Mother's Day is coming up and we have some lovely new products to add to your Mother's Day Gift Hampers.
We have just added a very special book written by local author Gabrielle Kuzak to our Build Your Own page.
Amazing Mums is a complete celebration of motherhood, exploring the extraordinary lengths mothers go to to protect and care for their young. Through Gabrielle's incredible stories about real animals and Hannah Broadway’s vibrant and colourful illustrations, you will discover how truly amazing mums really are!
Gabrielle talks more below about how this book came to be, as well as her own experiences of motherhood, Bristol and her perfect Mother's Day!
Hi Gabrielle – please briefly introduce yourself and tell us what you do!
I work at Canopy & Stars (Canopy & Stars is a collection of unique, creative places to stay in the wild.)
What is your role at Canopy & Stars, and what makes this company so special?
I work on our new brand ‘Paws & Stay’, a collection of special places to stay that are truly dog-friendly. It is such a special company to work for. We are a majority employee-owned business, part owned by a charitable trust and we are a group of people with a shared passion for creating a truly special business; one based on respect and trust. We are proud to be B Corporation certified, which is a global movement of people using business as a force for good (including the likes of Patagonia, Finisterre and Pukka Herbs.) Everyone at Canopy&Stars is genuinely caring and wants to do their best, it is a great place to work.
Tell us how you came to write Amazing Mums
My family and I lived in San Francisco for four years. Before coming back to the UK, we took an epic 10 week trip around California and Oregon. Whilst camping in Yosemite, a bear appeared growling outside our tent. I grabbed my penknife and was ready to fight it! In that moment, I knew I would do anything to protect my children, which was good because they were all asleep! This made me think about the strength and courage of mothers, and the lengths they go to to protect their young. I was sure there were some amazing stories about motherhood in the animal kingdom and thought how great it would be to bring these stories to life in a children’s book.
It wasn’t until a few years later that, through illness, I had time to make something of my idea. After our trip to Yosemite, we returned to the UK and settled in Bristol. Most of our weekends were spent hiking, working towards our goal of walking the entire length (630 miles) of the South West coast path but this is where I got bitten by a tick in Exmoor and then contracted Lyme disease. I’ve spent the last 18 months battling the debilitating symptoms and other infections that the disease triggered but I have gradually made a recovery. Lyme disease is a serious illness with a myriad of neurological, physical and cognitive symptoms. The range of symptoms and the length of time the illness lasts is challenging. I wasn’t able to work and couldn’t even really walk for quite a while. To go from being very fit, healthy and happy to losing all your strength and living in pain every day is hard. I am really lucky to work for a company who have been incredibly supportive throughout. Writing this book has been a really positive thing that has come out of a difficult time for me. It’s been a real joy to work with such talented people - Carly at Peahen Publishing has been great at pulling it all together and Hannah Broadway’s artwork is so joyful and vibrant, she has really brought the story to life.
Tell us a little about the book – and please tell us some of your favourite amazing facts about mums!
Amazing Mums is a complete celebration of motherhood, telling the stories of all the incredible lengths mothers in the animal kingdom go to to protect and care for their young - ending on the human mum! Dads are often portrayed as the strong protectors and mums are often portrayed as soft and cuddly but mothers, throughout the animal kingdom, are strong and brave and undertake phenomenal feats to protect, care for and bring up their young. I really enjoyed researching this book and all the incredible facts that came out about mothers. I think some of my favourite facts are that the dolphin mother doesn’t sleep at all for the first month of her baby’s life to keep her safe. That really resonated with me because being a mother, you remember how utterly exhausting the first few months are of your baby’s life are with little sleep. The dolphin mum trumps us all! She is so self-sacrificing. I was also really struck by how powerful, strong and fast the lioness is. You often think of the lion as the ‘king of the jungle’ and the strong one and yet it is the mother who does nearly all of the hunting, often out-running the lion and she shows enormous strength and courage in fighting off anything that tries to harm her cubs.
Can you share a favourite mum-related anecdote – either with your own kids or your own mother
During our big ten week camping trip in California and Oregon, we were travelling round in our van - our youngest was 2 and the twins were 6 - all squashed in together with bikes and kit and bear-proof canisters and all sorts. The boys went a bit feral and wild and were getting filthier by the day. I remember insisting one day that all of them have a real proper scrub down. It wasn’t until I insisted that one of the twins, Harry, take his hat off during the shower that we realised he had a lizard under there! Apparently Lizzy the lizard had been staying in our tent with us for the last few nights, unbeknown to us! This sums up family-life for me… it is often happy chaos!
Young children (even grown ones) take their parents for granted; was there a turning point when you started to appreciate and understand your own mother a bit more?
I honestly don’t think I ever took my mum for granted. She ran her own business pretty much full-time and had three kids - she did most of the cooking and all our school stuff. She was a busy woman! I think my sisters and I have grown up to be pretty independent people. We were encouraged to do stuff for ourselves and think for ourselves from a young age.
Your book has beautiful illustrations from How did you collaborate with Hannah on the illustrations – what was the process?
I’ve loved Hannah’s work for a long time. When I saw all her beautiful murals down on the Harbourside a few years ago, I asked her to create a family portrait for my husbands Christmas present. It’s brilliant and captures the spirit of who we are so well. When I started writing ‘Amazing Mums’ I knew I wanted Hannah to illustrate it. We met for a coffee at the lido to talk it through, she loved the idea of the book and said yes straight away! We worked with a small independent publisher called Peahen Books who really helped pull it all together. They worked up some design layouts and liaised with Hannah about deadlines and the structure of the page. Hannah is an incredibly talented artist and filled the book with her joyful, vibrant and colourful art.
Tell us a bit about your Bristol life – are you from Bristol, and if not, what brought you here?
I’m not from Bristol originally, no but apart from living in California for several years, I have lived here most of my life. After I left uni with my boyfriend, we had the choice of moving to London or Bristol with his job. We chose Bristol, I love the independent, creative spirit of Bristol.
What area do you live in, and what makes it special?
I live in Clifton. I love the architecture and green spaces here…but I work down on the Harbourside and I love being there too. A perfect Saturday for me is setting off on a good 5 mile walk round Bristol, exploring lots of our amazing neighbourhoods.
Is Bristol a good place to raise a family? What are your favourite things to do with your children?
It’s a great place to raise a family - there are lots of young people here and there are lots of things to do. We love going to Blaise Castle on a summer’s day for hours and hours of playtime at the big playground there, Watershed for cool family movies and We The Curious is hard to beat.
What would constitute your perfect Mother’s Day?
Waking up to a huge bunch of my favourite flowers, homemade cards (the boys make the best cards), big breakfast together and then a coastal walk in Cornwall in the sun, with a picnic in our rucksacks, feeling full of love.
Sounds right up our street Gabrielle!
Amazing Mums could be a great addition to a Mother's Day gift - the perfect present from a child to their mum! Head to our Build Your Own Page and partner it with some chocolate, savoury bits and so much more for a gift they are guarantee to love! 💕