Sunny Days

Last week we were blessed with some exceptionally beautiful warm days here in North Yorkshire, perfectly free from cloud and full of gorgeous blue gradient sky. Mmmmm, perfect. On Tuesday we were invited to spend the morning on our friends’ allotment; I’m so glad we did as we had such a good time.

TTB and his two friends spent a couple of hours digging, carrying, fetching, watering, chasing and running, eating snacks and generally just playing in the ground – finding ladybirds, sticks, leaves … that kind of thing. TTB tripped rather impressively and ended up face down in the newly planted herb bed and just lay there going “oh!” until I lifted him out and brushed him off. He was fine, don’t worry, but it was rather funny.

One rather brilliant thing about the allotments is that there are a few plots that have lifestock on them: chickens and goats and I think some ducks as well although we didn’t see those that day. We walked (herded, really!) the children up the hill to see them which is perfect entertainment for the toddler crowd. TTB makes a particularly impressive chicken noise (“couaka couaka couaka!”) and was happy as anything when the goats came over to the fence to say hi.

Watching my little lad run back down the path, smudges of mud on his face, little welly boots and his crazy bonkers hair on a gorgeous sunny day … it just felt so good, like just the kind of thing you should be doing during your childhood! He’s so much his own person now, it’s really satisfying to see how much he enjoys the things he does. He stopped shortly after I took this photo and turned round and just gave me this really big intense look … half smile, half “yes!” if you know what I mean.

The rest of the week was spent in our yard as much as possible. Whole afternoons, really! Chalking, playing with trucks, painting with water on the floor, stamping, hopping and stomping, hiding and chasing. Taking photos of course. Finding another ladybird and being VERY VERY GOOD by listening and not touching (although he desperately wanted to hold it!). Finding an empty snail shell and carrying that around, carefully leaving it on the step when it was time to come in, and then carrying it around the next day as well. I love it. He loves it too. What more could you want? x

Into the Woods


A sunny day greeted us on Friday, far too good to stay inside. I packed a snack and my cameras and we headed out for a walk. Not to the park this time, but through the town, past the church, across the road and over the bridge. Along the canal path behind the castle, under the tall trees, stopping to look at the flowers and the noisy overspill water pipes, the yellow wagtails hopping from stone to stone in the water and the crows cawing overhead. My boy is still taken with birds (and the noisy water) and gleefully points them out as they pass by. We walk on, slowing to allow passing walkers the chance to go on ahead (and out of my camera range).

Two swifts are fighting in the water, and there is brief excitement for TTB as a dog comes past close to his pushchair. We reach the end of the canal path, past the Secret Garden door, and turn to manoeuvre the pushchair backwards over the bridge and heave-bump-heave it up the deep and uneven stone steps. Shall we go and see the chickens now … or shall we go into the woods and have our snack by the big pond? It’s still early in the day and we have nowhere that we need to be.

Open the gate, past the holiday cottages, have a go at some close up flower photos. Around the muddy bit, through the next gate and aaaaaah … into the woods. The trees are not yet in leaf and it’s much more open than it will be soon. There are tips of green on the ends of the branches and tightly furled buds too. The trees are waking up. The wild garlic (not yet flowering) carpets the ground as far away as you can see. The small stream to the left lays still as always, but down the steep drop to the right the larger stream is flowing quickly over the rocks. Look UP! I say to TTB. Look up at the trees! He doesn’t, because he doesn’t know what “up” means and there are no birds or snacks in the “up” direction.

After avoiding a fast running man shouting at his son to keep up with him, and a very muddy and wet dog, we reach the pond but  find that we are not the only people to have had this idea, and all the space is occupied. We loiter a little and I practise with my camera while TTB is mesmerised by the waterfall.  Heading back, we stop at a bench and TTB enjoys his snack: raisins and malt load and a long drink of water. Back down the slope, through the gate, look up and there is a beautiful canopy of tiny leaves, green from one tree and bright red from another. The sunlight shines through them and it is stunning.

Past the holiday cottages again, through the second gate, past the beautiful cottage garden with the raised vegetable beds and around to the right, heading towards the chickens. A female chaffinch lands on the path in front of us and we watch as she scratches in the ground, edging quietly closer (one of us needs to practise being quiet on command and this is a good opportunity as it involves a bird and thus his interest.)

At last, chickens! I park the pushchair and lift TTB out so that he can see as the chicken enclosure is above my shoulder height. He is entranced and makes his chicken noise (an attempt at cockadoodle doo crossed with cuckoo) at them. The come up to the fence and eyeball this strange small noisy person. In the background: chicks! Two fluffy yellow leggy bundles, staying close to mum.

After a brief “not going back in the pushchair” standoff (I win) we continue our journey, looking at the trees and the birds (a bullfinch!) and gaze longingly up the road to The Hill (not accessible with the pushchair) and ahead over the town to the other hills on the horizon. Sometimes I still can’t quite believe that this is my home, but it is and for that I am truly glad.

Our Week in Pictures

This week has been rather lovely (and I took many more photos to share!). We have spent lots of time each day out in our backyard, pottering around. Wellies and a puddlesuit were needed for the first couple of days but the weather was lovely as the week went on. I’ve been using my dSLR more this week and I’m chuffed to bits with some of the photos, particularly some I took at the park of TTB and his friend on Thursday. I’m so glad I went on the photography course back in March.

We visit the market almost every day that it’s on and I try to buy all our fresh produce from there, and only buy from the supermarkets when I run out, or the market doesn’t have what I need that day. Can you see that sneaky hand trying to pinch a lettuce? The men that run the fruit and veg stall are friendly and always say hi to TTB. On this day we were buying sweet potatoes, carrots, swede and white potatoes to make into vegetable and lentil soup …

I make a big batch at the start of the week and then have it for lunch each day. I like doing this as I know I’ve got a tasty no-effort lunch already made and I can just heat it up in a pan while I’m making TTB’s lunch (usually scrambled eggs with toast- he likes the same sourdough bread that I do which is good because it means I only have to buy one type of bread, but also bad because he thinks he’s entitled to my toast as well. This is not how it works! Baby led weaning had a lot to answer for in this area, he just thinks all my food is his too.)

One thing I am really enjoying is doing painting with him. It can be a bit frantic and I have to do a lot of speedy wiping and moving before he can get down afterwards but he really enjoys it. I bought a pack of 4 crayola paint bottles and after trial and error, the easiest way to paint is to squeeze a small blob onto the paper, let him smoosh and spread it around and then give another blob. I did try putting paint on a plastic paint and giving him a brush but it was a bit hazardous – paint travels quite far when flicked from a brush! Finger painting is a lot more manageable. We sent some paintings to his grandparents. I like doing that because it’s nice for them and also I don’t have to keep ALL of his artwork. In a 15 minute painting frenzy he produces a lot of “work”! I would love to have an easel for him but we don’t have the space at all. Perhaps when he is older and not so flappy with the paint we can see about making space for one, but for now it’s easier to have him sat at the table with a lot of supervision.

I’m trying to get TTB to do more walking because he needs the exercise and to get used to not being pushed around all the time. It’s hard to motivate myself to do it though! It’s just easier with him in the pushchair and I have errands to do most days, like food shopping (I shop every couple of days in small amounts as I have to carry everything) and I can’t carry bags and manage an unruly toddler who more often than not just wants to be carried. With the lighter days though our compromise seems to be errands in the pushchair in the morning and then walking in the afternoon. It’s working quite well.

The yard is proving invaluable for wearing him out though. He hasn’t bored of it yet and he keeps finding new things to do, like sweeping. I thought about getting him a toddler sized broom but he’d probably just want to use this one anyway.

I think my mum must have grown either blackcurrant or redcurrant bushes in the garden at some point (I’m not sure if these are black- or redcurrant bushes) because the smell of them is very nostalgic. I’m enjoying all the spring flowers that are popping up, and these ones were a lovely burst of colour on a rainy day.

One particularly lovely afternoon we spent outside was on Wednesday. I used up a whole pot of bubbles and it was wonderful seeing TTB’s face as the bubbles swarmed the yard. It was really windy and the gusts of wind made loads of bubbles each time I held the wand up. I would have loved to have captured it on camera but you can’t blow bubbles AND take photos! TTB was fascinated by the bubble wand which meant I had to open a second (small) pot of bubbles and continue using the tiny bubble wand that came in there. He tried to copy me but just held the wand to his lips and made a huffing sound. He’s so funny when he copies the action but not the true mechanics of it. I find the way he learns so interesting.

The weather on Thursday was glorious and we spent the morning at the park. He has started to show an interest in the slide and the climbing frame but isn’t very good at the slide: he won’t lift his feet and he gets stuck halfway.

I’ve added a few rows to my ripple this week too, it’s totalling 53 stripes now. I think I’m about half way.

I found these beautiful chocolate eggs in the local chocolate shop the other day. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such pretty ones!

If I could pick my favourite thing of the week it would be the teddy bear’s picnic we had. I set out the tablecloth, food, bears and tea set after his nap and he was so excited about it. He made cups of tea for all of the bears and offered them biscuits and oranges and leaves from the lettuce. When he pretends to drink he makes an exaggerated sipping sound, and this time when he was making his bears drink he did the same noise, and then looked at me with a funny conspiratorial expression (if he would wink he would have done) as if to say, “look Mummy, I’m playing and pretending to make bear drink!”. My goodness he makes me burst with love and pride.

Yes, it’s been a really good week.


EDIT: the tea set is from the Early Learning Centre, but they don’t stock any of the lovely bright coloured ones on their website (only the ridiculously twee baby pink ones). You can order it online from Boots , who also stock the nice toaster set in the same range. There is also a dinner set available which I managed to buy actually in the ELC on Tuesday. I’ve no idea why they aren’t available online. TTB is getting these sets for his birthday in September. Oh and there is a saucepan set too which Argos are stocking.

FYI, Early Learning Centre, if you’re reading this: not everything needs to be pink. Just saying.