to the sea again

Flowers picked by my friend Penny and the children for my birthday, in a jug I picked up for £2 at a car boot sale yesterday. This reminds me that a while back I promised to write a post about my junk shop china habit, and I will, very soon, but first a post about the weekend which began with us crossing this bridge…

which, as usual, I failed to photograph properly. And, as usual, on crossing it, I was compelled to bang on about how it makes me think of Barbara Hepworth’s sculptures. Joe pointed out that this is what I always do as we cross this bridge. Naturally I rallied with the fact that he always points this out. It is a ritual we observe faithfully.

Except of course when we end up on this bridge when we are really meant to be on the other bridge, a bit further up. On those occasions all thoughts of Barbara Hepworth are lost in the blizzard of ill feeling that rages between driver and co-pilot.  This photo was taken on the return journey last night, just as Joe asked if we were going to have that conversation again. I felt we had to. So we did, but in a slightly deflated way. But not deflated enough to mar the general sense of wellbeing that a weekend by the sea in the company of good friends engenders.

We stayed in a friend’s cottage in Stackpole, and I will post the link when I find it as it really is a fabulous place – incredibly pretty, and the perfect base for all sorts of beachy fun. The weekend involved a lot of food, a lot of wine, two cakes, neither of which was made by me, but one of which was for me (43 yesterday, which is why I got the flowers), and the children got to drink a bit of this (what were we thinking?).

On saturday we walked to the beach via sun-baked fields and cool, shady woods.

And Sunday was spent at a vast car boot sale where I bought the little jug and a few other pieces of china as well as these plants –

Geum coccineum ‘Cooky’, a bargain at £2.50, and a hybrid geranium ‘Red Admiral’, which I thought was psilostemon when I spotted it, for £4. Money well spent I think.

Better pictures of both to follow, but for now soggy bathing costumes, sandy wet suits and a dog freshly released from kennels (aka Mutlins, because she LOVES it so) need to be sorted out.

P.S. Thank you to everyone who so sweetly wished me well in my exams – such a relief that they are over. I feel as though the summer holidays have begun, for me at least.


Nearly a month has passed since my last post. A combination of my card reader refusing to speak to either card or computer meant that there were no visuals to accompany the things I wanted to write up.  And then the frantic goings on that accompany the start of a new school year for the girls overwhelmed just about everything else.

We finished our summer holidays with a long weekend back in Wales, in the cottage you can just make out amongst the trees, above. We climbed the ridge behind the cottage several times over the course of the weekend and the children, who turn into mountain goats whenever we are in the Black Mountains and in the company of a particular group of their friends, scrambled up this several times in one day.

On our return, Matilda started secondary school, and seems to have made the adjustment with ease: she leaps out of bed, is dressed in minutes, and would be out of the door at least an hour before she needs to be if we weren’t around to insist on breakfast and a quick session with toothbrush and hairbrush.

In amongst all of this I managed to make some jelly with my neighbour’s Crab apples. Last year’s attempt stalled at the point when I had cooked the apples and discovered that I had no muslin for the draining stage. This year I was far more organised: jars, muslin and even a proper jelly bag were all ready and waiting a week or so ahead of the harvest. Crabapple jelly is incredibly easy to make, though I must admit that I think its looks outshine its flavour. Still the kids love it. I will dig out the recipe and post it later.

I made some bread too – using the fabulous no-knead recipe so kindly shared here. I was ridiculously delighted by the lovely little squares that the combination of flour and my tea towel left on my loaf. I like the way this method allows the loaf to simply get on and do its own thing, but I found the timing aspect hard to get my head around – this ended up coming out of the oven at about midnight at the end of a boozy dinner party.

And finally, this week I go back to school too: RHS 2 at the Botanic Gardens. I am really looking forward to this. In fact I was so excited that a turned up at the gates two weeks early. It wasn’t entirely my fault though, I’d been sent a draft application form by mistake and it had the wrong dates on it.

staycation vs vacation

Four weeks into our holiday at home we succumbed to the urge to get away, and bagged a last-minute pitch at Pencarnan just outside St David’s. The kids adore camping – even though the high winds, which made the tent feel like a boat on rough seas, made them rather nervous at times. I love camping too and am determined to do more. The trouble is I am not a particularly hardy camper, so good weather is key for me. And of course that’s the trouble with camping in the UK: despite the Met office’s best efforts, the weather remains resolutely unpredictable. But we were lucky, most of the week was warm and sunny and every night, apart from one, we had spectacular sunsets. 

Round one to the vacation. But… 

Holidays always involve packing, and I really, really hate packing. My hands just go limp and seem unable to function properly and my brain shuts down. And packing for a camping trip to Wales where it might be sunny one minute and then snowing the next (I have experienced this several times, though admittedly not in August), nearly made me cancel the whole thing.  The lack of packing involved in staying at home means round two has to go to the staycation. Tragic, I know. 

But of course our house doesn’t come with sea views or a beach just two minutes’ walk from the front door. Round two to the vacation.

Bah! What am I saying? Of course going away was better…

You can’t do this at home – no matter how big the paddling pool. 

And you don’t find many of these sunning themselves in your back garden. 

And even on the one rainy day we remained happy campers: a trip to St David’s proved a hit even though all three children groaned at the prospect of visiting a cathedral.

So the vacation wins.