forecast to be an absolute steamer - so, grab your swimmers, jelly shoes and wind-breaks (just in case!) and get yourself and all your loved ones down to the Great British Seaside to celebrate our highly unpredictable but totally lovable British Summer in super style. 

If you know of any other British seaside towns that you think I'd love, let me know so I can add them to the list and try and squeeze in a few more visits before the summer's out!

Monday, 15 August 2016

Coming Soon!

So I've been keeping a little something under wraps on here for a while. But it's getting a bit real and a little tricky to hide, so I'm coming clean! We have a Mini Fantastic arriving to join the team very shortly!!

This gorgeous illustration from our wonderful niece has been up on our wall for months now, I love it! To clarify, yes that is Mr Fantastic on the right in a pink dress, pink stubble, red lipstick and rings on every finger! Brilliant. Our little niece is in the middle with the red bow in her hair. And I'm on the left with the flowery dress and a little baby growing inside - Our niece is convinced we're having a boy, I'm also convinced it's a boy (no particular basis for this!), but we'll have to wait and see for sure - it will be a surprise when it arrives! At least he looks happy to be growing inside me, and that makes me feel very grateful. 

In April, at four months when it looked as though I've had myself a very large lunch! :)

We've been a little hesitant to share the news very publicly so far, since it's been a little bit of a twisty road for us to get to this point. We barely believed it to being with, counting the days as we got through them. Then we felt like we were walking on eggshells for months, which was tense. But now with our little pocket rocket bashing around on an hourly basis and my growing bump getting hard to conceal, our anxieties have finally started to abate. I am now absolutely determined to enjoy the final few steps of this pregnancy journey and celebrate the changes in my body and the small life growing within, for it really is truly remarkable.

Back in Venice on our 'baby-moon' in May, at about four months and a bit and my tummy is starting to round, but is a little tucked away under that big wooly jumper!

Exploring Burano at the same time (about 4 months and a bit. Incredibly scientific with these dates!).

And most recently at 36 weeks in France with Mr Fantastic on a family holiday.

Each day we grow this little munchkin a bit more is incredibly special. We are savouring every day of our pregnancy, every wriggle and kick, every ache and pain and every huff and puff (sort of)!! But we're also eagerly awaiting it's arrival at the end of the summer. We've been so focussed on the pregnancy journey itself so far, parenthood has just seemed like a distant concept. But as we near our due date, this motherhood malarkey is starting to feel rather more real! I am a teensy bit apprehensive, but in reality so looking forward to this new chapter in our lives. We're both very ready to embrace all the changes in our lifestyle that this little arrival is going to mean and going through them together is going to be both wonderfully challenging and rewarding, all at the same time. Mini Fantastic, we are ready and waiting for you! xx

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The Knicker Elastic Wedding Movie

Right folks, this is an oldie, but oh my is it a GOODIE!!! And since this month marks our two year wedding anniversary (say whaaat?!), what a better time to share it with you all.

This isn't something I can take ANY credit for I'm afraid. My gem of a brother takes all the creative credit and put in all the hard work - huddled over his computer for days on end working his magic to get this ship-shape and ready for your viewing pleasure. But I can safely say, it was worth every second of heartache and squinty eyes Trys! 

This film was a complete surprise to Ben and I. Trystan wielded his camera a few times on our wedding day but little did we know he was capturing motion pictures and not just static photos!! In fact a fair few folks didn't catch on to this either - you'll spot many of us 'posing' for the video - with some rather entertaining results!! 

It doesn't need much introduction (other than a caveat that it is a little long - so we won't be offended if you skip through the odd bit here and there. Not to much of it mind!). So, without any further ado, here is our wonderful, precious wedding video:

Marian and Ben's Wedding - July 2014 from Marian Needham on Vimeo.

The biggest biggest hugs and all the thanks in the world to my little (but not so little) brother Trystan for making this magic happen. It still gets our ma's waterworks going. Every. Single. Time. And while that's not exactly hard, it's usually a clear sign you've hit the nail on the head! :) 

This is a video we will treasure for the rest of our lives, I still haven't tired of watching it over and over again. I hope you enjoy it even just a smidgin as much as we do. Sending out happy thoughts and love to everyone. (The film's clearly making me feel mushy too!! Haha) xx

Please note, credit for some of the stills in the video go to our wonderful wedding photographer Anushe Low. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Burano Colour Loving

Burano, what a DREAM you are! An insta lover's dream. A colour lover's dream. A rainbow lover's dream. A photographer's dream. A paradise hunter's dream. A truly magical island decked out in all the colours of the rainbow. If you don't already know it, it's an incredibly peaceful, sleepy, tiny island (apart from the tourist influx on the ferry each day!) set out in the bay of Venice a little further beyond Murano.

We too a ferry from Venice over to the Island for the day, to wander, explore, photograph and have fun!

Our favourite parts of the island were those where we stayed away from the touristy main street and ducked into narrow, empty back streets, quiet green squares and the waterfront all the way round the island. Streets with little more than the washing hanging out or the locals going about their simple daily business of watering the plants, posting a letter or catching up with the neighbours.

As an aside, how much would you love to have a doorbell with you name on it like the one above?! Adorable!

It's crazy to think of this as a permanent home for the island's small population. Seeing evidence of 'normal' life in a place like this really gets you thinking. Washing hanging on the line, delivery trolleys, Mac packaging! All a little incongruous in such a quaint chocolate box village!! What, this isn't just a movie set?!? REAL people live here and go about their lives each day?!? That's just so wonderful. 

The whole of Venice was a Mecca for selfie sticks and Burano was no exception! In fact, the prevalence was so high I'm surprised there aren't more accidents on the island - folks shuffling backwards in search of that perfect angle while staring longingly into the reflections of their own faces....until they end up plummeting backwards into a canal!! :p Now THAT'd something worth catching a selfie of! ;)

But on a few of the liveliest backdrops we couldn't help snap a shot or two of us both, in the old fashioned way!!

As I took this picture, the home owner suddenly popped out from behind her gorgeous striped curtain to throw a bowl full of breadcrumbs to the pigeons. She didn't seem to mind the fact that I had just been snapping away at her front door! But guess it comes with the territory of having such a cute front entrance! :) 

Needless to say, I snapped away along with the best of them. So here are a few of my favourite shots for your perusal.

THE most amazing platter of fritto misto ever for our lunch stop. Plus a bowl of delicious fresh tiny artichokes that were super tender and full of flavour. Mmmmm....

If you love colour and have not yet visited Burano. GET YOURSELVES A PLANE TICKET!! It's a sweet ferry hop from Venice over to the island. It's more famous big sister Murano is a popular stopping point too, but trust me, you won't be disappointed if you stay on the vaporetto for the extra hop out to the cuter, smaller sister island! Why are baby sisters always infuriating cuter and sweeter eh?! (Yes, I mean you Izzy!!!) ;)

So after such a thoroughly fun day out on Burano, I'm now on a hunt for other magical places to visit that are filled with colour, if you have any brainwaves I'd love to know!  

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

A Venetian Dream

Venice was A-MAZing!! We had an absolutely dreamy few days wandering the streets, and wandering and wandering... In fact, we racked up almost 20 thousand steps each and every day, phew! That's a serious work out for the pins right there. But all the better for guilt free gelati consumption afterwards! ;)

I have to confess - we didn't do MUCH culture. We popped our heads into a couple of churches and the ospidale, but rather than trawl around museums for hours we simply soaked up the atmosphere in the streets and canals - they felt steeped in history like he museums pretty much anyway! We sauntered from bacaro to bacaro, nibbling on cichetti, aperol spritz, snapping away, posing on bridges....all the usual! ;)

One cultural thing we DID do was visit the Peggy Guggenheim museum, which was fascinating! Her collection of art is incredible, really varied and fantastic. We had a few favourites each, but what I almost loved more than the artwork itself was the photos of her living amongst them. She had art all over her house, it was just how she lived, which I found incredible. She even had one of the pieces now in the gallery as her headboard above her bed!

We didn't even take a ride in a gondola :o I KNOW!! what sort of tourists do we call ourselves?! But I wasn't really up for that sort of cringeworthy ride at an extortionate price. I'd rather save those pennies for more pizza and gelati! (Anyone else noticing a theme here..?!) 

However we did get ourselves a day pass for the vaporetti on our last day and spent a lush afternoon zipping up and down the Grande Canale. And yes, we may have gone up and down it at least a few times!

On the last run (and when Mr Fantastic thought we were all done) a sudden crack appeared in the clouds and the sun streamed through creating the most gorgeous evening 'magic hour' light. So I promptly dragged him back on the next water bus and started snapping away like mad! The glorious light only lasted a mere 10mins or so, but I swear I nearly filled up our memory card in that time! ;) 

Other than this flurry of excitement we mostly wandered and explored in a bit of a dreamy haze. The almost constant drizzle (I thought only good old Blighty did drizzle so well!) couldn't dampen our spirits and each day we armed ourselves with boots and brollies and braved whatever the Agean sea's weather system threw at us! 

The warm muted colours of Italy are my absolute favourite and went so beautifully with the turquoise of the canals. It's almost like someone planned it! It was magical to discover yet another beautiful vignette around each corner, even though we did find ourselves as a fair few (incredibly quaint) dead ends!!

Last but not least...

Yes, the gelati!! *swoon* It was all absolutely delicious! I think I pretty much had one a day and if it was getting close to the end of the day and I still hadn't got my daily fix, I'd start to get nervous!! That's normal right?! ;) 

A few more final shots of the sunshine on the canals, but I'll leave it there for now, this post is already getting sooo long!! Suffice to say, I fell in love with Venice all over again on this trip and I can't wait to go back again already!!!