Easter Weekend

Well, we’ve had a lovely Easter weekend and thought I’d share a few pics as we spent a night at my parents and there garden is looking lovely at the moment.

On Saturday Hornsea park had a bouncy castle and a number of rides out for the weekend. This was the first time I’ve tried Alice on a ride. It was just a swing but she loved it.

Sunday we went to my parents for an Easter hunt with a special visitor.

Alice had lots of fun with her family.

Then a good meal with bunny crackers.

Then we walked it off with a walk up to see the church flower displays.

Then back to play at my parent’s house. Here are a few shots over the day of their garden looking stunning.
The stand out tulips.

The bright green of the acer looking great. I quite fancy adding one to my garden to add a medium height tree and more shade for ferns.

My parents have started to add ferns though not enough for my liking.

There are always plenty of birds visiting the feeders. This visit the tits and finches were out in force.

The standout plant in the garden at the moment is the cherry tree with masses of blossom this year. Here featuring a greenfinch.

Then we’ve had a good time with Alice’s cousin celebrating her birthday. Hope you’ve all had lovely Easter weekends.

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Burton Agnes-Snowdrop walk

We have returned from a few days visiting the in-laws. On the way home, we decided to pay a visit to Burton Agnes. Burton Agnes is an Elizabethan home built between 1598 and 1610. It has stayed within the same family for all of this time. It is located in the East Riding between Bridlington and Driffield. It’s about a 20-minute drive from our house in Hornsea so a fairly easy day out for us. RHS members get in cheaper on Mondays and Fridays. At £7 for entry to the gardens and £11 for the hall and gardens it falls within the average garden price for our area. A years membership would be paid back in 3 visits so I may consider paying next time.

For this visit, we just paid for the gardens as we were after seeing the snowdrop walk. We thought hall and gardens might be too much for Alice without the pram. The woodland walk takes you through a thin strip of trees heading away from the house. Currently, the ground is carpeted in snowdrops. While I’m not much of a galanthophile seeing a mass amount of this little flower is magical.

The woodland walk is estimated to be about 20 minutes. It’s all gentle walking and as it was dry we saw a lot of prams and wheelchairs navigating the path. Along the path, you can find animal sculptures.

Alice enjoyed looking for the animals though I think she was disappointed not to find a Gruffalo having done the New Forest Gruffalo trail.

Hanging from one of the trees is a giant clanking windchime. Luckily they don’t have any neighbours too close as this wasn’t a delicate chiming collection of pipes.

Dotted through the woodland are fairy houses. Alice enjoyed knocking on each door. The hall is in the process of building a new children’s play park. This looks like it will be fitting with the fairy theme. A large tower with a twisting slide looks to be the centrepiece. It looks like it will be great fun when finished.

I think we probably visited the snowdrop walk at peak flowering. The walk is advertised as on until the start of March so must still be some going for a few more weeks.

The gardens are currently a bit bare so we may have to look at a return visit later in the year. I had expected the gardens to match the house with many Elizabethan choices but looking at the labels in the ground I can see it is more varied than knot gardens though there are a fair few roses. I imagine it is stunning in Summer but not really worth much time currently.

To the side of the garden is a maze and at the back is a sensory garden and kiddy corner but Alice didn’t want to wander that way. But we did make it into the giant games area. I think Alice expected an actual giant but she did enjoy playing with some of the games and found other children to follow.

There were a few Spring bulbs poking out around the gardens. My favourite amongst these was the irises. I’ve planted a few within pots in my garden but I think this will increase next year. The vibrant colours make such a welcome sight this time of year.

A fountain for Alice to run round in circles.

Clipped topiary make good places for hide and seek.

The nature garden gave us a spot to eat our picnic lunch and has a walkway to keep the kids entertained. There is a cafe that is reasonably priced as these places go. We had a drink on the way out. Two cups of tea, a child’s drink and a cookie for just over a fiver. The hall also sells a number of plants in the entrance courtyard and they weren’t badly priced. If we didn’t have a car full of suitcases I’d have considered buying some.

We enjoyed our stop off at Burton Agnes and plan to return later in the year. I’d like to see the gardens in bloom in Summer. I’m sure Alice will enjoy the play park when that is complete. In a few weeks, there is an orchid festival. While I don’t currently grow any orchids I’m sure they’ll be stunning to see. I’d recommend a visit to Burton Agnes if you’re in the area. Lots to see for different age groups.

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Seeds for bees-wedding favours

So the wedding is over. We had a fabulous day, but we gave out favours with no instructions. This seemed the easiest way to share what to do.

For favours we bought a Meadow in my garden extra short pack. Then packaged them in seed envelopes bought off eBay. Meadow in my garden is a community interest company based down in Wiltshire with a passion for wildflowers and helping nature. Well worth checking their site if you fancy a wild patch. They have seed for a whole range of garden conditions.

The seed mix we bought contains:

Aurinia saxatile, Cerastium tomentosum, Cheiranthus allionii, Chrysanthemum paludosium, Dianthus heddewigii, Dorontheanthus bellidiformis, Eschscholtzia caespitosa, Lobularia maritima, Nemophila discoidalis, Nemophila menziesii and Viola cornuta.

I selected a shorter mix, so I wasn’t giving anyone anything that was going to grow into a beast and take over your gardens. It will grow a nice little pollinator friendly patch. Ideal for a pot or a little patch front of border.

Sowing

The seeds are best down now September to October to flower the following year or wait until March to June next year.

Before sowing lightly dig the soil, breaking to a fine mix. Remove any weeds that may be in the soil.

Scatter the seeds lightly on the surface. They can be pressed gently into the surface so the seeds have contact with the soil.

When shoots appear in Spring water about once a week if rain hasn’t fallen on them. After about six weeks they should be able to cope.

Maintenance

If you want you can leave the flowers to die down and some will grow again the following year. If you want tidiness went until after flowering then cut back below the flowers. Leave the cuttings in location for about a week. This gives flowers a chance to dry and the seeds to drop. You will, hopefully, get a display again next year.

If you enjoy the display I would recommend meadow in my gardens. One box will cover a decent area. I have used them at school and got a good show from it. They have more advice on the website on how to grow their products.

Thank you

Hope people who attended had a good time. Don’t think anyone can complain that they weren’t fed enough. I knew it would be good portions, but didn’t expect the starter to be that size. It was a service to remember with a good performance by Steve and beautiful singing from Suzanne and Mary. We had an absolutely wonderful day and were happy so many people were there to share it with us. To those who we couldn’t invite for space constraints or couldn’t make it thank you for the lovely messages of congratulations. I am a truly lucky man with a wonderful wife and delightful daughter. We look forward to, hopefully, many more years together filled with memories as nice as Tuesday.

Dorset Holiday part 3

After a break for six on Saturday I’m returning to the write up of our Dorset holiday. Our third, and possibly my favourite day, took us to the Moors Valley Country Park and forest. The park is a joint venture between Dorset Council and the forestry commission. Any time I see the words forestry commission I equate it with expensive car park. We visit Dalby Forest up North fairly regularly and this is the same. They advertise as no entrance fee, which there isn’t. However they make up for this with a good parking charge. That said, it is money well spent as the areas they manage are beautiful with a rich diversity of species.

When we arrived it was very wet. Our waterproof trousers came in use again. One of the main reasons for wanting to come to the park, apart from the wildlife, was the Julia Donaldson walks. The parks have sculptures of all the key Gruffalo characters and a Highway Rat trail. Alice is currently loving the Julia Donaldson animated TV versions and will sit through the books. Her favourites are probably stickman and room on the broom currently. Room on the broom isn’t currently part of the forest, but still plenty for her to get excited by.

First she found the owl.

Then many excited cries of, “mouse”.

We paid for the Highway Rat activity pack in the visitor centre. The pack gives you some stickers, a mask and a few activities to do as you go round. It probably wasn’t worth the £3 for Alice as she’s too young for most of it, but never mind. The walk is marked without needing to get the pack should any of you want to do it. It was raining continually for the first part of the walk making the ground hard going for Alice. She lost her wellies a few times in the thick oozy mud. This wasn’t much fun for her, so she went in the howdah. The walk took us on a pleasant circular walk of about a mile. Just right for a little one.

On the way there are the Highway Rat characters and a few things to look out for. By the end the rain had stopped and it started to cheer up.

After finding the rat we returned to the visitors centre for a hot drink and to refuel Alice. With the weather improving and Alice looking a bit more cheerful we headed out again to the steam railway. Along the edge of the lake runs a miniature steam railway. Currently the lakes banks are overflowing into the surrounding fields with the ducks and swans roaming over a larger pool.

As well as being Julia Donaldson mad, Alice is also mad for Thomas the Tank engine at the moment. She was very excited to see the train dragging us to get on.

The train trip takes about twenty minutes with a stop off at the station at the other end. On the platform is a small cafe and a train shop. We treat Alice to a new Thomas toy, a rainbow Thomas. Alice has been over the moon with her Thomas refusing to part with him at bedtime, sleeping clutched on to it.

The park has a great play area split into different age appropriate areas. She adored the playhouse and slide.

The digging area was great fun. If we let her she’d have stayed there indefinitely.

However we wanted to find the Gruffalo, so on we went. She was excited to find the Gruffalo and the Gruffalo’s child pointing out the prickles and shouts of “nose” pointing to the wart.

Throughout the day I could hear plenty of bird song. Crows and other corvids weren’t put off by the weather. I spotted lots of tits: great, blue and long tailed. Then lots of robins.

Before we left we bought Alice two last treats with some money Granddad had given her for Easter; a stickman and a mouse. Almost all of Alice’s toys are second hand,from charity shops and facebook, so being on holiday we thought we’d treat her. Back at the house she played with her new toys.

A good amount of walking left her tired again.

A wonderful day! Every photo of Alice shows how much fun and enjoyment she got from the day. A great time was had.

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Christmas Day

Now the gluttony of Christmas day is done I can sit back and reflect on the last two days. For once, Alice decided to sleep in on Christmas day. However both me and Amy were up as we no longer sleep, having had our sleep patterns ruined by a year and a half of parenthood.

Alice started with a box of in the night garden figures. As a result she lost interest in the idea of opening others for a while. She still isn’t at an age where she has a full understanding of what is happening, so present opening is a slow laborious process. But well worth while as she was over the moon with what she has been given. We’ve been storing things from charity shops, sales and second hand sites, so haven’t gone mad on how much we’ve spent. I can’t say Alice has missed out as a result. She loved her second hand in the night garden toys giving them all many kisses.

Her second present needed some assembly, but she enjoyed pushing it around the kitchen. I can now set her on moving the weeds I dig out to the compost bins.

The process, of opening presents, was so slow we had to pause for breakfast, some of it eaten out of the new wheelbarrow.

Before returning to one of the biggest presents.

Having got the idea she was able to help open Amy’s presents.

We relocated to my parents where Alice enjoyed a day of eating everything she likes: fruit, cheese straws, chocolate and flapjack. Presents were opened with the rest of the family. The nephews gave the toblerone game away to Daz of what his triangular prism shaped present would be. Alice liked my mums star decoration. Star is currently one of her favourite words.

Alice received a picnic set and doll accessories from her Aunty Em. She’s loved feeding her baby and pretending to put nappy cream on her.

We finished the last of the presents. My dad was excited for some of his favourite French mustard brought back from my sisters trip to France. My sister, brother in law and nephews departed to the other side of their family for dinner. Alice went down for a nap for the start of Christmas dinner, but only stayed asleep for the starters.

She did enjoy her beans though. No traditional dinner for her yet. After she chilled with granddad. She’s loved staring at all of his moving Christmas scenes and has been very good about not grabbing hold of them. She’s happily laid and watched parts moving around.

Boxing day we chilled at my parents for the morning, before going to my sisters for dinner.

Alice enjoyed some quiet time with her new crayons.

Aunty Em liked that they’d both gone for dungarees.

Two lovely days. My mum and sister did splendid jobs on the food front. We’ve been surrounded, as with last year, by love and affection again this year. 

Alice has been very lucky with friends and families generosity and I’m sure she will enjoy much of what she got for a good while beyond Christmas Day. We got too many wonderful things for her to mention them all, but thank you to all who have given her a fantastic day.

I haven’t talked about my main present, but I think I’ll leave that for another blog to discuss its delights. I hope everyone reading has had as lovely a Christmas season as we have had.

 

Bill Bailey’s Cabinet of Curiosities

Yesterday saw Alice and myself visiting the Hull Maritime Museum to see the temporary exhibit; Bill Bailey’s Cabinet of Curiosities. Bill Bailey is one of my favourite comedians, but he has also presented some wonderful natural history programs. His exploration of the life of Alfred Russell Wallace, the co-founder of the theory of evolution, is well worth keeping an eye out for on eye player. Watching Bill sighting the orangutans is great viewing.

The exhibit is, of the nature of cabinets of curiosities, a display of various items from the museums collections. Bill, in collaboration with Hull school children, has written whimsical fictionalised accounts of the origins of the items. A handful of dusty artefacts have been transformed into amusing centre pieces. The collaborations with local schools is a nice touch and some super imagination has been put into the installation.

An elephants foot.

The head of local Hull merchant looking very Lovecraftian.

The back massager 360

Alice wasn’t quite sure what to make of the peculiar exhibits.

There was also a little info reminding people that collecting many of the items on display is no longer an appropriate past time for the up and coming gentlemen in society. Collecting items of this nature is not only a social faux pas, but also illegal. It is worth contemplating the fact that wildlife crime is still common. Not just abroad but here in the UK as well.

Today was sadly the last day of the exhibit, so I’m glad I caught it before it went. The display was done in collaboration with Burton Constable. For those of you who missed out Burton Constable has a fine collection of curiosities ranging through fossils, taxidermy and a giant whale. So thank you to Bill Bailey and Burton Constable for putting on this whimisical display of wonders.

Summer Falconry School

Today saw a large family outing to see one of my nephews help in a falconry display.  This was the culmination of a Summer attending South Cave falconry for lessons.

A few of the birds.

The last time we visited was just before Alice was born and the vultures were due to arrive. It was good to see these spectacular birds that sadly are becoming more endangered. Vultures carrion habits are important for stripping dead animals which helps stop disease spreading. Yesterday was vulture day and it’s worth spending time admiring these birds.

Alice took my dad round to explore. As well as the birds of prey they have a petting zoo. Alice seemed quite interested in the wallabies.

We saw the birds in flight.

Nephew Jacob helped with the display.

Jacob pictured with the kestrel he has been flying over the Summer.

Alice walking with Amy and Jacob.

South Cave falconry deserve praise for the work they do looking after these amazing birds. Many are rescued from owners who didn’t realise what effort training would be. The Summer school has given Jacob experience’s he isn’t going to forget soon. So if you are in the Hull area please pay them a visit.