Monday, 26 May 2014

My Dream Garden


Today I went to visit an NGS open garden, and inspired by that, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2014 coverage and this post from Sarah-Lou at Lapin Blu (I love her blog), I wanted to share my vision of the perfect garden (one day...sigh).  I love visiting gardens, and one of my favourite birthdays was spent at RHS Cardiff Flower Show.  My garden right now is pretty much a barren plot of grass, (albeit with a cherry tree, honeysuckle and clematis), but unfortunately because we have a rabbit I can't plant anything unless I don't mind it being immediately eaten. 


My perfect garden would be a peaceful, informal and romantic cottage garden with winding paths and wide borders full of hollyhocks, sweet peas, scabiosa, allium, foxgloves, stocks, forget me nots, delphiniums, aquilegia and lavender.  It would be relaxed and a bit playful, I love planting to look a bit wild and not too structured.

 

 
 
I used to work at  nursery famous for its peonies, so would definitely have peonies in my dream garden.


It would be tranquil, calming and restful.


I'd love a summerhouse to read in and have breakfast in the morning and to drag blankets out to look at the stars at night. 

 
 
 
There would be lots of wildlife-attracting plants, a wild flower meadow area and a pond with surrounding irises for the frogs and newts. 
 


The Secret Garden was one of my favourite books and films as a child so I'd love to have tall walls around my garden, rather than fences, and I love climbers so there would have to be honeysuckle, roses, clematis, wisteria and climbing hydrangeas on the house and walls. 

 
 
Holidays as a child were spent in the Lake District where I loved the dry stone walls, so I'd love them to be an element. 



Somerset, where I live, is famous for willow weaving, which I adore, so there would be willow hurdles and a willow arbour somewhere in the garden.


There would be a woodland area, with white woodruff, anemones, hellebores, bluebells, celandines, campion, and primroses dotted under the trees, and a big oak tree with a bench surrounding it. 

 
 
And finally I would grow rhubarb.  And apple trees.  For the pie making opportunities!



Thank you Pinterest for the dreamy pictures!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

My Summer Bucket List

With summer fast approaching I've been wishfully thinking of warm sunny days and the fun things I want to do with Eric during these 4 months before he starts school, so I thought I'd share them with you in the form of a bucket list.  There's no particular order and I'm not going to stress to complete them, or organise them, but these are the things I imagine us doing.

1) Play in the fountains at Millennium Square in Bristol.  We did this on a boiling hot day last summer and it was glorious.

2) Go out in the dusk and watch the stars come out.  There have only been a few occasions so far when Eric has got to see the stars, as before now he would usually be asleep too early or we haven't really been out in the dark in the winter, so I think this would be really special for him.  We can sit out, cuddled in blankets, drinking hot chocolate and then he can go to bed all late and excited (yes I did do this last year when my best chum Katie came to visit and we saw shooting stars!)


3) Take Eric to VegFest in Bristol.  VegFest is the best.  That rhymed, I'm a poet and I know it! I love for Eric to spend time with other vegan children, and VegFest is also super fun, with lots of activities for kiddos.  And the food! Oh the food. 

4) Have a bonfire.  Although we've taken Eric to events on Bonfire Night, we haven't had a bonfire of our own with him yet.  I think it will be so lovely to have a bonfire in our garden and make baked potatoes and toast vegan marshmallows on sticks, to mark the end of the summer before he starts school.


5) Take the steam train to the beach.  An old fashioned steam train has a station in a village nearby, and you can take the train to the beach.  I can't wait to pack up a picnic including lashings of ginger beer and feel all Enid Blyton on a day trip to the beach together. 

6) Go camping.  We're not going to be able to go on a family holiday this year but I'm hoping we'll be able to go camping for a night somewhere local (or if not then in the back garden!) The first time I went camping was on a Guide camp, and my childhood holidays were mostly camping in Cornwall.  I loved it, those were the halcyon days and the best memories.  I can't wait to share that with Eric, and the excitement of his first night sleeping in a tent! 


7) Fly a kite.  We've recently been given a brilliant kite, so on windy days I can't wait to fly it with Eric.  I used to go to a kite festival every year with my Dad so I think it'll be really nostalgic.

8) Paddle in the stream.  We have a stream that runs near our house, and I think it will be lovely to paddle in it in the summer, exploring barefoot, making dams and looking at the wildlife. 


9) Go to London.  This is one thing I'm not sure will happen as it's so very expensive! We went last year for a day trip on the train to see an exhibition at Tate Britain, had lunch at a raw vegan restaurant and wandered (well, stomped as we were late, for an hour and a half so everyone was very tired and grumpy except me!) through Chelsea (so I could see the sights and feel all Made In Chelsea).  If we're able to go again I'd love to take Eric to the Natural History Museum or the Science Museum (very fond memories of visiting with my best friend Rachael when we were children!), stroll around and there are many, many vegan places I want to eat at!

10) Enjoy quality time together doing things Eric loves: making dens and forts, playing with Lego, dressing up and acting out Robin Hood and Cinderella, playing hide and seek with his Roll-A-Scare monsters, playing board games, kicking the ball around, going to the Bristol tree, having cushion fights...where I give him my focussed and loving attention, for this last little while.

If your little one is starting school in September, what things do you have planned over the summer? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, 9 May 2014

Pink Power Juice & Green Monster Juice

 

In a recent attempt to gently encourage Eric to try vegetables I found some juicing recipes and decided to dust off our juicer.  The only vegetables Eric would eat before were raw carrots and cooked peas, and we don't force him to eat things, so I wanted to do something  fun to help him feel interested in veggies!

Eric was really excited to make 'Green Monster juice' first, as apparently it might be the sort of thing Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc./Monsters University would drink.  I was so happy he felt excited about it. 


He helped me to choose which vegetables we would use, and he put them in the juicer and turned the switch each time.  We talked whilst juicing about which vitamins were in the vegetables and fruit and why they are good for you. 

The ingredients we used were:
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 200g bag of kale
  • 3 apples
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 2 lemons

We have the Aluminium Philips HR1861 Whole Fruit Juicer.  It's a centrifugal juicer so works by grating the whole fruit to a pulp then spinning the juice out.  It's a bit of a pain to clean but we're really happy with it.  We put them in our juicer one at a time, celery sticks chopped in half, and the lemon and grapefruit squeezed in by hand at the end.  It made about 2 glasses of juice.

I was really surprised that Eric actually tried and drank nearly all of his glass of juice.  He made excited noises and said it tasted 'like lemonade, but not fizzy lemonade' (he and I don't like fizzy drinks!) The thought of the vitamins finally whizzing around his body made me super happy! To me it tasted very fresh, citrussy and healthy.  It did taste quite a lot like traditional lemonade. 


The next juice we made (the following day, as Eric was so eager) was 'Pink Power juice' (which is what Sully would drink of course.) 

We used:
  • 3 small/medium beetroots (raw not cooked!)
  • the beet tops
  • 1 pear
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 apples
  • 15 strawberries

It made much more juice than the Green Monster, about 3.5 glasses, illustrating the higher water content of the ingredients I guess! Eric enjoyed it, but not quite as much as the green juice.  He did a little dance, and drank about half a glass.  It tasted very different, you could taste the earthiness of the beetroot and it was sweeter and milder than the green juice. 


If you too have children who aren't keen to try vegetables I'd really recommend trying juicing.  Since we made the juices Eric has been actually trying vegetables at mealtimes which I was secretly worrying would never happen, and he's been talking about which things are healthy and which things we only eat sometimes.  The only downside being that when he eats something healthy he likes us to pretend his tummy is saying 'yippee!', but I'll take that!

Look out soon for Eric's further food adventures when we tried making stinging nettle soup!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Rah Rah's Visit

Last week my oldest (as in she has been my friend for longest amount of time, 24 years, not as in she is ancient!) friend Rachael  (AKA Rah Rah) came to stay for a wondrous 3 days.  We haven't seen her since just before Christmas and it's the first time she's visited us in our new house so I was really looking forward to  seeing her and showing her around the block.  Eric was SUPER EXCITED about her coming and had to have a little chart to count down and cross off the days until she would be here. 
 
 
 
He also decorated the path in front of our house with pavement chalks in her honour.   When Rah Rah arrived Eric gave her a house tour which involved him showing her lots of his games and how to play them (essentially making her play them with him.  Sneaky).  She had bought him a giant bubble wand so we made huge bubbles in the garden for a bit and tried to pop them 'before they flew to Wonderland'. 
 
After a spot of lunch we headed out for a walk around the village, showing Rah Rah Eric's preschool, his new school for September and spending a bit of time at the playground.  Watching my best friend and my child play together is always really special. 
 
 

 
 
Then we went to the 'Bristol tree', Eric's favourite place to play in the village.  On the way we spotted the tyre from the broken tyre swing so we rolled it along and decided to try to rig it up again.  This was a mammoth task and took absolutely ages but I'm quite a determined person (understatement!) and we were successful in our mission.  We went home for tea and Eric went to bed, then Rach and I went out for a sunset walk through the countryside so we could have a proper chat and catch up (leaving Alex looking after Eric, don't worry!)
 
The next day we decided to go to Fyne Court so we could have a picnic, make dens and climb trees.  I thought this would be an ideal Great Adventure for the week too.  The drive there was a bit of a hair raising one for me as there was a steep drop on one side of the road and I didn't really know the way, but we made it! When we arrived Eric wanted to play hide and seek for a bit. 


Then we were all hungry so we decided to have our picnic early and found a beautiful clearing surrounded by trees, with lots of flowers dotted in the grass.

 
 
After eating our picnic we followed the red arrows to a ginormous fallen tree and Eric enjoyed climbing up and crawling along the top all on his own. 


 
Next we came to the woods and Eric and Rah Rah did some tree climbing together.  We also found a tree with a big hole in it's trunk at the base, so we were speculating who might live there and Eric was bashing a stick inside shouting "HELLOOOO?" while Rach did the voice of the occupant.

 

 
We found an even bigger fallen tree and Rach and Eric climbed it and walked along the top.  I tried climbing it too but I went dizzy and had to get down, heights aren't my favourite (although I try not to seem wimpy about them with Eric!)



 
 
We carried on following the red arrows until we got to the stream, where we dabbled our fingers in the water.  Very cold.

 
 
 
We played on some of the obstacles along the trail and made woodland music (heh heh, that sounds rude!)


 
 

Eric found a ladybird and he wanted to hold it on his hand. 

 

We ended up at the pond and we lay looking into the water for a while, admiring the pond skaters.  Eric dipped his hair in and thought it was hilarious. 

 
After such a lovely afternoon we were pooped and decided to go home.  The drive home was much easier as we remembered the way back and the steep cliff was on the other side of the road! We got home and curled up to watch our old favourite Tangled.  Annoyingly I had a headache which was very frustrating as I just wanted to enjoy our time together! At bedtime Rah Rah read Eric some stories.


When Eric was asleep Rach and I chilled out for the evening with face masks on, eating chocolate and watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  It was so nice and made me miss living closer to her and how we used to be able to do that all the time.  We played a few games of GeoGuessr too!

On Friday morning we had a few hours before Rachael had to go, so we played a big long game of 'catching the bad guys' and putting them in jail.  We went to the Bristol tree on the trail of the baddies.  We took it in turns to be the baddy or the policemen/spies.  Eric's crimes were always 'stealing chickens' or 'hitting a cat'!



And then Rah Rah had to go home! I was really upset for a while afterwards, I always miss her a lot when she goes.  But I know I'm lucky to have a friend where every time we see each other we pick up where we left off and everything feels as relaxed and easy as if we only saw each other yesterday.  I'm really looking forward to seeing her in a few months.