Wind in the Willows, The Musical


“The smell of that buttered toast simply spoke to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cozy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one’s ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender; of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries.”
― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

My in-laws gave T a lovely hardbound and beautifully illustrated book, Wind in the Willows many years ago.  I think she was barely one when they gave that book to her.  Apparently, it’s a standing tradition for them to give their grandchildren a copy of Wind in the Willows.  All her cousins have them, and she has one too.

Admittedly, T is still too young for this particular book.  It’s too wordy, although the illustrations are beautiful, the paragraphs are too long for a six-year-old.  When my husband reads it to her, he abridges it himself, just to stop T from fidgeting.

Months ago, when booking our tickets to see Mary Poppins, my husband saw an announcement on the Theatre Royal website about the new musical “The Wind in the Willows“.  Downton Abbey creator, Julian Fellowes wrote the musical, along with the same people who did the spectacular musical Mary Poppins.  Excited, he quickly booked tickets for us.  And ever since then, T who loves musicals have been doing a countdown.  As of tonight, it’s only going to be one sleep left!  To make things even more fun, we are going to see it with one of T’s closest friend and her family.

This week it has definitely been all about going to the theatre for us.

Do you like the book Wind in the Willows?

The Reading Residence

On a side-note, I’m over at the lovely blog “Little Hearts, Big love“, talking about parenting.  I know, as if I know much about it 😉  Do head over and have a visit.

Have a lovely weekend folks!

A Country Kid’s Post: Bike Lights Carnage


The first time we’ve heard of the Bike Lights Festival at Wadebridge was last year, when we T came home with one of her school’s newsletter asking if any of the kids would want to participate.  I don’t know why, but we didn’t go that year.  My husband and I don’t even remember what we did, or why we didn’t go.  The ones who went said that it was fun, but most of them also mentioned that it was “carnage”.  We didn’t put much meaning to that word, until we experienced it ourselves.

Since the historian had a back-to-back lecture in Exeter that day, one of my mum friends picked T and I up.  It was also her first time, but she repeated what the others said and also used the word “carnage”.


We arrived early.  There were already tents around, some were selling food, and thankfully, the kids found one that caught their eye.

It was a tent that had bikes which powered a bubble machine, a blender and a home-made-spinning-paint-maker (not sure what they called it), which made absolutely stunning designs/ work of art.


The kids had fun waiting for their turns to make their masterpieces, which they took home at the end of the parade.

Thankfully the historian arrived before the start.  As you can see from the photos below, I just strung T’s old fairy lights from her room to her scooter.  We weren’t really sure if we were going since it was raining the whole morning and my friend and I both agreed that if it didn’t stop, we wouldn’t go.  I’m glad I decided that it was still worth wounding up her Tinker Bell lights on her scooter.


There they are, posing before the beginning of the parade.  I don’t know why they call it a parade when it wasn’t a parade at all.  It felt more like a race!  Now I know why the called it “carnage”.  It was sheer utter madness once the “parade” started.  All hell broke loose.  Imagine kids ages 5 and upwards in bikes and scooters, zooming past you.

Sorry for the blurry photos since I only used my phone to take some shots.  Besides, even if I brought my Canon, I doubt if I’ll be able to take any decent photos since most of the time, I was actually running!  At one point, I actually thought that I was going to have a heart-attack.  Yes, that’s how unexercised I am, and how manic it was.  I’m glad my husband was there and managed to keep up with T as she zoomed past everyone in her scooter.

It wasn’t just carnage, it was mayhem!  Children in steroids.  That’s what happens when you give kids the go-signal to scoot/bike the streets of Wadebridge.

Jogging along, I passed a pub with everyone outside watching the parade of madness before them.  For a second, I was tempted to run inside and wait for them with a pint in hand and send them a text saying “In the pub.  Wait for you here”.

But I ran along, heart pounding, past the dad with two of his daughters, the other one riding way ahead of him, while he hung on to his other child.  Another mum from T’s school passed as I stopped to catch my breath, all I could hear was her shouting his name to slow down.  She sprinted ahead, I think Mo Farrah would have been impressed!

Then came another Dad trying to stay calm, but you could hear the panic in his voice as the gap between him and his son grew bigger and bigger.

There were funny moments too, like E who somehow let go of her scooter and it came whizzing ahead of her.  They were on a slope and one of the mums said she heard a man who was way down ahead of them say, with open arms “Don’t worry sweetie, I’ll catch it for you”.


It was a beautiful night.  The moon was out and it wasn’t really cold, although that might also be because we were busy running.  By the time the parade ended, we were all holding our coats in her hands and actually sweating!


After the parade, there was a show where everyone’s creations was paraded around a small arena.  T along with her friends went up to queue.  When the host ask one of her friends her name, she balked and didn’t want to go in, so he turned to T who gamely gave her name as she scooted around in front of the crowd with her other daring friend E (the one who lost her scooter).


It was a lovely fun event in spite the mayhem.  This year’s theme was “machines” and we were really impressed with other people’s creations.  One man came in a bathtub made of paper, sculpted around his bike.  T’s teacher, who represented their school came in what looked like a train with a built-in projector showing some animation (see blurry photo above although it doesn’t give it justice).  Others were as spectacular, too bad I wasn’t able to take more photos, since I was busy running, panting and trying not to embarrass my daughter by passing out in the streets.

Are we doing this again next year?  T gave us a resounding yes!  As for me?  I might just be in that pub cheering them from the sidelines with a pint of beer.

Country Kids

Pet Stories: Doc’s Night Out


Our adventurous-sometimes-annoying dog, Doc went missing last Sunday night. We usually let him out once last time before calling it a night.  And Doc being Doc, likes to galavant around for one last hurrah of the day.  I’m guessing he likes to sniff around after doing his business and never really strays, till last Sunday night.

When our movie ended, my husband went out to call for him.  Usually after a few calls, he comes bounding excitedly along.  This time he didn’t.  To be fair, there are times when it takes a while before he comes rushing back, so I told my husband not to wait up for him, thinking I’m such a light sleeper, I’ll hear him coming.

At 12 0′ clock, there was still no sign of Doc, so I stepped outside, into the chilly air.  The moon was still full and gave an eerie glow around the garden.  I called out to him but was met with silence apart from the rustling of the leaves so  I went back in.

1am.  I poked my head out of our bedroom window and gave a little call.  Nada.

Was awoken by my alarm, and got up quickly.  Passed the Historian already busy working in his study, without taking his eyes of his screen he said, “He isn’t home yet”.

I was more puzzled than worried.  We live in a safe area, even if he strayed, he wouldn’t go very far.  I went out and the cold air greeted me, but there was still no sign of Doc.  I got T ready for school and thought that if he isn’t back yet after breakfast, I’d go out and look for him.  But just as my husband was cooking, we heard dogs barking outside.  The farmer’s dogs were in our garden along with Doc.

“Where have you been?”  We asked him, as we let him in.

He gave us a look as if to say, “Oh I just had a night out with the chaps down the road”.

“You’re grounded” I announced and slammed the door which made the poor dog jump.  I was also thankful at least he didn’t smell like shit this time.

Dogs.  You’ve just gotta love ’em.


A Frustrating Week


One of the downsides of living in the country and being away from urban amenities, is the limited choice of shops we have.  When we tire of the available ones within our area, we have to drive at least an hour from where we live, just to be able to try something different, whether it’s eating in a restaurant or clothes shopping and that is why I order most of our things online.

About a week ago, I ordered a few clothes for T, myself and my husband from this Japanese brand I’ve been meaning to try, especially since my family back home have only good things to say about this particular brand (which will remain un-named in this post, because I’m nice 😉  They only have a few shops around here in the UK unlike other foreign brands and every time I visit London I always forget to visit.

I was excited to receive the items right away so ordered next-day delivery, especially since I wanted T to wear the outfit when we went to the Bath Children’s Literary Festival as mentioned on my previous posts.  It didn’t arrive that day or the next.  When I tracked it online, it was logged as “attempted delivery”, which I found really hard to believe because I was home the whole time.

On Monday, it was then showing as “delivered”.  Odd.  I circled the house, and also went outside our little gate, just to double check that they didn’t leave it there, but it was nowhere to be found.  Prior to this, I’ve messaged them about “paying extra for a no-show next day delivery” to which they promised a refund.  I tried looking for a contact number on their website.  Found none – but came across a phone number of their London shop.  After about two hours of trying on and off, they finally answered the phone and promised to look into it and would phone me back.

And they did, but only to say that they did receive my email and will reply back. A bit peeved I inquired about my order.  The poor man on the other end couldn’t give me an answer, but told me to wait for the email.  To be fair, later that day I received the following:

Dear Mrs. B.

Thank you for your email.
We are sorry that you are still not in receipt of your parcel.

We understand that although it is stated that your parcel has been delivered to the below address you are still not in receipt of this. We have escalated this with our courier to look into further with the driver in question and will be in contact once we receive an update.

In the meantime, we would strongly advise you to check with your close neighbours (as parcels may be left in deemed safe locations or with neighbours as part of our courier’s policy), should this not be the case, please do not hesitate to contact us and we will escalate this further.

My reply was:

We live in a private road and there’s only three houses that share this.  I can assure you that if the order was somehow delivered to one of the houses in our street,  our neighbours would’ve brought the parcel to us by now, especially if they left it with the lovely farmer and his wife, down our road who likes to have little chats whenever they pass by in their quad bikes.

Unless of course, my order was accidentally delivered to Theo, the bull who lives in the field next to our house, then I’m afraid he might have had it for dinner, because somehow I doubt the jumper I chose for my husband would fit him.  Does that mean I won’t get a refund?

Kind regards,

Mrs. B.

And so the saga continues…

As I type this, the crazy old woman who lives in my head is sniggering. “You do realise you’re coming across as some bored superficial house-wife who has nothing better to do but moan about her lost purchases she ordered online?”  Hush, you silly old witch!  Keep taking the tablets … And yep and you know what? I don’t care.   I wouldn’t want to waste money now, would you?

If you find yourself driving in our corner of England, don’t be surprised if you see a bull wearing a lovely blue jumper.  Yes, I know. It’s way too small for him.  But don’t say anything please, it might hurt his feelings.

The Reading Residence
UPDATE:  I’ve finally received my package and I’m so pleased with my orders.  Might even order from them again, in spite bad delivery.  Will think it over.  Thank you all for your lovely/supportive comments.  We’re thinking of getting Theo his own jumper for Christmas 😉

A Country Kid’s Post: Rugby Fun


I’m not a sporty person.  I can swim but I’m not a strong swimmer.  I can ride a bike, but won’t win any race.  I know some of you may think, it’s not too late to try.  But if I’m honest, I might just give this one a miss.  I’d rather cheer the others from the sideline, or maybe wait from the comforts of a lovely nice pub.

My husband on the other hand, while he claims not to be good in sports, does gig-rowing (although admittedly doesn’t have time to do it anymore), is a good swimmer, used to fence at Uni, played football and cricket when he was younger, so I guess it’s safe to say T got her interests in sports from him.

At the moment, she goes to gymnastics and swimming class.  We were pleased though when she signed up for a rugby game in another school.  They are actually lucky to have a teacher who happened to be an ex football player, so it’s not surprising that he pushes his students to do well in sports (among other things of course).


Mr. R was very pleased with his kids, especially when a local rugby coach announced that they were the best team there.


Apparently, little T was really fast, but refused to tackle.  I laughed when this was reported back to me.  But Mr. R plans to start a football team and include the year 2s.  I don’t know what it’s like in other schools, but while the boys can join the football team young, the girls on the other hand have to be older than T.  I know, it’s so unfair isn’t it?  As parents of a younger girl, we were really happy when he said that he will start them this year.  He wants T in his team 🙂

What about you?

Are you into sports?

Country Kids

A Family Love Affair with Books


I love beautiful books.  I have no vice.  While like most women, I do like shoes and bags, they’re not something I’d covet the way I do with books, especially beautifully illustrated ones, I just can’t resist them, so when we went to the Bath Children’s Literary festival as mentioned in my previous post, when I saw this one particular book on a stand, it just called to me.

I mentioned this a lot in previous posts – how lucky I am to be married to a man who has the same passion as I do, that helps a lot you know.  You won’t hear any “Are you paying that much for a book?!”  Instead ours is usually “What did you get?  Here’s mine”.  

I picked up my book, and went off to pay.  When I turned my back, my husband was queueing behind me with his own choice of book, and T was also clutching her own .  Luckily, she had her own money to spend since she brought her savings with her and since this was after all a Children’s Literary festival all our books “were for kids”.

My husband’s pick was real-life astronaut’s first children’s book – The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield.


It is a sweet book for children younger than T who is six.  It talks about how it is okay to have fears, especially of the dark and how dreams do come true.

inside_the_darkest_dark T’s choice on the other hand was this one:  Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman.


It’s not surprising that she chose another book illustrated by Chris Riddell her favourite, especially since she already has all of his books.  She knows Neil Gaiman as the man who wrote her other favourite “Coraline” and even has the book signed by him and again, illustrated by yes, Chris Riddell again. She loves the man and I don’t blame her.  I think she also chose this book because it had a little boy on the cover for a change and that it had giants in it.

And this folks is my choice:  Neil Gaiman’s The Sleeper and the Spindle.

img_3583When I saw the sleeve, I was hooked.  The gold ink was calling to me, since it was wrapped, I didn’t even know how beautiful it was inside till we got home. It was my precious and it was mine.  Of course, I told T that I bought it for her, but it’s actually mine, all mine.

I took off the plastic that was wrapped around the sleeve ever so gently, and as I slipped the case off and the book fell out, I actually gave a little gasp and ran my fingers on it like braille. The front was just beautiful and inside?  See for yourself.


I gently opened each page and marvelled at the artwork.  You’ve probably noticed by now that yes, it was illustrated by no other than the Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell.  I am now a fan too.  Even though I haven’t read the story yet (I can’t wait to read what Neil Gaiman’s version of Sleeping Beauty is like), it’s my current favourite book.  My precious.

Do you have a favourite children’s book?

An Afternoon with Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell


Isn’t it just great when a person you really admire and enjoy both his works as an author and artist turn out to be a genuinely nice person?  I don’t know about you, but I always imagine authors and artists to be a bit of a “stiff-neck”?  So imagine our delight when Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell turned out to be the complete opposite.  I can never say it enough, he really is a lovely man.  And I have no doubt, little T felt that too upon meeting and listening to him talk at the Bath Literary Festival last Saturday.


We sat there for about an hour just listening to his anecdotes, while answering questions and live doodling and me laughing away.  At one point, I became conscious that I was laughing too hard and had to restrain myself.


He was already on the stage when we came in, mindlessly doodling as people settled in their seats.

I also found myself sitting on the edge, not even resting my back, because I wanted to make sure that I heard every word.  I can’t remember the last time I thoroughly enjoyed myself.


And here he is drawing his Children’s Laureate medal and telling us about the time his wife’s daughter’s friend who happens to be German rushed to him excitedly and said “Chris!  Are you really a Children’s Laundrette?  Apparently to his close friends, he is known as just that 🙂

I actually have to remind myself that while I like him, it’s actually little T, my six-year-old daughter who is a big fan of Chris Riddell.


Drawing Mr. Munroe (one of T’s favourite characters from the books Ottoline) and explaining that he apparently based him on his daughter Katy, who as a young girl, liked to come down at night with her hair in front of her face and always gave him a “judging daughter look” – “Really Dad”” with her arms folded like in the drawing.


When asked, what is your favourite book?  He drew The Hobbit.


Before the forum started, we were given postcards where the audience could write their questions to Chris Riddell.  T didn’t want to ask any questions.  But the lucky ones who did and whose questions were picked from a huge pile, went home with his drawings.  Lucky bunch!

After the Q & A there was a long queue of children with their parents lining up to get their books signed and of course, little T was among them.


Patiently waiting for her turn.


T shyly accepting her signed book from her favourite author. ” He is the best mum!”  She said to me as she clutched her signed book excitedly and I definitely agree with her.


Mummy!  I met Chris Riddell!


Isn’t it obvious that she’s a happy little bunny for meeting her favourite author?

Driving all the way from Cornwall for the day was definitely so worth it.  I was really pleased and proud of little T for sitting quietly during the long Q & A session and waiting patiently for her turn to get her book signed in spite suddenly developing a slight temperature during the trip.

Thank you Chris Riddell for making a little girl happy.  And most of all, thank you for being a genuinely lovely person.

If your child hasn’t read any of his books yet, I do suggest that you add it on your Christmas list for them, especially if you have a little girl like T.  Ottoline (from the Ottoline books) and Ada Goth (from the Goth Girl books) are both feisty, strong-willed and independent little girls.  His books are nothing like  the usual books for children, that’s why we love them

Have you heard of Chris Riddell?

Do share.

Music and Memories


It’s uncanny how music is so much like a time-machine, the way it instantly drags us back and we are that awkward teenager again, listening to our music real loud, wishing it would devour us and allow us to escape whatever is troubling us, even for just the duration of the song.

I recently did a post for the lovely Catherine of Pushing the Moon. She runs a series called the Bloggers Spotify Playlist that is so interesting to read and hear about bloggers’ choice of music, if you have time do check it out. It wasn’t surprising that those songs were constantly on my mind this week.

It was a difficult list to make actually.  Music used to be such a big part of my life when I was growing up, even as a single woman, so it was really astonishing to me how much it has taken such a back seat since becoming a mother.  Then again, that shouldn’t be surprising since motherhood/parenthood does take over your entire being.  That’s the way it is I guess.

Going back to that list, growing up my parents were hippies and listened to a lot of folk music like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and of course, my dad loved the Beatles (still does).  As a teenager, because of my older brother’s influence, I listened to punk and new wave.  Then grunge/alternative.  I preferred Pearl Jam over Nirvana, primarily because I had a big crush on Eddie Vedder.  I also have so many memories of listening to The Lemonheads cruising in the car with my brother and our friends, or singing along with 10,000 Maniacs and all the other alternative bands/artists of that era.  Yes, I know, it does show my age, doesn’t it?

Also loved female artists like Edie Brickell whose album Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars became a big theme song in my young life.  And listening to Rickie Lee Jones croon about “Not Wanting to Grow-up”. Then I became obsessed with Indigo Girls and their painful lyrics and songs.  Fast-forward to 2009 or was it (2008?) when I dragged my husband (although we weren’t married yet then) to watch Indigo Girls live in Bristol.

I also used to listen to Rage Against the Machine when I was frantically trying to beat deadlines.  Their songs gave me the adrenaline rush I needed to finish work off.

My music list is endless!  So many songs, so many memories, so while I’ve been walking the streets of my youth, I think it’s about time to jump back in the present and find new songs to listen to, especially for my daughter’s sake, soon I’ll hear a “Oh mum, you’re not listening to the “oldies” again are you?”

Any suggestions?  Latest trends/music/artists?

Do share.

The Reading Residence

A Country Kid’s Post: Creating Childhood Memories

making childhood memories

We used to live in a terraced house in a little village by the sea.  While it was quiet and lovely there, where everyone knew each other, whose kid belonged to whom that sort, I didn’t allow little T play outside.  Older kids played outside by our parking lot that was never full.  While it was safe, I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of her playing outside, even though our neighbour’s child “F” who is from T’s school and is even a year younger than her once said to me “I’ll take care of her!”  I actually laughed when he first announced this, looking down at little T’s gallant knight who was (then) barely taller than her.

Not that I didn’t trust him, it was mainly because of the cars.  It wasn’t a busy road, but I did worry about the cars coming and going.

I want little T to have a childhood where she can roam freely without her paranoid mum breathing down her neck and I’m pleased to say that, she has that now.

We didn’t move far from that little village by the sea.  In fact, you could say we’re just down the road and still live by the coast.  We live in a private road where there are only three houses, including the farm that lives further down.

Now you’ll find T going up and down that private road in her scooter, along with Doc bounding up ahead of her.  We also help her practice her bike up and down that road.  In the summer, you’ll seldom find her inside, she’s out there in the garden jumping in her trampoline, playing with her friends.  She’s also gone exploring the country lanes, although she hasn’t done this on her own yet (still too young for that), we do go with her, an excuse to walk the dog, who doesn’t even need walking all the time anymore.  He actually takes himself out any time he wants.

It’s a lovely life, living in the country really.  It’s as if time stands still, and nobody really worries much about tomorrow, after all it’s not here yet, is it?

Do you allow your child to play outside?

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Autumn Thoughts


“We’ll be needing a leaf-vac” my husband says to me as he surveys our big garden.

“Pfft” I say to him “All we need is a rake and I’ll get raking!”


Scene from our back-garden.

I had images of myself going out with a rake in hand, wellies, wrapped up nice and warm in my brown coat (the one I use to walk the dog), complete with wooly hat.


I had visions of myself raking away, deep in thought, while Doc as usual, would be lumbering around like a silly billy.  After while, I’d have a whole mountain of lovely brown and golden leaves on one side.  Maybe later if there was still enough light, T can do a leaf dive and I’d manage to catch everything in my camera (I rarely do, by the way), perfect captured moments, to be later posted on Instagram.


When all this is done.  We’d go in, hand-in-hand, mother and daughter, the husband will be slaving away in the kitchen with a lit fire, making us delicious hot-chocolate, complete with whipped cream.  He’ll also be slicing us a piece of cake fresh from the oven.  Lovely.  Life is bliss.

 “Dean, look at all those trees” the husband pointedly says, interrupting my reverie.  Can you imagine all of those leaves on the ground?

view_fromstudy View of the side-garden from the Historian’s study.

“Yep, we’ll need a leaf-vac”  and just like that my husband bursts my bubble.

Are you a dreamer like me, or practical like him?