Friday, 31 August 2012

A walk.....

We've been replacing the rotten windows here at The Larches. We thought we might ignore this job till another year but the repairs to the cracked exterior brickwork exposed the sponge like wood and our fate was sealed, or is it unsealed?

The dirt and dust of the past months building and DIY is phenomenal. I'm almost able to block it out, preferring to wipe the kitchen surfaces clean just before preparing a meal. Boy, does black granite love a bit of dust!!

In early summer when friends and relatives enquired about visiting I had no idea we'd be in such a pickle. Last week, at the true height of pickledom, The Entrepreneur (best pal ever) came to stay for a few days and as she waved goodbye, my sis and family were en route.

Fortunately the weather was broadly fine, if you don't count the insane thunder storms on the Friday and Saturday!!

On Monday The Entrepreneur, the Sproglets and I took a stroll out through the local Common Land - Catherton, in baking heat. The 7yo shushed us as we walked through the bee infested heather. 'Shush, the bees are working,' he informed us. I even spotted a common lizard.

We tiptoed on, down a gentle valley to navigate the bog bridge, lethal but funny... and smelly; that boggy sulphury smell. Ugh! Next we reached the stream that winds its way through the trees- a real treat. We followed the water till it limboed under a fence line becoming the transient property of a farmer. Then we climbed the steep slippery clay bank emerging into the sunlight surrounded by Amazonian ferns and surprised sheep.

The stroll back along the quiet road that leads home, turned out to be a buffet of hedgerow fruit; pink raspberries beckoned as did the fat, dark blackberries. Time for pie methinks! Deelish!

Friday, 17 August 2012

A Winner...

Congratulations to Jay of My Family and Other Cricketers who has won the Baobab Superfruit Powder.

Please send your address to and I'll send you your prize.



Fasting at The Larches....

Man (or woman for that matter) cannot live on strawberries, gooseberry jam, raspberries, potatoes and flaars alone!

OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit! We've had other stuff like lettuce, rocket, onions, tons of broad beans and leeks, but it's really been a bit of a poor show this year. We were due to exhibit our prize horticulture and our pet lambs at Burwarton Show this year, but sadly the show was cancelled due to the weather/fields/hay. Lucky escape really; the Larches 2012 is a little meagre this year.

In contrast to the fruit and veg the flaars seem to be faring well. For the first time in 3 years I managed to convince the Echinacea that death was not the only option.

Having been cut back twice this year the purple and the blue geranium as well as the orange geum is flowering for the third time.
Along the path, calundula, rose campion, aster, penstamon and feverfew are rampant.

Shasta Daisies the colour of fried eggs, attract all sorts of visitors.

Early in the season the weather was too dreadful to plant all the potatoes in the field allotment so I hastily shoved them into the two year old leaf mold bin and into two of my compost bays. I tucked them in all snugly, covering them with more compost, home-made, rich in horse manure and hemp. I'm glad I did this as I strongly suspect that the field potatoes will be rotten, they certainly seem to have contracted blight.

Yesterday the sproglets and I harvested the leaf bin. The haul was fairly impressive considering..... maybe we won't starve after all.

We won't need to eat the chickens or the lambs either,

today we came home to a rabbit, dead and skinned on the doorstep, a gift from a friend. Not everyone's idea of a pressie but heo-ho, we live in the country. It's a wonder the deceased was still there when we returned - the cats are impressive thieves.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Baobab Superfruit Vitamin Giveaway...

If you'd like the opportunity to take part in my Baobab Superfruit Powder giveaway, (retail £14.69) fill in your email address in the sign up and I'll email you box to your right (this will ensure all new blog posts are sent to your inbox) and add the comment 'YES PLEASE' below and I'll add your name to the draw.

Those who already subscribe need only add the comment 'YES PLEASE' to enter.

The winner will be announced on Friday 17th August. Good luck.

Make a tasty Granola Jar with Baobab Superfruit

Olympic Fever powered by Baobab Powder

The 7yo has graduated out of traditional swimming lessons into lane swimming with the 9yo. I'm very proud. This accomplishment seems all the more milestone-y, (yes, that is a made up word,) thanks to the Olympic coverage of the swimming on TV.

The sproglets are not daft, they've seen the gold, silver and bronze bling being awarded to the race winners and thought they'd ask for a bit of recognition from us, their loving parentals.

'Please can we have some new swimming costumes?' they asked the other day. 'We'd like ones like the swimmers are wearing on the TV,'

Boy wanted a pair of black, spray on Lycra bike short swimmers and girl wanted the black costume with the similar leggings. It seemed a reasonable request. Turns out the costumes are Fastskin3 by Speedo. (Not fatskin, as I thought - without my glasses :) Anyhoo, much as I love the sproglets, I won't be spending upwards of £70 on their cozzies! The girly one was £330!!! Hopefully the high street will react soon and I'll buy something there, that is unless Speedo get in touch soon to kit out my babies, (clearly they are fishy Olympians of the future!)

Thanks to my mum and sister, we were lucky enough to get tickets to the Olympic rowing at Eton Dorney on 30th July. We saw Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins of Great Britain break the Olympic best in the women's Double Sculls. Their 22nd unbeaten race in a row! We had a stunning day with belting sun and I'm so grateful (to mum and sis) that we all  attended an Olympic event.

The sprogs are generally sporty, we're not called Archer for nuthin' y'know! We tried our hand at a bit of Archer-y at The Tenbury Wells' Agricultural Show last Saturday. The 7yo hit the target but it was luck rather than skill, the 9yo was deadly accurate. Remind me not to run away from her in the field if she is armed with a bow and arrow.

We also met this chap (the one on the left) at the show.

He was being hand reared. Soooo cute.

Conscious of the part diet plays in Olympic success, we were happy to try our a new product sent to us by Minivita. Baobab Superfruit Powder is made from the fruit of the 'upside down tree,' an ancient African tree that towers over the savannahs.

Packed with vitamin C, dietary fibre, calcium and antioxidants, we thought we'd see if it was easy to use. The answer is yes! The powder has a fruity, tangy, sharp taste. We added two tablespoons to a banana milkshake for a super, sporty health kick. Yummy.

We also made granola jars, an idea I got from the Cooperative Magazine 'Good with Food'. These jars can be made up a day in advance and used as breakfast or just as a healthy snack. Perfect for summer holiday snacking.

Take some pretty jam or Kilner jars, (not too big, you're looking for a jar that will fit one person's portion of granola.) Then layer the jars with the following suggestions:

Layer 1
  • Muesli
  • Sultanas
  • A few chocolate chips
Layer 2
  • Plain yoghurt flavoured with honey, golden syrup or mixy-round
Repeat layers till jar is full....

If you'd like your own pot of Baobab Superfruit Powder why not enter my Giveaway on my next post. Click here to enter......

Friday, 3 August 2012

The half-way point of the holidays..

It has taken me longer than I expected to get over the loss of little Queenie. The children seemed to bounce back just a few days after we lost her but I brooded and often sat on the bench overlooking her grave. My sister sent me St John's Wort. It's working. (Ta sis)

The other three cade lambs are now huge. Where once they would bleat a delightful hello, now they cry out for us with deep baaas as we pass their latest electrified enclosure. Nowadays these tones sound more like the voices of choirboys well past their sell-by date.

The holidays are progressing well. We three have been camping in Wales and this time we had fantastic weather and a fantastic site. The 7yo was amazed. After last year (where we all spent more time honing our card skills while the rain  drowned out the sound of our portable speakers..) the boy had decreed that he would never camp again and instead would go to work with Daddy. Daddy was horrified, there's only so much slave labour the boy would tolerate before asking to use the fork lift a thousand times a minute! Eventually I insisted and boy came with me, reluctantly.

I found the campsite online and it seemed decent enough. It was near Pennal in the Dyfi Valley and close to Aberdyfi beach. Gwerniago farm Camping is just what we wanted; a small site with enough space for the sproglets to run about without driving other campers potty, decent showers and not to far from the beach. This campsite ticked all the boxes and after the sprogs helped set up the tent they were off marauding with similarly minded sprogs - a weird experience at first for me, being abandoned by one's children, but one I could deffo get used to!

I was much better at packing this year. Last year I took the kitchen sink and spent my time rearranging stuff to make room for us! This year I was more organised. I took essentials and easy prep food. The children insisted on that gourmet of foods (reserved only for camping I hasten to add) Smash. Do you remember the ads in the 1970s? Hilarious. See them again here.

We took our trusty bucket BBQ but most pitches had an open camp fire already, lovely to sit around in the evening with marshmallows on sticks. Still, our BBQ is easy to cook over in pot or frying pan and the 9yo managed to prep, cook and eat 8 pancakes one morning while the 7yo warmed his tinned sausage and beans. Cordon Bleu here we come.

We had some delicious meals, made all the better for the 9yo and the 7yo cooking them. I found a book at the library which was rather fun and it gave me some ideas - The Camping Cookbook. It also gave me a laugh at times, being that Annie Bell the author, must have been cooking all the time while her friends and family had a great camping holiday with restaurant quality food! In any case my children seemed amazed that I was happy for them to cook over the fire and, supervised, there were no accidents. Suddenly it seems the children are really growing up.

Aberdyfi is amazing, made all the better by the gorgeous weather. We crabbed, beached, ice creamed and generally chilled. Such a shame Daddy was at work, he's our expert crabber!

Probably one of the best sights was the 9yo engrossed in a book. To date, reading hasn't really been something she's been interested in, she's more sporty and creative. Suddenly she seems to have added reading to her repertoire and loves to tell you of characters she loves and plots she's enjoying. I'm so pleased.

The Archers at The Larches

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Snowy and Moon

Snowy and Moon