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.
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.
*This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Millets.
Before we had T, my husband and I used to do a lot of walking here in North Cornwall. We had a different dog back then. For those who’ve been following my blog for some time now, you may have read about Mutley. The dog who sadly passed away due to bone cancer when I was pregnant with T. It took a while before we had another dog, and when T turned three, that’s when Doc joined our little family.
Admittedly we don’t do a lot of walking anymore. That’s what happens I guess when you have children. Extra curricular activities run even on the weekends. But lately, my husband and I have been yearning to take up walking and exploring more of the outdoors again, by foot, like we used to. We talked about buying ourselves proper hiking boots, good ones, not the kind that breaks after a season. Luckily for us, Millets came to the rescue.
For avid hikers, dog walkers, or any lover of the outdoors, Millets is a must-visit for all your hiking gear. They have the widest range of durable walking boots, jackets, rucksacks and everything else needed for your outdoor adventure.
My husband, little T and I were really impressed when the items (see above) arrived. Upon opening the boxes, we knew right away that they were all good quality and we’re really excited to get them all tested and since it’s T’s half-term break, we quickly planned an afternoon on Rough Tor.
T’s school broke up for half-term break on a rainy Thursday last week. When I checked the weather forecast, Friday looked promising. We waited for my husband to finish some work and also waited for T’s best-friend F who was spending the afternoon with us that day. For awhile, I was wondering whether we should cancel, since the dark grey clouds seemed to be hovering, promising more rain. But we decided to go for it after all, thanks to Millets, we were geared for whatever the weather.
The Historian wore the Peter Storm’s Men’s Insulated Jacket together with Brasher’s Men’s Country Walking Boots:
What he liked about the jacket:
It’s well padded and insulated. Perfect for the rough Cornish weather.
What he didn’t like about it:
The pockets aren’t big enough for an OS map (see above) and it could do with another deeper inner pocket. But then again, he says that people usually bring a rucksack with them, like we did that day, so it really isn’t much of a negative.
What he liked about the boots:
Everything. He absolutely loved the boots. He said it’s the perfect walking boots. Keeps your feet warm and dry when walking in the rain or hiking through muddy and wet grass.
What he didn’t like about the boots:
Nothing. Zilch. Zero. Nada.
Rough Tor is about a twenty minute (or maybe even less drive from where we live) It’s a tor (Cornish word for hill) on Bodmin Moor. It’s a known place for hiking and also popular among the tourists.
It actually drizzled on the way there. Doc snuggled up to my brand new boots. I think he likes them too.
We took a photo of our new boots before the walk just to make a comparison after.
Then together with T’s best-friend F, we headed off for our little hike up Rough tor.
We’ve been to this place so many times especially when we have visitors around. You don’t need to be an expert hiker to climb to the top. I guess that’s one of the reasons why we like going.
You’ll also find a lot of sheep on the path that’s one of the reasons why we never allow Doc to go off leash. He’ll frighten the poor sheep if we do!
“Take a photo of my boots mum!” T said as she stopped in her tracks and of course I obliged. I don’t think F, her best-friend was amused.
Looking at the sky, I remembered thinking “Oh dear, we better hurry before it starts to rain again.” I wondered even whether to call it off but our little team was way ahead of me by now.
“Be careful please!” I called out to the kids as they scrambled up the rocks. I stopped and looked behind at how much we’ve covered.
The carpark seen between those trees looked so far away. I quickened my pace by now I’ve lost sight of my husband and the kids were also quickly disappearing before my eyes.
I stopped to catch my breath and caught sight of these beautiful rock-formations all over Rough tor. It’s such a breathtaking scene.
As if giants decided to play with the rocks and stack them up neatly one after the other.
I also remembered thinking “Thank goodness, I’m wearing proper boots! I don’t think ordinary trainers would do the trek up the tor”.
Once up, there were more beautiful rock-formations around. “What took you so long, mum?” T asked me as I sat down to catch my breath. “Didn’t you hear me calling for you?” I asked her. She shook her head. It was too windy up there to hear anything I guess.
And there’s Doc and the husband admiring the view. The clouds still looked ominous to me so in spite protests I told everyone that it’s time to head back down before it started to rain.
On our way back though, we saw another family going up the tor in spite the weather. I remember thinking how brave they were considering they had smaller kids with them.
T and F as usual went ahead of us. They were playing around as always by the time we got to them.
And or course, we had to take an “after-the-walk-photo” of our boots.
Verdict: Men’s and Women’s boots from Brasher and Peter Storm Girl’s walking boots are excellent boots for the outdoors.
Need we say more?
I’d like to go back again though when the weather is better. My husband read about some bronze age settlements somewhere around the tor, when the weather is better, we will come back and hunt for them. It’s handy of course that, all this isn’t very far from where we live.
If you want to see more of the beautiful scenery surrounding Rough Tor, watch short video below:
What about you?
What kind of adventures have you done over the half-term break?
For those who have been following our little blog for some time now will know that little T has been doing gymnastics since she was about four. She only stopped for a few months when her gym club closed and moved away. After going for about two years, we thought that her time with gymnastics has come to an end. In fact, she even announced her “retirement” from the sport.
That was when we decided that it was perhaps time to try something else. We found her a ballet class run by a lovely teacher. T tried it and loved it. Apparently, according to T’s teacher, she has a natural ability. Of course, we were pleased.
And then lo and behold, a satellite gymnastics class opened in a nearby town near us. We took T along and that’s when she changed her mind and announced she was out of retirement.
It’s been about a year now of doing both gymnastics and ballet and I’m proud to say she’s doing well in both. Her gym club has even invited her to join in the development squad group, which means two hours of gymnastics. She’s still doing her ballet and is about to do her first ballet “exam” next month.
This term, she has also joined girls-football club and sports club every Thursday after school. Not to mention she also does cello and swimming on Wednesdays. Yes, my seven-year-old is doing way too much.
And recently, her gymnastics coach has invited little T to join an additional gymnastics class, this time focusing on rhythmic gymnastics on a Thursday. But this means driving to the main gym club which is about a 45-minute drive from where we live. This will also mean, she’ll have to give up sports-club which she loves, because she does it with her friends. And it will be another late night. At the moment, Monday’s are her busiest since she does gymnastics from 5-7. Did I mention that my seven-year-old is doing way too much?
And here lies the dilemma, something has got to give. The problem is, she loves both her gymnastics and ballet. She also loves playing football with her friends at school. While she does the girl’s football with her friends on Wednesdays during school hours, she also wants to join the football club which happens on Monday afternoons after school. Her teacher plans to form a football team and she wants to be included in that team. Her teacher used to be an ex-professional football player. When he retired he went into teaching and he said to my husband “Your daughter is naturally sporty. She has good strength and a natural balance” which of course pleased my husband no end.
But she can’t. Not if she continues to do 2 hours-of gymnastics, plus the additional 1 hour on Thursday (if she decides to do this). It’s just way too much.
My poor seven-year-old doesn’t know what to do. What to give up. She asks us for advice but we remind her that at the end of the day, it is her choice. She has to follow her heart and decide on what she wants to do.
At the moment, she’s thinking of giving up gymnastics. I’m a bit saddened by this. She’s worked so hard for her badges and clearly, her coaches does see potential in her. They say that she has the perfect built and stamina to be a really good gymnast. Some kids in her development class do gymnastics three times a week, some even more.
My husband and I are thinking, do we want this for our child? While it’s good that she’s really into sports, we also want her to have a life. We want her to have fun with her friends. As parents, isn’t that what we all want? At the same, I think we also have to remind ourselves that our kids, are just kids. Let them be kids.
As mentioned, at the moment, she’s thinking of giving up gymnastics. We told her to think about it over half-term break before deciding on anything. She wants to keep doing ballet, she says. I’m thinking maybe she could keep doing the two-hour gym session on a Monday? But my husband reminded me that she’s in the development squad for a reason. She can’t stay there forever. Besides, this little girl wants to join the football club. Such a dilemma, for one so young! At her age, I think the only dilemma I had was which stationary could I afford with my pocket-money, nothing major at all.
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.
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…
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.
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.
This is the seventh and last post of our Norfolk mini-series. We spent less than a week there but it feels more than that. I’m feeling a bit nostalgic now. Perhaps, it’s because the weather is bad and I’m looking at these lovely sunny photos and I’m wishing summer isn’t over yet. At the moment, it certainly feels that way.
We certainly enjoyed our few days spent in Norfolk. There were places we wanted to visit like the Nature Reserve and the another seaside town, Wells, which wasn’t that far from Hunstanton. Would definitely want to go back. But for now, these photographs will have to appease my longing to be back there.
For our last night in Sunny Hunny, we a walked along the promenade and back to the seaside fair. Then we decided to walk all the way to the lighthouse. It was a lovely walk as we were accompanied by the beautiful setting sun. Will let these photos speak for itself.
This is the 6th instalment of our Norfolk series. If you’ve missed the last one, click here to read. FYI. This post will be heavy with pictures.
I don’t know about you, but standing in front of a building thousands of years old is mind-boggling to me. The fact that it still exists. I keep thinking if I stand just in front of it and by sheer mind-power, could it take me back to the past? Well, that’s exactly what it felt like as we stood in front of Castle Acre Priory, which dates back all the way to 1090.
What happened in the year 1090 across the globe? According to Wikepedia:
In Africa, Béjaïa became the capital of the Hammadid dynasty in Algeria. Apparently they ruled an area roughly corresponding to north-eastern modern Algeria around that time.
And in Europe, a third expedition of the Almoravid army is launched in al-Andalus designed to subdue the Taifa’s Kingdoms, Códoba, Seville, Grenada, Málaga, Almería and Ronda fall to the troops of Yusuf ibn Tashfin (leader of a Moroccan empire).
It was the Song dynasty then in Asia, where Chinese author writes the Can Shu (book of Sericulture), which describes a silk reeling machine that has the world’s oldest known mechanical belt-drive.
Closer to home, it was King William II who was then the ruler of England (1087-1100) and in 1089, a certain William de Warenne, son of the 1st Earl of Surrey who had founded England’s first Cluniac priory in Lewes in 1077, also founded another priory in the village of Castle Acre, Norfolk. Apparently the order originated from Burgundy. The priory was said to have started out as part of the Acre castle but the monks found it too small and that’s when they were moved to its current site.
Fast forward to 2017, a little Cornish Pixie roams the ruins of this majestic priory.
I’m not sure the monks approved, because as we explored further, the clouds became more ominous, as if warning us if we desecrated holy ground, they’d unleash their fury on us.
She means no harm really. She’s just a little country mouse who likes to climb and explore old ruins.
We later found out that little T actually just emerged and ran through a medieval toilet block. This didn’t seem to bother her at all and found it “cool”.
T and I went up these ancient steps which led to the monk’s quarters. The priory was home to 20-30 monks.
I told her to imagine that the floor was still there but she was more interested in exploring a part of the building that miraculously stood the test of time and was still standing as if the monks has just vacated the building.
T was impressed with the carved human faces found protruding in corners of the room.
The next room was obviously a chapel, and when I sat to have a little rest, I noticed the ceiling and marvelled at how intact they still were.
And as I zoomed in my lense, I discovered this:
There were faded painted red roses on the ceiling. I called my husband and he was pleasantly surprised too. Obviously, this was painted on the ceiling later on, during the War of the Roses around 1455-1487. The House of Lancasters were the red rose and the House of York used the white rose as a symbol. Does that mean then that the English Cluniacs were supporters of the Lancasters? I don’t really know, but this little discovery of mine really pleased me. I was amazed on how clear, although fading, how clear the painted roses were.
We decided to explore the grounds more before the rain fell.
As we walked around, I was pleased to see a small patch of poppies growing by the side of the fence. I loved the sudden burst of colour amidst all the greyness and concrete. It was just beautiful, even though it wasn’t a poppy field.
On our way back, I noticed something protruding in front of the building. Again, I zoomed in and saw this small monk’s head.
This monk’s head I found a bit spooky though. It just shows that when visiting these historical places, if you don’t look closer, you might just miss all these interesting details. If you blink, you might just miss them!
Castle Priory is English Heritage. If you’re in the area, this is definitely a must-see. I find it really amazing how much of it is still standing. We went to Tintern Abbey in Wales years ago, which was also magnificent, but I think this is more well-preserved than the Abbey, although I think Tintern is bigger, I could be wrong of course.
What’s the most preserved and oldest priory you’ve visited?
This is the 5th post of our mini series during our visit to Norfolk in early August. Today is little T’s first day back in school. I can’t believe the holidays are over, it’s certainly the shortest she’s ever had. Let me take you back a few weeks earlier, when the sun was bright and the days were warm and long …
The next day, we had two destinations in mind. The first was a visit to Oxburgh Hall (you’ll hear about the second one in the next post), a late medieval country home in Oxborough. It was built during the War of the Roses, not as a castle really, but more as a family home for Sir Edmund Bedingfield. This magnificent house is a must-visit for all, you don’t even have to be a lover of history to appreciate this grand country home. You’ll be amazed to see how well-preserved, not just the house, but as well as what you can see inside the house.
Can you imagine this as your family home?
And yes, it has a beautiful moat surrounding this grand country home.
This moat is home to a family of pike and dragonflies. Little T and my husband crouched down to try to see as many pikes and dragonflies as they can before entering the house, although I’ve only managed to take a couple of photos, there were actually loads of them!
Front of the house is certainly one grand entrance. I can’t believe that this was actually a family home and not a castle. It has the opulence of one! Don’t you agree?
Little T trying to take a photo of the sundial (photo above). As you can see, at the time we visited, the place was going through some minor renovations.
Inside one of the many grand rooms in the house.
Everything about the house was grand, even this old chess-set. If these pieces could speak, what would they say? Do you think they’ll tell us stories about who played with them, what the conversations were said during the game? Any secrets?
One of the most interesting facts about Oxburgh hall is that the Bedingfields were Catholics during the time Elizabeth I first became Queen in 1558. She was a staunch Protestant who was determined to continue with her father’s reformation of the Church of England and because of their faith, the Bedingfield family was ostracised and also suffered sanctions. It was also around this time when they decided to have a priest hole built beneath a bricked-top door in the garderobe (a storeroom for valuables).
As you can see, it is a tiny space,my husband could barely fit in it as he tried to slide into the priest’s hole.
And this is how small it was inside that little hole. Can you imagine being stuck in here for days with no window and fresh air?
We were only in that hole for a few minutes since there was a long queue to get in. I was certainly glad to be out in the open once again, definitely not one for the claustrophobic!
Visiting places like these, teeming with history and magnificence, makes me and my husband happy to be members of both the National Trust and English Heritage. It’s nice to know that our membership fees helps in restoring and taking care of all these important historical places. If not for them, I honestly doubt these places would be well taken care of, or may not even be standing here today. I’ve mentioned this in past posts, being members is so worth it, especially when you have kids – you’ll always find something to do especially when the weather cooperates.
What’s your favourite historical place to visit?
Click here if you’re interested in visiting and want to know exactly how to get there.