Wednesday 22 August 2012

Shameful neglect

 2 months of neglect!  Every year I think, this will be the year, and every year something crops up to prevent me from keeping on top of the allotment. This time it has been a lack of a car.  It is too far for Sophie to walk (so she thinks!) and she refuses to go in the pushchair now.  Not all of us have working bikes so couldn't even get down there on our bikes, And then in the evenings when I did have a car, there were so many other demands on my time too (plus the weather isn't always playing ball!) so those are my excuses! I was dreading going down there, scared of what jungle I  would find.  In fact I had wondered whether to give up the allotment, as it is one more thing I feel I am not doing properly. 

So yesterday I had the loan of Mum's car for the day, and off we tootled.  It was bad!  It has been a very good year for weeds, and by the looks of it, blackberries!
 The courgettes are doing well, but planting 4 pumpkin plants still has not resulted in one pumpkin.  All male flowers :(
 We were able to harvest some courgettes, and some of the onions, some spinach, and our entire broad bean harvest of about 5 pods, and two of those don't look as if they will be edible.  All the other beans (runner and french) have amounted to nothing too!
 We cut some of the grass with blunt hedging shears (the only thing we had to hand) and we pulled some of the seeding thistles, so it did look marginally better when we left.
 Look, at least you can see some of the plants that are supposed to be there now! 
Once they are all back at school, I AM going to get on top of this allotment. Really I am!!

Tuesday 21 August 2012

More Taiko

Back in March we saw the Mungenyeko Taiko drummers, and were blown away by them.  Then in May they played Solihull, and we went to see them again.  So imagine my excitement when I heard they were playing a local festival within walking distance of our house! 

This time we were able to take photos as there was no need for flash.  Plus we could get as close as we wanted! 

This one looks absolutely agonising.  It is based on a Japanese carnival procession where the taiko drummers are inside a float in minimal space playing the drums, hence the half  lying down position. 
 The co-ordination is second perfect. 
 Another one that makes my arms ache just by looking at it.  Big drumsticks held aloft, beating on an enormous drum.
 A piece that was more fun and upbeat, and less strenuous too!
 And just a glimpse at the energy these people have!  You can understand why this is part music, part martial art. 
 And Ethan was at the front the whole time, proudly wearing his Taiko t-shirt.  They are really so inspiring, and another reason I want to visit Japan, to see more of this type of stuff, along with a whole host of other things!

Sunday 19 August 2012

The Wilderness Festival

Last weekend we went to our first festival with the children.  We went off to the Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire, the main reason being was Rodrigo y Gabriella were headlining on the Saturday night.  But  there was soo much more to it too.

We were blessed with a wonderful dry weekend, and one of the first things we came across as we walked into the festival village was a skittles alley.  Of course, the children had a go.  The following day just behind this point was a cricket match of sorts.  Umpire in pink tutu and umpires jacket drinking pints, commentator of a hilarious kind, pimms being served along with cucumber sandwiches!  I think cricket would have much more of a following if it was like this more frequently!!
The favourite stall (after the ice cream van that served chocolate and guiness ice cream) was the bubbles store.  All kinds of ways of creating bubbles, surrounded by hoards of children!!
Through out the festival there were all kinds of weiird and wonderful sights!  On Friday there was a Bugsy Malone theme, with Fat Sam wandering around during the day, and a big cabaret show in the evening.  The Saturday night was the masked ball, and there were people walking around in amazing ball gowns!  Oh, and throughout the weekend people were wearing tails (not the top hat and tails kind either!)
One of the highlights was a story walk we went on.  Based on the Brothers Grimm, we were taken into the woods, which were decorated in a wonderfully whimsical way.

We then came across various stories explained to us by one of the brothers Grimm.  Here the wicked witch was trying to entice us with an apple.
Here was a  story about seven brothers turned into ravens, and the children had to play instruments to try and make the ravens arrive.  This was their sister calling for them, very eery!
There was a story of a golden key, created with puppets, and these actors were commendable with how they managed the very cheeky children in the audience.
We also came across Little Red Riding Hood, the seven dwarves, rumpelstiltskin, a woman who made cakes from children (we had to run away quickly!), and finally finished with the story of sleeping beauty.  All so well done, and a real feeling of magic in the woods.

And really brought the stories to life for us all.  I loved how books were used as decorations too.

There was a childrens circus skills tent, where Alec was getting rather good!

And stilts, which we all tried and failed at miserably!
The Rodrigo y Gabriella concert was thoroughly enjoyed, especially by Sophie!

And Ethan got in on the act too.
But it was a long day, and not all of them lasted til the end!
Rejuvinated only slightly, we decided on the Sunday that we would pack up as the effects of having to carry Sophie so much (she isn't a big fan of walking!!) were taking its toll.  However, the boys managed to master hula hooping! 

A wonderfully, wonder-full, wacky and whimsical weekend.  Definitely to be repeated next year!!

Friday 17 August 2012

The birthday season continues

This time it was my turn!  The day before, my birthday present arrived, and as we had a busy day planned for my birthday I was allowed to open it a day early and have a play.  Here is the result of me playing with my new drum carder!  I do feel a very lucky girl!!

The day of my birthday we had a trip up to Wales so that Stan could go and stay with his daughter whilst we went away to a festival the following weekend.

 We stopped off at Shrewsbury where I was able to mooch around a haberdashery store feeling no guilt whatsoever, because it was my birthday!!  And we found the most delightful little cafe on the river.  A magical garden with covered walkways with fairy light, little alcoves, a buddha garden and lots of garden gnomes
 So, refreshments on the river bank, in the sun, made it a beautiful trip out.
 In the evening we went to a chinese restaurant we used to frequent alot, and to our delight the manager remembered us, and made it all feel very special.  We came home and had great fun making videos of the childrens chins with eye stuck on them!  I know it seems very daft, but it was truly hilarious!!

A lovely day, fitting in lots of different places and spending time with family.  Perfect!

Thursday 2 August 2012

Another year gone!

 How does it happen so fast? Our little ones growing into bigger ones? Alec turned 11 yesterday.  He was so excited about it all, and had been bouncing off the walls for days in the lead up to it.  Every year I like to make a cake that is especially for them.  Both Alec and Ethan are very much into minecraft, and I had done a minecraft creeper cake for Ethan back in March, so I was struggling to think of something for Alec that was not duplicating what I did for Ethan.  So I came up with an earth block cake, with stone pick axe (was supposed to be a diamond pickaxe, but no blue food colouring could be found anywhere!)
 We were planning on going to see the Lorax but when we got there it was sold out, so we will go another day instead. 

Amidst the gaming mat, and mouse, and lego, there were some mama made presents

 Ethan made a creeper coaster out of hama beads, and we mounted it on cork to add a bit more strength.

There was the statutory lego building, this time Lord of the Rings style!

And a trip to the local Harvester where Alec had 4 bowls of salad!  His favourite food!

A good day all round, with plenty of toys to play with, even some new books to read (Septimus Heap) which the adults are also queueing up to read!

Happy Birthday Alec, hope your day was a good one. xx