DNweekeND 2015



Moo was attending DNweekeND as a ‘Young Leader’ (as a Sea Cadets Junior), so whilst she was busy, Ted, Minnie, Arty and I went for a walk around town to see what we could find.

Outside the Frenchgate centre we met Same Difference and their rather long periscope.  Ted had great fun aligning the periscope so that he could see from a different (much higher) perspective.  We also enjoyed street performances of juggling and fire eating from Beyond a Joke (one of whom we know from Moo’s art classes at The Point – very amusing for her to see one of her art teachers performing live in the street).

There was a climbing wall as part of the Young Leaders display (with the Army cadets) and Ted and Moo had a lot of fun climbing it.  Various bands played on the band stand and inside Cast theatre Minnie and Ted had the opportunity to contribute to a collage of a mermaid made from discarded wrappers with Bowler Hat Creatives (top photo).

We also enjoyed various other street performers and exhibits, including Dr D’Cleyre’s Imaginarium of Wonder, Wyrdness and Curious Tales (and a blog post from one of the artists is here) – and Ted is clearly a candidate for No Fit State Circus with his pole climbing skills (he was straight up with little problem!)  We had a fabulous time and are already looking forward to next year!



Slow Living :: May 2015


With a newborn baby, May has seemed rather a blur. However, you generally don’t get much done at any speed in the first few months and it has been another lesson in patience, because even getting something as simple as the washing up done isn’t a given.  I started off using a stretchy sling, but problems with my neck and back have meant that towards the end of the month I’ve had to put sling usage on hold, which has affected the amount of household tasks I could do (because he’s not a fan of lying down without being directly on or next to someone).  So I’m struggling with some frustration at not being able to get things done that I feel I should.

The children have been variously helping to prepare food and Moo has, of course, been baking.  Amongst various other cakes, she made two different lemon drizzle cakes: one in a bundt pan, decorated with violas and calendula petals; another in a loaf tin, decorated with lavender flowers.

The loaves of bread may look rather simple and uninspiring to you, but these are the first two loaves that I was organised enough to make after Arty has been born.  I was very pleased to finally have got back to making bread again (and I’ve kept it up since – so a little bit of normality regained).

Plenty to sow this month and plenty growing.  The first of the tomatoes (Latah) are fruiting and our sweet peppers (approaching two years old) continue to fruit.  Currants are also fruiting and the strawberries flowering.  There’s a huge amount to do in the garden and I’m trying to rise above feeling frustrated that there is very little I can get done with Arty.  Thankfully plants will continue to grow (if a little haphazardly) even with a small amount of care and some things, salad for example, are already being picked and eaten.


Slow Living :: February 2015

February can be a hard month – it’s often the last slog of bitter cold here and the year sometimes seems at its darkest (regardless of it turning at Winter Solstice) and regardless of Imbolc (Candlemas) being at the beginning of the month.  Yes I get very excited to see the first snowdrops, but still there’s the rest of the month to get through and I find it hard.

To celebrate Imbolc/St Brigid’s Day, the plan had been to make bread in a St Brigid’s cross. It didn’t quite work out, so Moo went for a braided fruit bread instead.  It tasted good and, I suppose, that’s what really matters!


As the weather brightened, thoughts have turned outside to the garden where we have rather a lot of work to do.  We moved here last summer and any gardening was taken up with caring for the very many pots we brought with us (an overview of what happened gardening-wise last year is here: Garden 2014).

John has been busy clearing some space for broad beans and a few of our currants.  We eventually plan to plant some fruit trees where the broad beans are going this year, but just can’t manage the cost of what we want in time to planted already, so have to wait until the autumn.

The eventual plan for the currants and some of the raspberries is that they will live in the front ‘garden’ (as apparently they will tolerate some shade).  But the front garden is currently completely paved, so that’s on hold for the time being until we get other work done in the back garden.  We need to build a low fence to prevent the dog from accessing the main garden (so she doesn’t careen all over the beds) and so are dividing the garden with a paved area nearest the house (as there isn’t any sort of seating area currently) and building a low fence as part of a pergola over the planned patio up which we will be planting grapes (south-facing).

Our potatoes from the Grow Your Own Potatoes project (from the Potato Council) are chitting on the windowsill and the following have been sown:

  • Broad beans – Aquadolce Longpod
  • Tomatoes – Latah
  • Dahlias – unknown variety
  • Sweet peas – mixed

The latter two are courtesy of Moo who is trying to raise dahlias from seed this year.  These come from my visit to East Ruston Old Vicarage Gardens and were a gift from one of the owners who is trying to breed black dahlias (he’s a massive dahlia enthusiast and was very pleased to hear that Nin is interested in dahlias too, so very kindly gave me some seeds for her).

We’re going to have to take it a little easy on the gardening front this year with a baby on the way and a little less space, but are planning to at least grow a reasonable amount of tomatoes, herbs and salad.

We ordered a few more seeds to add to what we have saved from last year.  We’re going to give cucamelons a go and we needed some more tomatoes as, although we had a few left from last year, tomatoes are something that we use a lot of and have really appreciated having dried to continue to use into the winter.  Now to get some more sown and hope that I’m not too exhausted to keep on top of them in the months to come!

Slow Living :: January 2015

Just a few of the remaining pics of home life from January, that I haven’t blogged yet.

Moo frying homemade doughnuts

After having a bit of a mini food meltdown a couple of weeks ago, I’m back on track with being a bit more organised.  I’m not a natural menu-planner (mostly because I can find it a bit more challenging when we have a veg box delivery, because there are some things that although you can ask for them to be substituted, you don’t know what they’ll be substituted for… this isn’t helpful when I keep having random allergic reactions to various food), so for sanity’s sake I’m currently having Ocado deliveries instead in order to better plan in advance. The deliveries are supplemented by the odd heavily reduced regular thing (such as bananas – if it has a reasonable peel I’m a little more confident about it not being organic) and I’m feeling a little better about food again.  Part of the problem is as I get larger and more tired, cooking becomes more challenging and I’d like to get better organised in advance of having to look after a newborn in a couple of months.  As part of said organisation I’ve been making batches of small ‘bread pasties’ for lunch boxes and also some sugar-free ‘breakfast cake’, for those grab and go breakfasts.


We’ve finally got around to starting to use the dehydrated tomatoes from last year’s crop – the taste is amazing, far better than I expected!


Our peppers are still going strong in our unheated conservatory.  I never expected them to continue to produce all winter, but there are still peppers reddening on the plants!

We’ve had some wood delivered ready for building a dividing low fence to keep the dog from part of the garden (essentially off the vegetable and fruit beds).  The plan is to build an open pergola-sort-of-thing over what will be the patio and grow some grapes up as part of the dividing fence.  However, a couple of days after delivery it snowed, so we haven’t been able to make a start yet!

January brought Ted’s 9th birthday (and this time, no cake failure as was seen with Moo’s cake!)  Layers of chocolate sponge with buttercream and apricot jam, covered in a chocolate ganache made for happy faces all round!

Slow Living :: December 2014

I’ll admit that I’m not a ‘winter person’ – likely a candidate for a lightbox and a steady supply of D3 supplement, I tend to shut down as mid winter approaches.


So rather quiet as a result.  Mostly hiding away.


Fudge for gifts (‘blinged’ by Nin); gluten free mushroom and caramelised onion tart for a Solstice celebration followed by homemade fudge icecream; and a gluten free lemon and almond tart for a Christmas dessert (we actually had turkey for a change as a main).


I’ve been on a bit of a crochet thing and am on to the second blanket (Stinkers eagerly helping), plus snowflakes destined to eventually be part of our seasonal decorations.


December is always a quiet month.  Where many are particularly festive, I’ve found that difficult this year and have retreated back somewhat, giving some serious thought into what I want this time of year to mean and feeling very pushed and pulled from external sources for it to be something I don’t want.  It’s very hard to find balance when you feel that other people are yanking on the arms of your scales.