Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Today, I am smiling and whistling along to this...

What's making you whistle today...?

I am so excited...

these photographs are about to be published in a book ~ yes a BOOK!!! and not just any book, the follow up to one of my favourite books 'Wild Swimming'. The book is called 'Wild Swimming Coast' by Daniel Start and will be published on 12th May 2009. I have had a sneak peak on the Wild Swimming website and have already seen two of my pictures, in the introduction and on the back cover. The pictures {discovered on Flickr!} were taken in 2007 whilst on holiday in Cornwall, we just happened to be there at the same time as some friends who were staying in a lighthouse and who took us to the most amazing beach, hidden away from the tourists. Alfie in his little blue shorts and Bella in her pink, looked as if they had run straight out of the pages of a catalogue.

Pre-order your copy from here now, ready for a summer of beaches and wild swimming!

Monday, 27 April 2009

to dig or not to dig...

The allotment dream has been put on hold and dreams of having a small parcel of land planted up by spring with rows of fruit and vegetables are still just that... dreams ~ waiting in rows of plastic trays in our garden. "Why?" you may ask - well because a few Nimby's {not in my back yard} people in the village have decided to complain as 'allotments are not in keeping with the village'... WHAT??!!**??

Our village, once had two sets of allotments, orchards and many market gardens, it is sad but over the years they have one by one been sold off and houses have been built. In fact when the last one was sold off probably 12 + years ago, the village was in decline; shops were closing, the playgroup was under threat of closure and there were less young families in the village than ever. This was due to the spiraling cost of housing, the influx of an aging population {the only people who could afford the housing}, second home owners and people moving from the city looking for 'the good life'. The village was under threat of becoming one big retirement home!

There are more young families here now, in fact the last few years has seen a 'baby boom' and it is so important that we fight for services and amenities like buses, post offices, libraries {ours is always under threat of closure} and allotments. It is so easy to turn our backs and not care, but we must care as without places to meet and things to do, people become isolated, we loose our sense of 'community'. So I appeal to all Nimby's to understand that allotments won't bring noise and pollution, they will bring laughter and fun and a generation of children who will understand where their dinner comes from... and do you know what? they are beautiful and if we grow too many runner beans, we may just share some with you because we're nice like that!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

We're going on a bear hunt...

We're going to catch a big one.
What a beautiful day!
We're not scared."
by Michael Rosen & Helen Oxenbury

After waking up to rain, at least the day turned out fine and with a few friends we celebrated Ted's 3rd birthday with a 'bear hunt' birthday party. We wrapped little picnic's in large handkerchieves and tied them on to sticks for the children to carry on their own and went for a walk around a beautiful bluebell wood. Pete dressed up as a bear and waited for the children to find him as they walked through the woods "stumble trip, stumble trip" and the river "splash, splosh, splash, splosh." It was so lovely, we didn't organise any party games, after their picnic lunch and hot chocolate the children climbed trees, played with sticks and discovered wood ant nests... just how it should be.

Friday, 24 April 2009

three is the magic number...

My little one is three today *sigh*, it seems only yesterday he was born and how quickly he has grown. Today, a celebration quietly at home with family and tomorrow we will have a party with friends. In fact I have had most of the day with him, just the two of us, playing with his new presents, including the washing line and bowl and doing whatever takes our fancy, perfect. He has known exactly what he wants, "green and blue presents, and you sing jingle bells - the batman smells version ~ not happy birthday!" 

He makes me smile and laugh every day... Happy Birthday scrumptious boy x x 

Thursday, 23 April 2009

eccentrically english...

today is St. George's day the patron saint of England and I have been thinking all day about what characteristics make us truly English, it is not really something that we celebrate if you compare us to the Irish and St. Patrick's day, here are a few...
  1. a love of tea {not iced ~ and sipped whilst hot even in summer}
  2. the right to complain about the weather ~ it's too hot or too cold, or too windy or 'have you seen the forecast?'
  3. the audacity to assume that everyone in the world speaks English and when we are not understood in another country we just shout louder to make ourselves understood!
  4. fish and chips
  5. roast sunday lunch and yorkshire pudding
  6. whenever the sun comes out we embark in a sun worshipping ritual that is quite bizarre ~ we like to get as much flesh out as possible and flock to the nearest beach/park showing off white skin and tattoo's {oo'er}. If you think about it Britain is on the same latitude as Canada and Moscow, places that are much colder than we are. Thanks to the gulf stream, warming up Europe from South America we have a warmer climate {now are you taking climate change seriously?}
  7. regional dialects ~ so many for such a small country and under threat with the movement of population
  8. pubs and beer {beer is a national institution, think beer belly and beer goggles!}
  9. our sense of humour, irony and sarcasm! 
actually now I have made a list, it reminds me of a website that Susannah referred to recently, the difference between US and UK and it is hilarious, check it out...

What do you think? Have I missed any out? What do you think makes us English and you don't have to be English to comment! 

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The dress...

I have always wanted a floral dress after seeing this one here, but didn't quite think they were 'me'. I saw this one weeks ago and desired it's 1940's vintage gorgeousness from afar, it suits my alter ego, the stay at home mum who makes jam and bakes fresh bread everyday! 

I wore it to meet my new blogging friends for the first time, as it is quite rare that you meet people for the first time, people who don't know you or your history. I thought it was a chance to be a new me, confident, witty and intelligent ~ I obviously thought this was a magic dress that would change my personality! 

I felt a fool waiting on the train station in all my forties flora with a load of drunk football supporters ~ but fast forward a few hours and I was with a group of girls in a park full of sunshine, laughing and taking pictures...

this was me and I skipped...! 

Monday, 20 April 2009

blogging in bath...

yesterday, I met with five other bloggers in Bath. I can't quite remember how I came to be invited I think it was through sharing the love of this wallpaper, with this lady! So after a cancelled train {thanks Great Western - you're really not that great!} and a mad rush to get there on time, I met Susannah, Meg, Penny, Leonie and Jo, you can see us all here. A lovely day, shared with some lovely people, eating some lovely food and plans to meet up again ~ yippeeee. Oh and a lovely picture of my dress taken by Susannah. So here's to new friends and new adventures...! 

Friday, 17 April 2009

a simple life...

We have been really fortunate to have stayed in some really lovely places on holiday {not the bottom right kitchen - keen eyes will spot that it is the River Cottage Kitchen!}, all of them simple and beautiful. When ever I come home, bringing home 'post holiday blues' with me, I try not to hate our house quite so much. Our house is an ex-council house, a functional square box, built not out of love or craftsmanship, but out of necessity and economy. It sits in a road full of houses that all look the same, with open front gardens and no personality*.

can't put it down...

can't put it down..., originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

I love a book that holds you captivated from the first few words. When I find a good book I steam through it in days carrying it around with me wherever I go, just to read a few more pages! Many books remind me of certain times, like holidays and some remind me of studying literature at school.

'On the Black Hill' by Bruce Chatwin was recommended on the website of the cottage we just stayed in, as it was set on an upland farm in the Black mountains, near to where we stayed. It is the story of a farming family, following the lives of a set of twins, Lewis and Benjamin Jones. It is a beautifully written book, packed with the harsh reality of the twins lives in the 20th century, and the people who touched their lives for good and bad. 

From the window of our cottage I watched the farmer tend to his sheep in the neighbouring field as I read. He went about his business with a limp, after being thrown from his horse years before. He knew every single sheep and spent frantic hours trying to get all the lambs into a barn before nightfall, as there was a vixen taking them in the night. From a distance he looked like an old man wearing his cap, up close his face was worn and weathered but with a hint of rugged handsomeness underneath the dirt! He could of so easily been a decendant of one of the character's in the book.

I would certainly recommend this book, especially if you too have the opportunity to read it, in the landscape where it is set.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

wildlife walks...

I cannot shout loudly enough about the importance of nature for young children. To teach them about seasons, weather and wildlife. My eldest has always been interested and will walk for miles on a 'nature ramble'. Whilst on our holiday, I gave them both the 'foraging bags' I bought from Melissa of Tiny Happy, earlier in the year, in them I put a small thermos flask for hot chocolate {just like daddy's}, a plain book to record what we see, some wildlife stickers {well they are still quite young and who doesn't love stickers?} and a small ladybird. They loved them and whilst my youngest is still quite young, we treat him exactly the same, so he too can learn to love nature too. 

My heart swelled with pride as whilst walking past a roadside verge, every few steps, they were stopping us saying, this is the path of an animal and finding mouse or vole droppings in the dry stone wall! Of course the walk took us an age!

Monday, 13 April 2009

rain, castles and sheep... it must be another Welsh holiday!

warm, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

...a little warm and fuzzy moment from Wales! I will be posting more adventures soon, but as usual I got a bit carried away with shooting without a flash for a warmer light, which is OK when you look at them on a backlit camera or PC, but then I go to get the photos printed and they are so so dark! Does anyone else do this? or is it just me getting carried away?

Friday, 10 April 2009

Happy Easter

Happy Easter to anyone who usually passes through this way! Our easter egg tree is finished and I am taking bets on how long it lasts with two small but very active boys and their clumsy mother. I am rather pleased with it, especially the red cabbage dyed eggs.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Easter gifts...

easter gifts, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

...for me! It feels so naughty to treat myself, especially with things I don't need or could potentially make myself. But sometimes admiring from afar just isn't enough, sometimes you just have to own the arts and crafts of others!

Arrived this morning are hand knitted socks from Ruth Cross and felted rabbit egg cosy from selvedge. I am eyeing up these prints here by Susannah Conway too, but there are so many to choose from I just can't decide!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

eggs, to dye for...

With some gorgeous white goose eggs we found at this weeks farmer's market, we were already to try out some natural dyeing techniques, detailed here. The turmeric wasn't as succesful as the amazing blues you get from red cabbage! We are going to try onion skins and coffee next!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

new! an old chess set

new! an old chess set, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

another find in the junk shop. An old chess set made from box wood. I am rubbish at chess I start really well then get bored - I have no strategic brain at all! Alfie is doing really well for five years old, he will soon be giving me a run for my money and as for Ted, well he just plays with the horses!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

this is what 5am looks like!

a third night and I can't sleep and awake too early. I can hear the boys upstairs as they sleep, each snoring away, they are almost in harmony with each other!

Outside it is still dark, a tawny owl is calling "twoo whit" and its partner replies "too whoo", it is loud so they must be close by. I open the back doors quietly to see if I can see anything, but all that greets me is the cold night air, reminding me that we are still in April and shivering I close them again.

The lights in the house are dimmed as it is still night and it reminds me of the early days of babies, when the days are nights and the nights are days and you inhabit a hushed, dimly lit world. Unfortunately those days are over for me and in a few hours I will need to be at work focused and preferably dressed! That seems like quite a challenge right now as I potter about in my dressing gown...

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