A summer to remember!


Maddie squashed inFun and traditions have been in play since school's been out for summer.

Camping ? Well, there's a first time for everything, so I agreed tentatively that I WOULD join the girls-only camping trip (yes I know, there have been many a raised eyebrow at that statement, me camping and no it was definitely NOT classed as glamping) so I am now a fully fledged camper…will it be my first and last time?! Not if all the school mums have anything to say about it.

Traditions have been made at my children’s school that the first day after "schools out for summer" means mums and children en masse congregate and camp. Luckily not too far away, but, oh my goodness me, the amount of stuff one needs to camp is so totally bizarre, we could barely fit in the car! poor Maddie was so squished in.

Luckily my Camouflage Co. bags came in very useful. Just let's not discuss the unpacking of it all afterwards (14 or so wash loads…) Do you know what though, allowing children to be free and feral was quite liberating and aside from the first 20 minutes or so when Joe was missing, found hiding under his sleeping bag with a iPad mini, no screens, TVs or anything like that was in use, just groups of children (there were about 38 kiddies of varying ages) sitting on hay bales, running wild and being allowed to be filthy was lovely to witness.

My linguiniMeanwhile, once the horrors of the dunnys, a shed with a hole in the ground a bag of sawdust and that was it! had been experienced, I felt at one with nature and emerging from our 10 man tent in the morning (more about the erection later..!!) to see the new day was a real treat.

I cooked linguine on my little gas stove the first night,a resounding and envied success.

I sizzled my sausages like a trooper in my cook's essentials pan and as showers were somewhat lacking, my pop up bucket from QVC came in very handy, in more ways than one! What with my L’Occitaine Lavender Wash, my Ultrasun and my night time Strivectin applications you could’ve rolled the cameras and we could’ve had an outside broadcast there and then.


Me with JulieIt was fabulous, a fun bunch of girls,(here’s me with my friend Julie) relaxing and drinking( G&T yes, in a proper glass of course!) I had such a nice few days and 3 super happy children…it was just the tent I struggled with!

So, for me and 4 (I took a friend of Joes too) children….a tent for 10…

Most other girls seemed to pop their tents up, a little like a mini miracle..not I oh no, mine was a biggie and all I can do is publicly thank Pete, a wonderful husband who came to assist his darling wife, (note the sarcasm Dan..) and who persevered and got it up for me too. Do excuse my salacious innuendoes blame Carry on Camping, or the girls I camped with!!!!



Tent pull downAnyway, with help my tent was up and watertight, however, proudly I announce I did the ENTIRE break down, pull down, call it what you will down…on my own

THREE solid hours it took, once we arrived back home Dan had the cheek to ask if it was dry and ought I to reopen it in the garden and check? Yes exactly! You can so imagine my response.
Traditional holidays by the sea are just perfect when we have lovely
weather aren't they? and as the children need passports, plus I’m planning to do our long awaited bedroom transformation we decided Aldeburgh, in Suffolk(one of our favourite places ) would be our summer holiday destination. Here's my morning view from our "borrowed house"


View every morningGrown up tom We hired a brilliant house and had various guests joining us through our
week. Quite what people made of Dan as all our visitors were solo women, with a child each!!

My three love socialising, so to have different friends and their cousin as playmates was their idea of heaven and it actually made for such a chilled out week for all of us.




Fun in the cold seaMaddie and Me







Dan's TreeDan was artistic on the beach creating his tree…! It's fab isn't it, and a happy time was spent collecting stones for it. I admit I declined when asked to swim in the sea….ooooh it did look chilly! And yes like true British holiday makers we persevered with a windbreaker, momentarily, till the dress went over the head and I refused to stay any longer having a sand facial!! Sand I do NOT appreciate at the best of times…
Maddie and I have had our annual summer trip to see a show in London, Chorus Line, which  with hindsight was  perhaps not quite an appropriate choice but luckily tiredness was washing over her and her friend by the second section and we have had no repercussions from the choice words, phrases we heard!!!


Windy weatherI was immensely emotional at the end ….." I used to be able to do that…" I sort of whispered to my friend Nance with rather a lump in my throat. Especially at the  moment my right leg is making me feel like an old wreck and I have a rather inelegant gait whilst my leg works out if it's going to match up to the left leg…or not!  I must start an excercise programme NOW……
Do you know at this point in the holidays I'm usually very ready to think about the return to school, yet this year I wish we had longer.

I've barely caught up with friends, hardly seen my Mummy, though she's been a busy and happy young lady! It's been so lovely having time with Tom, Joe and Maddie, both Dan and I are aware these years are so special with them.

It has been wonderful to just "be"…..yet the racing around and extra manoeuvres we all end up juggling WILL be back …lets hope we can keep it manageable!!
I shall sign off for now and so hope you'll pop a response to me sharing your antics..!
In the meantime I shall be savouring my busy commitments, my family and my life, with an appreciation intensified by the knowledge others are no longer able to ….
Amica, forever remembered and in my heart.
Much love to you all,
Claire xxxx


  1. Elizabeth Morton August 28, 2013 at 12:38 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire,
    You are such a fun and bubbly character and your energy is amazing! I’m glad you’ve had such a fantastic summer and you have such a lovely family and good friends.
    You are so thoughtful to remember Amica – I’ve only just read about her and Beulah’s passing on another blog today. I can see why you so treasure your moments with friends and family when others can’t do the same. I too had breast cancer 8 years ago but am lucky to be here and their passing is a reminder to treasure my life too.
    Lots of love to you and your lovely family,
    Beth XXX.

  2. Rosemary Thompson August 28, 2013 at 11:04 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire
    I really love reading your blogs. They are funny and real and although we see you looking glamorous on TV you show in these blogs that you are also a true “mummy” who I am sure would and always does put her family first no matter what. My family (I am a truly doting nana and proud to be so) are camping at the moment and this is the second time this school holiday. The boys are six and three and our little princess is one in September and already a seasoned camper. We are lucky and live in East and West Sussex near the sea so they truly have had a lovely summer with the country to the north of us and the sea to the south. We visited them the last time they were camping as they were not that far away and they were toasting marshmallows and had proper bonfires (all properly controlled by both parents and the wardens. Each camp space had like a fire pit and logs could be brought. Some times the simple things are a real eye opener and give such pleasure. Your last comments were heart felt and we will all miss Amica and Beulah. I met Amica a few times at different events at QVC and she was always so gracious and patient. I hope that she was aware of how much people cared for her. I am reading a book by Jane Green at the moment called the Love Verb. She normally writes chick flick books but this one is different. It was written in memory to a certain degree about her best friend that died of the big C and the impact on her family and friends. A big eye opener. Take care of yourself and keep smiling and making us all smile. If you have contact with any of Amica’s family please make sure they know how much she meant to all of us and how she will be very much missed.
    Kind regards

  3. Gwen Tugwell August 29, 2013 at 11:07 am -  Reply

    Hello Claire,
    I am so impressed with your camping activities, you must be so very pleased with yourself, because you really are such a little glamour puss and I am sure that it doesn’t come easy! but all of these things are memories in the making for your wonderful children and you will never regret doing it with them even if life was a little less comfortable than normal. So well done you!
    Such sad news to hear about lovely Amica, but some lovely tributes, we will all miss her smile.
    Take care, love Gwen.

  4. Debbue Jeffery August 29, 2013 at 11:35 am -  Reply

    Fab blog Claire love hearing all your stories as I too have three little monkeys ( or not so little now lol) of almost the same age . oh and you do make me laugh, enjoy the last tiny weeny bit of the holiday 🙂 🙂 keep blogging Debs x x

  5. Mary Morphy August 30, 2013 at 5:48 am -  Reply

    Claire, you have my complete admiration for going ‘proper camping’…the hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention at just the thought of it…I thought I was doing well in a static caravan but you put me to shame! Plus, living two minutes from the sea I am so with you on the sand thing..quite simply it gets everywhere and I mean everywhere so I like pebbles, I find them very relaxing to lie on as you can mould them to fit your body. However,we have a sandy beach at Westgate on Sea which is lovely for walking the dog and its great in the winter as you have a sand exfoliation every week, but unfortunately the sand has been mostly covered in stinky seaweed this summer; the main beach in Margate has been kept clear but it appears there is no more money left to clear it from our beach. The local farmers used to be able to take it off the beach to spread on the fields as fertilizer..yes more stink but it was for the good of the land etc..however an EU law now states that can’t be done unless its treated first…whatever happened to using what nature gave us?
    I agree to with needing extra holiday and I am one of the lucky ones that works in a school and gets the long holidays! The past 5 weeks have flown by…my kids are 16..well at least he will be on 5th September and 13….remember the Ginja Ninja…and its been cricket, cricket, out with their friends, cricket and more cricket for both plus golf lessons for soon to be 16 year old. Although days out with mum are now almost not cool….Ginja will happily come shopping if bribed with hot chocolate and a new pug cushion to add to her collection..I am still needed as a taxi service ranging front local to anywhere round the M25 where cricket is concerned! I do miss the fact that I am not a necessity for activities but they are growing up and their depency on me is still needed I supposevut in a different way..I must admit I am finding this growing up thing quite difficult but as my son said the other day, I never need you mum as I always have you…brought a tear to my eye!
    I have managed a couple of sessions with friends plus two days having a good go in the garden…give me a pair of loppers and a hedge trimmer and I am occupied for hours and the outcome is 12 bags of greenery and the garden looking bigger! Plus i have great faith in nature and what has been trimmed will grow again as i seem to do the same thing twice a year! I had planned to stain the cabin at the end of the garden but will save that job plus painting of kids bedrooms for first week of October half term. When the sun is shining I like to be outside.
    Good luck with school trousers..I had to order my daughters blazer as none left in M and S..thankfully it fitted as next size was out of stock!!
    Enjoy last few days of the holidays…love Maryxx

  6. norma August 30, 2013 at 8:18 pm -  Reply

    Claire you are such a tonic,you warm my heart with your tenderness,your funny stories your honesty. Keep enjoying your family as long as you can and never change you are a little gem xxxx

  7. Pauline August 30, 2013 at 9:09 pm -  Reply

    Dear Claire, It looks like you had a fantastic summer. I can’t believe that the children are almost back at school. It’s flown! How you manage to still look elegant with your dress up in the air is beyond me. Glad you mentioned Amica. She was an amazing lady and I will miss her on the beauty shows.
    Love Pauline

  8. Sandra Gregory August 31, 2013 at 3:17 pm -  Reply

    Sound s like you have had a wonderful summer holiday with lots of fun.
    Well do you for camping, I only tried it once, it was Bank Hol weekend and was really cold, we were cooking outside and I was determined to eat outside with my friends, they were very impressed that I actually stayed outside the tent! Still we did have fun.
    Take care xxx

  9. Paula Joy Williams August 31, 2013 at 6:06 pm -  Reply


  10. Diane gilbank September 1, 2013 at 8:42 am -  Reply

    What a wonderful tribute to your family and friends Claire and the summer. The photos are all fab! Love the one of you and maddie on the beach.
    The camping tales had me laughing! But well done for all you managed and the big job of taking the tent down! Loved Dans tree, he is very artistic. All in all you paint the picture of a wonderful family summer. And yes taking time to reflect and appreciate your children is vital as believe me the time flies by and before you know it they are all grown up with families of their own.
    The best thing about that though is the sheer joy and delight that grandchildren bring. Many years off for you, yet of course but a gem to hold onto.
    Take care lots of love Diane xx

  11. Susan September 1, 2013 at 8:55 pm -  Reply

    Beautifully written as always and so sensitively written about Amica. I still can’t believe it. Wonderful photos of you and Maddie..that’s a special one..and your lovely boys and Dan’s tree..talent there. Fabulous summer and here’s to the new bedroom xx

  12. Claire Sutton September 3, 2013 at 3:44 pm -  Reply

    Beth, so lovely to read your response back to me, it’s just incredible how many people are dealt the cruel blow of cancer and I was delighted to read that it makes you too feel ” lucky”( even though you’ve had a battle ) I wish you a lovely day,
    With love Claire x

  13. Claire Sutton September 3, 2013 at 3:49 pm -  Reply

    I’m sure Love verb was the book my sis in law is just finishing and I’m next to get my paws on! What a coincidence…I love the sound of you, supporting and enjoying your 3 little ones!!!! And most impressed that their mummy and daddy camp even with the weeny ages they are! Well done all of you!
    Thankyou very much for your comments and I know Amicas family are so very touched by all the support and care shown …her Mummy said we were all Amicas extra family…
    I send you love for a wonderful September,
    Claire x

  14. Claire Sutton September 3, 2013 at 3:51 pm -  Reply

    HI Debs, schools back today for 2 of mine…and Tom tommorow, I not happy!!! Gone are the holidays when I was breathing a sigh of relief come September…it’s all changes ahead I feel this year, hormones and attitudes…..heeeeeeellp ,
    lots of love ,
    C xx

  15. Claire Sutton September 4, 2013 at 1:12 pm -  Reply

    Hi Susan, aaah, I loved the Maddie and I one too, infant am just downloading lots to do frames for the children of all sorts of fun, memorable and friends style pics, I think it’s a framer!!!
    Can’t wait to be blogging about the bedroom, you know what I mean!!!!

  16. Claire Sutton September 4, 2013 at 1:15 pm -  Reply

    Hello Diane, Thankyou so much for your reply,
    And glad I made you laugh!
    Children all at school today, Dans in the office and we keep marvelling at the quiet!!
    Lots of love and the grandchildren gem IS one I.’ll hold on to!
    Lots of love, Claire xx

  17. Claire Sutton September 4, 2013 at 1:17 pm -  Reply

    Hi Paula Joy,
    All safely in and now the shenanigans of school runs etc commence again.
    Preparing to do battle with IPSEA support possibly re transport/ help. It’s too hard and too unfair. THat said Toms happy today as I drove him in, bit nervous he said, but excited to see all his pals!
    How’s everything with you? X

  18. Claire Sutton September 4, 2013 at 1:18 pm -  Reply

    You so sound like me!!
    dan laughs at me, as I don’t manage it al fresco so well, need a layer on!!!
    Still we did it!
    Love Claire x

  19. Claire Sutton September 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm -  Reply

    everyone agrees this summer has flown….maybe they fooled us and someone pinched a chunk of our diaries!!!!
    We all will miss our lovely girls Beulah and Amica. Thankyou for your lovely words about her,
    sending my love ,
    c x

  20. Claire Sutton September 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm -  Reply

    Norma, those are such lovely things you wrote, I really really am appreciative ….smiles to you!! Xxx
    Lots of love and speak soon,
    Claire xx

  21. Claire Sutton September 5, 2013 at 9:09 am -  Reply

    Hi Mary…reading your reply made me think …ooooookkkkkk wait till mine are soon to be 16!!! Sounds busy busy , and birthdays ahead this month…gosh 16 I think I remember it ! My daughter asked me if she ll always miss me( first day back at school) I kind of gave her your sons reply…. Good words! Well, in the car park at work and about to head in..wii Fi is rubbish in their , then I’m being made up by new CID so a nice show ahead. Ps stinky seaweed…yuk!
    Lots of love and hope school return was smooth for you too.
    C xx

  22. Claire Sutton September 5, 2013 at 9:12 am -  Reply

    Gwen, lovely to hear from you and yes Amicas smile was special..it’s hard as I expect to see her laughing in the models room…
    LOvely sunshine day as I write this, we’ ll all appreciate it won’t we, xxxxx

  23. Steven September 7, 2013 at 2:22 pm -  Reply

    Hi Claire
    So sad to hear about Amica. She was a lovely lady.
    Brilliant photos of your holiday even the one with the wind lol. In fact that could be the best one but I wont dwell on that thought! Great blog as always and as ever with you sounds like a lot of fun
    Hope you are well
    Take care
    Steven xx

  24. martin forbes September 7, 2013 at 6:51 pm -  Reply

    how are you claire i am well

  25. Claire Sutton September 9, 2013 at 9:53 am -  Reply

    Aah Steven,
    Thankyou! Lovely to read your very nice response!!!!!! Cheers a girl! Have a lovely September and pop back soon , I have a blog brewing!
    C x

  26. Claire Sutton September 9, 2013 at 9:54 am -  Reply

    hi Martin, I’m super Thankyou , so pleased to hear from you,
    With love,
    C x

  27. Claire_sutton@qvc.com September 11, 2013 at 9:36 am -  Reply

    Hi Martin, I am good Thankyou , hope you are too. This change in weather is not so good though!!
    Hope you have a lovely September.
    C x

  28. Steven September 12, 2013 at 8:55 pm -  Reply

    I am glad I made you smile Claire. I have that effect on most ladys! Ha I wish lol. Im just back from a week in London actually. It was very nice and we did a lot of the ‘tourist stereotype’ things like visited Westminster and Buckingham Palace. We were there when it was the changing of the gaurds so that was quite exciting to witness actually.
    I am back in bonnie quiet Scotland for a rest now though
    Hope you are well and have had a good week
    Steven xx

  29. dorothy collins September 13, 2013 at 10:42 am -  Reply

    hi claire, what a summer you had, and how you made me laugh with your tent antics, you are so funny……………….thanks for making me laugh and thank you for reminding me of the beautiful amica x x

  30. Myfanwy Brown October 5, 2013 at 10:36 pm -  Reply

    Dearest Claire,
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this..and I missed seeing your sunny beautiful face on QVC!
    I was just catching up on twitter, and I saw what you said about Tom’s school art project. As a Christian, I find it hard at times to explain to people why I trust in God even during suffering, and why it is God allows suffering. So, this is something I thought you might like to read, and perhaps it might help you and Dan, help Tom come up with something creative.
    Many people with incredibly strong faith in the goodness of God have suffered greatly. Sometimes the suffering comes because they believe in God, other times it’s just the normal course of life on this planet that afflicts them. The interesting thing is that unless people take God’s explanation for suffering (which is that we are sinners) they are liable to resent even the idea of God, and turn against faith in God. Many answers demonstrate this.
    The claim that, “so many God botherers tell us that there is so much suffering because He gives us free will” is a sad example of misunderstanding the Christian explanation for suffering. It’s our lack of being able to make the right choices that throws us. We cannot see further than the ends of our noses because we are sinners – we are imperfect – we are finite. That is why God’s explanations are so vital. They give us a fresh perspective that completely changes our understanding. We then see that God has broken through into our hopeless state to lift us up and deliver us from the inevitable consequences of our sinfulness. We have but to believe Him, and change our ways as he instructs. That never removes the suffering (otherwise people would be trying to ‘join up’ for utterly selfish motives). The only motive God accepts is love for Him. That is where Jesus comes in, for he demonstrates the love of God as no-one else ever has done.
    So, no – suffering does not make it impossible to believe in God because Jesus believed in God and chose to suffer an horrendous death in order to deliver us from suffering, in the long run – not instantly!
    I also miss Amica, and think of her often and pray for her family. I know from my own life, we can have peace, even in pain.
    Much love,
    your friend Myfanwy.

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