Friday, 30 May 2014

HOW TO SKIM STONES





  1. First you must get the right stone or pebble - it needs to be a flat one with smooth edges.
  2. After that you pick a stone and the put your thumb on top, your pointing finger on the side and your middle finger on the bottom.
  3. Then you get a straight arm and then skim your stone as low as you can.   
  4. The aim is to get the stone to 'skim' (bounce) across the surface as many times as possible. 
My best skim was a 'niner' my mum managed just two! 


by Alfie Bradshaw, age 10. 

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

CRABBING BY TED


How to catch a green shore crab by Ted Bradshaw, age 8.
  1. First get a line like in the picture above and tie some bacon, and tie a heavy nut as a weight at the bottom so it sinks to the bottom. 
  2. Get a bucket and fill it up with sea water. 
  3. Find a spot to dangle your line from, where you can sit. 
  4. Throw your line into the water and wait patiently (for a long time!) for a crab to eat the bacon.
  5. When you feel a gentle tug, very very slowly, reel in the line with the crab biting the bacon, but don't bang it against the sides otherwise the crab will fall off! 
  6. When you've got the crab up, put it in your bucket of water so you can look at it more closely.
  7. Don't forget to set it free before you go home. 

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

A WEEKEND IN WALES


The caravans were painted in brilliant colours, and looked spick and span from the outside. Little flowery curtains hung at the windows. At the front of each caravan sat a man or women who owned it, driving the horse that pulled it. Only the front caravan was pulled by an elephant.

Five Go Off In A Caravan: Enid Blyton

We headed west for what has become an annual pilgrimage to West Wales. We hadn't planned this trip, but when work commitments were cancelled we took the opportunity to get away for the weekend to Griff Rhys Jones' restored farm, near Strumble Head.

The journey was fraught with heavy rain and stop-start traffic, but our hearts were lifted when we arrived to this sight (below) at twilight (fairy lights make the world a better place - don't you think?). We were staying in Beudy Trehilyn, a converted cow barn with showman's wagon, that the boys were to stay in.


Inside, the cow barn had been beautifully restored using natural materials such as lime mortar for the walls and sheepswool insulation, it was also heated by recycled woodchip underfloor heating.


It was really homely, and felt more like a boutique hotel with its super comfy beds and duvets, huge slate wetroom and trendy corrugated cedar kitchen and room partition, with hidden storage.


The wool curtains and cushions were beautifully made from material from nearby Woollen Mill, Melin Tregwynt and highlighted the history of the area. 



The walls resembled a rock climbing wall, with bits jutting out here and there which added to the buildings charm but I did have to remind the boys not to scale them! 


The Showman's wagon was just beautiful, with restored cut glass mirrors, beautiful woodwork and doorknobs. It had a small double cabin bed and the table in the main room converted to another single bed too. It even had a fitted bathroom, woodburner and little kitchen. 



A few minutes walk up the lane were amazing far reaching views from Garn Fawr, a rocky peak that rises above Strumble Head and the lighthouse. We explored the quiet lanes and footpaths, stopping to admire tiny remote cottages and pop yoghurt covered raisins into the little ones for motivation!


The lanes around Strumble Head were lined with beautiful flowers; foxglove, red campion, cow parsley, buttercup, gorse and thrift, and the views were amazing!


We ate Welsh cakes - although I did forget to add an egg to the mixture hence their rather crumbly appearance!


We discovered big red tractors to play on, that we didn't under any circumstance want to get off! This one was at the lovely harbour of Porthgain, that had a busy pub The Sloop and the most amazing harbour, a reminder of the industrial heritage of this remote part of Wales.  


And we met the lovely Sian Tucker who along with partner James Lynch, created the gorgeous Fforest campsite, co-founded the Do Lectures and the Hiut Denim Co. and who I have followed on Instagram for ages and heard so many wonderful and inspiring things about from mutual friends. Unfortunately before we met I let the boys finish off the Tregroes Waffles so they were completely drunk on sugar and not at all interested in sitting down for a hot chocolate - ooops not the best first impression!


We met in the gorgeous Fforest general stores on the banks of the Teifi in Cardigan. Inside there is a cafe and shop that has gorgeous Welsh blankets and cushions, bags, falcon enamelware, opinel knives, gransfors axes, Tilly lamps and Kelly kettles, although my favourite was the utility blanket and nom nom chocolate.



After the boys had traumatised Arrow the Fforest dog, we booked a canoe trip down the Teifi for the older boys, whilst Stanley & I amused ourselves for a few hours. Being outside certainly calmed them down and it was lovely to spend time with my baby.


One of the highlights of this holiday was discovering how accessible Beudy Trehilyn was, at last a period property that has a bedroom on the ground floor. Over the years we have really struggled to find anywhere with character that we can take grandad with us, as after two hip replacements he finds stairs quite difficult, although won't admit it! Both here and Bwthyn Trehilyn offer level access, perfect for him and we've discovered two accessible beaches near here too with level access at Poppit Sands and a small ramp at Newport beach - we're definitely bringing him with us next time as it's somewhere we can all enjoy and not even have to worry!


I will be uploading more photo's to Flickr and the boys will be posting on here this week too, so do pop back for more Welsh adventures! 

Thursday, 22 May 2014

FREE RANGE CHILDREN


"I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I spend four hours a day at least - and is commonly more than that - sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields absolutely free from all engagements."
H. D. Thoreau 1862

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

MUST HAVE MONDAYS: A GOOD HAIRDRESSER






Every girl needs a good haircut and I've found the best hairdresser, Melanie Giles in Bath that not only does amazing haircuts but upstairs has an Aga serving croissants with your coffee and beauty rooms too! It's a real treat to take time out from the chaos of family life and sneak off for some pampering.

The salon is decorated in a Bailey's/reclamation yard vibe and is really relaxing with soft comfy chairs upstairs to relax in, whilst downstairs the large industrial windows pull back on warm days so that you can people watch! There is even a 'tin' tanning room although I'm not brave enough for fake tan. There are now Melanie Giles salons in Frome and Bradford on Avon too, the latter even has a cafe!

On Saturday I had a massive chop and I just love my shorter 'do' which is a bit scruffier than in the picture above, stylist Jade completely understood what I wanted, even though I was feeling a bit nervous. As I skipped out of the salon I tried not to walk into lamp-posts as I tried to get a good look in shop windows!

Sunday, 18 May 2014

A CHANGE IS AS GOOD AS A REST


On a whim I booked a hair appointment and dared to go for a new 'do' this weekend. It's based on this hairstyle I saw on Pinterest a few years ago. I love the choppy layers and although it looks quite sleek in the pic above, it's a bit more scruffy in 'real life' which suits me well! I'd love to have long hair, the sad fact is that it just doesn't suit me and just looks lank.  

I also bought the dress above from My Vintage, it's 1960's orange crimpoline! I love the cut and it fits really well, my mum looked at me and said that she had one exactly the same that was significantly shorter! I am not that keen on bright colours and hardly own any colourful clothes but I thought i'd give it a try, as they say 'a change is as good as a rest'. 

Thursday, 15 May 2014

John O'Groats to Lands End


Stanley's very lovely godfather is taking on a huge challenge, to cycle from John O'Groats to Lands End over nine days, 17th - 25th May. With three other local dads they will cycle roughly 100 miles every day and raising money for three charities along the way; FOCS, Winston's Wish and NSPCC.

It is an absolutely huge challenge and despite suffering from a bad back right now he is totally dedicated to completing this lifelong personal ambition. He is a fantastic role model for the boys and if you can spare any money to sponsor him, it would really motivate them over what will be a mammoth mental and physical challenge, thank you.

Monday, 12 May 2014

MUST HAVE MONDAYS: CIDER WITH ROSIE



This week the new Cider with Rosie is re-published with a beautiful cover design by Mark Herald and introduction by Micheal Morpurgo. Written by Laurie Lee in 1959 the book is semi-biographical and tells of a simple time growing up in the bucolic Slad Valley, Gloucestershire.

The book has remained popular, thanks in part to its place on the national curriculum reading list, and today you can still find all the places mentioned in Cider with Rosie; the Woolpack Pub, School House, Rosebank Cottage (Lee's childhood home) and the church where Lee is buried. June the 26th would have been Lee's 100th birthday and there are lots of wonderful events planned to celebrate, a perfect time to discover the writing and poetry of Laurie Lee. 

SIMPLE SOURDOUGH


This weekend we made sourdough for the first time using the 59 year old sourdough starter we were given on our Hobbs House Bakery Course, we have been regularly feeding it and have even named it 'Sidney'. It was surprisingly simple with great results. The only downside is that the boys just aren't that keen on sourdough!

Monday, 5 May 2014

WILD FOOD WEEKENDS: JACK-IN-THE-HEDGE SAUCE

garlic mustard on the left, borage on the right

One of my earliest memories of helping my mother in the kitchen was preparing the Sunday roast that we'd have religiously every week, to "set us up for the week ahead" as she said. On the weeks when lamb was the Sunday roast one of my jobs was to make the mint sauce. First I'd pick the mint leaves from the abundant clump in the garden, then wash it and chop it with the kitchen scissors, then I'd dissolve a little sugar in hot water in the cut glass jug (that was used almost exclusively for mint sauce) and add some vinegar before stirring in the chopped mint leaves.


This time of year garlic mustard is abundant in gardens and hedgerows, a tall plant with pretty white flower and jagged leaves that when crushed smell a little of garlic and taste a little mustardy. It is also known as Jack-in-the-hedge. You can chop the leaves and add them to a mixed leaf salad after washing, with calendula and borage petals for colour.


In Richard Mabey's book Food for Free, he suggests making a mint sauce as I did as a child with the young leaves of garlic mustard, mint and some hawthorn buds. He also suggests eating it, as the Welsh traditionally did to salt herrings, although we much prefer it with Welsh lamb!


We made our Jack-in-the-hedge sauce the same way as my mother taught me adding a few crushed hawthorn buds and garlic mustard leaves to the mint, washing them first, I used white wine vinegar instead of malt and we serve it in a cut glass jug too!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

WE'RE GOING ON A COW HUNT!

Cow slip!

 The vintage tea tent



 
We took a wrong turn - which didn't matter as it meant I could be nosy!



May Bank Holiday welcomes the most charming of village events round our way, the Amberley Cow Hunt. Amberley is the most charming of Cotswold villages that clings to the side of Minchinhampton Common, where those with commoners rights can graze their livestock. The cows on the common are turned out each Easter and are much loved, they even supply the milk that makes the local ice cream at Winstones.

The Amberley Cow Hunt is an annual fundraising event run by the local playgroup and instead of looking for real cows, follows a trail looking for 'amoosingly' dressed up model cows. There are two routes a village one ideal for pushchairs, wheelchairs and little legs and a route across the common, which both attracted 'herds' of people!

There was the most amazing vintage tea tent half way around the trail with sublime cakes, a bell tent with face painting in and two pubs on the route too! Our favourite cows were 'cow slip', 'Despicable moo' and 'mooves like jagger' it was good fun to look out for them and a great day out for all the family, in fact you could say it was 'udderly enchanting' - I'll stop now!

Despicable Moo! 

sitting in the cowslips!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

CHELTENHAM JAZZ FESTIVAL





One of the best events in the Cotswolds is the Cheltenham Jazz Festival which takes place each year on May Bank Holiday in Montpellier Gardens. It attracts amazing artists such as Laura Mvula, Jamie Cullum and Gregory Porter and tickets always sell out really quickly.

We enjoy the festival atmosphere there is always a free stage where local musicians and bands play and a huge selection of food stalls selling pies, pizza, churro's, ice cream, a tea tent and this year there was a Hobbs House BBQ Shack too, selling pulled pork baps by day and a sit-down three course meal by night. We all chose the eight hour pulled pork in brioche baps with a slaw on the side, which were absolutely sublime.  We found a patch of grass to put our picnic rug down and enjoy our food and do some people watching whilst listening to the mellow tunes ooze out of the surrounding tents.

One of the best bits in the gardens was the busking spot tucked out of the way, it was beautifully styled with old suitcases and gramaphone records and the artists were really great. What better way to spend a sunny bank holiday?
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