This past week

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We are back in the school routine now, since yesterday. My daughters were fine going back, although I am sure they would much rather be at home playing! We had a lovely week pottering about the house and seeing a few more friends. I try to be very child centred in the holidays and love to spend time with my daughters. I sometimes hear parents complain that the holidays are too long, but I enjoy having my children at home with me and having fun and adventuring together. I feel very fortunate to be a stay-at-home parent and homemaker and to spend this time with my children. There are sacrifices in this life too, but it is a life I choose willingly.

This week:

*   We made these cheese biscuits, which we quite like. I purchased some bunny cutters  before Easter so we could make Easter biscuits and then proceeded to mislay them! 😦 Getting set up for Easter with our two nature table boxes and all the paraphenalia we like to scatter about the place (!),  returning from holiday and an accumulation of paperwork (that always tends to go on the backburner in the holidays), not to mention all the craft materials squirrelled here and there inbetween activities – make it difficult to locate things!  I found them a couple of days after Easter (!) so we finally made shortbread biscuits (albeit parmesan shortbread..)

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*   We finally made some balms using the calendula, chickweek and plantain oils that we created last summer and that have been lurking at the back of the fridge for rather a long time!! I have been promising my daughters we would make the balms  for ages, every time they had a scratch, itch or bite – I really don’t know what took me so long – it is so easy to do!!

I mixed the three oils together as this trio soothe all manner of skin ailments.  I think I will mix comfrey oil into it next time to really cover everything!

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Calendula is a great all round skin soother. It can be used on cuts, mild burns, insect bites and dry, chapped skin, including the lips. It can also help soothe rashes (including nappy rash) and chickenpox scabs, to mention a few.

Plantain (plantago) helps to treat cuts and skin irritations such as nappy rash, sunburn, nettle stings, insect bites and bee stings. It is anti-inflammatory.

Chickweek (stellaria) can be used on cuts, bruises, sores and dry, chapped skin and is also good for rashes (when I was pregnant with my eldest, I had an allotment and the caterpillars there gave everyone an allergic rash. I had it all over my belly and legs and used chickweed ointment to alleviate the itch. Very effective, I found).

We found the recipe in our herb fairies magazine, but something very similar is also in the wonderful resource Medicinal Herbs – a Beginners Guide by Rosemary Gladstar.

Here’s how to make our “triple action” soothing balm:

You will need:

1 cup of herb oil – single oils or a combination of your favourite ones
1/4 cup beeswax
2 Vitamin E gel capsules ( if you have them)

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Measure out a third of a cup of each oil ( or one cup if you are only using one oil).

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Heat gently in a bainmarie (glass bowl over a saucepan of boiling water in our case).

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Add a quarter of a cup of grated beeswax.

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Once the beeswax is melted, test the consistency of the balm, by either putting a small amount on a plate and placing it in the freezer for a minute, or put a small amount on a teaspoon and see how it sets.

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If the consistency is as desired then you are ready to decant the liquid. If it is too soft,  add a little more beeswax to make it firmer or if it is too hard, add a little more oil.  Ours is lovely and soft and easy to apply. If you have them, add two Vitamin E capsules. Pierce them with a pin and squeeze them into your cooling liquid.

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Decant the liquid into your containers using a ladle. It will be hot, so make sure they are on the surface where they will cool.

Add the essential oil of your choice or leave it ‘au naturel’. I looked up essential oils for dry skin and rose and geranium seemed popular, so the girls decided on rose. I made one with rose and geranium for my husband and rose and jasmine for me as they are favourite scents of mine.

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It feels like a lovely treat applying it and my daughters, who dislike being doctored by me, can doctor themselves with these soothing balms. They are using it for everything and it is very gentle on their sensitive skins. I have eczema on one of my hands – due to all the washing up, garden duties, hand washing etc and it has already made a difference, so I would highly recommend making your own herbal oils and balms. They cost very little and are a wonderful way to conserve natures medicines. I believe they last up to a year in a cool place. I don’t think they will last so long here!!

And one last step, just because… label your jars beautifully. My motto is:  whatever you do, make it beautiful  🙂

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*   We finally started work in our vegetable garden. As we were away over the Easter break, we didn’t want to start beforehand as it was too dry and there was no one to water the plants in the greenhouse.

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I try to follow the Biodynamic Calendar for our planting and sowing:

On Easter Monday afternoon we sowed our fruiting plant seeds in pots, eg: tomatoes, squash, sweetcorn, courgettes, peas and beans.

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This past Sunday afternoon we put our leafy veg seeds in the beds eg: spinach, chard, celery, salads, leaf herbs, leeks, cabbages etc.

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We will sow our root veg seeds on Friday eg: carrots, parsnips, onion, garlic, potatoes.

I learnt this method from an older chap that I used to talk to at my allotment many years ago, who was a great admirer of Rudolf Steiner’s work and it has stood me in good stead (this was years before I had children and discovered Waldorf education).

We were rather late getting our crops in last year, but everything grew well, so we are hopeful. We certainly grew enough to feed our chickens and guinea pigs and had a glut of tomatoes, cucumbers and strawberries and a few other goodies.

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I have covered the sown beds with washed and crushed egg shells (that I have been saving all winter) to try to deter snails and slugs and will be ordering some nematodes soon as too many of our little seedlings were dessimated last year. I have also heard that covering the beds with holly helps ,so i may go out and see what I can find in my local park 🙂 Fingers crossed!

*    I am still working on my purple sweater. It has mainly been knitted on car journeys and whilst watching episodes of Fawlty Towers on Netflix (a politically incorrect but hilarious comedy show about a English hotel, set in the 1970’s). It reaches past my waist now and I only have one skein left to knit up, so hopefully it won’t take too long. I am really enjoying the colour so it keeps me interested!

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Next I need to start thinking about making birthday presents for my youngest who will be eight at the end of May and my eldest has put in a request for short sleeved version of this cardigan designed by the very talented Laura . I would like to make it for her before she goes on her school camp in June.

*    Another little crafting achievement this week is this “Piggywig” my eldest daughter needlefelted for a game 🙂

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I love it. She is thinking of making more to sell at the Christmas Fayre at our school in December.  It is always good to make plans 🙂

What are you enjoying making/creating this week?

Joining Nicole at Crafting On

 

Animal tales…

As I mentioned in my last post, we had a visitor come to stay with us this past week. She was full of fun, lively, affectionate and a joy to have around and the house feels so quiet without her. Her name is Dotty and she is a working springer spaniel 🙂

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The week flew by. We enjoyed our daily walks to the park: sometimes we wondered who was walking who (!) as she pulled us around the park!

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We played ball for long swathes of time, taking it in turn to throw the ball and Dotty never tired of it; she literally has boundless energy.

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The park became her playground, but there were a few moments when we managed to  slow her down enough for a ‘photo shoot’

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or for the children to rest a while 😉

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or throw sticky grass onto each other!

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I am not sure this breed of dog would suit us long term as we don’t always have the time or energy for such a lively dog. When my husband took her to work she was well behaved, but she kept distracting the men by nudging her ball towards them expectantly and persevered until she got what she wanted! We used to have a collie, Jess for a year and a half, inherited from a lady who was very sick and needed to rehome her asap. She was a lovely dog, but very similar in nature to Dotty and needed a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. I had a young baby (my eldest) and my husband was working indoors for a while, so she didn’t get the attention she really deserved. In the winter evenings, my husband often had to go out to the park with her after work to throw the ball around in the darkness!  It wasn’t really ideal! Luckily we managed to rehome her with an older couple,  who used to look after her when we went on holiday and grew to love her and she had a lovely rest of her life, with plenty of walks and a large garden in which to run around, not to mention roast dinners (over the dry biscuits we were giving her!). So that story has a happy ending 🙂

So if we do get a dog, we will have to think carefully about the breed. We are certainly tempted as it had a surprisingly calming effect on us all and was so nice to have those doggie cuddles!

Now we have other animal issues. One of our guinea pigs, ‘Pipkin’ is sick 😦 He has been out of sorts for days and I took him to the vet today as we noticed he hasn’t been eating at all or passing any stools, which is serious for a guinea pig. The vet suggested all kinds of investigations that really are out of our price range and I am not sure they are all warranted either. In the end, we are feeding him some special feed via a syringe and giving him various medicines for his gut, as his abdomen is distended and the vet hoped it would help with the bloating. We are also giving him water via a syringe regularly as he isn’t drinking either 😦 I gave him homeopathic carbo veg earlier as a ‘reviver’ and was thinking of lycopodium too as that is good for the kidneys and the digestive system. If anyone knows of anything that may help him, please do let me know as we are concerned for our sweet little two year old ‘Pipkin’.

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The vet suggested we separate him from his friend ‘Bubble’ so we could keep an eye on him, so I set up half of our hutch indoors. When my youngest daughter found out her ‘Bubble’ would be alone in the outside hutch without his ‘Pipkin’, there were floods of tears, so I cleaned up the other part of the hutch and brought him in to be next to ‘Pipkin’.

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They are so close, they immediately found each other and had a chat :-). It was touching to see (‘Pipkin’ is on the right hand side).

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He has been so quiet and withdrawn, it was nice to see him more animated and at least he is close to his friend now. Everyone is happier that way. We shall do our best for Pipkin and pray he recovers as he is a valued member of our family.

We really love our animals here and wouldn’t be without them. They enhance our life and teach the children to care for others in a very natural way.

 

Easter crafting

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I suspect this is going to be rather a long post but it is my first Easter post here and I always tend to have a lot of things that I like to share, so please bear with me 🙂

We had a rather busy week; resettling at home after our holiday and seeing friends, but I also made sure we had some nice leisurely mornings at home doing some Easter-themed making.

Wednesday was baking morning and we made these Easter inspired bread rolls.

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On Thursday, the theme of the day was ‘eggs’. We blew lots of eggs and got very light headed (!) especially as my youngest wanted to blow five eggs, just for her!

We tried dyeing them with natural dyes, but it wasn’t a great success story – rather disappointing in fact 😦  so we decided to paint them instead.

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I particularly love this egg my eldest decorated.

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She was using an egg that my German great aunt Heidi (her namesake) painted for us (below) as an inspiration and it worked out beautifully I think.

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In the afternoon, the girls sat down for some needle felting in the garden. We needle felted a few Easter eggs (needle felting onto polystyrene egg shapes) to hang from our Easter tree branches,

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and both girls worked on their secret Easter projects for each other – they sat back to back so they couldn’t peak at each other’s top secret work!

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On Friday, we had a friend over to play in the morning and in the afternoon their gift making continued whilst watching a new film (to us)  Easter Parade with Fred Astaire and Judy Garland (and the gorgeous Peter Lawford – a childhood crush of mine!!) We love musicals and when we watch a film, which isn’t too often, it is usually the old fashioned variety. The girls loved it and have been singing the tunes ever since 🙂 I grew up watching musicals with my father, so it is nice to share them with my daughters.

On Saturday morning we made some date truffle ‘eggs’, dipped in carob powder and coconut shavings.

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Usually we shape them into a round, but this time we tried to mold them into little egg shapes instead. When I find a sweet recipe that I think will work, I always change it to suit us and add in as many goodies as possible to up the nutritional content. Here is our version:

  • 200g medjool dates
  • 200ml filtered water
  • 200g mixed nuts and seeds – I used pumpkin, sunflower, chia and hemp seeds and various nuts
  • desiccated coconut
  • carob or cacao/cocoa powder

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Place the dates with the water in a small pan over a low heat.

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Use a fork to gently  mash the dates up as they soften.

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When they are soft and ‘smooshed’, use a hand blender to make a puree.

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Mill or chop the nuts and seeds finely (I used a spice grinder). If you like more crunch, only grind a little. I don’t grind the chia and hemp seeds as they are so small and add some texture.

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Once cooled, add the puree to the nuts and mix well. You can add some dessicated coconut or carob/cocoa/cacao powder at this point if you like.

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Take little portions of the mixture and roll into a ball – it is a bit sticky. That’s fine.

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Roll the ball in some dessicated coconut and shape as desired

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Or roll it in cocoa/carob/cacao powder and do the same.

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A lovely refined sugar-free trip for all the family to enjoy – Yum!

In the afternoon we went to a National Trust Place with friends and enjoyed a challenging trail there. It was a beautiful sunny day and so good to get out and about with friends. It is always a blessing when our friends’ children get on with ours – it doesn’t always work out that way. When it does, we all have a lovely time. Hurrah!

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And now finally onto our Easter Sunday family traditions. We are not a particularly religious family. We believe in a Mother/Father God and often converse with our Guardian Angels, but we don’t attend church regularly and rather find our spiritual connection in nature and in creation. Easter for us is a celebration of spring and new life. We have a book about Jesus and the resurrection, but my eldest finds it too distressing, so we choose to focus on nature instead: on the return of the flowers and new buds, on the planting of seeds that will produce food to sustain us; on the birth of new life all around us: the birds, lambs, young fox cubs and so forth. There is strong message of hope and renewal in nature at this time. The World is Good.  We are never closer to God than when we are creating, whether it be a new baby, a piece of music, something beautiful to enhance our homes or a healthy meal to nourish our families. Just showing up here, I feel closer to the creator who I believe wants us to share and spread the goodness. Of course these are just my thoughts and we all have our own way of looking at things that works for and nourishes us, but this is the spirit in which we celebrate Easter; spending time in nature, creating and sharing our gifts with each other.

In preparation for Easter and so the ‘Easter Hare’ knows where to find us, we decorate the garden with plastic Easter eggs that we bought in Germany.

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On our Easter table, I like to keep things simple as much as possible with a white table cloth, a light yellow cloth placed on top and a yellow candle. A kind friend gave us these stackable eggs/chicks last year, which I suspect will be a permanent feature here at Easter.

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I made us a fresh set of napkins as I felt we needed them and I love light yellow floral fabric at this time of year.

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In our family area, I always try to create a special festive atmosphere, so our mobile over the table has Easter eggs hanging from it and some wool in Easter colours looped around the wicker hoop.

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I hung a homemade paper garland on one of our large back doors,

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and an artificial forsythia garland (which we have had for years and love), complete with clip on butterflies, on the other back door.

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On the Nature table the animals were joined by their young on Easter morning

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and a felt caterpillar on a felted leaf (that I made at our school Parent and Child group many years ago) metamorphoses overnight into a butterfly that hangs from our Easter tree – a lovely symbolic gesture for a very young child, that my children still appreciate today.

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The branches are hung with small wooden Easter eggs, many of which come from my own childhood and Easters spent with my lovely German grandparents.

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I hide several small felted eggs around the nature table to be found and put into the little baskets that Mother Earth and her children are looking after.

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And here is the Easter Hare!

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I bought him at a flea market in Germany as the Easter Hare is a tradition there. Here people talk more of Easter bunnies, I find.

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We also have an ‘Easter tree’ as I mentioned, which is basically a vase full of branches that we foraged from our local park, hung with decorated Easter eggs and some little clip on birds. If Easter is earlier, traditionally the branches would be forsythia twigs, but I had to make do with an artificial forsythia branch amongst the bare branches. It still looks pretty i think. This is a German tradition I believe, at least that is where it comes from in my family. It is such a joyful sight. 🙂

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On Easter morning, we enjoyed a visit from the Easter Hare. ‘He’ was out early in the morning hiding eggs all over our garden, followed not too much later by our daughters searching for them! It’s really is just as well there isn’t much time lapse between the two as seagulls are notorious for stealing Easter eggs from gardens here (!) so the ‘Easter Hare’ musn’t come too early, but equally not too late to be discovered! It is a fine line ‘he’ treads 🙂

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My daughters still use the Easter baskets they lovingly made in Kindergarten.

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They wrote the Easter hare a card each and left some hay and a carrot out for him with a basket full of plastic eggs that ‘he’ tends to fill with nuts and raisins.

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He also hides chocolate eggs, which Daddy and I have been sampling (!) whilst the girls enjoy the little carob Easter eggs they found in their Easter boxes.

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I fill these little boxes with a few small gifts placed on some coloured wool. Our daughters are always delighted to see what surprises are in there.

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They typically contain some carob eggs, a carob lolly, a couple of tiny toys and/or some kind of craft material or jewellery and something small made by me – the girls are generally easily pleased, thank goodness!

As for homemade presents, at school, my youngest made this Easter basket

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and my eldest made this fired clay hen bowl and spoon set.

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My eldest made her sister this needle felted hen and chick duo,

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and my youngest sewed this little felt hare for her sister

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I made us all some little egg hats for our Easter breakfast. Here are the two I made for my daughters.

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I tried to find a simple pattern to fit the medium-sized eggs that our hens lay, but after trying a couple in vain, I made up my own version which fits well. My daughters were delighted. They are very much into pom pom/bobble hats right now, so I thought they would go down well 🙂

In the spirit of sharing, the instructions for our little stripey egg cosies are as follows:

Using aran yarn and 4.5mm needles, 

  • CO 21 stitches
  • Knit 4 rows

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  • Knit one row, Purl one row (twice) – 2 rows per colour

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  • New colour : K1 K2tog, K4, K2tog (three times)  17sts 
  • Purl row
  • New colour: K1 K2tog, K3 (twice), K2tog, K4  14sts
  • Purl row

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  • Cut the working thread to 15/20cm and using a tapestry needle, take the thread through the working stitches.

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  • Pull the stitches together and secure by sewing both sides together

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  • Continue to sew the two sides together all the way down the hat, making sure the colours are matching on the way down.

To make a tiny pompom, wind some yarn around your finger

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  • Remove it from your finger and place a length of yarn under it. Tie it round the small ball of yarn and secure
  • Take some sharp scissors and cut the closed ends open.

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  • Leave one long thread and use it to secure the pom pom to the hat

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I made this one for my good friend Debbie – fifteen minutes well spent! 🙂

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As a Easter present for us, our daughters did a short play, which we really enjoyed.

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They were the Easter Hare and his able assistant, complete with bunny ears and pom pom tails. I really enjoy their ideas and there was singing (of course!)

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Apart from the Easter egg hunt in the morning and the play later on, we just had a quiet day at home enjoying each others company.

On Monday we greeted a new visitor, Dotty! She is a working springer Spaniel, who has come to stay with us for a week whilst her owners are on holiday.

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She is a darling. So so lively, but also so affectionate and fun. It is hard to be melancholic with a dog around, so I think she is good for the children! We think of getting a dog, but are undecided, so it is helpful to see the implications of having a dog without leaping in blind. Our chickens weren’t too impressed with a dog running around the place for starters!! I have never heard such a commotion from them before!!

Well, it is time to close this post now. I do hope you have had a peaceful Easter and are enjoying all the goodness and wonder of springtime, with plenty of spring crafting thrown in 🙂

Joining Nicole for Crafting On

 

Crafting in Cornwall

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When we go away on a break, I always bring a few craft materials with us in case of a rainy day or for when inspiration strikes and my daughters feel the urge to create. I mentioned some of these here.

This holiday, as I mentioned here, we enjoyed lovely sunny spring days, so we were out exploring or playing outside much of the time, but there were still a few moments for colouring in Easter pictures,

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and egg designs (enlarged and photocopied from here).

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The girls also made some spring items out of plasticine,

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and I also cut out felt so we can make some more spring  flower ‘children’. Here are three ‘children’ I made on our journey home -they are so bright and cheery 🙂

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Of course there was some car knitting and I have made good progress on my sweater, although the cowl neck is so hugely long (15 inches!), that I feel I haven’t got that far at all! I ran out of yarn near the end of the holiday, hence the felt children 🙂

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This meditative, repetitive knitting is doing me good right now, especially as I find purple a soothing. yet uplifting colour.

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But for now we need to turn our attention to Easter-themed crafts as it is Easter tomorrow after all!

Wishing you all a peaceful, joyful Easter 

 

 

Springtime in Cornwall

On Monday we returned from ten days away, in Cornwall and a couple of days visiting relatives in Devon, in the South West of England. I spent all of Tuesday unpacking, washing, cleaning and putting things back in their rightful place (!) and since then we have been busy seeing friends and gearing up for Easter (will share more soon) so there has been no time to catch up here, but finally here I am! 

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Cornwall – ah what a place! Famous for its wide sandy beaches, rugged coastline and smuggler’s coves; its mining heritage, farming, and fishing; for fresh seafoood, Cornish ales, clotted Cream teas and ice cream, for its impressive subtropical gardens and that special quality of light that draws artists to the area to live and work. All of these and so much more make Cornwall a popular holiday location.

Every spring and summer tens of thousands of holidaymakers flock to the countryside and coastal resorts of  Cornwall and Devon. It is the seventh time we have visited Cornwall and the fifth as a family. There is something about the area that draws people back time and again.

This year, we ventured right to the South Western tip of Cornwall, staying in a cottage in the countryside near Penzance. Oh my, it was a looooooong trip!

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Our youngest daughter got sick with something like food poisoning 😦 so we had to stop off several times for her to use the bathroom and often she couldn’t wait and was sick at the side of the road. Poor love!  It was a horrible journey for her. She was sat on my lap for most of it in the back seat of the car, sleeping and feeling dreadful. By the time we arrived we were both smelling of sick and needed a bath!

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But after the long eight hour drive (it should only have taken six), there was tea and cake and a warm welcome on our arrival at our holiday cottage and all was well with the world again 🙂

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The cottage was gorgeous with lots of space inside to relax and a large back garden, backing onto fields which our daughters loved. The house came complete with a small library, games and outdoor play equipment so there were lots of games of tennis and frisbee and new stories to share. It was so wonderful to not be overlooked and have the whole countryside in front of us. We certainly enjoyed our fair share of stunning sunsets,

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and were even paid a visit by some neighbouring cows who were very curious about what we were up to!

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One day my youngest sang and danced for them when she thought we weren’t looking – the cows were captivated, it was so sweet!

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There was also a young sparrow living in a piece of guttering who sang us a merry tune every morning and throughout the day. He was full of the joys of spring 🙂

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Spring was all around us; lambs in the fields, nests in the trees and wild garlic, celandines, wild anenomes, cowslips and primroses grew abundantly by the wayside and in the hedgerows. So much colour and such beautiful light. We were blessed with some warm sunny days, so we could go out and explore the surrounding area.

I thought I would share my thoughts on our trip to Cornwall here in case it would be of interest to folks thinking of visiting the area and besides I am enjoying documenting what we are doing as a family here, so here goes 🙂

Apologies for the photo quality in advance. I was using my daughter’s camera and she didn’t want me fiddling with the settings so I just pointed and shot and hoped for the best! 

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On our first day we visited Porthcurno  beach. The sun was shining so we ventured to the sea to dip our feet in it. It was freezing! We persevered for a bit, but I am so sensitive to cold, it was too intense for me.

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There were a few hardy children splashing in the sea, but it wasn’t for us. I retired to the beach with my youngest for a spot of knitting on the infinity scarf I am making her. Here she is putting a few stitches in.

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There is a telegraph museum there and it is a lovely walk to the sea from the car park, along paths dotted with meadow flowers at either side. We sampled some of the wild garlic and treated our daughters to their first Cornish ice cream at the cafe there. The beach felt very unspoilt and it is such a beautiful spot.

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Another beach we enjoyed visiting was at Sennen Cove, which is popular with surfers and there is a surf school there.

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The weather wasn’t too warm so we didn’t try the sea that day, but it was fascinating  watching the surfers and our daughters enjoyed the freedom of running around the beach. We had our first cream tea at the cafe there, overlooking the sea.

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Another day we took a trip to Land’s End, which is at the most south-westerly tip of Cornwall. Next stop America!

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The car parking charges were steep at £5 per car and it was rather a commercial set up (think 4 D cinemas and Shaun the Sheep Experience, not to mention charging folks £9 for having their photo taken by the iconic Land’s End signpost!), with nowhere decent to eat (bring a picnic!), but the coastline is stunning.

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So rugged and windswept. Our daughters were keen to see some wildlife: we didn’t spot any dolphins or seals, but we were delighted to see a shag perched on a rock out at sea.

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It was a particularly breezy day, so our daughters didn’t enjoy the walk along the cliff tops and we didn’t get too far. I would say it is worth a visit if you don’t mind paying for the car park, but sadly it is too over commercialised for our liking.

We also visited Penzance one day and St Ives another. I would recommend St Ives for a visit.

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It is a very sweet seaside town with lovely shops, restaurants and some art galleries including the iconic art gallery The Tate, St Ives. We didn’t make it there, but we did look at a few small art galleries/shops including the Jo Downs handmade glass gallery and treated ourselves to a small glass picture for our bathroom. We couldn’t resist such beauty. We had hoped to see some glass work in action, but came too late in the day, unfortunately. There were also several nice beaches and some funky cafes,

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And of course an independent Cornish ice cream parlour 🙂

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We visited a couple of Gardens during our visit. Cornwall is not subject to hard frosts due to its position, so subtropical plants are able to flourish here, which makes it a very special place.

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The first place we visited was the National Trust garden Trengwainton, which was close to our cottage.

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I am always impressed by how succulents and tree ferns can grow happily outdoors here and love the colourful displays courtesy of the camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons.

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Our daughters did an easy trail through the garden and received a chocolate rabbit as a reward to share. As they don’t eat chocolate, we gifted it onto our 23 year old cousin Bradley 😉 They were able to enjoy another ice cream instead in the lovely independent cafe there :-).

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Another garden we visited was Trebah Garden, near Falmouth, which is a favourite of ours. It was a longer drive, but well worth the trip. This lush subtropical garden, with a collection of over 5000 plants, is made up of four miles of winding footpaths,  taking you around an impressive array of planting areas, which include tree ferns, giant gunneras, bamboos, magnolias and vibrant azaleas and rhodedendrons.

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There are many seating areas to rest a while and enjoy the scenery, including numerous ponds and streams.

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The garden stretches all the way down to a small private beach where a stream meets the sea.

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Even sitting outside in the cafe having our lunch was a treat. It is truely sublime at Trebah at this time of year and I hear the summer hydrangeas are just stunning.

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There was a trail for our daughters to follow which they rather enjoyed and we just loved being right in the midst of this subtropical paradise. As you can see, I can’t recommend it highly enough!

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We spent our last afternoon at St Michael’s Mount, a place steeped in history and legend. At low tide, you can walk across a causeway from Marazion, but we had to take a little motor boat over there. My eldest was petrified at the thought of it, but once we got going, she quite enjoyed the five minute trip over to the island.

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Cobbled streets (that are rather uncomfortable to walk on!) lead up to the 14th Century Castle and Medieval church, which is now in the care of the National Trust.

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The Mount had a chequered history, alternating between monastic use and serving as a fortress, until wealthy Cornish landowners, the St Aubyns family, bought it in 1660. They owned it until 1964 when it was given to the National Trust to manage.  Some of the family still live in appartments on the island, I believe. We were able to explore the castle and church, but the gardens were not yet open to the public, which is a shame as I have heard great things about them.

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Our daughters did a little trail around the building, but my eldest who is particularly sensitive, didn’t enjoy the armoury and weaponry in the building. It felt oppressive to her, as did our visit to Mont St Michel in the summer. I found it interesting enough and enjoyed taking photos as usual 🙂

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The views to the coast were stunning and it was a beautiful sunny afternoon.

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You can see the causeway under the sea here

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As it was our last day,  we treated ourself to a Cream tea, something you should never miss when visiting Cornwall.

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There is a difference between how the Cornish and Devonians take their cream tea.  I was told that in Cornwall, the jam comes first and then the clotted cream goes on top, but in Devon it is the other way around. I have to say I love it the Cornish way 🙂 My husband and eldest daughter like it the other way and my youngest says she just loves it any way 🙂 A good Cream tea is always a treat!
We did give up sugar and caffeine for Lent and were doing so well, but we agreed on a hiatus for three of the days whilst on holiday as the cream teas are not to be missed and the cake on our arrival was a sweet relief after our long trip!

After we left Cornwall, we paid a visit to family in Devon who are dairy farmers. We spent a lovely afternoon walking around the Tarr Steps area.

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We noticed that there are several felled trees with coins hammered all over them and whilst we were there we saw more visitors hammering coins in with stones.

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I have since found out that these are called “wishing trees”, a tradition dating back to Victorian times. Supposedly people believed that sticking a coin into a wishing tree would take away their illness and pass it onto the tree which had special powers. If the coin was removed, the person removing it would get the sickness.  It certainly looks very effective as a piece of artwork.

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Of course no visit would be complete without some clotted cream ice cream and some fun throwing sticky grass at the relatives! 🙂

I would definitely recommend Cornwall for a visit. There is so much to see and to experience and the people are very friendly and helpful in our experience and the scenery is breathtaking.