As you know, dear reader, we do like to get out and about of a weekend. I was plotting on Friday evening where we’d like to go and picnic lists were being accumulated in my mind. On Saturday morning as the children bundled onto our bed (far too early) we asked them what they would like to do.
Their answer – go to the bookshop and get exchange their World Book Day tokens for books and have hotdogs for lunch at home. They needed a weekend staying close to home, and that is what we did. It’s easy to get caught up in the trips out to the National Trust properties or indeed the certainty that comes when going to the zoo – we just stayed put and mooched around.
It is now a mighty £6.40 return bus fare for me to take the children on the bus into the town centre (that’s 2 miles, it’s the fun factor that’s important, but seriously, £6.40???) so we walked. For the first time in well over 18 months I chose to walk into town. I was well enough too. We went, we got our books, booked an eye test back in town for that afternoon for the Sealion Keeper, we bought hotdog sausages and mini-baguettes in Tesco and got a milkshake on the way home. We stopped to talk to the people we knew on the way. We looked at the colours of blossom, how the river has swollen and talked about why there are still poppy wreathes on the walls in the older streets.
After our hotdogs the Sealion Keeper and I walked back into town for the eye test. Her with my bridge camera (such a treat!) and me with, surprise surprise, the macro lenses on mine. We had a joyous hour together – me teaching her about focus and framing a shot, her holding my hand and telling me important stuff. We found ladybirds, lichen, flowers bursting open, blossom, bees and butterflies that did not want to be photographed. On the way home we stopped to get the materials for what was to make our Sunday full of our best craft project ever* and then walked along the River Ver to see how it was recovering after the rain and wind. And we saw the kingfisher (which is being added to my ‘must photograph’ list).
More blossom (isn’t it pretty though?)
Daffodils like lions
Still flooded but stunning reflections
Ladybirds venturing out
Ready to explode into balls of frothy colour
Leftover from winter
He was just so curious
We didn’t need a big day out – staying close to home grounded us; reminded us of the beautiful city that we live in and that looking down, up, sideways and around is a wonderful thing to do, especially in the Spring sunshine.
I don’t blog about crafts very much – we do a fair bit but none of it is really blogworthy and I didn’t really think this was going to make it on here. Our Wax Crayon Art was inspired by what the Sealion Keeper had seen on Blue Peter – sticking wax crayons to canvas or card and then melting them to create a unique piece of art.
It’s a really easy project – not one I’d recommend for small children though – the wax does get hot and you do need an element of patience.
The pack of 3 assorted canvases from Wilkinsons – just be careful when you’re opening them, they’re not as robust as other branded ones!
PVA tacky glue
Crayola ‘First Beginnings’ chubby wax crayons – they were what was on offer in Wilkos and I liked the idea of not having paper around the crayons – mainly because my back up plan was to use a heat gun and I didn’t want to set fire to them
My hairdryer (it may never be the same again)
How we did it:
Firstly we planned what colours of crayons we wanted to put next to each other.
Planning the colour order
We talked about what would happen if we put lots of dark colours together or green and red next to each other. Once we’d planned the order (we laid them out on the canvas to check – be light with your touch or the crayons will mark the canvas) we glued the crayons in place using the tacky glue – and left them to dry.
No matter how hard you plan there will be some merging of colours
It being a warm morning it took less than an hour for it all to be really dry.
We did the melting bit outside because we wanted to prop the canvas up somewhere to allow the melted wax to run naturally.
Melting the first crayons
Outside was good because:
We could prop the canvases up on our garden chairs and get a really steep angle
starting the melting process
The mess stayed outside (our patio is a bit wax splattered now)
The wind took the wax off in directions we’d never have planned
The wax cooled really quickly giving us a great finished effect
We have extension leads long enough to run from the garage to the garden so we could use the hairdryer out there
There isn’t any wax inside my house
If you’re doing the melting bit inside, make sure you cover all surfaces and floors within about a 3 metre radius of the canvas! Obviously the wind won’t take the wax off in unknown directions but as you direct the hairdryer the wax will go off in all directions.
We used the hairdryer on the hottest setting and it took a while to get the crayons melting, but once they did…
Get the hairdryer nice and close
The Cheetah Keeper chose to do a mirrored pattern with crayons all the way around the canvas so we melted one side, turned it through 90° and did the next side.
Once we’d done one side, we turned the canvas
The Sealion Keeper went for all the crayons along the top and let them all melt down using the hairdryer to push the colours in the direction she wanted.
The whole process is really addictive – we had a fantastic day making our creations and I’ll be looking for some bargain sets of thinner crayons to see what else we could do with them
What a mix of colours!
The Cheetah Keeper wants the biggest one he did in his bedroom – once he’s taken all 3 that he did into school for ‘bring it in Friday’
Finished – just drying outside
I love the Sealion Keeper’s too – can’t wait to hang this one up!
The work of Team Honk this year has brought International Women’s Day to the forefront of my mind. Annie, Tanya and Penny have been awesomely epic throughout the #teamhonkrelay and how they have kept up with the social media is beyond me. And then they announce that they’re off to Tanzania and then they send me a digital postcard…
To celebrate International Women’s Day #iwd2014, they’re there finding out how donations to Sport Relief last year have created female entrepreneurs and #lastingchange for women, their families and communities and beyond – rippling out #lastingchange in Africa.
This is a Bertha. She is a food producer in Dar es Salaam who has received support from the Gatsby Trust. Bertha makes three different types of wine, garlic paste and a flour used to make porridge. In addition to making products she is also now training other women to do the same. Bertha works from a processing plant that she built herself at the back of her property, with room dedicated to each part of her business.
I’ve never met Bertha – it’s highly unlikely that I ever will, but she’s an inspiration, not only those around her in the village she lives in but to us to keep raising awareness and working for a #lastingchange.
Thinking on from this, Kate is running a listography this week asking us for our top 5 inspirational women – all linked to #iwd14. I have Bertha – I need 4 more…
ok, it’s three of them, but Annie, Tanya and Penny are up there on my inspirational list. They write, the photograph, they organise, they make us laugh, they make us sob into our laptops and are changing the world from their own little corners of the internet. They are a force for good (and a force to be reckoned with. Do not mess with them).
The Honkettes (from L-R Penny, Annie and Tanya)
The Rev. Canon Janet Brearley
Janet died 2 years ago after battling hard with leukaemia. She was the first woman to be ordained Priest in the Diocese of Newcastle and continued to be the first woman vicar to be appointed into other roles within the Church. She was like a second mother to me and I still miss her. Even when weren’t in touch for lengths of time, knowing that she was still around and about was like a long distance hug of reassurance.
She wore pink jackets over her black clerical shirts, ate chocolate and definitely wasn’t adverse to having a wee dram to ease the progress of a meeting. Her love for her family, her job and the community that she served seemed unending. She innovated, informed, advised, counselled, supported, guided, raised a phenomenal amount of money and was an awesome mother and grandmother. I miss her.
I wrote about her death after her funeral and why she was so important and wonderful. She is still an inspiration to me, as are her family – who I am very very proud to call my friends. I wish I was closer to them. As I left Northumberland to make the long drive home, the sky was blazing in a sunset of pink – her favourite colour. As chance would have it, the sky was pink this evening…
Miss Trueman was my music teacher at secondary school – until she deserted us the Easter before our GCSE exams (to take her skill, wisdom and desire for promotion) to go to another school – not that I’m bitter… So knowledgeable, slightly fierce, kind beyond words she listened to my teenage angst as my health started to deteriorate and fought my corner to enable me to practice my beloved piano when the PE staff wanted to force me to watch PE lessons with my legs in plaster post-surgery. I can still write out the ‘quote’ from Mozart’s 40th Symphony that we had to learn for our GCSE and clearly remember almost passing out when playing the trumpet part of Handel’s Water Music in the school senior orchestra – so determined was I not to get ‘the look’ for getting it wrong, I forgot to breathe. She was the one who made me want to study music, at A Level and at University, who introduced me to the joys of orchestral playing, choral singing and singing in a small group. She helped me with the part I couldn’t play when we were recording at the BBC – she gave me a love of music that still burns strong inside me today.
With the help of Google I discover she is the Chair of Governors at a local school for deaf children – she seems to have come back to where she started here in St Albans.
Anthea Davy FRCS
Miss Davy is my hand surgeon. I think she’s pretty inspirational and not only because I’m letting her loose on my wrist in a few weeks. Becoming a Doctor is hard-core, becoming a surgeon is really hard-core, becoming a Trauma & Orthopaedic surgeon means shiny tools, thinking on your feet and seeing some really nasty stuff and being a specialist hand surgeon means that you’re tinkering with the bones, soft tissue and nerves that people really rely on in everyday life.
All surgeons are pretty amazing. However, female surgeons are definitely in the minority and female orthopaedic surgeons were pretty much unheard of when I started having surgery 25 years ago. Orthopods had a bit of a reputation – mainly because they got to play with titanium drills, saws and chop bits of people up in the name of making them better. They were men’s men – charming to patients (most of the time) but known for throwing their toys out the pram in the operating theatre.
Miss Davy operates all day on a Tuesday and on a Friday spends all day (that’s an 8 hour clinic, maybe longer if they’re busy) running a fracture clinic. She runs another clinic all day on Thursdays and I suspect does a load of other stuff that’s very important on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Fracture clinics are a wonderful snapshot of all forms of human life – the only link that we patients have as we line up in the corridor is the fact our arms/hands don’t work as they should. In many cases, Miss Davy has ‘fixed’ us, wired things back together, rescued fingers, pinned breaks or helped pull bodies back together after accidents. Then there’s those of us with genetic problems who don’t follow the normal paths who are relying on her to give us feeling back, or less pain or a glimmer of hope that this is not ‘as good as it gets’. Some patients are aggressive, some are confused, some depressed, some thankful and some (like me) just plain confusing.
As she spends days on her feet, with barely time to wee, let alone eat, as the patients file in one after another she does something that the NHS doesn’t always like. She takes time. To explain, to care, to understand – and if that takes more than your allotted 10 minutes, so bloody what? She isn’t just about drilling into people whilst they’re out cold on the operating table, she shows a level of humanity that many of her male colleagues could learn a hell of a lot from. If it wasn’t so ‘wrong’ in the patient/consultant relationship rules, I’d hug her. Her honesty, integrity and communication skills are, I think, amazing. If I could be half the woman she is….
The last two school runs have seen us out in glorious sunshine as a couple of frosty mornings have come our way. The Cheetah Keeper has also taken to getting up at some hideous hour and as such we’re all up, dressed and ready to rumble way before any ‘normal’ time for school. So, as I let my tea cool a little and before I tried to get my toast in my mouth and not down my jumper, I headed out into the garden with the macro lenses, again.
There is so much growing now – despite the cold mornings. My pot of daffodils has gone from one tentative bud 2 weeks ago to a riot of colour that never fails to make me smile. The Cheetah Keeper likes the idea that they are older than he is – I planted the bulbs with his sister when I was pregnant with him and despite being very cheap bulbs, they’re doing brilliantly. Around the garden other things are growing well (as usual, click on any picture to open the gallery):
Tulips are growing nicely
The Blueberry shoots are growing rapidly
Am not impressed that the greenfly are already on the rosebuds
The Rhubarb is enjoying some homemade compost
The real thing that fascinated me though was getting right into the grass with the frost – and also when it had thawed, leaving droplets of water hanging by the miracles of surface tension onto stems of grass that you would never have thought strong enough to support that weight of water. Ignoring the fact that those who see me grovelling in the grass with my camera think that I have either done myself a nasty falling over (again) or have completely lost the plot, getting in so close opened up a whole new beautiful world.
Just a tiny piece of gravel
Frosty moss – little cushions of ice crystals
Just beginning to thaw
The stems of this moss are about 5mm high
I never thought the frost droplets would be so small
How does the drop stay there?
Getting a bit carried away
One blade of grass, one drop of dew
As I grovelled around the garden, I found these primulas growing nicely – just in need of a bit of sun – and then looked up to find forsythia, yellow flowers glowing in the morning light and bright patches of green lichen on our apple tree – hopefully this year we’ll get past the blossom stage and actually get some fruit!
Primulas – the water droplets still frozen
Apple tree lichen
Thank you all so much for your lovely comments last week. It never ceases to amaze me which pictures people really focus on – I nearly didn’t post the picture of the willow! We have willow growing in our garden too (a different type) so here’s the progress it is making – a little behind the one in Suffolk.
Now – just to be a little cheeky (I swore I wasn’t going to do this but I’ve had a change of thought) – if you haven’t nominated anyone yet for the MADS blog awards, I’d be ever so grateful if you’d nominate this blog for best photography – you just have to click on the button below. If you like the pictures, obviously. And don’t mind. *scuttles out*
PS – I’m linking up with the lovely Mammasaurus with How Does Your Garden Grow
- even though she’s in Tanzania – have a look at the Team Honk website to find out what she’s up to!
It has been the most bonkers of weeks – for a variety of reasons, most of which I can’t write about. I can say that I had a bone scan on Friday and they had to put the radioactivity tracer in my foot and that I’ve got a cracker of a bruise and spending all afternoon in hospital was made far better due a lovely group of my blogging friends who kept me virtual company. I can also say that I was part of a team that took the best part of 130 girls to Cadbury World on Saturday to help celebrate the Big Brownie Birthday – 100 years of Brownies and it utterly wiped me out. Directly responsible for 17 children and a coach load of 53 to manage it’s like going to the gym for 10 hours – I could feel my heart beating far faster than normal all day as I counted, and counted, and counted, and misplaced one and aged about a year per second that we couldn’t find her, and counted, and counted…
So what do you do on a grey Sunday when you’re so tired you can hardly speak – you go up to the woods for a tramp around in the mud.
We went up to Batchwood Woods in St Albans – I grew up overlooking it and the golf course that surrounds it. It’s not huge but for an hour out and about it has everything you need in a bit of wood – logs to climb on, trees to hide in, mud, and that this time of year, snowdrops. The bluebells are peeping through and the fungi are beginning to grow again
Tiny bracket fungus
Blue green lichen
Little red buds in the moss
Apparently this is an alien brain
Different bracket fungus
My parents volunteer in these woods and having absolutely no idea what day it was when we left (told you I was tired) it was nice to spot my dad and his friends (yes, he was in a hi-vis coat!) clearing rubbish and planting trees. Baby trees are pretty tiny but planting them was the best of fun for the Cheetah Keeper, his sister and a friend who we’d taken with us.
Popping the baby tree in the hole
The children loved thinking through how long it would take for the small ‘stick with roots on’ to grow into one of the massive trees that are established in the woods. Several of the trees have been damaged in the recent storms so the children can see why they need to plant more for the future.
Hammering in the stake
Being let loose with a club hammer is also good fun. The trees are protected by plastic tubes to stop the deer, rabbits and other woodland creatures lunching on them.
One of the trees that had come down in the gales was still up-rooted. The lovely chaps from St Albans fire station come and chop the fallen trees up as rescue chainsaw practise. This one had been tidied up but the roots were still there. Complete with bluebells still growing so we could see the bulbs, shoots and root systems
Bluebells are still shooting up. I could photograph these without bending down!
The bluebell bulbs are larger than we thought. You can see the tree roots behind
Bluebells still hanging on in the tree roots
We had lovely hour up there – playing on the trees, playing in the mud, realising the snowdrops are a different variety to the ones we found in Suffolk and planting our new trees. We’ll be back to keep an eye on them very soon – and see how the bluebells are getting on.
Snowdrops with green tips
On a tree sofa – you can see by her knees she’s been climbing
Balancing on a fallen tree
Hazel Bud – the size of my fingernail
We came home with ravenous children and I fell asleep on the sofa in the afternoon and then headed up to bed long before my normal bedtime. The Cheetah Keeper’s ‘most favourite’ part of our trip was finding a sprouting conker
If you want to find out more about the woods or visit them (I’d recommend it – parking is free, there are toilet facilities next to Batchwood Hall and there are plenty of footpaths for short or long walks) have a look at www.friendsofbatchwood.org.uk
Take your wellies and have fun. I’ll be up there again soon, hopefully when it’s dried up a bit and I can get up close with my macro lenses again – that’s assuming my dad hasn’t got any more trees for us to plant before then.
Today is Rare Disease Day 2014, and, through the wonders of genetics, I am classed to have a ‘rare’ disease – namely Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS). My sort of EDS is, it is currently thought, rare, but I suspect as the research continues it will become better identified and therefore more widely recognised. I don’t present with all the classic symptoms, just a couple of them, but I do have lots of other bits going wrong with my body that are assciated with EDS – it’s just that the research hasn’t created standardised boxes to tick, mainly because EDS is anything but standard.
I do feel the need at this point to emphasise the fact that the word ‘disease’ does not just mean a nasty illness with pustules. The medical fraternity use it to describe all sorts of conditions, some you can clearly see and many that you can’t. Some do have a name; a syndrome or a clever word ending with ‘itis’ or ‘ism’. Some continue to baffle the medical profession, giving them the title SWAN’s – those who have a Syndrome Without A Name.
The statistics that define EDS as rare vary wildly – when I was diagnosed nearly 7 years ago, it was published that 1:150,000 have EDS. A journal I’ve seen this year suggests 1:5000 with many more displaying some symptoms of hypermobility. It may be purely an increase in diagnoses of long term problems that have until now baffled the medics. It worries me however that EDS is a very easy diagnosis to label people with, especially children who may have something else wrong that is missed – leading to inappropriate and possibly damaging treatment regimes.
So today on Rare Disease Day, my little rare family is cracking on as normal, our normal but a recognisable normal. The Cheetah Keeper was up early with a new (imaginary) cheetah called “Mr Cheetah” who is celebrating his 5th birthday today by wearing a pair of new big funky glasses like Chris Evans wears because he’s cool. The Sealion Keeper left for school mightly excited by the prospect of a whole morning of activities based on their new topic of ‘chocolate’ (I’m sure my school projects were about the Romans).
I’ve been to Sainsbury’s, the osteopath to have my compressed and twisted disc sorted out before popping to the post office and then jumping on a train to London. I’m writing this whilst radioactive (see the glow?!) having bone scans to see if they can work out what’s going on in my wrist and the rest of my joints. I’m sharing a waiting room with Cancer patients and feeling rather blessed that I only have my rare disease and get to go home later. I’ve just got the small matter of getting my very bruised foot (cannula had to go in there) back into my boots.
Yes, my family and I have a rare disease – ask us about it if you want. Knowledge is power, it’s not about ‘poor us’, it’s getting that things for us may not be your sort of normal and that we might need a bit more time, or a smoother path or an earlier night. It’s not staring when I pull out syringes or drugs and perhaps offering to help as I stand in the street with a small bleeding child.
We are who we are, EDS is not a choice we made or bad luck, it’s what’s happened. It does bring us stress, pain and heartache as well as frquent flyer status within the NHS. Most of the time though you’ll find us getting on with stuff – what will be will be, rare disease or otherwise.
We spent a couple of days last week in Suffolk – with family who have more time to garden than I do (and stronger backs and knees). We had a lovely time down at the beach but I was drawn to their garden every time we headed back. Their collection of snowdrops (Galanthus) and crocuses were a sight to behold – offering splashes of brightness in the grey that being on the East Coast sometimes brings. I wish I’d taken the ring flash that goes on the front of my lens – next time!
My love of macro photography is causing me to get some funny looks. OK, ‘some’ is a bit of an understatement. Due to my lack of kneecaps (sorry, should that have had a flashing *gross alert* before it??) I can’t crouch down very well at all, let alone crouch and hold my camera steady. So either I end up kneeling in the mud (and struggling to get up) or bending over with my bum in the air. It’s not flattering – but I think the photos are worth it.
Primulas are such a gorgeous splash of colour – we have some in our garden at home that were rescued, slightly limp from a skip after the council had decided they didn’t need to plant everything they’d got. I’m not sure who loves them most – us or the slugs. I’ve found it’s really hard to get a picture of an un-nibbled flower, wherever you are.
I’m loving my screw-on Macro lenses (mine are Polaroid, available from Amazon) as you can choose the amount of macro you want to use. This is with all 4 lenses combined
Now I seem to remember a top photo tip from that Annie at Mammasaurus about taking photos of snowdrops in black & white. I took this in colour and then adjusted it in Picasa.
Onto the crocuses – I have looked up whether the plural is ‘crocuses’ or ‘croci’ (as I do every year). It is crocuses – as the original name was Greek not Latin. So there.
(yes, it had rained)
Finally – two more glimpses of spring – miniature irises and a bud from a willow – I received some very funny looks taking these. The children just stayed inside with a resigned shrug of “mummy’s taking pictures again.”
We spent some time this half term in Felixstowe (completely unaware that Helen, GG and the Bug from Actually Mummy were there at the same time). Going to the beach in February half term is not something that you would automatically add to the ‘things to do in half term’ list when you live as far from the coast as we do, but we have relatives up there so we headed off and once again, Felixstowe beach didn’t disappoint.
First of all we headed down to ‘Old Felixstowe’ and ‘the ferry’. The Ferry isn’t running at the moment so the prime crabbing point was freely available. Unfortunately the crabs weren’t (and who can blame them, the river was running at a mighty speed and even the lure of bacon wasn’t enough to tempt them out) – but we got to watch the gulls and the rainbows come and go – and find out that Cormorants fly in a V formation
Let me loose with a net…
Keeping an eye on things
A bit of editing to make the brown water blue
Empty or full?
Rainbows and Cormorants
We then headed onwards to Felixstowe beach itself, jumping, running, filling wellies with water, watching dogs chase each other and generally enjoying those little things that are completely free but provide the most fun – throwing stones in the sea, watching the gulls and watching the light change.
Just like his mother…
Throwing stones in the sea is compulsory
Felixstowe Pier – I’ve enhanced the colour to show the detail
These two just ran and ran
Showing off… (before she filled her wellies with water)
Courage is: making the jump
You can’t keep her out the sea – even when the water goes into her boots
The bright beads of light against the blue sky
Finally we made the journey down to Felixstowe Landguard to the observation point for the Port of Felixstowe. The size of the boats is just overwhelming – and watching them being loaded automatically by those massive cranes is a site to behold. In my working life, talking about containers is part of every day life – it was nice to show the children what I’m talking about.
Seagulls were swirling overhead (every hopeful that someone in a car would lob a bit of food out for them), the sun was beginning to set – creating rainbows behind us and a glorious glow in the view over to Walton-on-the-Naze.
The sun began to set
The ships were being loaded
The view over to Walton-on-the-Naze
We didn’t need plastic, ice-creams (I could have done with a brew and a doughnut but then again, who couldn’t at the seaside?!) or anything else to entertain us. It was us, my lovely relatives and the world around us. It was glorious – although my boots weren’t full of water and I had my big duvet coat on!
I have no recollection of February Half Term last year (post-op and very ill) – this year has been lovely – fresh air, mud, seaside and family – it’s the small things that add up to a lovely time.
Back in the summer an announcement was made by the good folks at Butlin’s – their Butlin’s Ambassadors for 2013-14. We were on that list but me being me, decided that the big ‘reveal’ was probably tempting fate, a trip into hospital or something else meaning that we’d be shuffling out quietly with our heads hanging in disappointment.
But you know what, we’ve got through February half term and we all have the correct number of limbs, blood counts and any planned overnight stays in hospital can’t really be organised in the time between now and…
… when we go to Bognor Regis!
I’m quite sure that the lovely people at Butlin’s are obviously, completely ready for the arrival of a serious quantity of Cheetahs, Strikes, Aliens and other members of the imaginary menagerie who will be no doubt angling for an invite for the week. Obviously. They will see them sliding down the girders during the shows and jumping in from the really high bits of the swimming pools. They’ll no doubt be prepared for lots of little Cheetah paw prints in the hotel bedroom and know that they’re partial to a smoothie if they’re tired – and that the Mummy Cheetahs will have their work cut out trying to keep the little ones from running out and onto the beach to play in the sea – even if it is cold and they have to wear their wellies and coats. They’ve had some practice at that this week – how the Mummy Cheetahs are even contemplating getting all the mud out the fur I have no idea.
We’ve visited Butlin’s in Minehead on a Day Pass before (when the Haven park we were staying in had a water failure!) – the Sealion Keeper was all of 14 months and was just, just learning to walk. The size of it scared me a little then – small child + big place = anxious mother. 8 years on and all I can say is 2 children + big place = bring.it.on
February half term has a bit of a reputation for being cold, wet, miserable and somewhat tortuous for parents. Also, just in case you hadn’t noticed, the weather has been erm, a bit wet so far this year. However, the great weather gods have offered us a little respite this half term and we have made the most of it – fresh air and mud has been the order of the week.
We have become Life Members of the National Trust. I still can’t quite get my head around the fact that I have joined an organisation ‘for life’ – let alone the National Trust. Somehow I feel this labels me as both ‘grown up’ and ‘old’. Except I can’t be old because otherwise it wouldn’t be worth joining ‘for life’.
We are still loving the 50 Things to Do Before You’re 11¾ project – the ones we’ve got left are quite challenging so we’ve been repeating a few of the more accessible ones. On Friday we visited the Ashridge Estate – this is somewhere I have no recollection of visiting before (although I am sure my mother will tell me otherwise). I cannot wait to go back – the bluebells are just poking through, the walks go on for miles, we didn’t even get to the playground because we were so busy building a den. The recent storms have bought down a fair few branches (and bigger trees which were being managed and subsequently a few areas were shut off so you could watch the tree surgeons at work) and that makes amazing dens, and swords, and poking sticks etc
For £3 per child they made excellent bird feeders that now have pride of place in our garden. Ashridge have a great family orientated programme all year round – we will be going back.
In a fit of enthusiasm, we headed out on Saturday to the Claremont Landscape Garden in Esher – Surrey. This well hidden gem of glorious green space and gardens was on my ‘must come back here’ list the minute I saw the number of rhododendron buds that are beginning to swell – by May it is going to be absolutely amazing.
We made the most of the 50p bingo trail and followed the main paths around – the children diving in and out of branches, through the ‘undergrowth’ and collecting more sticks for important stick things.
I shall admit at this point to an absolutely utter and overwhelming parenting fail – the children jumped into the car wearing their crocs with the great assumption that the wellington boots were in the car already – as they have been all week. Except I’d brought them in to dry out last night. And hadn’t put them back in. #FAIL
It didn’t worry them – fresh air and mud, a picnic lunch and rolling down a hill = perfect February Half Term.
(click on any picture to open the Gallery)
Tree trunks to climb on
Mistletoe still green amongst the bare branches
Daffodils are just coming out
#50Things Roll Down a Big Hill
In the ‘jungle’
The goose was trying to pull the stick out the ground