Monday, 22 April 2013

Plants, pots and... erm, bricks!

Having children makes you do things you would would never have even considered a few years ago. And this is certainly the case with me and gardening. The craze started off with a vegetable patch last year when Rosie was first walking around outside, we cleared and edged off a small area in the garden which we proceeded to dig over and well, grow stuff. To be honest it wasn't a great success, but on the bright side we did get one leek, two weird looking carrots and a few rather yummy green beans.

So I thought I would focus efforts over the Autumn / Winter on composting some of the leftovers from the ill-fated vegetable patch with regular house hold food that I could show Rosie breaking down over time, so we added the usual stuff: eggshells, potato skins, the odd teabag etc. But I also got to work saving ash from dead wood that I have been clearing from the garden to create some lovely pot-ash. I almost sound like I know what i'm doing, believe me I don't i'm really just trying to expose my offspring to more aspects of outdoor life.

Roll on April and it's planting time. Over the last few years my Wife has been collecting an interesting array of pots and old things to grow flowers in. We have some old metal watering cans and buckets which look great. Alas i'm not allowed near them so in this case we found some old wicker baskets in a skip, and asked the guy filling it up if we could have them, luckily he said yes so we trotted off down the road back to the house with our new stash.

This is us looking through all that lovely compost, for some reason Rosie just kept shouting 'Muddy puddles' - too much Peppa Pig me thinks, but once she got hold of it, it was apparently hilarious.

Next we had fun filling up the baskets, I can't begin to explain how messy that was but if you have children I guess you can imagine, chocolate  mud, paint, play-dough it's all the same principle when it comes to mess.

That's cousin Olivia in the pink fairy dress piling some compost into the other half broken basket that we acquired. We then spent a little while planting the baskets with three sunflower seeds by putting one in each third of the basket. Right job done. 

So the next task was to see what else we could find around the place that we could plant up, and you can probably see from the photos where i'm going with this if you look carefully. Whilst we were sourcing the baskets my wife had found some bricks lying at the back of our garden and had moved some pre-grown flowers (don't ask me what they were) into the three holes in one of the bricks. 

This gave the girls a good idea of what they were about to do, well we think they got it anyway. So we took the other brick and the girls added compost and seeds to the three holes (ish)

It was great fun and they really seemed engaged in placing the 'tiny flowers' (as we called them) into the holes, we put one in each hole, the girls took it in turns Rosie planted her seed then stepped back allowing Olivia to take a go after watching me pop a seed into the first hole.

Next everything needed watering:

Even my youngest was in the mood for flowers that day, here she is with Grandma rocking a daffodil:

After all the hard work planting I thought we should probably spend some time doing something more active, so later that day we built the famous 'super slide' - whilst your mind is racing in anticipation i'll explain. The super slide is when you get a free standing slide, put it on-top of a small hill, put padded square things down the hill and create one massive slide experience. Oh and you need a stern looking lab to supervise:

Well that's all for this post about growing, I will report back in a few months when we have some 100 foot sunflowers growing out of a brick,

Ta ta

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Winter and Spring funtimes

OK, so the winter has been long and cold, but that's no excuse right? we have had snow blizzards galore and some no-stop rain downpours but in-between the chaos there have been moments of calm perfect for exposing a two old to the elements. This post just re-caps on some of the fun activities we have been up to recently, for once I have actually been pretty good at taking photos over the last 3-4 months or so, not saying that the photos themselves are up to much but I have at least remembered to take them so here we go:

Snow at the start of the year

So there I am sitting in the office when it starts to snow. a few hours later and i'm kicking myself that i'm not at home building a snowman with my little girl, same thing happens the next day, and the next until the weekend comes and there is no snow left. Typical - I think it turned to heavy rain so we hit the indoor softplay instead.

A couple of weeks pass, and then..

Heavy snow on a Friday morning, but as the day progresses the white stuff starts to melt and by Saturday things are looking a bit bleak, we manage to get a half-harted snowman up with what's left. So then it occurs to me that our snow always melts quicker on the south coast, in Bournemouth we have our own micro climate after all so I decide to pick up the phone to my brother-in-law for two reasons: 
1. They live in Winchester which always gets snow when we don't despite only being half an hour away and 2. They live next to a sledging mecca. 

an hour and a half later and this is us:

Weeeeee, by the way massive tip: wet-suit gloves common in surfing and kayaking make superb snow gloves, they don't get soggy and are super warm.

It was the best day ever, we must have gone down 50 times on various slopes and when we eventually got bored of the crowds we headed off and built our own run with a little jump, just me, Rosie my brother in-law and Rosie's cousin Olivia.

Seaside Adventures

We go to the beach as often as possible, maybe 3 time a week during the summer either at weekends or for evening dog walks.

Living in Bournemouth we have the luxury of walking up the road or driving round to one of the remote beaches, top tip always avoid Bournemouth Pier and half a mile either side (far too busy). Once there most of our time is spent sitting looking at shells and stones. Rosie lovse exploring the shells and hoping to find an interesting colour or mark, we normally bring the best finds home to mummy although god knows what she does with them.

She's getting the idea of sand castles too, although her favorite sand castle pass time is getting me to build them whilst she knocks them down. That said it's amazing to see her patience increase every time she fills up the bucket. It used to be a case of one or two spade loads then walk off to something else, but shes gradually built herself up and now she'll happily sit there for 20 minutes to fill one single bucket. I guess it's pretty cool to do something like this on a regular basis to see the gradual progression. Oh my dog Pepper loves it too.

Theme parks and play parks

With Peppa pig world up the road, it's hard to avoid this one really. Here's the thing though it's awesome! We go there a fair bit, so much so that me and my wife both have season passes now. The good thing (in my opinion) about theme parks is that they are hugely engaging, outdoors and super fun.

Here is Rosie with best friend and cousin Olivia

Top tip - This one is a must for Peppa Pig fans. In PP world there is a game where you throw balls into a bucket to win giant Peppa Pig dolls like this one:

Now in the PP shop onsite sells soft toys 1/3 of this size sell for about £30 so learning the technique to win these bad boys is really worth it as one go only costs £2. So far I have won 5 of them and given 4 away to friends and family as they make really good presents especially as you can get different types for boys and girls. Pirates / fairies etc.

So here is what you do:

  • position yourself slightly to the right of the bucket (or left if left handed)
  • throw the ball up, higher than the top of the bucket rim
  • land it on the edge of the lower bucket rim, but make sure when you throw the ball up you flick your wrist to put back-spin on the ball 
  • after a couple of attempts (you get 3 tries for £5) you'll get the hang of it, just make sure the ball hits the lower rim or the bucket not the back of the bucket or it will just bounce out.
Theme parks aside we go to a lot of normal parks over the winter and spring, here are some photos:

The big one! - near our house, Bournemouth

Swinging with Olivia - Southampton docks

Best climbing frame ever - Centreparcs, Longleat

And finally, Easter

I'm going to be talking more about nature in the next post, but it's hard not too touch upon it when we stayed at the grandparents dairy farm in rural Worcestershire over Easter. This is where Rosie will be the envy of her friends at school as her grandparents (and now aunties) run an ice cream company from the farm, after diversifying when milk prices hit rock bottom about 10 years ago. So there is always plenty of chocolate, strawberry, or... stilton ice-cream  about the place. Anyway when taking time out from tractor rides, and calf feeding we managed to put on a great Easter Egg hunt which resulted in my favorite photo of the year, see if you can tell which one it is from the final two:

There is so much more to write about from the past few months but i'll leave it for now. The next one will be a diary of our recent fun growing flowers and playing around exploring nature.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Ok, here we go

Right then, a blog entry, here we go...any second now...on the count of three..1,2...Alright I confess writing a blog is not something I have ever done before, I've written essays, assignments, status updates, emails and tweets but never a blog. I suppose it was only a matter of time, I work in digital after all.

So what's this all about I hear you scream with increasing boredom, well. here's the thing I love being outdoors, i'm obsessed with it, sitting here now writing the blog that no one will ever read is driving me crazy already if it wasn't night time and I wasn't sitting here in my PJs this would never happen, my 'fear of missing out' (FOMO) would take over and i'd be off doing something fun outside. Maybe a walk on the beach or a cheeky surf or bike ride or.. you get the idea I hate being indoors. Now I happen to think this is a good thing, and luckily so does my wife, yes she moans that we have 3 blown light bulbs and a load of doors that need touching up, but in general she agrees.

In 2010 my first daughter Rosie was born, she's getting on for two and a half now and like me spends most of her free time (I guess that means non nursery or time at toddler classes) outdoors. We are fortunate to live near the beach and over the road from riverside fields so there is always opportunity for her to get out and about with her Daddy and she loves it! We go for a morning dog walk, and an evening dog walk and everything in-between is spent doing fun or educational outdoor things, and maybe the odd peppa pig episode.

In December last year my second little girl Phoebe popped out. She is a non-stop smiling poop machine and her sister Rosie is besotted with her. Since Phoebe came along the months have been pretty cold and getting outside has been a chilling experience but thank god things look to be warming up and hopefully we can finally say goodbye to this never ending winter (he says writing in-front of the log burner in mid-April).

Anyway, Phoebe's arrival has really made my family complete it's lovely that there's four of us now (five if you count my dog with learning difficulties). We have already had some wonderful weekend's and weeks away and it's becoming apparent that this really is a time to cherish. That said with a high maintenance baby in the house my role in taking Rosie out has never been so active, and whilst I can't wait to include Phoebe too I am trying to make the most of it with just the two of us, and that's where the idea for this blog came about.

Firstly it will act as a diary or record of the things we have been up to and secondly hopefully it will be interesting for other parents out there looking for ideas or inspiration to get out and have fun with your kids.

So here are some of the things i'm planning to blog about over the coming days, weeks and months:

Winter / spring re-cap: we have done so much this winter, from hurtling down snow covered hills, to feeding ducks and building veggie patches we have done it so i'm going to do write a belated post about it.

Bike adventures: checking out wildlife and great views

Beach fun: Collecting shells, building over-sized sand castles and chasing waves

Growing stuff: Rosie is mad about plants, flowers, vegetables and anything that grows.

Building a playground: We have big plans for the garden, and it's going to be awesome

Theme parks: ok this is partly driven by my season pass to Peppa Pig World but why not?

So hopefully some interesting stuff to be seen, which will be kicking off in the next few days so if you somehow managed to find this, please keep posted,

That's all for now. Oh apart from this quick snap of a recent duck encounter at Centre Parcs, upside down duck dive, hilarious!