I cleaned my windows on Saturday. This may not seem like a fact you need to know but trust me it’s important. You see I’ve always been a bit fascinated with the wildlife we can find in our gardens and in an effort to share this fascination with my children I’ve installed feeders in the garden in strategic locations.
Matilda, Henry and I eat breakfast together every morning while the lady of the manor has a shower. We get lots of birds and a couple of cheeky squirrels in our garden but never that close to the window. Until that is I made (yes made with my own bare hands) a bird table and hung a feeder off the end of our extension. Now we can see the birds feeding close up and have enticed the squirrels to come and try to steal food off the bird table.
Combine that with my now gleaming windows (told you it was important) and you can now see these fabulous creatures in their full glory. It’s like getting a high definition TV for the first time and watching a blue ray movie on it. Once you’ve seen it you can never go back to dull, dirty normal definition.
Plus the children are now sufficiently entertained to actually sit in their seats for more than a minute which increases my chance of actually getting them to eat something and not begin arguing over whose turn it is to go on the trucker (and of course me time to take a photo or 2).
If you go down to the woods tonight you may find them full of lights:
We’re really lucky that my work give us tickets each year to go to the Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt. We go on the opening day which is always right at the end of November and it feels like the moment that Christmas begins.There is something quite magical about walking through a dark forest with some of the trees lit up with different colour lights.
We get all wrapped up in wellies, coats and wooly hats and set off for our adventure before rewarding ourselves with a pig roast roll (with apple sauce and crackling of course) and a big cup of hot chocolate. It’s a simple thing and the kids are definitely ready for bed towards the end but it’s the perfect way to kick off the festive season.
My very favourite bit this year was a long avenue of trees which had been lit up with orange lights and then they’d put red lights in the grass at the base of the trees. As you walked along the lights gradually lit up brighter and brighter before almost turning off completely. Just beautiful and a completely different perspective to visiting in the day time.
At the end of the trail you also get a chance to meet and feed some reindeer which is lovely and there is a small fair with stalls, food and carol singers. What more can you want?
I took an awful lot of photos but it turns out that trying to take photos in the dark with a wriggling toddler in the Ergo on your back is not easy. My DSLR may have some anti vibration technology but no way near enough to combat that! I did manage a couple of passable shots but would love to go back with a tripod to take some more when I don’t have kids with me.
If you leave even remotely close to Westonbirt I’d recommend making a trip down, they have the display on every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night until Christmas I believe.
P.S. We also saw the Countryfile presenters there doing interviews, so look out on Sunday and you may see us!
Carol singers in their finest Barbour
Feeding the reindeer
Spot the ghostly toddler
Spooky green tree
I’m cold mummy
Pink and red bark
Cuddles with nanna and pops
The past week in our house has been a bleak, one of those weeks where illness descends on the house and as a parent all you can do is try to survive. Patience has been tested as has the washing machine and the ability to do the daily chores while being stuck under a child that will only settle on you.
But slowly this weekend we have emerged from this fog, the children have whined a little less and amazingly actually managed to eat something AND not be sick. To celebrate we have embarked on a little festive baking spree, inspired of course by Sunday being stir up Sunday.
I have fond memories of standing on a chair as a child holding a wooden spoon and looking down into one of my mums big blue china mixing bowls full of dried fruit. It’s one of those great traditions where everyone can get involved and you can start showing your children how magical this time of year can be.
We also made the first batch of mince pies, I know it’s not even December yet, but I do love a mince pie and as the first batch are inevitably the worst as you’re out of practice it makes perfect sense to get them out of the way early don’t you think? Plus it turns out that a mince pie is the perfect accompaniment to a single malt, I can see myself partaking in that combo more than once in the coming weeks.
The pastry was a bit thick if I’m honest but it still tasted good and I quite liked my experiment with the mini muffin tin and star shaped lids. Matilda and Henry are becoming little pro’s at using the cutters now and as long as you get to the pastry before they can shove the freshly cut piece into their mouths they’re very helpful.
Incidentally Matilda is VERY excited about Christmas, she asked me at least 5 times on Sunday if we could go and buy a Christmas tree. Not entirely sure how she has become so interested in Christmas because we haven’t mentioned it at all but it’s going to make for a lovely experience this year. Particularly as she’s excited about the tree (which is having chocolate on apparently, again never done that or mentioned it so no idea where it comes from) and baking things but no mention or awareness at all about presents.
Beautiful dried fruit
A pile of mince pie goodness
Checking the recipe
Greasing the tins
Henry making a wish
Matilda stirring it up
Another tray ready for the oven
Mini mince pies
Star pie tops ready to go
Testing it’s ok
Scotland is actually the whole reason why I own an English Springer Spaniel called Bracken. As a child we spent quite a few summer holidays in the beautiful Perthshire countryside visiting our family there and you’ll never guess what pet they had? An awesome cocker spaniel called Bracken who was gun dog trained and fabulous.
Ever since that moment I’ve wanted to own a spaniel and call him Bracken, I love the personality of spaniels and how expressive their faces are. I also of course love that he can be my running partner and will go for as many miles as you want.
It was therefore only fitting that when we were in Scotland for our holiday that I got a few snaps of Bracken back in his natural environment so to speak. We found one of those fabulous pebbly ‘beaches’ that are formed on highland rivers on a big sweeping bend with golden water no more than thigh deep all the way across.
I must have spent 40 minutes throwing sticks and stones into the water for him to chase and he’d probably have done it for the rest of the day if I’d let him.
So here he is, the real monarch of the glen.
We’ve been in Scotland for the past 2 weeks on holiday, Fort William to be precise and it may come as no surprise to you that I took just a few photos while there.
The place we stayed looked down the valley towards Ben Nevis and it seemed every time you looked out the window the view had changed. Weather systems blow through that valley very quickly so one second you may see nothing but white cloud and the next the sun shining on the mountain tops.
Of all the photos I took while away I think this first one may be my favourite, I love the way there is low cloud and high cloud giving you a glimpse of the mountain through the middle like a portal to another world. The second photo is a glorious sunset with the sun hitting the top of the mountains giving those gorgeous orange colours.
There I was sitting happily eating my lunch in the garden, enjoying the peace and quiet of a work from home day with no one else in the house when this fine chap flew past my head. A visit from the military! What a privilege and honour.
These do have to be some of my favourite summer visitors and great fun chasing them around the garden to get a photo 🙂