Summer in Somerset

It is less than two weeks since we came back from our summer holidays but it seems like ages ago. We seem to have packed so much in since then. In the interests of documenting family life, here is my pick of the Somerset pics, a lovely region to visit.

Views from our campsite across the Somerset levels towards Glastonbury Tor.

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Beautiful Wells, the smallest city in England. This is Vicars Close, which is supposed to be the oldest, continually inhabited, residential street in Europe and below that, the cathedral.

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Cheddar gorge and caves. A day out courtesy of my Tesco clubcard points! We visited most of the attractions – the show caves, the museum, the open top bus tour up the gorge and finally, we climbed up the steps to the top of the lookout tower. All 274 of them.
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IMG_7925IMG_2972A Somerset cream tea. Much needed to keep me going on a busy sight-seeing day.

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IMG_7933Picnicking at the top of Glastonbury Tor. Our picnic rucksack, containing knives, forks and plates has been well used.

IMG_7941Heading up…

IMG_2995View from the top, where we tried to spot our caravan, though it was much too far away.

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IMG_3004Inside the ancient barn at the (free) Museum of Rural Life in Glastonbury.  This beautiful barn, which originally belonged to Glastonbury Abbey is almost 600 years old. Amazing to think of the time, money, care and attention that was spent on it.

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IMG_3025The Middle Miss was very taken with this shop display in Glastonbury – she loves rainbows.

IMG_7939The best sandcastle sand I’ve come across for a while, at the almost deserted Burnham-on-Sea. Much building was done as you can see below.

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IMG_7970The sky looked like this through most of our holiday. It’s classic English summer weather; blues sky with white fluffly clouds. Warm enough for shorts but not too hot to be uncomfortable. Perfect, in fact.

IMG_3050Well, this is England. It wouldn’t be a summer holiday without a little bit of rain.

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52 Weeks of Happy : 28/52 and 29/52

The last three weeks have been full of the most summery of summer weather. I have been determined not to complain about being too hot, even though I have occasionally felt like wilting. I think this photo sums it up: sun suits and bathing costumes hanging out to dry after seeing a splashing good time in the paddling pool.

IMG_7568All these blue skies and warm temperatures have made the verges and hedgerows bloom. This is the view that greets you as you walk up the path to RSPB Saltholme, here on Teesside. Ok, they are ‘weeds’ but they are beautiful when grown like this. Not so beautiful in my allotment. I’ve been trying really hard to get there every day to water the greenhouse tomatoes and the newly planted pumpkins. The harvest is really starting to take off now. It’s hard to keep up, but hopefully more of that later.

IMG_7675Last Monday I was lucky enough to be out at the right time of night to see this fabulously colourful sunset. The omen ‘Red sky at night, shepherds delight’ was indeed true. The next day was another belting-hot, blue-sky day.

IMG_7692There has been a LOT of barbecue cooking during the last few weeks. Both at home and at my Mum’s house where the next picture was taken. This picture has a lot of happy things rolled into it.

Number 1: It’s barbecue weather – need I say more?

Number 2: The Husband is doing the cooking – again, need I say more?

Number 3: Can you spot the glass of gin and tonic? I had one of those too. Happy happy.

Number 4: The family heirloom arum lilies are flowering. This patch of lilies was taken from my Great Aunt’s home in Dorset quite a few years ago now. I can’t remember if it was before she died or at the time, when the house was sold. Either way, it’s almost 20 years ago. My Dad’s siblings all took a chunk of the plant and every year the Dorset branch of the family takes great pleasure in telling us theirs are in bloom weeks before ours are, here in the frozen north. They are such a dramatic flower, one that I often associate with funerals actually, but when I see them in my Mum’s garden, I think of happy childhood holidays with family in Poole and my funny, broad Dorset-speaking Great Aunt. Oooooh-Aaarrrgh (as she might say).

IMG_7742Finally, call me a softie (I don’t care) I’ve really enjoyed the lovely news of the birth of the royal baby. It certainly takes you back to your own births. I found myself washing up yesterday morning and silently sending a few positive thoughts to The Duchess. It doesn’t matter who you are, giving birth and becoming a parent is an amazing experience. As much as I’ve been glued to the TV coverage, I sincerely hope they get some privacy now to get to grips with their new role.

 

Elderflower time again

IMG_7390You know it’s June when the elderflowers bloom!

I love making elderflower cordial. It’s a little bit of summer in a bottle. It’s also well worth it because the store bought version is relatively expensive.

I love picking it too: no thorns or stings and the smell is divine. We are lucky to have an elderflower tree growing over the corner of our allotment, behind the greenhouse. I harvest both the flowers and the berries each year but only from the lower branches. There is always plenty of fruit for the birds in the autumn.

IMG_7512I have been thinking all week about when I could do some foraging and preserving and today was the day. While Babykins raked and watered I snipped away at the big, creamy, flat flower heads, dusting the yellow pollen all around me as I went. Babykins and I also harvested the first courgette of the season.

IMG_7518Which, as you can see in the photo above didn’t last long.

Tonight I have started the process of making cordial. The flowers are steeping in a bath of sugar syrup and lemon slices. After my experiments last year, I have decided I prefer the sharper version of elderflower cordial (a bit like this). It’s a miracle that there’s any sharpness left in it at all when you realise just how much sugar goes into cordial.

IMG_2563Each pint of water requires 750g of sugar. I thought I would measure this by volume too. 750g of sugar is almost equivalent to a PINT and A HALF!!!!!!! No wonder it tastes good!

IMG_2559 For previous elderflower posts, click here

An evening at the beach

WARNING – This post is overloaded with photos!

Remember summer? You know, that bit of nice weather we had a week or two ago? I managed to take advantage of it by going to the beach one night after school. I really, really, really wanted to go and visit the great new Yarnbombing at Saltburn. I have posted about the Saltburn Yarnbombings before (you can find the posts here and here) so I felt the need to catch up on the wooly happenings down the coast. This time I managed to drag The Husband along too, thanks to the privilege of working flexi-time.

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First we set ourselves up on the sand with our blanket and picnic and indulged in the usual seaside pursuits of digging, burying and  ‘foraging’. Babykins was completely tickled with the experience of having his feet buried in the sand.

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The foraging in the pools underneath the pier was fruitful. We caught a few tiny flat fish and shrimp, though I only got a picture of the flat fish. I have never caught anything like it before. It was perfectly camouflaged – almost transparent with tiny brown dots all over it.

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We ate fish and chips and ice cream and eventually decided to head for the top of the pier, where the yarnbombing was located. By this time it was getting quite late and we were running out of dry clothes for Babykins. I think we were the last family with young children off the beach (tut, tut).

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The Yarnbombing was fabulous. Bigger than the last two I’ve seen here and so much fun. I photographed it all and I have been hard pushed to take out many of the images, I love them all. So, here goes photo overload. If you haven’t been to see it or if you are far away, I hope you enjoy it

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So, there you have it. Somebody worked long and hard on that lot! What was your favourite. I think mine is the fish and chips, though the donkeys ‘Knit and Purl’ are very cute too. Did you notice the crochet? I was very pleased to see some of that. What a lot of inspiration….

We’re Weathering the Weather….

I think I am getting used to this weather now. Slowly, my mindset is beginning to change. I am now resigned to the fact that summer has ‘failed to install’ as the image doing the rounds of Facebook jokes. I no longer expect sunshine so I am no longer disappointed when I wake up to rain. I do worry about my poor in-laws though. Will they ever be able to get any silage or hay made on their farm? How will they feed their cattle over winter without a harvest of summer grass?

The children all have new wet weather gear courtesy of sales, eBay and the hand-me-down box so whatever happens, we can get out and about. At 18 months, Babykins doesn’t have a concept of what summer should be like. He just wants to get out and explore. Last Friday night he dragged me to the front door  and practically demanded that I put his wellies on and take him outside. We trooped up and down the street, jumping in the epic puddles that had appeared. I couldn’t help but laugh at his outfit – shorts, wellies and a wooly hat. It could only be appropriate in a British Summer.

Dark skies are a bit depressing but they somehow allow the colour and beauty of summer flowers to shine. I hope that wherever you are, you can find something to enjoy in this terrible summer we’re having.