Vincent

Still with a bit of an art theme.

As we left Compton Verney we saw an irresistible sign.

For these

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A pick-your-own sunflowers field.

How could we not?

Armed with secateurs the children lost themselves in a field of gold, sunflowers towering above them.

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Bees buzzed.

But thankfully there were no wasps :-)

And the kids picked flowers with blooms bigger then their heads!

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I did have thoughts of getting them to paint the flowers a la Van Gogh.

But in the end we just enjoyed looking at them

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In the immortal words of Coldplay

“And they were all yellow”

Indeed, Chris Martin, indeed.

:-)

Art

It was sunny yesterday.

Youngest child had a play date so this seemed like a good day for a long overdue visit to local Mecca of High Brow Arts and Culture, Compton Verney.

I’ve been wanting to visit this season to catch the Henry Moore/Rodin exhibition.

And yes, with 5 days left for it to run, it was cutting it a bit fine.

But better late than never.

Compton is beeyootiful.

The grounds are stunning

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The house delightful

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And their exhibitions are always interesting and thought provoking.

The setting of the outdoor exhibition of sculptures was spot on.

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A Henry Moore

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But what is it mum?

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And you can’t help but be impressed at the sheer size and visual impact of some of the pieces

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And then you get to tryout some sculpture for yourself!

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Oldest child’s eyeball and entrails installation.

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But what is it mum?

Then a final walk around the sculpture trail

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Is it a Moore? Is it a Rodin?
No it’s Gwendoline the giraffe.

If you get the chance to go ( before 31st August) do! It’s very family friendly and it’s great for the kids to see pieces like these, in a setting like this.

And the chocolate cake in the coffee shop is pretty darned good too :-)

The Change

It’s there now isn’t it?

First thing in the morning, when you step out of the front door and shiver.

Late afternoon, as the sun is starting to go down and you smell the bonfires starting.

In the evening, as it starts to get properly dark.

Autumn’s coming.

I love this time of year.

It’s softer.

The light is hazier, the evenings cooler.

The hedgerows full.

So, we made our annual trip to a tiny hamlet (ha!) just outside Stratford.

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The light was dappled, the birds twittered, the bees buzzed

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The Avon did it’s gurgle-y river-y thing.

And the trees and hedges?

They were full of these

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And these

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And these

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Elderberries and rose hips and sloes (oh my!).

Oh and blackberries and damsons and apples.

And then a hazy, twittery, mellow walk back through the hamlet

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To the pretty, amber hued church

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Rose-filled churchyard

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And frankly hacked-off looking gargoyle chappie

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Finishing off the late summer day with a stop at the Four Alls, for a cool refreshing drink (or in the case of oldest child a cream and marshmallow loaded hot chocolate (well it is the turn of the seasons after all)).

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One for All

I like taking the kids to the theatre. I love it when the production is so good that they can lose themselves completely in the story.

I love it that some plays that they might struggle with reading come alive for them on the stage.

Though of course that was a bit unfortunate in the case of Alls Well That Ends Well

But we won’t revisit that here.

Ahem.

Anyway, theatre going opportunities have been a bit thin on the ground recently. The RSC has largely been sold out for plays we might fancy. The Belgrade has been particularly uninspiring.

And then a groupon offer popped into my inbox.

The Three Musketeers.

At Stoneleigh Park.

How fab is that?

So we packed a picnic, because England in Late August is going to offer a beautiful, balmy, summer evening right?

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Mmm. Blankets and hot soup all round.

But the play was great fun.

The actors were young and enthusiastic.

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The setting, especially as the sun set over the Park, was stunning.

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If you get a chance to go and see something by Boxtree Productions do go.

It’s not the RSC.

But sometimes, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

:-)

Fiction Friday

This Week I Have Mostly Been Reading

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Girl In the Box by Robert J Crane.

Surprisingly good!

A series of books about a teenage girl with superpowers and her work with a shadowy organisation called The Directorate.

I know.

So far so predictable.

But these are actually thoroughly enjoyable stories. Fast-paced, well-written, funny. They draw you in.

And the first three vols are available free on the Kindle.

What have you got to lose?

Next Week I Shall Mostly Be Reading

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It’s been sat on my bookshelf for about three years.

But I’m finally going to do it.

I’m going in.

P-toing

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Yoga on Monday.

The beginners Ashtanga class.

You’d think it would be easier, wouldn’t you?

Unfortunately lots of people were on holiday which meant a small class size.

And the yoga teacher has an assistant helping.

Which meant a much higher teacher:student ratio.

Which meant those slightly more challenging poses which I cheat go a little easier on myself with? I found myself being tortured encouraged to “go a little deeper” into.

I have the hip flexibility of a corpse with rigor mortis.

But in one sitting pose the teacher sat there and ” encouraged” my hips to bend until my knees touched the floor.

First time since I was about 7.

“You see? The flexibility is there” he said.
At which point my knee poinged back into the upright position with the ferocity of a mousetrap going off.

Nearly knocked him out in the process.

You see? No it isn’t.

:-)

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There’s No Place Like Home

One of the things I wanted to do this summer was explore Leamington a bit more.

I’ve lived here for 17 years and there are still bits of town I don’t know very well at all.

So a couple of days ago, before the rain came ( again), we packed a mini picnic and trekked to Foundry Wood a community managed green space behind the old Ford Foundry.

The rest of the old Foundry site is now a Morrisons Supermarket, (sigh).

Because obviously with Tesco, Sainsbury, M & S, Asda, Lidl, Waitrose and Aldi all within 5 minutes driving distance, what the area really needed was a supermarket.

But never mind!

It’s great that at least some of this old foundry site has been put to good use. :-)

It was a beautiful day and as we walked to the foundry we passed the canal

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And, ignoring the roar of the traffic on the A road we were walking by, we saw a lovely patch of wildflowers

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Then we got to the woods

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And they were open!

Which was great as I realised half way through our walk that I’d forgotten to check if they were actually open that day.

It’s a great space

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Is it a Clootie Tree? is it Art? What is it?

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Mental note to return in September for blackberrying.

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Wood and textile craft. We’re going to try this at home when the kids get back from their week at their grandparents.

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The rotting piano.

Every wood should have one. :-)

And then possibly the thing the kids found most fascinating from the whole trip

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The Compost Toilet.

It could have been worse.

That’s all I’ll say.

And to finish the day, a trip to a play park we haven’t discovered before

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And all this on our doorstep.

Well, just about.

Fab.

Fiction Friday

This Week I Have Mostly Been Reading

IMG_0110.JPG The Blue Knickers Of Happiness.

I absolutely loved this book.

The stories of a disparate group of seekers who end up together on a silent retreat in the Himalayas. The book deals with the widely varying reasons and circumstances that result in people searching for that elusive meaning in their lives – some deal with the quest for enlightenment as an almost scientific experiment, others end up there almost by accident (ah, but is there really such a thing as an accident? Is it not just the universe conspiring to teach you a key lesson? :-) ). It also chronicles the wildly varying ways the characters deal with ten days of silence and limited interaction with other people, stuck in the noise and chaos of their own heads.

The book was hilarious at times, poignant at others.

And, almost as an aside, you do learn an awful lot about meditation and Buddhist thought.

Cool.

Next Week I Shall Be Reading

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Girl in the Box. The “something borrowed” from my summer reading list.

Superpowers, mysterious agencies.

A bit different to my usual fare…

Butter and spice

A drizzly afternoon.

A houseful of children.

Tired children, after two days of kayaking.

The perfect excuse for some baking.

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Butter ‘n’ spice biscuits

Take 400g of plain flour and sift it together with a teaspoon of baking powder, half a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of ginger and a teaspoon of cinnamon.

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In a separate bowl cream together 200g of caster sugar and 175g of butter

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Add 2 eggs and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to the sugar/butter mixture and mix in well.

Now add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and combine well

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Divide the dough up into the same number of pieces as you have children to occupy, cover with whatever covering method you favour -bowl, cling film, tea towel – and place in the fridge for about 30 mins.

I did this bit before the kayaking so I could be smugly organised for once in my life (really must try that more often)(the organised bit, rather than the making cookie dough at silly o’clock in the morning bit).

Then, whenever noise levels/fractiousness/boredom levels get too high, produce the cookie dough out of the fridge (The loud “taaaa daaaaa” is optional), hand out rolling pins and cookie cutters and let the small creatures roll and cut to their hearts content.

Place the splodges carefully cut out and arranged shapes on a lined baking tray

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And bake in an oven at 180C for 8-10 minutes till pale golden in colour.

Let cool.

Then let the small creatures loose with icing and assorted doodahs to decorate the biccies to their hearts content.

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The biscuits themselves are rather moreish. Buttery with just a hint of warmth from the spices.

If you can taste them through all the creativity piled on top.

Flat

So yesterday we faced the long drive home again.

With a car full of cases and bags.

So full, we were all squished in with faces pressed against windows.

Just about.

But we decided to make the journey more fun by stopping at Morecambe Bay on the way home.

To tick the seaside box, which we hadn’t managed to do this holiday.

Yay, rock pooling, I thought.

Only

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no rock pools were there to be had.

Just lots and lots of mud/sand flats

Sand flatting. Yay.

Hmmm, not quite the same ring to it.

But, we did find lots of shells.

And masses of these fellows

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I did look to see if there was a winkle stall nearby, but the only seafood stall was selling cockles and mussels (alive alive oh!), so my summer winkle challenge must wait a bit longer to be met.

Then it started to rain so we piled back in the car for the long (oh so long) motorway journey home.

But it is good to be back.

Even if I can’t see the washing machine for the pile of wet, dirty clothes heaped in front of it.

A little souvenir from the Lake District :-)

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