Sunday, 29 August 2010

Wee Creatures

This morning we had a Bedroom Blitz - a huge clearout of clothes and extraneous belongings.  We made quite a bit of progress and regained some much needed space in the wardrobes.  We also found 'Fluffy' Georgie's toy puppy which had been lost since her birthday, i.e. the day she got it.

We interspersed the morning's chores with tea breaks and biscuits, all with a backdrop of punk.  As I sat with my cuppa I noticed we have a new stick insect nymph and a couple of eggs.

We were having Sunday tea when we heard the thud of a bird fly into the window.  It wasn't a big thud so I assumed the bird would have just flown away none the worse for his collision.  However, when Emily went to investigate she discovered a baby bird, shocked but alive.

I gently picked up Baby Bird in a tea towel and put in him a cardboard box.  The SSPCA (03000 999 999) advised leaving him in a dark, quiet room for an hour to see if he would recover. 

When we looked in on Baby Bird later he was moving about so we carried him to the front door and WHOOSH....he flew away.  Magic.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Read Comics in Public Day

I ♥ Prestonpans.  I especially ♥ it's proximity to Edinburgh.  It takes 15 minutes to reach the capital on the train - and the kids go free.  We nip into Edinburgh just for the heck of it with no particular plan, sometimes just to renew Nigel's season ticket .  Sometimes just get some groceries from M&S in the station and pop back. 

Today we went to take part in Read Comics in Public Day.  The concept is simple: show that you believe comics to be a legitimate and vibrant art form and take time out (on Jack Kirby's birthday) to proudly read some sequential art in full view of other people.

We took the train to Edinburgh (reading our comics of course).  We had no particular plans so we posed with our comics at the busiest spot we could find - the hell that is the St James Centre.  I hadn't been there for decades.  I was never a fan and, after a shift in The Small World Shop selling beautiful hand crafted items I wasn't in the mood for worshipping at the altar of consumerist tat. 

We returned home and had bagels with cream cheese and my homemade morello plum jam.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Fruitful Discussions

On Thursday afternoon I helped Barbara in the school garden which was nice. I hadn't seen her since she visited with Rosie yonks ago.  Not that we had chance to catch up though - 22 P2 children had to learn the 'Garden Rules' in groups of 5 and 6.

Along with a few other parents, Nigel and I helped build the raised beds and the surrounding fence one weekend a few years ago.  It was brilliant to see the garden positively bursting with fruit and vegetables.   The small plum tree is laden with almost ripe fruit.

I was so proud of Georgie.  She behaved really well alongside the older children, speaking confidently, answering questions and venturing to eat a mint leaf.

I have seen more designs of raised beds than I would have ever thought possible.  Beds made of breeze blocks, 2 litre bottles, haybales...the list is endless. I really like the sleeper designer because it is wide enough to sit on.

I can't wait to get started with the Community Garden in Cuthill Park but we haven't yet agreed a layout for the garden or overall planting plan.

It's a far cry from guerrilla gardening but it is fun and at Thursday evening's Friends meeting we agreed a couple of work-in dates:

 Saturday 18th September - 1-6
Site clearance
Saturday 2nd October - 2 onwards
The Big Bulb Plant
Saturday 30th October - 2 onwards
Any outstanding jobs.

Today we learned we have been successful in our application for a Woodland Trust 'Jams, jellies, chutneys & cordials' tree pack which will be used to create an edible hedgerow in Nov.

In my own garden the first of the victoria plums are ripening so I was able to give some to Rachel and Peter when they visited from Harrogate.

Today, Georgie had a special tasting session of school dinners.  The choice was Macaroni Cheese or Mince and Tatties - two dishes we never have at home.

When I collected her she declared that "Lunch was brilliant.  It was potatoes and that other kind of mints".

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Raksha Bandhan

I swapped some plums for courgettes with one of the playground mums.  Just look at the size of it (shown here with his regular-sized little brother)!

I know the traditional thing would be to bake it but I quite fancy trying this Caribbean Marrow Cake recipe.

I could have incorporated into the Raksha Bandhan feast but we'd already decided on saag aloo, chick pea dhal and cucumber and mint raita.  Emily made a really great job of the rotis.
The Raksha Bandhan festival is entirely dedicated to the love and affection shared between a brother and a sister.  Siblings exchange Rakhi, bracelets made from entwined threads.   Isn't it a lovely idea?  We have Father's Day and Mothering Sunday, why not siblings day?

In the evening Nigel and watched the first episode of Neverwhere - I think I'm going to like it.

Monday, 23 August 2010


We had an hour to spare this morning so Nigel and I went to the Pitstop Cafe for one of their excellent coffees (me: cappucino with an extra shot; him: latte).  A display of lovely felt brooches ("Hand Made by Stroma" caught my eye and I immediately thought of my sister Laura who would love them.

There were also some beautiful pieces made by jewellery artist Eve Smith who has a great eye for colour (see her Etsy storefront here).

Looking at gorgeous craftwork reinforces my commitment to only buying handcrafted or vintage items this Christmas (I won't mention the 'C' word again until there's only 100 days to go - only 23 days to go then).

And on the handmade front, I made jam in my breadmaker for the first time.  I used the mirabelle plums and a cooking apple and the jam was really nice.  And, it was so quick and easy!  No more endless stirring and testing for me.

This evening I watched Who Do You Think You Are Are but didn't find Alexander Armstrong's genealogy particularly compelling viewing.  Call me an inverted snob but posh folk are never quite as interesting as the hoi polloi.

Or maybe, like Alan Partridge, I'm just a bit intimidated by toffs:
You are a big posh sod with plums in your mouth, and the plums have mutated and they have got beaks. You make pigs smoke. You feed beef burgers to swans. You have big sheds, but nobody's allowed in. And in these sheds you have 20ft high chickens, and these chickens are scared because the don't know why they're so big, and they're going, "Oh why am I so massive?" and they're looking down at all the little chickens and they think they're in an aeroplane because all the other chickens are so small. Do you deny that? No, I think his silence speaks volumes.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Goodbye holidays, Hello school

Despite the fact I kept an almost daily blog over at the family website for over 5 years, I'm currently experiencing bloggers' block. 

A quick run-through of what's been happening since my last post:

We went to see Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang at the Brunton Theatre (too saccharine or my tastes but Nigel got all teary-eyed).

Georgie turned 5 - a magical age - and we celebrated with a trip to Our Dynamic Earth.

We also went to East Links Farm.  It's a great place to spend a day but I'm not sure we'll be going back any time soon as Georgie was sick on the journey there (despite travel sickness tablets, a virtually straight road and constant fanning).  
For Nigel's birthday we went to North Berwick, had lunch outside in the lovely gardens of Poon Thais and a bit of shopping and a walk around the town.  The aviary in the Lodge Gardens is really lovely.  In my wilder moments I imagine something similar being installed at Cuthill Park.
During the summer break, the Small World shop has had a bit of a makeover thanks to contributions from B&Q, Prestonpans Community Council and an anonymous donor.  It's looking great and we can't wait to show off with a grand re-opening.

The girls went back to school last week , Georgie for the first time.  It was an emotional experience.  Predictably, everyone says to me "What are you going to do with yourself now?".  I can honestly say I'll have no problem finding things to do but I recently had a revelation: I'm going to be having lunch by myself for the first time ever.  That's going to be weird.

Yesterday we went to a Family Fun Day at Prestongrange Museum.  The weather was lovely and we had fun but I find with all these council-run events the same organisations take part year after year  - I think I could give the Ranger Service talk, I've heard it so often.  Having said that, we all loved the Music Mayhem workshop.  There's nothing like a bit of drumming to liften the spirits.  Best of all we were allowed to use the drumsticks on the huge metal machines....CLANG...CLANG..CLANG!

Yesterday also saw the implementation of a new feature of family life - the weekly family meeting.   It actually went really well.  The kids chose the subjects for discussion., we went over diaries and agreed menu plans.  Any Other Business included a request for ear-piercing which was considered and rejected (although it was agreed to try some magnetic earrings meantime).  Gawd, we sound like The Modern Parents!

Today we did some impromptu guerrilla gardening.  We took some newly unrooted perennials and planted them in the school planter which I cleared of nettles on Friday.  Walking to school Georgie began chanting "Guerrilla Gardeners!  Guerrilla Gardeners!"  She might be a schoolgirl now but she's a lot to learn about stealth missions.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

A sight for sore eyes

First stop today was Specsavers for a sight test ( which I passed).

 From there I went to Portobello where PEDAL were holding a Food Fair in the Town Hall.  There was some delicious homebaking including these cute gingerbread women (mine read 'Harvest') and scrummy lemon drizzle cake.

The highlight of the trip was re-visiting the Porty Community Growing Space behind the Town Hall.

The change since I last visited the site is incredible.

The strip of land is now packed with raised beds and pop-up greenhouses bursting with produce (and happy gardeners). 

It's hard to believe that the site was an almost inpenetrable jungle just over a year ago.

The site began as a guerrilla gardening project without Edinburgh City Councl's knowledge or agreement.  I suspect the whole project would have come to a standstill had it not been for Lucy-Ann's tenacity when dealing with the local authority- who initially were not exactly overjoyed by our presence.  Today the site is leased from the Council and is a fully-fledged community project. 

Guerrilla Gardening was a great kickstart at Porty but now with a committed group of individuals and community activists, the project looks set to be sustainable in the long term.

MAY 2009

Friday, 6 August 2010

Housework Avoidance Techniques

The wind was howling outside and I really didn't want to go out.  Nor did I want to watch High School Musical 3 with the girls.  And I definately didn't fancy tackle the mountain of dirty dishes in the kitchen. 

All I really wanted to do is sit down with a cuppa and flick through yesterday's mail (and maybe even last weekend's papers).   

So I did. 

I love the Clothkits catalogue and can sit for ages browsing through its pages.  I love the clothkit dolls (left).  The red-haired one reminds me of my beautiful niece Lauren.  I eventually did wrestle myself away from the sofa only to be lured back to browse the Rupali website (look, this sari is in West Ham's colours!).  I know Diwali is a long way off but I'm already looking at outfits for me and the girls.

And then I really did get on with some hauswhiffery in the form of washing.  Why does the washing cycle have to take so long?  Annemarie's new washing machine has a 15 minute cycle.  I've got household appliance envy!

West Ham colours!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010