Saturday, 31 August 2013

the beach

I love how entertaining beaches are to my children, a place of wonder that they visit once maybe twice a year, full of freedom and adventure. They make friends quickly and easily, with children of all ages, exploring rock pools for shore crabs and body boarding in the sea. 

We also try and make the perfect sand castle but the little man likes to knock them down so we don't get very far! I wish we lived a little nearer a beach to do this more often.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Blackberry picking time

The first family blackberry forage of the year with Ted eating as many as his dad picks! The hedgerows are heavily laden with berries and there are just a few ripe enough to pick here at the moment. We take the ones we can reach, the biggest juiciest ones are at the top of the hedgerows out of our reach for the birds to enjoy. Now off to search for the perfect blackberry recipes, what are yours?

Monday, 26 August 2013

Hedgerow and Coastal Wild Food Foraging at Prussia Cove

My eldest son and I enjoyed a hedgerow and coastal wild food forage with Rachel Lambert whilst on holiday in Cornwall. It was in the most wonderful setting, Prussia Cove, along secret paths and lanes, past beautiful cottages with their rich history of smuggling and along the spectacular coastal path lined with purple heather against a shimmering turquoise sea. 

Rachel was lovely and showed us how to identify common chickweed, common hogweed, ground ivy,  Alexanders, common sorrel, yarrow, wild carrot and gut weed. We learnt how to identify the plants and more importantly the plants that they can be confused with that aren't edible!

We scribbled a lot of notes and made sketches in our notebooks!

After the walk we headed to the pebbly cove for a picnic, Rachel had prepared food using some of the plants we had found and gathered along the way. It was really delicious and a wonderful experience to share with my boy too, who really enjoyed it. 

Rachel's Picnic Menu

Bread made with Alexanders seed
Oatcakes made with gutweed and common hogweed seeds
Green salad made with lettuce and foraged greens; sorrel, ground ivy, yarrow and common chickweed
Pesto made with nettles, garlic and olive oil
Oatcakes made with wild carrot seeds

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Postcards from Cornwall

I have post holiday blues! We've recently returned from a two glorious weeks in sunny Cornwall, I know, we always go to Cornwall but we love it so much! We stayed with the same company that we've stayed with before, Forever Cornwall, but this time in a lovely little barn in the hills between the north and south coast. We are creatures of habit returning to the same place, but I like to look forward to my holiday and we take great comfort in knowing where we're going and planning our adventures before we set off.

The barn was lovely, with a huge sofa that reminded me of the Driftwood beach chalet that we stayed in a few years ago. There were piles of old ladybird bird books for the boys to read and classic Penguins too that had belonged to the owner Phil as a child. 

We took with us Enid Blyton's The Sea of Adventure to read at bedtime, a great series for older boys who yearn for adventure and appropriate reading for our seaside holiday.

It usually takes me a few days to get into holiday mode and unwind, so to have two weeks away was just bliss and it was so easy to unwind in such a beautiful house. Although I have a giant mound of washing that we've brought back with us.

The boys freely roamed the meadows around the barn; playing cricket in the garden, feeding carrots to the ponies and picking blackberries from the bountiful hedgerows, staining their fingers in the process!

We tried to get to the beach as much as possible to take advantage of the good weather and swim in the sea, it's amazing how children entertain themselves on a beach, making friends, searching for shore crabs in the rock pools and making sandcastles!

I have loads more holiday adventures to share and more pictures to upload to flickr too, you have been warned! 

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A breakfast barbecue on the beach

We had the most amazing beach barbecue on holiday recently. As the tide varies each day, the first thing we buy when on holiday is one of those little yellow tide times books so we can plan our days around visits to the beach. This year high tide has been mainly in the afternoon, so we decided to have a breakfast barbecue instead of an evening one. 

We bought sausages, apricots and eggs from the local farm shop and huge tiger baps from the local bakers. Then after breakfast and when the fire had died down a little I popped some carrot cakes in the embers to cook whilst the boys went surfing.

I was inspired by a recipe by James Strawbridge from Saturday Farm, but mine have far less ingredients and they certainly look more rustic!

You have to grease and line the cans with baking parchment before baking, but even so they did burn on the bottom as the barbecue was so hot!

My cakes are 100g of sugar, creamed together with 100g of unsalted butter. Then I stirred in two eggs and 100g flour, 1 tsp of baking powder and 1 tsp of cinnamon. Finally I stirred in three grated carrots and cooked in the barbecue embers until they were cooked through. I did all the preparation at home and just took the cans to the beach with the cake mix already in to make it easy.

To serve I mixed a little cream cheese with icing sugar (done before going to the beach) and iced the top of the cakes. Delicious and warm for when the boys returned from the sea!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Immortalised in oil

Whilst on the beach recently we noticed an artist painting behind us and thought nothing of it, after all the beach was packed with hundreds of people. After a little while I took a little wander to be nosy at what he was painting and was amazed to see that he was painting us! We are the family in the bottom right - you can see us in the picture below - how cool is that?

I love the picture and it was lovely to meet and watch the artist Roger Curtis at work, his paintings are beautiful. Unfortunately the painting is a little bit out of our price range which is a shame as it would look wonderful on our wall at home and a permanent reminder of our favourite beach.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Pottering around the Potager Garden

I do love discovering new places on holiday, especially ones tucked away from the throngs of tourists, hidden at the end of sunken oak tree-lined lanes in deepest Cornwall. I read about the Potager Garden and Glasshouse Cafe in Alastair Sawdays Go Slow England and Wales and it didn't disappoint.

The cafe with its mismatched furniture and huge wood burner, reminded me of the Ethicurean restaurant, and has a small and thoughtful menu inspired by the vegetables grown in the garden. On the cafe tables along with flowers, are packs of cards and sets of dominoes for entertainment, a theme throughout the gardens with a badminton set and boules on the lawn, a table tennis table in the greenhouse and hammocks to lounge on - perfect and oh so child friendly!

The gardens were beautiful with tall striking blue agapanthus flowers and lush green ferns. In the cafe we enjoyed a delicious pea and mint soup and gooey flour-less chocolate cake washed down with homemade elderflower cordial. I wanted to lounge in one of the many sunny glades to read my new book, The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane about the ancient tracks, paths, drovers roads and holloways that criss-cross the British Isles, but I was drawn into a badminton battle with my husband instead!

Saturday, 17 August 2013


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013

The little man asleep in our bed, an all too common occurrence! 

Joining in with the 52 project by Che & Fidel.

Thursday, 15 August 2013


Can you have a favourite road? I do, it's the B3306 that clings to the Penwith peninsula in Cornwall. Climbing majestically out of the tourist town of St.Ives the road passes rocky granite boulders, rugged coastline and a patchwork of tiny fields, whose boundaries have remained unchanged for thousands of years. The first time I drove this road there was a thick fog and it felt as if you were driving along a cliff edge!

The road passes through the tiny village of Zennor, where the Parish Church St. Senara's is home to the mermaid chair and the legend of local boy Matthew Trewella who was enticed to his death by a mermaid! Throughout the landscape is evidence of an industrial past, with the great chimneys of the tin mines and their engine houses now just ruins. 

The road widens and narrows, and with each narrowing you breathe in hoping that something isn't coming the other way. You pass between barns of tiny hamlets, now more likely to be holiday homes and meet the open top bus, route 300, a white knuckle ride that hurtles around the lanes where you are rewarded with the most amazing views.

The cows that graze in the small fields provide the milk for Rodda's famous Cornish clotted cream and the new rather fabulous Moomaid ice cream!

After 13 miles the road ends in the tiny town of St.Just. We treat ourselves to a Cornish pasty from McFaddens the local butchers, they are truly the best, and take them quickly, whilst warm, down the lane to eat them at Cape Cornwall where there is the most enchanting sea filled swimming pool!

Do you have a favourite road or journey? 

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Writing for the Outdoor Nation Blog

I was delighted to be asked to write something for the National Trusts fabulous Outdoor Nation blog. The blog has contributions from some of the UK's most eminent writers on children and the outdoors, so to sit alongside people such as James Fair from BBC Wildlife Magazine and David Bond of Project Wild Thing is just a huge honour. 

It's a wonderful and inspiring blog and definitely one to add to your reading list! I do hope you like the article? 

Monday, 12 August 2013

do you Pin?

I must admit I'm slightly obsessed with Pinterest and am sure it's not healthy to gaze wistfully so often at so many beautiful pictures wishing my life looked like that! Do you pin too? Do let me know and I'll follow you. 

Friday, 9 August 2013

a tour of our treehouse

The treehouse is a very large feature in the corner of our very tiny and oddly shaped garden. It is nearly ten years old, my husband started building it when we discovered we were expecting our first child! It was his 'thing' and it took a while to build as he should have been getting the house ready instead, as we had only just moved in!

He built the treehouse around a rather sad lilac tree that sits in a corner of the garden that I couldn't bear to be chopped down despite its poor condition, it was the only thing of height in the garden and it hides the neighbours perfectly! He built a sturdy platform, with four posts concreted into the ground to hold it up, through the floorboards two wonderful thick branches grow and exit through the roof above. The walls and roof are built upon the platform, with lots of branches weaving in and out everywhere! There has been movement and growth so we do need to replace some boards here and there, but it has held together really well.

In one of the walls is a stained glass window, that I made years ago as a present for my husband who at the time was working as a geologist and loved fossil hunting (still does!) There are two rather lovely ammonites incorporated into it and it looks perfect in the treehouse as if it were made for it.

The babe and I often sneak in the treehouse for afternoon tea, he loves it in there, so we've put in his small table and chairs. You can see in the picture above the repairs that need doing!

And sometimes we sleep in it despite there being no room due to the branches going through it so you have to sleep diagonally!

The lilac only flowers for a week in April, so I planted a scented jasmine to grow up it, which has gone mad and now covers the treehouse in the summer providing a lovely aroma and food source for the hundreds of bees that visit.
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