Tuesday, 30 June 2009

tuesday tunes...

With Glastonbury last weekend, my friends at Snail Trail, rented out four of their camper vans to people going to the festival. Maud (above) was rented out to the Guardian newspaper, and she was lucky enough to get into the VIP area! I love this picture taken by Alicia Canter, it reminds me of my camper van picture here. I guess if I was to choose one song from the festival it would have to be Blur, watching them just brought back my Britpop youth! Great to see them back together, if only for a short time...

Sunday, 28 June 2009

capturing the moments...

I have now added most of the pictures of our holiday here, so many good times and I am so glad I managed to capture most of them! The thing about digital photography is that I rarely get the photos printed out and have hundreds, no thousands, stored on a computer! I rarely go back and edit them and when I do I find it really hard to delete them, such is the curse of digital photography. I sometimes also tire of the fact you can instantly check to see what your picture looks like and if you are not happy with it take it again ~ I recently saw a mum sing 'happy birthday' five times and had her children sing and blow out the candles just to get the 'perfect' shot! I guess this is why I juggle different camera's for different occasions and actually love the imperfections that film photography gives you, the blur, the shake, but always always the moment ~ never recreated! 

After the last couple of holiday's I have made some photo books, to capture these really special family times and I am really pleased with them. They offer a great alternative to having the photo's printed out and sticking them in photo albums and although a little pricey, have a really great professional finish. I am going to try to find the time to make 'year books' for the boys and give them as gifts to the grandma's at Christmas too. 

Friday, 26 June 2009

signs of ageing...

A glorious sunny day yesterday gave me the opportunity to sit outside with an iced coffee and browse my new library book Jamie's Italy by Jamie Oliver and the latest copy of his new magazine 'Jamie'. In my early twenties, I thought recipe/home/antique books and magazine's were for 'old' people and quite boring ~ so either I am old or recipe books have come a long way! I now devour them, especially these two today {pictured} which are packed full of mediterranean goodness and colour. The photography by David Loftus is just lovely and the magazine feature with Charley Boorman travelling around Sicily on a vespa ~ just makes me want to jump on a plane. May the hot summer evenings continue so that I can try out all of the recipes and eat them al fresco! 


Our dream barn in the country has turned into just that, a dream. We are competing with people who can offer cash or who have already exchanged on the sale of their homes, to put it bluntly {and the estate agent did}, we don't really stand a chance. With the amount of interest and the number of offers including our own, it is likely to go to sealed bids! I nevertheless told the agent, how much we wanted the property, how we would renovate it sympathetically and that bearing in mind that it is the neighbouring farmer selling the barn, what great neighbours we would make! I don't think the agent was interested, we don't offer the same bargaining potential of the cash buyers. 

We would love that barn, we wouldn't be doing it up to make a profit, we would be living in it, joining a new community, converting it in an environmentally friendly way and having chickens {the boys request}. For a couple of days and nights, I really believed we would be the only people viewing and therefore the only people bidding. I had moved us in and decided where everything would go, I could imagine great family parties on the large lawns and children making dens and climbing trees. We will endeavour to put our house on the market and see if we attract a seller, but time and finance are not on our side, so I am not very hopeful. It's a strange feeling to have held that dream for such short period of time, to really believe it was possible, if only for a few days.  

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

nature club...

I have been helping with the nature club at my son's school this term and I have been delighted by the interest and enthusiasm of the children. They have been enjoying pond dipping, meeting lambs from a local farm, dissecting owl pellets and looking at mini-beasts. Environmental education is so important to children, it is scandalous that its importance is often overlooked at schools who instead fixate on achieving standards in reading, writing and mathematics. I believe that environmental education should start at home as there are so many things that a family can do and enjoy together, which is why I love the book 'The Bumper Book of Nature' by Stephen Moss. 

I bought my copy from a lovely shop called Hooper & Shaw in Port Isaac, Cornwall whilst we were on holiday. Whilst admiring it and the beautiful illustrations in it the lady who was serving me said they were her illustrations, that she was indeed the very talented Nicole Heidaripour. I wish I could buy all my books from the writers and illustrators themselves as it is so much nicer to hear about their work in person than just receive a brown cardboard box in the post!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

tuesday tunes...

This weekend we had THE best tickets of the summer to see Paul Weller at Westonbirt Arboretum, an outdoor venue. It was amazing, we were quite near the front, he played {amongst others} changing man, have you made up your mindyou do something to me, peacock suitfrom the floorboards up, broken stones which his little boy played the tambourine with him and he finished with a town called malice! He is a complete legend...

Sunday, 21 June 2009

how far would you go...

to follow your dream? I have found the most beautiful barn with planning permission granted for conversion into a three bedroom house. It sits in almost an acre of land and is quite remote. I have fallen in love. Already I am picturing the children playing in front of it, tree houses, chickens, tea on the lawn, bunting, a vegetable garden and a dog! 

We have never done anything like this before, let lone taking on a HUGE project in a recession ~ but recession favours those at the bottom of the property ladder as our house devalues proportionally less than more expensive ones, making it possible to step up. 

BUT we have lived in or around our village all of our lives, our children have friends, we have neighbours {some lovely who take in parcels for us when we are not here - some complain about the parking!}, we are within walking distance of the school, Dr's surgery, bus route, playing field, post office. I watch TV programmes of people doing similar things and I think they are mad and often quite selfish to put their children and family through the stress. 

So do we throw caution to the wind and chase this dream? Or should we play safe when we have a perfectly adequate home for our needs?  

Friday, 19 June 2009

only me...

Somewhere along life's journey, in my 20's or maybe even before, I lost my confidence and slowly, very slowly it's coming back. This is thanks in part to the unravelling course here, which I would thoroughly recommend. It helped me address my insecurities and look at who I am and the roles I play in life. It also has brought me back in front of the camera {which I avoided for years}. So here I am ~ a thirty something, wife and mother of two life embracing boys, marketer, photographer and very occasional writer. I am working hard to bring balance back to my life and order to my home {it's always in a constant state of muddle!}. There are still bits of me that I'm not happy with, but I am trying really hard to do something about them, this is after all, my life and I only get one shot at it! 

Thursday, 18 June 2009

beautiful world, beautiful people...

I am just working on some photographs for a friend who asked me to shoot her beautiful family. I spent a few hours in a wild flower meadow at the weekend, running around trying to keep up with the children and capture some natural family shots. I am delighted with the initial results before I have even started to look more closely at cropping etc... I do hope they will be happy too. I couldn't resist showing you this one, it is full of energy and laughter, to me it captures a father/daughter relationship that is so special. The girls were an absolute delight and so photogenic, it was a really fun and I can't wait to share more pictures with you. 

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

i got scared...

A funny thing happened to me on holiday... I got scared, I saw danger everywhere, harbour walls, cliff tops, canoes, lakes and the sea. Now I am usually quite laid back, the boys are given their boundaries and within reason are left to explore within those set boundaries e.g. "stay between...", "hold my hand here...." My new found fear coupled with my eldest child's new found strong will and rebelliousness {which rubs off on his little brother!} made me 'bark' at him at times! I hear my voice, my tone and it disappoints me, I need to find my inner strength, calmness and patience to be a better parent and gain the confidence I need to let go again and trust these growing boys as they need to push their boundaries further and start their journey away from my apron strings into the little independent men that they crave to become. 

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

broccoli cake...

This is a gorgeous cake to make and so impressive when you slice through it and discover the broccoli florets in the middle. My mum would find it hard to make as it has 7 eggs in and with her post rationing upbringing and make do and mend approach, to have that many eggs is very indulgent!

serves 8

500g (2.5 cups) unsalted butter, softened
800g (1 lb 12 oz) broccoli cut into florets
100g (1/2 cup) caster/superfine sugar
7 eggs
550g (3 2/3 cups) plain/all purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 rounded tsp turmeric
pinch cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas Mark 4.
Butter a 25cm loaf tin and line its base and sides with parchment paper.
Blanch the broccoli in boiling water for about 3 minutes, then drain well and set aside.
Beat the butter till it is very light and creamy, then beat in the sugar.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Mix together the baking powder, turmeric, cayenne, curry powder and salt and fold into the mixture with the flour. Mix well and spoon into the prepared tin.
Push the broccoli into the mixture - be quite generous so that each slice will have a good number of florets.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool the cake in the tin before taking it out - but eat on the same day. This cake does not keep very well.

tuesday tunes...

I can't get this tune out of my head today ~ it's on every 
radio station when I put the car radio on!

oh and I need to find a pair of silver shoes for friday,
vintage sandal type shoes, not too high to dance in! ahh
I can't find any anywhere!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Keep calm and carry on...

This should be our family motto "keep calm and carry on!" I always think I am the most impatient person, but a few people have recently commented that I am very calm and patient especially with my boys, which is a lovely thing to say,  not necessarily true, but lovely. I have admired the "keep calm" prints for a little while now and just couldn't resist buying one from etsy. It sits on the wall in our family room, overlooking the crumbs on the dining table, the toys spilling out from their baskets over the floor and the piles of clothes that need ironing! *sigh*

Sunday, 14 June 2009

days out ~ an open top bus

My children are still young (aged 3 and 5) and are relatively easy to entertain and impress and just love trips on buses or trains. On our recent holiday, we found the most amazing open top bus {number 300 with amazing pink seats!} that goes around the spectacular Penwith peninsular in West Cornwall. You can buy day tickets and hop on or off as many times as you choose or just plan a return trip. The coast is a walker's paradise and there are mines, beaches, Minack Theatre, Lands End, St.Ives, Penzance, Mousehole & Newlyn to plan your journey around. We drove to St. Just {Britain's most westerly town} and parked the car for free and took a return trip to the small hamlet of Zennor. We stopped in the Tinner's Arms {gorgeous but pricy food - very small portions on the daily specials menu} for a couple of hours then walked to Zennor Head to watch basking sharks. Zennor church has 'the mermaids chair' in, which pays tribute to a legend of a local boy who was called into the sea by a mermaid at Zennor Head, never to be seen again. The bus trip follows the very windy road around the peninsular ~ which can be quite hair-raising in places but you are rewarded with the most amazing views of ancient field systems and the gorgeous turquoise sea. 

I would urge anyone to ditch the car for a day and see what adventure you can have this summer on a bus journey, you don't need to go far. You could just go a few miles and get off somewhere you have never been before and explore. Let me know where your adventures take you...

Saturday, 13 June 2009

the minack theatre

I have always wanted to go to the Minack Theatre, perched high on the cliffs in Cornwall, but never had the opportunity until last week. The theatre is carved out of the granite rocks and sits above the sea. It is absolutely amazing and the brainchild of a very eccentric lady who did most of the work herself by hand! Performances are all outside and are rarely cancelled, blankets are a must for the evening shows! I found myself daydreaming out to sea as the sun was setting, watching the seagulls overhead, the boats in the distance and the sky change from blue to red before the sun finally set. If you are ever in that part of the world, I would really recommend a visit. 

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Is this the best pool in the world?

this is the pool at Cape Cornwall, filled at high tide by the sea and full of fish and anemones. Possibly the best swimming pool in the world, although a little cold! If you like swimming in the sea around the UK then check out the new Wild Swimming Coast book for more great recommendations. 

days out ~ pirate treasure...

Whilst on holiday we had a great idea for some exploring and a pirate adventure. We stayed near St. Micheals Mount, an island cut off from the mainland at high tide, which gave us a great idea for a fun day out. In the morning the children designed their own 'treasure map' by drawing islands and marking on treasure, at the same time I was drawing one that looked like the mount pictured above. We stained our maps with tea to make them look really old and then crumpled them and rolled them up and tied them with string. 

Once we got to the mount the children got out their maps and looked for the island and the magical causeway, only visible to pirate eyes! We then walked along it looking for clues, we managed to time it right as the tide was starting to come in and lap the side of the causeway ~ very exciting if you are five! We had packed a pirate picnic and sat and ate it on the island, and after looked for treasure ~ silver sardines {of the chocolate variety} hidden in the cracks of the harbour wall {quietly by daddy!}. By this time the tide had come in and cut us off! But we could just hop on a boat and for a small ransom, be taken back to shore! 

If you are visiting St.Micheals Mount, please note that it is a property that is managed by The National Trust and if you want to get into the castle it is expensive, as was the garden and the cafe ~ lovely but expensive. We certainly managed to have loads of fun without paying a fortune, which is something I feel quite strongly about, children just don't need expensive days out and fun parks. 

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

summertime and the living is easy...

If you have the good fortune to find yourself a sunny day, a beautiful beach and time on your own whilst the family explore rock pools/the sea/eat ice creams, find yourself a limpet shell and squeeze some fresh lemon juice into a gin and tonic. Then sit back and relax. 

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

the bell tent appreciation society...

I have been getting quite a few emails and comments from bell tent admirers, owners and those looking for bell tent advice. I hadn't realised there were so many of you out there. I think it is about time that we join together and form the 'bell tent appreciation society', unofficially of course ~ although I do remember a childhood spent forming secret clubs with passwords, codes and membership cards, so I may just yet get my crayons out!

Of course to mark this historic moment in time I have created a flickr group called 'life under canvas' so that we can post pictures of our beautiful canvas tents and camping adventures! So here's to the beginning of a long hot summer packed with many days under canvas...!

how to catch a crab...

We spent a few hours on an overcast morning on a harbour wall trying to catch some crabs. Although I was slightly more distracted by trying to stop a five and three year old getting too close to the edge! 

What you need...
~ a length of fishing wire, we bought ours wrapped around a plastic handle
~ a small weight to tie to the end to keep it under the water
~ some raw chicken or bacon as bait
~ a bucket of seawater to keep them in

The best places to catch crabs are sea walls or harbours with deep water below, find a safe spot, we usually sit on harbour steps. Dangle your line into the water and wait, the tug is quite gentle and you will need to pull up your line gently and not too quickly as the crabs need time to get hold of the bait. Our crabs always fall off as we lift them out of the water, so a fishing net would come in handy. Hold the crab either side of the shell and be careful not to get nipped as you put it into your bucket! 

If you get really good then you could even enter the national crabbing championships in Walberswick, Suffolk! 

Monday, 8 June 2009

campfire bread...

Campfire or damper bread is great to cook on an open fire. You have to twist your bread around a green stick and keep turning so as not to burn it, but it tastes delicious on its own, freshly baked.

400g plain flour
30ml natural sugar
15ml sea salt
20ml baking powder
60ml softened butter
10ml warm water

in the kitchen...
1. mix together all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Add water and stir. Dough should be too dry to come together into one lump.
3. Cut in butter and knead by hand just long enough to make it smooth and consistent.
4. Form into a log, wrap in plastic and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

at the campsite...
5. Prepare 1 or more sticks 1cm in diameter by shaving clean with a pocket knife.
6. Cut dough into 12 pieces. Roll into long pencil thin snakes 30cm (12 inches) and coil these around the end of the stick.
7. Hold sticks high over the fire, constantly turning until the coiled dough turns golden brown.
8. Cool and eat straight off the stick!

recipe from the book Baking Bread with Children by Warren Lee Cohen

Sunday, 7 June 2009

tipi tales...

We have been away for two blissful weeks, two weeks with no work, no computer and no phone reception... heaven!

The first week we stayed in a tipi in north Cornwall. The site was in a disused quarry with pitches scattered in woodland around a central lake fed by a little stream. It was beautiful and peaceful and gave us the chance to reconnect as a family with no distractions. I say no distractions, but we were woken up early by the dawn chorus and a rather loud thrush singing outside, we had blue tits nesting in the rock face next to our tipi and great tits nesting in the water pipe. Buzzards circled overhead and rabbits grazed on the clearings. Voles rustled in the undergrowth and pheasants called loudly as you walked by. I even shared the loo with a toad! 

It made me think of the childhood books I read and classical novels when the author recalls the wildlife of yesteryear. It is something so rare and threatened today that it was a joy but quite strange to be walking next to hedgerows that rustled with an abundance of wildlife. 

The tipi's were separated with hedges so you couldn't see your neighbours, just hear the murmur of voices and crackle of the campfire. I have started to add pictures of our holiday here, but there are plenty more to follow - you have been warned!

Whilst I am on a woodland theme today, I have found the most beautiful handmade silver woodland bracelet here, one for a birthday list I think! 


I've been away, did you miss me? But I'm back with many adventures to share and hundreds of photographs to sort through! I have been reading your comments and want to thank you for your suggestions and messages re the name of the blog {which I am still pondering}. Lots of new people who I have never met before have been leaving comments which is lovely, thank you and welcome, I keep wandering off and looking at your blogs, which is a lovely distraction. 

I have started with a few small changes, what do you think? I want to retain the simpleness of the blog but give myself the flexibility to try some new ideas {more about that soon}. The new header is a bit of a work in progress too, but you can't go wrong when you use a picture by the wonderful Susannah

And I must apologise in advance as over the next few days/weeks I will bore you with many a tale from our holiday adventures. 

Oh, it's good to be home...

p.s. thank you for voting for me in the Dorset Cereal blog awards - I came close but not close enough to win the egg cosy and cereal! apparantly every month the blog award nominations get cleared and voting starts again, so if you would like to vote again and have the chance to win yourself some yummy cereal, I would be delighted... 
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