Sunday, 30 May 2010

a little inspiration needed...

Camping again soon, somewhere with a real fire, yippeee! But what to cook? I need a little inspiration, as whilst I don't want to pre-plan all our meals, it is worth having some ideas in my head, so tasty local produce can be sourced and yummy meals rustled up easily for demanding little campers! Will definitely try the damper bread again, that worked really well! Have you any camping favourites that work well for your family?

Saturday, 29 May 2010

I'm on my soapbox again...

I have been reading this week about how much is spent in the UK on prescriptions for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), an amazing £31 million! It has been alleged that symptoms are not felt by the patients, (who are diagnosed by a checklist), but by the parents who are exasperated with trying to cope. Apparently, research says it mainly affects boys and is linked with lack of exercise and fresh air, lack of authority, too much junk food, TV and computer games and poor sleep. It has even been suggested that to hand out mind altering drugs is cheaper than 'talking therapies'.

Now, whilst I don't have children with ADHD, I do have extremely active boys who are up with the lark and don't stop all day! I have had times when I have serious doubted my abilities as a parent and I almost daily run out of energy. My eldest child could be described as enthusiastic, he is a human version of a springer spaniel puppy, and despite never wanting him to watch TV when he was younger, there were times when I would pray that it would capture his attention for more than five minutes so that I could actually get something done!

On his tenth day of being at school (he was aged four and two months), his teacher asked "if she could have a word" and said that he needed to calm down, learn to sit still and if he didn't he would have problems later on. I was shocked, I still am by this attitude, he was only just settling in and still doing half days, everything was new, and I can't sit still for more than 30 minutes, why did she expect him to? Her approach if the children were naughty, was to put a 'sad' face on the white board, a few of those and they missed play time, can you think of a worse punishment for an energetic boy? I wish I had the confidence to have challenged this approach, to have said to her not to exemplify bad behaviour, just reward good. My son said once "I don't want to be naughty", it broke my heart, "you aren't naughty, just misunderstood" I replied, feeling I had let him down, I was too busy worrying what other mums and teachers thought of us!

His teacher this year is amazing, she has enthusiasm in the bucketload, she knows all of her children and gets their attention using a quiet, patient voice. She knows young children need daily exercise, and she knows the power of a good topic that inspires and engages the whole class. My son has come on in leaps and bounds, maybe because of her, maybe because he is that little bit older too. But one thing is certain, like his father and me, he will never sit still for more than half an hour, ever!

Whilst I do sympathise with parents whose children have ADHD, I also know that when that teacher questioned my child, it led me to doubt him, there were many times that I thought of taking him to the doctors, I thought he was the only one that was lively, I thought he was different, I thought I was a bad parent. I only hope that through life he finds enough people that will inspire and engage him and keep his energy concentrated in the right direction, we need creative sparky imaginative people in this world as much as we need studious quiet thinkers. It is not him with a problem, it is the system that he is in, an underfunded 'one size fits all' education system and society that puts people in boxes.

With 750,000 children being treated with ADHD in the UK, surely we should be looking at how schools and teachers are able to support families and society as a whole, a tablet may not cure everything?

If you would like to read a different perspective, I have just really enjoyed reading this article, written by a parent with a son with Aspergers, it has the best guide to school politics I have ever read!

Friday, 28 May 2010

chick knit...

Loving this knitted chick egg cosy, it features in Sophie Dahl's book Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights. I want to knit one, but I'm not good knitting freestyle without a pattern - has anyone seen one like this? I have done a web search but can't find anything similar.

152 wild things things to do...

Ways of being ‘wowed’ by wildlife are endless but families fumbling for a first encounter with the natural world will find 152 of them in an inspirational new family-friendly guide.

‘152 Wild Things To Do’ is packed with ideas to get families outside and closer to nature, whether at home, out and about in the countryside or in the heart of a city. Published in association with The Wildlife Trusts, the book is full of stunning full-colour photography. It includes entries from each of the 47 Wildlife Trusts, describing what you’ll see during a visit to one of their reserves – be it a sea of bluebells, diving ospreys, or an awe-inspiring waterfall.

I am very excited as my photographs have been used to illustrate river dipping, which is the perfect activity for a summer's day! I haven't seen a copy yet, but I have already pre-ordered my copy from Amazon. I am sure it will be packed full of 'wild' ideas for things to do this summer.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

ice cream

I love ice-cream, do you? Especially proper ice-cream made locally, one of my absolute favourites is Roskilly's in Cornwall. Unfortunately most ice-cream sends my boys loopy and completely hyperactive, so ice-cream is quite a treat in our household! I am wondering whether it is worth buying an ice-cream maker, so we can make our own, there seems to be so many recipes about. Although the best I have had was the gelato served at Jamie's Italian restaurant ~ it has had me wanting to go back ever since!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

blue sky thinking...

Oh to be sat in the middle of this meadow, to while away the hours with a good book! I would wear this floaty maxi dress or maybe this vintage inspired one and take a picnic in a tiffin tin. I would design my own deck chair sling, maybe even design one with one of my own photographs on.

Oh to day dream...

Monday, 24 May 2010

place your orders...

I've come over a little 'foodie', I think mainly due to purchasing this recipe book, with very beautiful photography in, closely followed by this recipe book, because it has a bell tent on the front ~ you know how much I love bell tents! They have me dreaming of sunny day picnics, candle lit suppers and campfire meals.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

for the love of film...

have i told you lately how much I love film? the light, the texture, the joy of not knowing how the pictures turn out until you pick up the packet from the developers! My old lomo is so used, it now has a small crack! I hope a little super glue will hold it together, or I will need to get it refurbished or heaven forbid seek a new one! This picture above was taken a few weeks ago, just as the cow parsley was beginning to flower, I love cow parsley, the roadside verges near me are just bursting with it at the moment. This week I am going to find a field full of it to photograph!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

i love bread...

I came across these two gorgeous pictures on flickr, they are from my favourites. I love bread, spread generously with butter, it's my weakness, fresh crusty bread of any kind! The round loaf above is just fab, I have seen this done before, for summer picnics but have never given it a go myself, but am inspired to do so by this pic! So i'm off to plan what to put in each layer!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

from little seeds...

with all our seeds planted and lots more sunny days, our garden has sprung into life. Ted's peas all have shoots, the potatoes are really taking off and the runner beans are up to our knees! The boys water the plants, although seem to prefer using water pistols, a slightly unusual technique, but one that is a lot more fun - until they aim for the washing on the line, then they get chased away! If you have any little ones birthdays coming up, why not consider buying a watering can and some seeds as a present? They are really quite cheap to buy from garden centres, I like this yellow one for my littlest man.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

lets go fly a kite...

I am so enchanted by these homemade kites by 'somethings hiding in here' that I am trying to make some myself! I want to make them in a lightweight but equally gorgeous fabric! If that fails I will lust after this hand painted silk and bamboo dragonfly kite - isn't it amazing?

Monday, 17 May 2010


life doesn't get much better than drinking chocolate in the middle of a bluebell wood. Spring has arrived here so much later than normal, and it is just so wonderful, birds singing, bluebells carpeting the floor of our favourite woodland and all of the seeds we have planted, pushing their way from under the soil in our garden!

Friday, 14 May 2010

walking for wildlife...

This weekend we are helping out, at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust's first sponsored 'Walk 4 Wildlife' taking part in one of the most beautiful valleys I know, 'The Golden Valley' between Stroud and Cirencester in the Cotswold's. This is the Trust's first 'Walk 4 Wildlife' and walkers are raising money for the conservation work of the Trust, which ranges from protecting endangered species like the otter, water vole and dormouse to managing 60 nature reserves.

The day starts at 10am from the Daneway Inn, with BBC TV's The One Show's Wildlife Presenter 'Mike Dilger' starting walkers on their way. Walkers can either register in advance or turn up on the day, and all walkers who complete the five mile circular walk will receive a medal, even the dogs will receive their own special 'dog tag'.

There are already over 300 adults, children and dogs registered, and who can blame them, as the countryside and nature reserves they will be walking through, are beautiful at the moment, bluebell woodlands and grasslands full of meadow flowers. Even the weather forecast is looking good! If you are nearby, stop by and say 'Hi', I will be on the registration desk ~ unless I have sneaked off to take pictures!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

today was brought to you by the letter 'B'...

my good friend Barbara and her little man Percy, picked up Ted and I in Bertie, her beloved camper van 'Bertie' today. We drove to the common and feasted on bacon and banana baguettes, followed by tea and battenberg cake! I have had a 'thing' for bacon and banana baguettes ever since I was a student, and lived near a fab sandwich shop, so I would eat them almost daily. Some people I know, think this combination is slightly peculiar, I say 'don't knock it 'til you've tried it!' Driving in Bertie, brought back memories of our adventures in Prudence and Betty, oh how I dream of owning a vw camper van myself...

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

breaking the rules...

It was such a lovely evening, we jumped in the car and headed out into the countryside. We stayed up past bedtime, we walked through fields of yellow and took loads of photo's! I was reminded that once in a while, it does us good to break our routine.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

introducing 'Uncle George'...

uncle george

This is 'Uncle George' our scarecrow, he is not quite finished yet. We have made him using a simple stick cross and have dressed him in some fetching red cords and a check shirt and stuffed him with straw. His head is made with an old linen pillowcase with a hand stitched nose stuffed with a little wool and teddy bear eyes. The mustache is from a set that you can buy from here. We are still hunting for an old tweed hat and jacket, you know the type with elbow patches? We must have been to over 30 charity shops and car boot sales and the only ones we can find have been really quite expensive ~ when did charity shops get so expensive? They have really caught on to this vintage vibe haven't they? The hunt continues...

Thursday, 6 May 2010

green fingers...

The weather is very changeable, from clear blue skies to heavy showers and cold winds. We have planted most of our seedlings out now, some of the more delicate ones are on a tray (pictured above) that we bring in at night. This year we have indulged in lots of flowers and today I bought a couple of blackcurrant plants from school for just £3!

so far we have planted these fruit & vegetables...
Peas ~ kelvedon wonder
Beans ~ galaxy
Shallots ~ red sun
Potatoes ~ early desiree
Tomato's ~ gardeners delight
Carrots ~ fun round parmex variety
Pumpkins ~ mammoth
Wild Rocket
Strawberry ~ from last year

and these flowers...
Sweet Williams ~ wee willie mix (I just love the name!)
Cosmos ~ purity, just white
Scabious ~ pincushion blue
Viburnum ~ summer snowflake
Snapdragon ~ antirrhinum
Verbena ~ ridgida {great for butterflies}
Sweet Peas ~ cupid mix
Sunfower ~ sunshine giant
Geranium ~ himalayense

and these we already have in the garden...
Apple trees
Fig tree, espaliered against a wall
Climbing jasmine that grows up the treehouse and smells divine on a warm summer eve!
Twisted hazel
Grape hyacinth
& lots of dandelions!

We weren't going to plant much this year as we are still hoping for an allotment. But almost two years after asking the local council for provision of an allotment site for our village, the consultation process is still going very, very s l o w l y !

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

gardening with children...

I was delighted to be asked by Shari Altman, gardening editor, over at Cafemom, to be interviewed about how I garden with my children and take a few photo's. I jumped at the opportunity and you can read the full interview here, just published today. Cafemom is an online community where millions of mum's meet each day to talk, share advice and make new friends.

We have spent most of the weekend in the garden, in between showers, planting most of our vegetable plants and seeds, and weaving some willow supports for the peas to grow up. To celebrate the cafemom interview, we had a trip out to look at chickens and visit a garden centre, to buy some flowers to mix in the borders with the veg - so I am going to plant sweet williams and poppies in with the boys carrots, some blue geraniums and verbena has been dotted in between the potato plants and I indulged myself by buying a crown of rhubarb for £3.99! Now comes the challenge of keeping footballs away from everything!

Monday, 3 May 2010

cookie cutter collection...

I didn't realise I had so many, until I laid them all out! I have even more than in the picture above. I buy one or two here and there, snowflakes for christmas, hearts for valentines day and fun shapes for birthdays! They have mounted up, into a collection in fact, and one that I didn't know I had. I have, however, just purchased the ultimate cookie cutter, the cloud by Heriott Grace. This cutter has a reclaimed handmade wooden handle and a handmade tin cutter, I am in cookie cutter heaven!

Tip of the day - cutters even work for toddlers birthday parties as you can cut tiny sandwich shapes, making them super fun and easy to eat, perfect for your fussy eaters!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

dandelion petal sorbet...

How to make dandelion petal sorbet...
Pick a small basket of dandelions, around three pints in quantity (roughly), from a pesticide free area and away from a roadside.

Snip off the petals as soon as they have been picked, not too close to the bottom as the white at the base of the petal is very bitter in taste, so leave that attached to the green calyxes and put in your compost bin!

Put to one side, you should have about two cupfull’s.

Heat in a saucepan five cups of water, half a cup of local honey and one cup of natural sugar.

Once the syrup comes to the boil, stir in the petals, cover and simmer for an hour.

Sieve through a muslin into a container and stir in three tablespoons of lemon juice.

Pop in the freezer, stirring every couple of hours until frozen or use an ice cream maker, following manufacturers guidelines.

Serve in small glass dishes with a dandelion flower on top!
Adapted from The Herbfarm Cookbook: A Guide to the Vivid Flavors of Fresh Herbs by Jerry Traunfeld (Scribner, 2000).
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