The sudden brilliance of skype

So Sarah and I are learning to work in two separate places; which is interesting, if a bit more of a challenge. Most phone conversations go like this:

‘I know this is a stupid time to call, but there’s something quite important…’

(lots of shouting)

‘Hang on, one of the children is on the table waving a stick. What was that about business cards?’

(lots of shuffling)

‘Never mind, one of mine is about to smear lip balm on my shoe. We’ll talk later.’

And yet – and yet, the mini-phonecall is one of our best ways of working.  As Lola (of Charlie and Lola, one of my all time favourite characters in literature. And YES, it is literature! ) says ‘I like to talk on the telephone, it’s more friendly and straightaway.’ A quick confirmation that something is a great idea, or conversely that something else is indeed a really, really rubbish idea. I love the phone for this. It’s just that with small children running about during the day, it’s not always the best way. So on Wednesday morning, with both the girls out at preschool, we held our very first Sarah&Alice skype conference. (No refreshments were provided, which by my calculations makes it a pretty poor conference, but we’ll have to rectify that for next week. ) And we made decisions! We planned stuff to do for the Summer! We chose fabric! And Sarah’s doorbell rang, and she was quizzed about her spiritual allegiances by some Jehovah’s Witnesses whilst we were online, although I think we might skip that bit next time (no offence, witnesses!)

Thank goodness for lovely, free skype! Not, however, the video version (though I’m sure that will come in handy, what with showing off fabrics and clothes, and stuff.) I just have an aversion to looking at a weirdly-angled picture of my face, thinking that it’s looming out of Sarah’s laptop. That’s no treat for her on a Wednesday morning.


Over the seas but not too far away...

And so, exciting things are afoot, and that is not a subtle reference to us moving into footwear. It’s Springtime, the sun is out, and we have ideas! And a LOT of recycled clothes to sell!



My biggest childrens’ clothing company crush (present company excepted, obvs.) is without a doubt, clothkits. I remember vividly having a summer vest and shorts combo that was green with really bright parrot print all over it (bear with me, it was the 1980s.) I also remember knitted dresses that we wore until they unravelled. It was all bright, bold, patterns and easy to wear designs, handmade for you by mum (or grandma.) Clothkits have recently started up again, with some amazing design and colours, and have regained the charm that they had the first time around.

But there is something special about wearing clothes that have seen another life, clothes that you loved as a child on your own children. So I was really excited when Richard’s mum brought over two intriguingly large boxes down from her loft (think: narnia.) From the boxes emerged pairs of horrendously cool dungarees in blue with birds on, or orange cats, matching sunhats with pockets for ice cream money, pinafore dresses and still-soft-after 30 years plain t-shirts. I love the fact that our children have all worn some of these things. (A few were a step too far even for me. Will, even at two, flatly refused to wear the very skinny, very flared brown dungarees, and I didn’t push the issue.) They’ve even invented a special hat game to celebrate the fact that there are so many beautiful sun hats.

Handed-down clothes are special anyway, they seem to store childhood and sunshine in them – except for the little red velvet numbers with white collars. They just store rainy Sunday afternoons out at National Trust properties that didn’t even have a gift shop!. (Because it was perfectly OK to go to NT places, as long as they sold quality tat at the end. A girl can never have too many rainbow-coloured pencil sharpeners.) But, in reality, I have never wielded much influence over what my children choose to wear. They have all had a naked phase, where any item of clothing is considered a step too far. I salute their liberated attitude, but did start to worry about hypothermia when Will discovered the joy of nudity in November. Polly, the eldest and mostly the sensible one, insisted on dressing herself from the age of two, in a style I can only describe as bag lady chic. Mostly just long skirts on top of trousers, (before she started to refuse to wear ANY trousers) with the odd dress, scarf or hat piled on top. Then came the fancy dress stage, heavily influenced by disney princesses. Tilly has always favoured a glamour-gone-mad look (Eddie, from Ab Fab, basically.) Will wore his Buzz Lightyear costume for the best part of a year. These days I am under no illusion that I can have a say in what they wear, I just hope that one day they will look back and say ‘wow, mum, those dungarees rocked! Did daddy REALLY wear them too?’