The phrase ‘time flies’, is never so true as when your children are small. Just looking back through my photographs from the last eight months made the speed at which my children are growing hit home. Baby Rosaleigh is now eight months old and yet it seems like a blink ago that I was pregnant with her. My how she has grown in eight in months;  her two bottom, front teeth have come through, she waves, munches her way through food, laughs, plays and giggles when she finds her toes. It’s amazing to watch her grow, but I must say that it is easy to miss some of the little developments in the sea of everyday life.

My other two daughters, Hattie and Libby are now seven and five years of age and are now becoming little miss independent and little miss mischief. They are now at school full-time and I miss admit that I miss the flexibility of home schooling; where every day was an opportunity to learn.  With home schooling learning was built into everyday life and sunny days spelled the opportunity to explore rock pools and learn about British shorelines and rainy days meant learning about baking and sewing. Sadly sunny days now mean sitting in traffic to get to school and joining the mad school run rush with all the other parents. I am sure that they are learning lots of things, but I am certain that some of their manners and politeness have also been lost.  I seem to spend my day running around packing lunches, ironing uniforms, picking up from school, dropping off from school and fighting head lice, that appear to have replaced the school rabbit as the classroom pet.  I discovered some of their old home-schooling books at the weekend and realised just how much we used to explore together and when I asked the girls what they have been learning they replied ‘’we are learning the story of Jack and the Beanstalk’ , (Libby, 5); and ‘we are learning about Space’, said Hattie aged 7. Flicking through their old home education books, I saw pages and pages of colourful pictures and descriptions of days out to science museums, diagrams of how an egg develops to a chick and even how a cake rises in the oven, none of these things would have been on the exam papers that Hattie had to sit recently, but I truly feel they are just as important as bring your scooter to school day.  Can’t help feeling that a mixture of school and home education would have offered a effect solution, at least I was teaching life skills.

I didn’t spend my weekend simply looking back; I made a pledge to start slowing down and taking note.  Life for me has become a little like a treadmill, I wake every morning with the alarm and slurp a quick cup of coffee before waking the girls, getting them ready for school, frantically hunting socks that match and throwing together a school lunch before attempting to get them to school in a flurry. Then cram as much as possible into the next few hours until it is three o’clock and time to get back on the school run. Weekends have become the focus of ‘leisure time’, but they rarely are because work commitments and generally chores get in the way. I know that the strains of every day duties and work are so easy to get wrapped up in that the little things that make life a pleasure can so easily get overlooked.  So I made a pledge at the weekend to start slowing life down and taking time to enjoy the joys of all three girls growing up instead of screaming ‘come on, we are late for school again!’ , perhaps I should learn from Libby because maybe she is right to be examining the blossom on the trees.

So at the weekend the laptop went off and all the deadlines were put on hold. The washing up sat in the sink and we all trooped off for an eight mile round trip walk. The vintage pram, the scooters and happy little children all traipsed off to look at butterflies, ponies in fields and just be a family and just take a deep breath and enjoy the simplicities of life.

Years  ago I opted out of the 9 till 5 rat race and opted for a busy, hectic yet more fulfilling life, my world was full of jam pans, children, fairy tea parties, wendy houses and writing.  I got the time to experiment with recipes found in old cookery books , achieve deadlines and to write about things of interest, somehow life has slipped unconsciously into a fast paced, achieve little, frantic rush where I spend every day repeating the same tasks and collapse at the end of each day with a sinking feeling of underachievement  and exhaustion.  In 2005 I read a copy of ‘The Writers Way’ and I think it may be time to find my dog-eared copy again and implement some of the lessons I learned and applied back then.  The days of taking a morning coffee in the garden and flicking through the morning newspapers, have all vanished, the promise to do something for me each week have gone; the promise of each day has faded and instead I worry about school attendance figures, the late book and wonder why I can’t get through the day’s work as quickly as I need to. I tap the keyboard frantically and scowl at the ever increasing pile of work to do and in amongst this I am missing more than deadlines. I am missing the joy of life and I feel it, deep inside, the life I opted for years ago may have been considered alternative and not ‘right’ for the children, but when my seven year old now rejects new ideas with ‘what????!’ and judges life on its monetary value, I can’t help thinking the girl who picked mulberries and chased chickens was happier.  We may not have sat school exams, but the girls did so much more than sit in a classroom and I got no tales of spiteful behaviour and them encountering bullying; I got the headspace to write and my life chugged along happily.

Perhaps my life back then was ‘a bubble’, but I was happy enough in it and the view was great. Well, we are late for school and I’m already behind. Perhaps today I will write in the school late book, ‘reason for lateness: assessing my life choices’, well that will confuse them.   It is certain from today that I will be taking time and getting back to my enjoyment of life: I’ll be living more and writing more, because I shall be clawing back my creative life.






About Seren Charrington-Hollins

Food has always been of great importance to Seren and despite her being renowned for her historical recipe recreations, her culinary skills were not honed, in the kitchens of top restaurants, but in the home kitchen from the age of being able to hold a wooden spoon. When Seren was born her mother was taken ill and so she spent her early years being cared for by her grandmother, Minnie. This was to prove instrumental in the development of Seren’s love of cooking, for her grandmother was an accomplished cook, who’s kitchen was always awash with terrine’s, home-made pastry and traditional puddings. Minnie’s love of good food and her zest for life meant Seren’s childhood was filled with days of hedgerow picking, baking, traditional preserving and cooking recipes from the depths of a family copy of, Mrs. Beeton. She learned from an early age how to make Victorian puddings alongside elaborate noble pies and perhaps this explains her love of pastry making and the reason she won an accolade from The Great British Pie Awards this year. Today Seren has great skill in bringing historical food to life and making it accessible and understandable to the modern cook and diner. Her enthusiasm and love of historical food and British cooking is evident in her presentations and she loves to revive forgotten recipes. She recently took part in ITV1’s Country House Sunday and has given live cookery demonstrations across the country at food festivals, historical houses and castles. Trained as a herbalist and nutritionist, she has a deep understanding of improving health through food. Her interest in historic remedies and herbal folklore eventually extended to researching British food history, and reignited her early passion for cooking. Fifteen years on and Seren has amassed extensive knowledge and is now renowned for her historical food recreations and interpretations. Seren’s interest in food history does not just extend to old recipes and cooking techniques, but to ingredients and manufacturers. From the age of fourteen Seren has collected food and drink packaging from early Victorian to the 1960’s. Her collection is now extensive and provides a wonderful snapshot in time that accompanies her vast knowledge of the development of British food and drink companies throughout history. She also has a huge collection of antique kitchenalia and moulds which she uses to replicate historical recipes and portray past eras. Her training in herbalism and nutrition has not been wasted for despite her merits as a food historian and period cook she also delights in creating British Classic dishes for those with food allergies and intolerances (such as gluten and dairy intolerant). Her botanical knowledge has made her a keen wild food educator and forager that lends unusual as well as historical twists to all her cooking. There are also many points at which food and medicine intertwine throughout history and Seren is able to portray these developments and has also undertaken a lot of research into the British spice trade. To Seren historical food is not a job, but a way of life. Visit Seren's blog: Serenity Kitchen