Over the summer holidays I have taken it upon myself to go ahead and photograph some of my favourite inspirational women in the blog and business-o-sphere, and to kick it all off, a couple of weekends ago I gathered my small army, packed up our bags and we headed up to the far north – well North Yorkshire. Our mission? To photograph Mummy Blogger numero uno (often number one on the Tots 100 list and many others!) Mum in the MadHouse – Jen Walshaw and her lovely family!
Google Maps said it would be 5.5 hours from Honiton to N Yorks where Jen and her crew live. I reckoned on a couple of half hour breaks and thought it would be fine. Ha… ha haaaaargh! 10 hours later at 10pm at night, we finally arrived at our little Premier Inn just outside Middlesbrough. Shhhhheeeeeshkebabs! That was one heck of a long journey!
I must give kudos to the staff at Premier Inn though, everyone was so lovely and welcoming and the room was really clean. Plus the following morning while dragging all our sleep deprived bottoms through to breakfast, the ladies serving us could not have been more friendly and happy to help. I really appreciated how lovely they were during what could have been an extremely trying meal (I have filled out the premier inn survey and mentioned them in particular so hopefully they will get some recognition!).
Anyway, I shall not dwell on the traveling aspect too long (I would rather not relive it to be honest! Ha!) and instead shall share my fab experience of meeting Jen and her lovely family.
Arriving at Jen’s home I did suddenly wonder was I crazy to travel 10 hours up country to meet someone I’d only ever spoken to online before. But as soon as Jen came out she was so warm and lovely, enveloping me in a wonderful hug.
I also wasn’t sure how all the children would get along as there is a big age gap between my lot and her boys, but I was amazed! Her boys were so good with Jacob, Summer, Sienna and Zach – they really took an interest in them and got stuck in with playing which helped so much! This was my first time doing a shoot where I’ve taken all the children along with me so I was prepared for it to be a total epic fail, but thanks to Jen’s boys being willing to pitch in and keep the troops entertained, it was so much easier than expected – cheers lads!
After meeting Jen’s family at the house we headed down to their local beach, Saltburn by the Sea. A lovely spot with boats and a pier. We set up my kids with a bucket and spade and I snapped furiously – but actually my guys were pretty well behaved and didn’t make any breaks for freedom which was a relief!
After some portraits on the beach Drew and Jen treated us to a yummy seaside lunch of fresh chips (thanks guys!) and then we headed up to the Moors. I spotted this lovely gate and wall with gorgeous scenery behind so we were able to grab a few family pictures here too.
The route back was a little easier as I was able to stop in Huddersfield to drop in on my cousin Sarah and her lovely girls. I don’t get to see them at all often due to distance so it worked out really well! I stayed overnight so it was fabulous to be able to see them over two days. I also grabbed a few shots of them before we left southwards which I recently shared here!
The journey back from Huddersfield was not easy – the children were not so patient as they were on the way up and Summer was not keen on me having the radio on (think screaming loudly “NO MUSIC! I DON’T WANT MUSIC!!” over and over again). And although she was happy when it was off, I was getting more and more tired by the minute, which is not really what you want when traveling at 70pmh.
This combo was not really workable long term, so in exasperation I stopped at Gloucester services instead of Bristol. And oh man I was glad I did! Seriously I have never seen anything like it! Why can’t all services be like this?! It is a gorgeous farm shop style (but very stylish and modern) with extremely high quality, nutritious food (I was about to pass out if I’d eaten another Burger King!) and joy of joys a play area for the kids at the back of the restaurant!! And not a scummy dirty one either, an actual really nice, clean, quiet play area! I nearly cried! Highly recommended if you are traveling up the M5 (I believe they have one both north and south) – just look out for the services that say FARMSHOP. You won’t be disappointed! (on a side note, one mum I mentioned this to on a Facebook group i’m in said she loved it but there were no baby food pouches available which is not ideal. I’m sure this is something they would want to change if they knew about it as they seemed very helpful and eager to help families. But worth knowing this in advance if you’ve got a wee one.
So who will be next in my intrepid travels?! Despite the epic nature of talking 4 children age 3 and under away for a few days I did actually really enjoy myself, so we shall see where we end up next time!! 😀