I've seen a few bloggers recently that I've been following for years posting about how they are updating their blogs less and less - most citing the immediacy and ease of alternative social channels such as Instagram as a primary reason. Personally I'm not a fan of Instagram due to the policy that anyone uploading photos automatically bestows upon Instagram the right to use the photos for any purpose, royalty free. I also sometimes wonder what future historians will make of our obsession for capturing the details - and that we're reducing the story of our generation to deliberately blurred photographs of our shoes, manicures, food and cats. You don't often see wide-angle shots on social media - it's not really designed for that purpose as we're mostly viewing images on a small glowing screen - and I think as a result there's a lot going undocumented. I still like reading blogs, and blogging myself, as it's a medium that records not only a fragment of an image, but usually higher-quality pulled-back shots, along with various musings that give far more insight into the personality of the writer than a bunch of hashtags.
I came across a mildly horrifying article recently (on Twitter, of course) about how the Oxford Junior Dictionary has dropped words like acorn, conker, willow, buttercup, dandelion, catkin, kingfisher and magpie - all words that I strongly associate with my own childhood - and replaced them with cut and paste, broadband and analogue: blackberry with Blackberry. Feeling both alarmed and saddened by this, I turned to Eva, who was sitting next to me watching a Playdoh video on Youtube on the iPad (yes, really) and asked if she knew what a conker is. "They grow on trees, Mummy", she said. Close enough, little one. Even though we live in urban Manchester, we spend a decent amount of time scuffing through autumn leaves, collecting conkers, blowing dandelion clocks, holding buttercups under our chins and making daisy chain necklaces, because to me, this is what childhood means. Kids these days have to know how to operate touch screens because that's how the world works, but I also want mine to recognise an magpie when they see one (they can).
We spend so much time looking at screens (often two at once), executing fiddly copy and paste between windows, and flipping seamlessly between Twitter and Chrome and Facebook and Outlook and Sonos and any one of a hundred apps because it's all available on your smartphone, right there next to you, from the minute you wake up to the moment you go to sleep. I've been feeling quite strongly recently that I need to step back from technology and become more mindful, more present for my children. I'm very much a crawl-around-on-hands-and-knees kind of parent anyway who likes to keep things as simple as possible, not for me the constant need to entertain kids with a stream of stimulating activities and excursions, but you can always do more to be present in the moment. More conscious of what's happening around me, more deliberate, and in general more observant and responsive to my own well-being and mental state.
Which is a very long introduction to the purpose of this post - namely that after a couple of months of planning and procurement, we have finally started building what is possibly Manchester's most giant wardrobe ("it's a tower, Mummy!"). After three years of living with an absence of wardrobe and my clothes piled in random unruly heaps and stacks all over the house, knowing that in a few weeks I will have the ability to hang and store all my dresses, jeans, sweaters, tops, skirts and shoes on carefully curated and installed rails and shelves that have been designed specifically to accommodate the length of my Anne Fontaine shirts somehow gives me the same sense of mental serenity that I got as a child from sitting on the side of a brook on the moors, dangling my feet over the side and watching the water bubble endlessly past the time-smoothed pebbles.
Here it is so far - main frame built, and drill-wielding blogger included for scale. Blurred and vignetted for ironic purposes.