Easter Holiday Traditions

A few years ago I heard Steve Biddulph, author of ‘Raising Boys’ speak about parenting. One of the things that struck me was how he talked about traditions. I hope I’m not misquoting him but I seem to remember his speech going along these lines “Children who have grown up in happy families look back on their youth and say ‘remember when…’ as parents we have to provide the traditions that our children will remember with fondness”. He talked about families that spent one night a week all ‘camping out’ on mattresses in the same bedroom to illustrate that traditions don’t have to be expensive, they just require the willing input of the family, particularly the parents.

This all comes to mind now, as I look back on our recent Easter holidays. Traditions are becoming ingrained within my family and our friends family, who we share our break with. This year is the third year that we have spent time together at my Sister and Brother-in-law’s farm in Cumbria, in their simple holiday cottage. You can see posts from last year and the year before herehere and here. You may notice that I take pretty much the same photos every year, all that changes is the weather and the size of the children.

Every year our children look forward to helping out with activities on the farm. They herd the sheep, feed the lambs, look for eggs, fill up the hopper on the turnip masher (I’m sure there is a proper name for this bit of farming kit but I don’t know what it is), throw straw around in a vain attempt to put bedding down for the cows, feed and water the indoor sheep and venture up to the fell top to feed to the hardier sheep up there. Then there is playtime; they build straw bale castles with their cousins, splash stones in the stream, collect ‘crystals’ from out of the stream, kick a football and ride a bike. Together we have Easter egg hunts and walks over the fell, share meals and bedtime rituals. As each year passes, they have more things to look forward to as they remember the things they did the year before. Long may it last. We are already booked in for next year!IMG_4694 IMG_4699 IMG_4712 IMG_4755 IMG_4662 IMG_9752 IMG_4677 IMG_9758 IMG_9761 IMG_4681 IMG_9790 IMG_9836 IMG_4738 IMG_4746 IMG_4745IMG_4750IMG_9846IMG_9861IMG_9867IMG_9870IMG_9895IMG_9898IMG_9899

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Starting to spring

The weather is starting to improve and the days are lengthening. It’s time to get into the garden (or allotment in my case) and do some work. Our allotment really is neglected. It’s a good job it’s on it’s own little plot because if we had neighbours, they’d be complaining. Can you see all the beds, full of weeds and dead plants? The majority of the plot looks like that.

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But now that Babykins is at nursery, my weeks are starting to take on a new shape. I have more time to devote to gardening, something that has been low on my priority list for ooh, about eight years. Although I loved the idea of taking the children to the allotment, the reality of it probably robbed me of a lot of my enthusiasm for gardening. It just wasn’t worth the effort. Not at the preparing and planting stage anyway. They are more distractible when there is a yummy crop to harvest.

Working on our allotment brings me a mixture of feelings. When I arrive, I generally feel dismayed by the amount of work there is to do. I really don’t like looking at the whole plot and thinking about all the tasks that should be done, about how wonderful it could look. There are so many basic things that need sorting out. I am choosing to try and focus on small, achievable targets.

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A couple of weeks ago, on a fabulously sunny, still day, I dug out all the remaining potatoes and cleared the bed that they were in. They are not great potatoes but I’ve been doing my best to be thrifty and use them up, despite the amount of slug damage they’ve got. Babykins actually helped me out on this occasion. He is actually quite happy helping out on our plot. In fact, I should really get him a few new tools, his spade is falling apart. It was such a glorious day that once Babykins was at nursery, I decided to go back for a couple more hours.

IMG_9162The sky really did look like this. Perfect. On days like this, the joy of gardening is easy to find.

IMG_9187I had a clear growing area so I planted a row of broad beans and a row of peas and covered them with horticultural fleece. Who knows if they will grow. The ground is probably too cold and wet and the fleece practically blew away shortly after but it made me feel that I was ahead of the game.

This week, I managed another short spell at my plot. Just an hour in the sunshine with no need for a coat as I dug and weeded. Digging and weeding, satisfying things to do. Tasks that give instant gratification. In a short space of time you can transform a messy looking area into a patch of neat, dark earth.

IMG_9308And no matter how many times I get out my fork and do some digging and weeding, I still enjoy seeing what turns up.

IMG_9306 A parsnip that must have self seeded…

IMG_9300 An extremely bright caterpillar (or grub – I don’t know)…

IMG_9305and earthworms. I never get bored of digging up earthworms, especially the big, fat juicy ones. They should be a reflection of the health of the soil so finding them gives me hope for a good crop later in the year.

There are other things to appreciate on the allotment at the moment.

IMG_9328 Drifts of snowdrops.

IMG_9317A solitary rose.

IMG_9314Rhubarb shooting up, getting bigger by the day.

So although looking at my plot as a whole can make my heart sink, looking at tiny parts of it makes my heart sing. At this time of year, when not much is growing, I can even enjoy the flowering weeds for a short time.

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52 weeks of happy 19/52

My happy post this week is full of images from our first caravan jaunt of the season. This also happened to be our first trip in our new caravan so we didn’t go far from home, just to Hillside Caravan Park at Knayton, near Thirsk. It’s a lovely (some would say luxurious) site that suits our needs very well. You can read more about it here.

greenery1Spring greenery, brightening up the scenery…

IMG_7103Something that I don’t think I’ve seen before (but hope I will again).

IMG_1187A visit from my brother and his wife.

IMG_1209Established traditions. A trip to Knayton must include buying an ice cream from the farm house no matter what the weather. It just so happens that the heavens opened after this was taken….

All the same, our first trip was a success and that made me happy.

52 weeks of happy 17/52

I can’t really complete this week’s post because I haven’t been very trigger happy with the camera. I can only really give you one thing to be happy about – SPRING IS SLOWLY ARRIVING. It has been windy, it has been cold but the plants are finally getting the message. It’s good to see some green gradually starting to appear. It’s even better to see some yellow and purple too.IMG_6997

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There’s a bank holiday coming up so no doubt the weather will take a turn for the worst but until then I’m just going to enjoy the flowers and be grateful for any sunshine we get.

It’s spring on the inside

Even if it’s snowing outside.IMG_1905

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IMG_1913Pah, so it’s not Easter yet, who cares? Any excuse to put up some decorations. We will be away at Easter so we might as well enjoy a bit of spring-time cheerfulness now, especially when the weather is not being springlike. In this household, getting the decorations down from the loft is not just for Christmas.

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IMG_6543I’ve done  a lot of spring themed crochet in the last few days too. I started this project on Thursday night as part of my ‘Home Made Gift Challenge’. I have had my hook at my side whenever possible: in the car while Babykins sleeps, at the poolside while the bigger two have their swimming lessons,

IMG_6539yes, even in the bath this morning. I’m starting to think that I have some sort of problem that requires a 12-step abstinence based solution. My project is almost finished. I had to hand it over to my Mum today because it was a gift for Mothering Sunday. Unfortunately, I will have to get it back from her because I just couldn’t get the flowers stitched on in time. Oh well, home made gifts can’t be rushed, and I will probably never be better organised.

Some days start out bad…

Today was one of them. [Well, actually I wrote this yesterday but I thought two posts in one day was a bit much]

When you’ve cleaned up sick from your living room floor before 8.30 in the morning you expect a bad day. But it could have been worse, at least it was laminate and not carpet.

Today actually turned out to be a peaceful day, filled with magic moments.

IMG_6430Babykins is developing his fine motor control by doing ‘chop-chop’ at every opportunity. It’s slightly scary, especially as he goes so quiet while he is practicing. On the other hand, he goes so quiet when he is doing it – RESULT! He even got out the dustpan and brush and tidied up after himself today.

IMG_6446After lunch, The Middle Miss – the sick one – was feeling much better. She brought her nail polish down and set up her salon. Babykins had his finger and toe nails varnished. Well, the blue polish from half term was wearing off. Being the youngest in a family, with an older sibling of each sex certainly allows you to explore all aspects of play. I had such a lot of pleasure from being with my two youngest children today. They really are good friends. Our family needed little Babykins to bring a playful element to it. Son Number One is a wonderful boy, who I appreciate more and more but he’s not the best at playing with his sister. She gets so much out of being a big sister and on the whole, is very good at it.

IMG_6448After the morning sick incident both children went in the bath and after that, I had the urge to wash all the towels. I was channelling the spirit of my Grandmother, a woman brought up in times when there were no antibiotics and hygiene was the only way to stop illness spreading. In that same spirit, it seemed appropriate that the washing was then dried on the line, some of it hanging up with Grandmas pegs. What a simple pleasure it is to hang washing out to dry on a sunny day. All the same, I’m glad that we have other options these days.

The sunny weather was bliss today. As the afternoon wore on the children played outside a little (more magic moments) and then we had a wander to the shops to buy some naughty treats. On sick days I don’t mind indulging them in crisps.

IMG_6450We were only home for a short while before it was time to pop back down the road again, this time to collect Son Number One from school. In those few minutes I just had time to start preparing our supper. I was in a very happy place (I must nod to Lucy at Attic 24 here, who used this expression on her Facebook page this afternoon) . The children were contented, my yummy meal was starting to take shape and I had a pretty view: newly blooming narcissus, lit up by the afternoon sun streaming through my windows. Some days start off badly but end up being gems.

Spring Sunlight

The changing quality of light is one of the joys of living in a country with proper seasons. In the last week the sun has shone and we’ve had blue skies.

The washing has been dried on the line.

The camelia is in full bloom.

We’ve had our first after-school park visit of the season. It is now light until well after five pm so I decided that a trip out was just what we needed to combat after school TV addiction.

The Middle Miss spent ages looking at the soft, furry buds on this willow tree.

Son Number One was back in action after his little op.

Babykins had a great time, as usual. Thank goodness for reins.

I challenged them all to find a feather and they managed to find plenty, down by the pond. The ripples were due to the boys deciding to wash their muddy footwear. Not their best idea really. Thankfully there were no wet feet incidents this time.

The light was beautiful.

When the sky looks like this and the sun is just that bit higher in the sky it really starts to feel like spring.