Saturday 31 July 2010


A few months ago on our way to school we saw the most lovely tabby cat in some bramble bushes. She was there as a regular occurrence, and became a firm favourite with the children, and many other children walking to and from school. I became concerned as she seemed to be there religiously, so took her to the vets to see if she was microchipped in case she was lost. No sign of a micro-chip, but the vet said she seemed to be in good condition so to put her back where she liked it.

Time passed, and a few weeks ago we noticed she was getting a little podgy, then most definitely pregnant, and now she has had the kittens. She is still in the bramble bushes, and none of the houses around about seem to know of anyone who has had a tabby cat go missing. But none of them were even aware of her existence (sad state of affairs, but that's a rant for another day!)

So now, we have a daily ritual of going to feed her. She still has milk, so we are hoping the kittens are doing ok, in the depths of the bramble bushes.

She is so friendly.
And she even started following us home today. We are always sorry to have to leave her, but hope that in a few more weeks she will introduce us to her kittens, and then perhaps we can look at finding homes for them all, we are secretly hoping that Bramble would like to stay with us :)

Thursday 29 July 2010

We're going on a bear hunt

One of Sophie's favourite books, acted out today. Play silks as the swish swashy grass, and squelchy squerchy mud, a blue play mat as the splashy-sploshy river, tree blocks and a wooden stool as the dark forest, pillows as the snowstorm, and a cave made from a bed a duvet. Sophie helping to set the scene.
The bear awaiting the "bear hunt"
And our intrepid explorers at the end of their adventure.

It's a white out!

My inability to destroy caterpillars, despite them eating many plants, including my tomato plants (leaves only, I think I caught them before they got to the fruits), has left me with many more mouths to feed. My reasoning being I can select the leaves the eat, and keep them away from precious parts of the plants I'd rather them not eat.

Here we have some small whites, found munching on the tomato plants... ...and here we have masses of large white, and a few green veined white caterpillars found munching on my one healthy nasturtium that had not been attacked by blackfly! I cannot believe how fast they are growing, and one nasturtium leaf will last about 2 hours with them!
I used to love collecting caterpillars as a young girl, and whilst the boys don't share my passion, they are at least a little interested. Just not sure whether all this is going to come back and bite me, when I release all the butterflies for them to breed and lay yet more eggs on my poor plants :(

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Happy times

Otherwise known as the summer holidays! It all started a bit earlier than expected for Ethan who had developed temperatures and a bad cough in the last week of school, but that didn't stop us having fun. We experiemented with white flowers and food dye. We hypothesised that the shorter stems would colour first, but we were wrong. It was the fully open flowers that took up the dye the quickest, and then only in the outer petals. And interestingly the black food dye turned the petals green, and the green food dye barely coloured them at all! He also helped in harvesting the maincrop seed potatoes I had planted in a bag of compost. There were three seed potatoes planted, and although it was a little early to be harvesting them, they seemed to be dying back, probably as they didn't have as much water as they needed, despite me watering them religiously. Ethan enjoyed rummaging through, and picking out the lovely pink Desiree potatoes (whilst dodging the squelchy seed potatoes!) and despite the early harvesting we seemed to have a half decent crop.
Now the summer holidays have started in earnest, with Alec saying goodbye to his teachers at his First School. We can all relax, and pretend school doesn't exist! How lovely to have the time for a decent breakfast in the morning, to just "do" what we want. In the two days we have had already Luke has started writing a novel, Ethan has been building models with megablocks (much harder than lego as it is not as well made and falls to bit at the slightest of touches, but her has perservered), Alec has been doing a little pottery...

... there has been trampolining, football, some game playing on the xbox, late nights, later mornings, experimenting with vacuum whilst drinking a drink through a straw (don't ask!), swimming, and Mummy dragging them around the shops to find uniform for next year (but finding a lovely shop that sells crystals and incense as an added bonus!) We have also collected lots of caterpillars from the nasturtiums and tomatoes, and identified them as various types of "white" butterflies, ie large, small and green veined. As well as playing with long lost toys, that there is not normally time for them to see the light of day.
Writing all that down, I can't believe we have managed to do all that in two days, and it feels like we have been taking things easy! Although it does make me wonder, a couple of times today when out in town, we got the comment "ooh, you've got your hands full", and "ooh, you've still got another 6 weeks". Do people not enjoy their children? It is a priviledge to me to be able to spend such time with my children, and I am just a tad jealous of those home-schooling families that get to do this all the time.

Tuesday 13 July 2010

Our new love...

... is camping! We had the most fabulous weekend in Tewkesbury, which is suprisingly close to us, but neither Stuart or I had ever visited there by road before, always by boat, therefore making it seem so much further away!

Camping with friends, Rachel, Ian and boys, who are experienced campers, made the adventure even more pleasurable, with their friendship and having things to make our stay more comfortable (I will NEVER forget the airbeds again!)

Barbeques in the blistering sun, chatting under the stars, foraging for the sweetest cherries that were yellow and peach. These all helped to make wonderful memories.
The tent was straightforward, and relatively tidy at this point! We even managed to get it back in the bag at the end of it!
We went to the Medieval festival that was held there and saw the storming of the Abbey, followed by a trial and beheadings! The look on Ethan's face when I explained that this is what they did all those years ago was of horror and complete bemusement!

I never realised you could get black morris dancers, complete with electric guitar! But dare I say it ... they were really good!
The required sword fight with newly purchased wooden swords!
Ethan trying his hand at archery.
And the re-enactment of the War of the Roses.
The fayre itself had all kinds of wares, for the enthusiast, and there were plenty of them! I was very impressed with the lengths people go to make it real, and it has encouraged me to find a little more about our history.
I was proud at how restrained I was, there were beautiful medieval hand stitched leather shoes, but they were well over £100. There were also the most beautiful hooded cloaks, I would love to think I could see myself wearing one up to school in the depths of winter, but I think I may be disowned!!
We returned home with some very tired children (and adults!), but we are already planning our next adventure!

Thursday 8 July 2010

What have we been up too?

Where we live we have a wonderful green with an old oak tree in the middle of it. We seem to have spent alot of time out playing under it's boughs recently. Sophie loves playing with the older children of the Close, and I love having an excuse to sit on the grass and watch them play whilst crafting, or stripping red currants. I get some of the children coming and sitting with me, helping, asking questions, and then going off to play again. It really is delightful. The other evening, every child from the Close was out playing until about 9pm, they had a great time, even if getting up for school the next day was a bit of a struggle!
We have also been accumulating camping stuff ready for our first adventure, there has been a certain amount of drooling too over a bell tent, perhaps one day we will get one!
I have been nuturing my plants, I am so proud of these tomato plants, grown from seed, and looking so healthy.
Can you see my first ever bell pepper, it's very small, but steadily growing day by day. Is it wrong that such things should get me so excited?!
Another proud mama to a lettuce, yes, a whole lettuce that has not been eaten by slugs or chickens. I'd better get in there quick!
My first crop of blueberries, well, we won't count the solitary blueberry that got eaten by the chickens last year! They have been moved to the front garden now, well out of the reach of the chooks!!
Spring onions, another first for me. Looking forward to those on a cheese toasty... mmmmm....
So whilst there has been alot of playing going on, I have been busy too. Elderflower cordial, there was much more, but it has either been drunk or gifted away.
Strawberry jam. It had to be done really, how else can we get through a punnet a day?
Stuart went to his sisters to collect this beautiful piece of furniture her husband made for us.
An idea shamelessly stolen from Shell (sorry Shell), a pressie for Alec's upcoming 9th birthday, crafted under the oak tree.
And more strawberries, this time as a cheesecake recipe from Sharon's blog "Making Stuff". It is declared by Stuart that this is "the best cheesecake ever". I can see it being topped with all kinds of different fruits, very easy, and very tasty!
Staying on the strawberry theme, we have also been eating them raw, or cooked with rhubarb in crumble, juiced and frozen into orange and strawberry ice lollies, blitzed with milk into strawberry milkshakes. But Sophie's favourite is still fresh from the plant!
We have also harvested 1.1kg of blackcurrants so far (another of Sophie's favourites fresh from the bush!), not bad for what I thought was a failed harvest! Redcurrants, the garlic that I thought was failed has suprised me with some decent bulbs, more rhubarb, a courgette, peas, and it looks like the potatoes are nearly ready. It's no wonder Im dreaming of fruit and veg at night!!
Hope you are all having a lovely summer. If anyone has any spare rain, could they send it to the Midlands, please... but not until after the weekend!!