Wednesday 15 February 2023

Goodbye to the #TBCSmiles... 102 months, 8 1/2 years.

So it's happened. After 102 months, or 8 1/2 years, and over 9,100 grintastic snapshots, I don't have enough #TBCSmiles this month to make a full collage. And it really feels right. 

I started The Brick Castle Smiles, or TBCSmiles for short, because I needed it. I needed to be reminded there was happiness in the world. I needed to see simple joy in the innocence of children, the wisdom of their Grandparents. I soaked in your belly laughs and wry chuckles, and warmed my heart. I needed to know the world wasn't broken. Most of all I needed to know that my kids could be happy, and my partner and I could then allow ourselves to be happy, because it meant we were coping.

Small boy in a rowing boat, staring at large metal sunflowers

I also knew I needed help to keep going. I struggled at first to find interest in anything, and having a monthly responsibility meant I paid attention to my blog, and my Instagram, and found the support I needed to know that I had some value. 

It has been 8 1/2 years now since we lost Elspeth, and although the hole never goes away, it is something we live with. I am always 'the woman who lost a teenager to suicide', and that carries with it a lot of internal struggle, but most of the time I can look through that veil and feel balance with where we are. It would have been Elspeth's 25th birthday on Sunday (and my mother's tomorrow - this is a bad week for me really). Double-cake day. We had Bailey's cupcakes and Lemon Drizzle Cake, both a success, and 6 of us went out bowling. We were rubbish at bowling but we all laughed, we made some good memories, and we knew we were there for Elspeth.

Over the past 8 1/2 years I have been grateful for every time I've grinned back at one of your photos. I've really enjoyed struggling to choose 9 for the collage, even when we had over 600 photos a month and my shortlist was a not-very-short 45. I've loved watching your children grow, and the laughter lines appear on the grown up faces. Haircuts, awards, school starters, birthdays, babies and even the Christmas pyjama photos have let me into a little of your lives, and I got to share the best bits. I know behind some of those smiles was pain, and many were really hard won, but also that other people have found strength in that shared joy. Those smiles were never just for me. They prove to us all, that we can do it. 

Thank you to EVERYONE who has ever shared their smiles with us, and please, feel free to keep tagging - when I'm not still attempting to empty my mother's house, or sort out Playstation arguments, or walk the cat, you should even get some comments out of it...  

The time has come, and it's work has been done. Here's the last collage of smiles - on here at least. Thank you for being a part of it, it meant more to me than you'll ever realise. The smiles are still all there, you can find over 9,000 of them on Instagram, at the hashtag #TBCSmiles... 

Feb 2023 #TBCSmiles Collage of 9 photos as detailed below

Huge thanks to the following people who supplied these photos, and to everyone who has supported us over the years: 

GoingOnAnAdventureBlog / JaimeOliverUK / ClareNicholasUK
My own boys 2014 / 2023 / 2018
ClaireyHarpo / EarthBasedFun / GoingOnAnAdventureBlog

I am still here, I'm not going anywhere, and I'd still rather you bother me than struggle alone. Your smiles are always there, but sometimes you need to stop and watch in order to find them. Never give up. No-one ever regretted not giving up. Peace and strength to you all... 


  1. I have seen plenty of the #TBCSmiles photos and I am glad over the years they have helped you. Sending love and hugs to you, it sounds like a tough week with the birthdays but it sounds like you celebrated well. x

    1. It was a tough week, I think everyone's been exhausted this week because of it. The smiles really have been an awesome thing, and I've really enjoyed doing them, so I'm glad you have enjoyed them as well. Their time has come I think, always aim to leave before they throw you out :D
      Thanks Kim, your support has always been appreciated.


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