Mmmmm

It’s June.

It’s sunny (on and off)

So there must be

Freshly picked,  sunwarmed strawberries

Freshly picked, sunwarmed strawberries

Which transform nicely into

Gently heated,  lemon infused,  strawberry scented kitchens

Gently heated, lemon infused, strawberry scented kitchens

Which stack up perfectly into

Homemade strawberry jam

Homemade strawberry jam

Which of course just perfectly lends itself to

Oven warm homemades scones with jam and clotted cream

Oven warm homemades scones with jam and clotted cream

Mmm mmm mmm.  🙂

Party

We invited 35 friends to the grand kitchen unveiling at the weekend.

Only, the weekend before this one? the kitchen wasn’t actually quite ready to be unveiled.

And neither was the living room, which we decided to start redecorating a couple of weeks ago.

Because that’s a great thing to do when you’ve got masses of guests due to come to the house very soon.

So it’s been a bit of a whirlwind of nailing, sawing, painting and papering over the last ten days.

But I think we made it.

Just.

Or at least we were able to strategically place furniture in front of the bits that weren’t quite finished.

I think we got away with it.

Maybe 🙂

So Saturday was party day. A whirl of cooking and baking

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Triple layer Mississippi Mud Cake

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White chocolate and strawberry cheesecake.

And a lot more that I was too flappy to take photos of.

Squawk.

I make a very convincing headless chicken 🙂

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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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.

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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Wet

Yesterday the Met Office forecast rain.

In fact they gave out an “extreme weather warning” for north west England.

So naturally we decided to go for a walk, not forgetting our sunglasses and Factor 50 suntan lotion, happy in the knowledge that the Met Office are always and utterly completely wrong.

Only this time they were right.

I know. Random or what!

Grizedale forest in the rain.

It’s very beautiful

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But somehow I don’t think the children were thinking beautiful thoughts as we frogmarched them enjoyed a jolly family walk around the trail.

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Not sure why they didn’t enjoy it. There was even a giant hedgehog sculpture to admire

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Even a rousing chorus of “raindrops on roses” from me didn’t cheer them up.

Nor did my suggestion, (as we sloshed our way down a forest path that was now a 5″ deep fast flowing forest river,) that they could tell their friends they’d been ghyll scrambling.

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We’re thinking the south of Spain might be a nice option for next year’s holiday 🙂

Bunny

The weather forecast said to expect torrential rain yesterday.

So of course we had glorious sunshine.

Someone should develop a “random weather forecaster” web site.

I’m sure it would have the same accuracy rate as the Met Office.

But, I’m not complaining. 🙂

For yesterday we went to Hill Top, the home of Beatrix Potter.

It nestles in the tiny hamlet of Near Sawrey, near Hawkshead. The countryside around there is of the “gently rolling” rather than “dramatic and awe inspiring” type.

The house

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is, apparently, just as it was when Beatrix lived there.

The rooms are small and dark, but cosy and welcoming.

The drawings, sketches and watercolours on display are breathtakingly good.

The gardens? Quintessentially English. Herbaceous, pretty

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And look who we saw taking a rest on a tree trunk in the sunshine

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He’s obviously been in Mr McGregors garden again as his little blue jacket was nowhere to be seen :-).

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Finished the day with a woodland walk down to Windermere where we saw these girls

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And managed to convince youngest child for a whole five minutes that these were rare, amphibious water cows.

Nearly as much fun as the time we convinced oldest child that he was going to a cheese farm to catch wild cheeses.

🙂

A mistake

Yesterday it rained.

SURPRISE! 🙂

And so I made a mistake.

I thought that dragging the kids out on another forced march jolly family walk would make them miserable. So I thought, let’s go to where there is civilisation, let’s go to Ambleside. There will be stuff to do there.
I was basing this on my last visit.
Which was, gulp, over twenty years ago.

I remember mooching with my dad, looking in quirky little shops, eating at a surfer/climber dude vegetarian cafe. It was great.

That was twenty years ago.

Now? Well it’s great if you like to shop in the kind of shops you get on any old high street anywhere in the UK.
Admittedly with more than the average number of outdoor pursuits high street chains (Blacks? Tick. Mountain Warehouse? Tick. Trespass? Tick. Fat Face? Tick).
And if you like your coffee shops following the Costa/Starbucks, barista and muffins route.

But the thing was.
All these outdoor pursuits shops, filled with people buying stuff?
And nobody seemed to be walking anywhere.

We walked the 1mile to the lakeside, and saw hardly anyone.

Caught the boat to Bowness.

And there was another huddle of people, all trying to find stuff to buy.
And ignoring the beauty of the lakes and mountains around them.

But perhaps I’m being unfair.

Perhaps.

We wandered around, trying to fill the time until we could catch the boat back again.

And ended up having our feet eaten by fish.

The kids love the Garra Rufa experience, but the spa? treatment room? fish shop? (what do you class this experience as?) near us closed down a few years ago.

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If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em 🙂

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Then we caught the boat back to Ambleside

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And dragged the kids out on a two mile walk around Tarn How just to cheer them up.

They’ll thank us for it.

One day.

Maybe. 🙂