Saturday, 28 April 2012

Little Moreton Hall

One of the highlights of my birthday was visiting Little Moreton Hall. The oldest parts of the house were built around 1450 with successive generations of the Moreton family adding to the building until around 1580. The moated property is a fabulous example of Tudor timber framed architecture and a wonder to behold. It has undergone extensive conservation by the National Trust in order to keep the building standing. Quite how it managed to survive so long without collapsing defies logic. The weight of the Long Gallery perched on top of the house causes the entire building to buckle and distort. The Long Gallery itself slopes so much and in so many different directions you actually feel a bit sea sick as you look along its length.

The property is absolutely fascinating and I fell in love with it during our visit. It is only about five miles from where we live, so we will definitely be going back again. I highly recommend a visit to this amazing building if you are in the area.

I loved the wood panelled walls. My money-no-object wall covering of choice would be oak panelling, but sadly money is most definitely an object!

This fireplace in what was a bedroom adjacent to the Long Gallery appears to slope dramatically to the left. In fact, it is the only thing in whole room that is actually level.

The stained glass window in the chapel dates from the early twentieth century 


Thursday, 26 April 2012

A perfect birthday

My delicious birthday breakfast 

Today I celebrated my 35th birthday and I had the most wonderful day. It started off with a delicious Continental style breakfast of pastries and hot chocolate, served on the best china. After breakfast Emma and I made my birthday cake and we had a lovely time in the kitchen together. Mark's Mum and Dad arrived at lunchtime to take care of Emma and to be here to pick Tom and Lily up from school so that Mark and I could go off and have lunch together. We drove across the Peak District and ate a delicious lunch at the Cat and Fiddle, which is the second highest inn in England. The views as we ate our lunch were amazing.

We stopped off at Little Moreton Hall on the way home. A fabulous example of Tudor architecture, now owned by the National Trust, it is only about ten minutes from where we live. Mark and I had a wonderful time exploring the place. We left there and came home to enjoy a birthday tea with the Podlings and Mark's parents and enjoyed some lovely homemade birthday cake.

I received some lovely cards, including a very pretty handmade parchment card from Mark's aunt which is now taking pride of place on the mantelpiece (thank you Auntie Mary!). I had many lovely gifts, including lots of lovely books and a very delightful floppy straw hat which I can't wait to wear if we ever get any sun! I really had the most delightful day and I'd like to say a big thank you to Mum and Dad P for looking after the Podlings so that Mark and I could have such a lovely afternoon together.

My adorable kitchen assistant 

Emma loves baking cakes 

Me and my littlest Podling 

I took a couple of pictures of the Peak District on our way back from our meal at the Cat and Fiddle 

We are lucky to live so near such beautiful countryside 

Little Moreton Hall. I loved this building! I took quite a few pictures here, so I will dedicate a post to it later in the week.  

A birthday tea with my three favourite little people 

My homemade birthday cake. My usual Victoria sponge with white chocolate on top and decorated with pink chocolate buttons and sugar roses. It had to be roses!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Check mates

Lily found my old childhood chess set in the play room today and asked to play the game with her daddy. We explained that there was quite a lot to chess and that she would have to be patient while she learnt it, but she was still keen to play. At suppertime this evening, Mark taught her how to set up the board and how to move the pieces and patiently helped her through her first game. We expected her to get cross or frustrated and give up, but to our surprise she took to it very well and was keen to play another game. They played another couple of games this evening and she can't wait to play again tomorrow.

It gave me a great deal of pleasure watching Mark teaching our daughter to play chess. It reminded me of my own father teaching me the game when I was about six years old. I hope she gets as much pleasure playing the game with her father as I did with mine.


Sunday, 22 April 2012

Sudbury Museum of Childhood

The April showers we have been having lately may well bring forth May flowers, but they are also preventing any weekend country rambles. An indoor activity was definitely on the cards for this weekend and so we chose to take the Podlings to Sudbury Museum of Childhood. We took Tom and Lily there when I was expecting Emma, but for some reason we haven't been back since despite its not being too far from us. We are members of the National Trust, therefore it counts as a cheap day out for us, so there is no excuse really.

We invited Mark's parents to join us and we met them at the museum early in the afternoon. We had a wonderful time and the Podlings enjoyed themselves immensely. As well as the exhibits, there are many hands-on things for the children to do and play with, which means that the grown ups get to read a bit of history without the children getting bored and wanting to move on too quickly.

Something that really struck me when looking at Victorian toys compared with more modern toys was the quality versus quantity balance. Victorian children may have had only a few toys, but they were of excellent quality and treasured because they were so few. Children today have toys of much cheaper quality and so many of them they hardly seem to notice when something gets lost or broken. It really brought home to me that our children are missing out on something very special in our modern materialistic society.

I took a lot of photos, but didn't want to use flash since we were in a museum. None of the pictures came out very well, but I hope they show what a lovely day we had and how much we enjoyed ourselves.

Emma loved the wooden play kitchen 

Lily had a go at being a chimney sweep and crawled through the little fireplace and flue they had on display. The little sweeps get to have their cheeks smudged with 'soot' to show they have been brave enough to crawl through the chimney. 

Tom playing with blocks 

Emma pouring up tea at the teddy bears' picnic. One of her favourite toys at home is her tin tea set, so she is a dab hand at pouring pretend tea. 

Lily's favourite part of the museum was the dress-up chest and the changeable scenery to allow the children to make up their own plays. 

Lily posing in a princess costume

Emma feeding a 'baby' in the baby area of the museum

The Podlings putting on a play 

There were lots of toys for the children to play with 

A short snippet of the Podlings putting on a play

Saturday, 21 April 2012

One for sorrow, two for joy...

The girls were watching birds through the window at their Nanna's house last weekend when Emma suddenly called out excitedly "Look!! A penguin!". I walked to the window and looked out to see a magpie strolling around the lawn. Suffice to say I now can't see a magpie without thinking "Look!! A penguin!". I really hope that if we take her to the zoo she calls out "Look!  A magpie! in the penguin house!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

In the garden

On our last day at Mark's parents house the sun deigned to come out, so the Podlings had fun playing in the garden. Lily enjoyed kicking a football around with her daddy and we actually all felt warm enough to be outside without a coat on for the first time in weeks. We enjoyed our little visit and came away feeling rather like we had been on a little holiday. Tom and Lily were none too keen on getting out of bed the next morning to go back to school.

Emma found a ladybird in the garden and Lily let it climb onto her hand. Tom loves ladybirds, so he is always excited when he gets to see one 'in the flesh'.

A Country Walk

Mark's parents are lucky enough to have a country park right behind their house, so we went for a walk there during our visit. Tom went out with his grandad to the shops and to feed Uncle Ryan's rabbits, so it was just the girls with us this time. It was a bit chilly, but Lily and Emma were running around and didn't seem to notice! The adults were feeling the cold a little more keenly though and I'm beginning to wonder if we are going to have a spring this year!

Anything you can do! Emma tries to follow Lily over the stile.

My mother-in-law had a hip replacement in December and isn't recovering as fast as she'd like, but that didn't stop her following her granddaughters over the stile. She's such a wonderful grandmother and we all love her very much!


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

In a pickle

You can't beat a good pickled egg with fish and chips, but they can be rather piquant for some tastes. It certainly wouldn't be something you would expect a child to enjoy, but Lily and Emma love them. We have been buying them, but it works out much cheaper to pickle your own, so I set to work in the kitchen today and now have two jars of eggs pickling in the pantry.

Emma made me laugh when she saw me boiling the large saucepan full of eggs. She evidently thought we were going to dye eggs again and started asking for "Yellow!" and "Stickers". She was a little disappointed when I told her that Mummy was only cooking them, but cheered up when I told her I was making pickled eggs. We now just have to wait six weeks before we can enjoy them!

Sleeping arrangements

I took this sweet picture of Tom and Lily during their reading time, which we call 'Light Time'. I wish I had thought to take a picture of Emma in her bed...she looked so tiny!

We haven't stayed with Mark's parents for over a year, so this was the first time we have had to find sleeping space for Emma since she outgrew the travel cot. Tom and Lily slept together in the second guest bedroom in the double bed. They were fine once they went off to sleep, but the novelty of sharing a room meant that they didn't settle down without some considerable intervention from us. There was much telling off!

With some trepidation, we put Emma in the small room in a single bed with a bed guard and hoped for the best. Emma still sleeps in a large cot at home and she had never slept in a bed before, so I was expecting her to get out of bed repeatedly. Suffice to say I was expecting a bad night. Imagine my surprise when she slept through the night without a peep! She wakes at least twice a night at home, so I woke up several times in the night thinking she must have died or something! I slept better the second night of our stay and had my first uninterrupted night's sleep in a very long time. I think we will definitely be considering the purchase of a new bed for Emma in the near future!

Squirrel watching

After my parents went home, we went round to spend the last couple of days of the Easter holidays with Mark's parents in Derby. They have a bird table in their front garden which is visited throughout the day by two squirrels. Lily and Emma took great delight in watching them through the lounge window and Lily got quite indignant whenever the larger squirrel chased the smaller one off! They looked so sweet looking out the window side by little girls.