Sunday, 28 July 2013

Ardingly reservoir

We love picnics in our house. As soon as the sun comes out in Spring, the picnic blanket is unearthed and the cool-bag is cleaned out ready for another year. This year they have had plenty of use with the unusually sunny weather we have been enjoying. This morning I threw a few sandwiches together and this afternoon we headed out to Ardingly Reservoir. 

It tends to be a peaceful spot as it is off the beaten track. There is usually a small car-parking charge, but the machine has been broken for months. There is a large hill which seems to have been specifically designed for rolling down. (Tested by the children.) There is also a watersports activity centre which sells cheap ice creams. (Very important!)

After we had eaten our picnic we took ourselves off for a walk. We didn't get very far this time as we got completely distracted by a meadow area which was humming vigorously.

We recently bought DS an inexpensive camera as he has been showing such an interest in wildlife photography, (see post here). It was a kind of un-birthday present; the poor boy's birthday is two days before Christmas and it is a long time between presents. We also feared for my camera's safety as he was hanging out of the window with it! 

There is an amazing amount of insects to be found in a patch of grassland. DS was in his element and got busy with his camera:

I am no wildlife expert. I looked at the photo and mumbled "Err, cricket?". Fortunately there is a great website called iSpot which is run by the Open University. If you upload a photo of your sighting someone will usually identify it for you. This evening it took less than an hour for some clever person to identify this as a Roesel's Bush-cricket.

Fortunately this one was a little easier:

Even I know a bumblebee when I see one!

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Seasonally prepared!

What else do you do during a heatwave...

except knit woolly hats? A girl has to be prepared for all eventualities!

Many thanks to Morgan from "Growing in the Fens" for the wool and pattern.

Friday, 19 July 2013


I feel very strongly about hospices. Five years ago my lovely Mum died in her local hospice. I cannot fault the care that she and the rest of us received. A very stressful and difficult time was made easier by the unflagging compassion and cheerfulness of the staff.

This year I decided to give something back. One of my best friends, coincidentally and confusingly also called Lesley, has done a fundraising walk for our local hospice for the last few years. (This is a different one to the one Mum was in.) This year I decided to join her.

I can do walking. I would find it difficult to run around the block, but walking is part of my DNA. My Dad, who is ex-army, would drag us out for regular route marches. The fundraising walk is thirteen miles, so I knew I would have to build up some distance, but it was feasible. The really difficult part of the walk, for me, was that it started at midnight. I am not a night owl. I prefer to be safely tucked up by 10.30pm, preferably with a good book. To walk through the night would need caffeine, determination and sugar!

We started our training back in February with one short walk and one longer walk most weeks. We would trudge out with our flasks and homemade muesli bars. (I have to be honest and say that we did visit a fair few coffee shops as well. For sustenance, you understand!) At first our short walk would be a few miles and our longer ones about four. By July we were up to six miles and ten miles each week.

Finally, last Saturday, it was time for the main event. Along with 630 other walkers we waited nervously at the starting line, arrayed in bright yellow T-shirts, clutching water bottles and flapjack! (I wasn't joking about needing sugar.)

We did a slightly bizarre warm up routine, and then we were off! For the first half of the walk we were carried along by a tide of sweaty women and bonhomie. After seven miles we had a very short refreshment break before continuing on. The second half was much harder. The walkers were strung out and the roads were very dark. Cheerful marshals kept our spirits up, but the pavements developed bumps and we developed blisters. Eventually, just under four hours after we started, and just as it was starting to get light, we crossed the finish line.

I know that lots of people do amazing things for charity, and a midnight half-marathon walk is quite tame compared to other feats that fundraisers achieve. But I am proud of myself, and in a strange masochistic way it was an enjoyable if surreal experience. So today, Lesley and I set off to walk a few miles. After all, it's only a year until the next one!

PS This is not a fundraising post. I don't want anyone to sponsor me. If you are inspired in any small way, then there is sure to be a hospice near you who would love to have your support.

Monday, 15 July 2013

And the winner is...

Thank you to everyone who left a comment on my blogging anniversary post! DD carefully wrote all the names on slips of paper, folded them up and put them into a mug-cosy...(crocheted by Gracie)...

and selected a winner!

Joan, I will be dispatching a parcel shortly! I have your address already. Joan is brilliant at crochet, and blogs here.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Life continues with the veg box!

I think that I am settling into a rhythm with the veg box. Early on Monday morning I mull over the different options on the veg box website. How much will I have left over by the delivery on Friday? Do I want a bigger box? Perhaps some fruit? Can I cope with yet more spring greens? I am not at my brightest and best on Monday mornings, so it usually takes a little while for me to make a sensible decision!

Once I have decided on the box, I plan meals to use the different types of vegetables and write a supermarket shopping list. I am loving that the emphasis of my shopping has changed; now I plan my meals around which vegetables are in season, rather than buying vegetables to suit my meals. 

If anyone in the UK is considering a box scheme, googling "veg box" followed by your county should throw up a few options. A word of caution though, always check where the company is based. Some of the bigger players that deliver in your area will operate through franchisees. They may actually be based hundreds of miles away. Having tried a local scheme and a much bigger supplier, I would go for local every time.

This week my box included chard, so I decided to have a go at a "chard, tomato and ricotta bake" from the BBC Good Food website. It appears to be a bit of a foodie recipe, but DD took one look at it and said "It's omelette!". I was actually a lot happier with this than you might think, as omelette is my bete noire. I have never yet produced an edible one, although DH, who doesn't do a lot of cooking, produces one weekly.

I was relatively pleased with it. It was a bit fiddly but I would do it again. Although this time I would call it omelette!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Has anyone seen my marbles?

In the space of a few weeks I have:

  • Walked home from a meeting at school and realised two hours later that I'd left the car at school.
  • Stood in the middle of a supermarket car park looking around in a bewildered way for my car, which I had parked in a different area to usual.
  • In a different car park, got into my car, only to find I'd left my ticket in the pay machine.

So if anyone finds my marbles, could you return them? I obviously need them!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

A fool for rhubarb!

Rhubarb season is in full swing in our back garden. We have four crowns; two mature plants and two babies. Having been cut off in it's prime back in the spring, one plant is really going for it and pushing out loads of stalks. Normally I am a crumble girl, but in this current hot weather I just couldn't face it. So today I rang the changes and made rhubarb and cardamom fool. (Recipe here).

It is very yummy, and is a little healthier than some fools as it is made from yoghurt and cream. It is also very easy to make, as long as you remember to remove the cardamom pods before blending. No prizes for guessing who spent ages removing little black seeds from the results! Does anyone else have any good ways of using up rhubarb?

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Celebrating my first year...

One year...
129 posts...
278 comments published...
11,067 page views.

Please forgive this rather self-indulgent post! Just over one year ago I started my blog. Nervously I wrote my first few posts, unsure if anyone outside my family would ever read them! I had no idea quite how blogging would enhance my life.

  • I have made some wonderful, supportive friends who post encouraging comments about my ramblings. 
  • I have discovered vegetarian cooking and we now eat veggie at least once a week.
  • I have learnt to crochet and discovered that I really love it.
  • I have conquered my fear of the sewing machine.
  • I spent a month baking all our bread, cakes and biscuits from scratch.
  • I have found that I enjoy photography, which I would never have guessed. 
  • I have been encouraged to live more sustainably and have started getting a veg box.

I think I have found my blogging voice now. I don't have time to blog every day, but I try to manage every few days. I have had a few comments that were like the "howlers" in Harry Potter; I felt that I was being shouted at! Although I don't like getting them, I have learnt when to respond and when to leave well alone. 

I am very grateful to everyone who reads, comments on or follows my blog. To thank you I would like to host my first giveaway! I am going to put together a little parcel which represents me and the area that I live. To be entered into the draw for the parcel, please leave a comment by Sunday 14th July. You don't have to be a follower, and I am very happy to post abroad.