Friday, 24 October 2014

70th Birthday.

A few weekends ago it was my mum's 70th Birthday. My brother and sister-in-law had managed to organise us all and we had rented a house in Polzeath for a long weekend. (Mum grew up on Bodmin Moor and my grandparents lived there until I was in my late teens, so we all have lots of very fond memories of that bit of North Cornwall.)
As a teacher, and a governor of the boys' school, I know I should be fully anti taking kids out during term time, however I couldn't resist making the most of the opportunity. Sometimes enjoying life and spending time with family are just more important than anything you can learn in a classroom. So since I wasn't working on the Thursday or Friday we all headed off first thing on Thursday morning.
Arriving in Polzeath to THIS made me sure we hadn't made the wrong decision! Blue sky, blue sea and "epic" surf!
Within half an hour the boys were in the sea and I was sitting on the beach, with the warm sun on my back, wishing every Thursday morning could be like this.

We spent the morning surfing, had lunch of crab sandwiches on the balcony outside a local cafe looking over the beach and spent the afternoon walking round the cliffs to Daymer Bay for a bit of sand-dune action.

Check out the waves!
Leaping off the dunes.

By the early evening my sister's family had arrived and her two little boys joined ours for some paddling and wet sand fun.

Perfect end to a perfect day.

And by 7 the whole family were there. The house was absolutely perfect- large enough to sleep all of us, casual enough not to have to worry if the kids brought back vast quantities of wet sandy clothes, and with a view to die for!
Peaceful pasties with a view.
Despite it being the beginning of October we were incredibly lucky with the weather, which was bright and warm if a bit windy! We had a perfect weekend surfing, walking, looking for cowries, eating, eating, eating and generally relaxing. There couldn't have been a better way to celebrate mum's birthday and we all agreed we should try to make it an annual event!

Big Cousins hitting the surf.
Hiking to the Rumps.

Wave jumping.
The pro!
All the grandchildren hitting the rockpools
The clan search for cowries on "cowrie beach"
Most of the crew on Pentire Head.
We finished the weekend with a lovely Sunday lunch and then a yomp up Roughtor, on Bodmin Moor, for old times sake. It is very strange being somewhere you knew so well as a child with your own children. I could feel the ghosts of the past all around and also could imagine the next generations of the family retracing our steps.
Finding ghosts on the moors.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Yorkshire Rocks!

A week before the half term holiday, Martin reminded me he'd taken a week off work too. This was great news but I had a slightly sinking feeling. I could see how it would pan out. Martin would spend the week doing DIY, Zac would spend the week on Minecraft or battling with me to be on Minecraft, Danny would require lots of attention- he's a sociable chap and in the absence of school friends I'm generally on duty, and I would be feeling like I should be spending hours writing school reports. I decided it was time to get away from it all!
Last summer we'd had a very successful week in Cornwall, booked very last minute via Cottages4You, so I checked it out and found what looked like the perfect spot...
Heights Barn at the bottom of the Yorkshire Dales.
 As you can see, it was all alone on a little hill pretty much in the middle of nowhere with nothing to distract us but stunning views! And when we arrived on the Saturday afternoon I couldn't believe just how perfect it was...
First stormy look at the view from the patio.
A rainbow landed in the garden.

View of Pendle Hill on the first eveing.

Can we find the pot of gold??

We had a really great week exploring the area, doing lots of amazing walks, making the most of our National Trust membership, meeting up with some of our "Northern Rellies" and generally just chilling out!

Sunny breakfast
Glider flying
Adventuring without adults!

Nature's lessons in life...
...and death!
It was so lovely having the countryside literally right on our doorstep. All the menfolk flew their toys in the meadow, the boys could roam across to the opposite hill on their own little adventures and we had breakfasts and barbecues to the sound of the curlews. There was a field of horses at the bottom of the lane who were extremely pleased to get regular feeds of the lush grass from the other side of the fence!
New friends.

Tempting tho it was to just stay at home sitting on the patio and admiring the view we did make the effort to get a bit active. I reckon we walked at least 6 miles each day, often with some steep up and downs. I'm not going to pretend there wasn't a bit of moaning and groaning on the part of the boys, however with a ready supply of snacks and the use of my camera to record the stunning views they generally kept going pretty cheerfully.
Swishy, swashy, swishy, swashy!

Hiking to Gordale Scar

Limestone pavements at Malham Cove.

A wet climb in the Lakes.

Studying the map of the falls.

Foam Yorkshire pud!
One good walk we did was the waterfall walk at Ingleton. It was quite a busy path but there were lots of beautiful falls and the boys were transfixed by the strange foam formations floating at the bottom of each!

We visited a few National Trust properties. Our first was a stop at Tatton Park on the way up the M6. We had a delicious breakfast in a cottage tea room and then spent a few hours exploring the beautiful and very varied gardens, which really broke the journey up.

Leaping the gap
How high can you get?
 Another day we went to Brimham Rocks. There was only a little pic in the National Trust booklet but it had an interesting description so we gave it a try and discovered it was fab! The rocks made an absolutely perfect natural playground and the boys scrambled,climbed and jumped all over them for hours!

Fountains Abbey.
From there it was only a short hop to Fountains Abbey, where we wandered through the ruins, walked round the water gardens and the boys got a chance to explore their feminine sides!!

We also broke our journey on the way down by stopping at the National Trust's Little Moreton Hall, a totally unbelievable Tudor Manor. It was so wonky I have absolutely no idea how it has managed to stay standing for 500 years!

Time out!

All in all it was a brilliant break and we brought home lots of happy memories. I'll sign off with a few pics of us conquering Pendle Hill!
We made it!
The view from the top.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Zachary Hugh is 7!

Zachary Hugh is Seven!! I can't really believe it!
Before I had kids I used to say I wished they could be born aged 7. I was terrified of babies and not sure how to talk to small children. Having only taught KS2, 7-11 year olds, that was definitely where I felt most comfortable.
However, I wouldn't have missed the last 7 years for the world. In fact, if I could wave a wand and do them all over again I would in a flash! Those first few years are just magic.

For his birthday we took Zac to the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff. We didn't tell him where we were going, just waited for him to spot the signs and work it out. It took a while to notice these little Daleks! I was a little bit worried that he might be too nervous to go in, as he can be sensitive about places where there might be unexpected noises etc but he was soooo excited!

So exciting to see the TARDIS

If you've ever watched Doctor Who and you get the chance to go, do it. It was a really top day out. There is the experience part at the beginning where you travel in the tardis (the kids get to drive it,) battle with daleks which move and speak, walk through a really scary room with weeping angels etc and then there is a museum with all the different Doctors' costumes, lots of monsters from the different series, a complete evolution of the Daleks and loads of other memorabilia (my personal favourite being K9). The boys were completely transfixed, but I have to say all the adults there seemed to be enjoying themselves just as much. In fact there were a surprising number of grown men who had dressed up as the Doctor especially for their visit!!
Danny learns to walk like a cyberman.
Look Dalek I'm really good at drawing Daleks!

The day after we went was Zac's actual birthday, and unsurprisingly he requested a Dalek cake. I would have cobbled something together, but Martin, being an engineer, was determined to get it looking right. He spent quite a bit of time working out the scale based on a malteser being one of its blobs on the side!

I made a selection of sponge cake shapes using Mary Berry's delicious and totally fool-proof Victoria Sponge Cake recipe, which Martin constructed into a Dalek shape. We plastered it in chocolate butter icing and then covered it with a layer of ready to roll icing with special holes cut in to take the maltesers, and it was then sprayed with edible gold spray.

I was dead chuffed and somewhat amazed by how well it turned out. The only bits that weren't edible were his weapons- made from a kid's nurofen syringe and an icing cutter! The gold spray was a bit patchy but he just looked like he'd seen some battles. Zac was really impressed which was lovely.

We had all the grandparents over for birthday tea and my mum gave Zac a toy Dalek, which made friends with the remains of the cake.

What is it??

Say, what happened to you?
It was a really fun weekend and I know Zac loved every minute. Happy Birthday my grown up boy! xx