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April 2014

Living Arrows : 17/52

Living Arrows : 17/52

by Clare Mansell
270414_1
50mm, f/2.8, 1/1600, ISO 160

Despite that mischievous look, he’s a good boy this one.

He let us sleep in until nearly 9am on Sunday and that’s despite the fact we are all sleeping in the same room at the moment. Perhaps he’s as fed up as we are of being woken by builders at dawn every day!

He’ll be 2 years and 9 months on Wednesday and with the long weekend coming up we are going to tackle something we have been putting off for a while… potty training!

We’ve chatted about it, we’ve got ourselves equipped and we’ve finally run out of excuses. So clear the diaries and wish us luck, we’re going in.

living arrows

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Cuca-melons & Land Cress – The secrets of veg gardening

Ever since Jim created our enormous raised veg bed last autumn, I have been meaning to get round to planting some vegetables. My mum and sister both have an impressive track record of growing, but until now our peripatetic lifestyle has meant my own veg growing has been limited.

Then a few months ago just as I was seeking inspiration, I won a place on a beginner’s vegetable growing workshop with Francoise Murat at the brilliant Hampshire based Roots, Shoots & Leaves.

Roots Shoots & Leaves

Roots Shoots & LeavesRoots Shoots & Leaves

I’m not sure quite what I was expecting of the course, but I think I thought it would involve lots of strict advice about how to grow carrots. Instead we wandered amongst Francoise’s beautiful raised beds in her kitchen garden sampling exotic flavours of salad leaves like Land Cress & Giant Red Mustard plant, whilst we learned about hardening off plants and creating a vegetable garden that was both useful and beautiful.

Roots Shoots & Leaves

Francoise has an infectious but accessible enthusiasm for growing and is delightfully flexible about the “rules” for growing. Every discussion about the method for something would usually end with “but it might work, so just try it…”

Roots Shoots & Leaves

Lunch was a delicious fresh spring harvest from the garden eaten around the table in Francoise’s lovely kitcehn, whilst we swapped stories and ambitions for our gardens.

Roots Shoots & LeavesRoots Shoots & Leaves

Francoise was not just generous with her hospitality and knowledge but also with her gifts. We all planted up three trays of mixed seeds, containing everything from beans to St Johns Wort, but we also left with armfuls of fresh produce and an exciting selection of seeds.

Roots Shoots & LeavesRoots Shoots & LeavesRoots Shoots & LeavesRoots Shoots & Leaves

Amongst my haul are the seeds for a plant called the Cucamelon which produces (wait for it) grape sized ‘watermelons’ – Bonkers! Apparently they are really easy to grow and brilliant in G&T and salads.

rsl_21Roots Shoots & Leavesrsl_20Roots Shoots & LeavesRoots Shoots & Leaves

At the end of the day my arms were weighed down with goodies and my head was ready to explode with ideas, but best of all instead of leaving with only good intentions, I now have seedlings of plants which with a little TLC will be the beginnings of my new kitchen garden. Now all I need is for this rain to stop so I can do some gardening.

Linking up with Annie & Hannah today (even though the “adventure” is my own!)…

gingerlillytea

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House remodel : Week 7

House remodel : Week 7

by Clare Mansell

Oops – It appears I missed a week last week!

We are currently going through one of those stages of the build that I was warned about where nothing much looks different, although an awful lot is going on behind the scenes and of course everything is still hiding behind the scaffolding and protective wrap, so photographing it is tricky too.

The oak staircase arrived last week and looks brilliant. It’s not going to be in place for a while yet which is absolutely fine by me, the builders can keep walking up and down the ladder in their big boots until then!

We have now been living in two rooms of the house for nearly two months (Gosh!) and though it has mostly been ok, it is starting to drive me slightly bonkers and I am wondering if my kitchen will ever be properly clean again. I even caught myself looking longingly at “before” pictures of the house where we had, what seemed like, acres of carpet to spread out on. All we have now is tiles, laminate and bare floorboards!

In the next few weeks we hope to reach the halfway point of the main structural build and being on the home straight will be a big psychological lift. I am looking forward to be able to find things again, not being woken by the builders every morning and being able to retreat to a corner of the house to have a quiet phone conversation, without apologising for the noise in the background.

We usually have our annual Canada Day party on or around July 1st and I’m quietly hoping that maybe the house will be in halfway presentable shape by then. I haven’t told the builder that though…

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Living Arrows – 16/52

Living Arrows – 16/52

by Clare Mansell
easter9_field_u2
35mm, F11, 1/100, ISO 100
I had a choice for today’s picture, between a posed shot of Theo with his Easter haul and this picture taken in the field by our house. It was a tough call, but this picture won in the end. 
It very much sums up a moment we are in right now. The field’s are in bloom and Theo is obsessed with his bike. We go through this field most days on the dog walk. This time last year he was small enough to be carried in a backpack (can that really be true?!) And six months ago he was walking, but mostly dragging behind. Now the bike goes everywhere even across bumpy ground and he races ahead of me and the dogs, so keen to get everywhere fast. It feels like a metaphor for how fast he is growing.
living arrows

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South-coast Breakfasts : Wellies Restaurant

With the long Easter weekend ahead of us, we decided to start the 4 days off with a hearty walk at Kingley Vale Nature Reserve followed by Brunch at a new restaurant in a converted barn a few miles down the road. It was also a good excuse to escape from the house as our builders are still hammering and sawing away, even on Good Friday.

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