Sunday, 9 September 2012

Queen of the onions....

It has been a foody end to the week here at The Larches and the weather has been outstanding.

Friday was a gastro-nom-nom-nom treat, strolling around the Ludlow Food Festival nibbling cheese and sipping cider tasters. I met up with Jane Hayes, Ed of Shropshire Life Magazine to discuss my new column with the magazine and was interested to note that she, like me, favours the savoury side of life over the sweet. Funny how our taste buds are. What do you favour?

At 6pm, the children and I arrived back at The Larches at the same time as The Hubby, a very unusual occurrence. The sun was still blazing so we packed up a crate with some wood, some seasoned pork loin chops, local sausages and salad from the garden and cooked our dinner at the firepit in the field.

The sun disappears quick at this time of year, the lovely heat suddenly snatched away, walking back to the house I could feel the damp of the grass on my flip-flopped feet. In place of the sun rises a gorgeous harvest moon and with no artificial light around the property, the twinkling sky is truly awesome.

Saturday morning and a mad panic to deliver The Archer family entries for the Village Show. Everything needed to be brought into the village hall and staged by 10.30am so that top secret judging could commence.  I wasn't hopeful, we've had a mixed crop this year. I couldn't enter half the categories I entered last year; I had no tomatoes, the runner beans are only just emerging and The Borrowers would do well to pop over and borrow a few potatoes. Still, some of my attempts were more successful so the Hubby and I prepped these for show: We finally found 3 onions that looked decent. The rhubarb was ok'ish and the beets acceptable.


I had just one big cucumber (having eaten all the other big ones! Doh!!)

The courgettes were woeful, but I still entered them along with some roses, sweet pea and seed grown dahlias.

The sproglets had entries too: The 9yo made 3 glittery fairy cakes and wrote out 20 lines of a favourite story 'A Kitten Called Moonlight' by Martin Waddel. She'd also made a Jubilee card with a secret envelope inside containing a fold out crown. Jolly handy for those sudden Royal duties.

The 7yo had entered the seed tray category where the theme was 'A Woodland Shelter.' I'd encouraged him to make this weeks ago, on one of the days we were trapped at home with the builders. I don't believe in giving much help to the children for these activities, surely the taking part  is much more important than winning and I'm not so keen on seeing perfect work from children, unless they are very little where Mummy has worked for hours, besides, I'm too lazy. This year I was very surprsed at the work both children put into their entries. The 7yo spent hours cutting little twigs and asking which plants he could have from my garden and the 9yo agonised about her card.

Returning for the Village Show opening later that day, we were delighted to find that the 9yo had a 1st for her card and a 1st for her handwriting, while the 7yo had a 1st for his seed tray.

I had a 1st for my onions (2nd year running!) a 1st for my cucumber and a highly commended for my roses.

And with the sun still belting down and roast chicken for tea, this is turning out to be a bloomin' brilliant weekend.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Gagging to play rugby....

The 7yo is thoroughly chuffed to be in Year 3 at school. He can see the Upper School from his classroom, he's officially almost big.

He has been playing tag rugby for three years now but this is his last year of tag, next year he will begin full contact rugby. In an effort to be bigger faster, he has been nagging for a gum shield.

'Please can I have one Mum?' he pleaded. 'I'll put it in my sports bag [at school] and never use it.'


I resisted until his teacher suggested that he .... might.... use one for matches and that the price of a gum shield was less than new teeth. Good point.

Tonight there was great excitement as a pan of water was brought to simmering point, the 7yo watching every bubble rise to the surface. This was not an insane initiation ceremony for new rugby players.... or at least I don't think it was!! No, this was the molding of the gum shield.

  1. Take small excited boy
  2. Take 1 gum shield (preferably ridiculously coloured)
  3. Dunk gum shield (not child) into decanted simmering water
  4. Whip scalding gum shield out of water and force small child to stuff it in their mouth (none of the namby-pamby 'blow it, blow it' of olden times...)
The 7yo gagged and gagged and had I not yelled 'Take it out,' he'd have vommed the delish dinner of roasted chicken thighs, garden salad and fresh baked rolls, eaten while watching the paralympics.... Not on my watch!

The 7yo is now far less keen on being bigger.

On the subject of the paralympics she, who shall be nameless .... let's just call her Mil-ly, has told us she's been enjoying the spectacle of it all on the TV.

'You should see those paramedics run,' she said.

Must be the go-fast stripe on the green jump suits.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Dr. Doolittles of The Larches......

And with a blink it was all over for another year....... I mourn the close of the summer holidays..... Amen. Yipeeeeee!!!

No, seriously, this was the best (and yet the most frustrating) summer holiday ever. The sproglets, being almost 8 and 10, were fantastic company. We three were at various times trapped under builders, but they were very nice builders and they've pretty much fixed The Larches to its former glory with cracks and rotten woodwork mended. We three escaped to the beach or to pals only on days when the men were busy elsewhere on other jobs, but I suppose that made our escapes all the sweeter.

To amuse themselves at the house the sproglets cobbled together dangerous looking go-karts which they hurtled down the concrete drive in. On most days they took charge of their own lunches, thrilled by my insane relinquishment of the Rangemaster. They cooked boiled eggs or melted cheese onto toast. One day the 9yo heated tinned tomatoes with anchovies, the smell in the house beckoning to every feral cat in Shropshire.

The sheep have been helpful playmates too; they seem to be able to escape the confines of their paddock at least once a day before we capture them while the chooks keep trying to lay siege to the new entrance hall!

We've had a pet-a-thon this summer, petting many creatures we've not previously petted:

First there were our very own lambs now big fat sheep.

Then there were the creatures in Midland Safari Park,

 the cockroach,

The emu,

The camel

and the gorgeous giraffe.

And, probably the 9yo's favourite, the baby seagull in Swanage.

The Archers at The Larches

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Snowy and Moon

Snowy and Moon