Monday, 15 October 2018

IN THE LAND OF MY FATHERS


All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the
nightjars
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.
an extract from Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas



I'll always hear Richard Burton's voice when I read Dylan Thomas as when I was studying his poetry for my A-levels I had a cassette that I'd fall asleep to of Richard Burton reading his poetry in the hope that I'd absorb it. I think the Welsh language and accent is beautiful and the place names are otherworldly and landscape just wild and wonderful.


When my Instagram friend Gemma @thatchedinwales started sharing her journey of renovating a traditional Welsh crog loft I was hooked and envious in equal measure and this summer was over the moon when she very kindly invited us to stay in her magical cottage, Glan yr Afon.


Glan yr Afon sits on a drovers road, next to a river crossing, once a ford but later the bridge was built in 1766 that still remains today. The place name 'Penbontrhydyfothau' means 'the bridge by the ford where the river comes up to the hubs of (cart) wheels' - I love how literal a Welsh place name is!


We visited in a typically wet summer holiday week, and took full advantage of long lazy days, wet days on the beach fuelled by hot chocolates and ice cream, late brunches of locally produced bacon and sausages, five hour long games of Monopoly and films on internet TV! 


If these ancient walls could talk, they'd speak with a deep 'Richard Burton' welsh accent, don't you think?


One things for sure, we'll be back very soon to the nicest Welsh cottage we've ever had the pleasure of staying in and in the words of Dylan;

And the stars falling cold,
And the smell of hay in the snow, and the far owl,

Warning among the folds, and the frozen hold,

Flocked with the sheep white smoke of the farm house cowl,

In the river wended vales where the tale was told. 

from A Winter's Tale

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

44 things



My annual tradition inspired many moons ago by Hula Seventy to put together a list capturing things I'd like to do during my forty-fourth year before I reach forty-five *sobs at how old I'm getting*


    1. Illustrate my favourite walks
    2. Give the garden a makeover 
    3. Make shadow boxes with the boys
    4. Buy flowers at Columbia Road flower market and lunch at Campania & Jones 
    5. Catch mackerel from a boat and barbecue them on a beach
    6. Go to an auction and bid on something 
    7. Learn to make ice cream
    8. Discover the hidden terraces and back alleys of Bath 
    9. Visit Paris 
    10. Have a picnic on an allotment 
    11. Make some guerrilla art with the boys 
    12. Go to a thought provoking talk at Cheltenham Literature Festival 
    13. Build an outdoor pizza oven 
    14. Go star gazing and learn some constellations 
    15. Make a scarecrow 
    16. Read more books 
    17. Take the boys roller skating
    18. Climb a Welsh mountain
    19. Make wild hedgerow gin 
    20. Dust off the Polaroid and take more pictures on film
    21. Explore London by bike 
    22. Drink cocktails at Wiltons music hall 
    23. Wild swim under Welsh waterfalls
    24. Stop biting my fingernails 
    25. Make fortune cookies
    26. Pick apples in an orchard 
    27. Press edible flowers and herbs into homemade pasta 
    28. Go to a Northern Soul night  
    29. Decorate a gingerbread house
    30. Continue my adventures with Giffords Circus  
    31. Stay in a chalet on a beach 
    32. Give blood 
    33. De clutter the house - properly this time! 
    34. Go and see the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A  
    35. Camp in the bell tent more
    36. Travel on a sleeper train from London to Penzance 
    37. Visit a photo booth 
    38. Visit old stone clapper bridge in Exmoor 
    39. Support my eldest through exams 
    40. Grow cosmos purity my favourite flowers 
    41. Eat Jelberts ice cream (best ice cream ever!) 
    42. Open an honesty shop 
    43. Go ice-skating at Christmas  
    44. .....

    Monday, 6 August 2018

    SUMMER FUN AT SLIMBRIDGE


    A few weeks ago we were invited to visit the new giant lego trail at Slimbridge WWT in Gloucestershire. I jumped at the chance to go as it included a chance to try out the canoe safari too, which meant I could pursuade the whole family to go as there was something that all ages would enjoy.


    The trail was excellent with 14 giant lego sculptures to discover throughout the huge park, Stanley (aged 6) loved finding them and ticking them off on his map. Over 37,000 bricks were used to construct the animal works of art that included otter, water vole, flamingo and swan.


    There were plenty of 'real' ducks too! Our favourite bit was the 'back from the brink' display which included otters, water vole and harvest mice which we saw and got really close too, a real joy as you'd never see them in the wild.

    There are even lego workshops to take part in throughout the summer, where you get to take part in lego building challenges and make an owl to take home with you, but these need to be booked in advance.


    The kingfisher was absolutely amazing and stood proudly next to the canoe hut. The canoe safari is brilliant and really worth doing. The 14 and 12 year old took their own canoe, whilst we took the six year old in ours, suffice to say there was a lot of splashing going on! You have to be over three to go in a canoe but it was a great way to explore the waterways.

    It's rare to find a day out that the whole family can enjoy but we all really enjoyed the day, even if we did all have different favourite bits. You can find out more by visiting the WWT Slimbridge website.

    Tips to enjoy your day...

    Book your tickets online and save 10%.

    Entrance includes Welly Boot Land, a play area with streams running through it and water based fun for little ones to enjoy so take towels and swimsuits.

    You can book mobility scooters in advance - the boys took their grandparents back the following week and this was great as the park is huge and it meant that grandad could keep up.

    Disclosure: We were gifted a family day out to WWT Slimbridge, all views and opinions are our own. 

    Tuesday, 10 July 2018

    SUMMER MANIFESTO


    Watch the Perseid meteor shower
    Forage for blackberries
    Make a stop motion film
    Picnic on an allotment 
    Go to the circus
    Wild swim under Welsh waterfalls
    Visit the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A
    Play crazy golf
    Learn to make ice cream
    Go camping in the bell tent 
    Make some guerrilla art
    Organise a cinema night 
    Write and send postcards 
    Try paddle boarding
    Eat peas straight from the pod
    Plan a treasure hunt
    Go roller skating 
    Cook dinner on the beach

    Thursday, 14 June 2018

    LIKE PEBBLES ON A BEACH


    They say a change is as good as a rest and we were delighted to escape for a few days to a corner of the country that I've never ventured before, East Sussex. We found the most perfect weatherboard beach chalet called Pebbles originally built in the 1920's at Winchelsea Beach. We had booked it for a few days last year but due to life and work commitments had to push our stay back a bit to this year, but it was worth the wait. 


    My husband grew up in a wooden chalet not dissimilar to this one but sadly we couldn't get a mortgage to take it on from his mother and redo it when we first married so had to watch it get knocked down and turned into a square box of a house. One day I hope we can find one as the older I get the more I'd like to live in one.


    Pebbles is situated at Winchelsea Beach near the historic town of Rye, along a shingle ridge made up of old railway carriages and wooden beach houses slowly being bought up and turned into luxury holiday homes. At one end of the ridge is the village green and the other a large wetland nature reserve situated along the river. 


    We had company during our stay this noisy gull was nesting on the roof, next to the rooftop deck. It certainly was wary of us, but allowed us to sit quietly next to it, whilst its partner would swoop down keeping an eye on us.


    Inside the beach house, everything is painted white capturing the seaside light. Additional rooms had been added to the beach house over the years making it perfectly big enough for a family.


    Pebbles is furnished with leather chairs, antiques, beach combing finds, big comfy beds, a huge dining tables on casters and large walk in shower. It was minimalist in style but had everything you need for a holiday, including a chest full of games and piles of books.


    Outside on the deck a large rollmop bath sits underneath the heavily scented elderflower, perfect for relaxing in with a good book.


    I always take things to entertain the boys - things like rolls of paper to draw road maps on for the cars which can be held to the floor using masking tape. It isn't quite as lovely as it looks as Stan is drawing a dead man, squashed by a rhino?!?


    The shingle beach stretches all the way to Dungeness and the light was incredible when we were there, as it was diffused by sea mist. 


    I highly recommend Pebbles if you are looking for a quiet escape in a beautiful park of the world. 





    I'll blog about the places we visited whilst we stayed here in a few days time! 


    Visit www.pebblesbeachhouse.co.uk for more information ~ this is not an ad. 

    Saturday, 26 May 2018

    FLAT OUT!


    With half term beginning and boys worn out and I can't deny that as much as I yearn for school holidays and mine for that matter, I have a sense of impending doom! Let me explain...

    The boys are now 14, 12 and 6 and have mastered the art of arguing and winding their parents up, who in turn snip back at them and each other! A week's holidays in close proximity of each other just amplifies the dynamic and my ideas of wholesome family fun are reduced to family bickering. 

    The general rule is to keep everyone busy *read no lie-ins* reduce screen time *read nag/bribe/plead with them to get off and get plenty of fresh air *have you looked at the weather forecast?*

    Also it is really difficult for families with children with big age gaps to find things that we can all do and enjoy together. Whilst we all love ice-skating as we are all novices and the youngest can use a skate aid, playing crazy golf almost broke us a few years back! The oldest frustrated with the rest of us not playing fast enough, the youngest hitting the ball wherever and us all taking ages to find it and the middle one winding his brothers up because he could! 

    Put that together with the extortionate cost of keeping children entertained - putting pressure on us as parents to pay for days out and then if we don't have a good time, suffer the guilt! 

    As a child I remember playing in the local park for hours and hours on end and I remember being really bored. I don't remember being entertained and without a car growing up, days out were few and far between and therefore valued and enjoyed. So I wonder why I get so caught up in this world of parenting in having to keep them entertained? 

    So this half term I'm going to try to stick to my guns, reduce screen time, go on some family walks, read and play family games - wish me luck! 
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