Tag: featured

Autumn in Canons Ashby

While Summer is by far my favourite season, Autumn is dear to me too.  As mentioned, I love the rich changes of the colours of the leaves.  It’s nature weaving out its magic in its finest, isn’t it?  What’s not to love about Autumn?  Yes, it’s definitely colder, but it’s also an excuse to wear lovely chunky knits, and warm over-sized coats!

We went over to Beds to see family during the half-term break.  It was also T’s grandfather’s 90th birthday.  We’re pleased to see him really well and strong in mind.  He has a youthfulness which I hope will always stay with him.

While over there, we also had the chance to visit Canons Ashby, a National Trust house in a small village with the same name as the property.  Built in the 16th century, it’s been home to the Dryden family for over 400 years.

Highlights from the visit – finding medieval doodles on the wall.

According to one of the guides there, in the 80s, when this particular bedroom was stripped off its rotting panels, they found lovely etchings that dates to medieval times.  If you peer at the photo above closely, you’ll see a child-like doodle of a girl obviously made by a child.  The next ones (as seen on photos below) were obviously done by someone older.

All on this wall:

T enjoyed poking about in the small rooms in the house.

While Canons Ashby doesn’t have a large garden like the other National Trust properties, it was still a joy to walk on, or in T’s case, skip about.

The vibrant autumn colours were in full boom in Canons Ashby.

We also visited the13th century Abbey nearby.

Like all National Trust properties, the place is steeped in history.  Our link to the past, or if you’re an 8-year-old little girl like T, a place to skip and jump about.

So far, I haven’t visited any National Trust or English Heritage property and was disappointed in the end…. Have you?  Do share.

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…

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?

 

The Beast Returns! (A Delayed Post)

Well, they called it the mini-beast-from-the-East.  While it wasn’t as bad as the first one, we still had a lot of snow – pretty snow, everywhere you looked it was covered in white.  It gave the light a weird, eerie but beautiful and unusual glow.  Sometimes, it looked more like silver and not white.  T loved it of course, by Monday though we (not my little girl) were all a bit fed up with this winter wonderland and wanted it to be Spring.

When you’re little though, snow is still fun and magical, especially when it happens so rarely in the place where you live.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, it never really snows here in Cornwall, we usually get blasted by heavy wind, not blizzards, so when it happens, it’s the kids who really enjoy it, not the adults, although admittedly, we did have some fun too, even Doc did!

Snow fights, making snow angels, sledding, or just trying to slide down a snowy hill, is so much fun, if you’re a little child like T, especially if your school announces a free day, what’s not to like?

On the third snowy day though, we were just a little bit fed up with it.  I’m wondering how people manage in colder countries where snow is but the norm?  I guess, you do just get used to it – as for the rest of us, we’re really not equipped for snow, when it happens, everything slows down just a bit which to be fair isn’t really a bad thing.  But really, snow in March? I pity the daffodils that were squashed by the snow, I think they were a bit confused too.  Who wasn’t?

Even Doc seemed fed up with snow too.  Thank goodness, it’s all gone now.  Spring I think is finally here.

***

Incidentally, apologies if you’ve been trying to access this little space of mine. I’ve been offline for a few days due to problems with my domain.  But all is sorted now thanks to good friends of ours who happen to be web developers.  If not for them, I’d be thinking of quitting blogging so if you guys are in need of a good team you can trust, do check them out here.  I owe them big time.

 

Cross country training, the promise of spring & a snowy surprise

While the Beast from the East is but a memory now, you’ll still find traces of his visit in the fields and on the side of the road as you drive along the A39, only they’re looking more like cement, a murky brown, or more like mud actually.  And we wonder if he’ll ever visit again?  We promised T that next time we’d be ready and buy a sled if we see one on sale, although I honestly doubt if this rare occurrence will happen again… but you’ll never know and it’s best to be prepared next time.

T together with some of her friends and other schoolmates will be doing the cross-country run together with other schools this Friday.  We’ve been helping her “train”… I’m using the word “train” really lightly here, because it’s nothing hardcore at all.  The Historian does run with her when he has the time, but since he had a lecture in Exeter last Saturday, T was stuck with her mum who has a weak knee and so I just walked behind her.

We were doing rather well.  She’d run ahead of me and I’d walk briskly behind her.  Admiring the promise of spring – the daffodils were out again. Before the Beast’s visit, lovely Spring flowers were slowly coming out and then they were blanketed with a thick layer of snow.  It’s nice to see them out again.

T ran past the small barn and into our neighbour’s farm.  We’re lucky we have lovely neighbours who let us roam freely around their farm.

We passed the other outbuildings  and still she kept running, occasionally checking whether her poor unexercised mum was still behind her.

And into the small woods, past up the hill and then that’s when she saw it.

I saw her stop on her tracks.  She looked back at me and smiled and went for it.

T giggled as she got stuck in the thick snow.  I was really amazed to find this much snow on the side of the lane.  I’m sure it will melt soon especially since temperature has been slowly rising. I let her play in the snow for a while. After all thick snow is rare on our side of the UK especially in March, before reminding her to go back to running till at least the end of the lane and then she can play in the snow again.

After running around in circles and getting stuck in the snow, T and I decided that it was time to head back home…

… for a lovely treat of Oreo Ice-cream.

Isn’t life just sweet? 😉

Hello Beast From the East

The first day of March is “officially” the first day of Spring here in the UK, but because of the Beast from the East, instead of warmer weather, it was bitingly cold.

It was also supposed to be World Book Day, T got up excitedly, wanting to get into her Tonks (a minor character from Harry Potter) costume.  But then we received a message from her school saying that school was cancelled.  While it was cold, there wasn’t any sign of snow till around 2pm and then it never stopped.  T wanted to go outside as soon as it started, but I told her that we’d go out once the snow has settled.  But the snow just kept falling, and falling, and falling….

As you can see, it took only about a couple of hours for the snow to look like this.  T was absolutely delighted.  It has never snowed in North Cornwall like this before.  We’ve had a few dusting, but never as thick as this.

And since we didn’t have any sled, we had to quickly improvise and found an old Ikea shelf that was light and yet sturdy enough to slide down the very icy and slippery road in front of our house.

At first, T was hesitant to use it so her dad had to show her how. Soon enough she was going up and down that icy road, laughing and having so much fun.

I’m amazed with how much snow the beast from the East managed to dump on us within a few hours.  It was absolutely beautiful though …

Everywhere you looked, it was covered in a soft blanket of snow…

And of course, you absolutely have to build a snowman when there’s that much snow on the ground.

T named her Billy, an artist visiting from the East.  As I type this, I look out my window and can still see a mound of snow where Billy used to be standing.

And yes, we had snow-fights too.

At the end of the day, we were all wet and cold, but T had the biggest smile on her face and the snow just kept falling as T watched from the window.

We had two lovely, magical days of snow.  At night, it was lovely to look out the window and see the snow glistening, it actually gave it an eerie glow and as much as I enjoyed it too, I was actually glad to see it melting by Saturday afternoon.  If I look out my window now, I will see patches of snow in the ground and in the surrounding fields too.

If you live in the UK, did you enjoy the visitor from the East?