Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Susie and Charlie's Wedding

Despite a journey during which we had to visit an unexpected number of bizarre little Nottinghamshire villages (we decided that sitting in a 60 min tail-back on the M1 sounded very litle like fun), we had a lovely time at Susie and Charlie's wedding. They got married in a little hamlet south of Warwick where Charlie grew up, and it was exactly what English countryside should be like. Pretty little stone-built villages nestling in the folds of rolling hills covered in pasture, chocolately brown ploughed fields and elegant copses where you expected to meet a Jane Austen character on a horse. (Yes I know it's the wrong bit of the country - but it just felt quintesentially English!).

The church in Chesterton was perched on the top of a hill overlooking a pond and was surrounded by sheep (as all good churches are). You could even see "Warwickshire's most famous landmark" (really?): the Chesterton Windmill.

We had a lovely time catching up with Jenni and Susie and Anne and Kate and everyone and eating delicious food. Nathaniel managed to behave his way all through supper, and as reward got to watch Ian being given the task of carving the lamb for our table! He was even supplied with a special apron!

We spent the rest of the weekend in Abingdon generally enjoying ourselves and sailing and picking blackberries (did I mention that a certain little boy is rather fond of them?!!!) and making merry. The high point of the weekend for Nathaniel was the hire-car that FF got - a VW transporter, or "Gra Beer Van-car". It has been requested many times since!!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Even more holiday

Some how, Nimmy has managed to cope for a couple of months in York without a bike. With both her serious bikes in the States, it was hard to come to terms with the fact that you simply cannot live in York without a bike, and there is no point in having something flashy. So we took a trip to the bike rescue and came away one pre-loved orange trashy mountain bike!

Then we had to go on a bike ride!

As Nimmy had never been there, we decided to cycle down the solar system - a scale model of all the planets at the right distances from each other along a disused railway. We stopped at each planet to admire it.

All the way along are helpful signposts so you can see how far you have got. At this point we had traveled 91 millon miles. Nimmy's bike was doing a good job!

Some planets are pretty exciting!

We were just starting to think about a little smackerell of something, and Nathaniel was insisting that we stopped at every blackberry bush;

when we saw exciting things - a combine harvester and a tractor pulling a trailer in which to gather the grain and a tractor with a hay baler! We had to stop for a muffin!

I think we were as entranced as Nathaniel! We learnt all sorts of interesting things such as that the combine harvester has to harvest for a bit and then sends the grain ("woosh!") into the trailer and there is plenty of time for the tractor to nip home and empty the trailer. The hay baler made hay bales really quite quickly and we all shouted when another rolled out. It was really fun.

We also did a bit of scouting for apples and things. Nimmy is preparing for a great preserving marathon and so we were on the look out for all things yummy and hedgerow-ish for her to boil and put in bottles. More of that another day......

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

More holiday

In today's edition of holiday, we decided to make the most of weather that wasn't quite arctic yet and venture to the seaside. It looks like the summer is over and we aren't likely to have any more properly hot days, so it was a stereotypical british seaside visit - to the East coast (rubbish!), with many warm layers, and a full set of waterproofs!

But to be honest, when you are a little boy, the beach is so exciting that it could be snowing and you'd still have fun! The tide was quite a long way out so we went for a big walk to see the sea and found exciting things like rock pools, sea weed and shells on the way.

We found that you didn't need paper on the beach - it's just one great canvas for drawing tractors!

When an actual tractor came past, Nathaniel wasn't so sure!

We experimented with sandcastles, and Nathaniel found that they were just as much fun to destroy!

Here are Nathaniel's sand ruins:

We like the seaside!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


On Monday it was holiday! everybody was at home so we decided to poddle into town to look at dresses for Nimmy, waistcoats for Nathaniel, small-person musical instruments and, of course, eat lunch! The luncheon entertainment was provided by Nathaniel counting... using numbers which we didn't know he knew! The main thing he counted was sauce sachets:

The counting went something like this: "wah... tchoo... ffree... hore... ... [indistinguishable]... ... ffreee.... hi[x?].... se'hen... hay.... [indistinguishable]... se'hen!"

There were always seven. And he was very pleased to inform us of the fact.
(Those of you who aren't hard of hearing will notice there are ten in front of him)

Of course, the problems with inaccurate enumeration may have been caused by this activity:

After this consumption, Nathaniel decided he was sleepy, so Tassy & Nimmy went to look at instruments and dresses whilst Nathaniel and I took a stroll in the ever increasing rain. Upon the surprising realisation that he'd actually gone to sleep in the buggy (an occurrence that has not been frequent since the advent of napping in the cot) I decided to shelter from the rain under a very pleasant tree in the Dean's garden by the Minster, and summoned the others to bring me coffee. We then decamped to a more solid rain barrier, in the form of the gatehouse to one of the many places in York which we haven't paid previous attention to.

On his awakening we purchased musical instruments.

A set of very fine handbells:

and some other items:

Here he is sporting his jingle bells:

Holidays are good!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Things Nathaniel likes



Finding sticks in the woods and rustling them and tickling things with them:

(apologies for the rubbish picture from my phone)


We spend a lot of time picking blackberries - there are a million really good bushes near the house. Nathaniel prefers other people to do the actual picking becuase of the "prick-uls", but he will instruct you to "No pick dreen ones. No pick dred ones. Not ripe not nice. Pick just black ones. ripe and nice!"

Seeing or doing things that are "just like" something else. This includes "use for(k) just like Aun Ninnnn", "gate squeak just like mouse" and this:

Here Nathaniel is demonstrating the Museum Gardens' "blue trac-da-da pull tray-er, just like blue trac-da-da in book".

Monday, 16 August 2010

Hawnby Hill

Most of everyone, I think, I like to go for big walks in the wilds (I think I have FF to blame for that), so this weekend I persuaded Ian and Nathaniel to accompany me up to the Moors for a bit of galumphing up hills. It almost didn't happen, as 5 mins out of York, Nathaniel proclaimed "mess, mess!" and we turned round to find that he had been sick. But one clothes change later, we decided to press on anyway, and we were rewarded by being right - he was absolutely fine!

It was the best sort of walk because it included lots of bleak moorland. Lots of people think that the moors are a bit boring, but I love looking across miles of undulating heather with no sign of civilisation. I think that it must have something to do with an early introduction to Dartmoor.

Nathaniel was the happiest boy alive and grinned manically at the sheep - the sort of smile where he is smiling with his eyes and his cheeks and his hair - he's all smile! He greatly enjoyed the sheep and the hay bales and the cows and the little bridges over streams and insisted on one million repetitions of the catchy song, "Cows (or sheep or cockerells) in the field".

But the best bit was getting up on the hill (Ian may disagree - he carried Nathaniel up!), and having a rest amongst the purple heather while looking across the dales and the moors.

Nathaniel decided that he wanted to walk for a bit, and we were pretty impressed at how far he managed. It's difficult to remember when you learnt to walk on uneven, bouncy ground, but Nathaniel seemed to relish the experience and had great fun walking in the ditch "just like wicked witch"! At first he was "not sure hern (ferns)", but once we had reassured him that he could just push past them and they would get out of the way, he rather enjoyed it.

Until the ferns got very tall!

There were many good sights - derelict houses and lots of heather surrounding sandy bridlepaths.

Eventually we got to the aim of the walk - Hawnby Hill - a hill that we had been admiring for several years. It looked rather steep from the bottom (the picture is from some way up it) - but it was worth it for the views at the top!

We descended into the village and decided that it was sensible to stop at the pretty pub (something else that we had been admiring for years!). Nathaniel and Ian had a drink in the garden while I walked back to retrieve the car.

It's rather nice having a ten minute walk on your own. Toddlers make you see different things than you would have ever noticed (I almost went back for Nathaniel so that he could see the barn crammed full of tractors), but they also extert a constant pressure on when you are walking. They are either talking loudly in one ear, or asking for another song, or letting you know that they are getting tired/hungry/bored/over stimulated. And if none of these things are happening for a blissful and peaceful 5 minutes, all you do is mentally plan for what your strategy is going to be when they start to happen!

I discovered that when I get a bit of walking on beautiful, quiet country roads on my own, I don't notice things or think big thoughts, I go into a trance where I see nothing, think nothing but just relax under the sun and just be. Its very nice!