Our Family Shoot with Schryver Photo

Remus has wanted some proper family photos practically since Lucian grew big enough to stop looking like a tiny alien, so for his Christmas present I organised for us to have a photo shoot with the lovely Helen Schryver of Schryver Photo so he can have one big picture to put on the wall and some smaller ones in frames around the house, and for me, my favourite bit – plastering them all over facebook!

I met Helen at the Mile in Memory of Matilda Mae walk and loved the photos she took of me and the boys and especially of me playing the violin. So I booked her this Summer to capture some pics of my Classical Babies On the Beach concert at JW3.

This December, she came up to our place in NW London and took some photos of us in the living room. She is such a relaxed, friendly energy to have in the house and somehow managed to catch us looking natural right away, even while we were still settling into it.

These are just some of my favourites, in all we have something like 70 great shots to choose from.

Helen was keen to get us outdoors in nature for at least half of the shoot and we are lucky enough to live five minutes walk from one of the most beautiful spaces in London and at this time of year the light is unbelievable (if you’re lucky enough to get a dry day.) So we pulled wellies and coats on and walked round the corner to Golders Hill Park. It was so freaking easy, we forgot she was there, we just walked and talked. We didn’t have to pose or do anything at all.

 Remus’ favourite is the one of us holding the boys so we will probably get this one framed.


But the ones that made me suddenly feel emotional were these amazing shots of Gabs and his Daddy messing around together. You can see how how similar they are, the energy between them and how much they love each other. Of all the photos I can see us treasuring these ones the most when we are really old and Gabs is a grown man.

I also love this one of Luci and me because he reminds me of me when I was little and I love that we are the same. He was getting a bit tired at this point but it is so him.


Then we took the kids to this hollowed out tree and fallen tree trunk they used to play in last Summer. They’ve grown too big to both fit in the tree at the same time but she captured gorgeous ones of each individually and the two of them together. They move at the speed of light so I’m not sure how she managed to catch them but she did it! I love these.


The log was wet and slippery and Luci wouldn’t stand on it unless he was holding Gabs’ hand.

But my favourite ones of all are of Remus and me, looking like we’re out of Hello magazine or Country Living or something! Now I don’t want to suggest that we’re not photogenic, just that we’re not usually both photogenic at the same time:


So these are like gold-dust:


The light was really special and the day was as much the present for Remus as the actual photos as we really enjoyed ourselves. It is a really happy memory for us.

If you want to see more of Helen’s work, go to schryverphoto.com. She specialises in family photography and weddings, and she’s so skilled in getting the best out of children and photographing them at their best while they run around and play, but if you look at the photos of my concert on the beach (see link above) you’ll see that she can probably do anything well! I can’t recommend her enough.


Happy New Year 2015 love from the Azoiteis! Coco, Remus, Gabs & Luci xxx


A wobble this Wednesday

Today was a really difficult day. I woke up already feeling like I’d been slammed by the tiredness-train and then I got the boys ready to take Lucian to the doctors’ surgery down at Swiss Cottage because he has developed terrible conjunctivitis in just one day. I can hardly bear to look at him, it looks terrible although he doesn’t seem to mind.

My poor little man! :(

My poor little man! 😦

Just trying to get two boys and myself dressed and ready to go in time was like climbing a mountain. I knew the day wasn’t headed anywhere good from the level of difficulty this simple task presented. The boys are nearly four and newly two, I have been doing this every day for a long time, I’m a pro…Gabs can often dress himself, apart from the top half. But not today. Oh no. I was flat out exhausted by the time we got out the door.. “I’m hungry” “…chocolate, chocolate!” “No, not those pants, I want Wednesday pants!” “Waaaaaahhhh, Lucian’s going to break my train!” Lucian clinging to my legs, crying, Gabs wailing, “Muuummmmeeeeeee, mummmeeeeeee, I.WANT.SOME.MILK!” Sweet Jesus, how hard can it be to dress three people and exit through the door?

But I was determined to get Luci’s eye looked at and so I stayed calm, lured Gabs into the buggy with the iPad and off we went. I even grabbed a cappuccino and some, “Sorry we have to go to the doctors” sweets for the boys and was feeling really optimistic when the receptionist said it was just a 20 minute wait. The waiting room was full, but with sweets and iPad and my iPhone and a good attitude on, it should all be fine, right?

Wrong. One hour passed like this:

“Gabs, sit down…. Gabi, sit down please…. Gaaaabs, SIT. DOWN!… No, don’t climb on the table, you can crawl under it if you like but not on top. No, I’m sorry I didn’t bring any water, we’ll get a drink after. Get OFF the table! Sit down! (lift him off table)” *Lucian throws iPad on the floor* Luci: “iPad! iPaaaaaad! iPAD!!!” *I pass him the iPad. He throws it on the floor* “Gabi, sit down please.” *He doesn’t and tries to run off so I grab his wrist to pull him back to the seating area. Gabs loudly: “DON’T HURT ME! You’re hurting me! Owwww, owwwww!” (I’m not even touching him at this point but everyone looks over). I try to write his party invitations… “I want those stickers, pleeeeease can I have those stickers, no not those ones, noooo I want thoooose ones, pleeeeeease!” *Smudges all the ink on his freshly written invitations and crumples the stickers meant to decorate the invites with. I sigh and put them away.* Luci: “iPaaaad, iPAAAAAD!!” *I pass him the iPad* “Gabs, don’t you dare head out that door….(trying to sound light and sing-songy and not as shouty and tense as I feel) Gaaabs, come baaack please! Sit down. *iPad lands on floor with loud thump, Lucian starts crying. “Do you want to do some drawing? No? Play on my iPhone? Sit DOWN! Right I’m strapping you in the buggy.” Gabs starts crying in a loud whingey voice.*

A big sign pops up on the surgery TV screen:


Why, YES!!!!! Now that you mention it, I am!! have two kids under four and we’ve been waiting an hour!! Now give me my frigging appointment!!

So, anyway, it turns out Luci has reeeally bad conjunctivitis in his right eye and a bad, possibly infected excema patch on his cheek which may even be impetigo. Maaan, do I feel bad for not bringing him in sooner, but I was sure that rash on his cheeks was from teething. Zero brownie points for me. 😦 Mr Doctor Man was very lovely, however and his name was Phil which made me chuckle as I got to call him Dr. Phil (no, not that one) He prescribed antibiotic eyedrops four times a day for five days and a penicillin-based bright pink antibiotic I already know will go everywhere and stain everything, four times a day for seven days and a face cream for Luci’s cheek. He even gave me some stronger hayfever medicine than the one the chemist gave me but no, sorry he couldn’t write me a prescription for a free full-time nanny… not on the NHS, anyway. (Worth a try…) I didn’t sit down for any of this, by the way. Dr. Phil did that gesture all doctors do when you come into the room and said, “Take a seat”… and I chuckled as I took it for all of 3 seconds thinking, “OK, I can play along if you think the appointment is going to run that way, haha!” before I leapt around the room, pulling Gabs off all the equipment and trying to stop both boys from jumping up and down on and breaking the doctor’s weighing scale. But we got the job done, got the drugs after a five minute wait at the pharmacy (“I want a lollipop! I’m going to look at all the stuff on the shelves” … “You mean touch all the stuff and knock it over, don’t you…get your feet off the stupidly-white waiting couch, no you can’t have a lollipop, PUT THAT DOWN! Great, thanks, which one does he have to take for five days and which for seven…both four times a day? While I’m here, do you have any valium??”) we got home.

It was quite a relief to get home, I have to say, but the relief was short-lived. Both boys were starving hungry so I gave them bread and hummus, which they love but inexplicably ate only one quarter of before smearing the rest on various clothing and soft-furnishing spots where it doesn’t belong. Now, I’m pretty lax about this kind of thing, usually. I’m actually pretty cool about it, which may be part of what’s led them to be so messy in the first place so yes, yes, I know I made my own crispy, crunchy bed with crumbs in. But somehow lately the mess is just making my skin crawl! If I have to crunch my way across the layer of rice-cake crumbs that used to be my carpet one more time, five minutes after I last hoovered, I am going to implode in on myself like a white dwarf star being born! Then of course, Gabs wouldn’t clean up, wouldn’t put his trainers on, wouldn’t let me put his trainers on, “Nooo, you’re hurting meee!” and moaned about this and that until we were fantastically late for the Classical Babies concert in Belsize Park. So I ended up lecturing him all the way there, “Stop stopping in the street to play with your truck, I TOLD you we’re LATE!!!!” with my heart compressing under the strain of it.. and all the while I was thinking, “I don’t WANT to shout, I don’t want to moan! You’re the best thing that I have in the World, I want to give you a big hug and a kiss, but people are arriving at my concert and I’m not there setting up and WHY won’t you just walk faster… or at all??!!”

Of course, it’s fantastically impractical of me to attempt to run concerts with my boys in tow, but I don’t make enough money on them to cover the babysitting and I can’t bring myself to cancel a series I love which I know the parents love too… so I keep racing around trying to set up tea and coffee and mini chairs and teddies, while occasionally freaking out that I can’t find Gabs, or (like today) that he’s about to fall to his death off the organ-gallery balcony thing in the church where he’s climbed while I was taking the money from the mums, or looking for spoons or something. In September he will go to school, and then I can let Lucian out of the buggy and he can get lost, and climb stairs and freak me out instead of Gabs.

I digress, we arrived at the concert, which is our usual weekly concert at St. Peter’s in Belsize Square, but also this week a feature in their ‘St. Peter’s Arts Week‘ – opened by David Mitchell and Victoria Coren, who recently married in the church. I was super late and wondering how in the world to set up twice as fast as usual, when I discovered that the Ethiopian Church who the vicar, Paul lets share the church, were running over their 1:30 finish time, with a mic-ed up service still in full flow and the church thick with incense. There was no way the mums would sit in that, you could smell it down the street and the babies wouldn’t be able to breathe! It’s funny how things work out for the best though, because I decided to go ahead with the concert, a tiny bit late and out in the church gardens which are actually really beautiful.

It was a little cloudy but really warm and not too much breeze, and I made it work by bringing the teas and coffees and mini cupcakes out on a tray.

My lovely friend and fabulous cellist Gabriella Swallow (if you haven’t seen her performing you might have seen her talking about music on TV or being interviewed at the Proms, she’s super-glam!) and mum-of-two was a total sport and battled with the lack of an acoustic and played beautifully and I wondered why I’d never done a concert out there before, it was lovely! I definitely will organise one again, weather permitting. Local teacher and long time supporter of Classical Babies, Alice Biddulph brought her little cello along again and even Gabs had a go, although I think you can tell even at 3 he plays like a violinist! Little Christopher, a musician’s son, showed us how to do it:

I was really happy with how it turned out, but couldn’t quite enjoy it because I couldn’t keep track of Gabs and run the concert, or shake off that feeling of being run over by a truck, but I know it was a lovely event and I intend to fully breathe in and enjoy the next garden concert when it comes. I had promised the boys a trip to the playground after, and we had a good time there. I guess the day got better and better… We couldn’t stay too long as Luci’s eye was getting worse and we had to get home for medicines and eyedrops but just long enough for them both to let off some steam. Back home, the whinging started again, this time from Gabs who was devastated that his once blue truck had black patches underneath and he was desperate to paint it. Now, Gabs loves to paint, it’s one of the most sure-fire ways of keeping him quiet and concentrated and the clean-up after is totally worth the hour’s peace it usually buys me to leave him alone producing several masterpieces. So I wasn’t really expecting, checking on him after 15 minutes, to see this:


My floor!!

I really, really didn’t have the energy to deal with it….all I wanted was half a quiet hour to rest my legs! So I was pretty mad. But on the other hand it was a lot more interesting to look at than the hideous 80’s style old grey tiles, so I was tempted to leave it. I didn’t, of course. I put both boys in a bath, scrubbed the floor and they were pyjama-d like this by 5:30 pm:

Will they wake up at 10pm and give me hell? Probably! Do I care? No!! I have a white wine spritzer, a thai curry, a little peace and quiet to blog and get my head in order. A lovely end to a long day. See you tomorrow folks.