A Few Lovely Things this week…


Treasures on the beach- mermaid purses (shark eggs)


Veg boxes- two ways

A delivery from Growing With Nature ( plot to plate less than 2 miles)




Building wooden towns -and then knocking them down…


music two ways….piano by CC, gramophone by me..wish I could play the piano!


Finally getting around to stripping the lavender flowers from my dried bunches.

Finding The Joy In January


Watching Lapwings against blue skies along our beach.


Savouring the final winter crops of sprouts.


The texture of chunky teal-coloured aran.


Feeding hungry winter birds from the birdtable (a gorgeous Christmas gift from my brother)


Baking Aunt Bev’s Country Seed Bread with my little boy.


The first British daffodils in a Cornish jug.


Adventures with family in the Yorkshire Dales- Settle Station.

Slowing down, re-evaluating


January always lends itself to reflection and re-evaluating  life’s priorities. CC and I had a wonderful Christmas spent with family and our new baby. We shared time with our families, including CC’s mother who came to visit from Canada. I know that the memories of this Christmas will stay with us for a long time.


Even though Christmas isn’t about excess in our family ( we give mainly homemade gifts or things that people have requested), I still felt a little overwhelmed by the steady accumulation of ‘stuff’ (for want of a better term). Our little home has begun to feel too full, primarily because our baby needs equipment, such as a high chair, cot and playpen.

During January CC and I have been having something of a purge, slowly transforming our little house into the family space we need and  selling or donating the items which we don’t. The result has been SPACE !, gorgeous, calming, necessary room for life. Out have gone the multiple wine and beverage glasses, the additional dinner set, my large wardrobe ( and half my clothes and bags!),the spare coffee table for our guest room-now our baby’s nursery.

The result? Our home has begun to transform into the relaxing family space we have dreamed of. There’s less to dust under or over, fewer items to move about when hoovering and significantly less laundry. Less stuff has equalled more time spent playing and talking as a family. Fewer clothes in our wardrobes means that getting dressed takes a fraction of the time and putting away laundry is far simpler, since I don’t need to constantly rearrange items so that they will fit. Fewer pots, pans and plates had made our little kitchen a joy to cook in, I can now open a cupboard and just get out the item I need, instead of having to navigate surplus equipment in order to get what I am after.

Best of all, it has allowed us to put our unused items back out into the world to be used by someone who needs them, meaning that precious energy and the Earth’s resources will not have to be used to make those items again.

The money raised has allowed me to make a very carefully considered purchase (second hand ) -a wonderful child carrier to take our little one on hikes to see the beautiful countryside, recycling our excess has allowed us to enjoy the most precious thing of all…time.


During the last week in October CC, our little boy and I went on the boat to Northern Ireland to spend a week exploring and visiting relatives from both sides of our families. We stayed in a Georgian cottage in Hillsborough complete with peat fire ( although I couldn’t bear to burn the peat, it is traditional there), Aga and antique furniture. The cottage certainly had an atmosphere, I am convinced it was haunted !




We enjoyed lots of walks in the woodland two minutes from the front door.



And loved trips out to the Ulster Folk open air museum and the truly fantastic Titanic Museum at Belfast docks. The Ulster Folk Museum had so many buildings to explore, including a bank, blacksmiths,printers, farms and a court. Going inside old buildings in a natural setting gives you such a tangible taste of history, truly interesting.

The Titanic museum was a stunning collection of artifacts, photographs, a ride which took you on a tour of the shipyard and a stunning interactive tour of the inside of Titanic using surround screens.


Our little boy is finally asleep at a decent hour so I am taking this opportunity to catch up on my digital diaries. On the domestic front we have been busy stocking the pantry with home made and home grown. the appalling weather ( three weeks of almost constant rain and gales!) has given us an excuse to cosy up in doors and make some preserves, including Sloe Gin and pickled beetroot. We had a great harvest of beetroot this year, it seems to be the only thing that the slugs don’t like.





Autumn Treats


CC has returned to work and I am now at home enjoying time with our little boy, the days seem to fly by and CC is home before we know it on most days. It was extremely strange not going back  to work and I definitely miss my teaching, however having this special time with my son and taking care of him is such a joy. He grows so much every week and his development is noticeable on even a daily basis. He has so many smiles and enjoys everything we do together, listening carefully when we sing to him and enjoying playing with his toys.


This weekend CC and our son had a little father and son time and I began making some of the things I used to make regularly before I was pregnant and lost our kitchen for 3 months as we had our house remodelled. I began with some gorgeous homemade yoghurt using my little Severin  yoghurt maker and then progressed to making chutney. There really is nothing nicer than tasting your own homemade jams and chutneys in the wintertime when the vegetable garden is looking rather deplete and soft fruits come from far away and are virtually tasteless. I like to make Victorian Chutney when the new season Bramley apples are in the greengrocers. CC and I get out walking and looking for blackberries as often as we can and use them to make blackberry sauce for yoghurt, pancakes and ice cream. A really good haul prompts us to make blackberry and Bramley jam, a really dark, flavourful treat on warm toast or in a sponge pudding. We like to give these as special Christmas gifts for close friends and family.


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Summer’s End

*   What happened to the summer ? It seemed as though the weeks were endless and September was a world away. Autumn seems to have come early this year and we’ve been making the most of the ripe profusion of blackberries growing in dense pockets in the lanes around our house.

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*  Making the most of our treasure ; first  Blackberry and Bramley jam, next a couple of pies for the freezer and then blackberry sauce to enjoy in yoghurt and on pancakes.

*   After a bit of detective work ( messages in bottles) we’ve finally found a milkman who will deliver in glass  from a dairy not 1/2 a mile away. After trying to search the internet many times we happened upon empty bottles on local doorsteps and wrote letters which we put into several in the hope that one might reach its intended recipient, we finally got a telephone call from a lovely local farmer ( who said she was not on the internet).  Our first lot at 6am was thrilling!

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*   We’ve set ourselves the challenge to try and get further afield for supplies without the car; using the bikes and our local ferry we have extended our range this summer. This allows us access to a hardware shop, bank and larger grocery stores without using petrol. We’re lucky to have a coastal bike path that is car free with stunning views of our bay. The wind turbines were spinning quickly today in the brisk breeze.

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*   The large ships from Heysham appear to float on the sand as they make the most of the deeper waters in the tidal channels.

*   Making the most of the warm weather we’ve been camping in Northumberland, despite gale force winds on the first night ( we really thought we’d lose the tent on our coastal site)we enjoyed visits to more castles – this time the castle of Lindisfarne on Holy Island. This island is part of the inner Farne islands and accessed via a causeway-( be sure to check the tide tables carefully before embarking or you may find yourself stranded!) The castle itself was an Edwardian gem – furnished by Edward Lutens after being purchased by the owner of Country Life magazine ; the walled garden – a Gertrude Jekyll design- was a true delight and has inspired me to try growing more medicinal flowers in our little garden.

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*   After spending a few hours making several batches of home made beer ready for Christmas we’ve had a lot of bottles to prepare ! – these made me smile in the castle.

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*   On our final day we got rather carried away with the romantic setting of Hulne Abbey – (the location of Maid Marion’s House in Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves)

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Snowdrops and Sunshine

We are finally beginning to emerge from the darkness of our winter and the days are longer. Moods are visibly brightened as the sunshine finally makes an appearance and thoughts turn to enjoying the outdoor again. The snowdrops at Lytham Hall were a much-needed display of green, signalling the return of longer days and the promise of the re-awakening garden.

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Thoughts On Packaging(and marking)

*     As a teacher I get through some 10-15 biro pens every year, all of which end up in landfill, are unpleasant to write with and produce unsatisfactory splodges of glutinous semi-dried ink. A recent government emphasis on ‘showing’ that I give feedback has meant that now all books are to be marked with two sentences; one for a positive comment and one for further steps. This of course ensures that I have around 180 sentences to handwrite each and every day – and sometimes 210.  As a dedicated professional I have always given detailed feedback to my students usually by speaking to them individually with smiles of encouragement for their efforts. It seems that it is easier to ‘assess ‘ my teaching through a quick glance at my books to ensure that I am ‘assessing’ properly ( this of course makes it much easier for an inspector/advisor to see at a glance, rather than have to dig deeper and watch carefully as well as listening to children’s thoughts and feelings). The children also use disposable handwriting pens and use some 3- 4 per year.

*     As children we were rewarded with being asked to purchase a fountain pen when our writing was deemed to be of a good standard. These were proudly purchased by our parents, often entailing a special trip to a pen shop and buying the best pen they could afford. Our pens were a thing of beauty and a prized possession, built to last for years and certainly not destined for landfill. As I seem destined to continue having to write for at least 2 hours a day I felt it was time to invest in that feeling again; thus I am now the proud owner of a fountain pen ( fine nib) with refillable plunger and green ink, I’m not sure that I could say that writing has been a delight, but it’s certainly a lot more bearable ! I just have to now convince my headteacher that the children need these too !

*     And speaking of things of beauty…….

Wooden hand-made tools

*     Look at these gorgeous handmade kitchen utensils my mother in law sent us from Canada; they were made by a gentleman as part of Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto, an open air museum. They are so beautiful, fashioned in hard wood, tactile and ergonomic, a far cry from what is available in most kitchen shops. They even stir better than their more modern style counterparts. Thank you so much CC’s ‘Mom’ ! We love them.

*   January has also seen us visiting two of our favourite places – Bowland for a very muddy ( ankle-deep !) walk around Nicky Nook and an overnight stay at the CB Inn with CC’s mum in Yorkshire.

We hiked to the top of Nicky Nook and enjoyed a very cold and wind-swept Coffee and Christmas Cake.


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*    Beautiful Bowland

*  The stunning Yorkshire Dales

Walk from the CB

The Dales

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*   On a more domestic note, and trying to reduce packaging I have been making my own granola bars, courtesy of another fantastic recipe from Gill Holcombe:

Recipe For Granola Bars

Makes 16

4oz butter

4oz golden or maple syrup

1/2 lb rolled oats

4oz dried apricots

4oz dried cranberries

4oz nuts

2oz desiccated coconut

2oz flax seed mix

1. Lightly grease and strip line a small tin ( 8 X 10 inch)

2. In a large saucepan melt the butter and syrup together.

3. Add all of your dry ingredients, mix well.

4. Press into your tin and bake at 170 C for around 30 minutes until they look golden.

5. Leave to cool in the tin ( thoroughly cool – don’t be tempted by taking them out early because you can’t wait to get at them; which of course I never do !)

6. Remove from tin and cut into squares.

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Autumn Pleasures

*   Autumn is my absolute favourite time of year here, the chance to have cosy nights by the fire, the abundance of hedgerow fruit for picking and despite going back to work, the chance to have lovely long walks enjoying the scent of the leaves and the smell of wood smoke. We began our month by bottling the Sloe Gin we had left ‘steeping’ in our cupboard, the addition of cinnamon has given it a lovely amber colour; we’re hoping to give these as Christmas gifts this year and as they’ll need at least three months in the bottle I hope they’ll be ready ! We’ve had a little tipple and it tastes lovely.

Our First Sloe Gin

Recipe For Sloe Gin

1 lb Sloes- wash well

1lb caster sugar (I’ve used 8oz because I don’t like very sweet things)

0.7 litres of cheap Gin

Cinnamon sticks

Sterilized bottles

(Makes two  0.7 litre bottles)

1. Thoroughly wash the sloes, removing any bits of branch. Place in the freezer for at least a week.

2. Fill a larger Kilner jar with the sloes, add the gin and then mix in the sugar. Add the cinnamon sticks to the mixture.

3. Place the jar in a cupboard or larder. Swirl the contents around every few days or so.

4. After two or three months sieve the contents through muslin a few times until the mixture looks clear.

5. Pour into sterilised bottles and add a pretty label. (I’ve used my lovely Cath Kidston ones CC bought for Christmas last year)

*   CC has also been enjoying the Good Life and has made a beautiful woodstore for our logs from a recycled pallet I found in school. He thinks it’s a bit wonky but I’m delighted ! It should ensure that our wood has time to season and dry before we burn it.

CC’s wood store

*   After spending three weeks away this year sadly my vegetables did not stand a chance against the caterpillars and slugs and a wet summer ensured that the slugs have bred bountifully ! It was quite upsetting to see a garden full of plant skeletons where all my lovely vegetables should have been. I was cheered enormously by a very generous gift which came right our of the blue from friends of our who stayed with us at Easter – they’ve sent a lovely selection of goods – including COPPER SLUG RINGS !!!! , I’ve been wanting to try these for a while and I will now use them to sow Bok Choi in my planters – I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. THANK YOU so much guys – a wonderful gift.

*   On the brighter side apparently it has been a very poor year for butterflies so I can console myself believing that my little garden became a temporary wildlife oasis. The meadow in miniature is now fully grown and Gerry and Flo have been let loose for the first time yesterday to munch to their heart’s content , they were extremely excited !

*  My brother has been spending weekends here and we’ve had some great days out together as a family . I finish with some pics of last weekend.

Messing About In Boats

*   ” There is nothing, simply nothing, half so much worth doing as messing about in boats….simply messing about in boats. ” (Ratty – The Wind In The Willows)

*  CC and I went to visit my parents and brother on their holiday canal boat, what enormous fun, especially operating the locks.

*   Under our inexperinced hands we manged to get one of the ropes tangled in the rudder and had to make an emergency repair.

*   We’ve also visited our favourite woodland on Beacon Fell. The views are so lovely at the top.

*   On a far more domestic note, manged to hang my washing out today. Large window between rain showers meant that it was mostly dry. I do get ridiculously happy about drying my clothes on the line. I just love the smell !