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August 2013

Theo’s 2nd birthday (with toxic green icing)

Theo’s 2nd birthday (with toxic green icing)

by Clare Mansell
Picnic time..

Theo turned 2 yesterday and spent part of the day having his first taster session at his new nursery. We visited once before to view it, and on both occasions he dived straight in without a backward glance. This time we left him there on his own for an hour and a half and he was utterly unphased.

The nursery is based in beautiful old farm buildings and operates under the free-flow philosophy, where the different age groups mix and are free to explore inside and out, it even has an on site chef. I honestly couldn’t fault it in any way, and I’m excited for him that he’ll soon be attending regularly.

In the afternoon we had a family tea in the garden with presents, sandwiches and cake. The day brought to an end an incredible fortnight’s leave for Jim, where we have been blessed with day after day of sunshine and have been able to have some wonderful days out locally. We didn’t have a holiday this year, but the past two weeks have felt entirely like one, with the benefit of all our home comforts.

For Theo’s birthday I made him a tractor cake. I struggle a bit with novelty cakes because appaearance and taste seem to battle each other! I personally think royal icing is pretty horrible on anything except a fruit cake (and even then I’m not entirely sold on it) so I compromised with butter icing (which to be honest, I’m not a massive fan of either) Jim insisted it couldn’t be chocolate and had to be a colour (as you don’t get brown tractors) so we ended up with cake smothered in headache inducing, highly sugared, highly coloured buttercream.

theois2_cake

I know what you are going to say, it wasn’t made for the adults! But there were more grown-ups than children at this party and I think most of us just pushed our cake around the plate! Oh for a nice simple chocolate fudge cake!

Fortunately I made cucumber sandwiches and one of my all time favourites, strawberry palmiers too. Now they really are delicious (and stupidly easy to make!)

strawberry palmiers

And after much game playing and running round the garden, after nursery and presents, no nap and far too many jelly babies, Theo collapsed into bed in his new pyjamas with an assortment of his new cars – one happy tired two year-old boy!

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Brit Sewing Thursday Linky

Brit Sewing Thursday Linky

by Clare Mansell

It’s that time of the week again, and sewing progress has been slow this week. With my husband on leave and father-in-law staying, there have not been many opportunities for sewing. The kitchen table has even been being used for its proper purpose – heaven forbid!

I did manage to knock up a very quick applique tee for a certain boy who has a birthday on Friday, but other projects have had to be left on the backburner. Hopefully they’ll be more interesting news to report next week…

So what have you been up to?

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The beauty of old orchards…

The beauty of old orchards…

by Clare Mansell
pyo2
orchardlargeportrait1pyo6
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I had forgotten how lovely orchards are at this time of year. All dappled sunlight and boughs heavy with fruit. We have never found pick your own farms in any other country we’ve lived in except the UK, and it is a joy to be back in Sussex to be able to visit them once again.
Pick your own is such a simple, cheap entertainment to fill an hour on a bank holiday, and whilst everywhere else along the coast was packed with people, we only saw one other family at the farm we visited.
Theo, like most children his age, can’t get enough of fruit, so was happy to accept the invitation to “try before you buy” sampling the different varieties of plums and apples like a connoisseur. We bagged about 4lbs of plums and got back in the car to hear Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi playing on the radio.
“They took all the trees

And put them in a tree museum
And they charged all the people
A dollar and a half to see ’em
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone..”

It was strangely apt because we’re currently fighting to keep a 200 year-old orchard that’s just yards from our house. I hope these places are still around when Theo grows up…

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I sold a photo to the Guardian!

I sold a photo to the Guardian!

by Clare Mansell
My favourite photo of the week

This morning I woke up to a strange and slightly baffling email from a chap called Rob. He was emailing me to congratulate me on my photo being used by the Guardian/Observer newspaper and asked if it was the first sale I had made through Alamy. Alamy is one of two photo libraries I have pictures with, the other being Getty. I update Getty regularly when they request licenses for images (through Flickr) but had pretty much forgotten about Alamy, which I discovered as a result of my photojournalism course last year.

After replying to Rob’s email to say I knew nothing about the picture being used, he sent me a link to the article. The photo is of my mum and Theo on holiday in Wales last year and has been seen before on this blog in a couple of guises (sorry about that!) Alamy will of course eventually send me me payment for its use, though I don’t anticipate it being too much, but it just goes to show that if you put yourself out there, you never know what surprising rewards will come your way…

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I’m going to Blogtacular

I’m going to Blogtacular

by Clare Mansell

 

I decided a few weeks ago that I really must make an effort to go to a blogging event soon. Other bloggers seem to gain a lot from these networking events and of course it’s lovely to put faces to URLs too. Miraculously almost as soon as the thought had crossed my mind, Blogtacular, an event specifically aimed at creative bloggers, was announced. 
 
It is frustratingly far off (9 months!) but the lure of attending an event for my niche has persuaded me to opt for this, rather than one of the mummy-blogger events that are taking place sooner. By buying an early-bird ticket I have taken a bit of a gamble, as I don’t know anyone else who is even thinking of attending, let alone has bought a ticket! Here’s hoping I won’t be left in the corner on my own come May!

 

Anyone else thinking of going?

 
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