Monday, 27 June 2016

#EnjoyMoreWater in the summer's garden

The summer may currently feel like a bit of a wash out with all the rainy days but a few weeks ago it was so hot and Little Bird was playing out in the garden pretty much all day long, not wanting to come back inside except for a dollop of sun cream. I'm very guilty of not drinking enough water but I like to make sure LB is well hydrated so when we received the great new Robinsons Squash'd range as part of the Enjoy More Water Challenge, we were keen to see if they would encourage us to drink more.

With spending so much time in the garden where LB helps me plant seeds and water the plants, I thought a good way to encourage him to drink more would be to collect some home grown garden goodies to add to our jug of water along with the Robinsons Squash'd.
So we added some lovely ripe strawberries from the hanging basket on the patio where the slugs can't get at them. LB is really into them at the moment so I don't get a look in.

Further down the garden is the huge red currant bush and LB equally eats these as he's skipping up and down. It's full of them dripping like jewels, so we added some of those too.
red currant

Then a squeeze of Summer Fruits Squash'd to turn it even more fruity and add a pink tinge, some sprigs of mint and this was left to infuse for a while. 

A tasty drink for the summer days that encouraged both my son and I to drink up and stay hydrated. We tried the other Squash'd flavours too - Orange & Peach and Lemon & Pink Grapefruit, adding extra fruit and herbs. There are cucumbers growing in the garden too and when they are ready we will also chop them up and create our own summer drink, maybe add some basil and other herbs or edible flowers that LB will enjoy collecting in the garden to make his own potions. 

This post is an entry for BritMums #EnjoyMoreWater Challenge, sponsored by Robinsons.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

An evening walk

country path sign Whilst the evenings have been balmy, we've been making the most of it and exploring places local, finding new pathways through the countryside on our doorstep and discovering tucked away places. By fields and rivers and along canals as the sun started to dip behind the tree line. cow parsley pathwayGrass tickling legs and gnats trying to have a feast, successfully according to the backs of my knees today - aghhh! Little clouds of biting chaos above the water. evening river walk As the end of the day draws in, there is still plenty happening by the canal although at a slower pace. Boats moored for the evening are a light buzz of chatter and clattering dinner plates, folded chairs on the canal side with glasses of wine beside them and dozing dogs.Out on the still water the swan family are eagerly awaiting one of the boat ladies to start throwing some water fowl to them and soon there is a gathering of ducks loking for their share too. A damselfly flitted about but too quick for me and my camera. bulrushes Chirping amongst the bulrushes with cotton wound tails and gently movement, an ever so slight breeze to take away the languid stickiness of the day. gate to the field For me, the excitement of the canal network are the pathways and adventures that it opens up. You see a secret side of the countryside, passing bridges, farms and it's a whole new area to learn about. I've learnt the names of bridges, discovered goods train lines I didn't know existed, found babbling brooks through parted trees and old disused buildings. 
bridge 180a Trent and Mersey Canal evening at the canal flash canal walk Views across the river valley, rolling fields of greens and yellows. Places that are unknown when sticking to roads. Every so often a boat came chugging down the canal, people relaxing and waving to my little boy.across the valley little boat on the canal
I really hope we get many more of these sunny evenings to venture out and soak up the golden hour before bedtime, tread through soft grass and waft hands through flower spikes and dancing white umbellifer heads. There's the other direction to explore now into the town's industrial heritage, the remains of a salt industry intermingled with nature and another evening's canalside activity to peek at. June canal Cheshire sunset

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Getting the chills in the village of Chillingham, Northumberland

Chillingham Wild Cattle sign Back in the holiday cottage, on one of the picture maps of Northumberland, we had spotted a picture of some white cattle and as I'd also seen them mentioned in the local mythology book too I was intrigued to know more. Added to this, the local church looked a beauty and off we went to explore.......

There's a castle at Chillingham, an extremely haunted one with a torture chamber. The views into the estate are magnificent, bats on the gates and a vista with a bronze statue of Viscount Gough on horseback. Edward I used the castle as a fortress for his warring with the mighty William Wallace and then it became home to the Grey family. These days it's a privately owned attraction that you can visit. You can read more about the castle's history and ghosts here.

The white Chillingham cattle are an ancient herd and well hidden away, you can go on a tour to see them. Fierce in nature and not approachable, the herd of around 100 have no veterinary treatment and are left basically to their own devices. We saw no glimpse of them and with having the dogs couldn't go on the cattle walk or into the castle but nevermind for there was the church to have a look at and I was excited about the tomb in there.
Chillingham bat gates Chillingham drinking fountain Chillingham Castle and bronze statue St Peter's Parish church, founded in the 12th century has some interesting graves in the churchyard and inside has a medieval tomb that is glorious - the best I've ever seen. It's 15th Century and is for Sir Ralph Grey and his wife Elizabeth with their effigies on the top of the tomb chest. Walking through the churchyard through the lush grass I found some nice 17th century gravestones with angels and lots of moss and lichen on them. The church is right next door to a gatehouse of the castle. St Peter's Parish Church Chillingham 18th century gravestone Nice box pews but not so keen on the modern east window and altar, very jarring with the rest of the the nave of Chillingham St Peter's
A very early grave slab now in the foundations of the wall as often happens.foliate leaf tombstone church banner There are traces of paint on the tomb and all the saints around the sides are such a rare survivor, normally such iconoclastic symbols were destroyed in the Reformation or Puritan times. Such beautiful detail of saints in niches and angels. This is why I love to look around churches, you never know what you are going to find and learn about. 15th century decorated tomb saints and angels Northumberland map Sir Ralph Grey with his feet resting upon a lion.Sir Ralph Grey tomb Northumberland You can often find old photos on the walls of churches, invaluable if you are into the history of them. This one shows how the church used to have a gallery, extra seating space up high. Very few churches still have galleries so it was great to see this picture. old photographs St Peter's Church Chillingham Opposite is a gatehouse to the castle, I wonder how many many have passed this way over the centuries from there to the church. Maybe one of the ghost hunts at the castle would show us...St Peter's Chillingham gate