Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Berry Happy!

The blackberry harvest is going splendidly. We managed to get out before the rains came on Sunday and picked three pounds of blackberries, some of which are now enjoying a new existence as jam. I've had blackberry jam on toast every morning for breakfast so far this week and the Podlings are also tucking in. I'm finding a small bit of jam on the end of a spoon is a wonderful incentive to concentrate on homework!

I picked another pound of blackberries after collecting Emma from playgroup this morning and made a second batch of jam this afternoon. The Podlings finished off the leftover berries after tea and Tom has asked me to pick some more whilst he is at school tomorrow! I still have two or three pounds of blackberries in the freezer and there are still plenty of berries still to ripen on the bushes. Don't you just love autumn!

Heading home with a full basket.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Dahlia Walk

The Dahlia Walk at Biddulph Grange Gardens was looking beautiful yesterday, so I stopped to take a few pictures of the flowers. Apparently the Victorians had rather a passion for dahlias and I can see why. I hope they are easy to grow as I rather fancy having a few in the garden next year. They would need to be easy to grow as I am not entirely skilled in matters horticultural and would be bound to kill them otherwise!

I think this one was probably my favourite


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Feeding the fish

We went to Biddulph Grange Gardens again this afternoon as the Podlings wanted to feed the fish. We bought some fish food in the gift shop and the Podlings spent a happy time feeding the enormous fish in the lake. We had a lovely walk round the gardens, enjoying what is supposed to be the last day of decent weather for a while. The rains are set to arrive tomorrow, but at least we managed to enjoy a pleasant Saturday afternoon together.

A lovely photo of my adorable Podlings

Emma slipped and fell in the mud whilst trying to get to a cat. This photo completely fails to convey how muddy she got since most of the mud was on her legs and bottom!

Aforementioned cat. This cat followed us round the entire garden and eventually to the car park, much to the Podlings' delight. They seemed most disappointed that they couldn't bring it home!

My sweet girls. One lady we saw today told me how nice it was to see little girls dressed as little girls as it isn't something you see very often these days. It is always nice to receive such compliments. It is no mean feat acquiring traditional little girls' clothes within our budget and it is getting even harder as Lily gets older. I have a very distinct idea of how I think little girls should be dressed that seems to fly in the face of modern tastes in childrenswear.

.The sky was beautiful this evening.

Play Dough Fun

Tom and Lily were both home from school ill on Friday. Tom had also been home the day before, so by Friday afternoon he was feeling much better. Lily wasn't as ill as Tom, but she wasn't well enough to go to school. By the Friday afternoon, though, they were both well enough to need some quiet entertainment, so I made a few batches of homemade play dough and let the Podlings loose on it. It proved to be an immensely popular choice, with it keeping them all happy until tea time. They never seem to tire of play dough. It has been one of my fall back activities for them for years and it never gets old.

Lily made a play dough 'snowman' 

I was particularly impressed with Tom's beach, with its fish, pebbles and real shells.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Beeston Castle

This afternoon we took a trip to Beeston Castle, a thirteenth century castle built on a sandstone crag 350 feet above the Cheshire plain. The views from the top are simply amazing. Apparently you can see eight counties on a clear day. The castle itself is absolutely fascinating and is a testament to thirteenth century engineering.

The Podlings had a fantastic time running about and playing with the wooden swords we bought them in the gift shop. We thought their enjoyment of our castle visits would be enhanced with weaponry and sure enough they had a great time trying to slay the Daddy Dragon, who was rather defenceless against their onslaught! "Surrender or die!" was Lily's battle cry, which I think she got out of her King Arthur book as she seemed a little unclear what surrender actually meant!

As we walked back down the hill from the castle we were lucky enough to see dozens of rabbits frolicking about on the grass. We had seen their burrows on the way up, so it was a real treat for the Podilngs to see the rabbits themselves on the way down.

After we left the castle, we drove to Delamere Forest where we enjoyed a lovely picnic under the trees. There was more running about and sword play before driving home and putting three sleepy little Podlings to bed.

Typically Lily picked out a sword that was twice the size of those chosen by the other two!

The gateway to the inner ward of the castle is reached via a modern bridge over an impressive ditch.

The inner ditch was dug out by hand in the thirteenth century. A truly impressive feat as it is no small ditch and they were digging through rock. It wasn't quite deep enough to set off my vertigo, but it was close.

The views from the top were stunning

'Surrender or die!'

What does Mark do in the woods?

He drinks tea of course!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

A Dolly Picnic

Now that Tom and Lily are back at school, the days are quiet. Emma now goes to playgroup three mornings a week, but Thursdays and Fridays are 'our' days. This afternoon we got a quilt, a few dolls and Emma's tea things and we had a little dolly picnic in the lounge. The days are quiet, but they are far from dull when you have an imaginative little girl like Emma to play with.

My Mum made the beautiful doll in the yellow dress for Emma's birthday. The doll is beautifully made, right down to the lace trimming on her bloomers and yellow ribbons and roses on her collar. She has a little rabbit that lives in her pocket and Emma loves them both. We have named the doll Martha. It just seemed to suit her.

More tea Martha?

Mow Cop again

On Sunday afternoon we wanted to take the Podlings out for some fresh air. We didn't have long as Mark had to leave for a business trip to Glasgow that evening, so we filled a Thermos and packed some homemade muffins and popped up to nearby Mow Cop Castle for an hour. The Podlings had a great time running about and exploring and we enjoyed a very windy mini-picnic as we enjoyed the lovely view.


Monday, 10 September 2012

Blackberry Rambles

On Saturday afternoon we gathered up our baskets and went out for our first blackberry ramble of the season. They seem to be ripening later than usual this year as although we managed to pick a pound and a half between us (not counting the huge number the Podlings ate), there are still loads of berries on the bushes that still have to ripen. This means we will get to enjoy a few more blackberry picking walks before the season is done and I hope to get enough berries to make at least a couple of jars of blackberry jam. You can't beat homemade bramble jam!

Of the berries we picked on Saturday, I put some into muffins, others into a delicious apple and blackberry crumble, some were just eaten as they were and I still have quite a few in the freezer to play with at a later date. I'm looking forward to our future blackberry rambles and filling the freezer with our hedgerow harvest.

My lovely hat was a birthday present from Mark. My husband knows me well! My dress is vintage Laura Ashley if you are interested in such things