Category: Life in England

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?

Waiting for the Sunset at Widemouth Bay

T indeed went back to school last Monday.  Went home with a heavy heart after the school-run. The house just felt so empty without the little madam.  While working on my laptop yesterday, I glanced at the clock and it was twelve, my initial reaction was, better save this so I can do T’s lunch.  Then I remembered, she’s in school!  Sigh.  Life in our little household is indeed slowly going back to term-time routine of getting up early, helping the little one get ready for school and  once she’s gone, the house becomes suddenly too silent.  Only the occasional barking of a numpty dog disturbs it.

I don’t know about you, but I’m still suffering a very serious summer hang over.  Maybe because the weather has also been really bad lately.  Waking up to grey skies and mist, no wonder, I’m still praying for summer to last just a little bit.

While admittedly, we didn’t really do anything exciting like go abroad this summer, we did however see family and managed to spend some time with them, not to mention close friends, which is really nice.  In fact the weekend of little T’s birthday, we had a close friend visit.  And on a Sunday, after mass, we headed off to the beach to for a bbq and to wait for the sunset.  That’s one of the perks of living by the coast – spontaneous trips like this one:

It was probably after seven pm when we got to the beach, but as you can see there were still a lot of people there and we weren’t the only one having a bbq too.

You’ll notice when the tourist season is almost over here in Cornwall.  Dogs and other animals are not allowed on some of the beaches here during the summer for obvious reasons.  But in the late summer, they are slowly allowed back in, which is lovely to see like this horse and it’s owner just enjoying the sea and sun.

While waiting for the bbq to get ready, T, the historian and our friend were brave enough to go into the water for a little dip and some fun with the board.  I wasn’t surprised to see them back even before the food was ready – the water was getting too cold.

After our meal of chicken skewers, Chinese flavoured steak, potato salad and gritty sand, we all just sat down and watched the sky do its magic.

And then after a while, the beautiful orange ball was gone and out came the most beautiful pinkish and blueish sky.  We stayed sitting there just watching this glorious scene unfold before us.  Others didn’t seem bothered much and went on surfing.  They were probably trying to enjoy as much as they can while on the beach.  I don’t blame them, especially if they were just down here for a few days.

Reluctantly, we gathered all our stuff while there was still enough light and as we loaded up our car, within minutes it was dark, except for the headlights coming for the cars and a few night lamps. We came away with our hearts full.  Years from now, I’m hoping little T will remember this day with fondness and we can say to her “Remember when we stayed on the beach till sun down?”  And she’ll smile and say Yes!

No, I’m definitely not ready for summer to end just yet.  Here’s hoping for an Indian summer!

Polzeath in the Summer

We don’t go much to Polzeath, even though it is a lovely beach.  Perhaps, because we live by so many other beaches equally as lovely as the said beach.  Yes, admittedly, we are a bit spoiled when it comes to beaches all because we live in North Cornwall.

A few weeks ago, we had family visit, even though we knew it was going to be a bit crowded, we thought it would be nice to take them there since they’ve never been.

And I’m glad we did, even though it was busy, it was still a beautiful day to be out on the beach along with the holiday makers.

Before T and her cousin hit the waves with their bodyboards, they had fun burying each other in the sand, as you do when you’re on the beach.

And when that was done, they hit the waves, along with many, many, people.

After enjoying the waves of course, we all had some Kelly Whip ice-cream – summer wouldn’t be complete with that.

And then it was time to go, even then, the beach was still busy and there were lots of surfers enjoying the waves in Polzeath.  Perhaps, that’s one of the reason why this beach is so popular?  If you wonder what it looks like when it’s not busy, you can have a little peek here.

It’s lovely to see Cornwall busy with tourists.  Once the summer is done, a lot of the small villages here become like a ghost town.  It’s the first of September while a lot think that summer is over, I don’t think it is gone yet.  Yes, T will be back in school on Monday, but if we’re lucky, we might have an Indian summer only then will I feel that it is indeed over.

Have you been to Polzeath?

What’s your favourite beach in your area?

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?