Sometimes, when absolutely nothing feels right, something comes along to show you that it’s actually been right all along.

And that something was crawling into our bed in our beautiful Dimpsey Shepherds Hut in the beautiful Blackdown Hills this weekend. After an evening of sitting and talking – part of which was spent in the most spectacular wood-fired hot tub – a rare luxury these days (I’m sure most parents will relate to the lack of time and energy to have actual adult conversations…) Paul and I crawled into bed, next to a soundly sleeping Maddie in her travel cot, doing our utmost to be as quiet as possible so as not to wake her, all the while feeling somewhat like teenagers sneaking home after a night of drinking, fearful of the wrath of parents waiting to reprimand you… Soda, who curled up under the covers at our feet, was not in the slightest bit worried about our comfort, but, despite my numb legs, in that moment, as I felt the silence of our beautiful surroundings envelop us, I knew, concretely and absolutely, that everything was going to be okay. And, as long as we are together, it always will.

I’ve always wanted to stay in a Shepherds Hut. For as long as I can remember. I don’t really know where the desire came from originally, but when Paul told me that he had booked for us to stay in one to celebrate both mine and Maddie’s birthdays, I was over the moon. Not least because the last year hasn’t been easy, has it, baby? We grew up together, you and me, and I truly thought I knew everything about you. I know exactly when you’re about to fall asleep – I can tell without even looking at you by the sound of your breath slowing and the way the weight of your body next to mine changes. I often know what you’re thinking before you tell me. I can feel your anxiety as though it is my own. But our world was rocked this year, wasn’t it? And alongside getting to know our newest family member, we had to get to know one another again too, didn’t we?

I think it’s fair to say that we drifted, each struggling with the world of new parenthood in our own ways, each too scared to burden the other with the ways that we were hurting. I’ve never wanted so much to feel someones heart inside my own. To feel your heart beating inside my own and to know that it would all be okay. Something happens to you, when you become a parent, I think. You are forced to look at yourself in an entirely different way and re-identify yourself. And that’s fucking hard (excuse my French…) It was as if we woke up one morning not knowing who we were anymore and not knowing much about one another, either.

Our little whirlwind; our force of nature, Madeleine Grace, arrived on the 3rd of September, 2019, at about 4.37AM and she changed everything that we knew about ourselves and each other. And with the complete wonderment that we felt came complete terror in equal measure. We existed in the haze of keeping a tiny human alive but at times forgot to take care of ourselves and, of one another.

And things started to feel not so okay, didn’t they? It felt sometimes as though we were on separate journeys, despite wanting to be on one together. Neither knowing how to say – I still choose you – I mean really say it, and have the other truly hear it.

But this weekend, we said it. I heard your heart and you heard mine. And we looked at our family, the one we created, and despite the many ways in which our lives are unrecognisable from a year ago, they felt so powerfully ours. This, our family, is home. And in our little Shepherds Hut, in the heart of the Black Down Hills, we found our way back to one another; we found our way home.

It’s been a year – of getting to know the tiny human that has, in every conceivable way, captured our hearts and, of getting to know ourselves and one another, again too. And I have no doubt that the journey we’re on is one FULL of hills – the kind where your back starts hurting and your legs start chaffing and you get quite cross about the latter and want to pack it all in. But there is no one else I’d rather be climbing those hills with – searching for blackberries – than our little pack.

Our daughter is a force of nature – a today one-year-old force of nature. And I am the proudest mother and wife that I could possibly be. And although I know that I and we will struggle in days, weeks and months to come, I promise that I will always try to find my way home to you and to us. I promise.

So, here’s to our little perfectly imperfect family. And to one-year of being the slightly older, significantly more tired and at times woefully bedraggled tribe. Here’s to our one-year-old daughter, Madeleine Grace. The tiny not-so-tiny girl who blew everything that we knew out of the water and taught us to sail on stormy seas. Happy birthday, Maddie Mooch. To say that we adore you is an understatement.

Our dearest Maddie, here’s to One. You are our greatest achievement; our greatest friend & wildest adventure. You are our everything. Thank you for teaching your mom and dad exactly how much they love each other and for teaching us to hold on to that with all they are worth. You are our most perfect creation and we owe you… A LOT. We’ll deny that in years to come as things get more & more expensive, mind you…

And the biggest of thank you’s to Emma & Andrew at Dimpsey Glamping for helping us to find our way home. Β We’ll be back real soon – as soon as you’ll have us… If you’re looking for a place to spend some time and find your way back to you, we can’t recommend Dimpsey enough. There’s a very special atmosphere at Dimpsey Glamping – one you can’t quite put into words but you feel with all of your heart. It’s as though all of the memories and all of the love from all of the people who have stayed in the beautiful, beautiful shepherds huts are imprinted and ingrained in the very fibre of the place. And you feel it – with every part of you. We can’t wait to come home again soon.

‘Home is wherever you leave everything you love and never question that it will be there when you return’ – Leo Christopher

*This post is not sponsored.Β