Home Grown

31 July 2012

I've kind of fallen out-of-love with our allotment. It happens every now and then. It's a rocky relationship at the best of times. It demands so much time and being someone who likes stuff in order, it frustrates me that I can't keep on top of it all of the time. I know I'm being unrealistic and must cut myself a bit of gardening slack, but that is how it is with me.

I wrote post earlier this year, full of enthusiasm about my big plans to grow cut flowers down the allotment. Well it started off pretty good, but then the rain came and stayed (and stayed some more) preventing me from having as much time down the plot as I would have wanted or needed. I do, however have a very modest (unkempt) cut flower patch from some of the seeds I sowed back in the early spring. The picture above shows a few vases of them. I won't be having a 'glut' and my local florist won't lose my custom, but I'm enjoying them all the same and it hasn't completely dampen my enthusiasm to try and grow more next year. I am, however, hoping that Mr G will keep to his word and build me a cold frame on our balcony in time for next years sowing, so those seedlings can be kept warm and dry and have half a chance whatever the weather brings.

If You Go Down To The Woods Today ...

30 July 2012

...well, last week actually. I had a busy week last week, so only just getting this post up now. I took Lily and Arthur to Woodland Bugs: an outdoor playgroup in the woods. It took place at  Three Corner Copse in Hove, the existence of which I had been completely unaware of until now. The group, which is run by a qualified teacher, consisted of a small group of mum's and their young children. It was great to see the kids having proper old-fashioned outdoor fun.

First off we all built a den from branches and sticks found in the wood, then there was a bug treasure hunt plus a story and singing session followed by various woodland craft activities. 

Lily soon got to work using foraged pieces of wood, bark and leaves to make her 'bug hotel'. The coloured decorative features are those foam packaging pieces that stick with water. She proudly bought the hotel home with her and it now sits in our courtyard and is home to Honey, Bernie, Tigger and Violet the family of woodlice that she has decided to adopt this last week. 

A Lesson In How Unplanned Days Are Often The Best

20 July 2012

We're at the end of the first week of the school summer holidays. Not that I'm counting. The first week off is always my favourite. Lily's school broke up a week earlier than most schools meaning we can pretty much get the parks and a good stretch of beach all to ourselves. That all changes next week when all the other schools break up.

But with the weather being at best changeable, we've had to make things up as we've gone along this week; ducking the rain showers and finding stuff to do indoors.  But today the rain gave us a break, so we headed to the beach. There's a bit of beach, the nearest bit to us, that has a small wooden jetty running down the shingle to the sea. This is my bit of beach; my garden. It's peaceful and the jetty acts as a low windbreak, cum table, cum bench. It's a good place to be.

Today I decided to take some art supplies with us: paper, coloured pencils, paints and oil pastels. I've never taken such things before. It wasn't planned; just a whim. The kids had a great time, holding their paper down from the breeze with pebbles and washing out their paint brushes in a jar of sea water. It was two-and-a-half hours of non-squabbling sibling time, with each of them totally immersed in what they were doing, only stopping to eat the sausage sandwiches we bought with us from home for lunch.

I, in turn, did nothing but savour a flask of tea, relax with a bit of cross-stitch (I kid you not), and intermittently dashed into the sea to change the water in the paint brush jar. I'm not very good at doing nothing, so it was a good way for me to end the week. I don't have that frazzled end-of-the-week feeling that Friday often brings and maybe that was due to that time out on the beach.

I eventually called time when the wind whipped up and dark grey clouds started to hang above us. Once home they both the Lily and Arthur immediately got their drawing pads out again eager to finish off their pictures.

I've a feeling we will have days such as these again. 

Miss Cherry's Cake

16 July 2012

It has been a busy weekend for cakes. This one pictured here was for a special young lady called Cherry. It is fair to say that her palette is beyond her years: she enjoys sushi (eating it with chop sticks), gerkins, olives and simply loves a cake with berries and cream. This weekend Cherry had a birthday party so this is the cake I made her: a two layer blueberry cake filled with blueberry jam and topped with a cheesecake frosting and seasonal berries. 

It's the most elegant cake I've ever made for a 3 year old.

My Parents: Style Icons

12 July 2012

Look at these two hip young things. Who are they? A cool 60's photographer and his muse? No, it my mum and dad.

I love these pictures that were taken in a photobooth during their courtship in the mid 60's. They have so many great black and white photo's from back then and I love looking at them seeing them as people other than my parents. They were an effortlessly beautiful and stylish couple who shopped at Biba and saw the Rolling Stones play in a local pub. I wish I had been their age back then; I was born in the wrong era.

Photo's from my carefree days don't have a spot on my parents. David and I have a few photo albums from when we were of a similar age, but I cringe looking at them, even now some twenty years on. The late 80's / early 90's wasn't a stylish time really, it has to be said. Nowadays it's all camera phones and photo's on memory sticks. One day I will spend sometime making up my own photo albums; who knows the kid's might enjoy looking at them one day and see them in a different light to me.


10 July 2012

Image via www.designismine.blogspot.co.uk

Although the weather outside suggests otherwise, my calendar is telling me it is now officially summer. It certainly doesn't feel like summer, but maybe it will do by the end of the week when Lily and Arthur both break up for the Summer holidays.

I live my life by the academic year these days. The end of each school year is a pretty major thing for me at least. It seems only yesterday that Lily had her very first nerve-racking day at school: a little girl in a big school. To think that she starts year 3 in September seems nothing more than ridiculous: that's junior school years! Obviously she is growing all year round, but it is at the end of each academic year I really come to realise it.

Long-term readers of this blog may recall the difficult times we had just over a year ago when we opted to move Lily from her previous school into an local independent school. It was a huge thing on so many levels. Yesterday she came home with her end of year report; a document of sorts that would tell us in black and white if we were right to make the decision we did. I shed a tear reading it. Proudness,  relief, or a combination of the two: whatever it was it made me realise that we undoubtedly made the right choice. The report was everything I could have wished for; the best possible end to the year.

I do love the summer holidays. They are long and they can, at times, be extremely hard work. But I'm all too aware of how quickly my kids are growing up and that the next seven and a half weeks must be cherished. I welcome the break from the repetitive late evening routine of getting pack lunches made and school bags packed (when all you really want to do is collapse in front of the TV) and the early morning rush. Why is it however organised you are the night before and however early you get up in the morning it's always a frenzy getting the out the door by 8:15 am? So I'm looking forward to time reading books, museum trips, lego building marathons, baking biscuits, craft days (if the weather stays wet) and days on the beach, time down the allotment, play dates at the park and outdoor swimming pools (when the summer weather finally arrives).

However, on the other hand, the summer holidays are the busiest time for us work-wise: an imperative part of our year when we have the most clients to handle. So as soon as school finishes so do my three mornings a week in the office. That's pretty stressful. I have to try and cram in some work in the evenings or at weekends or else David has to have the kids so that I can go to the office to work, but he really can't spare time out of the office so if that happens he then has to spend the evening catching up on emails. There is no easy solution really. We have this every year. I don't quite know how, but we tend to get through it. Every year we say 'never-again', but the thing with being self-employed, particularly during a recession, is that you don't want to be turning down work. The future is hard to forecast at times like these.

This year though will be slightly different. We've booked a trip abroad. We last ventured on a foreign holiday pre-kids some nine years ago. Sorry Cornwall, but this year we're off to Spain for 10 whole work-free family-centered sunny days. Somehow, no matter what the weather does here or what work demands of us, knowing we are getting a proper break makes it all that bit more manageable. Come on summer: bring it on!