Thursday, 30 June 2011

Bonus Podling time

Blue skies and open fields beat the classroom hands down! 

Tom's teacher was on strike today and for reasons that would take too long to go into I opted to keep Lily home from school as well. Since I found myself with a whole day of bonus Podling time and the weather was dry, I decided it would be nice to spend lots of it outdoors. We went to the park near the house in the morning, but had to head home as I had some shopping coming at lunchtime. As a hat tip to the fact that it was supposed to be a schoolday, I did some school work with the Podlings during Emma's naptime. With that under our belts, I felt we could go out and enjoy the blue skies with a clear conscience.

We packed a basket of goodies, put Emma in the pram and took the 15 minute walk to a local country park. The Podlings had a great time in the play park and running on the grass before we laid out our blanket and sat down for our little picnic.

We had a lovely day and I really enjoyed my bonus time with the Podlings. Roll on the summer holidays!

Off to the park 

Tom with his 'camera smile'


Bend and stretch! 

Emma accosting the picnic basket

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

A spoonful of sugar

I always have a plate of biscuits or cakes waiting for Tom and Lily when they get home from school. It's my way of showing them that I think about them when they are away and look forward to them getting home. This afternoon I wanted to have something extra special for them as they won't be seeing their Daddy tonight because he has to work. During Emma's nap, I made a batch of chocolate fairy cakes and iced them with vanilla buttercream before topping them off with wafer daisies. Let's just say the Podlings weren't the only ones who enjoyed the treat! Mmmm!

Monday, 27 June 2011

A Sunny Sunday

The Staffordshire moors, viewed from Tittesworth

It was very sunny yesterday, so we drove out to Tittesworth Reservoir near Leek, which has a wonderful play park. Lily was keen to play in the sandpit, so we duly packed the buckets and spades and the obligatory picnic. I didn't take any pictures in the park because, to be honest, I was too oppressed by the heat to even think about taking the camera out of my bag. The Podlings had a great time, but it was too hot for me!

We cut the play a little short because of the sun and adjourned to the shade of the trees for our picnic. We enjoyed tea and cakes under the cooling canopy of leaves and then drove home across country to enjoy a barbecue tea in the back garden. We finished the day off with a special treat for Tom and Lily. We laid out a quilt on the grass in the front garden, took their supper outside and read them their bedtime story in the garden. A lovely end to a lovely family Sunday.

 This is a girl who knows how to pose in front of the camera!

 I'm not entirely sure what Tom is doing here!

'I do not wish to have my photograph taken thank you!'

Slightly out of focus, but I like the picture. It's not often I see a photo of myself these days that doesn't make me notice every pound I've put on since having Emma!


Caps, Caps for Sale...

...50 cents a cap!

Mark is a man who won't go anywhere without a hat. However, he always likes to make sure his hat fits the occasion and weather conditions. He couldn't decide which of his summer hats to wear on Sunday, so he took the 'why decide?' approach and wore all three to the car! There's a straw trilby, a Sussex cricket hat and a Brighton and Hove Albion baseball cap up there!

The title is a reference to the book 'Caps for Sale' by Esphyr Slobodkina, an excellent tale that the Podlings then insisted we had for our bedtime story after seeing Daddy with all his hats piled up like the peddler in the story.
Edited to add: Mark has asked me to point out that he does own more than three summer hats (as if somehow owning only three is something to be ashamed of!)

With a tuppence for paper and string

Well, perhaps a little more than tuppence. We bought this little pocket kite for Lily from Tesco for about £3 and she loves to fly it. It is a jumped up version of a carrier bag on a string and as such it is very easy to fly, which suits our independent little miss very well as she prefers to do things without help. That being said, I have to say that she does a really good job keeping it flying.

Saturday was not a particularly summery day. It was windy, overcast and threatening showers (on second thoughts, it was a typical British summer's day!) It was, however, perfect weather for kite flying, so off we went to a nearby field to let Lily fly her little kite. You can see from her face in the bottom two pictures that she takes it all very seriously!

These photos were all taken by Mark with his phone.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Walks with Emma

Emma loves to walk, which suits me fine because so do I. I love nothing more than a walk in the countryside and since we are lucky enough to back onto some farmland we are able to take some pleasant strolls when the weather permits. I let Emma set the pace and we enjoy the flowers, birds and open skies together before heading home for lunch. What a wonderful way to spend some special time with my littlest Podling.

Emma keeps picking the clover and blowing on them with all her might. She is utterly convinced they are dandelion clocks! 

We are so lucky to have all this on our doorstep.
Our walk also highlighted something else...I have a fingerprint on my camera lens! I shall have to clean it before I take any more pictures!

Foto Friday - Hands

This week I am participating in Foto Friday, hosted by Rebecca at Renaissance. I've been wanting to take part since she started this weekly challenge, but somehow I have never found the time. I didn't really find the time this week either, I just happened to take a photo that fits in with her challenge for the week, 'Hands'. I took this photo of Emma eating an apple on our walk this morning. I love the way she is grabbing it so tightly with one hand that her fingertips are going white, yet she is supporting it so daintily on the thumb and finger of her other hand.

Technically, it is not a good photo, merely a snapshot taken on a walk. I like it though. I daresay it would be a nicer picture if the little love had clean fingernails, but that's walks in the country for you. She likes to pick flowers and play in the dirt as much as the next baby!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Good things come to those who wait...

I am now the proud owner of this lovely oil painting! It was a bargain I picked up in a local charity shop this morning and I am over the moon with it! It reminds me of the Lake District (somewhere we love to holiday in and are very fond of) and the photograph doesn't do it justice. I've been wanting a lovely painting to go behind the sofa in our lounge for some time.  I knew I wanted an oil painting of an English landscape in an ornate gilt frame, but I have had to be patient as I have expensive taste!

I am a keen bargain hunter and love to visit charity shops and the like in search of treasure (by treasure I mean things that I like, not things that are worth money). I saw this painting a few weeks ago, but at £60 it was out of my price range. I went into to the shop again today and they had knocked the price down, but I still thought it a little pricey. As I asked them if they would take £35 for it my hands were shaking and my heart was racing...I'm not usually that brazen but I really like this picture. Thankfully they said that was fine, so now this beauty is hanging in my lounge and giving me pleasure every time I look at it. I'm looking at it a lot!

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
Its loveliness increases;" ~ Keats

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Father's day on the farm

To celebrate Father's Day we took a trip out to Wheelock Farm near Sandbach. It is a lovely place to pass a couple of hours, with a great play park and some farm animals that the children can pet. I was particularly taken with the calves, who looked to be very young indeed and were so soft. I also enjoyed the pigs, among whom were the amusingly named Banger, Rasher and Bacon. We haven't been here for a while, but we vowed to come back again soon as the Podlings had such a lovely time.

Tom got a little over enthusiastic with the steering wheel at one point and nearly wrenched Emma off the seat. Luckily Mark was right there to catch her!

Emma and Lily making friends with a goat. Emma kept trying to feed it tiny grains of animal food she found on the floor.

These calves were ADORABLE!

Emma thought the calves were great until one of them started making noise. 'Moo' is less amusing when actually said by a cow apparently!

Celebrating Father's Day with a very special Daddy.

 Lily loved the death slide and couldn't get enough of it. Luckily the park was quiet enough that she had it to herself.

My sweet boy!

Tom was very proud of his balancing feat as this beam was loose and wobbled as he walked. He asked me to photograph him and put it on the blog. I love it that the Podlings want me to document their achievements on the blog!

Mud, mud, glorious mud!

Emma's favorite part of our visit to Wheelock Farm was the muddy puddles. By the time she got to this puddle she was already so wet and dirty there was no point trying to stop her any more, so we just let her have at it. I'm not sure those socks will ever be white again!

Note to self: Buy Emma some wellies!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Emma in the park

Emma and I had the park to ourselves this morning, so I indulged in a little photo shoot with her. I just can't get enough of that sweet face!


Tuesday, 14 June 2011

First fruit

Lily showing off our first homegrown cucumber

This year we have been trying our hand at growing vegetables. It started out as a 'this would be a good thing for the Podlings' activity, but Mark and I have found ourselves getting quite excited about the whole thing. Initially, we just planted some tomato seeds, but have since widened our horizons and are also growing cucumbers, peppers, peas, potatoes, sugar snap peas, rocket, radishes, pumpkin, squash, runner beans, blackberries and strawberries. Oh, and cress...does cress count? I also have many varieties of flower seeds strewn at various points in the garden, because you can never have too many flowers.

We seem to be having phenomenal success getting the seeds to germinate and at one point we had 12 cherry tomato plants and 23 normal tomato plants, though we have since given some of these away. Our conservatory has become a makeshift greenhouse and every time I open the door the smell reminds me so much of my grandfather's greenhouse. It makes me very nostalgic!

Lily couldn't wait to wash our cucumber and polished it to a high shine before I sliced it.

This afternoon we had the excitement of harvesting our first cucumber. Tom declined to be photographed with the fruit, but he had no problem consuming vast quantities of it with his tea. With the exception of Mark, we all love cucumber, so this little guy didn't last long. Hopefully we won't have long to wait for another one to be ready for picking. It's all very exciting!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Tom's owl homework

Tom was really enjoying his homework with Daddy this evening.  It is usually hard to get him to engage with his homework, basically because he is a very bright little boy and he finds it all rather too easy. This week's homework was about owls and since he was learning something new, he was really interested in it. He liked the picture of the owls so much he asked me to "take a picture and put it on the blog so we can always look at it" I did!

The photos are not the best quality I'm afraid, but they do show Tom's new haircut. He was getting rather desperate again so I took the scissors to him this afternoon and he looks like a little boy again!


Sunday, 5 June 2011

A country walk

Norcliff chapel on the Styal Estate

I was craving the countryside today, so we packed a picnic and drove to the Styal Estate near Manchester. With Mark still recovering, we only took a short, gentle walk, but it was so nice to get some fresh air and enjoy the beautiful countryside. We had a little picnic in a nearby park and then enjoyed a pretty drive home.

There is a lot more to the Styal estate than we saw today, including Quarry Bank Mill (Europe's most powerful working waterwheel), so we would like to go back there again when Mark is up to a more strenuous day out.

Buttercups everywhere...beautiful!

I love this photo of Tom and Lily.

Big Podling hug!

I found this Bittersweet, or Woody Nightshade, and had to take a picture as I have never seen them for myself before. I love wildflowers.

Shame about the sun glare, but otherwise a nice picture.

Emma loved the bull and was trying to get it to come nearer by offering it handfuls of grass. Looking at his horns, I'm rather glad she didn't succeed! Emma was obviously inspired by the 'cow' and sang 'E-I-E-I-O Moo Moo' several times on the way back to the car (that's her version of Old MacDonald in case you were wondering!)

When we stopped in Tesco to pick up some picnic food, I found this pot of flowers reduced to 45p. I really can't work out why they are reduced, except that they have no label on them. I'm pretty sure that they are Kalanchoe though and since they seem to be one of the few potted houseplants I can keep alive I snatched them up. Since we had them in the car anyway, I thought they would make a pretty centrepiece for our picnic. Here Mark is showing his tolerance for his crazy wife using a floral centrepiece for a picnic!