childhood

Browsing Tag

In Family

I know what I did this summer

The first full summer we had as a young family in the countryside was difficult.  My youngest hadn’t yet started nursery, my eldest had been going three days a week. Our old nursery operated all year round, but this one was attached the primary school he would be starting in September and therefore closed over the summer holidays. And they have long summer holidays. I didn’t know the area well, I didn’t know many people, my husband had a work training course and was away a lot, the house and garden felt overwhelming. I remember feeling so relieved when school and nursery started. I was …

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In Wellness

An afternoon making bread

There is a Swiss proverb which is particularly apt to this post; ‘Avoid those who don’t like bread and children.’ We recently had both in abundance in a classroom above one of my favourite Cotswold bakeries. As a little pre-back to school get together a friend had organised a cookery lesson at Hobbs House Bakery in Chipping Sodbury for 10 children.

With our hands washed and aprons on, we perched on stools around the table. The flour hit the table top with a soft flumff and in swift …

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In Outside

Blessed be…

…the fruit.

I used to think blackberries were only for picking in September; a truly autumnal fruit, so I thought. Every year I was disappointed to have missed the best of the crop. Amateur. Because the secret to blackberry picking is to go earlier than you think. The last couple of weeks of August is probably the best time, before the birds have pecked at them, before the weather rots them and before others pickers have been out. This year they seem to have ripened even earlier.

I have always gone foraging for blackberries – even in London on Putney Heath. Blackberry picking offers rewards …

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In Outside

August August

August, the height of summer, some may think. Or perhaps its depth.Either way this year has been the kind of summer that children store up as memory of all summers. Sunshine and barbecues, icecreams, open windows on hot nights and paddling pools.

In one of those neat word plays, August is named after Emperor Augustus, (after the latin for venerable or consecrated)  and originally had only 30 days. It was thought necessary to add another day in order that Augustus might not be in any respect inferior to Julius. Thus Augustus was exceptionally august in altering August. The only Augustus I can think of is …

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In Outside

Dog days and birthdays

Seamlessly we sweltered from June into July with a prolonged warm dry spell that children will remember in their adult years and adults will remember in their dotage. The dog days are truly here,  sultry days and still nights of heat, drought, fires, thunderstorms, lethargy, mad dogs and Englishmen out in the sun. Even the birds seem to languish idly in the suspended in the humid air, barely moving their wings for flight, as if it’s too much effort. The buzzard is more present and seems to follow me; flying over the garden, perched atop his telegraph pole on the school run. Hot and hungry …

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In Wellness

Chocolate cake charm

I love baking. It is relaxing and therapeutic with the weighing and measuring, the stirring and whisking, the magical alchemy of bringing together disparate ingredients into something utterly delicious. It is mindfulness and mindlessness at the same time, with a treat at the end of it all (except the washing up). Out of all the things I like to bake, cake is the number one favourite. Not just any cake, but milk chocolate cake from the superbly retro Be-Ro recipe book.

The Be-Ro recipe book was my baking bible as a child. My mum has two ancient editions, one of which has fallen apart from …

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