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Three children *** Two dogs *** Two parents *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That's us!

We've been blogging since January 2010.

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Just a thought….

"A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe."

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  • Briony I loved these large poppies when we had our allotment, you just never knew where they were going to pop up each year as they... 25 Jun
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Time to smile

"God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles."

- J B S Haldane

Debs Random Writings

I’ve been featured by

day out

Out

Sometimes you just need to take the bull by the horns and go for it. I guess that’s why so many people have the childhood memory of sitting on a seafront promenade, eating soaked fish and chips in the rain. Hood up. As they look out over the sea, they promise themselves that they will never ever put their own children through the experience. (But of course they do. We all do.)

Life cannot be put on hold just because the weather’s not ideal. We’d never get anything done.

This week has been wet and windy, with a splattering of sunshine for us, but when I look back, we’ve spent more time out than inside feeling sorry for ourselves.

We went to the Bath and West show, which everyone enjoyed. There was a short burst of rain, but on the whole, we were lucky.

Seeking more time outside, at home we put up our garden shelter and had a fabulous evening sitting out and toasting marshmallows over the fire bowl. There is nothing more wonderful than being outside with my family in an evening. Joined by our resident bats swerving in their evening flight, to investigate what their mad humans are doing, this time. They are curious like creatures, and so wonderful.

The children put on a light show. It became a competition on who could make the clearest image. I captured a few on my camera by changing the ISO setting to 6400. No-one went to bed early. I think this may become a family favourite.

Unfortunately, the wind picked up the garden shelter, a few days later, and impaled it on our oak tree. It took the whole family to retrieve it. The oak tree won. I’m afraid we won’t be using the shelter again, but at least it’s no longer in the branches.

Sigh

There is no doubt, however, simple playthings are the best. I’m so impressed by how the children can have fun with the most basic of objects. Give a child a tree, a rope and a piece of wood and they will play for ages.

My parent’s dug out the tree swing when we visited and the children set it up. Taking turns to swing. Higher each time.

They really did have fun. It was quite a wrench to see them back in their uniforms on Monday and heading off to school. Although I did bring youngest back home again, when I realised that they had an Inset day. Oops! He tagged along for the day with me instead. We popped in to see my parents again, and he stayed with them while I went to the dentist, so the day was good. Apart from maybe the dentist part.

We’ve been out noting all the changes in our garden and local area. We took a detour on our morning dog walk, through a local meadow which was splattered with common spotted orchids, as far as you could see, and more wild flowers than I could identify. Photos taken and we’ll research them soon.

Back home in our wild areas in the garden, it was noticeable how the the insects started buzzing as soon as the rain stopped. Waiting at the bottom of the stalks and under leaves to avoid the raindrops. There was a cloud of blue damsel flies triggered by the sun coming out.

These bugs are new to me, but are currently on my awesome list. I know they don’t look much and I would hate to meet one scaled up, but they are amazing little critters. This is the larvae of the dock leaf beetle. I included a photo of adult beetle last week. If ever a bug was a good reason not to spray an area with herbicides and insecticides, I’d put these ones forward as candidates. These guys annihilate dock. We are talking shredding it. Amazing. (Understandably, farmers don’t want dock in their silage as it reduces fermentation and quality, but hopefully you can see where I’m going with this.)

(Bowl of beauty peony)

During the week, I visited a friend who has recently moved, to see her new house. We had lunch at the local lavender farm. The flowers weren’t quite out, giving us an excuse to go back in a few weeks. It was still a relaxing lunch alfresco, overlooking the purple fields.

Looking back through the photos, it is amazing how much time we do spend outside. My youngest summed it up so perfectly. He reminded me that we’d never see all the interesting nature if we were in the car. You have to get out and look.

 

The Reading Residence

 

Country Kids

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Bath and West Show 2017

We go to the Bath & West show most years. Each year, I test the waters to see if the children want to go. Should we go? Each year, there is a resounding “Yes”, with no groans in the midst. That is 100% agreement then. A golden moment in parenting terms.

My favourites are the livestock and the rural crafts. Fortunately, the rest of the family are the same. So long as I don’t drag it out too far. The children will often stop to talk to a friendly beast, if it sticks its head out of the pen, giving me that little bit longer.

This year, I was struck by how many fleeting moments made me smile. As we left the sheep area, a group of visitors entered. I couldn’t help giggling as one of them exclaimed in a broad Somerset accent, as he caught a glimpse of the Scottish Blackface in the first pen, that “that’s a cloud not a sheep”. I see his point. The fleece is rather splendid and plentiful.

We all love watching the pig showing. It is so funny. Watching the exhibitors guide the willful pigs around the ring with only a wish and a prayer, and a pig board. Oh and a stick. There is always one that makes a bolt for it, or disappears behind the judges’ table, in an attempt to escape the ring and run havoc around the outside (I’m yet to see them make it).

As we watched, the nearest pigs were misbehaving in their temporary pen in the corner of the show ring. My children were waiting with great anticipation for these particular pigs to have their moment in the main part of the ring. Surely they were going to cause mayhem.

As it happens they didn’t. They were the best of the lot. Walking perfectly around the ring. This was their moment and no-one was going to take it from them.

Can’t help thinking pigs might be a tad unpredictable.

(photo from 2017, not 1946)

I was telling my mother about seeing the pigs. Her parents used to show pigs back in the 40s/50s. At the Bath and West, among others. They converted an old Red Cross ambulance into an animal transporter and would take their pigs to the shows in it. My mother remembers sleeping on the straw next to the pig pens or in the cleaned out vehicle.  I can’t imagine my grandparents doing that!

So pig showing is in the blood. Maybe that’s why we all like watching it.

The cider tent is always on our list to visit. Husband has been weighing up buying an apple press for a few years, so we always check them out. It would make sense, as we do have a lot of apples each year. Youngest would love the ball cage on a stick for picking up apples. I can see him keeping our little orchard’s floor clear of windfalls.

At the other end of the tent, is the cider competition. I love seeing the demijohns of cider lined up on the shelves, with bunting. Something quintessential country show about the sight. We noticed this time, that some had less cider in them. A noticeable amount less. Speculations about how the judges finished the judging if they put away so much cider on each tasting. Turns out these ciders were decided by the people’s choice. Phew. Many people. Now that is neat. I wonder how I sign up for that.

Last stop of the day. Watching the sheep shearing. I find it mesmerizing. I’m sure in the time they did 20, I may have managed one half. Probably badly. I’m sure the sheep would be relieved that I’ve never taken it up. The shearers seem to glide through the fleece, handling the sheep with expertise. The wool handlers looked exhausted by the end, packing the fleeces away. This was the national final. As the last sheep were pulled forward, the crowd started to urge on their man. I heard a couple of little voices cheering their father on. gulp.

This year we loved the beagles and the fox hounds. Up to then, I assumed that they were used in the same way. One beagle spent most of its time meeting and greeting the crowd outside the arena, which was amusing.

There was also the bee tent, with its bee hive decorating competition. The winner is pictured at the top of this post. I am rather partial to a pun. It made us all giggle.

There seemed to be more alpacas than I remember in the past. We actually saw the judging this time. Away from the ring, among the pens, there were bags of alpaca fleece for sale. I held back. I do love spinning with alpaca but I have enough at home. I need to work my way through that first.

It is so lovely to spin.

The show is still fun. Year after year. I love talking (or eavesdropping!) on the old timers, and the characters that make the countryside such a wonderful and rich place to live. They are always ready to talk. The show is the sort of place that if you’ve ever wondered about something to do with the countryside, you’ll likely find the answer there.

Looking at my photos, I concentrated on the livestock areas. There are also old country vehicles, a steam powered fairground, farming interactive exhibits, show jumping and much, much more. Stalls of all shapes and sizes.

I wonder if the children will want to go again, next year.

Country Kids

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A walk on the wild side

A walk along a coastal path, on a military shooting ground, with tank crossing points, in thick sea fog sounds like the basis of a TV drama rather than a possible location for a bank holiday family walk.

To add to the atmosphere, parking was provided in a lost, deserted village and there were signs about not touching military debris. Old tanks parked up, in the distance. The road to it is gated and locked every night. Did I mention the fog?

{insert dramatic, foreboding soundtrack here}

The walk wasn’t sold to me in so many words. I’m pretty sure I’d have given it a miss. For one, where were the views? I’m also sure that sea fog is nature’s own version of photoshop. Removing all traces of anything beyond 20 metres. There were times when I lost sight of the lead walkers in our party and was glad of the yellow posts, marking the route and the fences along the edge.

It became a running joke to sit on the benches, positioned I assume, at view points. Looking out into the impenetrable fog. Snow blindness. We could have been on the edge of the world.

I’m sure it must have been a beautiful view.

I have no idea how scary the cliff edges were, as we peered over, but I can tell you about the flowers, clinging on the edge. We saw sea pinks/thrift and yellow horned poppies. We could smell the sea water and hear the oyster catchers down below. We spotted a herd of 12 roe deer at one point.

Strangely, this turned into a really good walk. It’s steep to start with and the coastal path undulates, but there are flat parts too. We walked about 3 miles. I’d be tempted to go back again, if for no other reason than to see the view.

The route we took would have ended up in Kimmeridge Bay. Heading the other way, we could reach Lulworth Cove, for a slightly longer walk. There is also a 20 minute stroll to Worbarrow Beach.

Foggy days do not make for the best photo days, but against all the odds, I still managed to take a few photos!

Details

Place: Lulworth Range Coastal Walk, Dorset.
Times: The range is used by the military and closed when in use. Also locked at night. Check the times before you head off
Parking and amenities: Plenty of parking in the deserted Tyneham village. A suggested donation of £2. Basic toilets. Also an exhibition in the old school house and church.

PoCoLo

Country Kids

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