It’s been another mad week, I’ve been busy trying to get the first new ranges that I’ve worked on signed off so the hours have been long. Most days, in addition to my usual 11 hour day, I’ve been starting again after the boys have gone to bed. But there is an upside, it’s meant that the good times have been precious – it’s the old bittersweet thing again. So, I’m not going to bore you with my work outfits which have been dresses that I’ve dragged on for days that have been eat sleep work repeat. Nor am I going to moan about the fact that our part of Britain has been exempt from the heatwave that has swept the rest of the UK this week. Instead, let me take you along with me on the good times, starting with our camping weekend which was better than expected.

So, we drove through the Duddon Valley in the Lake District  with our hearts sinking – it seemed that a whole new type of weather was being thrown at us as the clouds shrouded the hills. When we arrived our friends had already set up camp and see how well they know me – I was greeted with this!


We’re old hands at this campsite so we’d already booked our favourite table at the pub in the village and as soon as the tents were up we made a beeline for it. The boys know to pack for bad weather and so, almost before we sat down, they launched themselves into a furiously competitive card game which was taken more seriously by some…


..than others!


So we stayed in the pub until we’d eaten (and drunk) our fill and then had a moonlit walk back to our tents for a night spent sleeping by a babbling brook. Unbelievably we were woken at 6am by the sun already blazing through the tent walls. For once it was a glorious day.

Gradually, the boys emerged from their tents one by one to cope with the realisation that their phones had run out of charge. There followed a short period of grumpy withdrawal as they sat in camping chairs scratching their heads over bacon sandwiches, looking for different ways to express just how much they hated camping. However, after about an hour, we experienced our second miracle. They remembered the ancient art of playing. First of all football and rugby…(yes, they worked out a game with both balls at the same time)…


…and then the dads got in the groove and built a dam (which was seriously hampered by the dogs’ enthusiasm)…




…there followed a long game of ‘kick the can’ (my friend and I stayed nobly at base to protect the can).The dogs joined in (again)…


I was very touched to see that my boys remembered the ‘maids of honour’ that my mum used to make with them when they were tiny (a lump in the throat moment)…


We had a lazy walk down to the river and of course the temptation for a bit of spontaneous wild swimming was too hard to resist. Nature provided a waterslide in the form of a waterfall…


…nearly everyone made it…




…bone chillingly cold as you can see…


We knew that we should stop whilst we were ahead and so we packed up late that night and headed home. Sure enough we woke up the next day in our own beds to the sound of torrential rain.

So, as I mentioned, most of my week has been about working very hard. I’ve remembered that it’s not a good idea to do 16 hour days because people just get used to you working at that speed and start to take it for granted. I now need to backtrack…quickly! Mr MC has been working even longer hours than me and so one night, we decided not to waste time cooking and opted for fish and chips on the beach instead. The middle one has finally resigned himself to featuring in my blog and appears to be milking it…


Joules Harbour Breton (in the sale in this colour way – be quick); Wallis cropped jeans; IDLF @ Uniqlo sweatshirt; Boden rose gold slingbacks; Whistles bag.

You can see how wrapped up I am – this was officially the hottest UK day since records began when ballboys were fainting at Wimbledon – pah!

Today has been Founders’ Day at the grammar school that the eldest and youngest go to. It dates back to 1235 and so is steeped in tradition. As usual, today they all wore the red roses of Lancaster in their lapels. Here’s a ‘before the ceremony happy shot’

Nikki Garnett, midlife chic

Hobbs Jacket; Boden skirt, Jigsaw camisole, Jigsaw Milly shoes

(NB – as you know I love these shoes and wear them lots. They add a great contrast to so many outfits and they are the only pointed courts I have found that are truly comfortable to wear all day. They have been brought back in as sale stock reduced from £149 to £43 here – there are a few sizes left, you’re mad if you don’t buy them)!

…and an ‘after the event picture’ where I’m looking a bit wistful

IMG_4314 (1)

This year it was very moving to see my youngest celebrating the completion of his first year and (gulp) my eldest officially leaving and being welcomed as an ‘old Lancastrian’ into the old boys’ society. Tonight he will go to his first formal dinner. I’ve said a few times that I’ve been too preoccupied to confront the fact that he is leaving school but today it hit me.

His first day at primary school was on 11th September 2001, a day that has resonance for people all around the world – like everyone I’ll never forget the moment when I heard the news. My middle son was five weeks old and we’d been snuggled up taking an afternoon nap on the sofa. Not wanting to wake my snoozing baby, I switched on the TV to check that I wasn’t late for school pick up only to see the first tower fall. It was already a day that I would never forget and of course events made it even more significant. Here’s my eldest, sitting solemnly, waiting for his first morning to start (no sign of the broad, rugby playing prop forward that he would grow into):

Jake 35

And now his schooldays are over and he’s ready to launch himself into the big wide world. His exam results in August will decide his next steps but for now, I’m relishing the times we’re having with him. Camping was extra special last week because he was there joining in as he’s always done – but possibly for the last time. His dreams are big and I suspect his intelligence, his charm and his ebullient nature will take him far away from me. The mother in me hopes he spreads his wings and flies as far can but the mum in me wants to wrap him up and hold him close. We’ll see. In the meantime I’m so proud of him, whatever his August results are.

The Founders’ Day speech was given by an old boy who I realised must have been in the same year as my brother. His message was that ‘everybody is outstanding at something.’ He told the boys that his experience had taught him that the key to finding happiness is not trying to be the person you think you ought to be. His advice was that instead, they should define their own outstanding talent and then build their lives around it. It was very apt for me personally at the moment and it felt significant that it came from one of my brother’s peers and was then followed by the hymn to the tune of the Dambusters that we sang at my dad’s funeral – it felt as though someone was trying to tell me something.

So, I’m leaving you with a picture of the only things I’ve bought in the Summer Sales and more apologies at the end of another week – I’m still way behind on my correspondence with you. I have over 50 emails to reply to from my last 2 posts as well as the comments and I’m working on them whenever I get a chance. Bear with me and have a fabulous week…it’s the countdown to the end of term – now that’s going to be a challenge for me this year!

Nikki Garnett, midlifechic

Boden peony shell top – still available (reviews recommend buying a size up because it shrinks slightly in the wash); Next relaxed skinny jeans; Boden Alice high heels – for me there was only ever this colour, I love them, they’re still available and now a half price bargain (better reviews for the high heels than the mid heels and a great choice because they really aren’t very high); Whistles bag

PS I have just come back to post this after spending 15 stressful minutes trying to show my eldest how to iron the trousers of the dinner suit that had obviously been left at the bottom of his wardrobe since he last wore it. The experience has left me pondering the benefits of the very academic education that has left him capable of reciting the Greek alphabet as a party trick but seemingly bereft of any practical skill whatsoever!