Thursday, 20 August 2015

August on the allotment: tayberries and strawberries

August on the allotment: tayberries and strawberries
One of the best things about Summer is growing, picking & eating soft fruit. We have to wait through all the dark, dreary Winter months here in the United Kingdom until the Summer comes around and we can feast on berries again. On our allotment this year we have found the strawberries a bit disappointing, but the tayberries were a big success. We manage to pick quite a few each time we visit, but they never seem to make it home...funny that. My argument is that soft fruit does not travel well, so we prefer to find a spot by the shed and eat our bounty there & then. If Magoo goes home with berry juice on her dress and fingertips, then it has been a good day at the allotment.
allotment harvest of tayberries and strawberries
I have just bought two new raspberry plants for the bargain price of £1.79 from good old Aldi. The raspberries we inherited from the previous owner have been swamped by blackberries. So a few days ago my Mum & I attacked the blackberries with secateurs. We already have a large blackberry hedge at the top of the allotment, so we're happy to lose some to make make room for raspberries.

Once we had cut the plants down to the ground, we let Mr. M do the hard work of digging the roots out. I know you can buy poison to kill blackberry roots, but we prefer not to use that type of thing on our plot. So it was down to brute strength to dig them out. Can't say it was an easy job for Mr. M, in fact he snapped a spade handle at one point trying to get the roots out. They are hardy things those blackberries. I know it's hard to eradicate them and I'm sure we haven't got all the root out, but I'd rather dig them out than use chemicals. Once the patch was clear, we dug well-rotted horse manure into the ground and planted out the new raspberry plants. Fingers crossed we will have some healthy plants by this time next year...
aldi green garden range of fruit plants raspberry

I'm linking up with 'How Does Your Garden Grow' #HDYGG over on the beautiful


I'm also linking up with Country Kids over on

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Winds, Whelks and Woolacombe: the joys of a school holiday camping trip

At the end of July we went on a camping holiday in North Devon. We had such a lovely time, rockpooling, roly polys down the sand dunes at Woolacombe, ice creams everyday and the best fish and chips we've ever eaten at Squires in Braunton. We came home with a lovely collection of seashells to wash and indentify at home. Despite the fact we had a great time, our camping holiday nearly ended before it began. 40-50mph winds were forecast for the day we were due to pitch our tent, they weren't wrong...
Winds, Whelks and Woolacombe: the joys of a school holiday camping trip
We had chosen a site with a beautiful view, but campsites with amazing views are normally high & exposed. This one was no exception. We lay the tent out as we always do, but when it came to stand the poles up, we couldn't fight against the wind. In fact the wind was so strong, it bent one of the metal poles. Mr M stood looking at the bent pole in shock and uttered expletives under his breath. Magoo had been counting down the days to this holiday and I couldn't face packing up and going home again, but the tent wasn't going up without a fight.
We retreated to the car to regroup and have a break from the relentless wind. "When can we go in the tent Mummy?" piped up a little voice from the back seat. "Just as soon as we've got our heads together" came my reply. We decided to try a different tack with the tent and with all our strength we managed to get the bloomin' thing up. Even the guy who owned the campsite was impressed we'd managed it. Despite our awful first day, the sun did come out and the rest of the holiday was glorious.
We managed three trips to the beach, once to Croyde and twice to Woolacombe (because we loved it so much). Magoo and I spent a happy hour peering into rockpools at Croyde Bay. We found heaps of shells, including Whelks, Top Shells and Limpets amongst many others. We decided to fit as many as we could into our bucket and bring them home.
A few days after we got back, Magoo and I sat out in the garden and washed the shells. It was the perfect opportunity to have a closer looks at our finds. It never ceases to amaze me how clever Mother Nature is. Each shell is small, but perfectly formed.
rockpooling for whelk shells in north devon
rockpooling for limpet shells in north devon
I particularly like whelk shells. When I was little I used to call them 'ice cream' shells because of the swirly cone at the end which looks like a Mr Whippy.
rockpooling for whelk shells in north devon
studying shells we found in rockpools at croyde beach
Magoo and I love collecting shells, but we don't know much about identifying them. After a quick search online I think I now know my whelks from my periwinkles. I particularly like the UK Safari website
studying top shells we found in rockpools at croyde beach
studying top shells we found in rockpools at croyde beach
studying whelk shells we found in rockpools at croyde beach
Once we had washed them, we left the shells to dry on kitchen paper. Magoo decided to give some to Grandma and we've kept the rest in a bowl on our dresser. It's a lovely reminder of our time spent in North Devon.
collection of shells found in rockpools at croyde in north devon
And here's some photographic proof that our tent withstood the winds...we spent the whole holiday slightly in shock that we managed to put it up at all :)

And the view from our tent, beautiful, but windy!
school holiday camping naer barnstaple in north devon
I'm linking up with Country Kids over on
Whatever the Weather over on
Point + Shoot over on
Let Kids be Kids over on

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Vintage Love: Karuselli fabric designed by Katsuji Wakisaka for Marimekko in 1973

I bought this piece of fabric about ten years ago at a jumble sale. The bright colours leapt out at me & I grabbed it before anyone else did. It was only when I returned home that I saw the name Marimekko along the edge. This fabric dates from 1973 and after a bit more research I found out it is called Karuselli (Carousel) and had been created by Katsuji Wakisaka a Japanese textile designer.

I believe this particular design is quite rare. Sadly I only have a small piece, or rather two small pieces that have been sewn together to make a cushion cover by the previous owner. If you look at the top right image on this website about Katsuji Wakisaka, you can see a larger piece and the full pattern repeat.

It has a bold primary colour print and Wakisaka was famed for his playful designs. It is said that he "introduced new aesthetics which enriched and expanded the Marimekko style" in the 1970s. I love this design and although I wish I had more of it, I'm grateful I managed to grab this small piece of design history when I had the chance.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Five active family days out in Somerset

School's out for what are we going to do today? Over the past eighteen months we've had lots of fantastic days out in our local area. Somerset is a beautiful county. There's something for everyone, coastal areas, farmland, hill walking and tons of pretty towns and villages. As a family we're happiest when making the most of the great outdoors. So I wanted to put together a list of our top five favourite active days out in Somserset. And the best thing? Most of them are free. You just need to grab your walking boots, a picnic and get out there!
five active family days out in somerset school holidays
1) Tobogganing at the Mendip Snowsport Centre in Somerset
I spotted on Facebook that a friend had taken her daughter to the Mendip Snowsport Centre to try out the tobogganing slope. It looked like great fun so I promptly went online and booked a session for Magoo. It was only £4 for an hour of tobogganing, which is a real bargain. A perfect way to have some fun in the school holidays.
You can find more information in the the full blog post here
five active family days out in somerset tobogganing
2) Walking on Wavering Down on the Mendips in Somerset
Wavering Down, Crook Peak and King's Wood are a truly special place to spend some time. When I was a child growing up in Somerset, Wavering Down and Crook Peak were places I often walked with my own Mum and Dad. It's not any easy walk, steep in parts, it climbs to one of the highest points of the Mendips. But the views are reward enough for all your hard effort.
More photos and the full blog post here
five active family days out in somerset walking on wavering down on mendips
3)Discovering Steart Marsh wetland nature reserve
Having never visited Steart feels like some sort of hinterland in my mind. I grew up in Somerset, but never visited this part of the county. I have to say, I am a complete convert to this stretch of the coast. It is beautiful and it seems to be a well-kept secret. The WWT and Environment Agency have clearly invested in the area. There are brand new hides dotted around the wetlands, lots of information on birds you may see, a pristine toilet block located in one of the car parks, wide footpaths suitable for buggies, bikes and wheelchairs and stunning views almost everywhere you look. Perhaps I shouldn't even be telling anyone about it? Well, I'll let you in on a secret, it's an amazing place to visit...go and see it!
To see more photos and read the full blog post click here
five active family days out in somerset steart marsh wetlands reserve
4) Spring has arrived at Court Farm in Somerset
I wrote this blog post back in Spring when we went to Court Farm Country Park to feed the lambs. But Court Farm is lovely any time of the year. There are always animals to feed, milking displays, a large wooden outdoor play fort, trampolines, zipwire and plenty of places to have a picnic.
You can find more information in the the full blog post here five active family days out in somerset court farm
5) Breathless at Brent Knoll
Brent Knoll is a unique place. Anyone travelling on the M5 to Devon and Cornwall may have spotted it as they pass Weston-super-Mare and travel further into the South West. It looms up out of a landscape which is predominantly flat (well, they aren't called the levels for nothing). It is 449 ft above sea level and once you've got to the top, there are 360 degree views all around you. Jaw-dropping views of the beautiful countryside and coastline at the top make the steep climb more than worthwhile.
To see more photos and find out more, head on over to the full blog post
five active family days out in somerset brean down
So that's my list of five active family days out in Somerset. I hope you get to visit some of the places mentioned above in the Summer holidays or at any time of the year. I hope this post shows you some places you haven't heard of before. Entertaining children doesn't have to cost the earth and you don't need to visit glossy theme parks to have fun. Enjoy!
I'm linking up with these lovely blogs who support outdoor adventures with children:
'Let Kids be Kids' over on
'Whatever the Weather' over on
'The List' over on
'Country Kids' over on

Friday, 17 July 2015

July on the allotment, enjoying tasty spuds and beautiful broad beans

It's July and our allotment is in full swing. After all the digging and rotivating, we're now enjoying the fruits of our labour. The past few weeks have consisted of blazing sunshine and heavy downpours - perfect growing conditions for vegetables and flowers. Sadly also perfect growing conditions for weeds. At the moment the veg are winning the battle over the weeds, but it's a close-run thing. July on the allotment tasty spuds dug from the ground
One of the things I look forward to most is getting the first crop of potatoes out of the ground. Some time ago Magoo appointed herself as chief-potato waterer. She has done a sterling job and takes full ownership of the crop. She wants to see each and every potato come out of the ground. I can't really blame her, there's something magical about putting one seed potato in a trench and then digging out a cluster of tasty new potatoes a few weeks later.
July on the allotment tasty spuds dug from the ground
July on the allotment tiny new potaoes dug from the ground
Magoo loves fishing out each potato from the soil, even the teeny tiny ones. Getting your hands in the earth is what it's all about.
Once we're home she loves to wash and prepare the vegetables we've bought home. Magoo set to work with scrubbing the potaoes ready for our evening meal. She is lucky to have the experience of seeing her food travel from ground to plate in a matter of hours.
washing new potatoes dug up from allotment
washing new potatoe crop dug up from allotment
We also picked the last of the broad beans. It's the first year we've grown them and they have been really tasty. The only problem we had was the plants became covered in black fly. My Mum used an organic spray on them which helped alot. But I've read that you can squish them off with your fingers or blast the black fly off with water. We will definitely grow them next year, but will get on top of the black fly earlier.
We need to leave the broad bean plants in the ground for a while because they perform the clever trick of fixing nitrogen into the soil. Anything that boosts soil quality without chemicals gets a thumbs up from me.
washing broad bean crop dug up from allotment
Again Magoo likes to prepare the beans. We love to pop the pods open together and pick the beans out of their fluffy jackets. One of the things I love about broad beans is the downy beds Mother Nature gives them to grow in. I think that's why broad beans are such a great crop to grow with children. The whole preparation process is so tactile.
broad bean fluffy jacket pods
broad bean crop from allotment ready to eat
As one crop comes to an end we can start to put in a new one. We've taken out all the garlic and planted purple sprouting in it's place. Crops on the horizon are peas, runner beans, squash and courgettes - they are getting bigger day by day. We're also growing some pumpkins for Halloween. Well, you have to plan ahead when you've got an allotment...

I'm linking up with these amazing blogs:
Country Kids #countrykids over on the blog.
"How Does Your Garden Grow" over on the beautiful blog

#ordinarymoments over on
Let Kids be Kids over on
Image of the Week over on
Magic Moments over on

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Vintage Love: vintage Fisher Price mini bus toy

Fisher Price toys were such a huge part of my childhood. I think some of my earliest memories consist of me pulling the Chatter Telephone around the living room. This mini bus was also an early addition to the family toybox. I blogged a little while ago about my vintage Fisher Price Hospital, which is still going strong. My Mum has kept many pieces of my Fisher Price childhood collection. My daughter loves to play with them when she visits Grandma's house, some are nearly forty years old. Proof, if proof were needed, that good toys never go out of date.

vintage Fisher Price mini bus children's toy
We had a Fisher Price circus train, followed by this mini bus, the hospital mentioned above, an A-frame woodland retreat and finally the 'Main Street' toy. The mini bus is a favourite of mine, mainly because I love the way the people bobble up and down as you push the bus about. It was a rough ride across the kitchen floor, but the Little People never stopped smiling. I loved all the Fisher Price toys given to us by our parents, each new addition fired my childhood imagination and added to the world inhabited by the Little People.
vintage Fisher Price mini bus children's toy
I only noticed the other day that the label on the back reads "copyright 1969 Fisher Price Toys Division of the Quaker Oats Co". I had no idea Quaker Oats owned Fisher Price toys. After a bit of online searching I found this interesting page from Collectors Weekly detailing the history of Fisher Price Toys. The site explains in more detail:
"Up until 1969, Fisher-Price was owned by the four (original) founders and a handful of stockholders. From 1969 to 1991, the company was a subsidiary of Quaker Oats. Briefly, in the 1990s, the company became independent again, only to be swallowed in 1993 by Barbie-making toy behemoth Mattel, which still owns the brand today."
vintage Fisher Price mini bus children's toy
vintage Fisher Price mini bus children's toy
Fisher Price toys are still going strong and manufacture many of the best selling toys available to babies and preschoolers today. Our daughter has grown up playing with many of the modern Fisher Price toys alongside my 'vintage' versions. I hope they will become as big a part of her childhood memories as they are for me.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Vintage Love: Heals Flower Shop fabric dating from the 1960s

I tend to change my mind about which is my favourite piece of vintage fabric in my collection from week to week. Somehow or other I always come back to loving this fabric from Heals the most. It is called ‘Flower Shop’ and Hansjurgen Holzer designed it in the 1960s. As you'd expect from that era, it features a quintessential retro daisy/floral pattern.
Heals Flower Shop fabric dating from the 1960s
It comes in a number of colourways, this version is made up of mustard yellows and olive greens on a pure white background.
Heals Flower Shop fabric dating from the 1960s
I have made a number of totes and belts with this fabric, but it would equally make great cushion covers or handmade lampshades.
Heals Flower Shop fabric dating from the 1960s
Heals Flower Shop fabric dating from the 1960s


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