Friday, 28 August 2015

A holiday visit to Natural Surroundings...

Whilst on holiday the other week in Norfolk we needed to find an alternative route to avoid the very beautiful village of Cley Next the Sea..I know that sounds stupid why avoid somewhere beautiful?...well because it becomes less beautiful in a boiling hot car stuck behind a bus that can't get passed the lorry coming in the opposite direction, with 3 hot an bothered children in the back not to mention poor Chris who was, 'just trying to b***** drive!'...The very beautiful village of Cley was not designed for so much traffic (sorry to be one of the summer tourists making it worst) so we needed to find another way to the coast avoiding the very beautiful village of Cley to save our sanity. We found the perfect route and even more perfectly for a girl who loves her flowers we discovered Natural Surroundings...a wildflower centre. If you are ever in the area and need to avoid the busy coast road I would really recommend this lovely little place, it aims to promote wildlife friendly gardening with an emphasis on British wildlife and flowers and it does it beautifully within its 8 acres of gardens. Very importantly it also has a great cafe...we had to wrestle the plate from small boy when he'd finished his chocolate cake to stop him licking it clean (brought up in a barn!) There is a well stocked garden centre too which I had reluctantly to resist...we were camping so unless I could have got the dog to balance any plants on his head we just didn't have the room to take anything home. The dog isn't that talented sadly, oh and there were so many plants I would have quite happily buried daft dog under!

 The centre has the most thoughtful wildlife gardens and grounds to wander through, with things for the kids to spot on the way and a herb garden with the plants indentified for you (useful, if like me you can confuse your balms with your mints!)

One of my favorite things was a little hut with tanks of field mice inside...I'm a city girl what can I say?...field mice are always going to be a winner for me;) There were also bookcases full of natural history books to read. I would have quite happily curled up in there with the books an the mice, but the outdoors called and so did Chris who for some reason didn't share my love of the mice...

We wandered down through the gardens to the river where there was a brand new bird watching hut, someone had written on the board inside that they had spotted a Kingfisher only a few days before. I have never seen a Kingfisher, I really want to see one so I sat on the bench and stared intently at what looked to me like the most perfect Kingfisher perch...sadly the Kingfisher was obviously sitting on a more perfect perch somewhere else and 3 children, a dog an the call of cake does not allow for the time you must have in order for that Kingfisher to pass by! They even leave bird books around so you could look up any unfamilar ones you might see. I didn't have the heart to tell the younger 2 that there was no way they would see a Bee-eater or a Fish eagle in rural Norfolk...we did look though;)

 There was a little vegetable garden up by the cafe where I got veg my allotment this year hasn't been at its best I get jealous very easily...their apple trees were heaving with fruit...grrr...

We spent a lovely afternoon there, it was for me one of the highlights of our holiday...if only that Fish eagle (with his friend the Kingfisher of course) could have sat on that perch just for a second;) 

Monday, 17 August 2015

Borage blue...

Borage...without doubt the most successful thing I have grown this year. I can take no credit for it though...I planted the seeds, suspect I won't need to next year it will find its own is terrifingly healthy, literally buzzing with life. The Sweetpeas that I dreamt of curling their way up through it didn't stand a chance, they stalled and the borage leapt sensing their weakness. I found some little white flowers peeking terrified from under the borage canopy.  I've rescued them and they are now in their full sweetpea glory in a jar in my kitchen getting over their ordeal. Even the bindweed that is happy to try and strangle everything else on the allotment stays clear of the Borage!

It is a bit of a monster, a beautifully prickly, hairy monster...but I love it almost as much as the bees that swarm constantly over it. I sat and watched it yesterday, (really...better than tv) it is a very busy plant feeding all manner of insect life, the noise from the bees is almost hypnotic. I scatter the flowers in my hens nest box along with lavender, rosemary, oregano and mint...makes it smell nice and look pretty, the hens seem happy with their nest box potpourri anyway...until they eat it!;) Borage is of course edible to us too...the flowers make a Pimm's an event, and very photogenic. 

 I have this lovely book, The Scented Kitchen by Frances Bissell, it has a recipe for Borage pesto, you just replace the basil with the flowers. I will try it when I get over my suspicion of blue food and when I dare deprive the bees of some of its flowers. The book tells the story of how Borage was once thought to give courage and the flowers were put into the departing Crusaders wine, I kind of suspect the alcohol had more of an effect than the Borage but it's a nice thought:) 

I will always have a place for Borage in my allotment and at home but I might just keep the Sweetpeas well away from it next year!...

Saturday, 1 August 2015

And this is what little boys are made of?..

Ah the holidays...I practically ran at my 6 weeks off, I've never had so much time off work (we won't go into why I do now...lets just say I'm enjoying the time if not so much the finances.) My small boy started school in January and he's never had such a long holiday either having been a nursery boy since he was 10 months old. The holidays are confusing him, he keeps asking if it's school tomorrow, it interrupts his constant stream of 'why' questions and the count down to his birthday (we are finally on the fingers of one hand!) 

School worries him, it hasn't been the easiest start for him, in my humble opinion because he is far too young and even though we were able to hold him back for a few months the pressure to get him into school was ridiculous. We will get there but until I know he is completely ready the homework (homework!!) sheets will continue to be thrown in the bin, and I will let him play.

He is an exhausting bundle of energy, one minute completely joyous in his infectious love of life... the next an angry, fury driven creature bent on distruction that I can hardly recognise. Always loud or louder...he isn't a surprise to me being my third boy but it always amazes me quite how emotionally driven boys are, how did they cope in the days when they were told that little boys shouldn't cry? I know that he is going through a hormonally driven phase and it will pass and I will survive it with my sanity just about intact, but there have been some moments during this holiday so far when I have (almost) wished I'd been at work...confessions of a terrible mother!

He tore up a favorite book in a fit of fury and hid it under his bed...he helped a little girl in the park because she couldn't reach the sides of a rope bridge...he pulled the dogs hair and squeezed him too hard...he told me he loved me so much...he nipped me as hard as he could and told me he hated me...he gave his last piece of chocolate to his brother (who kindly gave it back!) He slammed the door so hard the room shook during a random temper tantrum...A boy of contradictions. 
The other night he fell asleep with his bear over his face and his gentle, childish snoring reminded me what it is to love...completely.