Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Be gone pests

Every year I plant purple sprouting broccoli and every winter whilst it's far too cold for me to be heading off to the allotment, great big fat pigeons eat it. I finally brave the bitter wind and try to net the plants with the shabby bits of net I've got and they sit on top of the net, which has usually collapsed under the weight of snow and eat the sprouts of broccoli again. Eventually I get the whole net thing sorted on a warm spring day and the sun causes the plants to go to seed.

I have long been envious of all the fabulously sophisticated looking brassica protection that are pride of place on other plots at the allotment. Beautiful structures filled with perfect cabbages and untouched plants. I have dreamt of my own steel and net weapon against the greed of those birds.
And now at last I have my own fruit cage to love and I have such plans for it. From now until late spring it will keep the pesky pigeons off the purple sprouting broccoli, as they can strip a plant of any life in a matter of days. Around about the time the plants flower, berries will be appearing on my fruit bushes and I can move the cage to cover them. This year every single black currant, gooseberry and red currant was stolen within less than a week. One moment they were there, ripe and ready to pick and the next they were gone.

Just try it now pigeons!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Little friends

If it were my choice, I would have plenty of pets: a dog, chickens, a pig, a goat, a sheep, perhaps a little wallaby but as this is very unlikely to happened, I am going to have to settle for the two guinea pigs that have come to stay for a couple of weeks.

They are adorable and incredibly popular with Charlie, who woke me up early asking if he could get them out of their hutch.

His little face says it all and he has been happily feeding them the contents of our fridge throughout the day.


He even got in the cage with them to play and waited very patiently for them to come out.

He did of course allow them to escape but they are safely back in their cage again until tomorrow morning.




Friday, 26 July 2013

Golden summer moments

I have a feeling that as the summer holidays continue, our bucket list will get longer and longer. We did complete a number of fun things today and as we ticked them off, more and more exciting things were added.

Today we...

Picked and ate veg from our garden

Hunted for caterpillar eggs for our butterfly farm

We found a few different types

 Whoever laid these, did so very neatly

Made a nature museum

And caught butterflies in nets

My favourite moments from today were of Charlie standing in a small box full of water howling with laughter as he stuck the hose pipe down his shorts and Josie making her own Top Trumps. Josie's cards were based on characteristics of her friends and were really so funny. I loved seeing how she rated her friends in terms of smartness, cuteness, entertainment, mischief and strength, including Nibbles and Henry (two Guinea pigs who will be staying with us for a while in the holidays.)

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Thursday, 25 July 2013

Summer lists

First thing this morning, we were all up early writing our summer holiday lists. We sat discussing things we want to do, places we want to go and the people we want to see. There was a flurry of scribbling and much excitement about what the next 6 weeks might hold. I love the start of the summer holidays, even as an adult, it feels like the summer might last forever.

We haven't finished our lists yet but we have already completed number 1. on Charlie's list: buy new clothes. We spent the morning together in town and it was lovely. Isn't it amazing how well behaved and beautifully mannered children can be when you are buying them stuff? We even entered a draw to win a car that we signed. Charlie's plan is that if he wins, he will give it to daddy who can sell his car and give the money to Charlie. He can then spend the money on whatever he chooses.



Sunday, 21 July 2013

The mummy triathlon

I've been trying to get back in shape for what seems like forever but there always seems to be an excuse and well life gets in the way but with the summer holidays just days away, I thought I should at least try a bit harder. My kids are a handful and some more so if I am going to be entertaining them for the next 6 weeks, then I need to get in some training. Rumours are that the heat wave is also going to continue so I don't want frighten everyone on the beach with the sight of me in a bikini.


I've cut out the coffee, alcohol, general junk and switched to vegetables and fruit which is working out quite well so it's time to up the exercise. Josie had a party that started really early on the high street so I decided to run back (stage 1 of my triathlon).

Next I took Charlie swimming because one of my goals for the holidays is to get Charlie really swimming. He likes to dive into the deep end and thinks nothing of trying to swim a length of the pool, both of which leave my nerves in tatters. He has the confidence in buckets but I never can quite tell whether that dip under the water requires a rescue or whether I will be pushed away, whatever I have to stay alert and close to him. (Stage 2 of my triathlon).

Finally I hopped on my bike and went to the allotment to pick loads of delicious food which will definitely help me keep up with the kids. (Stage 3 done and dusted!)

My new favourite photo editing app from A beautiful mess helped me add the titles.


Thursday, 11 July 2013


The number thirteen is considered unlucky by some, but this year I've been married 13 years and I couldn't be luckier. When it comes to presents, I do like a bit of tradition and although it probably is a bit cheeky, I like to choose my own gift. That is one of the great things about having been married so long, I know my husband well enough to be pretty confident that he doesn't mind too much.

According to the tea towel (linen for 12 years) that I gave my husband last year, detailing what I will be expecting for each year of our marriage, lace is traditionally given for 13 years of marriage. You can't imagine my delight, I totally adore lace, if its vintage lace, I don't believe it can get any better. It just so happens that I had recently been looking for some prettier lace curtains for Josie's room so I had a fair idea of what I wanted. And there it was a vintage sample of original Nottingham lace rescued from an old Victorian Lace mill before it was demolished in the 1980s. The lady lucky enough to purchase this antique stash told me that there were shelves and shelves of carefully wrapped samples spanning the entire manufacturing life a the factory.

I bought an Art Deco original 1930s design called 'Susie', which in my mind is priceless. The lace factory is gone, the British manufacturing has all but died and Nottingham's lace making fame is now a part of history, but there in our front room hangs my beautiful lace curtain, celebrating thirteen years of happiness.

And to be fair, I did get my husband a rather fab present. On a website somewhere I found some anniversary gift ideas that were more appropriate for the boys and a barometer was suggested for 13 years. Thank goodness for eBay, you truly can find just what you want: an Art Deco Oak case barometer, perfect.


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Walmer Castle

One of the things I like about living in Kent is that there are always new places to discover. This is also true of England and practically every corner of the world but I do rather relish living just around the corner from undiscovered adventures.

We recently visited Walmer Castle on a glorious sunny afternoon, perfect for a spot of culture and history overlooking the sea.

It had a little something of interest for each us and seeing as Kent castles are very much on the school curriculum and both the children have learnt about all the stuff that goes into making a castle great, it was certainly worth a trip.


There are cellars or possibly dungeons, with eerie ghosts (my children), secret doors and midsummer sun streaming throughp windows into the ancient stone chambers.

Canons to practice balancing skills on or imagine that you are protecting your area against attack from pirates.

Herbaceous borders filled with structure, colour and shape against a backdrop of billowing hunks of yew topiary.

A moat to run riot in.

And sculpture which is my little new homework topic.

I also got to expand my mind, learn through cultural traditions and experience the bizarre educational fact providing extravaganza that is the truly British phenomenon of a Punch and Judy Show.

Five fascinating facts about Punch and Judy

  • Mr Punch was originally from Italy
  • Punch and Judy used to hang out in theatres before being sent out on to the beach to perform in booths
  • Although the stories are similar, each performer must create their own script, no copying allowed
  • Drunk adults were the intended audience as the pay better than children who don't actually have any money
  • Even today the performance is filled with violence against children, women and pretty much everyone involved, based around murder with some pretty frightening characters, including a skeleton and a crocodile but small kiddies still find it hilarious.

Finally after looking around the castle and gardens we got to chill out on the shingle beach which is scattered with drifts of the most beautiful flowers. It was a truly delightful way to spend an afternoon.