The wonderful Stevie at Serenity by Stevie offers womb and fertility massage therapy and says:
Whatever chapter of life you’re navigating I want to help and support you.
Womb and fertility massage therapy can help you;
Prepare your body physically and emotionally for IVF treatment
Offer menopause relief
Improve IBS and digestive issues
Support C- section scar healing recovery
Support you physically, emotionally and spiritually after baby loss
Assist you at any stage of your fertility journey
Relieve heavy and painful periods
Offer relief for endometriosis and fibroids
Assist with improving egg health
Break down scar tissue that can cause blockages in the fallopian tubes
Clear internal congestion caused by inflammation and cysts
If you’re looking for an alternative more holistic approach then please contact me via email or
I can’t wait to meet you and start your healing journey.
Parenthood is such a wonderful time of our lives, isn’t it? But it can be a hard transition and it definitely isn’t always rainbows and sunshine! As a mother myself, I completely get it.
With all of the beautiful highs and the crazy lows, come milestones. Our babies change, develop and change so rapidly and before we know it they’re doing their own thing and aren’t up for lots of snuggles like they used to.
A brilliant way to remember such a special time in your family life is to capture those details on camera for you always to look back on!
So, as a Kent photographer, who also covers London, Essex and Surrey borders, I am going to tell you the baby milestones to capture in my photography studio in Kent.
Milestones We Capture in My Photography Studio in Kent
The moment you always dreamt of…being pregnant!
Pregnancy is such a wild time in our life – our body changes to support our baby who is growing and living inside of us, and our emotions are everywhere! But, it is such a magical experience and feeling that we just can’t explain.
I have added this as a milestone because this is the first step to motherhood and celebrating our baby, as well as how our body has changed! Although it is hard to feel beautiful at times when we are pregnant we have to remember that we are so powerful and are the home keeping our little one safe and healthy.
In my photography studio in Kent, women come in feeling empowered, safe and welcomed knowing they are about to capture incredible memories that they will appreciate looking back on. Remembering how it all started and getting to show our children as they grow such a wonderful time in our life and the beginning of theirs.
The moment your little one enters the world is the most overwhelming and incredible moment in your life. You’re in the purest newborn bubble and you don’t want it to pop!
Although it can be a hard transition, understandably it is also so beautiful and it is a moment that quickly passes. So, capturing how tiny their fingers and toes are, their sleepy milk-drunk faces, their pouty lips and their unique features on camera is something I do with care, and in detail in my photography studio in Kent.
If you’re looking for newborn photography in Kent or in surrounding areas then I’d love to enter your bubble with the intention of capturing beautiful pieces of wall art for your home, or for you to have a luxury album full of special memories.
These sessions are so lovely and usually done between the ages of 6-8 months – a milestone they have hit is when they hold themselves up without any support! Now this is an emotional one knowing they are becoming independent.
In my photography studio in Kent, your little one will feel comfortable in my cosy space and as they ease into the session we will capture different poses and adorable smiles, giggles and big eyes!
Remembering the time in their life when they sat up for the first time and how emotional it made you feel knowing they are growing up to be strong and independent – you can look back at these photos and it will be a reminder of their development.
Cake Smash Session
A cake smash session to celebrate the first year of your baby’s life is so much fun!
It is fun for your little one as they can get as messy as they like with no disruptions in my photography studio in Kent, whilst eating a delicious cake and it is fun for you to have photos of this moment!
At this age they have grown up so much, their facial features are changing and they are developing an even stronger personality of their own. The facial expressions they pull during these sessions are one’s that make you swoon and giggle – so having them to share with family and for you to simply look back on is something you’ll never regret.
The first year of your little one’s life is a huge milestone that is worth remembering and celebrating!
Ready to Capture Your Baby’s Milestones?
Now you know the baby milestones to capture in my photography studio in Kent, which one will you be inquiring about first? Let’s chat!
Don’t miss out on capturing the journey of your little one, because before you know it they will be starting their own families! As parents we are proud of every little achievement and the ones that happen at the start of their lives can often get forgotten.
As a mother myself of two, I know how fast time goes and soaking in every moment is important and that is why I love connecting with other parents in the same boat.
Being pregnant is one of the most beautiful times in your life – the time you dreamt of for so long and the start of your family life. But with the highs, also come lows, right?
Your body is growing and changing in all sorts of ways, to ensure your baby grows to be healthy and strong, but those changes can be hard to process and deal with!
I get it, I have been pregnant with two of my kids and body positivity during pregnancy can come to an all-time low. But, we need to change our mindset around this and remember what our body is doing and we were made for this. We need to celebrate it.
An excellent way to celebrate your body and new family member is by capturing it on camera for you to look back on such a wonderful milestone in years to come!
So, as a maternity photographer in Kent, I am going to talk about maternity body positivity and tips for your maternity session.
5 Tips for Your Maternity Session
Choose a Comfortable Outfit
A great tip for your maternity session is to choose an outfit that you like and will feel at ease wearing. This is a great place to start so that you feel comfortable during your maternity shoot.
The more comfortable you feel in what you’re wearing and the more confident the outfit makes you feel, the more self-love that will shine through – you’ll feel amazing!
I do have dresses, outfits and material to use throughout your sessions too, so please feel free to use any of these.
I strongly advise you to pamper yourself before the session because you deserve it.
Do something that will make you feel good about yourself, whether that is having your hair and makeup done, getting your nails done, going for a massage, or doing some meditation.
Remember, this session is all about you and celebrating your gorgeous bump and baby that is growing! The more at ease, you feel during your shoot after a good pamper, the better you will feel showing up in front of the camera.
A tip for your maternity session is to ensure the photographer you choose has safety precautions in place and is providing a comfortable space for you.
In my studio, I ensure that you walk in feeling like you’re at home, with the right lighting and ideal temperature. I will welcome you from the start and it will feel like we are friends!
You are safe in my presence, and I will ensure you feel confident in knowing how great you really look. As a mum myself, I love supporting other mums as I was once in your shoes.
Focus on Your Bump
If you feel awkward or anxious being in front of the camera then a tip for your maternity session is to focus on your baby bump, because let’s be real, they’re the star of the show!
As well as me guiding you, being your biggest cheerleader and friend, I will ensure you feel at ease in my photography studio in Kent, for the best results.
All you have to do is concentrate on your love and excitement for this baby, and your nerves will melt away – you will be in a bubble of joy and appreciation and it will show in the images.
Work That You Love
You need to be sure that you choose a maternity photographer whose work you absolutely love! Checking out their style and set-up is a good start.
For example, in my studio, I use real flowers. I get these flowers either from my allotment or garden and sometimes from the florist depending on the season – this ensures to add a lovely touch to your images.
As well as the style of their work, you must ensure you connect with the photographer – connecting with someone who has been on a similar journey to you, shares the same values and someone you can truly get along with is key to a smooth running shoot.
I uplift my clients and help them feel confident because let me tell you now, every unique pregnant body is beautiful – you’re literally growing a human and giving them life – what is more incredible than that?
Ready to book your Maternity Session
Now I have spoken about maternity body positivity and tips for your maternity session, I hope you are feeling ready to capture the memories you and your baby deserve to look back on in many years to come!
Celebrate yourself and what your body is creating, and be proud of that! If you’re ready to enquire about your shoot then let’s chat.
Welcome to the Whimsical World of Newborn Photography
As a specialist in newborn photography based in Sidcup, Bexley, Kent, I have the privilege of witnessing the incredible journey of parents and their precious bundles of joy. The first few days with a newborn are an enchanting time filled with joy, tenderness, sleep deprivation and magical moments. In this blog post, I invite you to join me as we explore the magical world of newborn photography and discover the unique journey of parenthood.
Capturing Fleeting Moments that Change and Disappear
A Newborn's Fleeting Nature:
Newborns have an extraordinary ability to change and grow in the blink of an eye. Their tiny fingers and toes, the soft tufts of hair, and the serene expressions are snapshot moments that deserve to be cherished forever, before you know it your tiny baby will be crawling away, climbing and exploring, eating and maternity leave will be over.
As a newborn photography specialist, I am dedicated to preserving these fleeting moments and creating timeless artworks that capture the essence of your little one.
The Power of Photography:
Photography allows us to freeze time and preserve memories that otherwise might fade away within the sleepless nights and endless nappy changes. Each photograph tells a story, a beautiful narrative of your journey as a parent. The gentle embrace, the adoring gaze, and the delicate connection between you and your newborn are captured in the form of parent portraits, with love and care, creating memories that will be treasured for generations.
The Uniqueness of the Parent's Journey and Baby
Every Parent's Journey:
Becoming a parent is a transformative experience, filled with an overwhelming mix of emotions. The excitement, the sleepless nights, the moments of doubt, and the deep-rooted love are all part of this incredible journey. Through my lens, I aim to capture the unique essence of your parenting experience, preserving the profound bond between you and your baby.
The Beauty of Each Baby:
Every baby is a masterpiece, unique in their own way. From their delicate features to their adorable quirks, each little one has their own story to tell. As a newborn specialist, I understand the importance of highlighting the individuality of your baby. With a combination of artistry and technical expertise, I create images that celebrate your baby's personality, creating a lasting tribute to their early days - portraits of their sleepy yawns, inquisitive eyes, windy smiles to set ups capturing your new baby amongst seasonal florals.
My Experience as a Newborn Specialist
Expertise in Newborn Photography:
With more than 10 years of experience and a passion for newborn photography, I have honed my skills in creating timeless and enchanting images. My cosy studio in Sidcup provides a warm and comfortable environment, ensuring both you and your newborn feel at ease throughout the session. From the delicate posing to the gentle lighting, every detail is carefully crafted to bring out the innate beauty of your baby.
A Gentle Approach:
Safety and comfort are my utmost priorities during newborn photography sessions. I understand the fragility of newborns and take great care in handling and posing them. With a gentle touch and a calm demeanour, your little one will be able to relax and sleep peacefully while I capture their beauty.
Preserving the Magic for a Lifetime
Creating Timeless Artworks:
Each photograph is meticulously edited to enhance the softness, warmth, and ethereal quality that defines newborn imagery. Through careful post-processing, I transform these captured moments into timeless artworks that will be treasured for years to come. From delicate black and white portraits to vibrant colour images, the final collection is a reflection of the love and joy surrounding your newborn.
Cherish the Memories with Clare Long Photography
Are you expecting a little one or know someone who is? Take a moment to reach out to me and discuss your vision for a bespoke newborn photography session. Let's create a collection of photographs that will transport you back to those magical first few days with your baby. Contact me today and let's capture on this unforgettable journey.
I love a good pancake - thick, fluffy American style or thin crepes, sweet or savoury…The kids love pancake day, any opportunity to spread Nutella on every meal!
I have put together a few links for you, save you goggling!
Savoury and great for the kids:
Choc Chip Pancakes:
I am going to try these this year!
A few of these links are from the Annabelle Karmel website, she has lots of great information about weaning - which maybe a great read for some of the little ones I photographed over the summer that are hitting 6months!
In December I received the brilliant news that I had 6 images in the finals of 2 categories for The Guild of Photographer’s Image of the Year - Baby and Toddler and Newborn photography.
The Guild’s 2022 awards ceremony was held on 4th February 2023 in Stoke-on-Trent - the evening celebrates the success of photographer’s from not just around the UK, but internationally also, across a wide variety of genres.
The Image of the Year in the different categories kicked off the evening for me - The judges had chosen their 10 favourite stand alone images in each categories back in December and at the awards they announced the runner up and winning image.
Not only did one of my favourite images of the year win runner up in the Baby and Toddler category, but one of my newborn images also came runner up in the Newborn category.
The image of Amaya (left) was a follow on from a photograph from her newborn session - during lockdown I had to temporarily close my business, like parents up and down the country I had to homeschool my daughter and we ended up spending a lot of time at our allotment. The allotment became such a joyful break from the world around us - and whilst I could not grow my business, I could grow food and flowers. This lead to me commissioning my greenhouse prop and creating the images that combined both my favourite things. This has continued to develop my use of florals which has grown and become more refined. More recently I have been exploring the meanings of flowers and plants along side my newborn imagery. The newborn image of Aarika shows her sleeping, surrounded by shasta daisies - which mean: 'happiness', 'cheerfulness', 'friendship' and 'wholeness'.
During the past year I have been submitting images regularly, pushing myself to create beautiful photographs for my clients, and, with their permission, entering them into competition. For me this is a good way to obtain feedback from internationally recognised judges and find ways to improve the standard of my work.
In doing so I was creating a body of work that on Saturday night gained me the title of Newborn Photographer of the Year 2022 and Photographer of the Year 2022.
I can honestly say that my jaw dropped when my name was called!
My goal is always to create the best possible for my clients, this will always be my aim - but to win a national title whilst doing this is just mind blowing to me.
The images from 2022 - all of which obtained a bronze or high award.
I am so excited to see what 2023 brings, I want to continue to develop my work with flowers, but most of all, I want to capture your precious babies and freeze time for you so you can remember always how teeny they once were.
Local Postnatal Doula and Yoga teacher Natalie about the benefits of yoga in pregnancy.
Prenatal Yoga is a beautiful practice of self-care, offering many benefits
for yourself, as well as your growing baby. It is an excellent way to
prepare the mind, body and spirit for the many transitions you will
experience during your pregnancy, labour and childbirth as well as the
wonderful transition of being born into a Mother. Classes offer
invaluable support, breathing techniques, modified poses, specifically
for the pregnant body, which can help strengthen and relax your body,
and sooth your mind during pregnancy, labour & the birth process.
Additionally, these practices will give you the opportunity to connect
more deeply with yourself and your growing baby.
Through the practice of prenatal yoga it can help woman to gain
physical & mental strength & emotional support, power and receptivity
during their pregnancy. Classes offer a nurturing, safe space & the
opportunity to discuss how you are feeling, any issues arising in your
pregnancy which you may find wonderful tips and ideas from other
Mums. We work on yoga postures and breathwork which may help
manage or ease discomfort you may experience during each trimester.
As baby grows and our bodies change, the practice of prenatal yoga
offers tools to help manage the mental and physical energy and
strength required during pregnancy, labour and birth.
There are so many amazing benefits Prenatal Yoga can offer such as
helping woman to enhance, strength & stamina, improves posture &
circulation. As your baby grows within more energy & strength is
required for the tremendous amount of work your body is doing daily
to nourish little one, as well as carrying the weight of growing baby.
Yoga helps our posture, alleviates tension in the pelvis, lower back,
hips, chest, upper back, neck and shoulders as well as help us find our
balance which is physically challenged as baby grows. Circulation is
enhanced within our joints and our muscles are elongated during
practice which helps decrease swelling & enhances our immunity
creating a thriving place for baby to grow.
Breath work practice is an invaluable tool to you will learn in prenatal
yoga to help support you through your pregnancy, labor, birth and into
Through deep breathing, the nervous system goes into
parasympathetic mode, which helps us relax, releases all the wonderful
natural hormones in the body which can help ease discomfort, help
sleep, digest food better & helps our immunity operate at optimal level.
You will learn to consciously breath during each yoga pose, which may
sometimes be challenging. This is a good tool for labor during surges
/contractions. If we are consciously breathing, our blood pressure and
heart rate is regulated keeping us in parasympathetic/relaxation mode.
Calm mama means calm baby.
This transfers into the time of labor, allowing one to practice being
"comfortable with the uncomfortable" through our breathwork. As you
inhale, you acknowledge the tension that is felt. As you deeply exhale,
you let go of it more and more with each breath.
These are some of the many wonderful benefits of prenatal yoga - one I
encourage in all my classes is building a community! It can be very
comforting to practice with other Mums to be who understand what we
are going through. The age old saying “It takes a village to raise a child’
is very true! However now days with living across the globe, family or
our village may not be close by. Prenatal yoga classes are a wonderful
opportunity to gather your village and build a wonderful community to
help support you during your pregnancy and into motherhood!
Beginning a prenatal yoga practice allows us to slow down and focus
attention on what is going on within our bodies. Through working with
our breath and practicing each pose, you become more aware of what
is going on within helping you to connect more deeply with baby.
The practice of prenatal yoga is a wonderful invitation that allows us to
stop and slow down from our busy days. Through the practice of yoga,
you are setting an incredible intention of taking care of yourself and
By Natalie Yunnie – Postnatal Doula & Yoga Teacher specialising in Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga
Natalie teaches regularly at The Calm Collective in Sidcup and The Yoga House London.
You can find out more about Natalie and the wonderful services she offers on Facebook or instagram @nattieyoga
Are you a small business in and around Bexley that offers a wonderful service to mums to be and new mums? Get in touch and let me know if you would like a guest blog space!
I think it as fair to say it's been a long 16 weeks since I shut the doors to my studio. I am thrilled to be back open now. It has been a stressful time, trying to ensure the safety of my wonderful clients and my family too, BUT I would not open unless I felt I could keep you all safe.
With that in mind, I want to share with you what I have done to reassure you that my safe is safe.
Now, most of the following points I did anyway - I always use hand santiser during a session, outfits, wraps and fabrics have always been washed between sessions and I have always cleaned. This should be standard practice with all photographers. I am now, however, leaving a minimum of 24hours between sessions, this does mean I can book fewer sessions but it allows me to air the studio trying to give any germs less of a chance to be transmitted between clients.
I will be wearing a mask throughout the session and I have face masks available for any clients who do not have their own. I will be asking that siblings are only present in the studio for their photographs - this is to minimise the time they spend in an enclosed space.
Prior to all sessions I will need to confirm everyone has been well for the previous 72 hours. I will be taking my children's and my own temperature on a regular basis in order to comply with this.
If you are a newborn client your session will be arranged between 14 and 21 days post birth, this is to allow a 14 day isolation from the hospital (this maybe changed depending on the hospital protocol).
During your session I will be asking you to social distance as much as possible, sometimes, with older babies I do need some help reassuring your little one, in these situations I will move further away to allow you and your little one space. I have rearranged the studio to allow a bit more space between my shooting area and your seating space as well.
With all these adjustments in place I feel the studio is as safe as it can possibly be, I am more than happy to discuss any points with you prior to your session to make sure we are all comfortable and I very, very much look forward to creating some beautiful images for you to cherish...Even if your little one is a little older than my usual newborn window - Little Asees just above came in at 3 months old for her session - we got some gorgeous sleepy shots, and some brilliant smiles too!
It is safe to say I made a very similar face picking up my camera again!
The overwhelm of having children home for an unknown length of time is some what real, within the space of a few days I have gone from one child in year one and one in pre school - to home, full time, education my responsibility, my job on pause (albeit for a very good reason). It is a lot. They want to go see their grandparents, they want to go to the swimming pool (something we did twice a week) the library, asking for pre school and their friends. It is going to be a long few weeks/months. Whilst I cannot fill your feeds with happy little faces tucking into cake, or sleepy newborns, all squishy and new, I hope to bring you some fun activities to break up the day - educational slants so you can fill their homework books, but most importantly, you can create memories of this time together. No matter the situation, I am focusing on this time with my babies. I am being realistic though, it wont be perfect, I will no doubt shout at times, there will be tantrums and there will be tears - but there will be cuddles, and laughter, smiles, there will be activities in the garden, growing food and flowers. As I type this my son is on my lap, giving me snuggles and despairing at how unfair it is that his sister is doing school work on my iPad!!!
I have made a list of activities to try. I hope that most of them are using things around the house, so and I have avoided anything with dried pasta or rice where possible!!! :)
I would LOVE it if you can share any images of your kids doing these activities with me - I will have my camera out a lot in the new few weeks, so it would be amazing if you can grab some photos too <3
Don't forget to share some photos with me - please! I need to see other faces soon ;)
Stay safe, and sane... Parents, check out the self care blog I did - you need to look after yourself in all this!!!
Being a new mum the concept of self-care might seem impossible, between the sleepless nights and a baby that seems to want nothing but you through the day finding time for yourself might be the last thing on your mind. I often have new mums come into my studio that say they barely have time for a shower or a hot drink in the first few months of motherhood.
Self-care is a little bit of a buzz word at the moment and its often a little misunderstood. Self-care is basically just caring for yourself as you do your new baby. I've listed a few ideas below that take less than 20 minutes for you to do and will leave you feeling recharged and ready to go.
Whether this is your first baby or your fifth, take a little time for you, you are just as important as your new addition.
I absolutely love newborn shoots and I'm always so grateful when people choose me to capture such precious moments for them. I've been wanting to do a quick run down of questions that I get asked a lot about newborn sessions, as always though I'm always happy to answer any questions you have.
When can I book my newborn shoot?
You can book as early as you'd like, I've had some parents book as soon as they find out they are pregnant. I only take a small of newborn bookings every month to ensure I can fit you in when your little one joins us so it's best to book early to avoid disappointment.
When is the best time to have a newborn shoot?
Newborn shoots usually take place within the first 3 weeks, this tends to allow for a sleepy baby, so I take note of your due day and there and once you have had baby, simply let me know and we will set a date for the shoot.
How long does a newborn session take?
This is a tricky one to answer as it depends on how settled your little one is. I usually allow up to four hours of studio time for my newborn session. 4 hours sounds like a lot, but between feeding, burping and getting your little one used to me moving them around it goes very quickly! Allowing a good block of time means we can keep it nice and relaxed and you don't feel pressured if they take a little while to drift off during the session.
My baby is already here, is it too late to book in?
It depends on the age of your newborn. It's easier to get the snuggly, sleepy shots the younger they are but we can always get some beautiful images. Feel free to contact me and we can discuss what we can do to make sure you have some perfect little memories.
Can you do the newborn session in my house?
Because of the huge amount of props and equipment I use to capture the perfect image it's sadly not practical for me to come to your home for the session.
What should I expect during the shoot?
During your session I capture not only baby in a variety of poses but also with you, ensuring you have photographs as a family too. I always value your input as to colours, poses and props that you do and do not like. This way we can create the ideal photographs of your perfect little one.
Can you tell me a little about your studio?
I have a home studio, with wraps, bonnets and props to hand, and I keep the room nice and toasty warm for baby. I've got a whole host of white noise/lullabies on hand to make it as relaxing as possible for you and your new arrival. I'm based in Sidcup, not far from the high street and there is plenty of on street parking nearby.
What if I don't like things like bonnets or props?
Before every session I always discuss things that you would like to have included. You'll receive a questionnaire when you book with me to fill out and I'm always happy to work with you to make sure its absolutely perfect.
What if my baby won't settle during the session?
All babies are different, some are very settled and others aren't its part of what makes them so special. I've been working with little ones for so long now that I completely understand that each baby is totally different so please don't worry if they decide to test out their lungs on the day. I leave enough time in the session so that you can feed your little one as often as you need to and have picked up a few little tricks from my own two along the way that we can try.
Are we allowed to be in the pictures with our baby?
Absolutely! I LOVE it when you get involved. If you have any older siblings they are more than welcome to join in too.
Can I bring my own props/outfits?
I have most things available in the studio, everything is carefully chosen to co ordinate to create the styled images you see on my social media/website. Should you have something sentimental you would like me to include this can be worked out for you :) Just let me know in advance if you can so I can plan it into the session.
What if my baby has baby acne or flaky skin?
Please don't worry about this, Almost all newborns have flaky skin or a few little spots, I am skilled in reducing how much is visible in the images if you’d like me to.
One of the things that I really enjoyed doing with my little ones before they started nursery and pre-school was trying out all of the local baby classes. Sidcup and Bexley has such a great variety we were never short of something new to try out.
With so many first time parents coming through my studio recently I wanted to lend a little helping hand and list some of the ones in the area that are worth looking at.
My absolute winner for a class was Sing and Sign. With both my kids it was the most amazing experience, and helped hugely with there communication and development. It kept frustration levels low and was such a fun and friendly class!
Other options in the area are:
Boppin Bunnies - These classes run on a Wednesday morning and are split into 0-18 months and 18 months-4 years. You can either pay per class or book a term of them in advance which works out a little cheaper. Both your little ones and you will use a huge range of instruments to develop your musical talents. It's a really interactive class and great for helping to develop those listening skills.
Mummas and Beans - Satu runs a whole range of amazing classes on a Tuesday out of St Patricks Hall in Chislehurst from baby massage to baby yoga there really is something for everyone here. I'm personally a big fan of baby yoga so am really excited to see that Satu will be launching a class for slightly older babies soon.
Have you got a budding footballer in the family or maybe dad is just being hopeful. Either way Little Kickers gives a great introduction into the world of football on a Tuesday morning in Kidbrooke. The great thing about this class is that there is a progression all the way up until 7 years old.
A Wednesday class here but who doesn't love a good messy play session especially when its somewhere that means you don't have to clean up! Messy play is extremely important for a child's development. It provides children with an exciting tactile and sensory experience that inspires their curiosity, allows them to explore the world around them and enhances their learning, language and creativity.
Crayzee Barn, Sidcup, DA14 5ET
Hartbeeps was one of my all time favourite classes to take both of my children too, they offer absolutely magical classes from birth right up to pre-school age. Filled with original songs and sensory games my little ones enjoyed every session more than the last.
These classes are so much fun, from 3 months to 4 years old your little ones will be so busy creating music and dancing their little socks off that they won't realise all the great life skills they are picking up along the way. They offer a free trial class too which is always a bonus if you've got fussier children to please.
Have you got any favourites in the areas that I've missed off? I'd love to hear about them so I can add them to this list for new mums and dads!
Whilst you are blog reading, why not check out Falkirk Newborn Photographer Nicole. She has written about the best time for a newborn photography session :)
My studio has been a whirl of Christmas sparkle and Newborn magic recently so Cake Smashes have taken a bit of a back seat recently. Its such a shame because look at these amazing sessions that I've had recently.
There's not much that makes me smile more about my job than seeing my clients come back to me for their birthday cake smash sessions. Gone is the tiny curled up little newborn and in their place is this bundle of personality and character just itching to get stuck into that cake.
It's not all about the cake with my smash sessions though, they are a three part shoot which gives us plenty of opportunity to capture every little giggle and smile. We start off with some beautiful portrait shots, these can be done on a plain backdrop (set up in front of the main set) so you've got something a little more classical if you wanted.
Then comes the messy fun, the unique set for the smash is discussed beforehand and handmade by me to match your brief perfectly. Sometimes the little ones can be a little shy about getting stuck in so its always best that you wear clothes you don't mind getting a some cake on if they need a little encouragement. Wooden spoons often come in to play to give them a hand too, this can help if your little one is a little hesitate to start!
Some smashes are super messy, the cake goes everywhere. The cakes are included in the session fee, and made by my fab baker at Belles Bakery.
Some are a little more reserved, have a good taste and explore but prefer to leave the cake for Mum and Dad to enjoy at home with a cup of tea ;) you get to take the remaining cake home with you!
Finally we have a bubble bath to clean up, its a perfect opportunity to grab some happy bubbly pictures.
Cake smash sessions are £99 and you can find my image pricing here
As you can probably tell from the photo spam that is this blog post, I do enjoy a cake smash! They are full of laughter and celebrations.
I'd love to see more of you in for cake smashes in the new year so get in touch if you'd like to book in for your little ones first birthday shoot.
Check our Yeovil photographer Sarah's blog this week on photos to capture this Christmas. She has a massive list of photographs you might want to capture this year to remember your festive fun.
I've had the same one since I was a little girl, my mum made them for my sisters and me when we we were young. Over the years my mum has been adding to the collection, she made my daughter one, and my husband, my niece and nephew and brother in law, we all have our own, very special advent calendar. This year my mum has been working hard on a gorgeous cross-stitched calendar for my little boy.
Each day has a little box tied to it with a treat inside and a festive picture underneath to count down the days. I love it so much each year it brings such memories of my childhood, Christmas Eve always contained a little gift, earrings when I was older, or a treasure hunt when my sisters and I were younger. I am so incredibly lucky to have such a talented mum.
Since my Christmas Mini shoots finished I've been left with a little less Christmas cheer in my day so I fell into the google and Pinterest black hole and started looking at all the other gorgeous ideas out there for re-usable calendars and who knew there were so many out there!
Hobby Craft have some amazing sets, so you can personalise yours as you wish.
Glitter and Caffeine (amazing blog tittle!!!) has some beautiful ideas to get crafty this advent season.
If you don't feel so crafty, but still want to invest in a re usable advent calendar to start a new tradition and reduce waste Etsy and Not on The High Street have some amazing UK sellers, here are a couple of my favourites:
LisaAngelLtd has a beautiful personalised LED calendar, or a wonderful advent train!
BettyLovesUK has a really sweet tree which you add colourful baubles to - but her last Christmas order is tonight! So get in there quickly!
Phoebesflummery offers a wooden box calendar with a scandi feel, perfect for little toys or treats!
The Alphabet Gift Shop has a very festive wooden reindeer! I know my kids would love one of these (but nothing beats Nanna's special calendars in this house!).
Bespoke & Oak Co offer this fabulous personalised 'Count Down to Christmas Advent Box'
From wooden boxes to fabric designs, reusable advent calendars are the way forward and here are some ideas of gifts to go inside them.
I can't wait for Joshua to see his calendar and I'd love to see pictures of yours this year too!
On my googling search I came across Natalie Moss's blog, a few weeks back she posted about Christmas gifts. Natalie is a Maternity photographer in Surrey, she has blogged about this week.
I don't know if its psychological or not but it seems like since the clocks went back it really does seem like the days have got colder. Winter coats and hats are a must on the school run now and of course that means the endless fights with willful little ones to get them to stay wrapped up, I'm sure my little man can take a jacket off in under 2 seconds - and that is after endless arguments to get him in it!
It can be incredibly frustrating when answering yet another why should I wear a coat as you're rushing to get out the door so here are a few tips to hopefully make things a little easier on you all.
1) Find a coat they are excited to wear - it sounds so simple but involving your little one in the winter coat shop this year could help overcome their resistance to wearing it.
2) Make sure it's comfortable - children are always on the move so making sure they aren't restricted in it means that it's less likely to be cast aside halfway around the climbing frame.
3) Sometimes we don't give our little ones credit for how much they understand, explain to them that they could get poorly if they don't wear their coat. If your child is little, you can use animals as an example. Animals wear coats of fur because they get cold, too, and without their coat, they would be very sick.
4) Make a big fuss of them - my little ones love to be told how grown up/handsome/cute they look. Who wouldn't loved to be told that they are beautiful and how proud you are of them for wearing their new coat!
If you do find that special coat that they love to wear how about booking in for an outdoor family photoshoot with me more information can be found here: http://www.clarelongphotography.com/prices.html
Hertford Photographer Joanne has some fab outdoor photography for inspiration.
Why do I love a sitter session? I get to meet so many of your gorgeous newborns in the first few days of their life which is such a magical time that its easy to forget that some of the best memories are yet to come.
Sitter sessions are usually done around 6 months, your little one can sit up independently but isn't quite the crawling escape artist they will soon become. Its such an amazing age to capture on camera, their personalities are developing and they are full of smiles and funny faces that make for amazing pictures to look back on. It is a great chance to capture the incredible changes that happen in such a short space of time.
Before each session I speak with the you and get a feel for what colours and props you'd like included in your shoot. Each one is as unique are your little one, just take a look at these recent sitter sessions to see what sort of thing you can expect. Sessions are around 45 minutes long in my Sidcup studio, giving up the perfect session to capture your little one showing off their new sitting skills, on their tummy and chewing toes!
If you'd like to find out more about my sitter sessions click here or contact me on email@example.com
This clock change has my toddler up SUPER early, I was looking at some photographer friend's blogs and thought I would share Derbyshire baby photographer Kathryn Hill's link for tips on settling newborn babies!
So some of you might have noticed that I published a post the other day about an award that I won that was a pretty big deal for me. I've been entering the Guild Of Photographers monthly awards for a while now and I've been consistently scoring "Bronze" in the newborn category which is an amazing compliment to my work (and your beautiful babies).
I wouldn't be me though if I didn't always want to push to improve and this month after an impromptu model call for an Autumn themed newborn shoot I managed to set up this image which finally scored me hopefully the first of many Silver Awards - which The Guild of Photograph's describe as: "A Silver Bar .. Images that are very well crafted (difficult to achieve)."
I always want offer my clients something new and be at the top of my game so to have my work recognised like this just pushes me to try harder. The Newborn Photography category must is such a difficult one to judge, I'm not sure I could do it so I'm incredibly happy one of mine scored so highly, alongside some truly incredible photographers.
All of these images are set up in my studio, you get to see your baby in all the set ups and poses. I don't use digital backgrounds as a general rule which means you get something handcrafted for you. You also get to coo over your tiny baby surrounded by seasonal props or as per the image below, the mum's wedding sari.
My newborn sessions are booking up fast with almost all my spaces for January already taken so if you're expecting or know someone who is that would like a newborn shoot make sure you get in touch with me soon.
It really doesn't seem like its been two minutes since my eldest went back to school in September and yet here we are already at the October half term. With sunny days a distant memory the October holidays can be a tricky one for keeping restless little ones entertained.
I've made a handy little list for you all of some fun things to do in the area over the coming weeks. I can't wait to try out Gruffalo Pot Painting and I know that youngest is going to have so much fun at the Halloween party!
Gruffalo Pot Painting https://hoop.co.uk/e/8KnbdL/
Code Creators (Scratch Jr:3-5's) https://hoop.co.uk/e/kxfJLH/
Ice Tickles Children's Halloween Party https://hoop.co.uk/e/zue45R/
Kids October Technology Camp https://hoop.co.uk/e/6VHC95/
Light Party https://hoop.co.uk/e/U8fd9a/
Story makers Half Time Special https://hoop.co.uk/e/DrNRMg/
Pumpkin Carving https://www.mudchute.org/news/october-half-term-activities-2019
If you don't fancy venturing out of the house (and who could blame you with the rain lately) this link is great for ideas of crafty things to do at home when normal crayons and stickers just aren't cutting it anymore.
Or take a look at my instagram stories today to see a cute little halloween spider craft!
I'm looking forward to seeing some of you for family shoots over the coming weeks and of course Christmas Minis are almost here too. There's still a few sessions free on Sunday the 10th if you've not booked yet. Whatever you choose to do make sure you take lots of pictures and have fun!
I love checking out other photographer's work, I have a couple of maternity shoots soon, and love Brooke's work over at Sandpiper Photography, she is a Sunshine Coast Maternity Photographer x
The countdown is on and I couldn't be more excited! The response to them this year was completely overwhelming, so much so that we I had to add another date as they sold out so quickly. If you missed out I've still got a few spaces left but grab one quickly if you want it!
Every year I get a little carried away with my Pinterest obsession and create an ideas board for you to look at and this year is no different! I know that some of you are keen to get shopping (me too after making this board) so wanted to get the suggestions out to you all ASAP.
This year I'm recommending soft neutral colours so think blush pinks and pale turquoise for the girls and gorgeous pale grey tailoring and cream knitwear for the little men. As usual try to avoid anything with busy patterns or logos that will take the attention away from the cheeky smiles and laughing faces I know that we are going to get.
I'm totally in love with the pale blue faux-fur collar jacket from Monsoon so if anyone else feels the same way you'd make me a very happy Photographer at your session ;-) I can't wait to see you all soon. If you have any questions about our session let me know.
Whilst on the hunt for outfits I came across Hannah Willis, a newborn photographer from Willaston, she has a fabulous list of suppliers for me to have a look through for my newborn work! This is super helpful for newborn photographers when they are searching for new props!
I love new parents arriving at my home studio in Sidcup for their newborn session. The love, excitement....exhaustion is always so clear and brings a rush of memories for me every time. Those first few weeks meeting and getting to know your new baby is filled with so many emotions.
I am super lucky, I get to cuddle and capture your brand new, most important aspect of your life. I get to freeze them as a 7(ish)lb ball of utter cuteness before they grow so very, very quickly. You get to chill out, catch up on messages, some (dads usually!) have a little nap, whilst I create beautiful images for you to display at home, share with friends and family and pass down when your little tiny person is not so tiny anymore.
Lately, I have had a lot of enquiries for newborn sessions, for babies that are already a week or so old. I hate to turn people away, I don't like to disappoint or to let people down, however I can only take on a certain number of shoots a week/month. Most of these slots are booked well in advance, and so trying to squeeze people in around existing bookings and my two munchkins is quite tricky.
I would hate for you to be disappointed, so please, please do let me know your due date and get booked in.
When booking with me I never set a firm date, so when baby arrives all you have to do is let me know and we can move things around to suit - whether baby has come early or late I adjust to fit you - so you don't need to worry about exact dates when booking early.
I am currently taking bookings for February...As soon as you feel comfortable, whether that be after your 20 week scan, or as you enter your 3rd trimester, add 'Find photographer' to your baby list - or even better 'Book Clare for photos' ;)
From October 2019 all newborn bookings received before you are 33 weeks pregnant will get a 10 image keepsake accordion as a complimentary gift <3
In December my studio will have a slight change of use for one day as I play host to the fabulous Emma Sohl - a newborn photographer in Milton Keynes who is going to be running a workshop for photographers - I am so excited to have her here, meet some other photographers and learn new things!
I have a list for this summer, plenty of days out, so I can swap, change and ask my little ones what they fancy. I will also be posting a list of rainy day and days at home activities, because they will be needed for sure!!!
I have tried to keep the options within about an hours drive, as this is more doable for me and the two littles alone - danger naps are an issue for my 2 year old right now!
There’s a great selection of family events at the Southbank Centre’s summertime festival, ranging from free performances - like outdoor circus on the terrace or a sea shanty singalong - to paid for events. One highlight is ZooNation Presents the Next Generation, a stage show featuring some of the best young hip-hop artists in the country, performing everything from dance, music, spoken word to beatboxing.
• 22 July-28 August, prices vary southbankcentre.co.uk
Lark in the Park http://larksidcup.com/
The big museums and galleries are mostly free, so the Science Museum and Natural History museum are on my list too. If you are more arty, the National Gallery is running drop in workshops:
There is a working farm you can visit not far - they have a great summer option for animal lovers:
The Postal Museum and Mail Rail, a new heritage attraction, opens on 28 July. There is a play zone for under-nines called Sorted, designed as a miniature town, and an underground train ride into the old engineering depot (may not be suitable for under-fives). Family activities include arts and crafts, storytelling and science shows.
• From 28 July, £14.50 adults, children £7.25, postalmuseum.org
Bedgebury pinetum is lovely 😊 great for bikes and scooters.
Bewel water - take a picnic and enjoy.
Bluewater nature trail - very local and easy if you need to drop in and grab a few shopping bits!!
Botany Bay - a further drive but a great beach day.
Broaditch Farm - 30min drive
Buttercups goat sanctuary (Maidstone)
Buzy bees, New Ash
Cascades little train - 35min drive
Chatham Dockyard - currently has Lego through the ages. Tickets valid for a year, so you can get your monies worth.
Cheeky Dino, Maidstone (softplay, great for a miserable day)
Christmas Tree Farm
Cliffe pools is amazing too (45mins)
Cobtree Park - next to Kentlife (big play park £1.50 parking).
Danson Park - has play park & water play
Dartford Central park is free! Mini splash play area.
Eltham Palace grounds are free.
Foots Cray Meadows – picnic and paddling - I love shooting here and going for a wander!
Gravesend has the fort gardens. Chantry house museum is free and the bunker tunnels are £1! There's the prom and the park. A little cafe. A pretty, short walk around. It's lovely there. It's also part of the wheels of time trail around Kent.
Greenwich Ecology Park is free and often has special events in the holidays.
Groombridge place (45min drive) https://www.groombridgeplace.com/the-attraction/attractions/
Hall place - lovely, free to enter and beautiful grounds. Lots of trees and shade plus a little stream running through it, they run some fab activities for the kids.
Herne Bay - good for crabbing
Hobbledown Farm (1hr drive)
Jeskyns Park (30min drive)
Little fant farm
Little Street, Maidstone - My kids LOVE it here.
Lullingston country park
Maidstone Leisure Centre - has soft play and Ice Hills. It's also right next to Mote Park in Maidstone so great for a morning of activity then a picnic and a wander in the fresh air
Millbrook garden centre - check out events/butterfly experience
Milton creek country park - Dog walkers, cyclists & joggers frequent this large green space with a kids' play area & trails.
Oxleas Woods is lovely
Rare breeds centre
Ruxley Manor - Pixie Manor is always popular https://www.ruxley-manor.co.uk/events-attractions/
Shorne woods country park
Southwater country park. Has a mini beach, dinosaurs, kids park etc and it’s free (1hr away)
Swanley Park – great outdoors
Tilgate Park (apparently it is fantastic – 1 hour drive)
Trosley Park - lots of shade
Tyland barn - Kent wildlife trust (30min drive)
National Trust and English Heritage both run events through the summer:
National Trust are running craft days and pebble painting locally:
or if you fancy Knights and Jousting English heritage have got various events:
One of the deepest joys in my job is seeing the little bumps and newborns growing and getting to document that amazing first year. The changes that happen are so rapid, the curled up, sleepy bundle that I photograph at just days old that return just months later sitting completely unaided, the little noises that newborns make turning into infectious giggles, that then later return running inquisitively around the studio, with the first words on their lips. It is just amazing and I am so honoured to capture these gorgeous little people growing.
One year ago, I met little Edie. She liked to stare at me...a lot!!
I was delighted when she came back for her sitter session, her beautiful blue eyes still wide for me to capture!
Her first birthday quickly rolled around - cake smash time!! Not only was it lovely to get messy with Edie but was such a pleasure to catch up with her big sister, who showed me her racoon top with great excitement!
Baby led weaning is letting your baby feed them selves from the outset when introducing solids. With BLW, the babies learn to chew first and swallowing might come some time later, as opposed to traditional weaning where babies learn to swallow first and chew later.
Its important when using baby-led weaning that you don't rush things. Your baby should be able to sit unaided easily before weaning starts. Waiting until six months is recommended by the NHS in majority of cases.
The easiest finger foods for young babies are those that are chip-shaped. Use a crinkle cutter when you’re cutting fruit and veg, as the ridges will make it easier for your baby to grip the food.
At first, your baby may just play with the food. He may grab pieces of food with his fist and start to suck on them.
The best time to introduce solids to your little one is when you and your family are eating. It's a great way for him to join in at mealtimes, and with baby led weaning, no need to cook separate meals - just watch salt and sugar content!
An easy-to-clean high chair is a real benefit when baby-led weaning, because your baby is likely to throw, spill, and generally lose most of her meals. A shower curtain or other wipe clean sheet is a great idea for putting under the high chair and making cleaning up easier.
Remember, ‘food is for fun before they’re one’, so see weaning as a sensory experience and messy play for the first few months and a lot of food will be thrown around! Perfect practice for a cake smash session for their first birthday!
Good information can be found here:
Gill Rapley's Baby Led Weaning book
Some yummy recipes can be found here:
Please note - I do not think cake the best first food!
Cake should be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet and lifestyle and of course for birthday celebrations!
It is that time of year again!! 97 days until Christmas (that just terrified me a little!!!) and I am in full swing with my Christmas mini's!!
My interactive set is so very cute, lights and pine cones, it is such fun for the kids! More tweaks will happen before the mini's, so it it perfectly magical for your little ones!
I just love the curiousity that comes out of the kids, and the sparkle in their eye when they see the details :)
Perfect for a mix of ages from sitting up, the set allows me to talk to your children, get some gorgeous smiles, laughter and capture their personalities, another year older than the last.
Theses sessions are perfect for christmas cards and gifts for family and friends, an affordable way to record another Christmas approaching, and a fab way to spend some time in the first half term break of the year!!!
Lazy Days in the Summer Haze…..
Not much chance of that with the school holidays on our doorstep! The summer holidays are both a blessing and a curse, whilst I love the extra time with my littles trying to find things to do that won’t break the bank can be hard work. That’s why I thought I would put together this list of things to do in the local area, there’s a bit of everything in here so hopefully it can help burn off some of their endless energy this summer
Bexleyheath and Barnehurst Bowls Club – Open to all ages and new or experienced members are welcome, firstname.lastname@example.org or 07444 475417 for more info.
Danson Park Bowls – are looking for new members, all ages and experience welcome. Check out www.dansonparkbowls.co.uk for more information.
Bexley Parks Tennis League – running throughout the summer more info can be found at www.localtennisleagues.com
Dance Workshops – Monday to Thursday 10am-11am, Sidcup Park. Registration tickets can be bought at larksidcup.com
Family Social Bike Ride – Saturday the 16th September at 12pm, Sporting Club Thamesmead, SE28 8NJ. Social ride for the whole family, bikes are available for hire subject to availability and admission is free. Call 0203 8284920 or www.sportingclubthamesmead.co.uk for more information.
Bromley Tennis Centre are running lots of classes through the summer. Their timetable can be found here: https://www.bromleytenniscentre.co.uk/holiday-parties
The Reluctant Dragon – Open air theatre at Hall Place in Bexley, Saturday the 26th of August. Everyone knows St George gas to fight the dragon, but what happens when the dragon simply won’t fight back? Show starts at 2pm, tickets are £12 for adults, £10 for concessions, £8 for under 16’s and under 2’s are free. Call 01322 621238 to book.
Labyrinth – Open air cinema Wednesday the 8th of August. Rated U, show starts at approx. 8.30pm with gates opening at 7pm.There will be a full bar and food available on site at Hall Place Bexley. Tickets should be booked in advance to avoid disappointment, call 0844 858 6767 or www.lunacinema.com
Moulin Rouge – Open air cinema Thursday the 9th of August. Rated 12, show starts at approx. 8.30pm with gates opening at 7pm.There will be a full bar and food available on site at Hall Place Bexley. Tickets should be booked in advance to avoid disappointment, call 0844 858 6767 or www.lunacinema.com
As You Like It – Open Air Theatre Thursday the 30th of August at 7pm at Hall Place in Bexley. The critically acclaimed Pantaloons present their innovate and hilarious open air version of this Shakespearian classic. Tickets are £12 for adults, £10 for concessions, £8 for under 16’s and under 2’s are free. Call 01322 621238 to book.
Animal and Nature
Bat Walk – Thursday 16th of August at 8pm or Tuesday the 18th of September at 7pm at Hall Place in Bexley. A dusk walk through the gardens to see and hear these nocturnal animals, a bat detector is provided and there is tea and cake a the end. Advance tickets required, £10 for adults and £8 for 8-16 year olds. Call 01322 621238 to book.
Animal Magic – Monday July 30th – Friday the3rd August, one hour sessions at either 10am, 11.30am or 2pm at Hall Place in Bexley. Get up close and personal with bunnies, bearded dragons, hedgehogs, chicks and more with this amazing experience. Advance booking is required, tickets are £6 for a child and £4 for an adult. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Call 01322 621238 to book.
Thamesmeads Landscapes and Hidden Spaces – Saturday 22nd – Sunday 23rd August at 2pm on both days. A two hour walk through Thamesmead showing some of its less known beauty spots. Meet at the south east corner of Southmere Lake.
Summer Garden Trail- Wednesday 1st August – 31st August 10am – 4.30pm at Hall Place, Bexley. Compete the picture of hall place by copying the missing pieces hidden in the gardens. Tickets are £2.50 per trail (bring a pencil) and includes a small prize at the end. Call 01322 526574 for more info.
Coolings Green and Pleasant have daily flying displays and informative talks http://www.coolingsgreenandpleasant.co.uk/events/daily-flying-displays-willows/
Broadditch Farm has a scavenger hunt for £4 per work sheet, return the sheet to the shop to claim a prize! https://www.broadditch.co.uk/summer/ you could also get some fresh produce for tea.
Fun Days and Fairs
Annual Bank Holiday Charity Show – Mount Mascal Stables, Vicarage Rd, Bexley. 0208 3003947 or www.mountmascalstables.co.uk
Childrens Rides at Danson Park – Friday 20th July – Friday 31st of August at Danson Park 11am – 7pm weather permitting.
The Third Crossness Steampunk Convival – Saturday 1st September 10.30am – 6pm Bazalgettte Way. SE2 9AQ. Steampunk shenanigans, family and childrens craft tables, stalls, refreshments and more. Adults £15, £8 children aged 6-17. Book at www.crossness.org.uk or 0208 3113711
Thamesmead Community Market – 11th August and 9th September 12-4pm at the Information Hub DA18 4BW. Craft and food stalls with free entry.
Charity Toy and Train Fair – Thursday 9th of August 5.30-9.30pm at Falconwood Community Centre, DA16 2PG, free entry.
Music and Imagination
Roar Music Academy – 30th July – 3rd August, 10 The Parade, Crayford, DA1 4JA. This week long course is just £60 amd designed to teach your children new musical skills. No experiences is necessary, call 01322 836606 or visit www.roarmusicacademy.com to book.
Fairy School – August 6/7/13/14/15/20/21/22/23rd at 10am or 2pm (2hr sessions) at Hall Place, Bexley. Calling all trainee fairies, in this enchanting school little ones can learn cake decorating, dancing, crafts and other magical skills. Suitable for 3-9 year olds advance booking is required. £10 per child and adults are free. Call 01322 621238 to book.
Pixie Manor is running at Ruxley, tickets can be purchased for several dates through the summer £9.99 for a child and £1.99 per adult. It is running now until 2nd September https://www.ruxley-manor.co.uk/events-attractions/pixie-manor/
Lark in the Park Sidcup also have a HUGE timetable of events going on which you can view and book here including evenings out for the grownups if you manage to sneak away for a little while. I hope this list helps to keep the whole family entertained, if you know of anything happening in the area that I’ve missed let me know so I can share the fun.
The HOOP app has proved to be fabulous for me in the past, giving me some rainy day ideas such as Colour: The Rainbow Revealed at the Horniman Museium which I am excited to take the kids to!
Enjoy the summer smiles,
See what I have been up to recently!