Thursday, 31 July 2008

making elderflower champagne...

I have just had an old film developed and found some more pictures of us making elderflower champagne...
picking the elderflowers, carefully so as not to knock the flowers off and placing them head up in a large basket

the ingredients

gently stirring it all together


the finished product

for the recipe look back here...


Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Prudence and the Orchard...

Prudence ended our holiday by taking to us to The Orchard somewhere I have wanted to go for a long time - a corner of England where time stands still as the outside world rushes by.

The Orchard, first planted in 1868, became a Tea Garden purely by chance. A group of Cambridge students asked Mrs Stevenson of Orchard House if she would serve them tea beneath the blossoming fruit trees rather than, as was usual, on the front lawn of the House. They were unaware that, on that spring morning in 1897, they had started a great Cambridge tradition. The students enjoyed their rural tea, and word spread around the colleges. The Orchard soon became a popular ‘up-river resort’ which was well known to Varsity men.

With few exceptions, very little has changed in the Orchard since then. In order to supplement their income, the Stevensons took in lodgers at Orchard House, and, in 1909, a young graduate of King’s College took up residence. His name was Rupert Brooke. He had moved out of Cambridge, hoping to escape his hectic social life there, but in vain. The charismatic young Brooke drew a constant stream of visitors, and eventually became the centre of a circle of friends, later dubbed by Virginia Woolf the 'Neo-Pagans'. Brooke had fallen in love with his idyllic life in Grantchester, and, while in a homesick mood on a trip to Berlin, wrote one of his best-known poems, 'The Old Vicarage, Grantchester': the famous final lines immortalising afternoon tea in the Orchard:

Stands the church clock at ten-to-three And is there honey still for tea?

There has since been much debate over whether or not the church clock had actually stopped at that time, but one certainly senses that Time has stood still in the Orchard.On his return to Grantchester, finding his rooms had been let, he moved next door to ‘The Old Vicarage’, where he continued to live his bohemian lifestyle.

On leaving Cambridge, Brooke travelled exten-sively in North America and the South Seas. He returned to England in 1914, and at the outbreak of the First World War joined the military, coming under heavy bombardment during the retreat from Antwerp.

In March 1915, he embarked on a troop-ship bound for Gallipoli. Tragically, he was never to return. He became very ill on board, and on 23rd April 1915, aged 27, he died from blood poisoning. That same evening he was buried in an olive grove on the Greek island of Skyros, where a monument has since been built over his grave. Just a few months earlier he had written ‘The Soldier’, containing the prescient lines:

If I should die, think only this of me: That there’s some corner of a foreign field That is forever England

Brooke became posthumously famous. His poetry was widely recognised, and he became a symbol of the innocence of youth - a ‘Young Apollo’. He caught the imagination of the nation, and his cult status has been steadily increasing ever since.

Meanwhile, a long and golden era lay ahead for the Orchard. From the 1920s onwards (apart from a period of closure during the Second World War), The Orchard became increasingly popular. Visitors would walk or cycle along the path (nick-named the Grantchester Grind) that crosses the famous Grantchester Meadows, or punt up-stream,to exchange the formal surroundings of ‘the backs’ for the peace and tranquillity of the meandering River Granta.

During the May Balls, it became customary for bleary-eyed students to ‘punt up’ for an al-fresco breakfast, which often included champagne and strawberries. This tradition still continues.
By 1964, the Orchard had become so popular that the proprietor erected an eight foot board reminding customers to return their cups and saucers to the tray-rack in 35 different languages!
The Orchard had found a place in the hearts of the people of Cambridge and was a popular destination for the thousands of visitors to the city, but, in the 1980s, the Orchard closed so that the land could be developed for residential housing. It was, however, rescued from this fate, and its present owner intends one day to sell it off in small plots to the general public, so that it will never be in danger again.

The Orchard is now over 100 years old, and to paraphrase Rupert Brooke, it will always remain..

Forever England

{taken from the The Orchard website}

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Prudence and the birthday boy...

The main reason to hire Prudence was to celebrate Alfie's 5th birthday! Which we did in style... we discovered the BEST adventure park in the world Bewilderwood {get this - it had reasonably priced, simple whole food and only one shop! - 'pester' power doesn't work here!} It is a 'treehouse' adventure park, packed with safe tree's to climb, rope bridges to cross and zip wires to whizz down on - perfect for an adventurous boy and plenty of little stuff in toddlewood for younger brothers!

Yes - he really went that fast! We finished the day back on the campsite with a birthday tea with his newly made friends. A little bit of bunting added those extra special touches to Prudence too, don't you think?

Monday, 28 July 2008

Prudence and the driver...

Driver , originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

one of the best things is when you manage to capture a moment on film. This picture is of Ted, who loved driving Prudence to the "beeeeach" and spent hours on the front seat pretending to drive - oh and looking at himself in the mirror!

I also love the fact I managed to capture it with the Polaroid - what better way to take a picture of this seventies icon than with a 70's polaroid camera! The colours are great too! There is obviously a perfectionist in me as there aren't many pictures that I am happy with, but this one I am, in all it's 70's retro glory!

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Prudence and the beach...

As Prudence is a hired camper van, she has taken people on holiday all over the UK and certainly knows where the best beaches are. She didn't disappoint and took us to Holkham beach near Wells-next-the-Sea. A beach that stretches out as far as the eye can see, bordered by pine woods and the prettiest row of beach huts you can imagine. Now I do have favourites and nothing in my mind compares to Cornish beaches, but here I was, happily sitting and enjoying an ice-cream dreaming of which beach hut I would buy and of course how I would decorate it!

The hours just slipped away, between collecting shells and playing in the dunes, a brilliant place to slow down and live in the moment.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Prudence and the fortune teller...

I have always quite fancied having my fortune told... not for any great reason but just out of curiousity. My husband is very sceptical about things like this which I understand and I know things that she said to me could apply to hundreds of others... BUT they did apply to me and I take great strength from the few minutes of wisdom that this Romany fortune teller shared with me. Some of the things she told me I knew or weren't any great revelation but sat in that beautiful caravan, with views to the sea, the words of a stranger hit home. As I held the crystal ball, she could see water and green and told me that I reveal too much {what! - had she read this blog?} the rest I am going to write down, keep secret and wait and see what my fortunes bring...

... if you are driving along the beautiful A149 coast road between Salthouse and Kelling, why don't you stop and see what fortunes are coming your way?

Friday, 25 July 2008

Prudence visits the world snail racing championship...

Yes, you read correctly there is a World Snail Racing Championship that takes place in the village of Congham every year. We decided to take a quick detour in Prudence who is one of the 'Snail Trail' camper vans - it was meant to be! Of course being experts ourselves in the fine art of snail racing we just had to enter...

Number 39 {found in a hurry under a log at the side of the cricket pitch}, a rather fine brown lipped snail, not as big as his rivals but just as speedy and came a respectable 3rd in his heat. Rain stopped play for us as we got back into Prudence and onto the North Norfolk coast!

I love "englishness" and the customs, traditions and peculiarities of our island, typified by snail racing, cheese rolling and well dressing, find out about more events on the excellent Common Ground website.

Prudence : life in the slow lane

breakfast , originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

the beauty of Prudence is that she came with everything, a little cooker with two burners and a grill, a fridge, a 'pop top' bed in her roof and a 'rock and roll' bed {the backseat down}. Everything fitted together really neatly, but you had to be very organised to remember in what order to get everything out and put it away again!

I also loved Prudence's interior decor and homage to the 70's! lots of prints and blue patterns to match her exterior! Although the thing I enjoyed most was the 'slow' way of life that Pru instills in you, you don't travel very fast, you don't need to. Just like a snail you carry everything with you {including the kitchen sink}!

Thursday, 24 July 2008

a week in prudence

prudence , originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

Meet Prudence, isn't she beautiful? She was our home and transport for a week of adventures and birthday celebrations in North Norfolk. Her adventures will follow, I promise, but not before I have got through the mountain of washing that needs doing...!

{oh and I need to sort and edit the 233 digital pictures, get two rolls of film developed and scan 22 Polaroids - I think I have an addiction!}

Thursday, 17 July 2008

growing your own vegetables...

grow, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

is the best way for children to learn and love them. We grow different things each year, chosen by the boys from seed packets and planned very carefully. From the joys of planting and digging up potatoes to the naughtiness of eating strawberries straight off the plant - destined never to make it to the kitchen.

It's the perfect way for children to learn about seasons, about wildlife, about food and about self sufficiency. Everyone can grow their own food too it's easy, even if you have no garden you can get an allotment or grow potatoes in a bag of compost! We have a tiny garden so make it work for us by rotating the crops!

My favourite vegetable is just starting to grow - the courgette, I love the flowers {which are edible} and the amount that you get from just one plant. To me it's a sign that summer is really here when I see these big yellow flowers and it wont be long until I can make my favourite recipe - chocolate & courgette muffins!

If you are inspired to plant something today - nip to the garden centre and buy a pumpkin plant you still have enough time to grow it for November!

Tell me - whats your favourite thing to grow?

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

dressing up fun...

hello cowboy, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

do you remember as a child dressing up games. You would wear your mum or dad's shoes, maybe use a scarf, gloves, coats to role play and dress up as Dr's, nurses, teachers, firemen {with the garden hose}.

I remember loving hats and aprons! I think dressing up as a cleaner was my favourite thing - with feather duster and scarf over my head! Years ago it was great as it was all about imagination not about buying a complete outfit from a shop! You would often mix and match so you would be maybe a cowboy and a doctor at the same time! And the joy of being allowed to rummage in your mum's wardrobe - ah those were the days!

We have a small collection of dressing up things at home that we have gathered or been given, some hats {a la cowboy pictured above}, large handkerchiefs etc... but I was very inspired by Soulemama's blog, she uses old suitcases to create special dressing up gifts here - isn't it a lovely idea?

So dear readers, my challenge to you, is to think all the way back to when you were young and remember what your favourite dressing up outfit was and share it with me?

{this blog entry is dedicated to Jenny : the queen of dressing up!}

Friday, 11 July 2008

child + bubbles = summer happiness

take one child, add a little bubble mixture and lots of wind and what have you got? the formula of fun when it's too overcast to do anything else! Where oh where have our endless summers gone?

Sunday, 6 July 2008

a new life...

as we celebrate the birth of our friends gorgeous new baby - Charlie, our thoughts return to the births of our own children. How quickly they have grown and how big our own 'babies' look in comparison. It has taken us a while to 'get used' to being parents and learn the skills needed to be the effective guides that our children require. Although we often find that just as life seems a little steadier, something else comes along to challenge us again! Be it a new tooth or the demands of the work/life balance. Sometimes I find myself wishing that I could do it all over again and be a better mother to my eldest son, or longing for a third child as I would know just what to do this time having had two practices!

But just like my children, I am growing and learning too and I am learning to slow down, to listen and not get angry, to be patient and to understand. The most important thing I have learnt is to celebrate and make the most of each and every tiny moment as they go by so quickly.

So welcome to the world baby Charlie, we can't wait to share many adventures and memories with you x x x x

Friday, 4 July 2008

the circus is in town

the circus is in town, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

I adore Giffords Circus and took this polaroid of one of the girls selling sweets in the interval, her costume is just fantastic. Toti Gifford - husband of circus creator Nell, caught me taking the picture and when I explained how much I loved the outfits said they were made from his mother-in-laws curtains - how great is that? I wish I could of taken more pictures to show you as the circus is just magical, it is an old fashioned 'village green' circus, but with fantastic artists and the only animals are a few horses.

This way of life is under threat and a few years ago the government brought in a new Licensing Act. Circuses could find themselves paying up to six times more than originally expected for permits, because of varying interpretations of the law by local authorities.

It is a shame that part of our culture and heritage is under threat and I for one hope that Gifford's Circus goes from strength to strength. We should encourage and enjoy performance art and expose our children to the joys of live entertainment rather than a TV screen!

Thursday, 3 July 2008

the children's toy dilemma

You know how some things you have very strong opinions about and others you don't? Well I have very strong views about children's toys. I don't want them to have computers, video's and plastic toys of super heroes, I want them to have natural materials, paints and good imaginations. This is easy whilst they are still young, I admit and I have only just had my first test. We were invited to a Cowboy party, nothing wrong with that, we have a great 1970's ladybird book, packed with pictures of cowboys and maps of the USA, so to me this is educational and am more than happy to encourage subjects that they are interested in to encourage learning.

My problem was the gun! Firstly, you read a lot about guns and violent toys so I was worried about what it stood for and the effects it may have, secondly it is plastic and noisy and thirdly it is made in china, probably by children not much older than my own! but I backed down, I mean he couldn't be the only one without one could he? I didn't buy or make him an outfit afterall, a checked shirt, handkerchief and jeans would suffice, well I did add a handmade holster! He of course loves it and fires it all the time - whether it is the pleasure of being allowed something that he knows mummy feels quite strongly about I don't know and I'm sure I am reading too much into this!

I was delighted to read Sheherazade Goldsmith shared my dilemma about children's toys in her column in Sunday's You Magazine, which I have copied here...

"Want to know my biggest eco-challenge when it comes to converting my family to organic, natural and fair trade? Simple: the children. Yes, they can get enthusiastic about recycling, or a ‘combating climate change at home’ star chart. But hand them a wooden fairy wand instead of the latest, all-singing, all-dancing, must-have plastic toy, and baby polar bear death statistics become meaningless.

However, I’m on an ongoing mission to convince my children that wooden toys, books and rechargeable batteries are just as desirable. And by providing them with toy boxes which echo to the peaceful clatter of nontoxic, FSC-certified wooden toys, I may be getting somewhere.
It’s certainly possible to take advantage of the years before your child learns to say, ‘I want THAT one’, to look out for soft toys made with organic textiles – which, since they seem to spend so much time in children’s mouths, avoids exposing them to pesticides and other toxic chemicals often used in fabric production. As they get older, avoiding all forms of plastic toys becomes near impossible, but being aware of exactly what you are giving your child is central to making the right choice.

With more than 21 million toys recalled in 2007 alone due to unacceptably high levels of toxins, buying plastic toys is not just an environmental and ethical issue but also a potential health risk.
Many of these recalls were due to the presence of plasticisers known as phthalates (mainly found in toys made with PVC): potential hormone disruptors which have been linked with reduced sperm production, among other effects. And despite there being a ban on toys containing phthalates aimed at children under three, and well-known brands such as Lego pledging to phase these chemicals out, there is still no complete ban in the UK.

Although I can’t claim that my own children’s bedroom shelves are exclusively filled with the latest, ethically-certified offerings, I try to ensure that my son’s toys don’t feature chemicals that might potentially decrease his ability to have children of his own, or pollute the world my children will inherit."

Wednesday, 2 July 2008


bottled, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

we have just bottled the elderflower champagne, only eight days until we can drink it. Now we are just waiting for Jenny and Richards baby to arrive to have the best excuse to crack open a few bottles!

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