I am half way through writing my next travel post, but as I was browsing through my photos today, I felt I wanted to write about our last couple of weeks at home instead.
The first week or so after getting back was very low key. Jet lag and general transitioning back to life at home kept us close to home. We slowly unpacked, did homely activities, played and took our time to land gently back into our life.
The garden was looking very wild after five weeks without attention, plus a lot of rain with sunny intervals (!) Many of our vegetable plants had gone to seed, like this giant sunflower,
or just shrivelled up, but despite the neglect, we still have quite a bit of fruit and veg to enjoy, including the yummy purple, yellow and green beans that my daughters like to pick and eat straight off the plant.
We have apples on a couple of our espalier trees for the first time which is lovely
and there are some tomatoes in the greenhouse (with more to come).
The courgettes are doing well, the beetroots are huge (!) and there is plenty of chard for us and the hens 🙂 so we are feeling grateful.
Our flower/herb bed is wild but beautiful and we have been bringing flowers into the house regularly to enjoy.
One of our neighbours puts her windfall apples out on the street everyday, so we have been helping ourselves to those and using them to make apple sauce. I followed Brandy’s advice to just cut the apples in half or into big pieces (no peeling and coring as I usually do), place them in a big pot with some water, let them soften and then use a food mill (that I rediscovered in our garage – I bought it in a flea market years ago to make jam and totally forgot about it!) to remove the pips, peel etc. It worked a treat (thanks Brandy!). I added cinammon as we like it that way.
I froze the bulk of it and left some in the fridge for the children to snack on. Just when I thought I was on top of all the apples, my husband came back with a huge trug of apples for me!
what to do with them….apple cake, apple chutney, fruit leathers, more dried apple….hmmn..let’s see….:-)
We have also been trying out our new exciting dehydrator! I have wanted one for years and thanks to a kind gift, we could finally treat ourselves to one. Hurrah!
The girls were so excited to try dehydrated fruits and were very helpful in preparing them. We had a little production line going for the apples 🙂
The fruit is going down really well as you can see! We are on our second batch 🙂 Bananas and pineapples are particularly decadent.
I have also had a go at drying herbs in the dehydrator on a very low temperature, but I do think hanging them up is easy enough and pretty and fragrant to boot 🙂
My husband dried courgette slices with a bit of chilli too. They were delicious, but took a loooong time. We are still experimenting and enjoying exploring the possibilities. 🙂
The girls have had fun rediscovering their toys and played happily for hours. I think they are glad to be back home. Here they are in a game of Pippi Longstocking 🙂
My husband worked in our garden for a few days when we got back to ease himself back to work. It was lovely to still have him around. He laid a patio under the new pergola.
We decided to add a few little sections of colour using these glass nuggets, My husband raised the area with a mortar base. When that was dry he laid the nuggets on tile adhesive and filled it all in with grey grout the next day. They will blend in better with time, but they already look so pretty and it adds a lovely element of colour and texture to the area. We are planning to do something similar with the risers of the steps leading up the garden when we get a chance, this time involving the children more.
He also laid some astroturf in the children’s play area.
We had bark chip down, but the neighbourhood cats were using the area as a toilet and it was putting the children off, not to mention their shoes coming into the house covered in not so fragrant poo! 😦 So we bought a green ‘carpet’ for that area instead. Personally I wouldn’t use astroturf for a lawn, but for this area it is perfect. The girls are really enjoying using the area now.
Here is my youngest giving her toys some fresh air 🙂
By our second weekend, we felt ready to venture out. We spent a nice afternoon just the four of us at a favourite local National Trust place, playing pooh sticks,
running around and following a trail that also involved a bit of dressing up 🙂
That evening, there just happened to be a free firework display and fun fair a short walk from where we live, so we thought we would go along and have a look.
My eldest daughter is getting more adventurous with age and has never got dizzy (as a little one, she used to spin around looking at books or singing to herself for long swathes of time!) so she was very game to try a few rides. My youngest found it rather busy and noisy, but after watching her sister and daddy on the rides, she decided to be brave and have a go and she really loved it.
The firework display was too loud for her, so while my eldest and Daddy went forward to have a look, we had to move as far back as possible. She is very sensitive to outside impressions and noises (like her sister is in other ways).
As we walked back home, we marvelled at the almost full moon reflecting on the water. A surprisingly fun spontaneous evening was had 🙂
We saw a few friends in the last couple of days before school began, including going on a blackberry picking trip. The original plan was to find elderberries, but the trees had been stripped bare already 😦 and besides the children were much more interested in the ripe and ready fruit on offer, eating it straight from the bush.:-)
We did manage to take a little punnetful home with some encouragement (!) We returned home with cuts on our hands and legs (from the brambles), purple stained lips and fingers and a healthy glow. It was lovely to be out in nature with friends, enjoying nature’s gifts.
Going back to school was rather tricky as we hadn’t managed to wake up at 7am before then. I had tried to wake us up a little earlier every day, but 7am seemed too much of a shock to the system. I didn’t manage to take a first day back photo (as is our tradition) as we were rather late. Ho hum….
I am sure we will get in the rhythm again. It is difficult to let the longer, easy, more leisurely days of summertime go…..
On Friday we attended a party for one of my youngest daughter’s classmates. It was really enjoyable and they played some unusual games, including devising a box/invention to house an egg, so that it wouldn’t break when thrown from a considerable height! The children had such fun doing it and were really engaged. Amazingly only a few eggs broke. My eldest daughter didn’t go to the party, but wanted to have a go inventing something similar. She dug a few things out of our recycling and succeeded in making a cardboard contraption that protected the egg from breaking. Great Fun!
Soon after she decided to make a shower for her mouse 🙂
We had a rather busy weekend for us. On Saturday we went to a local festival with friends (I left my camera at home). It was forest based, with arts and crafts, storytelling and various other activities. Unfortunately we got there rather late and it started raining, so we spent most of the time in the craft tent, making flower crowns and decorating little wooden figures with foam clay which was a nice idea and produced a good effect.
On Sunday we hosted a party for friends who are going to travel the world for a year with their eight year old daughter and who have recently married. They have given up their home to be rented, so we offered to have a celebration and goodbye party at ours, inviting other friends from our craft group (which has evolved over time) and their families. It was a lovely gathering – really warm and supportive.
My daughters helped with the party preparations including putting these pretty fruit skewers together.
My husband was keen to do a bbq, despite the British weather (ie rain!) It’s only our second bbq this summer….
Everyone brought a dish and something for the BBQ or to drink and we had a lovely spread.
The children had a fine time – there were nine in total ranging from 7 to 13 years – all sweet children – and they all seemed to get on well. They enjoyed playing outside, having adventures and lots of hide and seek went on too.
There was dressing up in the evening, music making and a very harmonious atmosphere.
After a couple of s’mores each (we had to toast the marshmallows in the oven due to the rain outside, but it worked just fine), the children (and adults!) had chocolate smeared faces and were slightly high on sugar! (it is rare moment in our family – I think my youngest was almost drunk on the stuff!)
They wound down with some quiet time with Daddy at the end of the evening on the sofa.
So that’s the round up of our weeks. It’s been full and lovely to be back.