Autumn Outings: Part One – Durham

The weather has been reasonably kind over the last few weeks, allowing us some autumn outings.

In the first week of the month, Son Number One went on a school trip to Durham Botanical Gardens. The following weekend we decided to have a family trip there as he was keen to show us around. It was a perfect day to appreciate a garden in autumn.

I bet every visitor to the garden photographed this tree

Bright blue skies and golden leaves, warm enough to leave your coat behind but cool enough to be autumnal.

There were still lots of lovely bedding plants around and I couldn’t help taking lots of pictures of the dahlias.

Although it was hard at times not to imagine the pleasure of a child free visit to these gardens, the real joy of this trip was watching Son Number One. He helped his sister do all the clues on the ‘quiz trail’ and guided us around the garden in a very confident fashion.

By a complete coincidence we met some of our best friends there, though they were almost ready for leaving when we arrived. It didn’t stop the children exploring the greenhouses together. One houses a small collection of ‘minibeasts’ (well, the spiders weren’t so mini, they were big and hairy) and a fish pond, one houses the cactus collection, one houses a ‘tropical rainforest’ complete with spray and one houses a large tank containing giant lily pads (somehow I managed to miss this). The boys had a great time trying to photograph the minibeasts. I won’t scare you with the results but I will give you Son Number One’s fish photo’s because I think they are quite pretty.

I should probably mention that a large part of the garden is accessible with a push chair. We took our Phil and Ted’s 3 wheeler and managed to go ‘off road’ quite a bit. All in all, we had a lovely afternoon out. We should visit Durham more often as it really is on our doorstep. It was funny to be there on one of the first afternoons of the new university term. The Husband and I felt quite old as we watched swathe after swathe of students go to and from the playing fields. They all looked so young and full of vim and vigour. It seems incredible that is is almost 20 years since we began our university careers. Son Number One is closer to University age than we are. Scary thought.

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More Sunny Days

So February is gone and March has already brought us some glorious sunny days; thank goodness for that. I was recently reminded of a little piece of writing about February from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Year Book.

“I hate February. Basically, it’s a month longer than I’m prepared to tolerate of bone-chilling, icy winds and strength-sapping seasonal motionlessness.

So if anyone would like to offer me a couple of weeks’ fishing and diving in tropical seas for the last two weeks of February every year for the rest of my life, they could certainly have a small piece of my soul – ideally the piece February has spent 28 days of every year for the last 38 years trying to destroy.”

I’m not sure that I feel like that about February. By then, the snowdrops are starting to bloom and there is some spring promise around.

No, I think November is my worst month.

Anyway, the title of this post was not about dull February, but sunny March, so here are a few cheery March pictures, full of sunshine and brightness.

Swirly lines of crocus appear all over the area around about now.

The sun is still low enough, just after nine o’clock to make some great shadows. This is me taking Babykins to his first visit to Tumble Tots, which was very successful.

That low, bright sun made the yellow lichen on this bark look so bright against the green ivy and blue sky I stopped to take a picture. I suspect passing motorists must have wondered what on earth I was up to. As I moved on and looked back at the spot where I had stopped, I was struck by how the colours were nothing special from the other direction. I actually felt quite lucky to have been walking in that particular direction at that particular time. Having a small child may bring frustrations on a daily basis but it does have it’s benefits. I am able to go out for a walk on a bright sunny day and not be stuck in an office. I have that little bit of time to stop and ‘smell the roses’ (or view the lichen in this case).

On my way home I passed a whole flower bed of these bellis daisys. They are so cute.

More blue skies, I just can’t resist them…..

and this week’s crochet project. Can you tell what it is yet (puts on a Rolf Harris voice)?


Truthfully, I’m not sure myself yet but I enjoyed playing about with the different stitches, increasing and decreasing to make this shape. It may be a decorated egg to hang on our Easter display or it may metamorphosis into a fat chicken. ¬†Perhaps I should write the pattern up when I’ve decided exactly what it’s going to be.

I’d better save that for later because I am due at my daughter’s class in half and hour to help with some face painting. Before then I need to eat lunch and try to do some useful domestic jobs. I’ll be ashamed if the family come home tonight and I haven’t even emptied the dishwasher.