A big thank you to Rachel, Opal and Claire of Ooh Have You Seen for nominating me to answer their questions for The Liebster Award 2018. I was both surprised and flattered, I’ve loved seeing these three sisters build their blog while living in three different countries and look forward to following them for years to come. The Liebster Award is a wonderful way for bloggers to get to know one another and I’m delighted to be taking part.

What’s the story behind the name of your blog?

I have long wanted to work for myself, and I recall sitting in our loft in Belgium five or six years ago when ‘The Simpson Sisters’ popped into my head. I do have three sisters, and my maiden name was Simpson so it was not something that I gave great thought to, simply that once I had written it down I just knew it felt right. My sisters all use our married names, so it felt like a lovely way to keep the Simpson name alive. I had absolutely no idea what sort of business it could or would be, or where it would be located at that time.

I dreamed up various notions of working with one or more of my sisters, but they all have well established lives and careers so it’s just me (with their unfailing support and encouragement from the sidelines). I’ve actually worried about the name a lot, thinking that it would confuse people, but since what I’m really trying to do is create a community of like minded people I’m looking at it as a ‘Sisterhood’!

What’s surprised you since starting your blog?

Oh gosh, so many things! I was incredibly naive about blogging, so the sheer amount I have had to learn has surprised me (and I haven’t even begun on the SEO yet!). I had no idea how long it takes to put a post together, how much work goes into producing good images, how hard it is to press publish (I keep asking WordPress for a fanfare noise) and how brave I’ve had to be to share posts on social media. The things that has surprised me most though are a) how much I enjoy writing and b) how many lovely people I’ve ‘met’ online in the process.

What makes a good photograph?

Well, I guess it’s a bit subjective since tastes vary so wildly. Composition is obviously really important and anything that makes me curious will draw my eye in, but the photos I’m most drawn to usually have some lovely element of light somewhere. I love catching objects in the light on a kitchen table, or in the garden as the sun goes down.

What do you wish you had written/created?

Oh a million different things! I so often look at objects and wish I could make them myself. For example, I need some plates at the barn and every time I look at what’s available I just think ‘now, if only I had a potter’s wheel surely I could make some’! I wish I had J K Rowling’s imagination and writing skills for sure, how wonderful to be able to transport so many millions of children (and adults) into such a captivating world.

Actually, I would also like to have created cake. Imagine the thrill of putting together such basic ingredients and discovering what delicious results you had been rewarded with!

Are you a planner or impulse booker when it comes to travel?

Well, in theory I’m a happy impulse traveller, I’m not much of a planner and when plans are too rigid I simply feel the need to change them. But in practise, the constraints of school holidays and a husband who has to book leave months in advance has meant that we at least have to block out time well in advance. We’re not very good at deciding on what we’d all like to do though, so I am often scrabbling around at the last minute for flights and hotels, and this is precisely why we drove to the Alps in February!

I very much look forward to a time in the future when I can just decide to take a trip at short notice without having to make provisions for everyone else (sorry girls!).

What’s the last gift you gave that you wished you could have kept for yourself?

Oh that’s an easy one. I gave a friend a Neom room spray for her birthday today and I’d love one!

Cats or Dogs? Tea or Coffee?

Both. I love dogs for their affection and loyalty, and cats for doing everything on their own terms. I miss having a dog of our own and am under considerable pressure to do so, but with children shortly heading off to Uni etc I’m resisting the tie of a dog in favour of the thought of freedom to travel! Instead we have a visiting dog from BorrowMyDoggy who spends one or two days a week with us while his owner is at work and it suits me perfectly.

I love a cup of tea in bed in the morning, and my husband is brilliant at fulfilling this particular desire when he’s at home. I then like coffee with my breakfast and tea again in the afternoon…….or at any other time really, so I guess perhaps if I had to choose I’d say tea.

What’s your favourite smell? Where does it take you back to?

Roses I think. My parents had a wonderful rose garden in the home I grew up in, full of David Austin’s English Roses which have the most glorious scent. I’ve planted these roses in many gardens over the years, but have had to leave most of them behind. I have plenty planned for the garden at Oak Tree Barn and fondly imagine their fragrance wafting in through the patio doors on a summer evening. I am assuming we’ll be having a long, hot summer with many balmy nights this year – it’s about time!

What’s the one thing you regret not doing?

This is tough. I’m pretty good at saying yes to opportunities, so while there are one or two things I might have been well advised not to have done, I can’t think of much I regret not doing. I could definitely have benefitted from staying at school longer and going to University, but I don’t think I regret not going.

If I could change one thing it would be believing in myself. I do sort of regret that it’s taken such a long time to feel that I have anything noteworthy to contribute, or that I could achieve anything special. I wish I had accepted sooner that the only way to become good at something is simply to keep doing it.

And that’s what The Simpson Sisters is all about really, I’m practising writing and photography as I enjoy sharing the barn with others as they explore their curiosity and creativity. Who knows what a workshop might lead to in their futures. I always hope people will leave feeling confident, happy, full of cake and believing in themselves.

I would like to nominate the following bloggers for The Liebster Award 2018 and as such would like them to answer these questions and nominate others with their own questions.

Nominees for the Liebster Award should comment on this post, linking to their responses; nominate 5-6 other bloggers you’d like to get to know and set 6-10 questions of your own.

  1. What prompted you to begin blogging? Was it for a business, to share personal stories or maybe to share a specific event?
  2. Which social media platform do you feel most at home on and why?
  3. Share with us a podcast that regularly inspires you and tell us why? If you’re not a podcast listener how about some other resource that you regularly turn to.
  4. Countryside or seaside?
  5. Do you have a creative hobby other than blogging and photography? Are you a crafter, painter, stitcher or gardener perhaps?
  6. How do you write best? Do you need silence or prefer music to fill the void? At a desk, on your knee or in bed? On your phone or laptop?