Saturday, 28 July 2012

Spider hunting

 Oh, the things we do in the name of motherhood!  This week saw us trecking through woodland, on an unusually hot and humid day, hunting for spiders.  Yes, spiders!

The ranger put her large white paddle net under the bushes to see what fell out.

After a quick warning of 'shut your mouth and close you eyes' it was time to shake the trees and see what dropped out. this time I was itching all over.

Reluctant to join in any spider catching, Hermione set out to capture some webs instead, using a special spray and black card.  I was surprised the rangers did this; will Incy Wincy not be sad to return to find his web gone?

Goodness, I feel all itchy scritchy just looking at this picture.  One of Miles' friends captured this specimen.

Back at the ranger's hut there were brief explanations about tree spiders having small bodies and long spindly legs, while ground dwelling spiders have bigger bodies and shorter legs.  We left not long after this.  There was talk of spiders being released (indoors) to identify and measure them.  I was already out of my comfort zone and the prospect of being in an infested room tipped me over the edge.

I had hoped that the session would ease my fears, but no such luck.  This year I must remember to get some of that horse chestnut spray.  I hate September and October when they come out looking for a mate.  Like it's not bad enough when they move in your home, come late summer they're on the pull and sexually active!  Urrrghhhh.

Thursday, 26 July 2012


“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” — Thornton Wilder

I'm surrounded by priceless treasures all of the time, but I just wanted to share with you a few new treasures which have recently come my way.

This is a card which a friend sent to me not long ago.  I love it so much; it's just so me!  I've framed it and put it on my kitchen wall because it makes me smile whenever I see it.

Awww, no prizes for guessing who gave me these.  I don't want to open them as then they'll be gone!

A young lady expressed thanks for my writing her a reference, with a gift of  a very cheery plant in a gorgeous polka dot box.  The box is canvas and lined with thick plastic.   I've not had a plant in a canvas box before and I'm quite tickled with it.

Ha ha, there is a story behind this quirky gift, from a wonder woman I know.  A story that I'm sure I'll get round to sharing soon.  It makes me so excited whenever I look at it!  Oh, it also has a handle too, but it didn't get in the shot as I had to make sure the purple van with raised roof got centre stage!


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Sunshine and Seaside

 It's been a while in coming, and I'm not sure how long it will last, but we have had glorious weather for a few days now.  So glorious that I decided to make my own ice cream by adding cream to frozen raspberries and popping them in the blender.  I missed the sugar out of the recipe thinking it was probably unnecessary, but ended up having to add a dollop of butterscotch syrup to take away the slightly tarte tang of the raspberries. It was very pretty though, don't you think?

Sunday was a family beach day, and oh, what fun we had!  A big bonus of family beach days is daddy being on hand to keep an eye out for the children, while I keep an eye out for interesting stones and other things which find their way into my bag.

These stones made me think of the raspberry ice cream.  They're gorgeous and I'm quite sure there is a place in my home for them; I've just not found it yet.

Oh, and what good fortune that I had a note book and pen in my bag.  I tend to carry one everywhere now and write down random things to remind myself of what I'm supposed to be doing.  Sadly the lists are often so random that fifteen minutes after having written them I don't know what they are about anyway!  Still, it make me feel organised and in control even if the reality is far from that.

Dipping a toe.  My little man is very much like me when it comes to the sea.  He likes it, a lot, but he holds it in reverence.

Castles in the sand...

..and in the sea.  I guess that's a life lesson for children about the sea.

Then of course there are those who run in at full speed, grinning from ear to ear, deliberately ducking the surf.  I like that attitude;  I like it a lot.  I'd like to live more of my life by that mantra.  

With the day at a close, sandy footprints all over the house, and wet smelly clothes in the back of the car, we headed to bed, ready to face the next day - at the beach!!!

Yes, the sun was still shining so we got to head to the beach with friends.  Another fabulous day, albeit different from the day before.  With Craig back at work, and the children being rather daring with a body board, I spent a fair while in the water - at one point with my dress tucked in my knickers - but I hope no one noticed!  No sitting about doodling in notebooks and scratting for pretty sea glass, but lots of fun and memory making.  Special times.

Here's to lots more sunny days!

Friday, 20 July 2012

A week in pictures

Finally, the sun shone and we went strawberry picking.  Must be said, there were very slim pickings this year.  The excessive rain we have had left many rotting on the plant, all moldy and split.  Usually we stagger home with a couple of large cardboard baskets full, but this year we struggled to fill a small plastic container.

Oh, you let a hen out of a cage and next thing it's checking out the duplo and mechano!  This is Nora (Ex Batty) exploring the play room, having sneaked in when the back door was open.

A queue to lay an egg in the plant pot by the back door.  Sheesh, these hens get away with too much!

We visited a flow mill which is supposedly tidal.  The wheel wasn't turning when we were there, and whilst the on board assistant was pleasant, he didn't seem to really understand it.  He said the wheel sometimes moves a couple of hours after high or low tide at the coast - but sometimes it 'just doesn't'. Hmm...clear as mud.

There is lots of equipment on board which tests river samples and somehow translates them into music.    I went along with the expectation of tingling bells and catchy jingles.  It wasn't like that at all.  It was much more like white noise.

We liked  these big glass containers which played bubble tunes when you agitated the water with the rod.

We took this picture standing on the Millennium Bridge.  Wonderful view of the Tyne Bridge, which thankfully shows no lasting damage from it's recent lightening strike.

View of the flow mill from the bridge.

As were in the area we trundled into The Baltic.  I find it's usually a bit hit and miss with the children depending upon how child friendly the exhibitions are.  Well, on this occasion it was a hit!

We thoroughly enjoyed the 40 Part Motet by Janet Cardiff. It was so much more than just beautiful music.

The children had wonderful fun exploring the 'mountain inside a shed' created by Richard Rigg and you can see it here.

My only regret about the visit is that instead of having a good rummage through last years Turner Prize posters and books, all now on sale for £1, we were all distracted by a lovely gallery employee who enticed us in the opposite direction with a large tray of birthday cupcakes, iced with a number ten on top to celebrate the Baltic's tenth birthday.

Goodness, would you believe the folks who shop at Aldi these days?

Gliding giants carrying instruments and strange funnels.

Eeek, smoky funnels!

You see them come, you see them go.  Some are fast and some are slow.

Seriously, they weren't Aldi shoppers; they were Le Snob.  You can see them in action on a different occasion below.  Check them out.  They're seriously strange!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Daisy Heart Bunting

Ta da! 

I've crochet some heart bunting following a pattern from Bunny Mummy.  I'm ever so pleased with myself.  This has to be one of the trickiest crochet patterns I have mastered.  That's not to say it's a tricky pattern; it's just that I generally struggle with anything which requires reading or following instructions.            

I just finished working on them this evening, time which was to be spent dusting and sweeping ready for friends calling by for cake and coffee tomorrow evening.  Oh, here's hoping they are so mesmerized by my bunting that they overlook the dust bunnies!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Glimmers of Summer

 Colorful big top tents make me think of summer.  We went to see Nicole and Martin perform the Musicians of Bremen at the weekend.  It was fun; a combination of arty mime, brass and slapstick.  Something in there for all of the family!

Squishy victoria sponges filled wish mountains of sliced strawberries.  That reminds me I must call the local pick your own farm again.  I fear the local strawberries may well just turn to mush on the plants before they ripen this year.  The lady who owns the farm sounds more depressed each time I call.  Hopefully  next time she will be able to tell me they have all ripened beautifully and that we can go along and pick baskets full.

Little posies of garden flowers.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Patch and Pots

 What with all this wet weather we're having I've not been pottering up the patch that much this last week or so.  I guess one of the benefits of growing in pots is that they don't water log so easily; that's certainly a factor with our clay soil in the patch.

I feel quite self satisfied at the way I've managed to sneak lots of rainbow chard between the primulas.  I like feeding home grown greens to my babes.  Makes me feel quite virtuous and helps to cancel out the times when all they get is oven chips and fish fingers!

Ooooh, not long now and we should be picking broad beans too.

What's that nestled in the shaded grass on a rare sunny moment?  Yes, that's the three baby ducklings at the front.  They're roaming with the flock now and have earned respect from almost everyone with their feisty attitudes.  Certainly no wilting violets!

All this rain is really swelling the apples and pears.  I'm sure they're not usually this size in early July.

Sadly the blooms aren't fairing as well in this weather.  The petals have been battered and dropped early.

Goodness, in the time it took me to ponder which elder flower cordial recipe to use this year the flowers were gone!

A close up of those cuties again. Oh, what hard life snoozing on the lawn!

Lola is ever so taken with the play house right now.  She's another girl with attitude.  We adopted her from a very elderly gentleman who was struggling to manage with his poultry.  It must be said, he'd done well to look after a thriving flock till well into his 80s - it's no mean feat!  This was his 'show girl'.  He hadn't actually entered her into any shows but always called her 'the show girl', hence she came to be known as Lola round here.

Happy pottering  xx

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Rising water levels

We called into town today to check out the river levels following yet more rain.  The river was much higher than the other day, and it soon became apparent it had been even higher yesterday!  Below is the roadway we usually walk to get into town.  It was completely flooded.  The river is the second body of water, which looks very brown, running alongside the flooded roadway.

Having battled through the rising waters I found sustenance in a white chocolate and raspberry muffin.

Sheesh, look how high the water was compared to the other day!  Ducks were swimming where we were standing on Thursday afternoon!

This was Miles' chosen sustenance.  He's very partial to a giant jammy dodger in Costa Coffee, but alas, they are no more.  Out with the giant jammy dodgers and in with giant bourbons and custard creams.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Paleo inspired cupcakes

The sky matched my mood today; grey, murky and blurred around the edges.

I'm sick of grey skies, and grey moods too.  I want to see sunshine and all that lurks under the greyness. In the words of Oriah, I want to see, beauty even when it's not pretty.  I know that really, even when times feel tough, I do live in a beautiful world.  I need to make the effort to see it, particularly when it's difficult to spot.

Ah well, I had a plan today to take my mind off the grey skies.  Feeling all inspired by this blog post, and a chat I had with a good friend the other day, about how it was probably possible to make a cupcake which is much more nutritious than most breakfast cereals, I set out to create something special.

I adapted the Paleo Mom's recipe slightly in keeping with what I thought would best suit the small peeps taste round here.  Instead of 1/4 cup of cocoa powder I used 1/4 cup of quinnoa flour. Not sure if that disqualifies them from being paleo?  Did paleolithic man eat quinnoa?  I don't know,  but then I suspect he didn't eat chocolate cupcakes either!

 Also, I used four large duck eggs instead of six hen eggs.  I like to feed my children duck eggs; they contain more vitamins and minerals than hen eggs.  Also, cakes tend to rise ever so well with duck eggs.

It wasn't a quick and easy cake to make as it took time to melt the chocolate and coconut oil.  I didn't have the patience to follow instructions to the letter and resorted to the usual 'bung it all in the mixer' style.

The batter was lovely and glossy but not very smoothe. It must be said, I wasn't optimistic and felt quite queasy at the thought of such expensive ingredients all going to waste.  Have you seen the price of coconut flour?  I was shocked.

Well, my fears were unfounded.  The cakes rose wonderfully and the texture was good too.  Miles really liked them and polished a couple off in no time.  It was clear from Hermione's face that they didn't come up to scratch on the cupcake front, but as breakfast options go, I think she's quite impressed.

Will I make them all the time for breakfast?  No, probably not, but I will make them again.

Later we popped into town to check the river levels after a monsoon like downpour.  Surprisingly the river levels were only a few inches elevated.  Perhaps we hadn't allowed a significant time lapse for all the runoff water from the hills to make it's way in.

The streets were nigh on steaming in the muggy heat following the rain.  We wandered into a cafe for an iced drink and sat inside, out of the heat.  Were it not for all the jubilee bunting still hanging out throughout the streets, I could possibly have fooled myself I was somewhere exotic.