Nature, Nurture and Apples falling from Trees!

sisters, siblings, personality, birth order, children, parenting

Very often I think my children’s personalities have come pre-installed and I bow down in utter defeat to nature! But I wish it were that simple (thinks of all the dashed careers of eminent child psychologists, sociologists and other detanglers of the why-of-child-behaviour if that were true!)

Recently, like countless parents before me and countless after, I sat down with a drink, watching both my children play with a friend they’ve both known for years (My older daughter’s 7 and younger one is 5.5) and wondered if things might’ve been different if they had a different birth order. My guess is that hypothesis is founded in ‘nurture’…for some reason, amidst the kerfuffle of nature vs nurture, I’ve always tended to credit nurture with more, probably as a result of my control freakishness. To assume that for the rest of our life, we are just programmed to work ‘plug and play’ seems somewhat wrong! Let me tell you what my life has been enriched by.. my first child is a quiet, sensitive, intelligent but controlling, generally amiable sort; my second is a quick, witty, opinionated but self-assured somewhat gender-confused loudmouth. The first is highly capable of chosing flamboyant purple trousers, fuschia jumpers and silver sneakers, the second prefers neutral tops and jeans, and froths at the mouth at the sight of pink! They get on like a house on fire when they do and all hell breaks loose when they don’t. Typical.

I often feel that if DD2 was my first child, she might’ve very likely been the ‘only’ 🙂 But, would she be what she is if she was part of a different birth order? Psychologists believe that firstborns are diligent and want to be the best at everything they do. They try exceedingly to to win the hearts of their parents, go the extra mile at school, believe in order, are attentive, stringent with rules, and overly neurotic about the minutiae! Second children (or lastborns in my case) tend to be fun-loving, uncomplicated, manipulative, outgoing, attention-seeking as having to contionously share space and thought with another and self-centered. (I put that down to survival instincts as mommy didn’t dial 111 every time she got a cold! She might’ve also told her to get on with it and grab a tissue! )

Bingo! We’ve got this spot on – why hasn’t our family been interviewed yet?!! 😉

sisters, siblings, personality, birth order, children, parenting

Birth order related behaviour is learned, not inherited. As a result of this, my children have two different sets of parents -(it’s back to being about me again!)  I’m a different mother with both my children, heck, I’m a whole different person with each of them 🙂  The more I look around, I realise that no two children in any family ever take the same role; if you have one child that’s nurturing, then that role is taken and and the other will pick another role in the family, perhaps that of the achiever, the entertainer, the family clown! Undeniably, it’s the potent mixture of  peers, siblings, genes, and circumstance that moulds a child’s temperament, thought I still firmly believe that parents (biological or not) are the major influencing factors in the outcome. Of course, that sets the stage for me footing any therapy bills that might arise as the result of such an ‘influence’! The bonding with the primary caretaker is what influences self-confidence, trust, the ability to interact with another person, and the child carries so much of the parents in them- that is a lasting impression! I look at both my girls and from time to time, see myself in them…believe you me, the last thing I wanted for either of them is my temperament, and as sure as anything, they’ve both got it – in some infernal auction, they’ve bid and won my moodiness, my neurosis, my obsessive compulsiveness for things done a particular way! And with gentle benevolence, life’s sprinkled them with my humour, my ability to rise up (somewhat) to a bad circumstance and get on with it. (we’ll leave the achievement and good social skills to daddy!)  And in as much as they are us – apples fallen right under the tree; they are them…rolled far enough to still have shelter from our shade!

sisters, siblings, personality, birth order, children, parenting

If I use personality type as a guage, my children (as countless siblings are), are strangers who share about 30% of the same interests and perspectives. Both my children have different needs that call upon me to be a different mum to both in order to satisfy it. I often tell my older one off, even if her behaviour doesn’t merit it just to even the score a bit because the second one is constantly being reigned in 🙂 Are we fixed in this inflexible circle of personality? Mercifully not, all of us can make a conscious choice to be who we would like to be, success varies though 😛 I still battle with all the traits of a typical second child…fighting for my moment in the sun (truly sad when you’re on the other side of 35! ) My sister was the perfect first, and if having children’s taught me something-it’s letting it go, I understand why 😀 I love my sister to bits, by the way..have always done, though we’re as different as yams and peas!

One of my favourite writers, Andrew Solomon who wrote Far From The Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity (a fantastic book,  though a bit grim and makes for somewhat cast-iron-stomach reading in parts) writes extensively about personality development and says that “Parenting is no sport for perfectionists” – Amen, brother! He talks about the two types of identity we all have; vertical- passed down from our parents (race, religion, ethnicity, culture) and horizontal – what we are by ourselves, the same identity that makes parents sometimes gasp and take a step back and think “where have you come from?”!  😛 The fit between the two and the acceptance that you get for your horizontal identity is one of the largest markers of happiness throughout your life. To be accepted for you- your unique you’ness!

As annoying or accomplished, as amiable or as contentious, our children thrive in an environment that is positive, safe, healthy and stimulating. The more attention I pay to my child’s personality and temperament, the better equipped I am to tailor our home to bring them toward their fullest potential. I tend to work at lightening the load my older carries as the ‘older sister’ and root my fences in deeper for the second who freewheels in a more lenient parental space! After all, I had given up on the bath thermometer and temperature-guaging spoons by the time she’d arrived! 🙂

However close my apples fall to me, or if they should roll onto a whole different courtyard- they’re mine and I hope to recalibrate my mind and love them with the same tenacity as I’ve always done. For what else is the lofty return on parenting if not angst and helplessness heaped with a generous dollop of fidelity, dedication and an unsurmountable triumph of love?! x


sisters, siblings, personality, birth order, children, parenting

*Images used in this post have been taken by Daniel Simm on an early morning just as Rahel and Rayna got out of bed! I am generally known to comb their hair and dress them in clothes other than their pjs! ;P

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Blogging, Britmums and Everything in Between!

flowers, monochrome, black and white

It all feels like a beautiful dream – I’m a finalist in the Fresh Voice category for the Britmums Briliance in Blogging Awards 2014, I did not expect that! 🙂

The Intrepid Misadventurer was born to fill this great need I had for continuity – given that we had just moved from Notts to Norwich with an impending move the following year (we move to Bournemouth in two months).  I felt that with every new beginning, I left something intextricable behind, never to be got back, never to be had in the way that I did. I needed to create something that would move with me – a portable landscape that remained! I always wanted my own creative space – I had written before as a living when I worked as a Technical Writer and as a Lecturer when I taught at University for 6 years, but it was my job – a prescribed syllabus or writing that sold an agenda. I wanted a space where I could write whimsically, write about what moved me, made me laugh, broke my heart and never imagined that anyone other than my sister, my few friends and my husband would read it. It felt unreal when I signed up for a membership with Britmums and got my first reader, when my first post made the  ‘Most Popular Posts’ on the Britmums blog, I was on top of the world – (something I’m sure a lot of you’ve felt as new bloggers/writers). The sheer delight of finding out that there are others, and that they speak ‘Klingon’ too…and you dip your toe into this vast community that seems to have existed all along ‘in a galaxy far, far away’ from you! Standing as I do, at the brink of what promises to be a thrilling conference, I look back at the first entry I ever Hello to the world of blogging!

flowers, monochrome, black and white

When I began this journey of creating The Intrepid Misadventurer, I decided, rather naiively (as is me) to not want to read up on “The Ten Things you must know before making a blog”, or what to write about, what sells, or how you’re guaranteed 50-70 hits a day, blah, bleugh! I wanted it to be an immediately self-related space that didn’t borrow or link with a larger, more commercialized culture.

I did however manage to come across some material, courtesy some well meaning friends who probably know me a little too well and know that I have a larger than optimum need for instant gratification. I’m a short-term person, who thankfully married, and surrounded herself with some invaluable long-term ones! I’m often content with the Small-Picture, the now, the today, the weekend at best :P Future considerations tend to fill me with dread, and skepticism. It’s too unknown, too uncertain, too filled with what researchers grimly term, ‘variables’! If something works for now, I’m game. Of course, not being a habitual risk-taker and having a rather strong head screwed on, helps me not having self destructed already.

The article mentioned that most blogs die at an average of six months, or less if you launch your site in December and if it features nothing about how to expertly bake cookies in under 8 minutes or craft with left-over pressurized fake-snow! It urged the blogger to keep going, writing, speaking to his/her desired demographic on social media, regardless of feedback, even if not a single person responded! Filled me with dread that there are people out there who wouldn’t have two well meaning friends who might log in to egg them on….the true state of human relationships! I silently gave thanks that I might just be spared THAT! Though some of my relationships bleakly resemble the script of Mary and Max (2009), even if the story did made it to Sundance!!

So there, I’ve decided to embark on this journey, not just of writing, but putting myself out there-open to the scrutiny, the kindness or scepticism of the world at large! I committed to accept the paradigm shift that one must continue talking, writing, reaching out, even if no one seems to be listening…and that’s it’s still considered an act of a committed, passionate and motivated person. No longer the exclusive purview of the decidedly deranged! J

If you come back to this space in 6 months (or be really nice and never leave), and find me jauntily discussing why summer is highly overrated and commoditized, and that man’s victory over the harsher cold is what we must be truly thankful for, then I’ve won that Battle-against-the Blog. It would be one of my worthier battles, I’ll tell you that, I fight at least two everyday!! One has to do with the cookie jar, the other, the tips of my fingers, and then there’s the family…and saving the donkeys!! And if I’m still chugging along, give yourself a nice big pat, you might have had something to do with it!

It all feels like a long, long way away from those beginnings,  and it brings me immense satisfaction when my readers tell me they leave with something to think about differently!  I’ve always tried to make this blog something that’s within the immediate framework of all our lives and like to think there’s something here for every adult, every parent – regardless of how old your children are or at what stage. We are all more alike than we are different and are powered, enthused, intrigued and perplexed by vastly similar things. Those “similar things” are what will continue to be the very soul of The Intrepid Misadventurer – A mellow-yellow pit-stop for a different perspective!

To everyone that’s read me, voted for me, ‘accepted me as friend’, followed me on Twitter (when I had two followers signalling my popularity) and Pinned my pictures – Thank you for this incredible journey! 😀 XX


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Still Lifes & Shelfies – The Art of Repeat!

Shelfie, Nordic, Scandi, Muuoto, Ikea, Kinfolk

As ‘NeoNordic’ and ‘Scandinavian Chic’ become buzzwords in design-conscious homes across the UK- it got me thinking about how most trends are generally cyclical! If you think Still Lifes (think meticulously administered narratives of home/travel/food- things set against equally considered backdrops), and Shelfies (shelves or any homespace that have a few lifestyle markers indicating the sort of things “you’re into” ) are a new age phenomenon – think again! Both art forms ironically trace back to Northern Europe and as far back as the 1600’s. I’ll let this lovely page on Wikipedia fill you in on the engrossing details of Flemish and Dutch still lifes ! ;P

Every year, I ‘cache’ a few words in my mind and they become linguistic symbols of what moved the year in my memory – this is apart from my children ‘brunging’ me water or ‘growding up’ etc! 2013 definitely included “government” and “surveillance” as we horrifyingly zoned in on information breaches, security or the lack thereof. One that’ll hold strong for 2014 is the ‘shelfie’, the sorta more intelligent version of the ubiquitous selfie that’s been around in it’s evolutionary trajectory from the early kissy face to the more suprise-driven ‘o’-pout – often with a strategic but oh-so totally unpremeditated lipstick held against the cheek! Barring the lipstick, Van Gogh’s self portraits weren’t too different. 🙂


apples, still life, shelfie, vintage, farmhouse, reclaimed wood table, baking
Still Life of the birth of an Apple&Cinnamon Swirl…or bun!

And then there’s “artisanal” – I love this word! Added to a deli menu or sribbled on a chalkboard, it inevitably raises the mark-up on everything – Herb Butter. Handmade Crisps. Wooden Cacti! And linen. Non-artisanal linen blouses? just so wrong! Artisan in my humble opinion is the new ‘Designer’ – before “buying designer” came to be seen as plain lack of good sense or insight 🙂

I am often well aware (Yes, I am!) that all the aerial shots I take of tables set for the making of cinnamon apple rolls or shelves dotted with my kitchen pride can be construed as a form of self-absorbtion, adding to a world already free-falling into an obsession of pictorally cataloging their lives! Why else would there be place for something like Instagram or the “VSCo Grid”?! <bows deferentially!>


Apple&Cinnamon swirl, dessert, pastry, baking, foodporn, blossom
Still Life of the existence of the Apple&Cinnamon swirl…or bun in Spring!

To me, shelfies and still life shots are very similar to dressing up and personal grooming -the reason why we generally don’t prefer to dress in nondescript clothing – grey – lacking any ornamentation or accessories. (Arguably, it all hits “Taupe” when you move past your mid-thirties, but moving swiftly on…!) Why should we condescend on a description of a life/hobby/ pursuit which is invested with self-expression – regardless of how self-involved it be! After all, being well groomed is not an act of philanthropy either!  If the penny hasn’t dropped yet, this post IS in the defence of every Blogger, Facebooker and Instagrammer’s right to take “carefully assembled snapshots of beautiful things”‘!


croissants, french, pastry, foodporn, bonne maman, jam
A Cornucopia of Croissants..and a nifty Jam!

The ease of creating a beautiful picture without a lot of expensive equipment, calling for an eye for beauty and attention to detail (which is admittedly a dying artform) , is all that’s needed! If it was good enough for Cezanne and his apples – strategically placed for weeks till he completed a painting that would forever be viewed as the inner landscape of his psycholgical state, it’s good enough for me!  My friends argue that in the making of beautiful settings , spontaneity is lost. I agree, there’s a a place for cheap plastic bowls filled with uninspiring potato crisps and cheese puffs, and a place for pull-ons and jogging bottoms; but sometimes you want to go that extra mile, set the table. Invest in your aesthetic. Even if you walk that path one corner at a time! 😉

brown paper packages, string, ale, stout, local, grain, Norfolk
Still Life : An Urban Ploughman’s Lunch!

There is nothing original in our obsessive control-freakishness to pictorally depict our world… generations dating back to the Pharoahs of Egypt did it! We do it exponentially to our circumstance of modernity! Art has always been about creating one small aesthetically gratifying corner, about beauty reigning in the face of the inane (often personally translates as my one clever corner in a tip inhabited by two severely messy little girls – probably a reason why young mums have taken to it like fish to water –  the idea of controlling a few cubic feet in a home spiralling out of control!) 🙂

All considered, we must admit that all trends go from hot to NOT – we bore of it as it oversaturates our senses and we take on something fresh. According to sociologists and those who actually know what they’re talking about (coughs!), trends that are a no-no regain their appeal 50 years into their death when they begin to be viewed as ‘quaint’! That leaves me assured that in time, my grandchildren or great grandchildren will come pottering about, looking for my esteemed MacBook or dSLR-  to dust off and complete their cleverly curated and rejigged tableaux of 3D simulated reality!



map, Boden, diary, coffee
Somewhat Shelfie : Destination Abroad. Holiday to be undertaken Circa Autumn 2014.


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