Tuesday, 31 May 2011


it's a Gruffalo...

My gorgeous friend Jenny made my youngest the best fancy dress outfit ever - a Gruffalo costume! A fab waistcoat (fashioned from a throw!) with a large hood complete with horns, a tail and purple prickles all over his back. Together with a scary pair of feet with turned out toes, he really is the scariest creature in the deep dark wood. 

If you haven't read the Gruffalo books, I do recommend them, they are great to read out loud together and we do lots of different accents for all the animals. We saw the live stage tour earlier in the year too by the Tall Stories Theatre Company, we were captivated, I hope it comes back our way again soon!

Monday, 30 May 2011

making elderflower cordial...

Just finishing off making a batch of elderflower cordial this morning! It's filling the house with the most delicious smell. Here is the recipe I used...

You will need...

25 elderflower heads
1.5 kg caster sugar
3 lemons
1.5l water

1. Gently collect elderflowers from countryside, take just what you need and from plants away from the roadside to avoid pollution.
2. Bring water to the boil in a large preserving pan and add sugar, reduce the heat to a simmer after the sugar dissolves.
3. Chop lemon into quarters and add to pan with the elderflower heads (gently shake first to make sure any bugs fall out!)
4. Take off heat and leave to cool for 24 hours.
5. Strain through a muslin and pour into sterlised bottles (sterilise in oven or on hottest dishwasher setting).
6. Store in a cool place.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

elderflower picking...

found a glorious patch of oxeye daisies whilst foraging for elderflowers the other day, took lots of pictures from underneath them looking up at the blue sky. I took a load on film so I do hope they come out as the vignetting is potentially amazing, although it was quite windy, so big blur factor! There are more daisy pics on my flickr stream here

Obviously when lying in a sunny field taking pictures from under a daisy, it would be rude to not just lie and turn your face to the bright sunshine too! 

Oh we did manage to harvest two baskets of elderflowers too! 

Top tip to pick elderflowers: take a walking stick or umbrella with a crook handle, to reach and pull down those high elder branches. 

Friday, 27 May 2011

Postcards from home...

photo of me by Leonie Wise 

Had a day off today, spent with the lovely Leonie Wise of Postcards From, who came up from London for a visit. We started with an early coffee in Woodruffs, as Stroud was waking up and the friday market was setting up, followed by a purchase of some flowers and plants from the amazing WI stall in the Shambles. 

We then bought cheese from Hania and a letterpress print each from the enigmatic Dennis Gould. We visited the beautiful Moonflower with Leonie treating herself to a top and I found a very lovely two piece summer outfit for a little girl who will be one very soon, oh how I love to shop for pretty girls things (having two boys). I then stocked up on lime cordial and a loaf from the Sunshine shop, before hitting a few charity/junk shops on the hunt for tea cups and pretty things. 

For lunch, we went to The Woolpack, in Slad, my favourite country pub, which didn't disappoint, I had the Woolpack burger with coleslaw and hand cut chips (the best I've ever tasted), Leonie had halibut with cheese and leek dauphinoise potatoes, a saffron sauce and local asparagus. The pub was the local of author Laurie Lee (pictured above in the pub) who wrote the beautiful book Cider with Rosie and sits in the most beautiful valley I know, looking out towards Swift's Hill, a Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust nature reserve (of course!)

To walk off our massive lunch we then went off hunting for elderflowers in full bloom to pick to make elderflower cordial, champagne and I'm going to try some fritters this year too! More elderflower adventures tomorrow x

Thursday, 26 May 2011


I have just sold our beloved bell tent, am writing quickly so I don't hyperventilate! I have been dithering for a little while about trading up to a five metre diametre tent, as our four metre has felt on the small side since we stayed in a rather large tipi!

It has been perfectly adequate since we bought it in 2006, but as the boys have grown and they are just so boisterous, and I have secretly been visiting this website to check out bigger belles!

I can't believe we are currently tentless, apart from a very old and very tiny two man tent! At least I am safe in the knowledge that it has gone to a good home, to be loved as much as we did.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

from the naughty step...

Do you ever find that life is just going so fast you just can't keep up? You drive and you can't remember the journey! You are too busy for washing, tidying, cooking etc... 

We have just come to the end of a manic few weeks, working six days a week, catching up with paperwork in the evenings, eating supper at 10pm. To top it off, I got told off by my mother! At the grand old age of 36, I had a real ear bashing for having a messy house, a flashback to the teenage me living at home. I wouldn't mind but it was just cosmetic, piles of washing brought in from the washing line over chairs to be folded or hung, crumbs on the floor from the mornings sandwiches and the boys sneaking biscuits from the jar, a pile of washing up and paperwork/newspapers/magazines/school letters spread over every surface as we just opened them and left them to come back too. Nothing too bad and it only took an hour to tidy and clean up! 

I'm a completely messy person naturally, which doesn't help when your mother is a bit OCD! So there we have it, I would rather spend the only day off I have in a week, outside with my children, playing and having adventures. So now I'm on the naughty step!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

the godmother part one...

I am now a godmother to two very lovely girls, I can't tell you how much this means to me. I have a ridiculously tiny family, so the friends I have are like my family. 

We gave the girls two birth trees as a baptism gift, so that they can grow as the girls do, and being apple they can enjoy the fruit from their own trees too! 

The girls beautiful dresses came from here

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Giffords Circus tour begins...

oh happy days, the circus season has started once more! Giffords Circus is a small touring 1930s village green circus that tours the Cotswolds each year between May and September. This year the circus is based on the novel 'War and Peace' with original score and live 13 piece band. 

We were delighted to go yesterday and see some familiar faces back this year such as Bibi and Bichu the jugglers and the fantastic Tweedy the clown. It's fast paced and fun filled with some tender touches in between, beautiful singing, a falcon, doves and a goose called Brian. 

The performers are so talented, we just marveled and gasped at their acts! Hopefully we'll go again over the summer as once is never enough!

at the farmers' market...

today at the farmers' market I bought; 

a bunch of sweet williams
some Windrush Valley herby goats cheese & a generous slice of freshly baked cheesecake
Trealy Farm sweet chorizo
& a chalkboard from my favourite junk shop! 

and even better, I got to take my gorgeous friend Leonie and her husband Nic for a whistle stop tour! 

Monday, 16 May 2011

please and thank you...

An awkward thing happened to me today, a mum at the school gates said "thank you for the thank you card, but you thanked us for the wrong present!" As I cringed in embarrassment hoping that it was a simple Alex/Alexandra mix up, I remembered I had wittered on to the other mum last week about how fab the *wrong* present was!

thank you notes can be quite simple!

The worst thing is that I'm quite strict about this, the boys never open up presents at their parties (well maybe just one), they open them at home after when it is calmer or on their birthday if it is close. I am always there with pad and pencil making sure I write down who has given what, so we can thank them personally and the boys appreciate what they have been given. I have seen so many big parties when the gift you have carefully chosen, is unwrapped and dumped unceremoniously in a big pile in the corner (with you regretting not buying something quite inappropriate when that happens!)

I never fail to be shocked when we don't receive a thank you note, so many people just don't bother any more! I really value and pass on to the boys good manners, it's so important. We also try and hand make the cards too, so a little effort has gone in from the child not just a mum written card. I obviously muddled up the gifts this year to my embarrassment, oh well maybe if I could just ask them all to swap cards?

Sunday, 15 May 2011

back to school...

I have just finished work on a really fantastic school art project, with a group of disadvantaged children, aged between 5 - 9. I've blogged about it here if you want to know more.

The children made these creatures with socks all by themselves, aren't they good?

I love this dog whose stripes were painted on, from a paintbox!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

walking with children...

A family walk today, not far as we were all quite weary and the little man just wanted to be carried! 

I always stuff my bag with treats if we go for a walk, as the youngest does need bribing/encouraging to walk. Things like yoghurt covered raisins are a favourite, biscuits and apples. Although today I baked a banana cake as I had a couple of bananas that needed eating, so wrapped it up and we had generous wedges of cake whilst taking a break sat in a field. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

ugly bug ball...

I am really excited to announce that I'm back at the lovely Prema Arts Centre this summer, to run two really fun workshops. 

The first is an Ugly Bug Ball, on Saturday, 2nd July 10am - 2pm £15 ages 7-11. 
Inspired by the amazing picture above, we are going to explore what mini-beasts we can find on our hands and knees! From grasshoppers, spiders, moths, caterpillars and tiny ants. We will then make our own bugs and then lead them in a procession and celebrate the Ugly Bug Ball! 

The second workshop, I'll be helped by my family to run a Den Building Day, called 'Something in the Woodshed'. Monday 25th July 10am - 4pm. 
In this timeless workshop we’ll re-live those heady childhood days of tree houses and dens made from clothes horses and old blankets — there’s no place like home when you’ve made it yourself! Join us for a day of fortresses and teepees and work as a family to create your own unique den; you’ll pick up lots of useful and imaginative tips along the way to try out at home. Raid your cupboards for old sheets and any bits and bobs to furnish your den and get ready to have some real fun together.

There are many other fab events at Prema, I quite fancy the 'grand design' creative family recycling event. The centre is small and welcoming and even though it's in Gloucestershire, it's easily accessible from Bath and Bristol. See you there!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

bluebell blues...

The bluebell season is almost over, and I how lament the passing of this flower that heralds spring. There is nothing more quintessentially English than a woodland full of bluebells and every year I promise myself that next year we will visit more... 

Thursday, 5 May 2011

tallest sunflower competition...

can you grow the tallest sunflower? Wildlife Watch is asking children across the UK if they want to take part in this competition and receive free sunflower seeds from Vine House Farm. We have just received ours but today is the last day if you want to apply, so do it quickly now! Then lets all grow them together and see who can grow the tallest...

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

climbing trees and dirty knees...

When was the last time you climbed a tree? We explored the woods this weekend and climbed mossy trees. It was really windy, so we held them tightly as they swayed, listening to them creaking and groaning.

Monday, 2 May 2011

damper bread...

We made a damper (or campfire) bread today using this recipe, and cooked it on sticks over a campfire with some bacon wrapped local asparagus. I love campfire bread, you have to keep twizzling the stick so that it doesn't burn and cooks inside!

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