Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunny Sunday

What a glorious day again - thought it was all going to go badly when I woke to rain on the skylight, but it has burnt away leaving a lovely warm day. Even better was a call from the lovely Carolyn in Luddenham telling us the asparagus was ready. They used to grow it commercially and have now retired, but the asparagus hasn't and so they invite us and others to help ourselves for free. Yipee! So G and I whizzed over after late breakfast and gathered armfuls of the lovely stuff.
This afternoon has been very "pottery", am still wiped out by a vile cough which leaves me gasping, so taking it super easy. Even so I finally tackled all the weeds in the drive which have been strangling the lavender we planted last summer and as I did so was rewarded by the first of our regular swallows and the sound of a cuckoo. What with all of that and the lane turning green and lush I am feeling very springy - now please will this cough go away?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sunny day, picnic packed, salmon en croute with dill crème fraiche for us and bangers in buns for the sprogs. We met up with Stan's best friend Isaac and our great friends Lesley and Jamie at Groombridge Place for Stan's 6th birthday treat. I had only ever been once with my cousin Honey when we were unfortunate enough to be rained on so badly that we had to admit defeat and head back to Honey's house to apply our clothes to the tumble drier! Today was clearly not going to pose that kind of a problem. Groombridge Place is a kid and adult paradise with everything from beautiful, formal gardens,peacocks, a vineyard, the"Enchanted Forest" filled with boardwalks, fox runs, labyrinths, forts, mazes Tree fern valleys, incredible swings on the longest ropes ever and all sort of other magical treats. There's a short canal with a small boat to carry you back to the start if your legs are too weary - or simply for the fun of it.
We started with our lunch on the grass, next to the water and with views over the fields to the Spa Valley railway line allowing frequent glimpses of the small steam tdain than runs back and forth- and when you couldn't see it you heard the whistles and toots. Fortified we set off up through the vineyard which is the steepest climb so good to get it done before small legs are weary.Then to the boardwalk and rope runs - there are two levels, and the kids pelted up the "tricky" one involving tunnels, balance beams and wobbly bridges, which I was coerced into, despite not conforming to footwear rules which stated "stout" (not slippy old Birkee's) and despite becoming less enamoured with crawling through tunnels as I get older..
One of the things the forest is well known for - and Stan's most anticipated part - was the fabulous swings. The boys had been before and were really looking forward to it. There was a small melt down as Georgia (taking seriously her role of grown-up big sister) read the sign to the birthday boy, which stated that no-one under 10 could go on and relaying this info to him before we could he shed several tears before we explained that some rules were made to be broken...including the one that said only one person at a time, I had a blast up there with Stan on my knee. Because of the incredible length of the ropes they swing not only to great height but at a majestic pace...want one!

Stan checking the map - which might have been more useful later when he and Isaac got "lost" -(or you could say, took an unplanned route?) causing a small amount of concern and making several adults run up more hills than they might have liked.

After such a full and at times adrenalin filled afternoon, we settled down for tea, birthday cake (or rather birthday-mountain-of-brownies) and rays. Happy Birthday lovely boy xx
Huff, puff
Quieter time playing Horrible Histories Top trumps - Stan checked thoroughly, but apparently there really is no card for Hitler..
Finally the gardens closed and we went home, but not without first checking the standard of the local pub.. and can report that it has fine beer, great vibe and a lovely sunny grassy lawn where we sat and supped and the kids ran amok - how they had any energy left beats me!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring Sunday

Lovely week of sunshine capped off by walk and lunch with the Berry Bunch.
Kids had a ball (as ever) in the collapsed hay bales whilst we lay soaking up sun in the lea of the sea wall

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Light evenings

The great thing about longer days and light evenings is being able to go out for a walk after supper and lovely light for pictures
When we got back, Michael had finished laying a rather lovely smart brick path in between the raised beds, so the boys "helped" him with the grouting

Friday, April 09, 2010

Quick trip

Decided we needed a little treat for Easter and booked ourselves into the lovely Beckford Arms - as recommended by Nick.
Having looked at their excellent website which had many interesting places on their doorstep, we managed to fit a load of fun into two days with something for everyone.

Salisbury Cathedral - hoped to climb the tower, but you need to book (and we hadn't, but the kids had fun exploring and Michael was v excited to have seen the Magna Carta. I was rather disappointed by the interior which was so full of clutter, memorials and shrines - the basic structure is so beautiful and needs no such adornments. Stan enjoyed the colouring set which came with his lunch!

Pythouse Kitchen garden - a truly wonderful place - restored kitchen garden with a deli and cafe, displaying work by locally based artists, serving really tasty food, much made using their own produce and that from local suppliers. I think I have found the ideal model to combine all of my interests and am now on the look out for a similar site.

Old Wardour Castle - a wonderful, romantic ruined castle

The finished off with a visit to Shaftesbury, just over the border into Dorset where we had possibly the most surreal pizza ever - in a restored chapel, complete with rather awful trompe d'oeil, a fountain filled with plastic flowers and a summer-holiday, Shirely Valentine worthy waiter - and the pizza would have made Domino's look tasty. Ah well, it can't be gourmet all the time....

The real highlight of the trip, was the arrival by pure chance of Nick, Geo and the boys at the pub as we settled down in the garden for our first pint. They were on the way to Cornwall to go camping and were having a last blast of luxury before their (rather glam) destination on a Feather-down Farm site. So we had a wonderful dinner together and the kids had a ball in the large garden.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


Very quiet one this year, just us, but we got together with friends on Easter Saturday for a walk in Newnham, quick pint in Eastling, topped off by a stupendous lunch at Liz And Olly's
Managed to make a simnel cake and hot cross buns and the kids had a pretty good egg hunt in the garden, but all all it was subdued - best bit - sunshine, wall to wall. Spring is definitely springing