Category: Life in England

A Country Kid’s Post: Planting for Spring

I know it’s barely Winter and here I am talking about Spring.  But you see, it’s all about focusing on small joys, and doing things that makes me/our little family happy, and planting for Spring makes us happy bunnies!

Last Sunday was a quiet day of doing chores, homework and planting for us here at Small Hill Cottage.  My husband bought some bulbs for planting and he and little T had fun doing it in the garden.  They planted crocuses, irises, daffodils and trilliums.

I reminded him though that when our garden is in full bloom, it is dotted with loads of daffodils, snow-drops and other lovely spring flowers.  “Yes”, he replied.  “But not where I want them to be”.  Off he went, planting them down in the garden, where he wanted them to be.

Silly flowers indeed, not sprouting from where he wants them to grow.

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As for little T, my little gardener, she was blessedly content with planting the bulbs in her chosen pot.  There, she said, as she pushed the last bulb in the soil and asked me to help her cover it with compost.

We were all out in the garden, enjoying the fresh air in spite the dull weather.  Well, except for the cat who opted to stay in, sleeping by the fire.  Doc was busy running around and barking at imaginary shadows.  T and the historian with their bulbs, and I, as always, was busy raking the leaves.

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Safe in our little bubble of country living.  The world and all its absurdities can all happen without us and we’re fine with that.

What about you?

Have you done any spring planting too?

All About Halloween

The first time I carved a pumpkin with T, I did it the “right” way.  Not that there’s a wrong way of doing it.  What I meant was, I actually googled and downloaded a template for the faces.  I don’t bother anymore.  I just ask T to draw on the pumpkin and then I try to carve a face from her drawing.

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When she’s done.  I chop the top off so she could get all the gooey stuff out.

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When she was younger, this part of the activity used to bore her.  She’d stick her hands in, get a few gooey bits out and declare herself done.  This year though, she persevered till she got everything out.

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When she was done.  I asked her to go and watch television while I did the carving.  Sharp knives and little ons make me nervous.  I called her back in the kitchen when all faces were done and she was pleased with our work.  We called the Historian down and dubbed the pumpkins little versions of us.

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As soon as it got darker, she switched on her pumpkin lanterns and skull fairy lights and asked that we light the tea-candles inside the carved pumpkin family.

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Not bad looking eh? 😉

As mentioned in a previous post, she dressed as La Muerte from the Book of Life in her Halloween disco.  She’s invited to a birthday/halloween party tonight and tomorrow and is planning to wear the same costume.  This girl has a maddening social life!

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Here’s hoping our face-pain stash will last.
Have a lovely weekend folks!
The Reading Residence

A Country Kid’s Post: Autumn Fun in the Garden

Our garden is carpeted in leaves.  We had absolutely lovely sunshine weather a few days ago, the kind that’s best spent outside, so T and I decided to hunt for a rake and do a little bit of tidying up in our lawn.

We couldn’t find one, what my husband found instead was his nan’s old small garden pea-rake.  “Yep, that will do!” I said to him as I grabbed it and handed it to little T who seemed really excited about it.  I promised that she could jump up and down in leafy piles after.

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Hard at work with her great-grandmother’s small pea-rake.

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And once she had a good pile of raked-leaves, she decided that it was a great burial ground for her baby.

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 I warned her though that children’s services would take the her baby away if they found out. That stopped her. She took Ella away from the pile and started raking again, till she had a good amount of leaves to jump in.

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Don’t you just love watching them have fun in even the simplest ways?

I do.

PS

My husband is right.  We do need a leaf-vac.

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”.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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!

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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).

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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.

A Country Kid’s Post: Creating 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?

What Was Your Sunday Like?

The weather forecast did not disappoint us.  It predicted sunshine and rain.  Woke up to glorious sunshine, but by the time we’ve had our breakfast (the Historian made his famous banana pancakes for T and I), it started to really pour like there was no tomorrow.  Then stopped again.  What was your Sunday like?

Chores

Ours is mainly composed of doing chores.  Since receiving her Lilypad Garden, T’s responsibility is to make sure her plant is well watered and that the grass in her fairy garden is managed well.  A little trimming here, a little trimming there …

Lily Pad Garden

I mostly do my chores on a Saturday, after little T’s ballet.  Sundays are reserved for doing her homework.

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If the weather is good enough, the Historian mows the lawn in his farmer’s wellie boots, stained shorts and an old coat he bought on holiday in Vermont a whole lifetime ago.  Sadly, English men aren’t known for being stylish :p.  Then again, he also married someone who knows nothing about fashion, a match made in heaven! 😉

Mowing the lawn

Pets

As for the pets, well, they do what they usually do …

Boots, the cat

Boots says:  “Really human, why do you like to disturb my naps with these useless photoshoots of yours?  Now do something useful and feed me again”.

A dog

As for Doc?  As always, he likes to flop on the kitchen slate floor.  Doc says:  Time for a walk?  Yes?  No?  Belly rub?  Yes? No?  Food?  Yes?  No?  Sigh.  I’ll just flop here beside you then.

Sunday Lunch 

Spiced Lamb Marrow Stew

I’m lucky that the Historian likes to cook when he has the time.  Still on a roll from that last dinner he prepared for us, this time he managed to round up Spiced Lamb and Marrow Stew which was in my opinion a perfect Autumn/winter meal.  After the stuffed marrow he cooked for us, I’m happy to share that I genuinely enjoyed this meal.  The husband was pleased and I’m so glad that giant marrow is finally gone.  Shhh.  Please don’t tell him that.

Cello Practice

T practices the cello

After lunch, T gave us a lovely cello performance.  What better way to end the day?

And I’m leaving you lovely folks with a video of what our Sunday was like.  My iMovie has terrible mood swings, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.  Luckily for me, it decided to work and I was able to make this little video just to show you guys what our Sundays are really like.


Hope everyone had a good one too.

What was your Sunday like?

Do share.

A Country Kid’s Post: A Not So Hidden Valley

Train Station at Hidden Valley

Just before the school term started, we visited Hidden Valley which isn’t too far from where we live.

The first time we went, was probably two years ago.  We thought of doing little T’s fourth birthday party there. In the end though opted to go somewhere else since we weren’t sure of how the weather was going to hold.

It’s a nice little place to go to, especially for younger children.  There weren’t many changes since the last time, although what used to be the “Haunted House” was now a Sherlock Holme’s trail which had clues you had to find and riddles to solve, perfect for kids older than T.  She and her friend didn’t bother to do the trail, but they had fun going in and out of the doors complete with hidden rooms.

We had a picnic after and was pleased to see a designated picnic area complete with wooden benches and tables, though it was a bit tricky to eat with chickens around.  One even tried to peck the sandwich of my friend’s little girl!  As expected, little M cried!

After lunch the kids, decided to head for the maze, but not before visiting the “Hobbit’s House first.

Hobbit House

Then the animals …

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T stood awhile, hoping that this sleeping pig would wake up.  But I guess it was too tired to even bother.

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And of course, there were ducks in a pond.  There are always ducks!

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I’ve always liked the idea of having a pet donkey.  But I’m afraid we don’t really have the space for one.  Aren’t they the cutest?

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And then it was time to take the little train back home.  Well not really.  It actually went around the Hidden Valley.  A nice treat for the kids, as well as for the adults.

They are currently building a Japanese garden there.  I can imagine how beautiful it will be in Spring.  Can’t wait to see that!

Hidden Valley is located at Tredidon, St Thomas, Launceston, Cornwall PL15 8SJ.  This isn’t a sponsored post by the way, it’s just nice to be able to help support local businesses.

Have you visited any fun place lately?

Ticking off our Summer Bucket List

Before the summer holidays began, I wrote a bucket list of things I wanted done during the break and I’m pleased to share that we are slowly ticking off that list (especially after last week’s panic), although admittedly I still feel like September is creeping fast behind us – I’m okay with that too.

Here’s a recap of what was on that list:

Gardening

Sadly we haven’t managed to do much apart from mow our enormous lawn. A close friend said that it’s actually better to begin gardening in the autumn, if that’s true, then having nothing done in the garden suddenly sounds alright.  What I’m loving though is that we are still discovering what’s in it.  Flowers are still budding out of nowhere as if to surprise us.  This time we’ve been seeing lily-like flowers in bushes – lovely really.

Play Area for T

While there aren’t any home-made wooden swings hanging from our tree yet, we did finally manage to put up T’s much-awaited trampoline.  I’m still hoping to nudge the Historian towards making those wooden swings, I love the idea of having them in the garden.

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Get Organised

Slowly getting there, although admittedly there are still lots to do especially in the conservatory and the boot room, though as mentioned in past posts, we’ve managed to put up pictures/paintings (though there are still more to be put up) and also managed to buy another book shelf which is also now filled-up with books.  Hopefully before the summer ends, we’ll get more things done.

Host BBQs and Pool Parties

Done that, but want to do more.

Camping

Yes! After a short notice, we’ve managed to find a campsite in Devon (I know, we just went over the border from where we live) It was bliss, especially since the weather was just perfect.

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Walk on the beach and Woods

We’ve been on the beach more than a couple of times (still intend to do more), we haven’t done any walks in the woods yet, but managed a lovely one in Dartmoor.

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And there’s little T with our friend S, enjoying the walk the National Park.

Road Trips

As mentioned in a recent post, we did manage to finally visit Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park and the kids absolutely loved it.  Hopefully we’ll be able to do another one before the school term begins.

Visit London and Watch Matilda

We haven’t ticked this one off yet, although we’re booked to watch Mary Poppins, sadly not in London, but in Plymouth where it’s nearer.  We still want to watch Matilda and visit the capital, but I’m not so sure we’ll manage to do that this summer, but you’ll never know, we might just do it too.

Not bad at all, this I say to myself. We’re slowly ticking off that list, hopefully by the time summer ends, everything is ticked off.  My word of the week is – ticking.

What about you?

Have you managed to tick off your summer bucket list?

Do share.

The Reading Residence

A Country Kid’s Post: A Lovely Summer Walk

After constantly moaning about the weather last week, we thankfully had glorious weather over the weekend.  And last Sunday was one of those lovely days where the sun was out and it was nice and warm(ish), a perfect day for a walk through farmlands.

We are lucky our lovely neighbours own about 500 acres of land surrounding our house and has kindly told us that we ca roam it freely.  They even gave us a map!  And since it was a lovely day, we decided that it’s about time we did some exploring with the dogs.

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We also decided that it was best to put the dogs in their leash, we knew there were cows, but weren’t sure if there were sheep too.  We were also dog-sitting our friends’ dog Wilbur, who also happens to be Doc’s best-friend.

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And there’s little T leading the walk …

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Little T decides to stop and admire the view.

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As you can see, we don’t live far from the coast, although of course not as near as where we used to live.  But I love our house and I’m okay with seeing the sea in the horizon.  On a clear day, you can even spot it from our back garden too.

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With the map in hand, we just walked on and on and on.

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Passed the cows who looked at our little group suspiciously.  Couldn’t resist taking some photos of wild flowers by the path.

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Now if only we had more days like these, summers in England would just be heavenly.  After awhile T announced that she was getting tired and the dogs seemed thirsty, so we decided to head back home.

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And what better way to end a beautiful day out in the sun, by dining al fresco in our garden of course.

Yesterday though and today, all that is forgotten, as we are once again cloaked in grey and rain.

Did you have a lovely weekend too?

Do share.

A Country Kids Post: Playing Tag with the Waves

It’s officially little T’s first week of summer and it doesn’t feel like it at all.  Not allowing the grey skies and low temperatures to dampen our summer spirit, we decided to brace it and have a little fun at the beach.  It was summer after all, right?

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When we got to the beach, people were already in the water and the beach was also covered in sea foam.  These energetic folks were wearing fleecies, not exactly summer wear, I know.

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The plan really was to just play on the sand and maybe, T could have a little dip in the water.  But the waves were too strong.  They decided to just play tag with the waves.

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Here’s T and her dad getting read to be “tagged”.

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A playful wave came by and caught them by surprise.

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Before they knew it, both the dad and the daughter were soaked with sea water.  It was actually a scary moment for me.  I had this brief scenario in my head where both were swept into sea, luckily they weren’t.  In fact, they were both giggling.  But I decided to be the party pooper and announced it was time to go home.  After all, they were both soaked with sea water and it wasn’t exactly a warm day either.  T of of course had some change of clothing, but the husband didn’t.

Later that night, my husband admitted that the wave at one point, was really strong and he feared that there would be both carried away.  That’s it.  No more playing tag with the waves, I announced.

Looking at these photos, you wouldn’t think that they were taken in the summer, would you?  They look more like Spring.  Were those few glorious days of summer last week or lot then?  Oh well.  We’ll just have to learn to make the most if it then.

What do you think?

Has summer decided to pack it’s bags and say “Hasta la vista, baby”?

Then again, this is England, with its ever-changing weather, there might just be a “heat-wave” tomorrow – brace yourselves folks!