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Showing posts with label adventure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label adventure. Show all posts

Wild Meadow - our child free weekend away...


This weekend, Dan and I stole ourselves away for 3 nights in Wales. Child free.  We couldn't have been more excited!  A chance for the two of us to just be, relax, talk - talk! to each other, gosh remember that?  

We were looking forward to enjoying the Welsh air, cooking outside, sleeping under the stars, and making the time to indulge in things we like to do, without the boys.

Wild Meadow is stunning.  All we could hope for and more.  Owners Andrea and Jonathan, bought the field a couple of years ago, with the desire to have a patch of land of their own.  Planting initially a small orchard, soon after a veg patch and fruit bushes.... then came the shepherds hut.

Dan and I fell in love.  The hut is beautifully furnished, with indian throws, warm blankets and a log burner.  The bed is the comfiest we've ever slept on, and found sleeping in there a dream.  The outside kitchen is fab, well equipped with a gas stove, fridge and brightly coloured spotty enamel-ware.  To the side is an outside shower room and basin and a little way off a composting loo.

We spent our days, watching the buzzards and red kites soar above us, cooking on the open fire using a Kolitch (which we'd not used before and soon got the hang of).  Eating our way through the raspberries and cherries from the fruit orchard and swinging on the best swing ever!

That swing!  Now parents - sometimes we feel like having a swing, but there is always a child or two saying 'my turn' or 'push me'.  Not this time - oh no.  A double swing, the two of us, with a G&T in hand, sat and watched the sun cast shadows across the hills below us.  It was bliss.

We took day trips to nearby Leominster for the antique / junk shops which there are many.  And to Ledbury for it's cobbled lanes and black and white buildings.

If you are looking for a family break (there is room for two small airbeds inside the shepherds hut) OR if you are looking for a romantic getaway in the great outdoors then Wild Meadow is your place.  We are still dreaming we are there.

Seasonal Rituals / Summer - Strawberry Picking

On the weekend of Solstice and the first days of Summer, we spent a sunny morning  picking strawberries at our local PYO farm.  Just as we have done every year since Charlie was a toddler.  It is part of our family summer rituals and something I insist we always do.

In the past we have always taken someone with us, my mum, Dan, friends and this year one of our good family friend and her two year old daughter Mei. As Mei sat there in the middle of the strawberry patch, stuffing warm juicy berries into her mouth, with the juice running down her, it reminded me of years past, and my own sons doing the very same.

We managed to pick about 2 kilos worth of strawberries in the end.  I've already made strawberry ice-cream, strawberry meringues & cream, and have frozen the rest for Strawberry jam making later in the summer.  I shall post the ice-cream recipe later in the week.

You can read our past strawberry picking visits here:

2010 / 2011 / 2012 / 2013

Look at the boys - my babies have grown!

Crimson fields....

Sometimes you just have to stop the car.  Pull over, jump the gate and go play in a field of poppies.  Charlie didn't want to leave, nor did I.  Neither of us had seen poppies on such a scale... such a sea of red.  Beautiful, breathtaking and memory making.  Heavenly!

Campaign #safetoschool...

As you well know, we live in a City.  Big, beautiful, bustling Bristol.  We love living in our neighbourhood, which has a vibrant community, full of doers, life lovers and great people.  Living here is pretty great. Bristol is a forward thinking City, we have our very own elected Mayor, it's the Green Capital of Europe for 2015, an arty City with amazing festivals, musicians, theatre and more.  I think it's the best place to live (but I am biased!).

In all Cities, towns and villages across the UK, traffic is becoming a problem.  Roads are getting busier, and very much the domain of the vehicle.

Every morning I walk or scoot my children to school.  We are lucky that it's not far a journey and takes us about 15 minutes to get there.  But we do have to cross a couple of big roads on our route.  I would love to cycle, but feel the route is just too much for them at the moment.  So we scoot - or rather they scoot, I run behind, hot and out of breath!

Sustrans has just launched their #safetoschool campaign and I have been asked to be on their blogger panel (alongside some other fabulous bloggers).  Here is a little about the campaign:

The campaign has a vision for every child to be able to make the journey to school by bike, scooter or foot. Our call to action is that every child should have the right to a safe walk, scoot or bike to school.
Even though the average trip to school is only 1.8 miles for primary schools and 3.4 miles for secondary, walking and cycling to school is declining. In 1971, eight out of 10, seven and eight year olds walked or cycled to school on their own, but now 50% of young children are never allowed to cross roads on their own.
The problem is that our streets are not safe enough for children to get to school the way that they should - actively and independently. For more information about the Campaign for Safer Streets have a read here .

Brilliant Sustrans are asking us all to get involved.  Next week (9th-13th June) is Bike to School Week 2014, with the aim of encouraging more families to cycle to school.  We have taken up Sustrans challenge and Dan, the boys and myself will be cycling or scooting to and from school.  They are even giving us head cameras to document some of our journey, let's hope the boys talk about something other than Ninjago the whole way there!

So will you be taking up the challenge and join us?

You can start by writing to your local MP - an easy form can be filled in via the Sustrans website.  And please use the hashtag #safetoschool to tweet your journey, your thoughts and ideas.

Wish us luck!

Enys Garden...


Whilst on holiday I always love to visit a garden, or three!  A chance to surround ourselves in beautiful nature and a welcome break from the beach (for me anyway).  We usually pour over the National Trust handbook before leaving, looking for interesting properties close to where are staying.  As we've been holidaying Cornwall for a couple of years now, we've visited most of NT Gardens, so I searched for something a little different, and discovered Enys. 

Lured with the promise of a 'Bluebell Festival' we headed towards Falmouth.  Enys Garden is only open to the public at certain times of the year, this weekend was to celebrate the bluebells. Upon arrival we were told that the bells were only 86% out, how could they be so specific?!  

Walking down to the meadow we were hit by sea of blue, as far as the eye could see.  Such a spectacular sight.  The route took us round the meadow, seeing the field from all angles. I have never seen such a mass of bluebells in one place. I just wanted to run through it, 'Little House on the Prairie' style.  

Enys Garden is like stepping back in time. Over grown tunnels through rhododendron bushes lead you on to secret gates and walled gardens.  Colour is rife, masses of fluffy pinks and yellows, with large species of unusual trees like Ginko.  It's a real plantsmans delight.

The boys loved running ahead, getting lost and calling out to each other.  Interesting carvings covered the walls and gate posts.  Reminding me of books I've read as a child, very Enid Blyton.  In the cafe garden, music from the 1940's played and Union Flag bunting, draped the walls.  The staff dressed up from that era, it was pretty special.  Sitting there eating a cream tea in such beautiful surroundings.

Our favourite part of the garden, was the lake.  Covered in a film of bright green pond weed, and snaked with a series of lines where a fish had swam through.  Silver stemmed flowers covered the banks and large gunnera's gave it a 'forgotten' feeling. We spent hours there, observing the wildlife, listening to the muffled sound of the forest around us.

If you are in the Falmouth area, look up Enys Garden to see if they are open... it's well worth the visit.

Wildwood - our holiday cottage in Cornwall...

There is not a day gone by since our weekend in Cornwall, that one of us hasn't said in so many words 'I wish we lived at Wildwood'.  Even the youngest of our group, our friends 2 year old daughter talks about it constantly.  Wanting to play in the woods and on the epic rope swing.

Wildwood is possibly the most perfect holiday home ever. It is beautiful and comfortable with period features, a big garden, and room for two families to spend time together or apart if need be.  We were blown away with it.  Upon arrival we entered through the back door into the farmhouse kitchen.  A large kitchen table which seated 10, a big America style fridge and huge range which we used to full effect, baking homemade pizzas and on Sunday a roast dinner.

As parents we loved the large bedrooms and en suite.  I treated myself to a rare soak in the tub, who could resist that bath!  Most importantly we loved the space, room to spread out. Time to enjoy reading the paper on the large table with a coffee, whilst the kids all played in wooded garden.

The kids, all four of them, loved the snug.  A room off of the main lounge, which had the biggest flat screen tv they'd ever since and large comfy bean bags to sprawl on.  And then there was the garden. The lawn big enough for game of footie and the woods with its rope swing.  They felt wild and free at the same time safe.

We spent the 3 days there, visiting Enys Garden to see the bluebells, the local beach at Gwithian, and crabbing off the harbour wall at Mousehole.  Wildwood is the perfect base to explore Cornwall, more on our adventures soon...

For more information please visit Forever Cornwall's page for availability.

Spoon Carving Workshop with Hatchet + Bear

A couple of weeks ago, Dan gladly spent the day learning how to carve spoons with EJ Osborne of Hatchet + Bear.  For the first time ever in the history of Littlegreenshed, I'm handing over the reins to him... over to you Dan.
The Hatchet and Bear spoon carving workshop felt a little like stepping back in time.  Back to a time when I was a boy scout, playing with ropes and knives.  Its a simple setup:  A chair, a stump for carving on, a hatchet, a knife and a crook knife.  That's three tools. You could also count a pencil and lots of tea and coffee...and also something called a Beetle.    

I've done my fair share of DIY, and I've split a bit of fire wood, too, but I've never done anything like carving before.  My Dad is something of a crafting genius and I was proud to tell him that I was going to make a spoon.  EJ starts by demonstrating how to split a round of Birch in to two halves.  A few firm knocks with the Beetle on the back of the hatchet blade and the birch splits in two.  We learn how to select the best piece, with fewest inclusions and defects, and then we take it in turns splitting our own rounds until we have a 1" thick billet for a spoon.
A sharp Hatchet is a great tool.  EJ has us peel the thin bark from a branch and create pointy stakes and spears - all great handling practice for what is to come.  We sketch out the shape of the spoon on the billet and rough out the shape with the axe.  The more material you can remove with the axe, the less work you need to do with the knife.  But the knives are sharp and the birch was still growing two days earlier, so it cuts and peels in clean and satisfying curls.  The knife demands safe handling, so we're shown a group of holds and cutting techniques, then we hone down our spoons in to shape.  There were one or two cut fingers on the day, but nothing serious.  

EJ served a delicious and wholesome lunch of vegetarian Chilli, with a side of Chorizo, excellent bread and local cheeses.  We ate using some of EJ's own carved eating spoons, a great reminder of her skill.  Each spoon was unique, each was very beautiful and each was utterly practical.
EJ is truly very talented and undoubtedly the real deal.  As she talks she references other makers, acknowledges other techniques and ultimately explains her own philosophy through spoon carving.  She enthuses passionately about different woods and tools and filled me with confidence to gather my own collection of tools at home.
After spending a day learning the basics, I appreciate EJ's skill even more.  I found the actual act of making a spoon to be very simple.  Its pretty clear that I could spend the rest of my life perfecting the art of spoon carving, and I hope I will.  I set out to make a usable spoon, not a spoon for the mantle piece.  I came back with a fairly chunky, quite handsome, multi-multi-faceted, wonky, cooking spoon.  But it was made entirely by me.  With practice I think I can make something to be really proud of and I'm looking forward to showing the kids how its done too.  
The spoon has had about a week to dry, and I've rubbed it with some olive oil.  This morning it stirred its first pan of porridge. Tomorrow it will probably make a risotto.  Must make more spoons!

I love Dan's spoon.  It's wobbly, hand crafted and perfect in my eyes.  If you fancy spending a day learning to shape wood, then please visit Hatchet + Bear for more details on EJ's workshops. Or if you'd rather buy something handcrafted EJ sells wonderful spoons, bowls and other lovely things in her online shop.  (she will also be stocking a small range in the new Anthropologie in Bath when it opens at the end of the month).

all words and images by Dan Taylor.

Go Wild Forest School...

The first week of the Easter holidays for Charlie was spent in the woods.  Lucky bean, attended our local Forest School - Go Wild Education.

Forest School was run over four days, in the woods of Ashton Court Estate, just outside Bristol. Charlie learnt how to den build, light fires, whittle sticks with knives, cook popcorn, apples and of course marshmallows.  Over the week he added to his den, covering the structure with glossy green leaves (to protect from the rain), adding a thick layer of soft moss to the floor to 'sleep' on.

Charlie loved the freedom that Forest School gave him.  Making new friends, learning new skills.  Each afternoon when I collected him, I was greeted with a beaming smile, telling me of his days spent running wild in the woods.  Hair smelling of woodsmoke and back pack full or bows and arrows.

If Charlie had his way, he would spend every school day like this.

For more information please contact Jackie Roby at Go Wild Education.  She is running Forest School courses in Ashton Court Estate during the school holidays.