Wednesday, December 09, 2009


During last month Neil joined several of his male colleagues (and thousands of others around the world, mainly in the Antipodes I think) in growing a moustache to raise money for research into testicular cancer. It has to be said his immediate family were not really impressed - Daniel was the most pleased with it as it gave him something else to pull on and investigate - but at least it was for a good cause.
It was lovely to be visited by Monique for a few days; having not seen her since we left NZ nearly 3 years ago we had lots to catch up on and lots to reminisce about. On a day - well, let's face it, a month - of pouring rain we decided to visit the SS Great Britain which apparantly is a great attraction whatever the weather...and it was! All inside or under cover apart from briefly being on deck and for that the rain stopped for the 15 minutes we needed it to!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Daniel's First Birthday!

Daniel is one today! We're celebrating with lots of friends and family through the week but the highlight for Daniel so far definitely seems to be his cake, complete with chocolate buttons!

Friday, November 06, 2009


The biggest and best news of the moment is that we've finally sold our house in Sheffield. It had been on the market for a loooong time and even the time from initial offer to completion was six months (with an unbelievable number of hassles along the way) but it's now done and dusted and we're looking forward to where next!
Half term was last week and we went and 'holidayed' in Alastair and Helen's house in Liverpool while they holidayed in France!

Matthew thought it was amusing to be eating a banana whilst standing next to one of the many famous 'superlambananas' around the city and the boys enjoyed 'racing' each other along the steps (designed by their uncle Alastair) outside Liverpool's Catholic cathedral.

We had amazing autumnal weather and so much fun playing in the leaves - me the most I think! I can't get over what a good match Daniel's hair is for all the colours of the season!

We had quite early starts all week as the body clocks of the boys remained on BST for a fair while after the clocks changed. To compensate Matthew still manages to fall asleep in strange places and in awkward positions during the day; a couple of weeks ago I had to carry him to the sofa because he was so tired he'd lay down on a coconut doormat on the kitchen floor to go to sleep!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Growing Up

Matthew started morning preschool this September; not that big a deal as he's been there in the afternoons for 6 months. But he's been "waiting for ages" to go "after breakfast" and now he can wear the 'uniform' too it's all abit more official!

Saturday, September 12, 2009


On September 4th we had been married 10 YEARS!!! Hooray!!! To celebrate our wedding anniversary we spent the weekend in Dublin (on our own - thank you Ken and Sylvia for looking after our boys!) and had a wonderful time! No digital photos as I left the battery for the camera behind! We learnt lots of the history of the city whilst walking (and bus-ing) the length and breadth of it (therefore crossed the Liffey a lot!), ate delicious food, experienced the buzz of the city when the hurling championship final is on (Kilkenny won for the fourth year in a row but it was controversial - just in case you're interested!), didn't get rained on all that much and thoroughly enjoyed being together - just us!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Summer 09

So, brief catch-up: much is still the same in the Shepherd household but there are a couple of significant changes since the end of June; notably that Sam has now moved to Norway (so Matthew has now moved into Sam's old room in the attic which he loves) and Daniel is now crawling and standing, which changes life dramatically!

We've had quite a relaxing summer hanging out in Bristol and catching up with friends...Emilia was 'home' for the summer and it was so good hanging out

...and family(clearing out our house in Sheffield wasn't exactly relaxing but amusing to reminisce and, yet again, discover the many ridiculous items we've kept over the years! There have been many annoying obstacles to completing the house sale but hoping it goes through very soon...)

The latest addition to the Shepherd clan, our nephew Luke Maguire, arrived at the beginning of August and it was lovely to meet him at only a few hours old.

We've visited a few farms over the last couple of months but the best aspects included a maize maze, go-karts and sheep racing (among the sheep were 'Fleece Lightning', 'Woolly Whippet', 'Lamb-orghini'!). Sally, my sister, joined us at one and the boys really enjoyed her company and participation!

In Hartlepool Matthew went to his first football match (which he managed to fall asleep in!).

Daniel also demonstrated that he will eat anything he can get his hands on; very frustrating when all the time on the beach is spent taking stones etc out of his mouth (in the garden particluar favourites are flowers and bumble bees!) but not as painful as he when he decides to take a chunk out of you!

Although the weather this summer has not been what was forecast it has not been nearly as dismal as last summer and the day we spent at Newby Hall was warm enough to play in the fountain.

We also made the obligatory annual visit to the Downs to watch the launch of balloons at the fiesta; Daniel has taken after his brother and is quite an early-riser too so it wasn't too much effort to be out and having a picnic breakfast at 7am!

The highlight of the summer was a wedding anniversary treat from Alastair and Helen (Neil's brother and sister-in-law) - tickets to see U2 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff! Neil had never been to a major gig so this was a good 'first'! It was amazing; venue, music, atmosphere, overall 'show' just brilliant and it helped being only about 30metres from the walkway that came out from the stage! No photos - I think you probably had to be there!

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Matthew turned three in May and the birthday celebrations lasted for a week, including three cakes! He loves anything to do with football or rugby so a 'proper' rugby ball, football strip, goals and football bedding were the highlights of gifts!

The Shepherd family got together the weekend before Matthew's birthday and the weather was so lovely we went to the beach; Daniel's first experience of sand which took some getting used to! That was a big weekend of firsts for Daniel including sitting unaided, eating in a highchair and rolling over! I guess he wanted a share of the limelight!

On Matthew's actual birthday we went to the zoo. It was particularly wet but there was a new attraction - feeding the lorikeets. Sam came with us, we thought it would be good for him to visit Bristol zoo before he leaves in July :(

Then came the party! Nine 2-5 year olds was not quite as manic as I thought it would be - and we managed to get outside to hunt for 'treasure' in between the rain showers which helped.

I've also had a birthday which had to include a cake and pass-the-parcel as it's obviously not a birthday without them! That was great but I think I enjoyed the visit to the Chocolate cafe in Clifton, the strawberries and wine and dinner out with Neil a little more!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Our Boys


We had a fantastic time in Sheffield the week before Easter. It was a wonderful combination of catching up with special friends (the most bizarre spending quality time with Emma and Dan and reminiscing about NZ and it feeling like it was only last week, rather than two years ago, that we were there together!), chilling out as a family and visiting some of our favourite places in and around the city

Padley Gorge

On Easter Monday, back in Bristol, we went on the miniature railway at Ashton Court which was a little gem to discover for a Sunday afternoon out in the summer. We went with our Kiwi friends Paul, Ange, Toby and Hana - making the most of time with them before they head back to New Zealand at the end of May :(

And Daniel has started on solid food!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

BIG catch up!

Big apologies for being so appaling at keeping this blog up-to-date; surely my excuse of tiredness and having two small children is acceptable...anyway, here are some of the photo highlights:

We spent Christmas day on our own in Bristol then travelled the length of the country visiting family which was great fun.
We embarked on our customary New Year's Day walk; this year it was to Matthew's favourite place in Bristol, Leigh Woods (this is because he can follow the marked out trails and has something to aim for otherwise walking is a little boring for him and he ends up wanting to be carried). It was -1 degree when we set off and was sleeting when we arrived - proper cold. I was pleased that Daniel was in the sling because I think he would have been too cold any other way (and he was a nice little radiator for me!).

Brotherly Love
Matthew is still fantastic with Daniel and Daniel has his best smiles and giggles for his big brother which is just lovely.
Matthew 'helping' Daniel to smile!!!
Daniel kept us waiting for his first smiles - he was nine weeks old before we were convinced the expression was not just a random muscle spasm. Now, of course, we melt every time!

The red line down the middle of Daniel's forehead is due to his killer fingernails - they really do inflict alot of damage, not that Daniel seems bothered.
Let it snow!
The start of February brought some of the best snow I can remember. It was an added treat because all long-standing residents of Bristol told us not to get excited about the forecast because snow never settled in this city. So imagine the joy when we woke up to this:
and it meant Neil had two days off school - they wouldn't even let him in to collect his computer so he could work - so we wer forced to just go out and play! The snowman and ice-house were all the work of Neil and I (mainly Neil!); Matthew did love the snow but mainly because he could eat it and still play football in it.

Daniel was not as impressed, mainly because he was tired and needed a sleep.
Favourite toys
Matthew's Christmas present was a scooter which he is now incredibly fast and almost kamakazi on. Yet there has only been one altercation with a wall which, if you'd seen him on the scooter, you'd realise is pretty good going.
Daniel is really enjoying being able to take hold of things and shove them into his mouth! He gets very excited under his play gym or when we take his trousers and nappy off so he can kick away. The banana is the favourite of the moment though, much to Matthew's delight as it was the present he chose for Daniel when he was born.

Other 'highs'
In February I went to see Olivia graduate from Bristol university which was great fun. Here she is with Sam, who's been living with us for the last 18 months. Both of these guys are great, bringing a constant challenge and encouragement to keep pressing on and live on the edge. Matthew is a particular fan and takes the opportunity to hang out in Sam's room or learn from / 'help' him (grinding and making coffee and gutting fish are the latest) whenever he can.
At the beginning of March the Shepherd clan got together just outside Matlock to surprise Christopher and celebrate his 30th birthday with him. Thirty candles obviously takes alot of puff so naturally Chris needed Emma and Matthew's help - though this photo seems to suggest Matthew is slightly more committed to the task than Emma...

Currently Neil has just completed his first full term as Head of Year 8 at school and he's enjoying the new challenges that's bringing, Matthew is adjusting to pre-school (he has come up with some quite sophisticated reasons not to go such as "My tummy hurts so I can't go!" - I thought you were slightly older before you started feigning sickness to get out of school!), Daniel is about to cut his first tooth (well I hope that is the reason for the pooy nappies that are so bad they run down his leg onto the floor when you pick him up!) and as for me, I'm enjoying them all! I think that's us up to date now!