Category: Life in England

Summer = Paddling Pools

The word summer equals to paddling pools, especially when you have a little one.  I can’t even begin to count how many little T has had since she was a toddler.

When we moved into our new house last year, my husband bought T a big pool especially since we finally have the space for it.  Sadly, we kept the said pool in a small outbuilding in the bottom of our garden.  Even though I packed it securely (or so I thought), the mice still had a go at it.  I found this out during the “heat wave” about a month ago when T invited a friend over for some paddling pool fun.

Imagine my annoyance when I found out after cleaning the paddling pool, blowing it up only to find out that there were holes in it. I panicked and thankfully, my husband willingly (minus the grumbling) drove me to the nearest shop and bought the biggest paddling pool we could find.  Sadly, it wasn’t as big as her previous one, but once blown up, it wasn’t that bad at all.

This was T’s paddling pool last year.  The three of us could fit in it comfortably with enough space for other kids as well.

This is the new one, not as big, but it didn’t seem to bother the girls at all.

These two girls are really sporty.  They enjoyed running towards the pool and just jumping into it and having lots of giggles.

It was one of those perfect long summer days, lovely and warm.  The kids having fun in the garden, while mum can have a read in the hammock and maybe a cheeky g&t.  And the husband in the study…… Ah bliss.

And this being England of course, everything went downhill from there.  The next day, it ended with a mist.  The temperature dropped and then it rained for days.  Story of our life eh?  Here’s hoping the warm paddling pools will come back.

What about you?

Did you enjoy the heat-wave too?

Or was it just too much?

2017 Duck Race

Sorry for such an unimaginative title, but I’ve been writing about this yearly event since 2013 long before little T even joined the village school.  Actually let me add that my husband and I even went to the duck race long before T was born.

For those who are new here, my daughter’s school runs this annual fundraising event so their students could go on school trips and do other fun stuff without having to rely on funding from the government.  It’s actually a lovely event which everyone gladly takes part in.

Every one was praying for good weather, since last year’s event had to be cancelled because of heavy rain.  Thankfully the gods bestowed us with lovely sunshiny warm weather.

It was past eleven o’clock the night before the event, when I suddenly realised that I volunteered to make some cupcakes for the cake stall.  As you can imagine, I did panic and started baking them well before the clock struck twelve and decorated them with icing and sprinkles in the morning.

By the time we got there, all the stalls were up and T’s friends were all happily playing and spending coins on every stall.

No photos I’m afraid of the talent show.  I was too busy administering caffeine into my veins (drinking coffee).  After the talent show, it was time for the dispersal of hundreds of colourful plastic ducks down the river.

As mentioned, we’ve been attending this event for years now, but our duck never, ever wins the race.  I’m beginning to doubt if anyone does (I’m joking obviously).

After the race, little T and some of her friends, headed downstream to have fun in the water.  As much as I love our current house, I admittedly miss living in this little village by the sea, even though it’s only about a ten-minute drive from where we live.  When the weather (like that day) is great and the tide is low, we used to come down here a lot just so T and Doc could have a little play in the water, or to eat ice-cream and just sit and watch the tourists go by.  It’s lovely isn’t it?

Hopefully the weather in next year’s duck race will be as good as this one.

Have you ever been to a duck race?

What we did on a Summer Solstice …

If you follow me over on Instagram, chances are you’ve probably seen these photos already.  It was the summer solstice last week.  We planned on having a bbq just for the three of us and my husband had this grand plan of waiting for the longest day to end by reading Harry Potter to T on the hammock.  We also knew that it was also going to be the last day of the “heat-wave” (at least for now) and that by nightfall, the weather would turn, although we were hoping that it wouldn’t.

Little T re-reading one of her Ottoline books just before the sun hid behind thick clouds.

And sure enough, by the time our bbq was ready, the temperature dropped and the sun disappeared and I could see the mist appearing over the fields, it was like a scene from a scary movie or a Stephen King novel.

Mist descending, it actually looked really eerie.  

But my husband was still determined to go through with his plans especially since he promised T that she could stay up late(ish).  By the time I cleared our dinner away, he had somehow managed to dig out our garden lamps from the shed and made us a lovely cosy nook in the garden.

As soon as T saw this, she plonked herself down on the hammock as we finished our chores for the night.

I loved the little tea lights hanging on the tree and our big hurricane lamp which my husband laid on the garden wall.  It does give it a lovely ambiance, doesn’t it?

Once we were done with our chores, the Historian started reading to T, as I sat beside them on a lounge chair, sipping my tea also listening to the story.

It’s a lovely memory.  I hope T remembers this.  The sound of her dad reading to her on a hammock one summer solstice, amidst the mist, with just light coming from the garden lamps. We stayed on till it was too dark to read and our solar lights have lit up.  T wanted to see the owl light she got for her dad on Father’s Day lit up.

There’s her owl, surrounded by her dad’s flowers.  It’s the best Father’s Day present her dad exclaimed when he opened it.  Apologies if my photos are all blurry since I only used my phone to take photos.

What about you?

Did you celebrate the summer solstice too?

What to do on Widemouth Bay when the Heat is On …

We’ve been experiencing some really lovely heat the past few days in the UK.  I know some may be struggling, finding it too hot.  Was chatting with a Spanish friend last Sunday and she asked me if the heat is too much for me.  I laughed and said, no!  Where I come from, this is the norm and some days, especially in the summer, it can be even hotter.  I asked her the same question.  She laughed too, and gave me the same answer.

And what better way to enjoy the heat, but to go to the beach!  I’ve mentioned this several times on the blog before that our go-to-beach is Widemouth Bay since it’s only about a ten-minute drive from where we live.  This is where T and her best-friend F love to go and do …

Body Boarding

And here they are, the two best-friends resting before having another go on the beach.  It’s a very safe beach to visit with little ones, since there are always (especially during peak season) life guards on duty complete with speed boats ready to use in case of emergency.

The waves though can be a little bit harsh, but all the better for the body-boarders and surfers of course.  It’s best to still keep a close eye on your little ones by being in the water with them too.

Rock Pooling/Climbing

Towards the afternoon, we decided to pack up and head for the lovely interesting rock formations found on Widemouth bay.  Apart from the long stretch of sand, those rocks and boulders is one of the reason why we love that beach.  When you’re done playing in the sand and waves, there are other things to do like climb over rocks that have been around millions of years.

And there she goes …

Just look at how unique they are… It almost looks a face is etched on the rock.

Nature never ceases to amaze me.

And when you’re done marvelling over rock formations, one can always go exploring over rock pools too. This is one of T and her dad’s favourite activity to do on the beach.  What better way to end a lovely day, by doing some exploring?

Have you been enjoying the heat too?

Or is it just a bit too much for you?

A Country Kid’s Post: Body Boarding on Widemouth Bay

The weather last Thursday was just a perfect blend of not too-hot and just about right, enough to be able to wear a t-shirt without a jumper on and shorts. Of course, the best way to celebrate this weather was to spend most of the day on the beach.  And that’s exactly what we did.

Widemouth bay in all its glory.  We’re lucky it’s about less than a ten minute drive from where we live.  We drive past this beautiful stretch of beach every time we go to Bude to ran errands.  Admittedly though, when you live nearby, you just take the beauty of it all for granted.  But yesterday, we had a chance to bask in it.

We went to the beach to meet up with friends but came early.  There’s little T waiting for her best-friend F to arrive.  She went into the water but opted to wait for him.  And yes, there was an incessant whinging “Is F here yet?”.  As if by saying he’s name, he’d magically appear before her.

And then our friends finally arrived.  F forgot to bring his body-board but T was kind enough to lend it to him as they took turns using it and at one time, both were on it.  If you’ve been following my blog for the past five years, you will know that T and F have been best-friends since they were two.  They have a good bond and a really sweet friendship.

There’s T’s waiting for her turn with the body board.

Hopefully, these two will be best-friends forever.

I can’t wait till the summer-holidays are here.  Here’s hoping for good weather like this day so we could spend more time on the beach again and again and again.

What about you?

Have you spent some time on the beach lately?

Fun in the Sun at Crooklets Beach

We’ve been lucky to have good weather this week.  Managed to spend some time on Crooklets beach last Monday along with one of little T’s friends.  We brought their scooters with us, so while my husband and I were sipping our lovely cappuccinos at Rosie’s kitchen outside, the girls were having a lovely time riding on their scooters.

And after a quick snack of cheesy chips and fruit shakes, the girls were ready to have some fun on the beach.

And yes, we did go away with soggy bottoms, the kids that is.  The grown-ups were dry, but I don’t think we had as much fun as they did.

What have you guys been up to this Easter break?

A Whiff of Summer

Could it be true?  Could summer really be near?

The clocks moved forward last Saturday and it definitely felt like we are not that far from everyone’s most favourite season – summer.  Well obviously, coming from a tropical country, it is my favourite, although I do love the golden colours in autumn too.

I love summer here in England, especially when the weather cooperates.  I love the long summer days especially, sitting out in the garden at 9 pm and it is still light.  We like to sit around in the fire-pit waiting for the dark, the barbecue long gone and drinks have been passed around and little T ready for bed, but refusing to go.  What’s not to love?

Obviously it isn’t summer yet but Spring has definitely sprung. We found something in the small outbuilding we have, down in the garden.  It was a hammock we bought on sale last year.  I think we got in the end-of-season sale in our favourite garden centre.  I remember thinking we must be mad to purchase it, especially since it was the beginning of winter, but I’m so glad we did.

T was delighted when we called her over.  And being a kid, she insisted that we used it right away.  After searching for a piece of rope and two trees that would be strong enough to hold the hammock, we set it up.

And as soon as it was up, little T plunked herself down with a book while her dad mowed the lawn and Doc was busy chewing on a stick and I went on with my chores.  I looked back as I walked back to the house to do my chores, and right that very moment, that instant, it felt like we’ve fast forwarded to summer.  Funny how a hammock can magically transport you into time.

Sadly, as I type this and look out the window, a different scene unfolds before me.  It’s rather a dreary one actually.  T has been wearing her summer dresses to school two days in a row now, even though yesterday, it was hardly sunny.  But as I helped her get ready today, I suggested maybe it would be best if she went back to wearing her grey skirt and tights instead.  She agreed and said “It’s like winter again, isn’t it mum?”  I sighed and said yes.  Her father grumpily added “Yes, that was it.  We’ve now gone back to winter!”

I’m in need of something more magical than a hammock, one so strong it will somehow bring the sunshine back and will it to stay.  Know of any?  Do share.

Finding the Beauty in Ordinary Days

It definitely felt like spring has sprung over the weekend which lasted till Monday.  Never mind if it’s looking grey again today.  But a few days ago, our little family had a lovely time as we worked in the sunshine, trying to reclaim our garden back from the remnants of winter.

T and I started with raking the leaves which should’ve been raked ages ago, but it was always too wet and cold to do it.  But over the weekend it was bliss.  We were all in our element, including Doc and Boots who loved basking in the sun and running on tree branches.  Hopefully she didn’t find any bird’s nests!

For some time now, the husband has been talking about wanting to put wooden borders with shingles for our pots of plants to rest on.  But like I’ve mentioned, the weather hasn’t been really conducive to do anything outside, he finally had his chance!

He started this on a Saturday, by Sunday he had all the wooden boards up, but found out that the shingles he bought wasn’t enough.  We managed to buy more yesterday and it’s all up:

I think he did a grand job!  We’re excited to buy more bedding plants, since the ones in our pots need replanting and even new ones.  There’s still obviously much to do in the garden.  I need to repaint our garden furnitures and hopefully we’ll manage to put up some swings and tick off some of our plans which we made last year when we first moved into the house.  It does take time, doesn’t it?

But over the weekend, it was one of those lovely ordinary days where I savoured each and every single second, bit by bit.  There’s beauty in ordinary days like these.

Relishing the ordinary, the way the sunshine poured through the window making beautiful patterns against our curtains.  The sound of Boots’ bell coming from the trees, hopefully loud enough to warn any birds that a predator is coming.  Little T sitting on the concrete steps eating her little picnic exclaiming “This is the best lunch ever” which consisted of a jam sandwich, apple slices and her a pear flavoured drink.

The way the husband frowned as he hammered a piece of wood into the ground missing his foot just inches away.  Even the sound of Doc’s faint barking which meant he was somewhere in the 500-acre farm land that surrounds our house.

And then later on, the sound of T practicing her cello and my husband and I both smiling, so proud of her, that what our little girl is playing is beginning to sound like good music.  These are the moment I want to freeze forever.

Reality sets in again, and it’s a Wednesday, our house at the moment is surrounded in mist.  Ah well…

A Visit to Wrest Park

It’s been a while since we’ve used our English Heritage membership, but when we visited my in-laws over the half-term break, we finally had the chance to use it.

Wrest Park is a lovely Grade II listed country home in Silsoe Bedfordshire.  The facade actually reminded me a bit of Napoleon’s ostentatious Château de Compiègne in France which we visited a couple of years ago, although of course, not as grand and garish, the gardens though is equally beautiful.

Since it was half-term break, we took little T’s cousin K with us so they could spend more time together.

The girls were not as impressed with the staircase as they were with the painting on the ceiling.

The sitting room, although they really should’ve called this the cherubim room, since you could find them in every corner.  I’m not a big fan of these chubby little angels, so I zoned out when the guide started pointing them out to the girls.  Surprisingly, T turned out to be disinterested in them too.

I found the Victorian conservatory really interesting though, too bad it wasn’t open to the public.

During World War II, Wrest Park was used as a convalescent home for injured soldiers.  I can imagine this was one of the rooms used for their patients.  Can you imagine recuperating in a room with such big windows and lovely views from outside?

The girls of course were itching to go outside.  It was a lovely day and almost felt like Spring has come and so we decided that the day was too beautiful to spend it indoors.

The grounds did not disappoint …

So much to see and do.

After walking for at least an hour, we decided it was time for some lunch at the cafe via the orangery.

The girls went wild inside the empty orangery, running around and shrieking like loonies …

I laughed when I saw these two statues on the facade of building.  They look like they were actually holding their heads as if they have a headache.  I don’t blame them, the girls shrill voices must have done that to them.

It was fun though.

Do visit Wrest Park if you’re in the area.

It’s so worth it.

Spring: Is it here yet?

I don’t know about other people, but winter, especially after the Christmas madness, I tend to fold-in and turn introspective (Although I’m sure if my husband gets to read this he’ll say “but you’re always introspective Dean!)

Can you blame me?  Coming from a tropical country where it’s warm and sunny everyday, of course, we do get the grey clouds too, especially when it rains, but it never lasts unlike here in England.

The the changing of seasons, while it is beautiful, always has an affect on me.  I try to ride it and just go with the flow, mindful that the greyness and drabness isn’t permanent, that it’s only temporary.  You would think that after almost a decade of living here, I’d be an expert now.  I think though, I’m getting better, my skin is thicker.

And it isn’t really that bad really, while January is awful, here in Cornwall, even though it’s only the first day of February, I can see evidence of spring coming already.  The bulbs are slowly coming up and the days are getting longer.  We no longer drive T to her gymnastics class at 5pm in the dark.

The bright days are coming and the thought of it makes me feel giddy!  The flowers will bloom soon.  The trees will get their leaves in abundance back.  All the colours, different hues will spring everywhere.  What’s not to like?  Are you excited too?