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Welcome to my online hangout space! I'm Chi - mother, childrenswear designer, founder of 106, blogger ..... Phew! I think I need to lie down. Read more.



Kew Gardens

On Saturday, I shook off my bedridden blues and headed to Kew Gardens for some family fun. It was the perfect day for it - crisp, clear and with intermittent bursts of brilliant sunshine. With so much to see and do - and a toddler in tow - we decided to follow our daughter's lead.

As it turned out, we couldn't have had a better guide.

In addition to the David Nash piece below, we stumbled upon several others nestled unobtrusively amongst the foliage and (in between squirrel-chasing and watching the birds at lunch) we tried to see who could spot them first.



She made a beeline for a magnificent Victorian carousel on the grounds but the towering creatures on it were far too intimidating for her and she opted for the mini vintage car ride instead. The cars on the track were once pedal cars but had been refurbished especially. I loved the bright colours and personalised number plates on each of them.



Several gleeful circuits later, we headed to the Princess Of Wales Conservatory. It was so unexpected to have visible breath one minute and computer-controlled tropic temperatures the next but it was a welcome change nonetheless. If I'm completely honest, the vivid colours, sights and smells made me nostalgic for Christmases spent in warmer climes.

Our time at Kew ended all too soon at the interactive Climbers and Creepers play area which turned out to be such a huge hit that it took some convincing to tear our little adventurer away.


Sick Note

I am so sorry to have vanished abruptly without a word! My relentless burning of both ends of the candle inevitably took my body to its limits. I'm not at all thrilled to have been ill (and being away from you all has made my heart heavy) but I'm glad I took some time off to get my vim and vigour back.



Working for oneself does have its perks but having to work whilst under the weather - albeit from one's cosy bed - certainly isn't one of them.



I'll be back here on Thursday with a post on our weekend adventures and, in the meantime, I'm eager to catch up on all your news. What have you been up to? Anything festive perchance?


Botanic Baubles

This morning, my little girl and I drove up to The University of Oxford Botanic Gardens to see its Big Botanic Christmas Tree. It was on our long list of things to do as a family this Saturday past but, sadly, we were unable to make it in the end.


We wandered in through the stone archway, past the fountain and, as we approached, we heard voices raised in song. The singing was coming from the Conservatory which housed the tree. At first we thought we might be intruding and hovered hesitantly at the door but we were soon ushered in by a smiling, pitch perfect choir.

The tree was enormous and stopped just short of the glass ceiling. I tried in vain to capture it in its entirety and eventually settled for detail shots instead. Festooned with seedpods and decorations fashioned out of dried orange slices and fragrant cinnamon bundles, there wasn't a single bauble in sight and it looked glorious. The decorations had been made by the local schoolchildren and each of them had proudly attached their names to their creations. Aren't they sweet?



We are yet to get our Christmas tree but when we do, I hope to achieve a similarly heady effect. My daughter's little nose is never far from an orange -  so enamoured is she of its scent - and she has a collection of pine cones to rival any squirrel in the land so I just know she'll love an homage of sorts.

What's your personal preference - baubles and tinsel or mostly au naturel, as above?


Twentieth Century Joy

A few days ago, I finally took the single most important step towards becoming a bonafide citizen of the twenty first century - I bought a smartphone. It arrived yesterday and you will, no doubt, be pleased to hear that I have gone from this relic from a bygone era:



To this:



To be perfectly honest, I find all the talk of blue teeth and androids vaguely unsettling but, who cares? At long last, I get to live the life I was promised in all those sci-fi movies. In fact, so new am I to this world of endless technological possibilities that I spent the better part of yesterday and last night setting it all up. I dutifully hooked it up to my PC for an instant upgrade - as requested by Samsung - not knowing that the poor thing would be hijacked for the rest of the day, leaving me unable to blog my exciting news as planned.

I am over the first hurdle now having worked out how to turn it on and off, listen to music, surf the net and - oh, yes! - set up an Instagram account where we can all hang out. Let the good times roll!


In The Beginning

"The grace to be a beginner is always the best prayer for an artist. The beginner's humility and openness lead to exploration. Exploration leads to accomplishment. All of it begins at the beginning, with the first small and scary step."

/Julia Cameron/


A lot is made of experience and how important it is to have as much as possible to get ahead in practically every human endeavour. There is a grain of truth in this manner of thinking but consider this. Imagine if you had little or no experience in your chosen venture - no preconceived notions and, therefore, no set way of doing things. Imagine if your lack of experience made you more curious, more alert to nuances and detail in your general approach. Think of the innovations you could come up with!

Children are, of course, adept at throwing themselves into whatever they do with gusto. They don't spare a moment's thought for rules, formulas or how the child that came before did it - they simply begin. I often watch my little girl with a silent reminder to let my inner child come out to play more often.


/Image: "Bunny" by FLATOUTbear, embellishment by my daughter aged 2 years and 8 months/


I'm not at all advocating recklessness but rather the thrill of embracing the unknown and all it could be. It's scary being a beginner but it is also life affirming. There really is nothing quite like embarking on a new adventure, emboldened by naivety and wooed by the possibility of making your mark.

Have you ever begun a project without doing endless amounts of research or giving it exhaustive thought? Do tell. I love a story with a good beginning.