Wednesday, 27 April 2011

My top five Buenos Aires shops

I just found out that my insider BA shopping tips for Project Mag stretch to five pages, not just the one, so here are my recommendations in full.

My top three boys

Ollie, Seth and Bo, taken yesterday, on our 8th wedding anniversary.

Two performing monkeys (unedited)

Sethie and Bo dancing to Argentine Candombe by Magdalena Fleitas.

Bo too distracted by a passing train to perfom his signature 'Te quiero - MUCHO (mocos)'.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

At home

A vision of my boys as teenagers, slobbed out on the sofa, waiting for me to bring them food

...and Seth and a mate sunbathing on the roof of our car

Balches on wheels

Accustomed to taking buses and taxis all the time in Buenos Aires I was a bit lost in Coggeshall, until I was loaned this bike with a cart for the boys (thanks Alex!!).

While I pedal up the hill with 28 kilos of kids behind me, Ollie whizzes by on the white racer he had as a teenager.

 This weekend I had a younger passenger, Sethie and Bo's Balchie cousin, Roofrack, who I'd swap for Seth in a flash. That hill was a breeze with a breeze with 10 kilos less in the back.

Village circus

Yorkshire blood....running for a bargain

Bo captures the mood...

Seth at Waterside

Balch family friends, the Willis', have kindly given Ollie a room at their home in Coggeshall. Alan, an architect, designed the house. Although modern, in a village known for it's ancient, painted houses, I like the scale of it, the high gables, the glass rooms overlooking the sprawling, gardens. Sethie and I popped down there this week to say hi to Papa, and we took a stroll down to the brook to see the bluebells and ducks. 

Interailing test run p.s.

The St Pancras to Stratford shuttle was less appealing on the return journey at 11pm... but we're still on. Afterall, he overnight from Venice to Budapest must be more luxurious than Indian trains, and we managed that with a four month old, a six month old and a two year old (not at the same time).

Wiggly wormery

Salts Mill at Saltaire

There is plenty of natural beauty in Yorkshire, the Dales, the Moors, the Pennines, but personally I also love the Victorian industrial era architecture. Many of old wool textile mills have been turned into luxury apartments, but I also find the rows of Yorkshire stone terrace houses charming.

 Saltaire, over the hills from Leeds, towards Bradford, is a model Victorian village, built by Sir Titus Salt, for the workers in his mills. Running alongside the River Aire and the Leeds Liverpool Canal, it's a beautiful setting, nestled in the hills.
Salts Mill closed its doors as a working mill in the eighties and is now home to a David Hockney gallery (he grew up nearby) and various shops, businesses and restaurants. Here's the official site: Salts Mill

I just love it there, and try to pop in whenever I'm back. It was so pretty at this time of year.Here's Bo enjoying the spring flowers just before he cracked his forehead chasing Seth around the Victorian bandstand if front of Sir Titus' statue.


Dad takes five of his seven grandsons out exploring. He seems to have lost Theo, but is just about hanging onto Seth.

Seth before he discovers there are cooler birds than me out there...

 Spotted one!
Harry showing Sethie and Bo their secret den on the path behind their cottage. The Oakes (where my brother-in-law works, and where they live) is such a idyllic AND really fun place to grow up.We love visiting them there.

To Temple Newsam


We usually spend our visits back to Yorkshire in the Dales. It's so pretty up there, and just 10 minutes from Mum and Dad's and we're in the rolling green hills with the characteristic dry stone walls. This time though, I asked to go to Temple Newsam, a place I hadn't been to for years, but the vast (1500 acres) grounds are great for kids, and I'd read about the house recently in a design magazine. I remember being dragged around the Tudor-Jacobean mansion as a child, and had no great desire to go back, but in the article I learned that Zoffany, whose wallpaper and fabric I have used, Damask range is inspired by the original wallpapers from Temple Newsam. I inquired about this at the house and disappointingly the staff had no idea what I was talking about and had never heard of Zoffany.

The grounds really are wonderful, especially considering they're two miles from the centre of Britain's third largest city, and offer public green space to kids in the neighbouring deprived areas who would otherwise know nothing but bleak urban sprawl. Seth, Bo and three of their cousins ran all day up and down the steps of the ampitheatre, chasing each other through the rhododenrun bushes and charging under laden blossom trees, chatted with the Billy Goats and found a empty river bed to roll down. I'm sure it was not what Capability Brown had in mind when he designed the gardens, but they had a fantastic time.

A crowd, a host, of golden daffodils

Cambridge in spring

A day in Cambridge with Ollie, his Dad, Ricardo, Sethie and Bo. Me and five lovely boys on the first hot day of Spring. The avenue of trees lined with tulips, daffodils and blossom at Trinity College was spectacular.