Author

I'm a part-time writer, full-time mother and dog-walker living in a small English village by the sea with my husband, daughter and a dog named Doc.

All posts by Dean B

Autumn Photographs

It’s been a while since I took my camera out for a spin.  Did just that today.  It started out in the garden and then T, Doc and I decided to go over the neighbouring field for more photos.

Scenes from our garden:

 

“It looked like the world was covered in a cobbler of crust of brown sugar and cinnamon” – Sarah Addison Allen, First Frost

 

A touch of colour (photo above) and bat girl and her dog in the field beside our house.

Don’t you just love autumn photographs?

The Flowers of Castle Drogo

I must have flowers, always and always.  – Claude Monet

And it’s no wonder that the famous the French artist went on and created paintings of them one after the other.  I’m no artist.  I knew that as an early child when mum hired a local artist to teach my brother and I how to paint. He did well.  I did not. I cannot paint flowers but I can certainly photograph them.

But my rose, all on her own, is more important than all of you together, since she’s the one I’ve watered. Since she’s the one I put under glass, since she’s the one I sheltered behind the screen. Since she’s the one for whom I killed the caterpillars (except the two or three butterflies). Since she’s the one I listened to when she complained, or when she boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing at all. Since she’s my rose.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

I have a friend who can name every single flower there is.  She tried to teach me once, but I’m afraid my memory retention is bad and it’s only going to get worse (hopefully not!), so I’m afraid I won’t be able to name any of the flowers above apart from the roses.  After all, who can’t?

These beautiful flowers can be found in Castle Drogo in Devon. They were taken in the summer so I’m not sure if they’ll be as colourful and beautiful as they were in those photos, but still worth a visit.  The castle is still surrounded by scaffolding but the gardens are definitely worth visiting especially if you love flowers.  If you find yourself in the area, do drop by and visit the flowers of Castle Drogo.  They have wonderful grounds too, perfect for autumn walks.

What about you?

Are you good at identifying flowers?

S is for Surfing

And as Storm Callum ravages the UK, I sit here on my desk, warmed by the heater and sipping a mug of hot tea looking at these images of little T surfing over the summer and wishing I could could go back to those moments on the beach, watching my little girl as she misses a wave and has to do it all over again with that determined look on her face I love so much.

After several tries, she manages to pull herself up and ride with the wave.  I asked her once what it was like, she said it’s like being on top of the world!

And she loves it.  She absolutely loves it and it’s also a thrill to watch her from ashore.  I don’t worry about her, because my husband is never far from where she is.  Admittedly, the waves here in Widemouth Bay in North Cornwall can be very rough, but he’s never far and we also make sure that there are lifeguards around.

If you happen to find yourself in North Cornwall next summer and you think you or your kids would be interested to learn how to surf.  Do contact Miles, little T’s coach.  He was brilliant with her and her friends.  He had them all standing by the end of the first lesson.  Click here to find out more about him.  He is the best coach in the area.

Back to reality, as I hear the winds thrash our house and the surrounding trees in our garden and I’m reminded that summer is indeed over and that I’m wearing wooly socks to keep my feet warm from the cold.

Wouldn’t it be great though if we could step into these photographs of our summers on the beach, lighting our old rusty bbq, and staying till sunset and till the last of the surfers are gone.

Summer on the Beach …

… that’s the theme of our whole summer of 2018, although to be fair, that’s an ongoing theme in our family life since we live close by to the beach. You’ll find us there whether it’s summer, autumn, winter or spring.  This is a part two of what we’ve been up to in the warm months, you can click here if you want to check out part one.

We did think of going abroad, but with the “heat wave” a close friend said “Why go abroad when it’s as good as anywhere here when the weather is as warm as this?”.  And that’s exactly what we did!  We didn’t even go very far.  Just over the border, into Devon…

Lyme Regis

Charmouth Beach

We’ve been to Charmouth before, but I’ve never seen this much fossil hunters on the beach!

, Our friend was right, when the weather is great, spending summers here in England is as good as going abroad.

What about you?

Did you go abroad this summer?

Our 2018 Summer in Photos (Part 1)

Hello again.  It’s been a while since I’ve last posted anything here on Little Steps. I’ll be honest, I’ve lost my blogging mojo and I’ve been trying to get it back.  In the mean time, I’ll try to say it in photos and hopefully the words will come…

Porthleven

Perranporth Beach in the fog:

And then the fog lifted …

To be continued…

Cows: Life in the Country

You know you live in the country when the first thing you hear in the morning is the loud and aggressive mooing of Theo the bull, who likes to threaten the other bull, somewhere in another field… goodness knows where.  They like to holler to one another, I’m guessing they say a lot of “I’m bigger than you” in cow lingo.  I could be wrong of course, for all you know, cows are also like people, who like to talk about the weather…

I felt really sorry for the cows when were having unusual weather a few months ago.  The appearance of the beast from the East… twice, meant that they were unable to come out and were stuck in their barns.  When the snow finally cleared up and we all thought that Spring was finally on it’s way, it was the rains that came and made the surrounding farm land too wet and soggy for the cows.  When I heard the first moo in the field behind our house, I was really pleased to hear that they were back outside.  Not sure they were pleased to see us, especially our annoying dog Doc who likes to bark at them.

I’ve especially been spying on the mama cows and their calves.  I just find it so endearing the way they’re so protective of their young.  I guess all mothers are the same regardless of species and the thought just really warms my heart.  I can sit for hours just watching them.

At the moment, we have scaffolding all over our house.  We’ve had really bad damp and mould over the winter and we’re hoping the builder will be able to fix this.  When he is gone, I like to go up there and watch the cows.

I saw this mama and her calf a few days ago.  They were really near the back of our house.  This mama was actually standing a few feet away from her calf, but as soon as she saw me she quickly walked towards her young and gave me a bellow as if to say “You come near my baby and I’ll break your bones”.

I just sat there and watched from above.  I don’t think she liked my presence at all.  She stopped threatening me but turned to her young as if to say “Let’s move on.  I don’t trust that woman up there”.  Her baby which I’m guessing was just a day or so old, judging from it’s unsteady steps, just ignored the mum.  I guess the young are also the same regardless of species, they like to ignore their parents.  After more bellowing the calf eventually moved towards its mother.

And as soon as her baby was near her, like all mothers, she jostled her little one to get a move on.

And just like that, they left me watching them.

How was your Bank Holiday weekend?

I heard the rest of the UK were basking in a lovely mini-heatwave.  I wish I could say it was the same for us down here in North Cornwall but it wasn’t.

The weather last Saturday was a good start.  After little T’s ballet we picked up a friend of hers who was going to have a sleep-over at our place, then we headed to Exeter to watch a football match.  It was lovely in Exeter.  It was just the right combination fo not too hot and not chilly.  On our way back home, we could smell people having bbqs at their homes.  It was early evening and my husband had plans to light the fire and just sit till night-fall.  But as we headed arrived in Cornwall, we saw sea-mist in the distance and our hearts sank a little bit.  By the time we turned into our driveway, we knew that our plan of sitting around the fire was gone out the window.

The next day, our house was still surrounded by sea-mist.  We had plans of spending the day in the beach, but it looked like it wasn’t going to happen.  Thankfully though, the mist cleared up towards mid-day and little T and her friend still managed to have some paddling pool fun.

I’m hoping the weather will be better at the end of May when T’s next term-breaks comes, especially since we’re expecting a visit from some family members.  It would be nice to be able to take them to the beach sans the sea-mist and have lovely bbqs in our garden.  Then again, this is Cornwall.  I think the weather down here is more unpredictable than any other place in the UK.  I could be wrong of course 😉

What about you?

How was your bank holiday weekend?

And Spring finally Sprung … I think …

This post has been sitting in my drafts for about a couple of weeks now and I think I’ve just jinxed it.  As I type this I can feel my hands cold, because we’ve switched off our central heating weeks ago.. after all it’s supposed to be Spring and it’s the second day of May for goodness sake!  Who has their heating on in May???

Have I really jinxed this?  All because I’ve left this in my draft for some time now?  Apologies.  Things have been a bit manic in my life lately.  I’m busy trying to tick off a list that has been on for the longest time.  But let me remind you what the weather was like about two weeks ago…

It was absolute bliss.  I even managed to hang some laundry out.  We haven’t done this since last year!  And that to me is a win.

Is it sad that watching my laundry hung out to dry in a warm day like this make me happy?  Does it?  If you say to me “You need to get a life woman”  My reply would be “But this is my life and I’m content and watching my laundry dry in the sun does make me happy. You ought to try it”.  Small joys, you know.

Sitting on lounge chairs, with the sound of wind chimes being blown gently by the wind, watching my laundry dry in the sun and little T, sitting beside me eating her lunch with Doc sniffing around, hoping she’d drop a piece of bread, so he could snatch it, is what I call a perfect day to me.

Occasionally, you’d also hear the mooing of the cow in the nearby field and the distant sound of a tractor and the farmer’s dogs in the distance.  I’m hoping someday little T will remember this day, of how she put on what she called a “show” for her mum while standing on her swing, which was really more like a monologue of what I would call “the ramblings of a seven-year-old” I really should’ve recorded it.

Even Doc seemed happy and content that day.  Oh please bring back the warm days, we really don’t want to switch our heating on again.

What about you?

What’s the weather/temperature like on your side of the world?

Easter Break: Two Little Girls and a Beach

On Monday, T and her friends go back to school.  This Easter break was all about visiting and spending time with family up in the Midlands for us.  We also had a lovely short city-break at Birmingham where we were lucky enough to watch the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain perform at the beautiful Symphony Hall in Birmingham.  T was absolutely enthralled just watching them play, especially the cellos.  We think she was very much inspired by them.

And so we’re back in the sticks, where our life consists mainly of play-dates and impromptu trips to the beach after the husband is done with his work.  It’s lovely now because Spring seems to have sprung out of the depths of wherever it was hiding when Winter overstayed its stay.  Temperature has risen and it’s possible once again to walk on the beach without looking like an Eskimo or a North Pole explorer out for a ride with his wolf-dogs.  And so the husband went out with shorts and sandals …

I must admit.  I wasn’t as brave as him.  I still came out with a coat (although to be fair, a much lighter one), and the kids were also in hoodies and wellies.

And so we found ourselves on our favourite local beach, Sandymouth which I’ve mentioned more than a dozen of times on this blog.  I can’t repeat myself enough, it really is a must-visit beach if ever you find yourself in North Cornwall, especially with kids in tow.

The two girls decided that it was way more fun to walk around in bare feet even on a pebbly beach, so they plonked themselves on a drift-wood and took their wellies off, before deciding to try to climb the many interesting rock formations found on the beach.

Why do kids never listen to you when you tell them not to do something?  I told them not to climb higher, they ignored me.  And so I said, “If you get stuck, you’ll have to spend the night there, because I’m not climbing up there to get you down”.  Thankfully that worked and they slowly made their way down again and joined the husband exploring by the rock pools.  He found them a little crab to play with before setting it free.

We love it here.  It’s perfect for a long walk on the beach, especially when the tide is low. There are lots of rock pools to discover which both my husband and T love.

We ended the day with the two girls, walking back with their beach find of the day …. driftwood.

What about you?

How was your Easter break?

Country Kids
 

Little T’s First Ever Cross-Country Run

“Go for it” one parent said to his eight-year-old little girl – a lovely, shy, blonde girl who is a year older and at least a head taller than T.

“You can do this!”  another one prompted her daughter.

As for us?  All we said to T was “Enjoy the run and it doesn’t matter how long you finish, as long as you finish it”.  We also told her to stick with her best friend F who was nervous about it.  To be fair, T was also a bit scared but she’s known to be one of the fastest in her class.  In fact, she surprised everyone by coming in first in last year’s sports day.  We thought if they stuck together they can prod one another if the other falls behind.

A day before the visit of the mini-beast from the East, little T and her friends from school participated in a cross country run.  This happens yearly when Year 3 students and above are invited to do the run.

It wasn’t just the kids who were nervous.  We, the parents were also the same especially since the kids who joined from T’s class was their first time in joining too.  No one (apart from the older kids who’ve joined last year) were familiar with the track and what to expect.

And then they were gone… all 800 kids from all over Cornwall participated, some had their parents run with them as well.  My husband and I joined the other parents from T’s school.  We chatted as we waited and then after a while, some kids were already coming in.  We were impressed with their speed.  Then kids from T’s school started running past, we all cheered for them of course, even the ones who were from other schools.

Small kids, older kids started running past, even a man in a dinosaur costume sped by.  Still there was no sign of T and her best-friend F.  I was starting to worry and then I spotted her from afar.

My camera didn’t focus.  She’s the girl in blue behind the blonde little girl.  I called out to her, she saw me and didn’t even blink and sprinted past us, who were cheering loudly.

All the of the kids were covered in mud.  Now I understand why they had to tape their shoes on, some kids ran holding their shoes, they must have gotten stuck in the mud.

We were so proud of our little girl as she came in at 545.  Her other friends came in way before her, but it didn’t matter.  She said she stuck with her friend F, but got separated from him by the river.  When she couldn’t see him, she decided to ran as fast as she could.  That’s her waiting to see if F came in.  He wasn’t that far off from her.

All of them did really well actually, although later on, I did wonder whether we are teaching our daughter to be mediocre?  Is it bad that we don’t push her?  We never say “Go for it!”.  We never push her to win.  We always say – have fun, enjoy it.  As parents, we don’t like putting pressure in anything that little T does, especially since we know some parents in her school do that to their kids.  We may not push her to win, but we do encourage her to always do the best that she can.  Isn’t that enough?

What about you?

Do you tell your child to go for it, or to have fun and enjoy the experience?

Country Kids