Friday, November 02, 2007

Half term treat

We had a fab trip at half term - to Calais for the day with Polly, Frank and Noah. There was a special offer on P&O and Michael - or 'keeper of the purse' - decided that we could easily recover the cost of the ticket on cheap wine - not sure his sums included lunch and the exorbitant coffee on the ferry, but there you go!
It was a pretty grey day, but not choppy so a good crossing. We had a great time - explored a Napoleonic Fort, looked at the wonders of Calais (not many!) and had a good lunch, then off to Auchan to fill up with goodies followed by a trip to the beach at Sangatte - miles of beautiful sand.

The kids had great fun and so did we - may become a regular thing?

Pretty scarey!!

Here are my usually delightful and significantly more attractive children looking frightful!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Oh my goodness she's 9!

A few days late - but life has been hectic.
Georgia is 9 - where did that year go- and whilst we're wondering, where did the other 8 go too?

What a beautiful girl - well I would say that..

We had a very grown up celebration this year - no party games for this crowd. Lunch at Wagamama for G and three friends followed by shopping for sparkly glittery things in Claire's Accessories.

There was lots of skipping and trying on stuff and I think they had a ball.

The boys made a cake while we were out, but we had to have it the next day as it all got a bit late -
I think it's safe to say Raff adores his big sister and it was made with love!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Smashed up Beach Huts and Wild Horses

Last weekend saw the latest mad instalment in the life of our beach hut. Earlier this year Mum, Brian, Michael and I had fun and games putting up the hut in gale force winds and last October Gavin and Michael had to take it down with the sea around their feet and waves crashing over the landrover. I decided this year to thoroughly investigate the tide tables and weather forecast to ensure everyone's safety. The boys were pretty surprised then to find the scene of devastation shown below.

Our hut is normally on pitch 97 and faces the sea!

Apparently the combination of a Spring tide and very strong winds the day before had resulted in lots of broken huts, some even washed down the beach. Our hut, whilst not broken was full of seaweed. Now we really understand why they have to come down in the winter! Unfortunately, I think we won't be having the hut next year, it has become an expensive treat especially since the rent for the plot is doubling next year. So this is the end of the beach hut saga!

On Sunday Louise George and Flora came down, and as ever we managed lunch outside! It seems they always bring the sun.

We went for a long walk out to the sea wall after lunch to see the recently installed wild Konik ponies which are amazing; very tame and not bothered by Mouse at all.

The other big event was Raff learning to ride his bike without stabilisers!! Hooray for Raff

Friday, October 05, 2007


I find cooking with the children very stressful - something about relinquishing control of my domain!!? So I have huge respect for lovely Michael who embarked on pasta making with the kids a few weekends ago. The results were really tasty - and I think he only burst a few minor blood vessels keeping his cool!

Festival fun

Summer came back just in time for us to go the The End of the Road Festival. We had tried to persuade a few people to come with us but I think the previous months' rain put them off, so it was just our Wilcox brood who braved it.

As it turned out we had glorious sun - although the nights were pretty chilly! It was fantastic and we will be going again next year. The hi-lights have include the band who dedicated a song to Stan " the little guy who keeps on dancin" and the mad Swedish band with massive pink balloons.
Check them out here

There were only 5000 people there and loads for the kids - Georgia learnt to walk on stilts - she even passed her stilt test which allowed her to go it alone!

So come on all you lot, come with us next year!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Nagden life goes to Devon

Or should it be titled - Nagden life gets eerily quiet!
Post Dorset camping weekend all three sprogs were abandoned in the campsite by their parents for a week of wonderful Granny Penny time in Sandford. It is understood, from my sources, to have been an all round wonderful week. One of the highlights has to be making some glass in GP's studio. Here are some pics of the work in action, and I will add some of the installed artwork...when it installed, just need to find some fishing line.

Fantastic free food

The pallourdes were just a start! We have well and truly got the bug for free food! Just back from a wander in the woods where we gathered loads of plums and damsons from some groaning trees in the copse near our house. The previous day Raff and I had gathered blackberries, more damsons and elderberries. So I had fun in the kitchen and have so far made, elder and blackberry jelly, plum pie and damson sorbet - seriously yummy recipe from Monty Don book. Plus there is a big bowl of plums left over on the table.

Soon the wild apple trees out on the sea wall will be ready to pick, and this may be the year that we learn about foraging for wild mushrooms.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Dorset camping

After just 5 days back at home we were off again to Dorset for Penny's birthday bash - a big family camp out at Burnbake which is on the Isle of Purbeck near to Studland Bay.

The cousins' breakfast..

Fab site and close to a great beach with a small cafe where your tea was served in mugs, on trays for you to return and where they even had deckchairs, windbreaks, kids toys and buckets to borrow on an honour system, amazing in this money money world - even the kids lollies were organic and only 50p!

We had a wonderful day there on Saturday followed by a barbecue with proper camp fire and toasted marshmallows.

It was such a great weekend and the kids (especially Georgia and Fintan) will certainly remember it for a long time. Michael was absolutely thrilled to discover that the beach - South Beach on Studland Bay - seemed ripe for a bit of cockling. The difference between France and England was amazing (no-one cockling all sunbathing!), within minutes of looking he had found some whoppers and within a pretty short time had collected 2 buckets full - Finny was an excellent apprentice. So as a starter before the fabulous lamb that Kev cooked we cooked them up, mariniere style. They could have done with a longer soak to degrit, but most of the family tried them and some even enjoyed them - especially Finny who ate them with real gusto! Now Michael wants a decent weekend so we can go and check out Minnis Bay. Foraging is his new favourite hobby!
Nick, Victoria and Joel joined us for one night - much to the kids delight. Joel proved to be a fantastic hobby horse, play mate and gatherer of fire wood.

Raff has always had a soft spot for Nick, so loved playing Frisbee on the beach, and then was suitably amazed and detighted to be able to mess about on Kev's new monster motorbike.

Lizzie is clearly now a seasoned camper - having already been to the Big Chill, and we all loved having cuddles with her.

Sunday was Penny's birthday - and who doesn't celebrate it without cake, fizz and two bottles of pickled onions from the local beer festival! (could the presence of Kev have anything to do with this?)

Summer holidays

We headed to France for our camping this year to avoid the floods and pestilence which have followed us to Cornwall for the past few years. Our aim was to have a significantly warmer, drier and less stressful time and to that end to choose a campsite whose location reduced the amount of schlepping about in cars to go to shops/beaches/attractions etc.

I can proudly announce that such a place exists and to prove it, we did not have to fill the car up with petrol for 2 weeks! For those who want to have an equally relaxing time may I point you to our pitch was just after the big tree on the left - about as close to the beach as you could want to be. It did however make for a sleepless first night, as I worried about the kids sleepwalking onto the beach! I had given the boys strict instructions not to leave the tent (they were in a pup tent next to us) until we were up. I heard noises from their tent at 7.30 or so and went to tell them they could get up. I unzipped their door and Raff's first words were "morning mummy, where's Stan?". Mild panic, obviously, before I found him wandering around the back of our tent trying to find the way in!

The kids soon settled into the rythmn of late-ish rising, toddling down to the bread van for "une baguette et une traditionelle" (a wonderful sourdough baguette which became my favourite at lunch) and sometimes "cinq Croissants". They always left together, but Stan would run the whole way back and beat the other two by a long way!

After breakfast we would head all 50 yards to the beach. We soon became aware that in the mornings the locals didn't relax on the beach at all, rather they would head across the sand as the tide receded to gather their lunch. We could see the oyster and mussel beds which were exposed at low tide, but closer to shore people hunched over the beach, rakes in hand.

Our curiosity led us to go and see what they were up to, and so began our latest passion - cockling. To be precise it's 'clamming' because what they were merrily harvesting by the kilo were Palourdes a kind of clam. It's totally addictive! The kids joined in and soon we had enough for supper - free supper, the best kind!

Lunch was pretty much always bread, cheese, salami, ham pate, salad vert, tomatoes.......etc wonderful long meals with the kids eating all sorts and Raff discovering that he likes hard Chevre cheeses, like Brebis - but only if we called it 'Zebra cheese' - he misheard us say Chevre in our best french accents!

It was a little inclement at the beginning of the first week, but soon the decision to head to France paid off as the sun shone, the wine flowed and Georgia even made friends with some French children. A huge bonus was camping on the beach. We rarely went further afield, except for provisions from the pretty town of Noirmoutier with it's thrice weekly market. In fact we didn't fill the car up once in two weeks - and had we had bikes it would have been even better since the island is almost completely time.

One day we had a mini excursion to he next bay along which we reached on a free bus that ran around the north of the island - we could have walked sans enfants, but they loved the bus and it saved on the whining! The beach had similar geography, but a whole different social strata. The bay, backed by pine forests full of gorgeous, huge houses was full of beautiful yachts and the was peopled by the beautiful and stylish. There was a wonderful wooden pier/jetty stretching out form the forest which Stan insisted on running along at breakneck speed - totally terrifying as it wasn't exactly Health and Safety Exec approved!

One truly sad site, a result of the previous nights' incredible wind, which had Michael up checking guy ropes at midnight - was a wrecked yacht, 40ft, thrown up onto the rocks just below an lighthouse ironically. Everyone in the bay was making the trip to see it and it felt almost cruel to take a picture.

After a frolic beneath the pier we headed up to a wonderful huge white building above the beach which housed a great, relaxed restaurant - like Pont de la Tour only far more laid back. The kids menu offered moules frites which the kids tucked into with gusto and we had a wonderful prix fixe.

Other particular highlights of the holiday which I have to get down before they are forgotten

Moustachio nuts - Stan's new word. The boys had a little boys only drinks session one evening, sitting on the rocks, drinking beer (or similar) and eating their way through a huge amount of "moustachio nuts"

Candelabra - home made. Michael cannot sit still on holiday and likes to make things, so one evening he mad a candelabra out of foil ramekins, long candles and our clothes small whirlygig clothes drier

Backgammon - Himslef spent nearly the whole two weeks collecting pebble of a certain size, colour and shape before letting on what they were for. Then he attacked a large cardboard carton for beer wit his Leatherman and some very precises measuring. And lo, a fold up, poratble backgammon set. We did try to have a whisky fuelled backgammon rows - as per Kenya - but were saved by the fact that he kept beating me and I'm not such a bad loser (or something!)

Broom - he also made a broom, like a shamba broom out of branches from our neighbouring tree - camping by the beach has one setback - very sandy tent - but it beats mud!

Harry Potter - we foolishly left England he day before the final Harry Potter was published!! Georgia noted that our camp neighbours were reading it - in English and would hover wistfully next to the lady as she read it. After the first week, said lady asked me if I thought Georgia might like to borrow it (!!) and did I think she would finish it before we left - 6 days later? I said yes and yes and then we lost Georgia to it for the 2 days it took her to read it!