WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS: Suzi Peake


Some of the best friends you make in life are those you meet when you have children... That shared experience of joining the mysterious motherhood club bonds you together in a very real way, making you a part of each other's day to day lives. Having someone to share those early trials and tribulations with can be a lifesaver and for me that person was Suzi Peake - another of my desert island friends.

We moved back to our first home in North Wales a few weeks after our first daughter Arabella was born and within days we met Suzi, with her firstborn Isla, sitting out on the grass. She was the first Mummy-friend I made and it was no time at all before we were spending a few days a week together. Whether out for long walks pushing the prams, at each other's homes for playdates, sharing stories over tea and toast (or the occasional Prosecco when our husbands took the girls out for Daddy Daycare), or bonding over our kids delight at discovering their world around them, Suzi was the best friend I could have possibly hoped for in those early years.

Our daughters were equally delighted about having found each other and the friendship that grew between them was beautiful and very special. From tentative crawling, to chasing each other around wherever we went, to kicking up leaves and picking flowers, to afternoons spent crafting, painting, baking, playing and reading lots of stories, they did it all together and had so much fun. As did we!

Suzi and I also shared the joys of pregnancy with each other... Our second kids were born a few months apart and we looked after each other's daughters during the arrival of the babies. Sadly we left for NZ when they were both only a few months old and the Potter-Peake years came to an end, but there is no-one who will ever replace them in our hearts.

Suzi is wonderful and wise beyond her years. There was many a time she rescued me with her centred, down to earth approach to life and kind, thoughtful ways. She is strong, courageous, extremely intelligent, the most marvellous mother and a truly fabulous friend to those who are lucky enough to have her in their lives.

Dear Dear Suzi, I cannot tell you how grateful I am for the years we spent together, I will always cherish the fun, fond memories. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your wisdom, your love, your support, your exceptional company and above all your friendship... x

Now over to you:

1. What does Lovelyness mean to you? 

There are many things that cause me to think ‘that’s lovely’ – from a beautiful sunset to an unexpected act of kindness from a stranger.

2. When are you happiest? What brings you joy?

The tiniest things bring me joy, but they almost always relate to my family. Watching my son read his first book, my daughter swim her first length, a walk with my husband and children as the leaves fall … they’ll move me to tears and make me feel like I’m one of the luckiest people alive.

3. What are you most grateful for in your life?

The unwavering support and love of my husband, no matter what. My two children who constantly amaze me and surprise me, and the fact that I have a profession that allows me to balance my time with work so that I can be there to drop them off and pick them up from school every day. Also, my group of strong, independent, vocal and brilliant female friends, many of whom I’ve known since University.

4. What would you list as your top 3 priorities in life? 

There’s only really one: trying to strike the right balance between work/play and life for everyone in our family. We all need time to ourselves and time together (in 2’s, 3’s and 4’s), and I think that the time we stop checking if the balance is right will be the time we get it horribly wrong.

5. Who’s your current role model and why?

I don’t really have one at the moment. I’m very happy with where I am in my life.

6. Who do you see as being lovely and why? (Famous or not)

There are many people that I admire greatly, and I’d have to mention my friend Katie here, who became a single-parent when her husband tragically died of cancer 8 years ago. I admire anyone who brings up a child alone, and Katie has battled hard and sacrificed a great deal to provide her daughter with every opportunity, security and love – in often difficult circumstances. She’s finally now getting a chance to shine in her career and is doing brilliantly, I am so proud of her. We could all learn something from her positivity, attitude and determination ‘not to be a victim’.

7. What's your favourite type of food? 

Tapas/Smorgasbords/sharing plates/buffets – anything with lots of choice – my daughter calls them ‘picky bits!’

8. What are your favourite pastimes?

Dancing with my daughter to Strictly Come Dancing, doing jigsaws with my son, walks as a family, reading a great book, the first glass of wine on a Friday night with my husband when the kids are in bed, girlie weekends with my pals, the list goes on!

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

No. I think people are far too quick to rattle off quotes at times. As a copywriter, I often get frustrated when organisations and people use other’s quotes to try and make sense of what they do. I think it’s lazy. Quotes can be helpful, but there are also times when people throw them around in a preachy way, and I’m more interested in the individual or story hiding behind the quote.

10. Where’s your favourite place?

Generally speaking anywhere in the open air with my family. Or a hot tub with my best girlfriends.

11. Which is your favourite season and why?

Summer. Though I seem to sit and spend around 3 months waiting for it to arrive. It’s the unfortunate affliction of living in Britain.

12. Do you have a signature style?

I don’t think so, but I suspect my friends and family would say I do. They’ll pick things up in shops and say ‘this is very you’. I think I just like what I like.

13. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and how have they shaped who you are today?

I didn’t really have an inspirational figure growing up. If I could go back to that time, knowing what I know now, I would say my mum. I couldn’t appreciate how much she sacrificed for her children back then, but I sure as hell do now. I just wish she was still alive so I could tell her what a hero I think she was.

14. Which qualities do you value most from those closest to you?

Honesty and loyalty. I’m not very good at asking for help or support, and I really value my friends that know that, but pitch up and give it anyway. I’m not one for drama or wallowing – and I love my friends that come round and make me laugh.

15. What are your best attributes? What are your worst?

Best: I’d like to think I always find the time to be there for those who need me.

Worst: Impatience. If I’ve made a decision about something, I’m not very good at waiting for it happen. I can also be rather grumpy, especially in the mornings – and I’m not good at hiding my emotions, they’re written clearly over my face!

16. How would you most like your friends to describe you?

Always there to listen and offer up advice without being judgemental (I hope).

17. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?

I’d share my time between Colorado, the Isle of Skye, Glasgow and Thailand, depending on the season, dress shopping requirements, R&R needs and of course Midge numbers (anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of meeting the wee Scottish biting Midge, be grateful…)

Thailand

Thailand

18. What are your aspirations for the future?

At the moment I’m in a place where I’m happy to see how the next few years unfold. I’m looking forward to seeing what opportunity life will present next. It’s a good place to be as there’s no pressure.

19. Can you recommend: a lovely song, a lovely movie, a lovely book?

  • Book: I read so many picture books to my kids that make me say ‘What a lovely book!’ I think we should all read children’s books more often, they’re good for the soul.
  • Movie: I can't think of any movie that sticks in my mind I'm afraid. 
  • Song: I constantly have the soundtrack to Annie in my head as it's Isla's all time favourite at the moment!

20. Any Lovely Last Words?

That would be too like a quote for my liking.

July 2011 

July 2011 

WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS: Lynsey Hackett


Lynsey Hackett - Photo by  Sarah Jane's Photography

Lynsey Hackett - Photo by Sarah Jane's Photography

This week's Wonderful Woman hails from beautiful North Wales and is one of my desert island friends... Those people that, if I were stranded or had the money to fly them all together, I would have there with me to enjoy it. Lynsey Hackett is an outstandingly fabulous friend, a wonderful inspiration and help to people all around her and one of the most generous people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. She lights up any room with her effervescent personality and to be in her presence is to be in the presence of happiness - I'm convinced she passed this on as her fairy godmother gift to our second daughter Lucy!

I met Lynsey seven years ago when we moved to North Wales to be close to some of my family before starting our own. I needed somebody to help me in designing business cards and a website for my first interior design venture and she fit the bill perfectly. I instantly loved her and even after the first drafts weren't quite as I expected, she persisted until it was perfect. We formed a friendship, got our husbands together who hit it off just as well and before we knew it they'd become part of our lives. We did feel that we weren't anywhere near cool enough for them, but for some reason they loved us anyway! (Perhaps it was because we were one of the only other young couples in the area without kids at the time.) During my first pregnancy - in the middle of dark, cold Welsh winter - they popped round one evening without warning bearing wine and ice cream. I panicked, ran upstairs and told Simon to tell whoever it was that I was unwell, because I was already in my pjs and dressing gown at 8pm... They wouldn't take no for an answer, accepted me just the way I was and it was from that moment onwards I knew we'd be lifelong friends!

Lynsey saw me through both pregnancies and was a complete blessing as a friend. During my first we formed the Sunday Club, taking it in turns to have dinner at each other's houses every week - it was her & Paul who got me eating red meat when my midwife instructed it and Paul's legendary burgers that I'm convinced finally kicked me into labour after being 13 days overdue! Armed with numerous gifts and pink champagne, they were amongst the first people to see both of our daughters within hours of them each being born. Little Lucy arrived unexpectedly early on the day Lynsey was going to take maternity photos of me, so it ended up being a newborn shoot instead.

We are wildly different women but I guess sometimes it is true what they say, opposites attract! Whilst we are at opposite ends of the spectrum on some things, we are also very alike on a human level, sharing the same values, morals, sense of humour and love of good fun & friendship.

Dear Dear Lynsey, my life wouldn't be nearly as sweet without you in it. Thank you for the years worth of love, for a fabulous friendship, for great times and for fond fond memories... We will love you always! x 

Now over to you:

Lynsey Hackett - Photo by  Sarah Jane's Photography

Lynsey Hackett - Photo by Sarah Jane's Photography

1. What does Lovelyness mean to you? 

Lovelyness is anything that you experience, see, feel, hear or taste that leaves a positive memory, warm fuzzy feeling and makes an improvement to your life.

2. When are you happiest? What brings you joy?

My family bring me so much joy.  Daily, my son Dexter (two and a half) and my daughter Coco (15 months) fill my heart with joy. You could have had the worst news ever or be ill in bed but with these two in my life it is impossible not to smile and laugh daily and for that I am so grateful.

My husband Paul makes my heart fill with joy when I see him playing with our children, rolling around on the floor with them or reading stories to them with interesting voices for the characters in the books.

Lynsey and Family

Lynsey and Family

I am happiest when my creative cravings are being satisfied and they are satisfied in many ways...

Going to festivals and listening to live music, reading a good book, visiting galleries, going for a walk to the beach and soaking up the view, dressing up for a night out, a new pair of shoes, riding horses, eating a fabulous homemade meal, designing brand identities for new businesses, photographing family and friends. I could go on... 

3. What are you most grateful for in your life?

Apart from the obvious answer of being grateful for my family and friends, I am so grateful for my health and high level of energy. We all take our health for granted at times and it only takes a bad cold or a nasty stomach bug to make you realise, how being healthy makes life so much better. 

4. What would you list as your top 3 priorities in life? 

  1. As a Jehovah’s Witness it is important for me to read the Bible daily and to follow the example Jesus made on the earth by being the best person I can be, to love my neighbour and to show my gratitude in prayer to Jehovah every day.
  2. That I am trying my hardest to be the best wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and person I can be and to be happy.
  3. To do something that satisfies my creative need every day.

5. Who’s your current role model and why?

I don’t have one role model but rather take inspiration from many different people who come into my life, whether that be through the media, business or everyday life.

6. Who do you see as being lovely and why? (Famous or not)

Without a doubt the sweetest, most caring, genuine and thoughtful person I have ever met is Holly Potter. I remember meeting Holly for the first time and being so impressed by her friendliness. She was so happy and positive and was full of excitement with her future plans. I found her company refreshing and it inspired me to want to be a better friend and thoughtful person. I can genuinely say that I am a more thoughtful person as a result of meeting Holly and having her in my life. For this I thank you Holly. xx

(Lovely Lynsey, I thank you!!! X)

7. What's your favourite type of food? 

I love food! And drink for that matter. To pick a favourite is difficult for me but if I was to be pushed for an answer I would have to say Thai.

8. What are your favourite pastimes?

  • I love spending time with my two children and hearing them giggle and smile with every inch of their bodies.
  • I love going to concerts with my husband and jumping around in the mosh pit like we are teenagers.
  • I love to watch a good film or to be captivated in a great book.
  • I love to go horse riding, although I don’t get to go that often these days.
  • I love to cook for friends and family.
  • I love to go camping with friends and to sit around a campfire drinking red wine and looking up at the stars.

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

10. Where’s your favourite place?

North Wales will always hold the key to my heart.

Menai Bridge, Anglesey - Photo by  Eifion Williams

Menai Bridge, Anglesey - Photo by Eifion Williams

11. Which is your favourite season and why?

Autumn is by far my favourite season. I love the colours of autumn and find walking in my wellies through the fallen leaves of the trees breath taking.

12. Do you have a signature style?

I’m not sure how to describe my style, perhaps a mix of quirky, gothic and arty.

13. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and how have they shaped who you are today?

Both my parents worked hard to provide for us children when we where growing up and I am very grateful for that. I was brought up on a hill farm in North Wales and am very grateful for the work ethic and resourcefulness that has been instilled in me as a result.

14. Which qualities do you value most from those closest to you?

Genuineness, loyalty and to be fun loving.

15. What are your best attributes? What are your worst?

I like to consider myself to be a thoughtful person and like I mentioned above have been inspired to be thoughtful in many different ways by the lovely Holly Potter. I have found that having children has opened up so many more opportunities to be thoughtful. I love to create hand printed cards and paintings with the children as thank you cards etc which are very well received.

 "There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving” Acts 20 v 35

I am very hard working but can be a bit of a workaholic. Having a family certainly has helped me be a more balanced person when it comes to work, and I am grateful for that. The only thing in school that I always got grade A’s for was art and design. Creativity comes so naturally to me. I feel very blessed to have creativity as one of my attributes and just love the way creativity is knitted into everyday aspects of my life.

Now for the dark side ;-)

I do at times find myself being impatient, although I am also a very patient person in some situations. I am very patient when it comes to work and never lose my temper when it comes to being stuck in traffic etc but I do find myself feeling very impatient when I feel that my husband Paul isn’t moving fast enough on a task or not quick enough to respond when I call for assistance with the kids etc. Poor Paul really does get the worst of me sometimes and for that I am very sorry. 

I don’t suffer fools gladly... There are times in life when you meet the odd person that comes across as a bit of an idiot and unfortunately I find that I can’t hide my annoyance from my face.

16. How would you most like your friends to describe you?

Fun to be with, positive, creative and reliable.

17. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?

Considering myself not to be as well travelled as I would one day like to be, I'm not sure how to answer this question. For the moment I am very happy living in North Wales even if it does rain a lot.

18. What are your aspirations for the future?

It’s amazing how having a family really changes what’s important to you in life. If you had asked me this question 5 years ago you would have got a very different answer. My aspirations for the future are to be the best role model, support and mother I can be for my children.

19. Can you recommend: a lovely song, a lovely movie, a lovely book?

  • Book: "The Slight Edge" - Jeff Olson. This inspirational book shows that how making the best choices in life daily will lead to a successful, more fulfilled future you desire.
  • Movie: "The Book Thief" - This film is a wonderful tail of loyalty, friendship and love.                      "500 days of Summer" - I love this film so much. It’s funny, realistic and not what you would expect from a romantic comedy. And it has a fantastic soundtrack too.
  • Song:  "Great Expectations" - ELBOW. This Manchester based band ELBOW are by far my favourite band. I have seen them in concert so many times over the years I have actually lost count. But this song ‘Great Expectations’ never fails to give me goose bumps each time I listen to it. Guy Garvey really is a wordsmith.

20. Any Lovely Last Words?

At the beginning of each day ask yourself... "What can I do today that will get me closer to my goals?"

Thank you for reading my answers.

Lynsey Hackett - Photo by  Sarah Jane's Photography

Lynsey Hackett - Photo by Sarah Jane's Photography

WONDERFUL WOMEN WEDNESDAYS: Claire Moffatt


      Claire Moffat

      Claire Moffat

I am both delighted and excited this week to feature one of the loveliest people I have ever had the privilege of meeting and someone who, despite the thousands of miles between us, I am lucky enough to count amongst my very best friends. Claire and I met at a local music group we both attended here in Hamilton with our little girls and as we were both foreigners in a new country, we instantly had something in common - as well as the fact that we each had a daughter the same age and almost share the same birthday. We happened to live off the same street so it was a friendship that easily and quickly developed into a very strong bond, not just for us but for our daughters too who became tiny best friends. We bonded over play dates, park visits, paddling pools, picnics, days at the Gardens, baking & crafting sessions, cups of tea, kiddie dinners, weekend barbeques, occasional meltdowns and far too infrequent grown up evenings with a glass of wine. 

I remember before starting our family always being told that you form some of your closest friendships when you have children and in this case it certainly turned out to be true. Although I don’t necessarily agree that just having children in common guarantees lifelong friendships, I do believe that it puts you in a position to meet like-minded women with similar values and gives you the opportunity to spend quality time with wonderful people you may have otherwise not met. Whether through a playgroup, a music group, a kindergarten or years spent at the same school gates, just being there opens the doors to starting a conversation and building up a marvellous friendship with someone new…

For any of you out there who knows Claire, I’m sure you already know how blessed you are to have her in your life, whether as a friend or the person helping you with all things pregnancy and baby related. For those of you who don’t, I hope you enjoy reading her words and I wish you all a similarly wonderful friend! Claire is exceptionally kind, sincere, thoughtful, brave, warm, friendly, fun, creative and as my 6 year old Arabella would say, “entirely lovely!”  

My darling Clara, my soul sister, I miss you always and we all miss your family in our lives. I thank you - more than my heart can fully express - for your friendship and for the far too short but oh so sweet time we shared together in NZ. I thank you for the memories, I thank you for the laughter, I thank you for the tears and I thank you for the love… X 

Now over to you:

1. What does Lovelyness mean to you? 

"Lovelyness" is when a person/object has the ability to leave you feeling all the better for having been in their presence. It's warm and radiant and wholesome... a hug, fits of laughter, a cup of tea. 

2. When are you happiest? What brings you joy?

I am happiest when my family is happy. What brings me joy? To put a smile on someone's face! And good music!

3. What are you most grateful for in your life?

For health, for my husband and children, for good friends.

4. What would you list as your top 3 priorities in life? 

  • To raise my girls the way they deserve to be raised.
  • To be the kind of person that people are better off for having known.
  • To "act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God" Micah 6:8

5. Who’s your current role model and why?

A lady in my family. The reason she's my role model is because she is a "see the good in everyone" type of person. She has had trials in her life and she has dealt with them with perseverance and gentleness and those are qualities I would strive to have. That, and she's an amazing mum and I strive for that too.

6. Who do you see as being lovely and why? (Famous or not)

These are two women who became friends of mine through our children.

The first is a friend who's daughter was born on the same day as my youngest. She is lovely because she remembers everything about what's going on in peoples lives, in a good way. She's thoughtful and she follows up!

The other friend, who will always be lovely to me, has a little girl the same age as my oldest. This friend embodies loveliness in her style and in the way she is with others. She's comfortable with who she is and loves to make others happy, and that's lovely! 

Famous: Reese Witherspoon and The Dutchess of Cambridge, because they just are, aren't they?

7. What's your favourite type of food? 

It's more about favourite flavours than a type of food... ginger and coriander top it. I'm a Durban girl so I love a good curry. I have a serious weakness for salted dark chocolate but can't do a lot at a time fortunately!

8. What are your favourite pastimes?

Anything I can put my hand to that's a creative outlet: baking, cooking, painting, furniture projects and more recently, building lego with my 4 year old! I also love to read.

9. Do you have a favourite quote?

10. Where’s your favourite place?

The African Bush... there's something so soulful about it, especially the rivers. I love the quiet, and the smell. It's like breathing in goodness. The Kruger Park holds a particularly special place in my heart. I grew up going there on family vacations and it's taught me such an appreciation for nature and I feel very close to God there.

11. Which is your favourite season and why?

Summer! Sunshine makes me happy and I just don't cope in the cold! Summer also brings the Christmas season here in South Africa, and that is my "most wonderful time of the year".

12. Do you have a signature style?

My Havaiana's are my best friend... I'm a flip flop girl by day but love nothing better than throwing on heels that are probably a bit too high and getting all dressed up for an occasion or a night out!

In terms of my home, it's a mix of stuff we've collected along the way and the overall look is now a bit afro-coastal. Most pieces have a story, like the studio chairs we bought on the side of the road in Kenya that my darling indulging husband carried back on the flight home for me. Another is our console table made from the wood of a Dhow boat that we designed as our first baby's changing table.

13. Who was your biggest inspiration growing up and how have they shaped who you are today?

My late Gran, Alice. This little lady (in stature not character) was graciousness personified! She out-lived four young children and a husband and had every right to be angry but she was anything but. She saw the good in pretty much everyone and had a sense of humour second to none.  She taught me that there's something to catch onto in this life, and that is to look for the rainbows and not the storm clouds, to rise above whatever gets thrown at you. Not only to rise above, but rise above and fly.

14. Which qualities do you value most from those closest to you?

Honesty is paramount. I really value loyalty and trust, and I do best with "what you see is what you get" people, people who are comfortable enough in their own skin to allow me to be me.

15. What are your best attributes? What are your worst?

Ok, let's start with the worst... I have the ability to take things personally and I care a lot about what others think. But I'm learning that sometimes what other people think doesn't matter, and when it does matter then I must learn from it!

Best attributes... I cannot lie (even if I want to, not even the small white kind) and I care a whole lot, so if I can help I will go out of my way to.

16. How would you most like your friends to describe you?

LOVELY! Loyal, consistant.

17. If you could pick any place in the world to live, where would it be and why?

I am most at home in Africa and I love Umdloti where we live now. It's a small coastal town with wildlife that visit the garden most days but it's close enough to convenience if I need it! If I had to choose somewhere else in South Africa it would probably be Cape Town because it's just beautiful and well run. If I had to choose a city outside of Africa, I loved Boston, it's got a great culture and is also so pretty... but I haven't been to Paris yet ;)

18. What are your aspirations for the future?

To be a good wife and mother. To grow my baby clinic and lactation consulting practice, and be a blessing to young moms in my community.

19. Can you recommend: a lovely song, a lovely movie, a lovely book?

  • Song: "The way you look tonight" by Frank Sinatra. I danced with my Dad to this at my wedding and it makes me smile.
  • Movie: I have two. "The Family Stone" which I watch (with a box of tissues) every Christmas. It just ticks all the boxes for me! The other is "The Polar Express" which I watch with my girls at Christmas time too!
  • Book: There are many but I have read "The Notebook" by Nicholas Sparks many times and can still get lost in it every time.

20. Any Lovely Last Words?

In the words of Edward Monkton: "Let us be lovely, let us be kind, let us be silly and free. It won't make us famous, it won't make us rich but dammit how happy we'll be."

And I have to say I love this blog... "Lovelyness" is a good thing to pursue!

Claire x  - Grow Perinatal Care

New Year's Eve 2012 

New Year's Eve 2012