Adventuring in Rochester | Ordinary Moments #31

Joe decided to take a few days off this week and my gosh did we all need it! I had so much work going on and also wanting to get Elsie’s bedroom all finished (blog post coming soon!) and a couple of blog deadlines all mounted up to one very stressed Mother. Suffice to say the first couple of days we spent lounging around, lego playing and getting things sorted in the house. I forget how messy the house is when the children are off school. I get used to having my own little routine and it staying relatively well kept during the week. That has all gone completely out of the window and I fee like we’re living in a complete pit.

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So we escaped the house for the day on Saturday and decided to go adventuring. We didn’t have much of a plan and didn’t really know where we were heading but we loaded up the car with coats and snacks and set off. I had mentioned to Joe I fancied going near the coast and he wanted to do something slightly educational so we settled on Rochester.

There isn’t a huge amount to do in Rochester but the Cathedral and Castle are both beautiful and it was lovely to just walk around the high street popping in and out the little shops and having a general nosey! We did go into the cathedral but it isn’t really somewhere the kids were fussed about and they were more than happy to run around the grounds of the castle that do anything remotely educational 😉

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We were lucky enough to be on the high street when Old School Samba set up camp and played to a very happy crowd all in aid of Demelza charity. The atmosphere was awesome and nothing beats that feeling when live music is so loud you can feel it pumping in your chest. I think Elsie enjoyed it too!!

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It was so lovely to spend the day together with no time restraints but of course it didn’t come without the usual stories to tell, like Elsie tipping an entire mug of hot chocolate over herself (white top and yellow jeans…) with no spare clothes to hand. Thank goodness it didn’t burn her and there are 600 charity shops on the high street so a quick rummage we picked up a pair of too-big-jeans for £2 and we were off on our way again!

Please note the brown stain all over her top in 95% of the pictures. I feel it just adds to the realism of our pictures…

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We had the most delicious crepes in Crepe & Co. and dodged the rain, we found a park and rolled down banks. We laughed, some cried, and we made memories. Here’s to our next spontaneous adventure!

Char x

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www.charlotterawlesphotography.co.uk

A failed Birthday photoshoot!

What I envisioned to be a beautiful Spring Birthday session a couple of weeks before her big day turned out to be a 10 minute stint at the back of our pre-school car park so I could tick it off my list for ‘3rd child will not miss out’ achievements.

It was quite chilly, we had literally 10 minutes to get her changed and get the photos done and I forgot her hair brush. It was rushed, hilarious and nothing how I wanted it to be. I also meant to do them in time to put them on my last blog post, Dear Elsie.

But as it goes, nothing in my life every goes according to plan so f*** it. Here they are. 😉

Char x

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Mothering | Ordinary Moments #9 & #10

I feel like blogging makes you think more about what you are doing as a Mother. I guess writing stuff down makes things seem more real than they are, and having an honest and open blog means I write about all the good stuff, and all the bad stuff too. I haven’t blogged properly in what feels like weeks because of several reasons. Mainly because I have been bed bound and super poorly, but also because I haven’t had anything to write about that seems significant that isn’t boring.

It’s Sunday. Its Mother’s Day, and the past couple of weeks has seen a massive decrease in parenting from me. It was horrendous. It was boring. It was quiet and very lonely. It made me realise how much of an impact they have on my day to day living. Even when they are at school and pre school, they are still ‘there’. Being off duty for a week made me aware of the fact that I am completely attached to them as they are to me. I need them, I need the routine and the laughs and tears. I need their smiles and their love. I need their tantrums and their boldness. I need all of it to feel like me.

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I focus so much on not wanting to look ‘like a mum’. I don’t want my hair to be boring, I don’t want my outfits to reflect it. I want to look my age, I don’t want to look my age. I want to feel like a mid twenties woman. But actually, that isn’t who I am. Who I am is a mother of 3 who depends solely on the comfort of my children and husband, who loves the struggles and craziness of life. Who would do anything to hear that heart melting giggle from her son, who would bottle up this moment in her life if she could.

Mothering Sunday is not only about treating your own Mother, or remembering those who can’t be with us, but also about appreciating ourselves. Giving ourselves a pat on the back because we did it! We have survived the really awful downs, and we celebrate the highs. We didn’t fall apart when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, we didn’t lose our crap at 3am when all we wanted to do was sleep. We made it. High five Mummy’s!

Char x

These photos were taken at Bodiam Castle this morning, such a beautiful place right on our doorstep.

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My Top Photography Tips for Mums!

Having been in control of a camera for a good 5 years now, I think it is safe to say I have some pretty sound knowledge on the dos and don’ts of photographing children. I have run a successful photography business for just over 3 years and I don’t travel without a camera in my hand! One of my aims when starting blogging again was to offer advice to other Mums who are either amateur photographers or just want to gain a bit more knowledge and control of their camera! I could explain so much more with each of these points but I wanted to keep things easy to understand and not ramble on too much.

So here are my top tips for Mums when photographing your kiddies!

Consider your background

Before taking a photograph, have a look at your surroundings. Is there a horizon? Is it too ‘busy’ for the image you have in mind? Is your subject going to stand out? All of these things, and more, ideally need to be in the forefront of your mind when taking a photograph. You want your subject to be the main focus of your image so consider what’s around your subject too! If it’s busy, make sure you have a wide aperture so your subject is in focus and everything around behind them is blurred. If there is a horizon, make sure it’s straight! There is always an answer to every query.

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Point Of View

On many occasions I have seen what could be a really beautiful photograph with one thing holding it back – the point of view from which the photo was taken. So when photographing your children, get down to their level! You will be amazed at the difference this makes. This tip goes for anything you photograph, consider the angle from which you are taking it. Obviously in some cases, from up high is great looking down. Capturing those big eyes or long lashes. Get creative!

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Don’t say cheese!

I have definitely learnt this the hard way. Photographing lots of children of all ages, this is the one thing I say to all parents who step into my studio or I meet on location. “Please don’t tell them to say cheese!” I even have a print on my studio wall that says it! Just as an example of what saying cheese does. I feel my children have mastered this perfectly!!

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So instead of cheese, depending on how old the children are, I either shout rude words (boobies, mainly. Although depending on the client, I may just shout poo!!) or tell them not to smile. This usually sets them into complete giggles. I’m not sure about your children, but mine do the complete opposite to what I say. “Guys, please don’t smile. I  will be really annoyed if you smile at the camera right now…”

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Ta-daa! A proper smile and it says so much more!

Don’t stress

This is probably the most important of all! Again, I have definitely learnt this through experience and I am the first one to hold my hands up and say I have become sooo stressed when trying to get that perfect shot. Over time I have come to realise that those perfect shots are the unplanned and relaxed ones. Let them play, let them goof around and sit back and relax. If you have a zoom function, even better! You can watch from afar and capture them when they’re least expecting it. Win, win!

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Keep all your pictures!

Quite often we get carried away with pointing, clicking, flicking and deleting. Don’t do it! In this technology fuelled era we are in, we can get so wrapped up in just pointing and shooting, then flicking through and deleting a load of images as it is just so easy to do on digital cameras. You’ll be surprised what you can miss on a little screen and you could have captured a cheeky expression that you discover on a bigger screen. You can always delete them once they are your laptop or PC. Invest in a large memory card and get snap happy! My husband is the worst at this and deletes so many on camera! Joe, listen up, I demand you to stop!

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Now things are getting technical…

If you have a DSLR or a camera that allows you to change the settings of ISO and the aperture then super! If you are unsure on what either of these are i’ll give you a little breakdown (Will try not to make it too complicated. It took me ages to get my head around this so read it a good few times and don’t be disappointed if you just don’t get it yet).

ISO

ISO. This is the cameras sensitivity to light. The lower the ISO number, the less sensitive it is to light and the higher the ISO, the more sensitive. The higher your ISO, the grainier / noisier your images will be so you want to try and use as low an ISO as you can. If you don’t feel comfortable switching to manual or fiddling with your settings too much, then keep your ISO on auto and your camera will adjust this according to the light.

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Aperture

This is the size of the hole in your lens that allows light in. Imagine you are looking through a tube. If you have a tiny hole, you can’t see as much and not much light is coming through. Make that tube super wide, you are seeing more and letting in a whole load more light. That is essentially what aperture does. The wider the aperture (smaller number), the more light it gathers and the narrower the aperture (higher number), the less light it gathers.

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So for those beautiful bokeh blurry background shots you have been after, you need a wide aperture (roughly 2.8 is the ‘perfect’ portrait aperture). If you don’t want to use manual, on most cameras you can set your mode to aperture priority, allowing you to change the aperture and the camera will sort the rest out for you. Wahoo for technology!

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I am more than happy to go into these points more, if you would like to know any more then just drop me an email or comment below! I was thinking of doing a post on the equipment I use with perhaps ‘What not to buy!’ as well? If you would be interested then please let me know and I can start writing some more posts!

Hope you found this interesting and learnt a bit more about your camera and how to photograph your little munchkins!

Char x

Knole Park | Ordinary Moments #8

Sunday seems to creep around quite quickly when blogging our Ordinary Moments. I forget that by the time we have finished our week of school, we only have a day to get some snaps done! We were so looking forward to a week off and a week of videoing… for a family who spends most of their time outdoors, being ill over half term has sucked.

I won’t go on about it too much, but it really has wiped us out this week and I am completely over it! With not a lot of sleep between us all and a LOT of tissues being used, we are just about ready to call it a day.

With being ill comes a lot of chilling out. And I guess chilling out can’t be all bad when every child is willing to do so. Yes, we were looking forward to lots of plans this half term and no, we didn’t do a single one of those things. But we did cuddle to our hearts content. Silver linings? I think so.

On Friday Joe had planned to take the day off and we were starting to feel slightly more human so we headed out to Knole Park in Sevenoaks. It is a National Trust property about 45 minutes from home, the sun was shining and we were all pretty excited to see some Deer. We had spoken about renewing our National Trust membership for a while now, so when we arrived we took the plunge and for £104 for a family of 5 you can’t really complain. We have so many beautiful NT places nearby and we often travel around the UK during the summer too so we will no doubt make great use of our membership throughout the year.

Knole Park did not disappoint. Just as we were driving down the most beautiful entrance road into the estate grounds, we were greeted with a big herd of deer who were just grazing through the grounds. Perfect!

We took a short walk around the grounds but took quite some time due to little legs and lots to climb and explore, meeting many deer along the way. It really is quite special when you come face to face with such a beautiful, wild, creature in its own habitat. The kids absolutely loved it and you could tell they knew it was pretty special too.

We will most definitely be going back in the summer with a picnic and the cafe will be opening from Easter so of course we will have to try out some NT cakes 😉

Here are some snaps from our most extra-ordinary moments this week.
(See what I did there…?!)

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We also videoed our day at Knole Park –

And if you subscribe.. (PLEASE!!?) You can see a few more of our weekly videos too! We are going to start videoing the odd weekend here and there too over this year.

Char x

my petit canard

Negative Space

I recently decided to take up a little photography project with myself. I wrote a list of ‘topics’ I wanted to focus on that week or month and the first one was Black and White. You can see these here.

Next up is negative space. I was really excited to do this one and wanted to do it last week but I wasn’t feeling 100%, I wanted to do it properly so waited until this week to start it. I had a few images in mind when I thought of this topic (the feet on the bed being one!) So we have spent a few days taking these and I am so pleased with how they came out. You can’t beat little toes on white sheets, even though the white sheets need an iron!!

Negative space is literally the space around a subject. It defines the subject and technically, brings balance to the composition. I obviously am a complete rule breaker, so I have gone a bit OTT on the negative space but hey, why not!?

Me and Elsie did a few at home whilst the boys were at school and then on our walk last weekend I took a few of the boys. I wanted to get some blue sky involved in this theme and that is exactly what I envisioned when I set this project but February weather was not on my side. Maybe i’ll go back to it in a few weeks when Spring kicks in. Hence my featured image at the top, I had to sneak in some summer somewhere!

I have also noticed how colourless our photos are lately. I am a complete black lover and do wear a lot of black, and I do put the kids in navy and grey quite a lot but note to self : must make next challenge more colourful!

Hope you like them!

Char x

www.charlotterawlesphotography.co.uk

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Mark Warner Holiday’s Family Ambassador

I am the only one out of all of my friends who blogs. So when I get asked why I blog, I say to record our lives for the children to look back on. When I started blogging it was purely to document the children and to expand my knowledge of photography. In 5 years (my old blog is here) it has gone from documenting day to day life and rambling about pregnany, to blogging for myself too. I think it is so important when you have children to do something for yourself. You can so easily get swallowed up by school, homework, the PTFA, cleaning and cooking dinner.

One of my goals this year was to travel more, be it in the UK or abroad and I have been so excited that we can document all our travels right here, on the blog! A platform that will stay live forever, that the children can read back when they are old enough and for family to browse who enjoy regular snaps of us!

So when I saw Mark Warner were looking for ambassador’s, I just had to jump aboard. Especially considering one of the topics of blogging is a Fab Photographer. I think we fit into the category quite well 😉

 So they are asking, “What makes a perfect holiday?” For us, it has many aspects…

Escaping.

There is something quite spectacular about arriving at the airport, bags packed and passports in hand, knowing you won’t be in the country for a few days. It is like stepping into Narnia but you know whats on the other side. You feel the knots in your stomach that consist of excitement and nerves. Wondering what you have forgotten and last minute dashing through duty free for insect repellant and sunnies. Ohhh that is just one heck of a feeling! I thrive on thrills, I am a complete adrenaline junkie so the feeling you’re escaping is just complete heaven for me!

Family.

Whilst family time at home is so special, family time on holiday is in another league. When I am home, and I am sure it is the same for so many others, as much as I try and switch off, I can’t. I can be playing lego with the boys or dancing around the kitchen with Elsie but in the back of my mind I know I have to get the dinner on or clean the bathroom. Family time on holiday is pure, uninterrupted and completely unique.

Sun.

I don’t need to say any more, do I?!

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Staying Active.

Whilst I love nothing more than sitting by the pool, when you have 3 children there isn’t so much of that going on. When we travel, rarely do we have chilled out days. All 3 of our children are super active and love being outdoors. Be it in the rain, in the snow or in the beautiful sunshine, we are outside! When planning a holiday we always search for the local activities and day trips we can be doing. These are the days the children will remember, and the days I always remember when thinking about my own childhood holidays! Kids club is also a great way for the children to stay active, with so many resorts offering this an an option its hard not to take it up for just 1 or 2 days at least! Giving you some chilled out time and the kids some time to socialise and explore!

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All of which make up for a pretty memorable adventure! Wherever you go, a holiday is something to treasure and capture.

It is only fit I now share some of my favourite holiday snaps! And our last camping trip that we vlogged over on my youtube page here!

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And our latest vlog!

Thank you for reading!

Char

January Favourites

The good thing about January is that you get to have a real good play with all the new things you received for Christmas. I got a few bits and bobs worth rambling about and also I bought a couple of bits with money I was given too. I have a rather long wish list of make up that I am hopefully going to slowly work my way through this year from palettes to lipsticks, different brands of skin care to hair products that will all hopefully add to this years Favourites posts!

So first up..

Make up

Revlon Colorstay Ultimate Suede Lipstick.

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I am completely and utterly obsessed. When I think of Revlon, I think highstreet brand, quite low budget and pretty average for a make up brand. Well, how wrong was I after discovering this little gem! I really struggle with dry lips, especially in the winter, so a highly pigmented lipstick always leaks into my skin and out of the lip. Even with a heavy lip liner it still seeps out and I look like a friggin’ spider web. Well, say goodbye to leaking lippys and hello to beautifully soft suede lippy that STAYS. PUT.

It is highly pigmented meaning you rarely need to re apply, you can drink coffee with no stain on your mug and kiss the kids without transferring plum coloured marks on their cheeks! I honestly cannot rave enough about this lipstick. I have this in 3 different colours and will definitely be getting a couple more neutrals for the spring!

The only downside I have with it is it’s super hard to get off so if you suffer with sore lips and then have to really scrub them to get it off, you’re going to have sensitive lips for a while. But hey, if it was easy to get off I wouldn’t be raving so much about it, so i’m completely contradicting myself!

Boots / £8.99

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Next up is Clarins Lip Comfort Oil

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As I have said, I do suffer with dry skin and lips in the winter so I am always on the hunt for a good balm. I saw Zoella put this on her 2015 favourites video and thought it was worth a try. I am not a fan of oil on my skin but I heard it wasn’t ‘that’ oily or sticky and as Clarins is such a highly rated brand, I bought some at the beginning of January.

It does have a slight sticky feel when you first put it on, but that soon goes and your lips looks glossy and soft within minutes. I also am not a fan of a gloss and would always opt for a matte finish but for around the house, and also a few minutes before I apply my lipstick, it gives a really great base and makes them stay super soft for much longer. The applicator is so soft and it really does feel beautiful when you apply it. I would highly recommend this if you suffer with chapped lips or just want a softer, glossier lip look!

Debenhams / £18

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Home

I got quite a few bits for our house for Christmas and it has been so lovely adding more little bits to our lounge.

Rose Gold Lamp

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I got this with some Christmas money from my Mother in Law, I have wanted a lamp in the lounge since we re decorated last year but haven’t quite found the right one. I always lean towards a more ‘urban’ and ‘industrial’ interior designs and when I imagine our own house that we will build one day (ha!) I imagine all the pipes on display in the kitchen, with the brick walls showing and huge mason jar lights hanging from a plank of wood over our table with benches. So when I saw this rose gold lamp on Homebase’s website, I had to buy it. Although not as urban as I would have in my dream house, it looks perfect in the corner of our not too urban house now. I didn’t think it would be as pinky copper as it is but actually, I really quite like it!

It doesn’t seem to be on their website anymore so unfortunately I can’t link.

Valenette Soy Wax candle & Reed Diffuser

Scent – Patchouli & eucalyptus

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My mum bought me this set for Christmas and I can’t stop sniffing it. We have the reed diffuser in the downstairs bathroom and the candle in the lounge. I worry so much our house smells of dog that candles have become quite the essential accessory downstairs. My friends reassure me it doesn’t but best to be on the safe side 😉

I have burnt this candle A LOT this month and it still has quite a lot of life left in it. The whole room smells beautiful within minutes of lighting it and it looks so classic on your mantelpiece. The reed diffuser lasts for a minimum of 4 months, which is amazing compared to general supermarket diffusers and the scent isn’t too powerful either. Its a really beautiful set to give someone for their birthday, it is packaged in tissue paper, ribbon and a signature box. It doesn’t even need wrapping! I’d love to try out some other scents too, the lavender in particular has definitely caught my eye!

Valentte Online / Candle £12 Reed Diffuser £24

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Toadstool Art

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I have a bit of a soft spot for toadstools. From my change bag when Elsie was small, to a large majority of our Christmas decs, to my favourite teapot. Actually, thinking about it, i’m a bit toadstool mad. So when I saw a couple of paintings in my mother in laws kitchen I got a bit excited. One of her good friends is a dab hand with a paint brush and painted her a couple of pictures, upon my squealing over them, she then painted one for us too. I absolutely adore it and knowing someone has hand painted it so beautifully, with such eye for detail and care, really is quite special. I put it in a little IKEA frame and hung it on the wall in one of my favourite parts of our house and I smile every single time I look at it. I. Love. It.

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Fashion

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I haven’t bought much in the way of clothing lately (I am on a spending ban. Hmph.) I got this cape from my Mum for Christmas, and I love it. I had been eyeing it up in Sainsburys for ages but couldn’t really justify it as I didn’t need it. I thought they had sold out when I told her about it but she found one, in my size, on the end of an aisle! Quite clearly fate and it was meant to be mine!

Teamed perfectly with skinnies and heeled boots for a smarter look or with jeans and flats for a more casual, mum on the school run look – it goes with everything!

I love that it has a hood and the toggles complete the classic cape look. I wear a lot of roll necks in the winter and a black roll neck looks so chic underneath. If you haven’t got a cape this winter, I urge you to buy one! Jazzing up every outfit and they are so warm and cozy!

I can’t find it online but there are so many around so keep an eye out!

(apologies for not taking a full length photo of the cape, I have a cold and feeling like death warmed up so wasn’t really up for photos!!)

Random Bits

A few random bits I have been loving in January.

Ellie Goulding’s new album. Suuch a good driving album and I’m loving this new sound she is swaying towards. Quite an upbeat album but also still emotional and meaningful. I have loved all of her albums so I was so pleased her latest was another good’n!

Amazon / £9.79

Tea Pigs everyday brew.

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I am a huge tea lover. My morning is not complete without a mug of hot tea and coffee just doesn’t cut the mustard for me at 7am. When we discovered (we as in, my whole family who are now completely obsessed.) this tea we were all a bit over excited by it. All being huge tea drinkers, and usually sticking with our trusty Twinings, we were all surprised and equally merry at Tea Pigs tea!

It has an eeeever so slight flowery taste, and for someone who doesn’t like early grey, it is super tasty. I also love that it doesn’t over brew. I couldn’t tell you how many times I pour in hot water and leave it to brew for 20 minutes because I have started another job and completely forgotten about it. Quite often it is then undrinkable and no amount of re heating in the microwave will make it enjoyable. Tea Pigs doesn’t over brew! Marvellous!! It is the pricier end of tea, but it is so worth it and especially if you save it for special occasions. I.e. Every morning.

Tea Pigs online / £3.99 for 15 tea bags

Instax Mini 8

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I have been eyeing these up for a while and to my surprise the Husband bought me one for Christmas. There is something quite cool about taking a photo and instantly holding it in your hands. This polaroid camera is so easy to use, and looks so cute on the coffee table too. The kids love waving it around waiting for the picture to develop and it is so lovely putting up pictures on the wall right away. My sister in law got us this photo wire which is magnetic and we have stuck all our favourite polaroids onto it in the porch. I love the retro feel it gives and we have put it in the porch so there is no missing it!

It is such a lovely gift to give that special someone and I guarantee everyone will find this little camera fun!

Amazon / £72.00 (reduced at the moment!)

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That is all of my favourites for January! Quite a lengthy post but it has been so lovely and made January that bit more bearable for sure. I am looking forward to trying out a couple of new bits in February and with any luck, we can wear one less layer soon!!

Char x