Category: Life in England

Cross country training, the promise of spring & a snowy surprise

While the Beast from the East is but a memory now, you’ll still find traces of his visit in the fields and on the side of the road as you drive along the A39, only they’re looking more like cement, a murky brown, or more like mud actually.  And we wonder if he’ll ever visit again?  We promised T that next time we’d be ready and buy a sled if we see one on sale, although I honestly doubt if this rare occurrence will happen again… but you’ll never know and it’s best to be prepared next time.

T together with some of her friends and other schoolmates will be doing the cross-country run together with other schools this Friday.  We’ve been helping her “train”… I’m using the word “train” really lightly here, because it’s nothing hardcore at all.  The Historian does run with her when he has the time, but since he had a lecture in Exeter last Saturday, T was stuck with her mum who has a weak knee and so I just walked behind her.

We were doing rather well.  She’d run ahead of me and I’d walk briskly behind her.  Admiring the promise of spring – the daffodils were out again. Before the Beast’s visit, lovely Spring flowers were slowly coming out and then they were blanketed with a thick layer of snow.  It’s nice to see them out again.

T ran past the small barn and into our neighbour’s farm.  We’re lucky we have lovely neighbours who let us roam freely around their farm.

We passed the other outbuildings  and still she kept running, occasionally checking whether her poor unexercised mum was still behind her.

And into the small woods, past up the hill and then that’s when she saw it.

I saw her stop on her tracks.  She looked back at me and smiled and went for it.

T giggled as she got stuck in the thick snow.  I was really amazed to find this much snow on the side of the lane.  I’m sure it will melt soon especially since temperature has been slowly rising. I let her play in the snow for a while. After all thick snow is rare on our side of the UK especially in March, before reminding her to go back to running till at least the end of the lane and then she can play in the snow again.

After running around in circles and getting stuck in the snow, T and I decided that it was time to head back home…

… for a lovely treat of Oreo Ice-cream.

Isn’t life just sweet? 😉

Hello Beast From the East

The first day of March is “officially” the first day of Spring here in the UK, but because of the Beast from the East, instead of warmer weather, it was bitingly cold.

It was also supposed to be World Book Day, T got up excitedly, wanting to get into her Tonks (a minor character from Harry Potter) costume.  But then we received a message from her school saying that school was cancelled.  While it was cold, there wasn’t any sign of snow till around 2pm and then it never stopped.  T wanted to go outside as soon as it started, but I told her that we’d go out once the snow has settled.  But the snow just kept falling, and falling, and falling….

As you can see, it took only about a couple of hours for the snow to look like this.  T was absolutely delighted.  It has never snowed in North Cornwall like this before.  We’ve had a few dusting, but never as thick as this.

And since we didn’t have any sled, we had to quickly improvise and found an old Ikea shelf that was light and yet sturdy enough to slide down the very icy and slippery road in front of our house.

At first, T was hesitant to use it so her dad had to show her how. Soon enough she was going up and down that icy road, laughing and having so much fun.

I’m amazed with how much snow the beast from the East managed to dump on us within a few hours.  It was absolutely beautiful though …

Everywhere you looked, it was covered in a soft blanket of snow…

And of course, you absolutely have to build a snowman when there’s that much snow on the ground.

T named her Billy, an artist visiting from the East.  As I type this, I look out my window and can still see a mound of snow where Billy used to be standing.

And yes, we had snow-fights too.

At the end of the day, we were all wet and cold, but T had the biggest smile on her face and the snow just kept falling as T watched from the window.

We had two lovely, magical days of snow.  At night, it was lovely to look out the window and see the snow glistening, it actually gave it an eerie glow and as much as I enjoyed it too, I was actually glad to see it melting by Saturday afternoon.  If I look out my window now, I will see patches of snow in the ground and in the surrounding fields too.

If you live in the UK, did you enjoy the visitor from the East?

Country Kids
 

This Is The Life

Lately I’ve been missing the madness of city living again and if T didn’t love her school and her friends so much, we’d move in a heartbeat.  The yearning comes and goes but on a day like this particular one also reminds me to be thankful of where we live right now especially with a little child in tow and as the ever wise Dr. Seuss once said:

Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky.”

And indeed we are lucky to live where we live.  Beautiful beaches are within a ten-minute drive from our house.  If we wanted to venture out just a bit further, like a thirty-minute drive to our current favourite beach, we’re there soon enough.

Sandymouth beach in North Cornwall is our current fave.  We first discovered it last year.  It’s a lovely beach owned by the National Trust, some may find it a bit rocky, but it has many beautiful features like this lovely waterfalls.  If you’ve been reading this little online space of ours, you might have just read about this slice of heaven in past posts.  It also has a lovely National Trust cafe, so yes, a must-visit if you’re in the area.

It was summer the last time we were here.  Imagine T’s surprise when we came back and found the waterfalls over-brimming with water.  Last time we were here, it was a mere trickle.  Just look at these photos:

i just love the expanse of this beach.  It was nearing high-tide when we arrived, so we couldn’t really venture out further, but there was still enough beach for a lovely stroll.

From where we were walking, you could see people up in the headland enjoying the view.

After walking around, we spread our picnic blanket on top of the rocks and just enjoyed the scenery before us.  This is the life.  This is all you need.  The people whom you love the most and a flask of tea.  What more can you ask for?  Okay, maybe enough money to buy a house in the city 😉

“The beach is not a place to work, to read, write or to think”

  • Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

Poor Doc – we weren’t able to let him off leash since there were a few families around with little kids.  Sadly, he still hasn’t outgrown the “jumping on strangers” with an eager beaver face.

After having our fill of quiet solitude and hot tea, we decided it was time for cake at the cafe.  While demolishing a lovely piece of chocolate cake, we noticed this really brave Blackbird perch itself up a few tables from where we sat outdoors facing the sea.  It didn’t seem to be bothered by our presence at all.

And then it was time to explore that headland, which we’ve never had the chance to explore till now.

That’s the National Trust cafe and parking lot (above photo).

Waterfalls seen from above.

What do you think?

Would you exchange all this for city living?

Country Kids
 

And Just Like That…. Half-term Break is Over

Photo above is what the weather is currently like at the moment.  We are enveloped in a sea of mist that really looks like a set in a movie based in one of Stephen King’s novels.  I’m just really glad that the weather wasn’t like this during the half-term break.  We had a few days of glorious sunshine it almost felt like spring has sprung.

February half-term is only a week and we didn’t really do or go anywhere special but at least we managed to visit the beach a couple of times.

Went to Widemouth, our go-to-beach when we want an easy stroll on the beach.  I’ve mentioned this beach a lot of times on this blog, maybe because it’s such a short drive from where we live.  It has a nice long stretch of beach even when it’s high tide.  Perfect for a lovely stroll to blow off some cobwebs.

Was it cold?  Yes, it was.  But we were dressed for it.  After all, winter isn’t really gone yet.  We stayed till it started to rain before heading back home again.

Do you like going to the beach in the cold?

Country Kids
 

Our Christmas Holiday: Holed In

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and also enjoyed your New Year’s celebrations.  As for us, we spent the whole Christmas break hibernating inside our home.  We were supposed to spend the holidays with my in-laws, but just before little T finished school, she was struck with the nastiest cold and cough she’s ever had.  Before long my husband was down with it too.  On the morning of the 23rd, I realised that it would be best for everyone if we just quarantined ourselves inside our home.  My in-laws are old you see, I’d be horrified if they caught it.  It’s taken T and my husband the whole of the holiday to shake it off, can you imagine what it would be like for a couple in their late 80s?

My poor husband had to go out on the 24th and do an emergency shop since we didn’t have any food at home, after all we were all ready to drive-up country.  The shops ran out turkey, so he had to make do with whatever he found that day.  Thankfully, none of us were in the mood for roast, our diet then consisted mostly of home-made soup, the kind one eats when poorly.

This has been us, holed in, watching movie after movie.  Playing games after another.  I’ve just realised that T and I are really crap with playing charades, but she absolutely loves playing it.

We had plans of doing loads of winter walks, but the only time we’ve ever been out was today, to do some food shopping.  That’s about it.  T seems a lot better, she still has a bit of a cough.  The husband’s cough has also improved, so we’re hoping to do our first and only holiday winter-walk tomorrow.  Weather permitting, it happens.

As you can see, we still have Christmas presents under our tree.  Those are for family up-country.  Luckily, my husband has a meeting there over the weekend, so he’ll be able to drop by to give them their belated Christmas presents.  Lucky for us too, we also get to open ours from them.  Christmas has been extended for us this year.

What about you?

What was your Christmas break like?

One Crisp Autumn Day

Our life here in the country is really simple.  We don’t really go out much, especially when the husband is busy with his work.  Apart from the hike over at Rough Tor, we didn’t really do a lot over the half-term break.  Luckily, we have a big garden and when the weather was good over the holiday, T and I were out there, raking-leaves.  She’s such a good little helper. She likes doing chores with me.

We actually like staying home.  Of course, you’ll hear “I’m bored” or “There’s nothing for me to do” occasionally especially when the weather is bad.  But I guess like all solo kids, she eventually finds something to do and when the weather is good, as mentioned, we are out in the garden pottering around.

Last year, we bought her, her own little rake and garden gloves.  That’s one of the reasons why she loves helping because she has her own tools.  It makes her feel more “grown-up” I guess.

We have a lot of trees out there, so we constantly have to rake the leaves, if not, there’ll be a blanket of mucky-brown leaves on the lawn before you know it.  During school days, I consider this my autumn exercise, raking and wheeling my pile of leaves down the garden.  But when T is home, it’s a mother and daughter team.

T also likes to clear her trampoline off the leaves.

My little gardener.  Watch her go.

We have a compost pit where we pile all the leaves on behind our little barn.

Autumn is a second spring.

Where every leaf is a flower.

– Albert Camus

And there she is, resting after an afternoon of raking the leaves.  And of course, Doc was also out there with us.

He likes to either run around with a stick on his mouth or lie on the grass and crunch on a stick that he’s found.  You’ll hear him crunch, crunching on his stick.

And when he sees Boots, they like to stare and wait for the other to make a move and it’s usually Doc, but of course, he never out runs her.  She’s the boss and he knows it.

Just for fun, T and I made a little shortie

What’s your garden like in Autumn?

All About the Pumpkins

Before being a mum, we never really bothered to decorate our house, let alone carve pumpkins on Halloween.  The only preparations we had was making sure we had enough sweets for the little “trick or treaters” in our village.  But then of course, T came along.  The first time, she was too young.  But I did start decorating and carving, she just watched me.

But not on the second time around, she actually helped! And so pumpkin carving has been one of our little yearly traditions with my little girl.

I remember printing out a few stencils for the faces when I first did it.  But nowadays, I just wing it.  We still draw on it though, using simple triangles for the eyes and nose and just carving the biggest smile ever, because it’s the easiest!  And besides, according to T, we don’t like scary pumpkins, although we admittedly made the husband’s pumpkin look grumpy.  I have yet to find a non-grumpy historian.  I think it’s part of their job description.

And here’s my little helper cleaning out the pumpkins.  It’s messy and a bit icky, but my daughter loves it.

We bought our pumpkins last week, to think I though that was early.  But apparently not, we couldn’t even find a decent one in the supermarket pile.  All of them had dirty faces.  My husband thought that once we’ve carved that part away, it will be alright.  If only we had a pumpkin patch nearby, Instagram has been filled with lovely photographs from pumpkin patches.  Perhaps next year!

After carving the faces, I tried to scrape the dirty bits away.  I told T not to worry, once it’s dark and all lit up, the black bits won’t show.

 I think I did manage to clean them up and can you spot the grumpy pumpkin?

Little T admiring our window display.  No one will really see it though, apart from the farmer who lives down the road, since we live in a private road.  Ever since moving away from our little village, there won’t be knocking on our door either.  To go trick or treating, we have to drive back to our little village, where T will meet up with her friend and cause mayhem.  You can read about what it’s like here.  Hopefully it won’t be as mad this year as it was that year.

Does our house look spooky enough?  I hope so.

What about you? …

National Trust Beaches in North Cornwall: Our latest Fave – Sandymouth Beach

In my attempt to prolong summer (if only that’s possible!) I’ve been delaying this last featured post on National Trust Beaches here in North Cornwall for days now.  Perhaps, it’s because it’s the last and maybe because September is almost over and still no sign of an Indian summer.  And as I type this, the orange pile of leaves in our garden is piling up daily.  Did I mention it’s also gray and dreary outside? …

The first beach we visited was Northcott Mouth, then Duck Pool.  They are both lovely beaches, although Duck Pool isn’t really safe for swimming, but perfect for rock-pooling.  We enjoyed both, but our most favourite one is Sandymouth.  I can’t believe we’ve lived here in Cornwall for almost a decade now and yet have never visited this beach.  It’s just absolutely beautiful!  A perfect combination of vast expanse of beach (especially during low-tide), lots of unusual rock formation, even two waterfalls, and when the tide is low, it leaves big puddles of water, perfect for the little ones to swim in.

We visited late August, so there were still lots of tourists around, probably having their last hurrah for the summer.  We were lucky the weather complied with us.  Lovely blue skies and good enough temperature.

We went with friends and T was with her best-friend F and his little sister M.  It was just the perfect playground for these energetic kids.

Then T and F decided to play tag with the waves.

The kids also spent time splashing about in this big pool of sea water.

As for the grown-ups, we enjoyed looking at the interesting rocks and their formations and other seal life found on the beach.  As mentioned, during the low-tide it exposes a vast area of beach, perfect for long walks.

One of the reasons why my husband wanted to visit this particular beach is that, apparently if you’re lucky and the tide is really low, you might just catch a glimpse of a shipwreck.  Sadly we couldn’t find it that day.  But hey, luckily for us, we just live nearby.

Sandymouth also has a National Trust cafe nearby, but I think it is only seasonal.  The beach also has coast-guards around and is near at least two camp-sites.  Perfect for holiday-makers.

We loved it so much we came back the next day, although admittedly we haven’t been back since then.  Hopefully we’ll manage to do just that when the weather improves.  This is definitely a beach to put on your list the next time you’re in Cornwall.

National Trust Beaches in North Cornwall: Rockpooling and a Walk in Duckpool

Looks like we’re not going to get an Indian summer after all so I’m digging through my collection of sun, beach and sea. Then again, we have a couple of weeks to go, you’ll never know.  After all, this is England known for its volatile weather…

Part II:

It was a rather “Autumny” afternoon when we decided to venture out for our second day adventure in search of the three National Trust beaches near to where we live.  The day started out badly, with heavy rains and the drop in the temperature.  For a while, I did think that we wouldn’t manage to go out and blow the cobwebs.  Thank goodness, by mid afternoon, the weather improved and so we grabbed our wellies, the dog and headed for the second beach.

Our next destination was, Duckpool, another National Trust beach in North Cornwall.

It was a bit blustery when we arrived.  I was glad to be wearing a thick coat, T on the other hand, seemed fine with her wooly jumper, although I put her coat in my bag, just in case, the rain decided to come back.  Luckily it didn’t.

There were a few cars on the parking lot.  I was really pleased to see a toilet block.  When you reach a certain age, these things are important 😉 I saw a path running up to the coastline and thought that it would be nice to go up there and have a little hike.

Duckpool beach is pebbly and wild, although it is beautiful, it isn’t suitable for swimming, especially since there aren’t any lifeguards around.  it is perfect though for rockpooling and just mooching around on the beach.  There were also a few dog walkers around and we also spied some eager hikers on their way down the coastal path.

As soon as we managed to pass through the rocky part of the beach, T and her dad set on trying to find some crab and other fish.

Before long, they caught their first catch of the day:

I like to joke and say that this is always the same crab my husband and T catches every time we go rock-pooling.  The crab always says “Bugger, it’s them again”.

Doc and I left the father-daughter team and decided to go near the water.  We stood by for a while just watching the sky and sea.  The waves weren’t as strong as I thought they would be.  There were other families around and so we didn’t allow Doc off the leash, in case he gets all excited and starts jumping on small people.  He seemed content though, just to sit by my side and watch the waves roll in.

After a while, we decided it was time to leave.  But not before setting off their catch of the day free.

Freedom!  cried the crab.  Hasta mañana!  I’m imagining the crab waves his claws at us, hoping to never see us again.  We replied “See you again soon!

We thought of going up the coastal-path, but as we looked up and realised how hight it was, we decided to look for another much gentler climb.  On our way to the beach, we noticed some signs to public footpaths and decided to explore that bit.  We saw one just as we rounded the corner.

It had an over-grown path and T said that it looked like a secret way to something mysterious. Don’t you just love their imagination?  We knew that the path was going to lead us back to Duckpool beach, but we didn’t know how close it would be.

There were loads of fat, ripe, blackberries everywhere.  We couldn’t resist but have a few of them and it was the sweetest blackberries I’ve ever tasted.

And Doc, well Doc, is happiest when he has a stick in his mouth.

And then we reached the bottom. It led us to the road to Duckpool beach.

We headed back up to the car and drove away.

Doc busy with his thoughts: I wonder where the next beach will be?  

You’re just going to have to wait for the next post!

Click here for directions on how to get to Duckpool beach.

And here for last week’s feature.

National Trust Beaches in North Cornwall: Blue Skies at Northcott Mouth

Part I:

Now that we’re finished with our Norfolk mini series, I’m going to do an even shorter series, this time closer to home.  As mentioned, we are National Trust members, and even though we’ve lived here in Cornwall for almost a decade, there are still places, especially beaches where we haven’t visited yet.  Shameful really.  Like I’ve mentioned in the past, when you live here, there are moments, when you take the place for granted and only remember when we have visitors down and wonder where to take them.

Last summer, gasp, do I really dare speak of it in past tense?  Whatever happened to my hope of an Indian summer?  I think that’s all a dream now especially since the temperature seems to be going nowhere but down.  I digress, last summer indeed.  When a friend visited, we decided to explore three of the National Trust beaches which we haven’t been to, considering they are not a long drive from where we live.

The first is the Nortcott Mouth Beach in Bude, the nearest town to us, about a 30-minute drive from our house.  We went there the last week of August.  Families were getting read to wind down from their summer holidays and go back to the routine of work and doing the school run.  But that day on the beach, no one really thought about it, or maybe, tried not to think about it, especially since it was one of those perfect days on the beach.  The sky was blue and the temperature was just right – a good combination of not too warm and not too cold.

And there she is, T the Cornish mouse, very rare and absolutely local to Cornwall.  You’ll find her mostly on the beach with her orange net, either in her swimsuit or wet-suit with bedraggled hair.  She loves going crab-hunting with her dad.

Catch of the day: a very sad looking crab.  I don’t think it was pleased to be caught by little T.

=

And when she got tired of looking for poor crabs and fish, she decided that the water beckoned her.

Yes, it was indeed one perfect day beach day.

And after a turn on her bodyboard and letting her catch go, it was time to pack up and leave. Click here for directions on how to get to Northcott Mouth Beach.  Parking is free for National Trust members.  This beach has a cafe nearby, and seasonal lifeguards and of course, lovely headland walks too.  This is after all Cornwall 🙂

If you’ve missed our Norfolk Mini-Series, click here for a little read.

Have you ever been to a National Trust beach?